Google WiFi VS Eero 3rd Gen: Best Mesh System Under $300?

Summary

Google WiFi performs as well as Eero and has an awesome bandwidth usage interface. Eero is easier to install, has more features, and the design more versatile.

Setup

Both Eero and Google WiFi are easy to install, but Eero is definitely the better of the two. This isn’t based on a one-time installation. I’ve installed both systems five times and Eero has gone smoother each time. The instructions are better and there’s seldom any error messages or problems, whereas Google WiFi expects you to do several things without telling you or the instructions are out of order.

Starting with Eero, this mesh router is so simple that even the technologically-challenged can install it in minutes. That’s because the instructions are very clear and the app holds your hand the whole way, ensuring you know exactly what to do next. I’ve been able to set this up within 5-10 minutes, but first time users may need 20-30 minutes.

Eero tells you exactly when to plug and unplug things and gives you tips if there are problems. Eero’s developers pay attention to their audience because it makes no assumptions about the user’s skill level. If you want a simple system to install, then I can’t recommend Eero enough.

Google WiFi is typically smooth as well and relatively easy to install, but not quite as easy as Eero. While the technologically-challenged can probably install these mesh routers as well, Google makes a few assumptions and goes out of order at times.

Sometimes the Google WiFi app doesn’t recognize your routers, instead triggering false error screens and troubleshooting tips. It took me several attempts to correct this. Also, instead of adding all the nodes at once, you’ll be asked to install them one at a time. You’ll be expected to turn on your base router from the start, but Google never tells you that. Also, Google WiFi is supposed to connect automatically once you scan the QR code on the router, but it didn’t always work for me.

The app sometimes loads slowly without showing your progress status and even crashes. The instructions don’t tell you when to unplug the modem (until it becomes a problem). For techies, these are relatively small problems, but they are still issues nonetheless and can get annoying.

Both are relatively easy, but Eero is by far the better choice here.

Setup winner: Eero

Software

Eero and Google are very close here. Eero has better and smarter features, but both have a lot to offer.

Eero allows you to make profiles for every person and device. This is great for parents who want to schedule specific internet times or pause the internet for meals, bed, discipline, or any other reason. You can easily pause select profiles while everyone else still has access. You can’t prioritize bandwidth as well as with Google, but the Smart Queue Management automatically prioritizes certain devices without slowing down the others too much.

Guest networks are simple to create and your friends can be sent a token or they can scan a QR code for easy access. Firmware updates are frequent and installed automatically. Some techies got annoyed with Eero’s newest interface, but this new interface is best for average users because it’s simple, easy and puts a priority on the profiles, which is probably the main use case.

There are issues with Eero’s app though. You can see real-time bandwidth use, but only if you select a specific device. You also cannot track bandwidth usage over a set period (day, week, month, etc). This isn’t bad if you just have one or two devices, but most family profiles will have a dozen or more devices making it hard to see which device is hogging up resources. Also, you cannot make more than one account, so parents will have to share the same account.

You do get some advanced features like Thread support, port forward, MU-MIMO support, and more. Alexa allows you to pause the internet or even find your phone by telling you which device it’s near. There are two optional subscriptions. Eero Secure is $3/month and gives content filtering, security, and ad-blocking. Eero Secure+ is $10/month with all the same features along with password management, VPN, and better security.

While I like Eero more, Google is no slouch. The app is intuitive with lots of features. You can see real-time stats, like how much bandwidth a device is using per hour, day, month, and more. This makes it easy to see if one person is using all the resources, or if a device is downloading in the background and killing the network.

You can prioritize specific devices for a set period (1, 2, or 4 hours) so they get more power for uploading or downloading. Family WiFi allows you to group devices, schedule internet access, or filter mature content. It’s not quite as intuitive as Eero but close. One benefit to Google is that you can add more than one manager to your network rather than Eero’s single profile.

The Google WiFi app integrates with smart hubs, so you can control the lights with Philips Hue lights. You can restart the system in several minutes with the app along with enable IPv6, change DNS settings, manage DHCP IP settings, and more.

There are a few small issues. Google WiFi requires a Google account, the system relies on the cloud, it’s not great with VPNs, radios are MU-MIMO, WiFi calling doesn’t work for some and Google is known for quickly sunsetting products. This hasn’t happened yet, but it’s only a matter of time before Google WiFi stops getting updates.

Software winner: Tie

Performance

Eero and Google essentially have the same hardware and power, but there are a few differences.

Starting with baseline, one Eero router averaged out to 93/mbps in my home and backyard. Just like Google WiFi, these routers have two bands and similar radios. Eero Pro (for comparison) is 108/mbps.

When using the mesh routers together as a network, the three nodes averaged 96/mbps together. The set is supposed to cover 5,000 square feet, but it seemed closer to 4,000 square feet. This speed is fine for most users, but slower than premium mesh routers.

Google is nearly the same. Starting with baseline, a single router gave me 90/mbps in my home and backyard, and the internal specs are nearly identical to Eero. When using the three routers together, the average speed went up to 107/mbps. While this is better than Eero, I think the main reason is because my MacBook connected to the wrong Eero node many times while testing. I noticed they performed about the same when actually using them in real life.

Google says this system should cover 4,500 square feet, but like with Eero, I found it was closer to 4,000. Also, when doing random check-ins, Google was consistently slower than Eero and I can’t pinpoint why.

I can’t recommend one over the other based on performance as they are nearly identical.

Performance winner: Tie

Design

Both look good, but I like Eero aesthetic better. Eero has a glossy finish and is shorter than the Google mesh routers. Each node has two Ethernet ports. Since one must be used for the modem, you get five ports in total. Plus, the Ethernet ports are interchangeable and any can be used with the modem, whereas Google WiFi has one specific port for the modem. The Eero nodes are sleek and sit flat on any counter or table.

You can also get an Eero Beacon that plugs directly into an outlet, ensuring you get the extra WiFi range without wasting counter space. The only problem is that there are no ports.

Google is taller. You get the same five ports (six total, but one must be used for the modem). These routers shouldn’t be placed next to a wall or on a window sill because they won’t function well, but Eero has no problem with this. Google doesn’t have a direct into power outlet router option.

One cool Google feature is the nodes can be used as a nightlight. You can even toggle the brightness or turn the light off.

Both are designed well, but Eero gets the edge because it has a wall outlet router option (Eero Beacon), which adds versatility.

Design winner: Eero

Final Thoughts

While both Eero and Google WiFi perform about the same, I have to give the win to Eero. These mesh routers look better, are much easier to install, and I think the features are smarter and more intuitive. Both are good, but Eero is the superior choice.