Google WiFi review

Tech writer Hadyn Green set up a mesh network with Google WiFi to see if he could wipe out WiFi dead-spots at home.

Google WiFi node

Mesh networks are the future. Instead of a single device trying to reach every part of your home with WiFi, you instead have a group of smaller devices working together to create a combined network. This makes it perfect for larger homes with WiFi dead-spots, like mine does.

Google WiFi is part of our routers test, but that didn’t look at mesh functionality. So I trialled it in my house to see how it performed on a day-to-day basis.

The system comes with three nodes in the pack but you can buy more to expand the network. The nodes are all the same but one will act as the main unit and needs to be connected to a modem, as it can’t be plugged directly into the ONT.

I spaced the other two nodes evenly through my house. Close enough to get a good signal, but far enough away to get a good spread of coverage – roughly a room-and-a-half apart. Walls or floors between nodes affect signal strength.

Set-up is done via the app and takes minutes. Once completed and running, I could easily see which devices were connected and the speed each device was getting. I could also test the nodes to see the strength of their connections. The app allows you to prioritise devices, so I could give more bandwidth to my Apple TV when streaming a movie.

19feb google wifi graphic

The difference between this set-up and using a WiFi repeater is that mesh devices create a single network (so only one SSID), whereas repeaters set up their own network (multiple SSIDs). So as you walk through your house your devices aren’t switching between networks or trying to connect to a weaker signal.

I got roughly 800Mbps download (500Mbps upload) to the main unit plugged into the modem, and between 50 and 400Mbps connection to individual devices throughout the house, depending on their age and WiFi capabilities (the fastest speed I clocked was with my new iPad).

Even though the nodes were technically all on the same network, they’re still individual devices, which caused some issues. I found some third-party products (such as my WiFi lightbulbs) needed to be connected to the same node.

In general though, I found it a godsend having no dead-spots and being able to walk from one end of my house to the other without suffering from a poor signal.

This router system was loaned to the writer by Orcon.

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