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Google Nest Wifi Pro review




At a glanceExpert’s Rating
ProsReliable whole-home coverageSimple setupMatter supportConsDisappointing performanceProblems connecting to 6GHzUnintuitive Google Home appOur Verdict

The Google Nest Wifi Pro is a slick-looking, well-priced package, but there are some serious teething problems. Poor speeds combined the relative scarcity of Wi-Fi 6E client devices right now means you may want to hold off until firmware updates improve performance – or buy a different system entirely.

Price When Reviewed

1-pack: $199.99. 2-pack: $299.99. 3-pack: $399.99

Best Prices Today: Google Nest Wifi Pro

The Google Nest Wifi Pro is the long-awaited follow-up to 2019’s Google Nest WiFi mesh system. It supports the latest Wi-Fi standard – Wi-Fi 6E – skipping Wi-Fi 6 entirely, as the 2019 model was Wi-Fi 5.

The newcomer is available in 1-, 2- and 3-packs, and most homes will need at least two, but if you just want a Wi-Fi 6E router to upgrade an old one in a small property, then the Nest Wifi Pro is a cost-effective option.

One reason it’s cheaper than other 6E mesh systems is because there is no dedicated wireless backhaul channel. This means some of your network traffic will have to compete with traffic from the nodes simply communicating with each other in the mesh.

Wired Ethernet backhaul is supported, so if your home is wired for Ethernet already, or you want to run new cables, you can opt to route that traffic over Ethernet instead.

The Nest Wifi Pro is also a Thread border router, and supports the new smart home protocol, Matter. This means you’ll be able to more easily access and control compatible Internet of Things things from your phone, without having to have loads of extra hubs and wireless bridges dotted around your home. 

The specs of the Nest Wifi Pro, however, differ from country to country, and this puts US buyers in a better position than those elsewhere, such as in the UK. Right now, only US models are able to make use of 160MHz Wi-Fi channels, which simply means that Nest Wifi Pro systems bought in the UK, and indeed anywhere else in the world, will offer slower top speed because they can use only the narrower 80MHz Wi-Fi channels.

Furthermore, the US models promise better coverage, with Google saying you can expect 200m² (2200 square feet) from each node, whereas Google’s UK store says you’ll get up to up to 120m² of coverage (roughly 1290 square feet) instead. That’s a significant difference 

Despite this, the Nest Wifi Pro still represents an upgrade from the original Nest Wifi, wherever you live, even if it no longer doubles up as a Nest smart speaker.

Thomas Newton / Foundry

Design & build

130 x 117 x 85 mmTwo gigabit Ethernet ports on eachInternal antennas – 2×2 2.4GHz, 2×2 5GHz, 2×2 6GHz

The Nest WiFi Pro units look like what might result if a UE Wonderboom 2 and an ​Apple AirPods Pro 2 case had babies.  

They’re sleek but unassuming-looking ovoids – no ugly external antennas here, and no banks of annoying flashing lights. Everything is neatly tucked away, and even the single status light just glows genty underneath the egg-like plastic covering. You wouldn’t even know it was a Google product, were it not for the ‘G’ logo engraved into the back of each unit, above the two gigabit Ethernet ports (one WAN, one LAN), and the power socket.

The units are reasonably compact and heavy, and the rubberised base means that they shouldn’t be easily knocked over. There are no screw threads or hooks, so you can’t wall mount them. On the base there’s a small reset button as well as a QR code, which you’ll need when you come to set everything up. 

Thomas Newton / Foundry

Setup

Uses the Google Home app to complete set-upInitial node takes 10 minutes to install Extra nodes take around five minutes each

Practically every router and mesh Wi-Fi device is now set up using a companion app to guide you through the process, and the Nest Wifi Pro is no different – except that it uses the Google Home app for this.

This is the same app that used to control your Nest Cam Indoor and Google Nest Audio smart speakers. If you’re invested in Google’s ecosystem, you’ll likely feel right at home and if you’re not, it could take some getting used to, because at first it’s not immediately obvious where everything is. (Previous Nest Cam owners are still disappointed with the app as the old Nest app was so much better.)

As for the setup process itself, it’s utterly simple. Open the app, hit the + symbol, then ‘Set up device’, ‘New Device’, enable Location Access, wait for the Nest Wifi Pro to be detected, and then scan the QR code when instructed. You’ll be directed to turn off your existing modem / router, connect the first Nest Wifi Pro to the mains, the connect it to the modem via the supplied Ethernet cable, and the power the modem back on. 

It took me about ten minutes to set up the first node, after which you’ll be invited to install the others, which follows the same process of powering on and scanning the QR code to pair, which takes about five minutes each. Along with a firmware update, the initial set-up process took just over half an hour. 

Thomas Newton / Foundry

Features and the Google Home app

Guest Wi-Fi, parental controls, and device priority features includedPort management, WPA3, ISP and device speed tests built inGoogle Home is slow, and the layout is confusing

The Nest Wifi Pro has the usual features you’d expect from a mesh system, but not the advanced settings that the Pro name might suggest.

Their layout in the app isn’t intuitive, and it often takes a few seconds to open a simple page or sub menu, which is frustrating.

Through the Google Home app, you can do the basics like change the Wi-Fi password and SSID (network name), and get a quick overview of the devices that are connected to your home network. 

From the Devices tab, you can pause traffic to specific devices, and prioritise traffic – but you can only prioritise traffic on one device at a time, and even then, prioritisation isn’t indefinite. You can opt for one device to be given the best possible Wi-Fi connection for up to eight hours at a time.

That might work if you only need the device to have a good connection for odd days where you might have some important Zoom meetings, but it’s hardly ideal if you, say, work from home permanently and don’t want the kids taking away bandwidth with Roblox and streaming when they get home from school unless you’ve remembered to re-set that prioritisation. 

On the subject of Zoom meetings, tapping on the Settings cog in the main menu will see you able to access a ‘Preferred Activities’ sub menu, where you can select Video Conferencing as a preferred application. For now, the only other option is Gaming and, presumably, more options will be added over time. 

You can also enable a guest Wi-Fi network (and give guests access to specific devices on the network) and there are basic parental controls with Google’s SafeSearch content filter.

There’s support for WPA3, although there’s no hybrid WPA2/WPA3 mode, so older devices might not connect if you turn that on. And you’ll find settings and support for UPnP, IPv6, plus some DNS options – you can use Google’s DNS (the default option), your ISP’s one, or enter custom DNS details.

There’s no option to run a VPN from the Nest Wifi Pro, and nor is there the option to open up a desktop control panel which has extra settings. Indeed, you’re not invited to create an admin password for the devices during set-up either, and you can’t configure a firewall.

On the plus side, you get at least five years of automatic security updates from Google, but you get that with all Nest devices. 

Thomas Newton / Foundry

Performance 

Most devices can expect to see speeds between 500-700Mbps Speeds drop to around 200-300Mbps over longer distances and when walls interfereUnable to access the 6GHz band on my Wi-Fi 6E-compatible Google Pixel 6 

All Nest Wifi Pro devices support Wi-Fi 6E, but there’s a key difference between units sold in the United States and units sold elsewhere. The total combined throughput is 5.4Gbps in the US but only 4.2Gbps in the rest of the world. 

In all regions, the top speed possible on the 2.4GHz band is 600Mbps. On the 5GHz band in the States, the maximum speed you can expect is 2.4Gbps – it’s 1.2Gbps elsewhere. This is because, remember, the US hardware supports 160MHz channels, whereas rest-of-the-world Nest WiFi Pros only support 80MHz on the 5GHz band. 

The top speeds possible on the 6GHz band in all regions should be 2.4Gbps. 

These are theoretical top speeds, and not what you’ll see in the real world, because distance, obstacles, and radio interference from your neighbours’ Wi-Fi networks come into the equation. 

Google sent a 3-pack which I tested in my two-up, two-down terraced house in south London. 

Speeds weren’t overly impressive, but I can say that the Nest Wifi Pro system did provide consistent whole-home coverage, and in the great majority of locations, I was able to get speeds between 500-700Mbps on a variety of devices.

That’s way higher than the speed of most people’s broadband – in the UK at least – so the fact they were much lower than expected needs to be seen in that context. However, if you’d be happy with those speeds, you probably don’t need to pay so much for a mesh system as there are plenty of cheaper options that will deliver this sort of performance.

I ran a number of speed tests on my Pixel 6, plus a couple of older phones – a Huawei Mate 10 Pro and a RealMe X50 5G – which feature Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 respectively. The results below are averages rounded up, compared with results of speed tests taken in the same locations in my home while connected to my usual router, a Virgin Media Super Hub 3. 

Google says that proactive band steering directs your devices to radio channels with the best performance. This largely bears out in testing – in virtually every case, wherever I’ve performed a speed test, I’ve been steered towards Channel 36 on the 5GHz band. Only on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro did I get kicked down to Channel 11 on the 2.4GHz band, and this was out in the garden with a brick wall, a closed door and five metres distance between me and the node – in other words, I would expect to be shunted down to 2.4GHz, as higher frequencies are less good at passing through solid objects. 

Mate 10 ProVirgin Media Super Hub 3Google Nest WiFi Pro1m715Mbps635Mbps5m with a wall122Mbps296MbpsUpstairs, near the rear of the house19Mbps416MbpsGardenNo connection238MbpsRealme X50Virgin Media Super Hub 3Google Nest WiFi Pro1m527Mbps740Mbps5m with a wall147Mbps333MbpsUpstairs, near the rear of the house23Mbps461MbpsGardenNo connection224MbpsPixel 6Virgin Media Super Hub 3Google Nest WiFi Pro1m619Mbps710Mbps5m with a wall278Mbps422MbpsUpstairs, near the rear of the house51Mbps419MbpsGardenNo connection264Mbps

What you will notice from these results is that there appears to be very little difference between the performance recorded on each phone. This is not good, especially as they should have been considerably faster on the Pixel 6.

The reason is that the Pixel simply would not connect to the system’s 6GHz radio band, but I had no such problems when testing a Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 node and Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 router. 

The Google Home app doesn’t allow you to force the Nest Wifi Pro to connect to devices on a specific Wi-Fi channel or band. The only option was to prioritise my Pixel 6 so that it would get the best performance, but that made no discernible difference. 

The WiFi Speed Test Pro Android app shows which radio channels a device is connected to, and on the Pixel none of them were within the 5945-6425 MHz frequencies which make up the 6GHz band. 

I’ve asked Google why this is happening, but so far haven’t had an answer. If a solution is offered and the problem fixed, I’ll update the results above.

I used NetSpot to generate a heatmap of the Nest Wifi Pro’s coverage throughout my home. You can see that the only area where signal dropped too low to be usable was at the top (the end of the garden).

Thomas Netwon / Foundry

You might be keen on the Nest Wifi Pro than another mesh system because of its Matter support and the fact that each node acts as a Thread border router. However, if you already have other Nest devices or certain Amazon Echos (among other smart devices) you may find that they will soon get free updates that adds the same support.

Plus, as Matter is brand new, it’s hard to tell how much of a value add this is.

Not having any Matter-branded smart home devices to hand, I’m also not able to comment on how well this aspect of the Nest WiFi Pro system works. 

Thomas Newton / Foundry

Price & availability

The Nest Wifi Pro is available to buy now in the US and UK with prices and a launch date for Australia still TBC. 

In the US you can buy directly from Google, with single Nest Wifi Pro devices costing $199.99. A 2-pack is $299.99, and a 3-pack is priced at $399.99.

You can choose to spread payments over a year, for $16.67/month, $25/month, or $33.33/month respectively.

Best Buy also has single, 2-pack, and 3-pack versions of the Nest WiFi Pro on for the same prices, $199.99, $299.99, and $399.99, respectively. 

Target has the same prices: $199.99, $299.99, and $399.99.

Thomas Newton / Foundry

For those in the UK, you can buy directly from Google’s web shop, where a single Nest Wifi Pro unit costs £189.99, and a better value-for-money 3-pack can be snapped up for £379.99 – essentially buy two, get a third one free. There’s no two-pack.

Google lets you spread payments over 24 months, seeing you pay £7.92/month for a single unit, or £15.83/month for a 3-pack. 

Nest Wifi Pro units are also on sale from Amazon UK for the same prices, £189.99, and £379.99.

At the time of review, the Google Nest Wifi Pro is not listed on Google’s Australian store, and at the time of writing, price and release date info was not available. 

Verdict

Our tests show that as a mesh Wi-Fi system, overall performance of the Nest Wifi Pro is good, but it’s not nearly as good as we’d expected. 

There are a fair amount of security features thrown in, but you can’t configure a lot of the settings you might expect to be able to on a “Pro”-branded system. 

Depending upon your reasons for buying a mesh Wi-Fi system, this could be forgivable, as could some of the other drawbacks. But more demanding users will find this limiting, frustrating, even. It’s possible that future firmware updates will improve on this, but that’s not a given.

What really sticks in the craw is the fact that the non-U.S. version restricts buyers to slower 5GHz speeds, for no apparent reason. 

The Linksys Atlas 6 for example, supports 160MHz channels on the 5GHz band, and a 3-pack costs a lot less than what you’d be forking out for a Nest Wifi Pro 3-pack.

That said, the Nest WiFi Pro is considerably cheaper than most Wi-Fi 6E systems. The Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 3-pack, for example, costs over £1100 / $1000, while the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 router is priced around £500 / $500. 

TP-Link’s XE75 (which we’re yet to review) is a more affordable alternative, and a better choice by the looks of it.

Wi-Fi 6E may still be new to most people, but the Nest Wifi Pro has too many drawbacks for us to even consider recommending it. In fact, you should really spend some time reading our roundup of the best mesh Wi-Fi systems to see what we do recommend.

Specs (each node is identical)

Dimensions: 130 x 117 x 85 mmWeight: 595g802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6E) dual-band AXE4200/AXE5400 (2.4 GHz up to 300Mbps, 5 GHz up to 1201Mbps/2402Mbps, 6 GHz up to 2402Mbps)2×2 MU-MIMO & OFDMA1 x Ethernet WAN port1 x Ethernet LAN portRemote control and management with Google HomeGuest Wi-FiWPA3

About the author: SubSellKaro

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