Our recommendation

Nest Wifi Router

Security and control

TP-Link Deco M5 (3-Pack)

Powerful, reliable, and easy to use, the Nest Wifi Router represents a serious upgrade over the old Google Wifi products. It's the perfect addition to any Nest or Google Assistant-enabled smart home, offering blazing fast speeds over a WPA3-encrypted connection. While the points could be more powerful, they make up for it by acting as smart speakers.

$169 on Amazon

Pros

  • Compatible with both Google Home and Google Wifi
  • Nest Points are also smart speakers
  • Easy setup
  • Excellent specs

Cons

  • No smart speaker functionality on router
  • More expensive of the two options
  • No support for Wi-Fi 6

The Deco M5's biggest draw is the degree of control it offers over every facet of your security and privacy. From within the companion app, you can manage everything from malware scanning to device scheduling to website filtering. In exchange, however, you lose out on a lot of power — the Nest Router is significantly faster.

$160 on Amazon

Pros

  • Malware protection and content filtering
  • Ability to schedule internet usage
  • Excellent value
  • Access mode allows seamless integration with existing routers
  • Works with Alexa and IFTTT

Cons

  • Network speeds are a bit slow
  • Signal loss is an issue on network nodes
  • No support for Wi-Fi 6

The Google Nest Wifi Router edges out TP-Link's Deco M5 in this comparison - but just barely. In exchange for lower specs and slower network speeds, the Deco M5 offers exceptional security and a wealth of excellent network controls. It's also quite a bit cheaper than the Nest if you're looking for a more frugal option. Let's break it down.

Software makes all the difference

TP-Link Deco M5 with PCSource: TP-Link

With even a cursory glance, it's obvious which of the two products is more powerful. Specs-wise, the Nest Wifi Router blows the TP-Link Deco M5 completely out of the water. It offers more onboard memory, a better processor, more RAM, and generally better overall coverage.

That isn't to say the Deco M5 isn't a decent router. For the price point — a package of three costs $10 less than a single Nes Wifi Router — it's actually excellent. While you aren't likely to be doing any heavy computing over Wi-Fi, it's still good enough to support the majority of your smart home needs.

Nest Wifi Router TP-Link Deco M5 (Single)
Bands Dual (2.4 GHz/5 GHz) Dual (2.5 GHz/5 GHz)
Wireless Standard IEEE802.11a/b/g/n/ac IEEE802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Wifi Output 4x4 MU-MIMO 4x4 MU-MIMO
Beamforming Yes Yes
Bluetooth LE Yes No
Processor 1.4 GHz Quad-Core 638 MHz Quad-Core
Gigabit Ports 2 2
Memory 4 GB 32 MB
RAM 1 GB 256 MB
Max Coverage (Sq. ft) 2200 2000
Security WPA3 WPA2

Specs aren't really where the Deco M5 excels. It defines itself through software rather than hardware. The companion app, Deco, provides a ton of incredible features, both for parents and for the privacy-conscious.

First and foremost, it allows you to monitor and configure your network from anywhere via a smartphone or tablet. Included in that management is a set of full parental controls that will enable you to manage website filtering, connection scheduling, and Wi-Fi priority for specific applications and devices. Monthly reports allow you to dive into network usage details, and there are a ton of more advanced features like QoS and guest network configuration for more tech-oriented users.

Finally, Deco gives you access to a service known as Deco Antivirus, which blocks malicious websites, protects against network intrusion, and automatically quarantines compromised devices. Note that the antivirus, and many of the features listed above, are part of a subscription service known as TP-Link Homecare. Purchasing a Deco M5 gives you a complimentary three-year license. After that, you'll need to renew your subscription, though TP-Link has yet to provide a renewal cost on its website.

How the Nest Wifi Router excels

Nest Wifi Router on a tableSource: Google

The Nest Wifi Router doesn't offer any of these features. The only edge it really has over the Deco M5 on the software side is the fact that it uses WPA3 security instead of WPA2. It's also controlled entirely through the Google Home app, which, as many who've used Android devices will attest, can be something of an acquired taste.

There are a few other things that help the Nest Wifi Router come out ahead, as well. First, there's the fact that the Nest Wifi Points , available for $149 each, also work as Google Assistant-enabled smart speakers. While you're trading off a bit of power in exchange for this — they're only about half as fast as the Nest Wifi Router — they still have better specs and connectivity than the Deco M5 system.

The Nest Wifi Router's compatibility is also a big point in its favor. If you use any existing Google or Nest products in your smart home, this purchase is something of a no-brainer. That's true whether you're looking to upgrade an existing Google Wifi mesh network or simply support your smart devices with better connectivity.

Ultimately, although it doesn't have some of the software features of TP-Link's offering, the Nest Wifi Router completely outperforms it in terms of raw power. Though you can technically gain better coverage for a lower cost through TP-Link, the connection offered by the devices simply isn't as fast or stable as a Nest-powered mesh network.

Bottom line

When it comes to your home network, you want to make sure you get one of the best wireless routers available so it will last. If a powerful, highly-stable mesh network is what you're after, go with the Nest Wifi Router. It's got significantly better onboard hardware than the TP-Link. This translates to a faster, more reliable connection and greater coverage per device.

If, however, you're more interested in privacy and security, then the TP-Link Deco M5 is a better choice. Few other mesh networks on the market give you as many options for controlling your network and data. Moreover, its specs are fairly decent given the price - it outperforms most other devices at its price-point.

Our pick

Nest Wifi Router

Top marks to Google

For raw power and speed, the Nest Wifi Router blows TP-Link out of the water. If performance is what you're after, this is the product to go with. It also integrates seamlessly with the rest of Google's ecosystem, both Google Wifi and Google Nest.

Low cost, high security

TP-Link Deco M5 (Three Pack)

For the security-conscious

Covering a total of 5500 square feet, the TP-Link Deco M5 three-pack can support up to 100 devices. You've got a ton of control over your mesh network through the Deco companion app, as well. It's ultimately up to you if that control is worth sacrificing some speed and reliability.

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