Google’s beefing up its mesh networking offerings. On Tuesday, it announced the Nest Wifi Pro, a router that supports tri-band Wi-Fi 6E for faster potential speeds and that can connect 100 devices per router for a maximum of 300 devices. In terms of speed, it’s a big upgrade compared to the regular Google Nest Wifi, which was released in 2019 and is equipped with dual-band 802.11ac capabilities (nowadays known as Wi-Fi 5).
If you do have one of those previous systems, though, you should know that you won’t just be able to add a Wifi Pro node or two to it. In a briefing, Google Nest solutions lead Ben Brown called the new devices “a self-contained system” that “doesn’t have that hybrid backwards compatibility with Nest Wifi, and Google Wifi generations.” That’s disappointing, though perhaps not necessarily a surprise; the regular system has a slightly different architecture, where it’s one router connected to “points” that extend the network. With the Pro, Google says all the units are the same, with each capable of being a router, although only one will be — the other two will still act as points.
The Wifi Pro can also act as a Thread border router for connecting to smart home devices and will work as a Matter hub “shortly after” that protocol launches (hopefully) in fall 2022. Like Google’s other mesh Wi-Fi systems, you set up and manage the Wifi Pro using the company’s Home app, which lets you do things like set up the family management system that can block content from your kids’ devices or even turn off their access to Wi-Fi completely.
The system also has some smart capabilities. Google says the Nest Wifi Pro will automatically prioritize high-bandwidth traffic like streaming and video calls and that it’ll optimize which bands it’s using based on how congested the airwaves around it are. According to the company, the system will even be able to “adjust the network performance to minimize disruptions” that can occur when your ISP drops the ball and slows down your internet connection.
For those who don’t want to rely on a wireless backhaul, you can use a wire to connect the routers together; each has two 1Gbps ethernet ports. For the network enthusiasts out there, it’s worth noting that it has a 2x2 antenna array rather than a 4x4 one, and it’s specified up to AX5400, according to Brown.
Google says each router can cover a 2,200-square-foot area or up to 6,600 square feet with a three-pack. At $199 for a single router, it’s also priced competitively; Eero’s Pro 6E retails for $299, though you can currently pick up a single unit on sale for $179. The Nest Wifi Pro two-pack, which costs $299.99, matches the retail price for TP-Link’s Wi-Fi 6E-equipped Deco XE75 system, which is only available in a two- or three-pack — though again, that router is also currently on sale for around $30 off. Buying a Nest Wifi Pro three-pack will set you back around $399.99.