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Google's OnHub routers look good, perform well and are easy to set up. While Google tends to overcomplicate a lot of what it does, it really did nail things with OnHub. Anyone can get it set up and running and never once have to read a help file.

For most people, OnHub would be perfect. Get it going, maybe with a wired switch to your entertainment center, and let it do its thing as you use wireless "stuff" in and around your home. For those of us who want or need a little more from a router, the lack of features and settings means you won't be using OnHub to manage your network, but it can still make for an excellent wireless bridge — if you can get past the $200 price tag. And of course, there will be a set of users that OnHub just won't work for because of its simplicity.

Have a read see what our time with OnHub has been like.

The Good

  • Easy setup
  • Good wireless speeds and range
  • Enterprise-grade TPM software verification
  • Silent updates
  • Internet of Things ready

The Bad

  • Missing "prosumer" features
  • Single LAN port
  • No advanced networking settings
  • A bit pricey

Like a vase

OnHub hardware specs, design and details

TP Link OnHub

Google sells two routers under the OnHub brand, one from ASUS and one from TP Link. They are both dual-band routers, operating on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.

Both routers come with a WAN port (the place where you plug the modem or gateway from your ISP in), A single LAN port and a USB 3.0 port, which won't work for a printer or attached storage.

They are designed to look like they belong in your living room. Google wants you to put your OnHub router out in the open, so there are no external antennas or blinking lights or switches or doodads hanging off the thing. They really do look like a vase. Having your router out in the open means it's going to work better, but you still need to provide a cable from your Internet gateway to the OnHub. You won't be putting OnHub anywhere without wires. Plus, power cables, ya know.

Proximity sensor

Both routers are designed with the same specifications, but there are a few differences. The TP Link version comes with a removable outer shell so you can find a replacement that better matches your decor. The ASUS version is equipped with a proximity sensor on the top. Right now you can wave your hand over the router to schedule priority mode for a device that's connected wirelessly, but it's possible that updates will bring more functionality. At the time of this writing, the ASUS version sells for $220 from Google, and the TP Link version sells for $200. Replacement shells for the TP Link version start at $30.

Specifications

CategoryASUS OnHubTP Link OnHub
CPU1.4 GHz dual-core1.4 GHz dual-core
Ambient lightYesYes
Proximity sensorYesNo
Removable shellNoYes
Size9.72 in x 5 in x 5.2in (247mm x 128m x 132 mm)7.48 in x 4.53 in x 4.13 in (190mm x 115mm x 105mm)
Weight0.76 kg0.86 kg

Both devices share the same network and connectivity options:

  • IEEE 802.11.a/b/g/n/ac support
  • AC 1900 support
  • Bluetooth Smart ready
  • IEEE 802.15.4 ready
  • Weave-ready
  • Simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz support

That was easy

Google OnHub Setup: There's an app for that

OnHub message

If you fire up a web browser and surf to the IP address assigned to your OnHub, you'll see a message telling you to use the app. Unlike most every other router in use today, there is no web-based control panel to set up and administer OnHub. The good news is that using the Google On app to set things up (Android and iOS only) is easy.

Once you have your OnHub powered up and connected to the modem or gateway provided by your Internet service provider, or the wall port in your apartment, or however you connect to the Internet, you grab your phone and stand next to it.

The speaker inside the OnHub router will generate a tone to pair with the app (there's also a code that can be used as a failsafe) and the app walks you through connecting to your service provider, setting a password (OnHub requires a protected network) and getting everything up and running.

If you're connecting OnHub behind another router, you'll be advised to run things in bridge mode. This is useful if you want to use OnHub as a network extender or secondary Wifi AP, or even as the primary wireless AP while disabling the one upstream.

Once everything is up and running, there are a few settings you can investigate and change through the Google On app. We had a good look at those, and the video below explains them all.

What can Google see?

Google OnHub Privacy

Privacy and OnHub

Google has a few settings where you can opt-in (or out) of Google Cloud services and usage statistic gathering for OnHub users. You find these, like everything else, in the Google On app (opens in new tab). Also built into the app is a full disclosure document about exactly what Google is and isn't collecting.

Google collects some system information and stores it in the cloud. This includes things like broadcasted information from connected devices, current transfer speeds and historical data consumption and network settings. Your Wifi password is not sent to Google and is only stored on your OnHub device.

In addition, sanitized and anonymous usage stats are collected. Google says examples of the types of data collected include "aggregated counts of WAN type usage (DHCP, Static IP, PPPoE) and mean download time for update payloads." According to the privacy policy documents, the Google On app and your OnHub do not track the websites you visit or collect the content of any traffic on your network.

This is an important distinction. Google seems to be tracking details needed to improve the product, see which features people are using, and see if things work as designed. They don't seem to be keeping a record of the sites you visit through OnHub.

These documents are available online, and can (and should) be read before you buy or login to an OnHub device. We suggest you read them in their entirety, because your privacy is important.

OnHub, the Google On app and your privacy

How does it all work

Google OnHub performance

OnHub

For most of us, a router is one of those things we set up and never think of again. We just want it to work well, and we never want to say, "Hey, let's look at the router!" The OnHub excels here.

Once you've spent five minutes setting it up, you'll have fast wireless with good range that works with just about anything with a Wifi radio. We can't stress enough just how right Google got things when it comes to simplicity and performance with OnHub. We did some completely unscientific testing with both models, and we're pleased with the results.

Speed tests

We started with some speed tests. Because we're testing the router and not the Internet connection, we didn't just surf to SpeedTest.net or use the app.

We used this WiFi Speed Test app (opens in new tab) from Google Play. A small server was placed on a 2015 MacBook Pro. This was connected wirelessly to the OnHub network. The client app was run on a Nexus 6P in the same room as the OnHub router. We exported all the results from a bunch of tests, then pulled a random sample out of the middle.

The results tell us a couple things. OnHub is pretty fast, having wireless speeds of 805.5 Mbps on average in our tests. OnHub is pretty consistent, both on the upload and the download. With no extra optimization (partially because OnHub limits your options here) OnHub gives you a fast Wifi network for work and play.

Also worth noting, while these results might make you think The ASUS version is "better" than the TP Link version, these numbers are so small that the variance is still minor. Technically the ASUS version was more consistent and had a stronger signal in our testing, but not in any way you would notice in the real world.

Both routers also have great range. We were able to get about 250 feet away from the TP Link version before the signal completely dropped, and could get about 225 feet away from the ASUS version before the same thing happened. Both routers were quick to connect once we went back into range.

We can highly recommend either version based on the performance.

The Internet of Things

One important thing about Google OnHub is how it's ready for more. With built-in support for IEEE 802.15.4, Low-energy Bluetooth Smart and Weave, OnHub will be able to connect to new products like door locks, cameras, automated sprinklers, vacuum cleaners and more directly. This opens up plenty of possibility for Google in the home automation and Internet of Things space.

The promise of automatic updates means we can see support added for devices and features that use these networking protocols, and Google is using the Trusted Platform Module — software verification usually reserved for very expensive enterprise-grade equipment — to make sure it's all secure and safe. Buying Google OnHub today also gets you ready for any future potential.

Not for everybody

Google OnHub for power users

Wrt Merlin

If you just want everything to work when it comes to your home network, you'll love the way OnHub handles everything. Simple setup, reliable and fast network speeds, and automatic updates while you're not using it make things perfect for you. Plug and play, and forget.

On the other hand, if you're the type of user who loves to adjust and tweak settings, or a person who wants home network features beyond the basics, OnHub can drive you crazy.

I've mentioned before about my issues with the single LAN port. If you need a multi-room wired network, you'll either need to run cable through your house or daisy chain switches. Super-power-network-geeks who have a closet filled with gear won't have any issue here, but someone with a medium-sized network who didn't run cat 6 cable from every room to a closet (like me) will need to consider how (or if) to best use OnHub.

There is a single USB 3.0 port on the back of OnHub, but you can't use it to do anything you would use a USB port on a router to do. It's there solely to connect to a computer and do things like flash a factory image, and it won't communicate with a printer, or a hard drive, or a USB stick or anything else. You'll also notice the lack of a DLNA server or an FTP server, so not being able to attach any storage isn't a big deal after all since you couldn't do anything with it anyway.

While there are options for custom DNS, static IPs and port forwarding, there are no VPN tools or advanced settings you would want if you were looking to use the OnHub as an AP. Most frustrating to me was the inability to adjust settings on the DNS server. Instead I had to go to each and every piece of equipment that needed a static IP and change the default gateway on the device.

This sounds like a lot of complaining, but it isn't. OnHub was never advertised as a piece of advanced networking gear that can replace a $2,000 enterprise-grade wireless AP, or even a prosumer-level piece of networking gear. I'm fine with the things OnHub can do versus what it can't do.

You might not be the target audience, and that's okay

Google OnHub: The Bottom Line

OnHub TP Link

If you skipped the review and jumped to this part, chances are you are the target audience for OnHub. It's designed for people who don't get any enjoyment out of settings pages, don't need any advanced features, and just want a simple router that the whole house can use. And OnHub excels at these things.

I'm a nerd, and am not the target audience for OnHub. But that also means I do things like play with routers and switches for fun. I can say without a doubt that OnHub is the easiest way to get all your things online. Anyone who can pick up the phone and call someone to get Internet delivered to their home can set up OnHub in minutes, provided they have an Android or Apple phone or tablet. Google does a lot of things that are half-baked, but OnHub is not one of them.

However, if you need more than the simple basics, OnHub can be frustrating. As a Google enthusiast, I'll wedge OnHub into my existing network only because I'm curious what the future has in store along the connected home front.

Should you buy it? Eh, maybe

The best thing OnHub has going for it is that it's a super-simple experience. The setup app is very nicely done. And if you're not running any more wires into (and from) then thing than is absolutely necessary — power and from the modem — then it definitely can live its life out in the open in your living room.

If you need anything more than that, though, you'll likely find better value elsewhere.

But OnHub really is about making things simple. Connected devices are clearly listed. You can even easily see how much data devices are using at any given time, and how much things have used in aggregate over time. (You might be surprised.) That's the real key here. Things are easy to understand, and they don't come in a UI that only neckbeards can understand.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

50 Comments
  • I see the point for the OnHub as a simple router for folks who don't tinker about with their router, don't have much ethernet-capable devices or none at all and just want a simple router that just plain works. But for me and some others over here, it's pretty clear that we are not what Google is aiming for, since I do like to tinker with my router, changing DNS, port-forwarding options and others, especially since I'm a heavy PC gamer and need to tweak my router for the best possible gaming experience. The OnHub obviously isn't made for that, so it's not for me. That doesn't mean it's not for you. If you fit the description above (don't have ethernet devices, want a router that's easy to set-up and once done, you want to forget about it), then the OnHub is for you. If you guys wanna know, I use an ASUS RT-N66U router. No, this guy isn't using 802.11ac, even though this guy has a plethora of devices that use Wireless AC.
  • A simple, "just works" router is all well and good for most people, but it's just SO expensive. This would be perfect for my parents, but there is no way I'm recommending that they spend two hundred bucks on a router. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That's what I was thinking. The "simple, just works" router that my in-laws have been using for half a decade originally cost $35.
  • Yeah, it is expensive. I'm the only techie in the family, so I set up our ASUS router in a way that all my family needs to do is to connect to the access point and not worry about the rest. I haven't tweaked the router in a long while since it works perfectly. Soft and sweet Marshmallow
  • That's a Jobs line AC Posted via the Android Central App
  • I bought mine to see if it would fill in the dead spots in my house. Not only did it increase the signal in the dead spots my entire back yard is running full signal for WiFi. I liked the idea of turning it on and not having to mess with a bunch of settings. I guess I am the guy Jerry was talking about. Bottom line for me? All of my WiFi problems solved in about 10 minutes. I give it a thumbs up.
  • I'm blown away with the gains in speed I've seen since replacing my linksys. Color me impressed too!
  • That's awesome. If the signal strength is really that good, then maybe my complaints about the price aren't as warranted as I had thought. My router (Buffalo AirStation AC 1750) has an extremely strong signal and is about $60 cheaper than the Asus OnHub, but its interface is pretty complicated and it's kind of ugly. Paying a $60 premium for something that looks nice and has a more user-friendly UI isn't bad.
  • It's its
  • Hey, he was correct 7 out of 9 times. Only the first two times were incorrect. We can't expect better than that for tech writers. Well, we can expect it, but we'll be disappointed.
  • Lmao Lam I Am
  • I am interested in these because of signal strength that many users are reporting. I've got 2 Ethernet cables connected to my current router. One goes directly to a smart TV. I've got another Ethernet connection that goes to a Power line adapter. My power line adapters connect 2 additional TVs, a computer, a printer and a Western Digital MyCloud network storage drive. If I added an unmanaged 5-port network switch to the OnHub, is there anything about this that the OnHub couldn't handle?
  • Should be fine
  • Might that be hella confusing? You day Google Onhub for power users then show a screen shot of your regular home router. I'll be honest, I thought that was for the Onhub until I looked up rt-ac66u.
  • Another flop from Google. Who wants to spend so much on a damn router? No wonder you don't even have 10 comments on this review.
  • OnHub is $900 cheaper than my other router. Expensive is a relative thing.
  • Holy four asterisks. Okay, I'm really curious. How many devices are connected to that thing?
  • I have a hospice across the street from my house. There's a guy living there who got way too sick way too early in life. He's a nerd. AC donated him a Chromebook, I provide the Internet for him. I needed something with a lot of range, and at the time the Rukus R710 and an external antenna was the way to get there. :) As an aside — you can see the OnHub from his room, but you can't reliably connect. If there was a way to use an external cannon antenna, it would probably work just fine.
  • Well that's about the most heartwarming excuse to buy some really sweet tech that I've ever heard. :) But seriously, that's really a hell of a thing to do.
  • Dude needed some help. We're all in this shitty world together.
  • I agree that price is relative. I have purchased one recently and plan to use it as a AP. I want to have good AC wireless coverage throughout the house. I have a 18 port Gigabit switch that feeds most of my devices throughout the house. I have a TV, sattilite, Blu-ray, and a Chromecast wired with car6 in the livingroom
  • I'd put "Silent updates" under the bad category (especially since it appears there's no way to change/disable it). Too much potential for something to go amiss or for some funny business like what Cisco did with some of their Linksys routers a few years ago: www.computerworld.com/article/2505265/technology-law-regulation/linksys-...
  • Timely review. I picked up the TP link version yesterday and couldn't be happier. So far, I've seen impressive speeds and like the amount of information it provides. I'm not playing around with settings a lot, and appreciate the simplicity. I don't think the router is overpriced for the simplicity it brings to the table. The value proposition is up to each user, but I think Google has a winner here!
  • Single LAN port isn't an issue for most cases where this would be used. I always run just a single ethernet to a better quality 16 or 24 port switch anyway. The router just handles the internet, Wi-Fi and DHCP. Really really good Wi-Fi is the key and people are prepared to spend a bit to get the best coverage/performance for the easiest solution. Looking forward to seeing this become available in the UK.
  • Can you do MAC address filtering? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I haven't seen (or heard) of any way to do it. There is no front-end in the app.
  • Currently, no. There is: Manual DNS, DHCP, Static IP, PPPoE, DHCP reservations, port forwarding, UPnP
  • I just got my OnHub last week, and I've never had better WiFi. Now my phone connects as I enter the building and well before entering my appartment. I know how to tinker with routers, and have done so for years, but now I don't have too and more - thank you Google! I only had a small problem during setup. I had to aprove the OnHubs mac-address online via my internet provider (some security thing they have). luckily the OnHub had a lan port - only time I used it, since all my other stuff is connected via WiFi
  • So could I use my current router (turning off wifi) for ethernet connections, and run one ethernet cable to a central location in the house to this for wifi? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yes.
  • Yup
  • Yes. In fact I'm doing that at the moment, but have not yet switched off the wifi from my old router. I will need to replace a new switch anyway.
  • So could I use my current router (turning off wifi) for ethernet connections, and run one ethernet cable to a central location in the house to this for wifi? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yes
  • I manage vacation houses and so far I have 6 installed. They work well, are stable and notify my Android phone when there is a problem. These were all problem homes and my life is now easier
  • That's the best use-case for something like this that I've ever heard. I can see how using OnHub routers makes it a LOT easier.
  • I can understand why Google is doing this KISS principle with this router. Most of us just want a strong signal and simple setup. On that count it succeeds with flying marks. It would be nice if they could have an advanced setting to do what Jerry and many of us would like to do. That might happen after these have been out for awhile. Or never, you never know. For us who are the latter we can find a place for this. The price tag though needs some justification. A 50.00 price drop would help. I am curious about the Internet of things angle hope it pans out. Posted via the Android Central App
  • How does this work in the UK for ADSL and Fibre customers?
  • I don't think UK availability or pricing has been announced just yet. But it should work exactly the same (unless the UK has laws or regulations I'm unaware of). The signal coming into your home is connected to a modem or gateway. That is connected via a standard CAT6 cable to the OnHub's WAN port. If your service provider has special settings, you enter those in the app. If not, it initiates the handshake and is assigned an address by your provider. You then use the app to create a network name and password. Connect your devices to that network and you're done. It literally only takes 5 minutes to set it up if you don't need any specific settings for your connected devices.
  • I easily say 2Wire works better in Web UI. OnHub really is like a guitar amp. It gives more under a different name.
    Posted from Chrome Mobile
  • My main concern is lack of Ethernet ports and complete lack of IPV6, although it is meant to be coming in a future software update. As most of the UK ISP's are moving to IPV6 from April to November this year I would hope that IPV6 features and functions come to this router very soon. Also disappointing that there us still no potential release date for UK. So only other way is buying one while in USA or paying extortionate prices on eBay. I have the new Linksys WRT1900ACS and its very disappointing.
  • I wonder how well these manage ports in households with multiple XBox's (XBoxen??). I have an Asus RT-AC68U now - along w/ two Xbox Ones - and constantly have to reboot the router and XBox to get an "Open" NAT. :/ (UPNP enabled). I like being ABLE to manage settings when needed, but I'd PREFER to have the device be smart enough (UPNP-wise) to just handle it for me.. It would be worth $200 to me if it could actually do this!
  • You always buy it from best buy or somewhere with a good returns policy to try it...
  • Why in all these articles gushing over this thing is no one addressing the data collection and privacy issues? How about an article that details any default DNS and/or proxy settings. What data is shared with Google and used how.
  • I agree NotTellinYou. Whilst it solves some wireless issues it's lacking in many areas and is closed to any configuration customisation. Also as we all know if it's Google it's gathering data on you and what your family are doing and browsing
  • So am I right in thinking I can't disable DHCP and have this thing hanging off the back of my LRT224 dual WAN router?
  • I have Windstream DSL and a windstream modem/router. Its located in our finished basement and I want to boost the signal on the main level.
    I'm currently using an Almond brand wi-fi extender and it seems to work pretty good but I was wondering if the Google OnHub could improve speeds and/or replace the Windstream all in one modem/router? Thank you
  • I got my onhub yesterday. I have a Nighthawk but still have had wireless issues with reach and consistency (between 2.4 and 5 networks). I wanted to see if their blended 2.4/5 network improved things and general reach across the house. As a similar first example - my old networks on my Tivo used to get around 35%-40% signal strength. As soon as I switched to the OnHub, it went up to 75%., Normal speed tests also seem fine, but those were OK before but it was a signal strength issue. I'll continue to some device by device testing, but the initial real life test was good.
  • I have also been looking at the
    NETGEAR WiFi Router X6 AC3200 R8000. It looks like a good router. Will it make streaming from Netflix and Pandora and Internet browsing on multiple devices faster with little to no buffering? Or will the speed remain the same but stronger signal? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Dang it! I bought an AC Archer router not too long ago, and not long after that, I heard of Google's OnHub router. Now I see this review and it's making me wish I had one. The one LAN port thing does not bother me at all, since my current AC Archer router has 4 of them and I only use one anyway (for my PC). I'm waiting on the whole smart home functionality to be active. Once that kicks in, bye bye Archer router, hello OnHub :P