Google Nest Wifi

Google Nest Wifi in 2024: Is It Still a Solid Choice?

The Nest Wifi router made its debut in 2019, introducing a new generation of home networking solutions. Over the years, newer router models have emerged, including updated offerings from Google itself. While Google has officially discontinued the Nest Wifi, it remains available for purchase through platforms like Amazon and various second-hand outlets.

What is the Google Nest Wifi?

The Google Nest Wifi builds upon its predecessor, the original Google Wifi released in 2016, as an advanced wireless mesh system. Mesh routers have gained popularity due to their ability to extend network coverage throughout homes or businesses using multiple extension points. This setup effectively minimizes weak spots and ensures consistent wireless internet access across the entire building.

Unlike traditional Wi-Fi routers, which may struggle with coverage in larger spaces, the Google Nest Wifi consists of two main components:

  1. The Router: This serves as the central hub, connecting directly to your internet service via an ethernet cable. It features ports on the rear for connecting to your modem and additional devices such as desktop PCs or smart home hubs like the Philips Hue Hub.
  2. The Google Nest Point: This extension unit enhances Wi-Fi coverage to distant areas without requiring ethernet connectivity. It operates solely on wireless connections and integrates Google Assistant functionalities similar to those found in Nest Mini devices. This includes voice commands for managing internet speeds and device connections through the Google Home app.

Google has enhanced the Nest Wifi with improved CPU, RAM, and radio capabilities compared to its predecessor, enhancing overall internet connectivity. While it lacks a dedicated backhaul band found in some routers, it utilizes a dual-band system (2.4GHz and 5GHz) to efficiently manage connections between the router, Nest Points, and connected devices. This setup ensures robust performance suitable for most user needs, despite the absence of a dedicated backhaul band.

Is There Any Need of Nest Point?

The Google Nest Wifi Point offers sound quality akin to the Nest Mini, complete with touch controls and a glowing ring that lights up white during use and orange when muted. Google provides the Point in a standard white model, along with options in pale blue or pale pink to better blend with various decor styles.

As for the necessity of a Nest Point, technically, the Google Nest Wifi router functions independently without Points. A single unit can cover up to 2,200 square feet, while adding a Point extends coverage to 3,800 square feet. For larger or more obstructed spaces, such as homes with thick walls causing dead spots, additional Points or routers can significantly enhance coverage and ensure consistent internet access throughout every part of the building.

In my personal experience, deploying a kit with one router and one Point effectively covered a 3,000-square-foot area, including multiple floors and areas like the attic, main level, and basement of a co-working space. While speeds varied slightly in farther corners, connectivity remained reliable overall. This flexibility allows users to tailor their mesh network setup based on specific coverage needs, whether they prioritize extensive coverage without Google Assistant features or require additional ethernet ports provided by multiple Google Nest Wifi routers.

Can Nest Wifi be Used with Older Google Wifi Hardware?

If you already own an older Google Nest Wifi setup, the compatibility with Nest Wifi is good news—they can work together seamlessly, although Nest Wifi routers and Points offer enhanced speed capabilities. This means you have the flexibility to integrate Nest Wifi components into your existing Google Wifi network setup. However, it’s important to note that the newer Nest Wifi Pro Points are not compatible with older Google Wifi setups.

Nest Wifi : Not Without Its Flaws

While I found the Google Nest Wifi to be quite impressive, it’s not without its drawbacks. Here are a few areas where it falls short:

  1. Speed Limitations: The Nest Wifi struggles with connections faster than 250-300Mbps. While it can occasionally surpass 300Mbps, this isn’t typical. Given that most US households have connections at or under 100Mbps, this limitation may not affect many users significantly.
  2. No Wi-Fi 6 Support: Unlike newer models, the Nest Wifi sticks with Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), missing out on the faster speeds and enhanced support promised by Wi-Fi 6. While Wi-Fi 6 adoption is still growing, future-proofing could have been better addressed.
  3. Point Speed Disparity: The Nest Wifi Points, designed with Assistant features, use AC1200 MU-MIMO 2×2 radios, slower than the router’s AC2200 MU-MIMO 4×4 and 2×2 radios. This decision might seem odd, affecting overall network performance near Points.
  4. Limited Ethernet Ports: With only one extra ethernet port on the router and none on the Points, users needing more direct connections must resort to switches or other solutions.
  5. Dual App Dependency: Some advanced settings of the Nest Wifi require the Google Wifi app instead of the Home app, causing a slight inconvenience until full integration is achieved.
  6. No Compatibility with OnHub: Users of the older Google OnHub routers won’t find compatibility with Nest Wifi, limiting upgrade options for existing Google router users.

Despite these shortcomings, Nest Wifi remains a solid choice, though improvements like integrating Assistant functionality into the router itself could enhance its appeal and performance in diverse setups.

Final Thoughts on Google Nest Wifi

The Google Nest Wifi was a standout mesh Wi-Fi system upon its release. However, with Wi-Fi 5 becoming outdated, is it a worthwhile purchase in 2023? Frankly, no. There are now newer and more advanced options available. Nevertheless, if you’re content with Wi-Fi 5 and can find it at a competitive price, the Google Nest Wifi remains a solid choice, especially for users with slower internet connections.

The upside is that you can snag the Google Nest Wifi for around $100 or less from retailers like Amazon, a significant drop from its original $300 price tag and a fraction of the cost of the Nest Wifi Pro. However, if budget permits, opting for the Nest Wifi Pro or a newer alternative would be the more prudent recommendation. These newer models offer similar features to the older Nest Wifi, excluding Google Assistant support, and even boast additional ethernet ports, including on the points.

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