Google Nest Wifi Pro Router Review: An Easy, Imperfect, 6E Upgrade


Nest Wifi Pro node on a shelf next to a houseplant.

In October 2022, Google introduced the Nest Wifi Pro, a Wi-Fi 6E mesh system with cutting-edge specs and a sleek, modern look. It’s the successor to the Nest Wifi released in 2019, and it joins Google’s growing collection of smart home gadgetry sporting a seamless user experience.

My experience using a trio of Nest Wifi Pro nodes was mostly seamless, but there were some quirks and weird behavior that annoyed me, and the simplified controls wouldn’t let me take the reins to fix that behavior. That said, if you’re not interested in tweaking router settings and just want to upgrade to a Wi-Fi 6E mesh experience without any fuss, the Nest Wifi Pro does have a lot to offer at a reasonable price.

Here’s What We Like

  • Ultra-easy setup and expansion
  • Clean, modern aesthetic
  • Satisfactory coverage and speed

And What We Don’t

  • Controls will be too limited for some
  • Weird tendency to block you from the 6Ghz band
  • Not the fastest speeds you can get

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Hardware and Design: Egg-scellentContents of a Nest Wifi Pro three-pack, including routers, power cords, Ethernet cable, and manuals.

Person's hand holding a Nest Wifi Pro mesh router.

Closeup of the ports on the back of a Nest Wifi Pro mesh router.

  • 1 x 1-gig WAN/Ethernet port
  • 1 x 1-gig Ethernet port
  • Thread border router

When you get the Nest Wifi Pro, you can buy a single unit, but two- and three-packs are available as well. Each unit or “node” is about the size of a large hand, identical aside from color, and sort of resembles a large, oblong-shaped egg.

That’s part of the style the Nest Wifi Pro models itself on, one of curved corners and light, soft colors that you’ll see in other modern Google smart home products like the Pixel Watch and Nest Doorbell. The Wifi Pro nodes, in particular, are meant to blend into your decor. In my case, it does match the interior of my home pretty well, though not so much of the black-and-grey utilitarian style of most of the gear I have in my office right now. I at least liked the Pro’s look better than the “dark Bionicle” look of something like the ASUS ROG Rapture or the recycle bin vibe of the ZenWifi mesh system.

Each Pro node has one WLAN/LAN port and one single LAN port, and since they’re identical, you can make any node your primary router and the rest a child node. If you’re buying only one node, though, you’ve got only one Ethernet port to use. You won’t mind if you don’t make use of wired connections much, but I prefer to whenever possible, so I’d find a single unit pretty limiting.

Of course, if I wanted to get creative, I could add Ethernet ports with a switch. Competing 6E mesh routers like the Linksys Hydra Pro, though, offer me at least four times the number of ports a single Pro node would.

You’ll also see in Google’s promotion of the Nest Wifi Pro that it functions as a Thread border router. Not having any “Built on Thread” tech, I wasn’t able to test that functionality. Even so, it didn’t seem that pressing since Matter seems to be in a sad state of affairs right now anyway.

Setup: Very SimpleA Nest Wifi Pro node with a blue light indicating setup is in progress.

Google Home app setting up Nest Wifi Pro mesh network.

Setting up the Nest Wifi Pro requires the Google Home app (for Android or iPhone). I first tried it on a phone without a cellular data connection, like I’d set up networks on other routers, but that didn’t work. I switched to a phone with a data connection, and from there, setup was (mostly) a breeze.

I did hit a wall when I accidentally connected my modem to the LAN port on the main node instead of the WLAN port. That made the Google Home app throw a vague error message when I tried to initiate the setup.

The problem was, of course, my fault, but I wish the error message had suggested checking the connection in the first place. That would have saved me a lot of pointless troubleshooting. So when you’re setting up the Nest Wifi Pro, learn from my mistake and make sure you plug your modem cable into the node’s WLAN port, which is the lefthand one with a globe symbol above it.

Controls: Maybe Too SimpleNetwork settings in the Google Home app.
All of the advanced network settings in the Google Home app.Next Slide

The Nest Wifi Pro puts convenience and ease of use ahead of everything else. All controls are managed through the smartphone app. Unfortunately, you don’t get much in the way of customization and fine-tuning. That’s all automated, and you probably won’t be able to install third-party router firmware like DD-WRT either.

If you’re already a Google/Nest router user, you’re probably used to this. Reviews of the Nest Wifi Pro’s predecessors were critical of the lack of controls. If you’re coming from a traditional router setup and are used to having fine control over all sorts of networking minutia, you might find the Google Home experience restrictive.

As is often the case with tech, you tend to want more freedom and control of your devices, but device freedom tends to bring complexity and responsibility that you may not want to deal with. Google wants to save you from that complexity and responsibility with a simplified experience, shunning fine-grained controls with niche purposes.

You can still do some basic administrative tasks, like port forwarding, booting unwanted wireless devices, and prioritizing specific devices. If that’s all you need, then you’re probably the ideal Nest Wifi Pro owner. As someone whose job it is to tinker with tech, I prefer to have those extra knobs and maybe not use them than not to have them at all.

Performance: I’ve Seen Better

  • Maximum Wired Speed: 1Gbps
  • Maximum Wireless Speed (combined): 5.4Gbps
  • Processor: Dual-core 64-bit ARM
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM, 4 GB flash

Practically speaking, my experience with the Nest Wifi Pro’s speed was generally good, at least with all three nodes connected. I was able to stream VR games from my PC to my Meta Quest 2 headset in the next room over Air Link and, at the same time, wirelessly cast my PC’s desktop to my Roku TV, all with reasonably low latency.

Even if I wasn’t satisfied with the speed, I could easily set up a wired backhaul to maximize the Wi-Fi performance, thanks to the Ethernet ports on each pod in the Nest Wifi Pro system. The lack of Ethernet ports on the original Nest Wifi extenders made that impossible in the past, so there’s a definite improvement there.

That said, while the practical experience was good, I did notice using the Speedtest by Ookla app on my phone I wasn’t reaching quite the same wireless speeds I could using other routers. The Netgear RAXE300, for example, let me reach nearly the full 1Gbps speeds my plan supports under optimal conditions. When I recreated those conditions (standing right next to the main node) I was maxing out at almost three-quarters the speed, around 750Mbps (though the Google Home app’s own speed test would report closer to 850Mbps).

That’s technically more than enough for most activities, and I should also point out that the RAXE300 will run you twice the price as a single Nest Wifi Pro node. It’s still a noteworthy difference, though, and something that could potentially create a problem in a larger household with more devices.

It’s extra strange when you consider the fact the ISP I’m using is Google Fiber, the modem and router I’m using are both Google products, and the phone I’m testing with is a Google Pixel 6. You’d think a pure Google brand chain would mean an optimized experience, but I actually got better results with a competitor’s router in the mix.

Coverage: Some Weird Frequency Shenanigans

  • Maximum Range: 2,200 square feet per node
  • Maximum Number of Connected Devices: 100 per node

The Nest Wifi Pro bills itself as a “reliable” home Wi-Fi solution, and I found that to be true in the sense that I never experienced any dead zones while using it. The three nodes, in fact, were far more than my 1,400-square-foot house needed, together casting a theoretical 6,600-square-foot net. I also tested operating with only one node, and coverage was roughly the same as I experienced with the Netgear RAXE300, which I noted costs twice as much as a single Wifi Pro node.

What I did notice when checking coverage, though, was some weird behavior with automated band management. For one thing, a couple of times I found myself right on the outskirts of the 6Ghz band’s coverage, at which point the speed would slow to a crawl or stop entirely. It would take five seconds or so for the Nest Wifi Pro to finally move me to the stronger 5Ghz band. Not a long wait, but considering today’s speeds, a wait time like that easily gets frustrating, and I never experienced problems like that with other Wi-Fi 6E routers.

Speaking of the 6Ghz frequency, the Nest Wifi Pro also seemed often afraid of putting my Wi-Fi 6E-capable devices on the 6Ghz band in the first place. That’s concerning because that 6Ghz frequency is one of the primary selling points of a 6E upgrade.

What would normally happen is I’d turn on a wireless device, like my Pixel 6, and in the phone’s network settings, I’d notice I was on the 5Ghz band even if I connected in the same room as one of those nodes. I could usually “force” my way onto the 6Ghz band by disconnecting and reconnecting to the network, but that felt like an annoying and unnecessary extra step in enjoying the fastest speeds possible. Occasionally, I’d also get the opposite behavior, where on booting the phone, I’d be on the 6Ghz band immediately, but if I moved out of range, I could never get back on it until I rebooted again.

Both 6E routers I’ve previously used would connect me to the 6Ghz band automatically whenever the signal was decent. Even if that hadn’t been the case, those other routers also gave me at least one way to force myself onto the 6Ghz network permanently. For example, I could split the bands into separate access points and set my phone to prefer the 6Ghz-exclusive network.

This is where the Nest Wifi Pro’s lack of control comes back into focus: I couldn’t find any such setting in the Google Home app. That left me stuck either being content with the 5Ghz network or using a hacky workaround every time I wanted to move up. I tried contacting a Google representative about the problem, but at the time of writing, I’ve still not heard back.

Should You Buy the Google Nest Wifi Pro?

The Nest Wifi Pro is designed from the ground up to be a set-and-forget system. You turn a node on, name and secure your network, turn on any additional standard features you want, and you’re good to go. A few other tweaks are available in the Google Home app, but the Nest Wifi Pro takes control of everything else. You’ll appreciate that if you want a Wi-Fi network that “just works.”

Even so, saying it “just works” doesn’t feel right, considering how the nodes seemed intent on keeping me off the 6Ghz band, and I had no power to work around the problem. Without a huge number of wireless devices to connect, you probably won’t be affected by something like that, but it made Nest Wifi Pro my least favorite 6E router I’ve tried.

If you like the tasteful aesthetic and just want an affordable, simple mesh setup you can set and forget, go for the Wifi Pro. If you want full control over your Wi-Fi 6E network and have a few more bucks to spend, look elsewhere.


Starting At $179

Here’s What We Like

  • Ultra-easy setup and expansion
  • Clean, modern aesthetic
  • Satisfactory coverage and speed

And What We Don’t

  • Controls will be too limited for some
  • Weird tendency to block you from the 6Ghz band
  • Not the fastest speeds you can get

Original Article