This week, Google launched another, cheaper version of its Wi-Fi-mesh product line. A little more than a year after the introduction of Nest Wi-Fi, this new product line resurrects the original Google Wi-Fi branding and is sold in one-, two-, or three-piece sets.
For the most part, the new Google Wi-Fi seems pretty similar to the original—each device is a small, squat white cylinder sporting twin gigabit Ethernet ports, dual-band 802.11ac, AC1200 (Wi-Fi 5, 2×2) radios, along with Bluetooth Low-Energy support. The 2020 version of Google Wi-Fi has a simple DC barrel jack in place of the USB-C charging port on the original version.
The more expensive Nest Wi-Fi offers an integrated smart speaker in each node and a fatter Wi-Fi backhaul pipe—although both Nest Wi-Fi and Google Wi-Fi are dual-band 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5), the 5GHz radio in the more expensive Nest Wi-Fi is 4×4, offering double the backhaul (connection to the next node closer to the Internet) throughput.
Nest Wi-Fi also offers a Thread radio for eventual home automation management, but it’s currently disabled. Neither Nest Wi-Fi nor Google Wi-Fi support Zigbee or Z-wave, so you’ll need a separate hub with Google Assistant integration if you want to use Google to manage your home automation gear. Samsung’s Smart Things hub is frequently recommended for this purpose.
|Router only||Router + one node||Router + two nodes|
Google has different recommendations for the two product lines regarding expected coverage: for Nest Wi-Fi, coverage is listed as 2200/3800/5400 square feet for the one-, two-, and three-piece kits. For Google Wi-Fi, coverage is listed as 1500/4500 square feet for the one-piece and three-piece kits.
We do not recommend taking those square-footage estimates seriously—neither the original Google Wi-Fi (three-piece) nor the new Nest Wi-Fi (two-piece) tested well in our 3,500-square-foot test home. For that matter, the specs on Google Wi-Fi don’t make any sense—you cannot get triple the coverage from a three-piece kit as you get from a one-piece. For the Wi-Fi backhaul to work properly, the satellite nodes must be placed roughly in the middle of the first unit’s coverage area, not at the edge.
If you’re deep into the Google ecosystem and really want integrated Google Assistant smart speakers, Nest Wi-Fi isn’t a bad buy, even though it’s not a very high-performing Wi-Fi system in our testing. We see less value in the cheaper Google Wi-Fi—there’s no indication it will perform better than the very similarly specified original Google Wi-Fi, which consistently ranked at the very bottom of our charts.
The three-piece kit for the new Google Wi-Fi is very inexpensive at $200, but given Google Wi-Fi’s historically poor performance, we don’t recommend it. The three-piece Amazon Eero kit is the highest-performing dual-band, three-piece system we’ve ever tested, and it’s available for $225—or if price is the ultimate consideration, a TP-Link Deco M5 three-piece system is currently $170.