Google Wifi review: A perfect mesh router for most people

Google's latest home product brings plug-and-play wireless networking to any sized residence.

Google's newest effort to step into your living area comes in the shape of a small puck.

Google Wifi claims to be just what you need to have to get Wi-Fi to all your devices, no matter how huge your home may well be. To do this, the company is utilizing mesh networking technology — a cluster of modest devices can all carry the exact same Wi-Fi signal and be extended seamlessly. Mesh networking, whether or not wireless or tough wired, utilized to be a single of those factors individuals with lots of letters after their name would set up for you, putting it out of reach of most shoppers. But all that has changed and Google is the most current of a slew of organizations supplying inexpensive residence mesh networking goods.

Router vs Mesh Networking: What's very best for your house Wi-Fi network?

Because Google isn't alone in this space — products like the eero House Wifi kit or the Amplifi HD home program are some critical competition — they will want to do a excellent job at a competitive value point to be successful. We might accept quirks and bugs in out telephone software, but no one wants to get up and reset the Wi-Fi router. Ever.

Let's have a appear at Google Wifi and see if it really is one thing you need to consider purchasing.

The style: It looks excellent

The unit itself is created to not appear horrible sitting someplace it will be seen.

Google sent me a three-pack of Google Wifi units to test and review. You can acquire a single Google Wifi, of course, but the 3-pack is made for people with a bigger place (a single Google Wifi point covers up to 1,500 square feet and the three-pack will cover up to four,500 sq. ft.) and you can save a handful of bucks and have everything you require to get started. You can add a network point to an current setup if you locate you want much more coverage than 1 (or 3) can give.

The unit itself is developed to not appear horrible sitting somewhere it will be observed. This is important simply because the network points perform greatest when sitting in the open on a stand or table than they will in a closet. The units themselves are slightly more than 4 inches in diameter and about three inches tall (4.17 x two.75 inches). They look a lot like a smoke detector, just a tiny taller. They're made of polycarbonate plastic and have a slightly textured finish for a matte look as an alternative of a glossy look.

The sidewalls have a seam that nearly circles the device, which acts as a window so you can see the LED ring that lets you know if things are on and running correctly. The prime and the sides are free of buttons, knobs and holes except for a power/reset button above the cutout for cords.

All round it is fairly nondescript. Nobody will error it for an ashtray or coaster, but no one will see an ugly Wi-Fi router, either. Once more — these are developed to be set out in the open, in the areas exactly where you require Wi-Fi. If they looked like a Wi-Fi router, some people would not want them on the finish table or the evening stand.

Underneath is exactly where almost everything happens. The unit itself sits on slightly raised rubber feet and the bottom has a recess for the issues you need to plug in. You will discover three ports — a [USB-C[(/usb-c) port for power and communications and two plugs for Ethernet cables. The USB-C port is appropriately wired so you could use a telephone charger if you wanted to, but each Google Wifi point comes with its own five-volt, three-amp power supply.

The Ethernet ports are proper unkeyed 8P8C jacks, so any regular Ethernet cable will plug proper in but devices employing a "true" RJ45 connector (like an older VOIP/landline telephony unit) are keyed not to match. Probabilities are none of us has any equipment with a appropriate RJ45 jack, but be warned if you do. Every single individual unit or three-pack is supplied with a a single-meter Ethernet cable, and no matter how many units you purchase you will only ever want one.

Important specifications

  • AC1200 2x2 Wave 2 expandable mesh Wi-Fi
  • MU-MIMO dual-band (2.4GHz / 5GHz) 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless support
  • 802.15.4 Zigbee TX/RX help
  • Bluetooth four. LE assistance
  • 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • WPA2-PSK

Connections are simple. The center USB-C port is for the power supply or a thumb drive if you require to access the recovery. One particular of the Ethernet ports is labeled with a globe symbol. Employing the offered cable (or your personal cable) connect this port to your modem. The other is a LAN port for a piece of wired gear like a switched hub. If you never have any wired equipment, this port will go unused. Extra Google Wifi mesh points will only want the energy connection and are wireless. For these, both Ethernet ports are accessible for wired connections. This is extremely handy and tends to make connecting some thing like a wired switch for your Tv cabinet a breeze. You can also wire the connection among mesh points with CAT 5e/CAT 6 Ethernet cables and Google's Network Assist function will seamlessly integrate them into the mesh the very same way as a wireless mesh point.

From a hardware viewpoint, Google Wifi is straightforward and unobtrusive — both in regard to style and operation.

Installation: There's an app for that

It takes much more time to write about the installation process that it does to truly do it. Google has made setting up a complicated wireless mesh network dead basic with 802.15.four (Zigbee) assistance. Doing that is the crucial portion of the equation, and possessing affordable gear that nonetheless would require an individual with network engineering education to setup would avert customer adoption. This is a frequent theme from organizations who are creating wireless mesh network gear for residence customers, and Google's method is logical and efficient.

You have to use an Android or iOS device to set factors up — no exceptions.

An integrated setup card tells you how to plug factors in and points you to Google Play or Apple's App Store to set up the Google Wifi app to continue. Setup must be accomplished by way of the Google Wifi app and any check out to the DNS gateway from a net browser returns the same page you see when trying the very same from a Google OnHub router — it just tells you to set up the app. That's essential — you can not set issues up without an Android or iOS device.

The app will find your Google Wifi unit (fun truth — the Bluetooth radio in Google Wifi acts as a normal BLE Beacon — and let you know it is going to connect you to it). It verifies an internet connection at the modem (you are going to be prompted to restart the modem if needed) and walks you by way of the initial pairing and connection. Each and every step waits for user input (there is a next hyperlink at the bottom of every page) so you know precisely what is happening even if you never know how it really is taking place. After a minute or two network handshaking and setup, you are prompted for a network SSID and password. Enter those and you're connected to your new Wi-Fi network. If you don't have added mesh points, you are carried out at this point.

If you have much more Google Wifi mesh points to set up, the app tells you to discover a good spot for one particular (two rooms away and out in the open is the suggested placement), then tells you to plug it in and continue. Give things 30 seconds or so, and you are completed right here. You can continue if you have added mesh points or say no when prompted and setup is completed.

One snag I located even though testing: If you unhook almost everything with no factory resetting the person mesh points, setting issues up once more but making use of a distinct unit as the connection to your modem is a bit a lot more challenging. I was eventually directed to scan a QR code on the bottom of the unit I was trying to connect with and still had many "false begins" before issues had been connected. Setting up added mesh points went smoother, but still needed several device restarts. Resetting the devices is straightforward in the app and one thing you must do if you require to move factors around.

The app: Simple and straightforward

As mentioned, Google Wifi is dependent on its app to do anything. If you happen to be familiar with the OnHub app you will uncover a lot of similarities and some modifications to make things easier.

The app is divided into three tabs on its principal screen and a settings menu by way of the Android "hamburger" that slides in from the left. The tabs are (from left to proper) messages from Google's Network Help, data about the devices connected to your network, and quick shortcuts to the tools and settings you may well need to have more frequently that other people.

The Google Wifi app is simple to navigate and almost everything tends to make sense.

The Messages tab shows data from Google Network Assist will let you know about setting up a Phillips Hue bridge so people can access it by way of the On.Here server running on your internal network, inform you what characteristics of the Google Wifi you haven't set up yet (like your guest network or family settings), or just let you know that every little thing is OK. If your web service drops out or you unplug your modem, it lets you know about that, too.

The Devices tab tells you about your world wide web connection, your network devices and anything that is connected to the network itself. A tap on the web icon enables you to verify your internet speeds and see how significantly information you've utilized in a particular time period. Tapping the Wifi points icon brings you to an overview exactly where you can see each node and the results of the final network test or carry out a new test and a tap on the gear icon opens a web page with more information and areas exactly where you can make adjustments like setting the LED brightness or changing the location of the node point. This is also where you factory reset things if you require to.

The Shortcuts tab is exactly where you will set a priority device or check your network speeds and connections, as properly as access all your settings. The Advanced networking section has settings and choices for the following:

  • Network DNS
  • WAN settings (DHCP, PPPoE, and Static are supported)
  • DHCP IP reservations
  • Port forwarding (TCP and UDP in and out)
  • UPnP on/off
  • Network mode settings (read-only) for NAT or Bridge modes

The adjustments are simplified and if you're running a difficult setup with a number of bridges and subnets Google Wifi is not going to be robust sufficient. But it wasn't created for anything like that and I'll be the very first to inform you not to get it in that case. For more simple wants that nevertheless fall in the sophisticated category, it's fine. I'm operating an SSH server complete with X forwarding (wonderful study and how-to on that right here) and an FTP server, every single connected to the outside globe via Google Wifi and the setup was straightforward for each of them by means of the Google Wifi app. Your needs may not be served as well. Remember, this is a customer device.

Network testing: Rock-solid performer

Google Wifi is not developed for long-range networking, and that was straightforward to see when attempting to duplicate the tests we did with the Amplifi HD from zero to 100 yards. What I did see while employing iPerf — a MacBook Pro running the iPerf tool next to the NAT mesh point and a second MacBook (iPerf requirements a Computer so I couldn't use my phone) moving through the testing field — was a solid ~200Mbps connection correct till the finish-of-line for the network.

Google Wifi isn't designed for long-range networking, but it nonetheless functions fantastic in most huge houses.

With the Amplifi HD, you could see when the network required a increase but you weren't but connected to a newer, closer mesh point but after connected to the proper node the speeds had been more quickly. Google Wifi was a continual speed with seamless handoff till we reached the edge of coverage, about 150 feet from the supply. Acceptable functionality (<30Mbps) continued until we reached a point 177 feet away from the NAT node and modem. The node layout, as calculated using 1500 sq. ft as a coverage sphere looked like this.

This is not how Google Wifi is supposed to be set up, but it performs.

Even though lengthy distance testing satisfies our curiosity, a much better test was just making use of Google Wifi for a week while attempting to do things that would strain the network. I was in a position to attain what I feel was network capacity by downloading four simultaneous Netflix streams (three at 1080p and one particular at 4K). At this point, downloading content material from the internet by means of a laptop would trigger the 4K Netflix stream to stutter and pixelate and eventually buffer. My home is about 3200 square feet across two floors (1600 sq. ft per floor) and I have strong and fast Wi-Fi with exceptional ping times everywhere.

I have a fantastic Wi-Fi network at the table on my back porch where I invest my summer evenings, and my telephone will connect when I turn into my driveway. The Tv can stream Netflix or a Computer game by means of my Shield Television as properly as it did when factors have been wired, and my outdoors connections carry out exactly the way I expected and need them to function. While Google Wifi doesn't deliver blazing linear distance overall performance, it makes up for it with exceptional networking that's consistent in the entire network footprint.

I'm impressed.

The verdict: A wonderful item

Eventually, you happen to be going to require a new Wi-Fi router. Probabilities are you do not have a bank of servers set up and won't want to clone MAC addresses or do any visitors steering. In that case, Google Wifi will be best for you.

But Google Wifi does not exist in a Vacuum. The Amplifi HD home program is as easy to set up, provides more sophisticated networking controls and far better extended-distance functionality (as properly as a committed extended distance version with extra directional antennas) at a slightly higher price tag and much more efficiency variability in between nodes. Other systems from eero, Orbi, and Luma all have related characteristics. Each of these systems can be picked up at a price tag that's inside $one hundred or so of Google Wifi and each has their fans. All of these selections are great, and the days of employing wall-plug network extenders are, fortunately, about to disappear.

Google Wifi is a wonderful purchase, but so is its competitors.

I heartily recommend Google Wifi to any individual searching for a way to cover their complete residence with a network connection. But I also can recommend the Amplifi technique and have plans to appear at what eero and Luma have to offer you. I can not say one is any better than the other, but I can tell you that every is a very good option. This is a very good location to be, exactly where we have a choice of goods that work the way we count on them to function. If you are deeply tied into the Google ecosystem, go with Google Wifi for a multi-device setup. You'll like the On.Here integration for connected devices, and the Zigbee and BLE radios mean much more functionality might be coming, although we heard that prior to with OnHub and it didn't materialize.

If you just require 1 Wi-Fi router and want anything expandable (and quite cool to use through the app) certainly go with Google Wifi right here. The price tag is comparable to any good Wi-Fi router and you will appreciate each the network performance and ease of use.

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