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Upgrading to a mesh router that uses multiple devices to relay a better Wi-Fi signal throughout your home is pretty close to a no-brainer at this point, especially if you live in a large, multistory home. You’ve got lots of options, including two notable new systems from Google and Amazon: the Nest Wifi Pro and the Eero Pro 6E, respectively.
Each system promises top-of-the-line mesh performance thanks to the addition of Wi-Fi 6E, a new designation for current-gen, Wi-Fi 6 devices that are equipped to send signals in the recently opened 6GHz band. Both promise to quarterback your smart home, too, with full support for the industry’s new universal smart home standard Matter and other features aimed at home automation enthusiasts.
So which system is the better of the two? Sure enough, we’ve just finished testing them out side-by-side, and we’ve got plenty of data to share. Let’s take a closer look at how each system performed, and what separates them. (For more, check out how to set up your mesh router for the best performance, and the best location for your Wi-Fi router.)
Them’s the specs. Now, let’s dive a little deeper into how these two systems really stack up.
Design aesthetics: Nest notches a colorful win
Mesh routers are meant to be placed out in the open throughout your home, because wireless performance plummets if you stuff the thing in a closet or the back of a junk drawer. If you’re using them right, you’re going to be seeing these things, and that means that the aesthetics matter.
In the case of Nest and Eero, the aesthetics really come down to minimalist versus super minimalist. Neither one bombards you with antennas or flashing lights. Instead, they both hide the hardware on the inside, which makes each of the designs a lot less conspicuous. Nest offers your choice of four colors, though, while the all-white Eero Pro 6E sticks to the same safe, somewhat bland design playbook of every Eero generation that came before it. It isn’t an eyesore by any stretch, but it isn’t doing as much to justify a spot out in the open in your living room or bedroom as Nest is.
Winner: Nest Wifi Pro
Hardware: Eero’s backwards compatibility and multi-gig jack give it the edge
Splashy color choices aside, let’s talk about the insides of these mesh systems. With matching AXE5400 builds offering top speeds of 2.3 gigabits per second (2,300Mbps) on the 5 and 6GHz bands, plus a 2.4GHz band with top speeds of 800Mbps, the Eero Pro 6E and Nest Wifi Pro seem comparably fast, but there are some finer points worth examining.
For starters, each Eero Pro 6E device comes with an Ethernet jack that’s capable of accepting incoming wired speeds as fast as 2.5Gbps. With Nest Wifi Pro, both of the Ethernet jacks on each device will cap your incoming wired speeds at 1Gbps, which isn’t ideal if you’re paying up for a multi-gig internet connection, or planning to upgrade to one anytime soon. Mind you, Eero says that you shouldn’t expect to see wireless speeds any faster than 1.3Gbps, but still, if you want to surf at faster-than-a-gigabit speeds, Eero is the clear choice here.
Another key point of consideration on the hardware front: Backwards compatibility. The Eero Pro 6E offers it, the Nest Wifi Pro does not. With backwards compatibility, existing Eero users could purchase a single Eero Pro 6E device and add it into their existing setup with older-gen Eero devices. You can’t do that with Nest Wifi Pro — the system won’t work with existing hardware from the original Nest Wifi system, nor can it connect with first-gen Google Wifi hardware.
“To do that with Google Wifi and Nest Wifi generations that don’t support 6GHz was not going to be a good experience for users,” said Ben Brown, Google Nest’s director of product management for energy and connectivity.
That’s fair enough, but it means that existing Nest Wifi users won’t be able to upgrade their setups one device at a time. It’s also noteworthy because the Nest Wifi Pro no longer features extenders with built-in smart speakers like you got with the original Nest Wifi. If you wanted to use those older, Google Assistant-equipped extenders with the new Nest Wifi Pro, you’re out of luck.
One last note: Amazon recently announced that you’ll be able to use select Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers as Wi-Fi extenders for Eero networks. We haven’t tested that out just yet (stay tuned), but as pitches go, it sounds like an appealing and cost-effective way to give your network a minor speed boost at range — and the Nest Wifi Pro doesn’t offer anything like it.
Winner: Eero Pro 6E
Speeds: Eero gets the edge, but Nest scores for stability
The Nest Wifi Pro is the newest mesh router on the market, but we were able to take the system for a test ride at our lab in recent weeks. We tested it against a handful of other systems that support Wi-Fi 6E, including the Eero Pro 6E, so let’s take a look at how the two compared. Chart time!
Up first, some scatter plots. Specifically, the two scatter plots below, each of which is showing you all of the different download speeds logged while we tested two-piece Eero Pro 6E and Nest Wifi Pro mesh systems in our five-room, 1,350-square-foot test environment, where we have a gigabit connection with download speeds that top out at 940Mbps. Across all tests in all rooms, the Eero Pro 6E came back with an average download speed of 586Mbps, more than 100Mbps faster than the Nest Wifi Pro average of 482Mbps. In four out of five rooms, the Eero Pro 6E was able to hit download speeds as high as 750Mbps during some test runs, which is a very good result and, again, better than we saw from the Nest Wifi Pro.
However, while the Eero Pro 6E was able to hit higher highs than the Nest Wifi Pro, it also saw lower lows. It’s plain as day in the chart on the left, with speed results in the living room and kitchen dropping down as low as 150Mbps during some tests. The main router sits in the living room during these tests and the kitchen is the next room over, so those are close-range Wi-Fi speeds that should be a lot higher. What gives?
To answer that question, I need to explain my test procedure a bit. For each router I review, I run multiple series of speed tests during morning, afternoon and evening hours. For each set of tests, I run three speed tests in each of the five rooms, starting close to the router in the living room and ending far from it in the garage. Then (and this is the important bit), I run all of those tests again, except this time, I start my Wi-Fi connection from afar in the garage and work my way back towards the router.
It was in these back-to-front tests that the Eero Pro 6E saw slower speeds near the router, and that’s because when I started my connection from far away, the system recognized that and routed my connection through the satellite extender (which we always place in the kids’ room). That’s the right approach at first, but once I moved back into the living room, the system continued to route my connection through the extender, so it was almost as if I was sitting even farther away from the router than the garage. In the tests where speeds dropped below 200Mbps, it might have been that Eero was routing me to the slower 2.4GHz band because it perceived me to be a few rooms away from the extender, all without realizing that I was, in fact, sitting in the same room as the main router.
That’s not an unusual result — I see back-to-front routing issues like that with mesh routers all the time — so it’s not a major ding on the Eero Pro 6E. Instead, I look at that result as a really good one for the Nest Wifi Pro, which didn’t see any inconsistencies in speeds from test to test. As a result, the dots in the Nest Wifi Pro scatter plot are all pretty close together, which tells you that it’s about as stable and reliable as mesh routers get. That’s a good outcome here, even if it isn’t the fastest mesh system we’ve tested.
One last point of note on performance: In addition to speeds, we always keep an eye on each system’s latency, as well. Each speed test that we run goes to the same test server located a few hundred miles away in St. Louis, and with most of the routers we’ve tested here, the latency per test typically comes back at right around 20ms — the time it takes our signal to reach that St. Louis server and make it back to us. The Eero Pro 6E held tight to that 20ms baseline across all of our tests, with only a few tiny latency spikes up around 25ms. But the Nest Wifi Pro? It routinely saw spikes as high as 150ms when we tested it. You can see for yourself in those radar graphs above — and note that I actually needed to zoom the scale out on the Nest Wifi Pro graph in order to show the full extent of the issue.
Those latency spikes could cause delays during a video call or an online gaming match, so they aren’t ideal. I’m doing a little more digging on this quirk to see what the specific issue was, so I’ll update this post if I have more to share, but Eero was the clear latency winner between the two. Between that and the higher (if less consistent) average speeds, Eero gets the edge, overall, as well.
Winner: Eero Pro 6E
Ease of use: Eero and Nest both make Wi-Fi dead simple
From Google Wifi to Nest Wifi to Nest Wifi Pro, Google has a good track record in the mesh category, as does Eero, which has several generations of mesh hardware on its resume over the past decade or so. Each company places a strong emphasis on the software running their respective mesh systems, and each has a strong history of reliable performance in CNET tests.
That software-heavy approach to mesh networking extends to the apps that you’ll use to control each system, as well. Regardless of whether you’re setting up a mesh router from Eero or from Nest, you can expect the experience to be quick and easy thanks to simplified app controls that walk you through each step of the process, including placement guidelines to help you place each extender in an optimal location. From there, each system’s app does a good job of offering quick access to common home networking features. That means that neither system has a real edge over the other as far as simplicity is concerned.
The only thing I’d note is that Google moved its main home networking controls into the newly revamped Google Home app, where they sit alongside other controls for adding and controlling gadgets like cameras, speakers and smart lights. If you’re already a smart home enthusiast — particularly a Google-minded smart home enthusiast — then that all-in-one approach might be exactly what you want. If not, and you just want a router app that sticks to routers, then perhaps the Eero app is a better fit.
Smart home: Both support Matter, but Eero’s Zigbee radio puts it over the top
Speaking of the smart home, it’s a central part of the pitch with both Eero and Nest. For starters, each system includes built-in radios for Thread, a low-power protocol that transmits as an extra layer to your existing Wi-Fi signal. That’s important, because Thread is a big part of the pitch for Matter, a new universal smart home standard backed by Amazon, Apple, Google and many others. Lots of Matter devices will use Thread to relay their signals back and forth, and both the Nest Wifi Pro and Eero Pro 6E mesh routers are fully equipped to quarterback those signals and keep Matter smart homes running smoothly.
Thread aside, each system has its own unique approach to courting smart home enthusiasts. On the Nest side, you’ll no longer find Google Assistant smart speakers built into each extender like you got with the original Nest Wifi, but you will be able to control the Nest Wifi Pro alongside all of your other connected home gizmos in the Google Home app, which promises to serve as a one-stop-shop for smart home management. Eero doesn’t have that — the Eero app is strictly a router app, and while you can sync your Eero up with Amazon’s voice assistant, the networking controls in the Alexa app aren’t enough to put it on the same all-inclusive level as Google Home.
For its part, the Eero Pro 6E features a dedicated Zigbee radio in addition to the Thread radio, which is something you won’t get with Nest. Zigbee is another low-power wireless protocol, but unlike Thread, it’s entirely separate from Wi-Fi. Plenty of connected locks, lights and other smart home gadgets use Zigbee to send their signals, and pairing devices like those with your home’s Wi-Fi network typically requires you to connect a Zigbee hub to your router to act as translator. With the Eero Pro 6E, that hub comes built in, which frees up one of your precious Ethernet jacks and makes it possible to pair Zigbee devices directly with your router.
This one’s close, but for me, the combination of that Zigbee radio with the feature that lets you use Echo speakers as Wi-Fi extenders gives Eero a slightly more compelling case as a smart home dream router. Advantage Amazon.
Winner: Eero Pro 6E
Value: Nest is as budget-friendly as Wi-Fi 6E gets
This one’s basically a draw. At $200 for a single device, $300 for a two-pack or $400 for a three-pack, the Nest Wifi Pro is slightly less expensive than the Eero Pro 6E, which rings in at $200 for a single device, $320 for a two-pack or $440 for a three-pack. If you’re in the market for a three-piece mesh system and you’ve narrowed it down to the Nest Wifi Pro or Eero Pro 6E, you’ll only save $40 by going with Nest.
Both the Eero Pro 6E and Nest Wifi Pro are two of the best values in the Wi-Fi 6E category, period. They’re some of the only Wi-Fi 6E routers to date that you can get for less than $200 without a big sale. That’ll position both routers pretty well as people continue upgrading to phones, laptops and other primary devices that support Wi-Fi 6E. It might be enough for consumers to forgive Nest’s lack of backwards compatibility or multi-gig support.
Winner: Nest Wifi Pro
This is a close one, as both systems are pretty appealing for anyone looking to upgrade their home network. With two-piece setups available for $300, the Nest Wifi Pro’s value edge is a slight advantage. Eero’s biggest advantage is on the hardware side — namely, the fact that it includes a multi-gig Ethernet jack, a built-in Zigbee radio, faster average speeds and backwards compatibility with earlier-gen Eero devices. You don’t get any of that with Nest.
On the other hand, plenty of smart homes already have a Zigbee hub of some sort (the Philips Hue Bridge, the SmartThings Hub and the Amazon Echo Plus are just a few that’ll do the job). Others may not need one at all. Meanwhile, Eero’s multi-gig support is nice to have in a forward-looking sense, but it doesn’t offer immediate relevance to the overwhelming majority of us living with sub-gigabit internet speeds.
In the end, both systems are recommendable at their prices. I like the Nest Wifi Pro better as sort of an entry-level Wi-Fi 6E pick, and one that could get better with time as Google continues tweaking its mesh formula. The Eero Pro 6E feels like more of an upgrade to me, and a more fully featured system given the extra hardware packed inside. Both are positioned to be capable smart home centerpieces — the Eero might be slightly more appealing on that front thanks to the built-in Zigbee radio, but the Nest Wifi Pro’s integration into the all-encompassing Google Home app has some appeal of its own, especially in smart homes that are already centered around Google hardware and Google Assistant voice commands.
I give the Eero Pro 6E a small edge here, overall, but both systems are interesting picks here in 2023.