Why take just one router into your home when Joe Osborne can take three mesh routers!
Routers and range extenders are dead, the future is Wi-Fi mesh or “tri-band” systems utilizing 802.11s. Naturally, the smart-home obsessed Google is all over it with the Google WiFi.
As it turns out, Google may very well have crafted the best Wi-Fi mesh system to date. The company has managed to churn out a system that offers more mesh units than competitors for far less with a focus on dead-simple setup and management.
The result? We never want to look at our gateway again.
Google WiFi costs for a set of two units – that’s one primary “WiFi Point” (the one you hook up to the modem or gateway) and a secondary WiFi Point – but you can always add more if you want. A single Google WiFi unit can be had for and Google promises that three WiFi Points can cover up to 4,500 square feet (418 square meters) in a (big) home.
Regardless, Google offers more units for less money than any competitor, like the Netgear Orbi, with all others costing at least for the same number.
Mesh means that any of the units can function as the “router” of the system, while the others can bestow wired internet (begotten wirelessly) with their included Ethernet ports as well as wireless internet. All units are powered via USB-C.
The setup is as sublime as Google’s hardware design, using a free iOS and Android app to facilitate the process.
(Be aware there is NO browser-based setup option, you are required to have a suitable Android or iOS device, bad Google – Ed.) Scan a QR code and from there, the app tells you to name your network and set a password, then pair the additional Wi-Fi points and label them in the app for reference. Again, it takes seconds for the “router” to recognize the Wifi Points and for them to begin broadcasting.
Power users, take note: you’re not going to get the same depth of access as even Netgear Orbi provides, so no band switching for you.
The app offers plenty of useful features, such as constant monitoring of your network, its Points and the devices connected to it. The app has an included internet speed test, a mesh test that measures the health of your Points’ connections as well as a Wi-Fi test that measures your connection strength from within the network. You can also prioritize bandwidth to one device for a time, control smart home devices and pause internet access to certain devices in a family setting – all from within this app.
We saw as impressive performance from the Google WiFi system as we have seen from Netgear Orbi – if not better. Google WiFi draws the absolute most of our 100Mbps service that we’ve seen any router able to, and it can do so from every room of our, admittedly small, house.
We’ve been able to stream 4K video through Netflix to our Roku Premiere in the basement, as well as we’ve been able to play Overwatch in the office where the modem is located: without issue. Wi-Fi mesh systems like Google WiFi aren’t focused so much about throughput as they are coverage, but this product delivers regardless. The true benefit of Google WiFi over others is its coverage for the price.
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ ac,AC1200 2×2 Wave 2 Wi-Fi (expandable mesh; dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz, TX beamforming); Bluetooth Smart ready CPU: Quad-core ARM 710MHz Mem: 512MB SSD: 4GB eMMC flash Beamforming: Implicit and Explicit for 2.4 & 5GHz bands Ports: 2x Gigabit Ethernet per point (1 WAN, 1 LAN) Size: 4.1 x 2.7 inches (106.1 x 68.7mm; Dia x H) Weight: 340g
Not the most powerful or precisely controlled, but the easiest and most manageable router we’ve ever set up.