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Nest Wifi vs. TP-Link Deco M5: Which mesh router should you buy?

TP-Link Deco M5 with PC
TP-Link Deco M5 with PC (Image credit: TP-Link)

Nest Wifi Router

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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.

Nest Wifi Router

Our recommendation

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

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

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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.

Security and control

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

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Network speeds are a bit slow
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Signal loss is an issue on network nodes
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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

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 RouterTP-Link Deco M5 (Single)
BandsDual (2.4 GHz/5 GHz)Dual (2.5 GHz/5 GHz)
Wireless StandardIEEE802.11a/b/g/n/acIEEE802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Wifi Output4x4 MU-MIMO4x4 MU-MIMO
BeamformingYesYes
Bluetooth LEYesNo
Processor1.4 GHz Quad-Core638 MHz Quad-Core
Gigabit Ports22
Memory4 GB32 MB
RAM1 GB256 MB
Max Coverage (Sq. ft)22002000
SecurityWPA3WPA2

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 table

Source: Google (Image credit: Source: 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 (opens in new tab) , 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.