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Any benefit to adding a Nest Wifi router to existing Google Wifi setup?

acruise
Community Member

Hi there, 

I currently have 4 Google Wifi (1st gen I guess?) units, in which two of the remotes are on wired backhaul, and one is mesh. My house is about 2600sf but I'm picky about good wifi, and we have a lot of devices. 😉

My home internet connection is bidirectional gigabit over fibre, it's fast and super reliable. My Wifi has been mostly very reliable, although I had to completely reset the network a few months ago because the reliability/performance seemed to be suffering... I didn't change anything but the reset helped! 

My Wifi performance is just OK... In my office, which is on the other side of an interior wall from the main router, and I see 250-320 Mbps down and 330-350 Mbps up, from two different computers -- a 2 year old 16" MacBook Pro, which doesn't seem to support Wifi 6, and a desktop with an MSI B550M Mortar motherboard, which includes Wifi 6 support.

I've been thinking about upgrading to a Wifi 6 mesh system, but I haven't seen anything on the market yet that looks like it will match the price/reliability/ease-of-use I'm already getting, and it would suck to spend $500-800 on a new Wifi 6 Mesh system and get only a modest improvement in performance.

Finally, the question!

If I buy just a Nest Wifi router and replace the Google Wifi main unit with that, am I likely to see significantly better performance?

I have no real interest in the mesh-only Points, as I use the mesh remote as a bridge for a desktop computer, but it might conceivably be better to put a Nest Point near that computer and get a better wifi card, WDYT?

Thanks! 🙂

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

MichaelP
Platinum Product Expert
Platinum Product Expert

Hello @acruise 

I'm not sure how possible it is to give definitive answers, but I'll try to provide some information that (hopefully) helps shed some light. First things first: WiFi is a convenience technology – Ethernet is going to perform better, so use as much of it as possible. This is to address your last question first, I guess. To expand on that, note that there's one 5GHz channel being used for both mesh interconnect and for talking to 5GHz WiFi devices. So, the traffic from a 5GHz client will go over that single channel twice when it's connected to a wireless connected mesh point / secondary. In short, connecting to a wireless mesh point / secondary that supports Ethernet via Ethernet is definitely preferred over connecting to it via WiFi. Of course, connecting secondaries back to the primary via Ethernet is also preferred.

To better understand performance over WiFi, it's important to understand what the radios in the access points and clients are capable of. The speed of a connection between an access point and any particular client will be limited to the least common denominator of the two. Google WiFi supports AC1200 2x2 (2 transmit and 2 receive streams). The Nest WiFi Point units are the same. But, the Nest WiFi Router units support AC2200 4x4 (4 tx / 4 rx streams). However, if your clients can't support more than 2 tx/rx streams, the extra streams on the Nest WiFi Router don't help (much). I did a little digging, and it looks like the MSI B550M motherboard comes with an Intel WiFi adapter. Yes, it supports WiFi 6, but it's still limited to 2 tx/rx streams. So, even if you installed a WiFi 6 network, it would only be faster at the very short ranges needed to enable the higher modulation rates per stream (and if you're that close, use Ethernet) or if the system supports 160MHz bandwidth (which would certainly be an improvement over the 80MHz bandwidth supported by the Google/Nest WiFi products).

Ok, so if we're limited to two streams at 5GHz with an 80MHz bandwidth, even at very close ranges, we might expect a raw negotiated speed of 866Mbps (but through a wall or at longer ranges, it's going to be significantly less than that). WiFi has substantial overhead compared to Ethernet, too. So, a few hundred megabits per second is about what I'd expect under typical conditions. But that's for a single client:access-point pair on a channel that isn't being used twice. Going through a wireless secondary will cut the effective end-to-end speed (you could estimate 50%, but the math is actually more complicated since the link pairs aren't going to be symmetrical).

So, that's a lot of detail (probably more than you wanted). But, I think the up-shot is that if you're using wired secondaries, replacing your primary with a Nest WiFi Router probably won't make much difference.

View solution in original post

4 REPLIES 4

MichaelP
Platinum Product Expert
Platinum Product Expert

Hello @acruise 

I'm not sure how possible it is to give definitive answers, but I'll try to provide some information that (hopefully) helps shed some light. First things first: WiFi is a convenience technology – Ethernet is going to perform better, so use as much of it as possible. This is to address your last question first, I guess. To expand on that, note that there's one 5GHz channel being used for both mesh interconnect and for talking to 5GHz WiFi devices. So, the traffic from a 5GHz client will go over that single channel twice when it's connected to a wireless connected mesh point / secondary. In short, connecting to a wireless mesh point / secondary that supports Ethernet via Ethernet is definitely preferred over connecting to it via WiFi. Of course, connecting secondaries back to the primary via Ethernet is also preferred.

To better understand performance over WiFi, it's important to understand what the radios in the access points and clients are capable of. The speed of a connection between an access point and any particular client will be limited to the least common denominator of the two. Google WiFi supports AC1200 2x2 (2 transmit and 2 receive streams). The Nest WiFi Point units are the same. But, the Nest WiFi Router units support AC2200 4x4 (4 tx / 4 rx streams). However, if your clients can't support more than 2 tx/rx streams, the extra streams on the Nest WiFi Router don't help (much). I did a little digging, and it looks like the MSI B550M motherboard comes with an Intel WiFi adapter. Yes, it supports WiFi 6, but it's still limited to 2 tx/rx streams. So, even if you installed a WiFi 6 network, it would only be faster at the very short ranges needed to enable the higher modulation rates per stream (and if you're that close, use Ethernet) or if the system supports 160MHz bandwidth (which would certainly be an improvement over the 80MHz bandwidth supported by the Google/Nest WiFi products).

Ok, so if we're limited to two streams at 5GHz with an 80MHz bandwidth, even at very close ranges, we might expect a raw negotiated speed of 866Mbps (but through a wall or at longer ranges, it's going to be significantly less than that). WiFi has substantial overhead compared to Ethernet, too. So, a few hundred megabits per second is about what I'd expect under typical conditions. But that's for a single client:access-point pair on a channel that isn't being used twice. Going through a wireless secondary will cut the effective end-to-end speed (you could estimate 50%, but the math is actually more complicated since the link pairs aren't going to be symmetrical).

So, that's a lot of detail (probably more than you wanted). But, I think the up-shot is that if you're using wired secondaries, replacing your primary with a Nest WiFi Router probably won't make much difference.

acruise
Community Member

Wow, thanks for the info-dump! Usually I'm the one writing them, on different topics. 😉

It sounds like my best bet is to wait for something tri-band then, hopefully from Google!

Jeff
Community Specialist
Community Specialist

Hi, acruise.

I'm just following up real fast to see if you got everything you needed or to see if you needed any more help. Thanks so much MichaelP for your killer response there. If you need anything else, acruise, just let me know.

Thanks.

Jeff
Community Specialist
Community Specialist

Hi, everyone.
As we haven't had any activity here recently I'm going to go ahead and close the thread. If you have more to add, feel free to start a new discussion.
Thanks