Google Nest Wi-Fi Review 2020

Nest Wi-Fi blankets your home in a strong signal with full voice control, but a few flaws could prove tricky for some.
Google Nest logo
Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Great coverage
Easy setup
Only two Ethernet ports
No app for desktop, Microsoft

We got our hands on the Nest Wi-Fi router and point kit from Google, and boy did it make a good first impression in our internet-speed stress test and coverage test.

As for looks, our Nest Wi-Fi system came in the matte snow color (white), and you also have the option of mist (pastel blue) or sand (a light, peachy brown) if those colors match your decor better. We like options.

The Nest Wi-Fi router is fairly compact and fits right in with most home decor.

So, does the Nest mesh Wi-Fi system deliver fast download speeds across your entire home? Let’s find out how it did in our speed and coverage tests, plus we’ll discuss some of its finer details, like that mute button, the limited number of Ethernet ports, and price.

Nest Wi-Fi review scores
ProductInternet speed stress testCoverageDesignDetails
Nest Wi-Fi router and 1 point4 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 starsShop at Google

Pros

  • Good download speeds even during our stress test
  • Easy setup with the Google Home app
  • Microphone mute button on the point

Cons

  • Only one Ethernet port for wired connections
  • Slightly higher price compared to other mesh systems

Nest Wi-Fi price and quality

Nest Wi-Fi handles like a high-quality mesh system, but its price runs slightly high.

By no means does the Nest Wi-Fi system feel like a cheap set of devices. And that’s good, because the base price runs slightly on the higher end for comparable mesh Wi-Fi systems like the TP-Link Deco and Amazon eero.

Here’s a quick look at the base price of the various Nest Wi-Fi kits and devices you can buy.

Nest Wi-Fi base prices
ProductNest Wi-Fi routerNest Wi-Fi point (single)Nest Wi-Fi router and 1 point/strong>Nest Wi-Fi router and 2 points
Base price$169$149$269$349

But sometimes Google and other retailers offer a discount on the price, so it’s worth it to keep an eye out. Just recently we found the Nest Wi-Fi router and point kit for $30 cheaper at Google and Best Buy. Not bad.

Nest Wi-Fi router and one point kit prices
StoreGoogleAmazonBest BuyWalmart
Price$239$269$239$149 (router only)
Learn moreShop at GoogleShop at AmazonShop at Best BuyShop at Walmart

Data effective 2/13/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Amazon.com List price of $269.00 (as of 02/13/2020 3:28 PM MST). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Reviews.org utilizes paid Amazon links.

Nest Wi-Fi versus the competition

While Nest Wi-Fi isn’t the most expensive mesh system on the block, it does cost more than the TP-Link Deco M5, which sports similar coverage and features. The Amazon eero is also a cheaper pick and comes with an extra point, for a total of three devices, and boosted coverage up to 5,000 square feet.

One thing you’ll miss with both the TP-Link Deco M5 and Amazon eero kits is voice controls. You’ll need to add an Amazon Echo Dot into the mix, and that runs about $50 at the time we’re writing this. Nest Wi-Fi and NETGEAR Orbi, on the other hand, have voice controls built into the points.

On the other hand, the NETGEAR Orbi’s base price skyrockets past the Nest Wi-Fi system. But the Orbi comes with far more Ethernet ports than Nest Wi-Fi does: Orbi has a total of six Ethernet ports versus Nest Wi-Fi’s total of two—and you’ll need one port for your modem.

So that might make the Orbi worth your while, especially if you can find it at a discounted price and need a wired connection for that gaming PC.

That said, if you already own Google devices or want a mesh system to blanket your entire home with a strong Wi-Fi signal, Nest Wi-Fi is a pretty solid deal for the price.

Nest Wi-Fi mesh system price comparison
ProductBase priceCoverageVoice controlsRouter specs
Nest Wi-Fi router and 1 point$2693,800 sq. ft.Google Assistant802.11ac
2.4 and 5 GHz
WPA3 security
NETGEAR Orbi Mesh Wi-Fi with smart speaker$429.99Up to 4,500 sq. ft.Amazon Alexa802.11ac
2.4 and 5 GHz
WPA2-PSK security
TP-Link Deco M5 2-pack$179.99Up to 3,800 sq. ft.Amazon Alexa (addt'l cost for Echo Dot)802.11ac
2.4 and 5 GHz
WPA2 security
Amazon eero 3-pack$249Up to 5,000 sq. ft.Amazon Alexa (addt'l cost for Echo Dot)802.11ac
2.4 and 5 GHz
WPA2 security

Data effective 2/13/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Amazon.com List Prices (as of 02/13/2020 3:28 PM MST). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Reviews.org utilizes paid Amazon links.

Nest Wi-Fi quality

As for quality, you can clearly see the thought Google put into the Nest Wi-Fi design from the get-go.

Both the router and the point feel quite solid, as do the provided Ethernet cable and power cords. We had no trouble plugging either device in, and both devices come with a groove on the bottom to allow your cords to seamlessly run to your outlet.

And the router and the point both come tucked in the packaging, almost like two eggs in a nest. (Pun intended.) While that might seem like a small thing, we’re ecstatic that we didn’t struggle to fit these back in the box. That’s key if you have to pack your electronics up for a move.

Nest Wi-Fi installation and setup

Nest Wi-Fi installation is plug-and-play, while setup on the Google Home app had a few small hiccups.

Installing the Nest Wi-Fi router was pretty effortless. The kit comes with a simple printed installation guide, and if you already know your way around setting up a modem and router, most of the instructions probably sound familiar.

Once we downloaded the Google Home app, setup was also pretty much a cinch. We already had a Google account, which made things even simpler, and we don’t think it was too difficult to figure out what to do in each step since Google guides you through the setup process.

The Google Home app shows key devices and actions once you’ve set up your Nest Wi-Fi system.
  • Time to install and set up: 15 minutes
  • Tools needed: A modem and computer
  • App needed: Google Home, free on the Apple Store | Google Play
  • Installation difficulty: 2 out of 5 (somewhat easy)
  • Installation issues: We had to re-start our modem, plus the Home app gave us an error we didn’t know how to fix.

However, we did run into one error that left us scratching our heads. The Home app asked us to turn off the Samsung Smart Switch app, which we haven’t turned on since we bought our Galaxy S10 back in July 2019. (The Smart Switch app transfers data from your old phone to your new phone.)

“We ran into only one error while setting up Nest Wi-Fi, but were able to tap ‘Next’ and continue on our merry way.”

We weren’t sure what the issue was, so we tapped “Next” and continued on our merry way. Cue the shrug emoji.

We got an error asking us to turn off Samsung Smart Switch, but we were able to skip the error by tapping “Next.”

Other than the one error, the only other frustrating hurdles we encountered were the opt-in or -out steps where Google asks if it can collect information from you and your device. We counted two or three of these, which seems like overkill. No, thank you.

One feature we loved about the setup was that Google gives you a summary of your network name, password, and the devices you set up when you’re finished. So if you forgot to write down your network name or password, no worries. You’ll get a reminder at the end.

“We love that Google Home gives you a summary of your network name and password at the end of the setup process.”

Nest Wi-Fi design and features

The good? A microphone mute switch on the point. The bad? A limited number of Ethernet ports.

Nothing is perfect, and even though we love most of the features Nest Wi-Fi offers, there’s one thing we can’t look past: the lack of Ethernet ports.

That makes Nest Wi-Fi a wash for gamers like us, but for others the thoughtful features Google added may outweigh the bad.

What we like

The point comes with a microphone mute switch

One feature we love about the Nest Wi-Fi system? The ability to turn the mic off. Privacy is a huge issue for us, and we bet it is for you too. So it’s really nice that you can get a little more peace of mind by flipping the mute microphone switch.

And it’s cool that both the router and the point light up when in use—but the point’s lights change from orange to blue depending on whether your mic is turned off.

If you’ve flipped the switch and muted the microphone, it glows a soft orange, and if the Google Assistant is all ears and waiting for your next voice command, the light changes to a light blue. Neither light is so bright that it bothered us in our dark office at night, but it’s still easy to identify that the point is on and what color its base is.

“We love the ability to turn the Wi-Fi point microphone off and on, and the different colored lights on the base of the point are fun and informative.”

The router and point are a compact size

One thing we haven’t mentioned yet is Nest Wi-Fi’s size. It may seem a tad rotund, but the NETGEAR Orbi router completely dwarfs the Nest Wi-Fi router.

So we think you’ll have a pretty easy time fitting both Nest devices on a bookshelf, desk, or even a wall with one of these nifty Nest Wi-Fi point mounts from Amazon.

The NETGEAR Orbi router towers over the Nest Wi-Fi router.

What we don’t like

There’s a limited number of Ethernet ports

Okay, let’s not beat around the bush. The biggest design flaw we saw with the Nest Wi-Fi system was the limited number of Ethernet ports.

The Nest Wi-Fi router comes with two Ethernet ports, and one of those ports is automatically dedicated to your modem. Now, if you only need one wired connection, you’re all set.

But if you’re a gaming household like we are and need two wired connections for a couple of gaming PCs that don’t have Wi-Fi cards, well, you’re out of luck.

The Nest Wi-Fi router comes with only two Ethernet ports, and one connects to your modem. Guess you’ll have to fight over the remaining one?

This lack of Ethernet ports severely limits our ability to test the Nest Wi-Fi system. In order to give Nest Wi-Fi a go for a months-long test run, we’d have to unplug it and set up our old router system (which, by the way, is the NETGEAR Orbi) anytime we wanted to do anything on our desktop PCs.

We get it—most of us use wireless devices in this day and age. But gamers and home offices with desktop computers are not a small enough minority that we think limiting the Ethernet ports to two is a smart move.

Voice controls work only with the point

Our only other gripe would be that only the Nest Wi-Fi point lets you give voice commands. The router doesn’t—but this may not bother you much if you have a Google Home sitting near your router already.

Nest Wi-Fi router specs

Your Nest router comes with MU-MIMO and beamforming, perfect for using lots of devices at the same time.

The Nest Wi-Fi router doesn’t skimp on features. It sports MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple-input multiple-output), beamforming, and WPA3 encryption.

MU-MIMO

MU-MIMO allows the Nest Wi-Fi router to communicate with your laptop, cell phone, tablet, and multiple other devices all at the same time.

What does that mean? Your devices don’t have to wait as long to get a signal from the router, so your websites, mobile games, and videos will load faster. You should also see less buffering while watching Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and less lag while playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Beamforming

Old-style routers broadcast your Wi-Fi signal in every direction. That’s not very efficient, right?

Enter beamforming. Beamforming lets your router detect where your connected devices are, then beams a stronger Wi-Fi signal in the direction of your devices. That means your devices get faster and strong Wi-Fi signals—and your Wi-Fi coverage area should be larger too. Beam us up!

WPA3 encryption

Encryption is what keeps your Wi-Fi signal secure, and WPA3 is the third version of the Wi-Fi Protected Access standard.

Along with being more secure than other security standards, WPA3 makes it easier for devices without displays, like your smart light bulbs and smart home hubs, to connect to your Wi-Fi through a technology called Wi-Fi Easy Connect.

Remember those QR codes on the bottom of the Nest Wi-Fi router and point? Scanning those QR codes lets you set up your Wi-Fi network so it automatically connects both of those devices.

Intrigued? We’re right there with you. You can read more about Wi-Fi Easy Connect and other WPA3 features on Wired.

Nest Wi-Fi internet speed

Our download speed through Nest Wi-Fi dipped only a little during our stress test.

We threw Nest Wi-Fi a curveball and put it through a stress test where more than four devices demanded every ounce of the 200 Mbps download speed we get from Xfinity. Then we ran an internet speed test to see how the download and upload speeds held up.

Turns out, Nest Wi-Fi stood strong, and we can confidently give it a four out of five stars for surviving our stress test with fairly minimal dips in download speed.

Here are the devices we connected and the programs we ran during each stress test:

  • Desktop: World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, YouTube, Spotify, Discord, Steam, and Chrome
  • Laptop 1: World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, Spotify, Discord, Twitch, and Chrome
  • Laptop 2: Slack and Chrome
  • Cell phone: Streaming Zumbo’s Just Desserts on Netflix
  • Also connected but not in use: A second cell phone, a separate Google Home device, and a Vivint security system

Nest Wi-Fi internet speed stress test

Nest Wi-Fi internet speed stress test results
TestDownload speedUpload speed
Wireless (point) test 179.7 Mbps11.7 Mbps
Wired test 1193 Mbps12.4 Mbps
Wireless (point) test 2118 Mbps11.7 Mbps
Wired test 2120 Mbps12.4 Mbps
Wireless (point) test 3107 Mbps12.2 Mbps
Wired test 3143 Mbps3.67 Mbps

We decided to measure our wireless signal off the Nest Wi-Fi point, since it (in theory) produces a weaker Wi-Fi signal than the router. But the point still delivered download and upload speeds that mostly matched what we saw on our standard wired connection, which is great news for Nest Wi-Fi.

“Nest Wi-Fi delivered strong download speeds with minimal slowing during our stress test.”

Overall, Nest Wi-Fi’s download speeds didn’t suffer too much during the stress test. By comparison, we tested it again under normal conditions and it pumped out 212 Mbps download speeds on a Wi-Fi connection and 234 Mbps download speeds on a wired connection.

So you can rely on Nest Wi-Fi to deliver good download speeds even when you have visitors hogging your Wi-Fi connection.

Nest Wi-Fi baseline internet speeds under normal conditions
ConnectionDownload speedUpload speed
Wireless212 Mbps7.97 Mbps
Wired234 Mbps12.5 Mbps
Pin icon
Google Home can run a speed test for you
Tap the “Wi-Fi” button in your Google Home app and you’ll see your current download and upload speeds—plus an option to run a speed test on your connection.

Nest Wi-Fi coverage

Nest Wi-Fi’s coverage was great even when we pushed the limits of its point placement.

Nest Wi-Fi coverage benchmarks

Nest Wi-Fi signal strength
Location, bandSignal strengthGood for
Upstairs office, 2.4 GHzHighGaming, video streaming, and video chat
Upstairs office, 5 GHzHighGaming, video streaming, and video chat
Upstairs loft, 2.4 GHzAbove averageVideo streaming and most gaming
Upstairs loft, 5 GHzAbove averageVideo streaming and most gaming
Downstairs living room, 2.4 GHzHighGaming, video streaming, and video chat
Downstairs living room, 5 GHzAbove averageVideo streaming and most gaming
Downstairs office, 2.4 GHzHighGaming, video streaming, and video chat
Downstairs office, 5 GHzAbove averageVideo streaming and most gaming

Yup, even in a 2,500-square-foot house and with the point more than two rooms away from the router, the Nest Wi-Fi system blanketed our home in strong Wi-Fi signals.

We’d be interested to see how well it does in a basement—but unfortunately houses in Florida don’t come with those, so we’re unable to test it.

Using the Google Home app

The Google Home app is user-friendly, but Microsoft and desktop users beware: it’s available for iOS and Android only.

Now here’s the thing. If you’re planning on setting up your Nest Wi-Fi on a Microsoft device like the Surface Pro or a desktop computer, stop right now. The Google Home app is available for mobile devices that run iOS and Android only—there’s no Home app on the Microsoft Store or for desktops.1

Since we have a Samsung Galaxy S10, our story didn’t end here. We were able to download the Google Home app, and we have to say using it was mostly a breeze, with only a few hiccups.

We thought the interface was intuitive enough, though we could see some folks who are less familiar with Google apps struggling to find certain settings and features.

Speaking of finding settings, it took us a hot minute to figure out how to turn down the Google Assistant volume through the app. It wasn’t readily obvious, but turns out you need to go to your main dashboard and select the Wi-Fi point, then tap the speaker icon in the top right to get to the volume controls.

See that speaker icon lurking in the top-right corner next to the settings cog wheel? That’s where you go to change the volume.

We also noticed that the text size seems small in certain places, and we can see visually-impaired folks having a hard time reading it. I’m picturing my mom squinting at it from behind her reading glasses, and it makes my heart hurt.

The Google Home app’s text size for features like “Media,” “Broadcast,” and “Wi-Fi” seems a little small.

Nest Wi-Fi and Google Assistant voice controls

Nest Wi-Fi integrates with Google Home, giving you full control of your smart home devices and security system.

One of our favorite features is the Google Home–enabled Wi-Fi point. Who could resist giving the Google Assistant some wacky commands?

And when you’re done having fun with the Google Assistant’s dad-level puns and Easter eggs, you’ve got access to quite a few helpful commands too.

Compatible devices

You can also control many home security and smart home devices with Google Assistant commands. Dim the lights, lock the doors, or arm your security system. Google is at your service.

P.S. Nest Secure earned one of our top five spots in our list of the best smart home security systems. It must run in the Nest family.

Devices compatible with Nest Wi-Fi

  • Google Assistant
  • Google Home devices
  • Amazon Echo devices
  • Google Chromecast devices
  • Hubitat Elevation hub
  • Philips Hue smart lights
  • TP-Link Kasa smart lights
  • Lifx smart lights
  • Logitech Harmony remotes
  • Kaavo universal remote
  • WeMo mini smart plugs
  • Lutron Kaseta smart plugs
  • iHome ISP6X smart plugs
  • August smart lock and doorbell
  • Kwikset Kevo smart lock
  • Momentum Cori HD indoor security camera
  • Abode Iota security system
  • Ooma security system
  • Nest Secure home security system
  • Nest Hello doorbell

Recap: Is Nest Wi-Fi good?

Nest Wi-Fi is a thoughtfully designed, well-priced mesh Wi-Fi system that would work great in any large home looking to keep multiple devices connected at high speeds. That said, we wouldn’t recommend it for anyone that needs more than one device wired into the internet connection because the single Ethernet port you’ll have left over after plugging in your modem just won’t cut it.

Who is Nest Wi-Fi best for?

  • You need a mesh Wi-Fi system that covers a large area—2,500 square feet or bigger.
  • You have lots of people and devices using your internet at the same time but in different rooms.
  • You want Google Home and the Google Assistant along with your mesh Wi-Fi system.
  • Your house is home to multiple smart home and security devices that you’d like to control through one app or system.
Nest Wi-Fi deals
StoreGoogleAmazonBest BuyWalmart
Price$239$269$239$149 (router only)
Learn moreShop at GoogleShop at AmazonShop at Best BuyShop at Walmart

Data effective 2/13/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Amazon.com List price of $269.00 (as of 02/13/2020 3:28 PM MST). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Reviews.org utilizes paid Amazon links.

FAQ

Can I use an older Wi-Fi point with the newer Nest Wi-Fi system?

Yes, the Nest Wi-Fi system is backwards compatible with older Google Wi-Fi points.2

Can I use special characters in my Wi-Fi SSID?

Your network SSID (or network name) can use certain special characters, like periods, but we recommend against it.

When setting up our Wi-Fi network, we named it “ReviewsRouter2.4” and “ReviewsRouter5” to designate which band, 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz, it was.

But the period in “ReviewsRouter2.4” gave some of our devices trouble when they tried to connect. Once we renamed it to “ReviewsRouter24,” the devices connected with no problems.

Sources

  1. Google Nest Help, “How Do I Load Google Home App on a Surface Pro?
  2. Google Nest Help, “Introducing Google Nest Wi-Fi

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  • Scott Holm

    Any reason this review doesn’t offer up that you can plug a network switch into the wired port to gain more wired connections?