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Google Nest WiFi review
WiFi made simple.
Mesh WiFi is a complex system of interconnected routers and access points, but Google succeeds at making it as simple as possible. Nest WiFi is plug-and-play, and delivers good coverage across a standard family home. But it's focus on simplicity may frustrate advanced users.
Google’s entire business relies on everyone having a reliable internet connection, so it's no surprise that one of the products in Google’s limited hardware range is a mesh WiFi system. What is surprising is how ridiculously simple the Google Nest WiFi system is to set up and use.
The base router and separate access points are small and tastefully designed, which you will know is a departure from the bulky, spider-like routers that you tend to find from established networking manufacturers. The Nest WiFi devices are about the size of a snow globe with a matte porcelain-coloured finish.
Physically, one of the key differences between the base router and the access point is the speaker grille on the bottom of the access points. These WiFi satellites cleverly double as Google smart speakers, like a Google Home Mini, and can play music, answer questions and control other smart devices in your home. This is one of those stroke-of-genius additions that gives the Google Nest WiFi a value added boost over the competition. This put the Nest WiFi straight into our best mesh WiFi systems guide.
Pint-sized: Google Nest WiFi access point next to the Telstra Smart Modem
Super simple setup
Setting up the Nest WiFi system is as simple as plugging it in, connecting it to your modem, and opening the Google WiFi app on your phone. The step-by-step instructions in the app walk you through the rest of the setup, which worked flawlessly on the first attempt. Adding the Access Points around the house was simply painless. Just plug them into the power-point and the app does the rest.
This may sound like a strange thing to praise, but the fact is that a lot of the other networking hardware we’ve tested struggles to deliver a setup process this simple. It usually involves much longer setup wizards with numerous questions to answer and we often need to try the process a couple of times to solve problems that many people may find difficult to troubleshoot. In comparison, Google has made this process as user-friendly as possible.
Google Nest WiFi Router
Google Nest WiFi Access Point
AC2200 4x4 MU-MIMOExpandable 802.11s meshDual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz supportingIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/acBeamforming
AC1200 2x2 MU-MIMOExpandable 802.11s meshDual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz supportingIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/acBeamforming
WAN and LAN Ethernet ports
Up to 100 connected devicesUp to 85 sq. metres
Up to 100 devicesAdd 85 sq. metres per access point
Quad-core 1.4GHz CPU1GB RAM4GB Flash
Quad-core 1.4GHz CPU768 MB RAM512MB Flash
Advanced users beware
Once installed, the Nest WiFi system delivered solid results, though nothing out of the ordinary. The current generation of this product is a dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz setup with support for WiFi standards IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. This isn’t bleeding edge WiFi technology, and other systems like the Netgear Night Mesh MK63, do support newer WiFi 6 protocols.
If you don’t understand the benefits of WiFi 6 then you are unlikely to miss it. Some may argue that you are future-proofing your network by adopting WiFi 6 now, but the Nest WiFi system works well now and will for several years.
Those who disagree with this are also likely to be the people who will find Google’s simplified approach to admin controls frustrating. Standard features like port management, IP reservations and other security features are hidden deep in the menus, and even then, are light on the level of control that some may be looking for.
It is also disappointing that the Access Points don’t include any ethernet ports to directly connect download-heavy devices like laptops and TVs. We haven’t found that this has caused any problems in practice, but it is one of those things we typically expect in other mesh systems.
As mentioned above, the Nest WiFi access points also double as Google Home speakers, and act just like a Google Home Mini device.
Once plugged in and set up you can start bossing these access points about; asking questions, demanding music and turning your smart home devices on and off.
For us, this is a massive value add. Until recently I have used Amazon Alexa devices for smart home control, but I find that the Google voice recognition is more accurate and its responses to questions more useful. To have a Google Assistant device mixed into a Mesh Wifi system is very handy indeed.
Overall, the Google Nest WiFi mesh pack is the best mesh system for most people. It has the fastest, easiest setup we’ve come across, and the app focuses on things most people will want to focus on, like network speed and parental controls.
If you’re looking for fine controls of your network and the latest WiFi tech, you won’t find it here. From the design down to the feature set, the Nest WiFi system is clearly designed for people who want to plug it in and forget about it entirely.