Google MESH WiFi Review – 2 Years On
I’ve been using a Google Nest WiFi ‘Mesh’ network for over two years now having originally bought a 3-pack of WiFi points and then ‘upgrading’ by adding a 4th WiFi point that has an integrated speaker.
I have a reasonable-sized house with lots of people in it and lots of devices all over it, including the ‘shed’. Having lived here for some time now I’ve accumulated a combination of a lot of old tech as well as new tech. Back in the day, I decided I needed a super-speedy wired network with multiple WiFi networks – which was a cool-enough plan but WiFi tech seems to have somewhat overtaken my infrastructure’s abilities.
After much reading around, the easiest solution seemed to be Mesh WiFi which creates a mesh of network points that all talk to each other at mega-fast speeds and identify as one network name to all your devices.
In 2018, I read in passing that GPLAMA used Google WiFi, so that quickly reduced my shortlist to one. As an aside, I read the other week that dcrainmaker also uses Google WiFi so, hey, that’s at least 3 reviewers (+me) who use it and those 2 guys need to shift around masses of video files too.
Big Changes In Performance
I have achieved some VERY significant speed improvements where my WiFi is now much faster than some of my older, wired connections
However, a home network can be complex and you may well find that your speed experience is limited by a bottleneck ‘somewhere’ and that could easily be as simple as the wrong kind of cable that appears to work PERFECTLY well but which is slow. So you could upgrade your internet speed to something fairly fast, like mine at 69Mbps, and still get no WiFi improvement. It’s that pesky cable. I won’t dwell on that too much but in my original Google Nest WiFi Review I try to go through some of the techy parts of your home network in as non-techy was as possible
Big Changes In Coverage
The techy solution to ‘better coverage’ is just to stick the Google pods everywhere and test subtle position changes.
2 Nest WiFi pods should be enough for a 3-bedroom house. For bigger houses or garden studios then you should get more pods. The more the merrier.
Such a ‘mesh’ of network points is fundamentally different from what you have right now. What you have right now is that old router in the corner of your lounge and all your WiFi comes from that. The further away from it you are, then the slower the connection speed. If you get too far away, through too many walls, then you get no signal.
It’s probably worse than that as your old router may well not support newer, faster ways of handling WiFi signal with your phones and other devices.
Your new Mesh network talks amongst itself at EVEN FASTER speeds that your phones can probably ever handle. Thus the super speeds can be available to you everywhere on your property.
What Made a difference to me
Here is some more detailed background to Wifi in my house. Bullet points are easier…
- The fourth pod has definitely helped, I probably need 6 for an optimal configuration
- You absolutely must use the BLACK PORT (hole) on the back of your broadband providers router to link to the Google router (yes you need two routers, don’t ask). And you must use a super-fast special cable to link the two. Like this Cat7 one. (Search for CAT 7 and RJ45)
- A new router from your broadband provider will probably have one of those BLACK PORTS on the rear. you may need to get a new one. That will probably speed up your WiFi more than getting a faster internet speed from your broadband provider #FindThatBottleNeckBaby
- Get a dongle for old computers. Your old computer probably has SLOW built-in WiFi. An external USB dongle for less than $/£10 should be all your need to support potentially MUCH higher speeds. Look for the keywords TP-LINK (I trust them) and ‘Dual Band’ and ‘5GHz’ (Here’s one: Amazon). This will be cool on laptops and desktops. As an indication, I have similar dongles on a 10-year old PC and it’s much quicker and can now easily stream HD video playback.
- Smart Phones – even really old phones should suddenly be able to connect at better speeds to your faster network. They’ve always supported better speeds but your WiFi was previously rubbish 😉 Newer phones should be able to connect at EVEN faster speeds.
- Hassle-free- it all just works. Google’s Mesh WiFi is self-managing and upgrades itself periodically. Even if you move the pods to different locations it re-determines the optimal connection method.
- Speed boosts – you can assign one device a 4-hour priority window. This doesn’t make it faster per see, it just stops other network devices slowing it down. So if you have an important film to watch (I mean, Zoom call) you can guarantee you get the best speed. The app can do other clever things too which you’ll like, check out the details in the full Google Nest Wifi review.
- Handles LOTS of devices. I have just under 30 devices on my home network. these are smart devices, smartphones, Nest doorbells…everything. The only problem I get is that the Nest Doorbell keeps dropping its signal. That said, I’ve just re-jiggled the WiFi point recently to make that better.
What Hasn’t Been Good
I know a little bit about networks and tried to configure Google WiFi ‘just so’. I probably know more about networks than 99% of the people reading this article but I’m not an expert. Bottom line…don’t do it. Just let Google manage itself and use the default Google config, even if it means re-assigning permanent IP-addresses to various network devices. It CAN be done but…
The new Nest WiFi pod with built-in speaker looks better than the originals! Plus the speaker sounds alright too. In hindsight I should have got these just because I use the Google audio quite a lot, the WiFi speed is the same.
I think on about 12th December 2020 some of Google’s services went down globally. It was a news story (Google it 😉 ). My WiFi didn’t work as a result. Come the day of the apocalypse your WiFi will be the first to fail and you are reliant on yet another 3rd part cloud solution.
My pain shed is about 15m from my house and perhaps 20m is the distance between the WiFi points. It doesn’t give a good connection. ‘Luckily’ I have a wired network connection under the garden to the shed, however for some reason that downgraded itself to 100Mbps rather than 1000MbPs. The Google WiFi point is cool in that it plugs into the wired network in the shed it’s just that it would be faster than 100Mbps over WiFi. I could dig the garden up to re-lay a better cable but instead, I’m playing with putting a pod near the rear of the house to piggy-back a fast WiFi signal to the shed.
You do have to position the Google WiFi pods just right. One metre can make a difference if there are thick walls or ceiling to transmit a signal through. You have to think of their 3D position in relation to each other to judge how close they really are