Nest Wifi vs Nest Wifi Pro: Which mesh Wi-Fi system should you buy?

Nest Wifi vs. Nest Wifi Pro
(Image credit: Google)

If you’re looking to upgrade to one of the best mesh Wi-Fi systems, comparing Google’s Nest Wifi to its new Nest Wifi Pro is a great place to start. Unlike with other mesh routers, the search giant’s routers are smaller and blend in better with your home decor.

In addition to being a major force on the internet and the way in which we use it, Google has also become a big player in how people get online in the first place. Back in 2016 when mesh routers were relatively new, Google introduced its first mesh Wi-Fi system in the form of Google Wifi. 

Although Google Wifi was one of our favorite mesh routers at the time, the company released a new mesh Wi-Fi system under the Nest brand name in 2019. Besides being easy to set up and configure, the Nest Wifi features a brand new design, adds Wi-Fi 5 support and the router as well as its two satellites also all work as smart speakers. The company then updated its original Google Wifi in 2020 with some minor technical changes and a lower starting price.

Back in October of this year though, Google released its new Nest Wifi Pro which adds support for Wi-Fi 6E and allows any of the three units to serve as the router. With Nest Wifi, one unit was designated as the router while the other were Wi-Fi points or satellites. 

Even though the Nest Wifi Pro is Google’s latest mesh Wi-Fi system, you can still find both Google Wifi and Nest Wifi routers for sale online. Can the older Nest Wifi handle your networking needs or will you be better off with the Nest Wifi Pro? Here’s a full breakdown of both of Google’s mesh Wi-Fi systems so you can decide which one is right for you.

(Before you buy one though, there is one problem with mesh routers that you need to read about). 

Nest Wifi vs Nest Wifi Pro: Specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 Google WifiNest WifiNest Wifi Pro
Price$99 (single), $199 (3 units)$169 (single), $269 (with 1 access point), $349 (2 access points)$169 (single), $299 (with 1 access point), $399 (3 access points)
Release date201620192022
Wi-Fi spec802.11ac/Dual Band802.11ac/Dual Band802.11ax/Tri-Band (Wi-Fi 6E)
802.11ac TypeAC1200 MU-MIMOAC2200 (router)AXE5400
Number of Antennas/Removable4/No4/No6/No
Ports2x 1Gbps LAN, USB-C for power(Router) 2x 1Gbps LAN, power; (Extension) None(Router and Points) 2x 1Gbps LAN, power
ProcessorQuad-core 710MHzQuad-core 1.4GHzDual-core 1GHz
Memory/Storage512MB/4GB(Router) 1GB/4GB; (Extension) 768MB/512MB1GB/8GB
Wi-Fi ChipQualcomm IPQ4019Qualcomm QCS 400Qualcomm IPQ5018
Dimensions4.1 x 4.1 x 2.7 inches(Router) 4.3 x 4.3 x 3.6 inches ; (Extension) 4.0 x 4.0 x 3.4 inches5.2 x 4.7 x 1.4 inches
Color optionsSnowMist, Sand, SnowSnow, Fog, Linen, Lemongrass

Nest Wifi vs Nest Wifi: Price and availability

If you head to the Google Store, you can still find Google Wifi listed for a very affordable $99 for a single unit and for $199 for a three-pack of interchangeable units. Meanwhile, a single Nest Wifi router costs $169 while a router and a single point costs $269 and a router and two points costs $349. While these are the list prices for all of these devices, they will likely go on sale or be permanently discounted in the future as Google’s main focus is now the Nest Wifi Pro.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Google Wifi (2020 model)Nest WifiNest Wifi Pro
Single router$99$169$169
2-packn/a$269 (1 router + 1 point)$299 (1 router + 1 point)
3-pack$199$349 (1 router + 2 points)$399 (1 router + 2 points)
Add-on units$99$149 (1 point)$169

A single Nest Wifi Pro costs $199 while a two-pack costs $299 and a three-pack costs $399. Unlike the Nest Wifi, all of the units are identical and can act as either a router or a satellite during setup. Another big difference between the Nest Wifi Pro and Nest Wifi is the fact that Nest Wifi is also compatible with Google Wifi. This means that those who are upgrading from the company’s first mesh Wi-Fi system can use their old units to expand their Wi-Fi coverage. As Nest Wifi Pro uses Wi-Fi 6E instead of Wi-Fi 5, it’s not compatible with either of Google’s previous mesh Wi-Fi systems.

Google recommends adding no more than five points to a single network for a total of six units (1 router + 5 points). The reason being is that “adding more may be detrimental to Wi-Fi performance,” according to the company. Most other mesh Wi-Fi systems only allow you to use two satellites alongside a router.

Nest Wifi vs Nest Wifi Pro: Design

Google Wifi vs. Nest Wifi

(Image credit: Google)

The physical design is an obvious change between Google Wifi and Nest Wifi as Google’s original mesh Wi-Fi system was cylindrical, smaller and more puck-shaped. With the Nest Wifi Pro though, the company has stuck with a similar design to Nest Wifi but there are a few changes.

Google Nest WiFi Lifestyle

(Image credit: Google)

The Nest Wifi has a softer, matte finish. The router as well as the points remain cylindrical, though they are substantially larger than Google Wifi. Google decided to change things up with the Nest Wifi Pro when it comes to both the size of each unit as well as their shape.

All of the available colors for the Nest Wifi Pro

(Image credit: Google)

Unlike with one of the best Wi-Fi routers, mesh routers can’t be tucked away in a corner since the satellites need to be spread throughout your home for better Wi-Fi coverage. As such, the Nest Wi-Fi Pro has a glossy finish and comes in even more colors. While Nest Wifi was only available in Mist (light blue), Sand (light pink) and Snow (white), the Nest Wifi Pro is available in Snow (white), Fog (light blue), Linen (beige) and Lemongrass (Iight yellow). 

Both the Nest Wifi and Nest Wifi Pro are beautiful devices. However, Nest Wifi blends in a bit easier thanks to its matte finish while the Nest Wifi Pro’s glossy finish makes the satellites stand out more.

Nest Wifi vs Nest Wifi Pro: Features

The original Google Wifi helped set itself apart from the pack through its simple setup process which involved using the Google Wifi App (now known as the Google Home app). Google’s first mesh Wi-Fi system also introduced the idea of scanning QR codes at the base of each unit to add them to your network.

Nest Wifi Setup

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Nest Wifi and even Nest Wifi Pro continue to use the Google Home app to set up and make changes to your network as well as QR codes to pair new devices. However, each Nest Wifi unit also doubles as one of the best Google Home speakers and you can even give voice commands to your router or use the points as an intercom system between rooms.

Now that most people who want to have one (or several) of the best smart speakers in their homes already do, Google has removed this functionality on the Nest Wifi Pro. 

Both the Nest Wifi Pro and Nest Wifi still aim to be a big part of your smart home, as they both Matter and Thread, two relatively new smart home standards that could make using smart home devices much easier.

A Lenovo Smart Display running a speed test next to a Nest Wifi Pro

(Image credit: Future)

If you own one of the best smart displays like the Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max, you can also ask Google Assistant to run a speed test and you can see your current download and upload speeds displayed on the screen.

The rear ports of the Nest Wifi Pro

(Image credit: Google)

If your house is wired for internet and you have Ethernet ports in each room, you can connect each of the Nest Wifi Pro points to the unit acting as your router as they all feature two gigabit Ethernet ports. This can help improve your network performance as the new 6GHz band won’t be used for backhaul. With the Nest Wifi on the other hand, only the router has two gigabit Ethernet ports while the points don’t have any at all.

Nest Wifi vs Nest Wifi Pro: Performance

The biggest difference between the Nest Wifi and Nest Wifi Pro are in performance and range. The Nest Wifi uses the older Wi-Fi 5 standard while Nest Wifi Pro uses the newer Wi-Fi 6E standard. The Nest Wifi Pro can reach a maximum speed of up to 5.4 Gbps while the Nest Wifi’s router tops out at 2.2 Gbps and the points are capable of reaching 1.2Gbps.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Google WifiNest WifiNest Wifi Pro
Single routerUp to 1500 sq ftUp to 2200 sq ftUp to 2200 sq ft
2-packUp to 3000 sq ftUp to 3800 sq ftUp to 4400 sq ft
3-packUp to 4500 sq ftUp to 5400 sq ftUp to 6600 sq ft

Since Google decided to make all of the Nest Wifi Pro units identical, each one can cover up to 2,200 square feet and a three-pack can fill a 6,600 square foot home with a strong Wi-Fi signal. The Nest Wifi’s router can cover up to 2,200 square feet while each point covers just 1,600 square feet.

Nest Wifi vs Nest Wifi Pro: Which is best for you 

If you’re trying to break free from your ISP by purchasing your own networking equipment or upgrading from a traditional router and decide to pick up either the Nest Wifi or the Nest Wifi Pro, you’ll likely notice a significant improvement over your existing hardware. In the end though, deciding between the two depends on which features and speeds you need.

Both devices are limited to gigabit Ethernet, so if you have a multigig plan, you’re going to want to look at mesh Wi-Fi systems from Netgear, TP-Link and other device makers instead, since their mesh routers often feature 2.5 or even 5 Gbps Ethernet ports. If not, either the Nest Wifi or Nest Wifi Pro will work quite well on a gigabit internet plan.

A Nest Wifi Pro router on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Longevity is another thing to consider as the Nest Wifi Pro won’t see a refresh until 2025 based on Google’s past update history. However, with Wi-Fi 7 arriving early next year, we could see another variant or even an entirely new mesh Wi-Fi system from the search giant. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, you could always upgrade to the Nest Wifi now and wait and see regarding Google’s future plans.

At the same time, if you’re building a smart home from scratch, going with Nest Wifi may make sense as you won’t have to purchase a Nest Mini or any other Google Home compatible smart speaker. On the other hand, if you have newer devices like the Pixel 7, Galaxy S22 or even the iPad Pro, you’ll be able to take advantage of the faster speeds offered by Wi-Fi 6E.

The Nest Wifi Pro may be the latest and greatest mesh Wi-Fi system from Google but there are still plenty of reasons to get the Nest Wifi. 

Next: I just set up a new Wi-Fi router – and wish I did this one thing differently

Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.