Google Nest Wifi Pro Review: A Wi-Fi 6E Blunder
The Nest Wifi Pro — first announced on October 4, 2022, as Google’s latest Wi-Fi hardware in its once-called Google Wifi lineup — has a cheeky name.
There’s nothing “Pro” about it. It’s the simplest Wi-Fi mesh router — or a mesh system — you can find. Not necessarily in a good way.
You can get a single unit for $199.99, a 2-pack for $ 299.99, or a 3-pack for $399.99. I’d say the pricing is competitive, about the same as the TP-Link Deco XE75. And chances are it will get even lower during the upcoming holidays. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that competitive pricing is its only real upside. Among a host of other issues, its performance is borderline terrible due to the extremely limited Wi-Fi customizability.
Here’s the bottom line: If you want to turn your entire household completely part of the Google ecosystem — and all that implies — the new Nest Wifi Pro is a good choice, as long as your broadband is markedly below Gigabit. In this case, the new Wi-Fi 6E hardware will get the job done with minimum effort on your part.
On the other hand, any of these alternatives will give you better performance, features, privacy, or all of those.
Dong’s note: I first published this on October 4, 2022, and updated it to a review on October 31 after thorough hands-on testing.
Google Nest Wifi Pro: The
new elusive 6GHz band has to carry a lot of weight
The “Pro” notion has been used with a bit of jest in the world of canned mesh Wi-Fi systems. For example, the eero Pro has nothing pro, and TP-Link uses “Pro” to convey its hardware with a Multi-Gig port, etc.
In the case of the Nest Wifi Pro, the Pro notion seems to derive from the 6GHz band — the new hardware supposedly supports the latest Wi-Fi standard to be the first Google Wi-Fi 6E router.
So, at best, the Nest Wifi Pro has a flippant moniker.
Wi-Fi 6E in a nutshell
Wi-Fi 6E is a new Wi-Fi standard, an extension of Wi-Fi 6, that uses an entirely new 6GHz frequency band to deliver the same data rates as Wi-Fi 6 but more reliably. In return, it has a shorter range than the 5GHz band.
The 6GHz band won’t connect with any 5GHz or 2.4GHz client. Wi-Fi 6E requires new hardware on both broadcasting and receiving ends. It’s not decidedly better (or worse) than Wi-Fi 6, but just an additional wireless option.
Besides the 6GHz band, the Nest Wifi Pro has nothing else of note in Wi-Fi or home networking. It doesn’t even have a Multi-Gig port. Instead, it comes with two Gigabit ports, like the original Google Wifi that came out almost a decade ago.
Consequently, its performance is guaranteed to be below Gigabit, even significantly so — more in the performance section below. But first, let’s check the tech.
Nest Wifi Pro Mesh Router: Hardware specifications and power consumption
The Nest Wifi Pro features mid-tier Wi-Fi specs with a total bandwidth of 5400Mbps.
That number doesn’t mean much since you can connect a client to only one of its bands at a time. And none of its three bands (2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz) have the top Wi-Fi specs allowed by the Wi-Fi 6 and 6E standards.
Consequently, at best, you’ll get Gig+ sustained wireless speed, and in real-world usage, the router’s Gigabit port is the ceiling of your Internet speed.
What is Gig+
Gig+, or Gig plus, conveys a speed grade faster than 1Gbps but slower than 2Gbps. So, it’s 1.5Gbps, give or take, and it’s not fast enough to be qualified as Multi-Gig.
Gig+ generally applies to the sustained speeds of Wi-Fi 6 or 6E (via a 2×2 at 160MHz connection) or Internet speed, not wired local connections.
|Full Name||Nest Wifi Pro Mesh Router|
|Mesh Availability||2-pack or 3-pack
(identical hardware units)
|Dimensions||5.312 x 4.6 x 3.35 inch
(130 x 117 x 85 mm)
|Weight||0.99 lb (450 g)|
|6GHz Wi-Fi Specs||2×2 Wi-Fi 6E: Up to 2404 Mbps
|5GHz Wi-Fi Specs||2×2 Wi-Fi 6: Up to 2404 Mbps
|2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs||2×2 Wi-Fi 6: 574 Mbs
|Mesh Backhaul Band||Dynamic|
|Wired Backhaul Support||Yes|
|Wi-Fi Security||WPA2, WPA2/WPA3 Mixed Mode|
|Mobile App||Google Home|
|Web User Interface||None|
(as individual routers only)
|Network Ports||1x Gigabit WAN,
1x Gigabit LAN
Thread border router
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
(per 24 hours)
|≈ 170 Wh
|Suggest Retail Price||$199.99 (1-pack), $299.99 (2-pack)
So, as the supposedly latest and, well, “Pro” device, the Nest Wifi Pro’s hardware is underwhelming. But it seems to have some built-in features to make up for that.
Home automation support
First, the new router supports Matter and Thread for low-power wireless home automation.
As a result, if you use supported IoTs, you can manage them within the Google Home app, which is the app you’d need for the setup and ongoing management.
Since the Google Home app is the encompassing control center that also manages the Nest Wifi Pro, the mesh router’s support for the new IoT wireless standards will be transparent.
Specifically, from the user’s perspective, they’d use the same app, and the new IoT devices are automatically detected. They will not notice or have to do any “extras” to get things done. And that’s a good thing.
The second noticeable “feature” of the Nest Wifi Pro is rather interesting. Nest says it sports Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) for its 6GHz band.
AFC is slated to debut with Wi-Fi 7, but since it works on the 6GHz band, Wi-Fi 6E devices will likely also benefit when it becomes a reality.
As the name suggests, AFC allows the hardware to check for the existing broadcasters in the airspace and, when applicable, enables it to use higher broadcasting power than set by local regulations — in the US, that’s 30 dBm — to boost the performance and range of the 6GHz band.
A crude AFC analogy
Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) is like checking with the local authorities for permission to close off sections of city streets for a block party. When approved, for a period of time when the festivities are taking place, the usual traffic and parking laws no longer apply to the area.
In my testing, there was no way to know if AFC was in effect since the router has no customization for its Wi-Fi bands — more below. But chances it was not because, well, as far as I know, AFC is not here until at least late 2023, if not longer.
Still, it’s somewhat ironic that the Nest mentions AFC in the Wifi Pro since it’s a low-power device. Physically small, chances are the router doesn’t have any extra power to put into AFC. It barely has enough as is and doesn’t even have a top-tier 6GHz band to boot.
In any case, AFC is an inherent feature of the 6GHz band going forward — it’s still a future matter. And mentioning it today is like saying “my future flying car can fly,” in an attempt to prove that your current non-flying car is special. It’s marketing nonsense, if you catch my drift.
By the time you can take advantage of AFC, chances are you’d want some Wi-Fi 7 hardware anyway.
Google Nest Wifi Pro: Detail photos
Google Nest Wifi Pro: A frustrating experience for advanced users
Like the case of the eero and previous Google Wifi devices, the new Nest Wifi Pro is app-operated. And it makes things easy or annoying depending on who you ask.
Let’s start with the setup process.
Simple setup process
It’s straightforward to set up the new router. If you’ve used a mobile app before, you can get it done. Here’s the gist:
- Plug the Nest Wifi Pro into the power and wait for a minute or so.
- Run your Google Home app, and log in with a Google account. Create a “home” if it’s your first time.
- Now under Home settings, choose to Add device. The app will look for available devices and find your Nest Wifi Pro if it’s nearby and plugged into power.
- The rest is self-explanatory. The app will work you through a few steps to scan in the QR code on Nest Wifi Pro’s underside and etc.
For those getting a 2- or 3- pack, I noted that the included hardware units were not pre-synced. You’ll have to add each like a new device, and the system will build a mesh accordingly. That’d take a bit more time than other canned mesh options but not a huge deal.
No matter how many units you get, the setup process is relatively short because all you can do is create a Wi-Fi name and pick a Wi-Fi password. And that’s it.
Zero Wi-Fi customization, no 6GHz for clients
Like previous Google Wi-Fi routers, the Nest Wifi Pro has no local web user interface. Consequently, there’s not much you can do regarding Wi-Fi customization.
Specifically, there’s no way to separate each band with a different SSID, turn one on or off, and there’s no channel or channel width selection. The router will dictate what band is available to which clients, etc.
And in my testing, this proved to be highly frustrating. Specifically, I couldn’t make a client connect to a particular band for the testing nor could I manage any of the Wi-Fi bands.
Most annoyingly, more often than not, my Wi-Fi 6 and 6E clients connected to the Nest Wifi Pro — as a single router or a 2-pack mesh — using the dated Wi-Fi 4 standard or the 2.4GHz band, as shown in the screenshot above.
And truth be told, I could never connect to the 6GHz band. At all. The Nest Wifi Pro could be a Wi-Fi 6 broadcaster for all I could see. There’s no clear sign that it has a 6GHz band from the user’s point of view.
All that might change via firmware updates. For now, it’s madness the way this Wi-Fi 6E solution works. It seems like a lie.
Limited network settings, no AP mode as a mesh system, incompatible with previous Google Wifi hardware
And the Nest Wifi Pro has little in the network settings department. You have IP reservation and port forwarding, and that’s about it.
Like previous generations, as a single router, the Nest Wifi Pro has access point (AP) mode — Google calls it “bridge mode” — but when you use two or more units in a mesh system, this option is no longer. It’s the only mesh I know that can’t work as such in the AP mode.
This means if you use a Nest Wifi Pro mesh on top of an existing router, such as an ISP-provided gateway, your network will have a double NAT.
Another thing to keep in mind is, if you want to build a mesh with the Nest Wifi Pro, the only way is to get multiple units (up to 5). You can not use previous hardware (the original Google Wifi, OnHub, or Nest Wifi) with it — the new hardware is so Pro that it only goes solo!
Other than that, the router has a few simple features, including QoS (a.ka. Prefered Activities,) Parental Controls (a.k.a Family Wi-Fi), and a Guest network.
In all, the Nest Wifi Pro feels more like a gadget, a toy, than an actual networking device and the owner has little control over how it functions.
And that brings us to privacy risks.
High privacy risks
A router is a gateway to the Internet. Specifically, everything that goes between your local network (your home) and the Internet (the outside world) goes through the router.
Consequently, having to log into a Google account, you’ll surrender your local network’s activities to Nest (and, therefore, Google.) And that’s a huge privacy risk.
The Google Home app allows you to initially not opt for sharing data with Google. However, it constantly nags you to reverse that.
For example, to use Family Wi-Fi or the Guest network mentioned above, you must enable Net Wifi cloud services where information about your network (and devices) are collected and stored at the vendor’s server.
If you think we’ve already done that via the Chrome web browser, Android phones, and other Google-connected devices and services, you’re correct! And that’s a sad truth.
But privacy is a matter of degree, and the Nest Wifi Pro (as well as previous versions) will bring the data collection to a higher and more complete level — everything in your local network and your Internet traffic, regardless of device or app, go through the router.
The data collection possibility is there on the technical level — whoever controls your router can see and even control anything that passes through it. How much information Nest truly collects from its users and what it does with it is anyone’s guess.
The point is getting into the Google Nest Wifi ecosystem means you trade functionality and control for ease of use and privacy risks. Some might call it a fair trade. For others ignorance is bliss.
Google Nest Wifi Pro: Reliable but unimpressive performance
I tested the Google Nest Wifi Pro, as a single router and a 2-pack mesh system, for days and found it quite frustrating.
Generally, I tested all broadcasters‘ Wi-Fi bands separately using different channels. That proved impossible with this router — as mentioned above; there’s no way to customize its Wi-Fi bands. I also couldn’t connect any client to its 6GHz.
It’s worth noting that the numbers on the charts were the best-case scenario — there was always a line of sight between hardware units.
In my anecdotal testing, where I placed the satellite unit at a longer distance from the router or behind a wall, the entire system’s performance was significantly reduced.
Most of the time, I found clients connected to the 2.4GHz band or using the old Wi-Fi 4 standard. Consequently, I generally got around 300Mbps out of my 10Gbps Fiber-optic broadband — which was throttled to 1Gbps by the Nest Wifi Pro’s Gigabit WAN port — when having excellent Wi-Fi signals.
I happened to have a set of the original set of Google Wifi, and it delivered better and more consistent real-world speeds than the Nest Wifi Pro via a similar hardware placement.
So the speeds were not this mesh system’s strong suit. But it did pass our 3-day stress test with no disconnection.
In terms of coverage, the Nest Wifi was similar to other lower-end hardware I’ve tried, like the Deco X60 or ZenWifi XD6. Generally, you can expect a single unit to cover 1500 ft2 (139m2), give or take, and your mileage will vary.
Easy to set up and use for mobile users; built-in support for home automation
Reliable Wi-Fi coverage; wired backhauling support
Compact, cute design; competitively priced
Zero customization, limited network settings, slow Wi-Fi speeds, no 6GHz network
Huge privacy risks; no web user interface
Minimum ports; no Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation, Multi-Gig, or AP mode (as a mesh)
Late to the Wi-Fi 6E game, the new Google Nest Wifi Pro has nothing to add and leaves much to be desired. The “Pro” notion is laughable, if not ludicrous.
In fact, it’s decidedly the worst among over a dozen Wi-Fi 6E routers and mesh systems I’ve tested. It might even be a testament to the fact that Google has no real business or interest in the home networking space. The company just wants to use it as a tool to collect user data. That seems to be the focus.
But if you have a modest sub-Gigabit broadband connection, around 500Mbps or slower, want an easy-to-use, reliable Wi-Fi solution, and don’t mind the privacy risks, the new hardware can make a good buy thanks to its competitive pricing.
And that’s a big if, even when factoring in the appeal of the hardware’s shiny skin with smooth curves. Ultimately, it’s your call.
Personally, I’d never use it for myself. There are many better and more satisfying options, and the Nest Wifi Pro’s limited Wi-Fi customization alone is already a deal breaker.