Nest Wifi Pro Review: Honestly, it’s a bit disappointing

This is a fast mesh system but I don’t know who it’s supposed to be for.

Nest Wifi Pro review
(Image: © Samuel Contreras)

Android Central Verdict

Nest Wifi Pro brings Google’s Wi-Fi solution up to date with a snappy tri-band AXE5400 connection with a 6GHz band for devices and the backhaul. Performance was generally strong compared to similar mesh kits but the lack of advanced settings and Google’s requirement to use Nest Cloud Services to see which devices are using your Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi 6E devices also rarely connect to Wi-Fi 6E or use 160MHz connections with Nest Wifi Pro.

Pros

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    Compact and attractive nodes

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    Fast AXE5400 connection

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    Easy setup and management with Google Home

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    Responsive device usage tools

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    Parental controls with SafeSearch are free

Cons

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    No multi-gig Ethernet

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    Basic features require Nest Cloud Services

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    Devices rarely connect to WI-Fi 6E

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For many of us, Google Wifi was one of the first mesh Wi-Fi systems we had heard of with the promise of better Wi-Fi being carried to fruition by multiple tiny routers. Google followed that up with much faster, but also larger and more expensive Nest Wifi. We applauded this mesh in our Nest Wifi review, but the 2020 hardware that impressed then, doesn’t hold up today. Google has rectified that with the Nest Wifi Pro sporting a snappy and modern AXE5400 tri-band Wi-Fi 6 connection.

Google has also made sure Nest Wifi Pro hasn’t skipped a day at the gym with compact rounded housings that feel dense and high-quality in the hand. Nest Wifi Pro nodes even manage to make comparable devices from eero and TP-Link look big. To be honest, Nest Wifi Pro nodes would likely be at the top of my list when it comes to looks if it wasn’t for the glossy plastic.

That being said, Nest Wifi Pro might not be the simple drop-in upgrade many Google Wifi or Nest Wifi users might reasonably expect. We’ll keep the physics simple, but Wi-Fi 6E devices using 6GHz for the mesh connection might not be the potent solution we nerds expected.

Nest Wifi Pro Review: Price and availability

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras)

Nest Wifi Pro has been available since early October 2022 and comes in a few different kits. You can buy a single Nest Wifi Pro router in one of four colors. The base white color is called snow, a light yellow color is called lemongrass, off-white is called linen, and light blue is called fog. You can get a three-pack either in white or with white, linen, and fog. The two-pack is only available in white. For this review, Google provided the multi-color three-pack.

For a single router, you'll pay $199.99 but a two-pack is just $100 more at $299.99. A three-pack comes in at $399.99.

Google’s official spec estimates coverage at 2,200 square feet for a single Nest Wifi Pro with linear scaling. That is 4,400 square feet for two, and 6,600 square feet for three. Spoiler alert: Almost no one will see these coverage numbers in a house with these annoying obstacles called walls.

Worthy of praise is Google’s environmental efforts which include mostly cardboard packaging that can go right in the recycle bin. Google also states that Nest Wifi Pro is made of approximately 60% recycled material by weight. This suggests that the plastics may be made of virgin material but I’m happy to see that Google is at least considering the environment with its products.

Nest Wifi Pro Review: What I like

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras)

There’s a lot to like here. Google’s designs aren’t for everyone and Nest Wifi Pro’s looks are polarizing in my experience. Personally, I don’t care much for the plastics and the colors Google chose but other people I’ve shown have liked the design and more surprisingly, the colors. Even so, I like the way the Nest Wifi Nodes feel in the hand with reassuring weight (595g) and a nice grippy pad on the bottom.

Around the back, you get two Ethernet ports and a barrel plug for power. I do wish Google had stuck with USB-C like they used on Nest Wifi and later revision of Google Wifi. This is probably done since Nest Wifi Pro is using 10v power (most USB-C chargers use 5v) so it wouldn’t work properly with many other USB-C devices. It’s not like you’re frequently unplugging your router, but USB-C is a more universal standard and would have been easier to replace if needed.

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras)

The two Ethernet ports only run at gigabit speeds so there’s no support for multi-gig network speeds here. They are labeled separately as WAN and LAN but either port will work as LAN on one of the remote nodes.

Moving on to the main attraction, Wi-Fi, Nest Wifi Pro has a tri-band AXE5400 connection. This means that the 5GHz band and 6GHz band each get a 160MHz band with up to 2402Mbps speeds. The 2.4GHz band is more than sufficient for the smart home devices that will be mainly using it with 574Mbps of capacity. While 160MHz connections are supported, they must be enabled in the network settings in the Google Home app. Google says that enabling 160MHz could lead to incompatibility with some devices but I had no issues with mine. Your mileage may vary here.

WPA3 is also supported but off by default for the same reasons. As with any standard, it will take years for most folks to upgrade their devices to support them. It’s nice that Google has included these options, especially given the brevity of the rest of its settings. In my testing, I left 160MHz mode on but neither of my 160MHz devices, a PC with an Intel AX210 Wi-Fi card and a Zenfone 8, connected at more than 1,200Mbps. For all intents and purposes, Nest Wifi Pro acted like an 80MHz router as far as my devices were concerned.

To get some numbers on Nest Wifi Pro's performance, I performed speed tests in three locations in my home. Each location had a node positioned in the same room or one room over for the garage. Since this is a mesh system from a company other than ASUS, all WI-Fi bands were combined under a single name so I had no control over which band was used. In the end, every device used 5GHz in the speed tests.

My internet is provided by a local fiber provider with about 940Mbps down and up during an off-peak time when I test routers. Ping times average between 2ms and 4ms to the nearest test server (within my ISP) with 15-25ms jitter on most tests. This is pretty good for a mesh system without device prioritization enabled.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Nest Wifi Pro speed tests (download/upload)
Header Cell - Column 0 Living Room (primary)Bedroom (node)Garage
Zenfone 8 (Wi-Fi 6E)669/619Mbps, 659/241Mbps287/277Mbps, 557/432Mbps373/359Mbps, 411/369Mbps
Galaxy S20+ (Wi-Fi 6)670/471Mbps, 670/627Mbps514/370Mbps, 514/392Mbps498/283Mbps, 511/297Mbps
LG G8 (Wi-Fi 5)472/599Mbps, 478/566Mbps487/384Mbps, 513/463Mbps391/259Mbps, 381/234Mbps

Speeds were consistent but not impressive. The cause of this speed variation can be observed by connecting to the node via Ethernet and performing a speed test. Naturally, the base router in the living room saw nearly perfect speeds with the lower speeds on either node.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Wired speed tests
LocationSpeed (download/upload)
Primary node (living room)930/939Mbps, 934/905Mbps
Node 1 (laundry room)775/764Mbps, 826/785Mbps
Node 2 (bedroom)545/459Mbps, 644/678Mbps

Unfortunately, to explain this, we need to talk a bit about physics. I’ll keep it light.

Radio waves, like those used on a router, have peaks and valleys which correspond to the signal strength in height. The space between those peaks however gets ever nearer as frequency increases. Waves on 2.4GHz are wider than 5GHz which is wider than 6GHz. The more peaks you have inside an object, like a sheet of drywall, the weaker the signal gets. Walls have a devastating impact on signal strength with 6GHz Wi-Fi. This is exacerbated on Nest Wifi Pro which uses 6GHz to link the nodes.

While 6GHz is very fast, its inability to penetrate walls as well as 5GHz makes it a big compromise with mesh Wi-Fi. Netgear, for example, stuck with 5GHz for its quad-band Wi-Fi 6E mesh router. In my Orbi RBKE963 review, I saw lower speeds than are possible with 6GHz but with much more flexible node placement. This is one of the reasons why some customer reviews for Nest Wifi Pro are complaining about unexpectedly poor coverage and low speeds.

Just make sure to pay attention to Nest Wifi Pro’s mesh connection testing tool which will tell you if your nodes are close enough to the primary router. In fact, I needed to move one of my nodes closer during my initial setup despite there only being two walls (one at an oblique angle to be fair) and a door in the way.

There's a good chance you'll need more Nest Wifi Pro nodes than you did Nest Wifi or Google Wifi. Luckily Google got the pricing right if you buy a two or three-pack since each additional node is just $100. Just don’t expect Nest Wifi Pro nodes to go where your older Nest Wifi or Google Wifi nodes were.