Nest Wifi vs. Netgear Orbi 6: Which mesh router is absolute best? – CNET

A mesh router makes use of further satellite tv for pc units to unfold a fast Wi-Fi sign during all your area. It is a nice improve if you are in poor health of coping with lifeless zones the place you’ll’t get a quick sufficient connection, and with a surge of recent techniques hitting the marketplace in 2020, you have got various choices to make a choice from.

I have been checking out those techniques for months now, and the 2 that experience inspired me probably the most are the Nest Wifi and Netgear Orbi 6. Each be offering a two-piece gadget that you simply arrange and keep watch over from an app, and — with just about similar CNET assessment rankings — each carried out smartly in our assessments, too.

That used to be in particular true with the Orbi 6, which completed because the quickest and maximum succesful mesh router I have ever examined. That is in large part because of its devoted backhaul band for transmissions between the router and the satellite tv for pc, one thing the Nest Wifi lacks. It additionally helps Wi-Fi 6, the latest, quickest model of Wi-Fi. The Nest Wifi does not.

Alternatively, the Nest Wifi prices lower than part up to the Orbi 6, which sells for a whopping $700, regardless that at time of writing used to be right down to $630 on Amazon. (In the United Kingdom they are £239 and £710 respectively. The Netgear isn’t broadly to be had in Australia, however the Nest prices AU$399.) Does that make Nest the simpler cut price, or is Orbi 6 definitely worth the splurge for the additional horsepower?

Let’s smash it down. First, a snappy spec comparability:

Chris Monroe/CNET

  • Twin-band, AC2200 mesh router with AC1200 satellite tv for pc
  • 4×4 5GHz band, 2×2 2GHz band, no further backhaul band
  • Quad-core CPU, 1.4GHz
  • 1GB RAM, 4GB Flash reminiscence
  • WPA3 encryption
  • Two-piece gadget covers as much as three,800 sq. ft
  • Satellites are available 3 colours and come with Google Assistant sensible speaker capability
  • Satellites don’t come with Ethernet jacks
  • Gadget does now not strengthen Wi-Fi 6

Learn our Nest Wifi assessment.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

  • Triband, AX6000 mesh router with AX6000 satellite tv for pc
  • 4×4 5GHz band, 4×4 2GHz band, further 5GHz backhaul band
  • Quad-core CPU, 2.2GHz
  • 1GB RAM, 512MB Flash reminiscence
  • WPA3 encryption
  • Two-piece gadget covers as much as five,000 sq. ft
  • Router contains 2.5GB WAN port and 4 gigabit Ethernet jacks
  • Satellites come with 4 gigabit Ethernet jacks
  • Gadget helps Wi-Fi 6

Learn our Netgear Orbi 6 assessment.


Nest Wifi’s vary extending satellite tv for pc units come on your collection of 3 colours.

James Martin/CNET

Design variations

At about 10 inches tall, the fin-like Orbi 6 router and its matching satellite tv for pc are every extra conspicuous than the stout, marshmallowy Nest Wifi hardware. And whilst the router is simplest to be had in white, the Nest Wifi satellites (dad or mum corporate Google calls them “Issues”) come on your collection of white, coral or blue. The futuristic-looking Orbi 6 instructions extra consideration, however the Nest Wifi is the person who’s higher designed to mix in with your own home.

The Netgear Orbi 6 includes a multigig WAN port and 4 spare Ethernet jacks on each the router and the satellite tv for pc. In the meantime, the WAN port at the Nest Wifi router simplest helps incoming speeds of as much as 1Gbps and simplest contains one spare Ethernet jack. The Nest Wifi Level does not come with any Ethernet jacks in any respect.

Chris Monroe/CNET

So far as functions are involved, every gadget options design touches that the opposite lacks. Most blatant is the truth that the range-extending Nest Wifi Issues double as sensible audio system. Unfold a fast Wi-Fi sign during your own home, and you can unfold the Google Assistant’s voice-activated footprint with it.

The Orbi 6 router, in the meantime, includes a WAN port in a position to accepting incoming speeds of as much as 2.5Gbps. Together with the strengthen for Wi-Fi 6, that is a welcome piece of future-proofing over the Nest Wifi, the place incoming speeds are capped at 1Gbps. 

The Orbi router and satellite tv for pc every additionally function 4 gigabit Ethernet jacks — Nest simplest contains one spare jack on its router, and none at the satellite tv for pc in any respect. That suggests you’ll’t daisy-chain the satellite tv for pc again to the router with a stressed connection for quicker speeds at distance. And once more, Nest Wifi does not have an extra band devoted to backhaul transmissions between the router and the satellite tv for pc — as an alternative, the ones transmissions will commingle together with your common community visitors. That implies that your speeds will dip if you end up the use of the satellite tv for pc to glue from afar.

And hello, talking of which:

The Netgear Orbi 6 router is likely one of the quickest of the entire mesh techniques we have examined. The Nest Wifi cannot stay alongside of the Wi-Fi 6 techniques on this check, nevertheless it beats out each and every different mesh router that helps Wi-Fi five.

Ry Crist/CNET

Most sensible speeds

As the rate ranking (and the fee tag) suggests, the Netgear Orbi 6 is a extra tough piece of hardware than the Nest Wifi. Netgear pegs the highest pace of each the common 5GHz band and the 5GHz backhaul band at 2,400 megabits according to 2nd, with the two.4GHz band coming in at 1,200Mbps. Nest does not checklist its top-measured speeds for every band, however the general AC2200 ranking signifies that the ones height speeds upload as much as a mixed overall of two,200Mbps. Take that for what it is value.

In our personal height pace assessments, every gadget registered speeds that had been so much less than the specifications at the field, which is conventional. For the ones assessments, we stressed every gadget’s router to a MacBook Professional that acts as a neighborhood server, then used a 2nd computer with a Wi-Fi 6 radio to connect with the router and measure the switch speeds as we downloaded recordsdata from the server at quite a lot of distances.

At a variety of 5 ft, the Netgear Orbi 6 router netted a height pace of 871Mbps. The quantity simplest dropped to 666Mbps at a variety of 75 ft, which is a robust outcome. Either one of the ones numbers are less than you would be expecting from a gadget that advertises height 5GHz speeds of two,400Mbps, however they are on par with what we have noticed from different high-end, triband mesh routers that strengthen Wi-Fi 6, such because the Arris Surfboard Max Professional and the Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien.

As for the Nest, it wasn’t ready to attain as excessive as $700 mesh routers like that, nevertheless it nonetheless notched speeds of 612Mbps at 5 ft and 431Mbps at 75 ft. That implies that Nest’s speeds dropped via about 30% at a a long way distance on this check, when compared with a drop of about 25% for Netgear Orbi 6. And keep in mind, that is simply the router, without a range-extending satellite tv for pc in play.

In my smallish, 1,300 square-foot domestic, the Netgear Orbi 6 used to be ready to hit near-maximum speeds in each and every room. The Nest Wifi’s reasonable obtain speeds dipped down as I moved further from the lounge’s router.

Ry Crist/CNET

Actual-world speeds and protection

Our subsequent check provides that satellite tv for pc again into the motion to measure real-world speeds in a real-world environment — particularly, my 1,300-square-foot shotgun-style area in Louisville, Kentucky, the place I have were given an AT&T fiber web plan of 300Mbps. It is admittedly a bit of of a small surroundings for a mesh check, nevertheless it nonetheless we could me check reasonable speeds from room to room with the router and the extender in managed places to get a way of the way these items carry out as soon as you’re taking them domestic. 

That features a have a look at band-steering, since maximum mesh techniques like those put out a unmarried community that mechanically fingers your connection off between the two.four and 5GHz bands relying to your location. Some techniques do it much better than others.

Netgear flat-out beaten this check. After dozens of pace assessments throughout a couple of days, my reasonable pace in the lounge, the place the router sits, used to be an excellent 300Mbps. That quantity did not drop any less than 277 in some other spot in the home, and my connection remained solid as I moved from room to room. With a median pace of 288Mbps during all the area, that is the most efficient efficiency I have noticed from any of the mesh routers I have examined in my domestic. It is not in particular shut, both. Subsequent absolute best on this check used to be the Wi-Fi 6 model of the Linksys Velop, which clocked in with a whole-home reasonable of 243Mbps.

The Netgear Orbi 6 places out a particularly more potent sign than the Nest Wifi — and observe that each the router and the range-extending satellite tv for pc seem similarly succesful. With Nest, the satellite tv for pc is visibly weaker than the router.

Steve Conaway/CNET

As for the Nest Wifi, the whole reasonable during my area used to be 222Mbps. My connection used to be rock-solid as I moved from room to room (Google’s band-steering set of rules appears to be a robust level), however I wasn’t ready to hit height speeds at vary like I used to be with the Netgear Orbi 6. With the Nest, my reasonable close-range, front room pace of 283Mbps fell to 165Mbps in my again rest room, the farthest level from the router. That is lots rapid to circulation a podcast all through a bath with out buffering, however nonetheless, benefit Orbi.

That brings us to my closing check, the place I set up every gadget on the CNET Sensible House to check its power of sign. With the router and the extender once more in a hard and fast location, I take advantage of NetSpot device to log that sign power throughout dozens of places on each the primary flooring of the home, the place I take a seat the router and its extender, and in addition the basement point beneath.

Doing so supplies a collection of neat-looking warmth maps that display how robust the sign is from room to room. At five,800 sq. ft, the distance is bigger than both gadget guarantees to hide, so it’s kind of of a rigidity check — and each techniques did smartly. Each and every used to be ready to blanket nearly all of the home in inexperienced (just right) or yellow (nice). However observe that the Netgear Orbi 6 used to be ready to do even higher, with orange-level sign power within the quick neighborhood of each the router and the extender. That is an excellent outcome.

Sign power is not the similar as pace, thoughts you, however a more potent sign implies that you can have an more straightforward time hitting the ones quicker speeds. Once more, benefit Orbi.

It is not as totally featured as a gaming router, however the Nest Wifi gives a great deal of easy-to-use gadget controls within the Google House app, together with the power to prioritize visitors to precise units for restricted sessions of time.

Screenshots via Ry Crist/CNET

App extras and value

Like maximum routers in this day and age, each Nest and Netgear allow you to set your gadget up the use of an app to your Android or iOS tool. The method is rather fast and painless with every gadget, however there are issues to notice.

First is that you can setup and organize your Nest Wifi gadget by way of the Google House app. That is the identical app that you simply use to keep watch over Google Assistant sensible audio system and the third-party units that you simply connect to them, so when you’ve already purchased into that ecosystem, then including a Nest Wifi into the combination would possibly make numerous sense. Alternatively, if you are an Alexa person (or simply averse to the theory of sensible assistants to start with), then the Nest Wifi manner would possibly look like greater than you wish to have out of your router.

That mentioned, the Google House app is extra polished than the Netgear Orbi app, which feels slightly sparse via comparability. With Orbi, you are able to take a look at the standing of your gadget, pause the Wi-Fi to any of the units to your community or run a snappy pace check like you’ll with Nest, however there don’t seem to be many different options value noting past that. 

The Netgear Orbi 6 makes use of the similar app as different Orbi units. It will get the task finished, but when you wish to have quite a lot of complex extras to play with, you may want one thing else.

Screenshots via Ry Crist/CNET

In spite of everything, you are form of splitting hairs right here, as a result of neither of those routers will be offering the similar intensity of options that you can get with one thing like a gaming router. For one thing nearer to that ballpark, it’s possible you’ll imagine having a look on the Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien, a Wi-Fi 6 mesh gaming router that is clean to make use of whilst additionally providing quite a lot of additional options and controls over the best way your community will carry out.

One closing level of attention is safety. Each techniques be offering strengthen for WPA3, which is Wi-Fi’s newest encryption same old. That is a just right factor — WPA2 remains to be a competent and broadly used safety same old, nevertheless it has a historical past of hacks that experience had to be patched over time. That incorporates offline dictionary-based assaults, through which hackers use device to make never-ending guesses at your community’s password. WPA3 is healthier suited to give protection to your community in opposition to threats like that.

As for privateness, you must know that Google says that it does not observe the internet sites you consult with, nor does it observe the content material of your visitors. It does, alternatively, observe the efficiency of your community and the units that connect with it, which you’ll decide out of. Google says that it simplest stocks that Wi-Fi community efficiency knowledge with third-party apps and products and services that you have authorized, and that it would possibly not use that knowledge to personalize the advertisements that you simply see on-line.

And Netgear? I wasn’t ready to search out an Orbi-specific privateness coverage on-line past the whole Netgear privateness coverage at the corporate’s web site, which is a sprawling and in large part unhelpful learn. As well as, the Orbi app would possibly not allow you to view any of the fantastic print except you are already logged in and attached to an Orbi community. Credit score Google for being extra direct and clear about its knowledge practices.

The decision

When the Nest Wifi arrived overdue in 2019 with out strengthen for Wi-Fi 6, I puzzled how lengthy it might have the ability to stay up. Positive sufficient, within the months that adopted, we noticed an enormous inflow of recent Wi-Fi 6 mesh techniques with quicker height speeds, together with some that do not value a lot more than Nest’s (if in any respect).

I am nonetheless checking out the ones techniques out (and a number of other noteworthy new ones would possibly not be out till later this yr), however to this point, the Nest Wifi has finished an incredibly just right task of keeping its personal. It is not as rapid or as tough as a triband gadget just like the Orbi 6, in particular as you get a long way from the router, nevertheless it nonetheless gives superb ease of use and a reliably stable connection. And, at $269 for a two-piece setup, the fee is so much more straightforward to abdomen. (And often even less than that.)

Nonetheless, it is laborious to not be inspired with the Orbi’s efficiency, in particular in the ones real-world pace assessments I run out of my own residence. Not anything else I have examined got here just about Orbi 6 in that check. And, because of that multigig WAN port, it is a extra future-proofed choice than Nest, too. I would not begrudge any individual for splurging on it, however that is the factor — it is a splurge. Except you have already got a gigabit web plan in a position to benefiting from Wi-Fi 6, or in case you have a want to switch mass quantities of knowledge between other computer systems to your community on the quickest speeds imaginable, it is almost definitely greater than you wish to have. That makes the Nest Wifi a lot more straightforward for me to suggest.

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