Google WiFi review: Mesh networking made easy

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Google delivers much more router than you’d expect for $129, but just one won’t be enough for most people. Unless you live in a studio apartment, you’ll want to avail yourself of two or three of these devices so you can deploy a mesh network. The master router and one node probably would have been adequate for the 2800-square-foot home we tested in, but adding the third delivered node a significant boost to the farthest corners. Google encourages this thinking by offering a substantial per-unit discount when you order a three-pack for $299.

It’s a dual-band router, of course, operating on both the 2.4- and 5GHz frequency bands. Google describes it as an “AC1200 2x2 Wave 2” device, which means it supports two spatial streams simultaneously and that it delivers maximum theoretical throughput of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 867Mbps on the 5GHz band. But it does not currently support one important 802.11ac Wave 2 feature: MU-MIMO (you can read about multi-user MIMO in this story). Google tells me a firmware update will enable MU-MIMO down the road, but it doesn’t work now. That won’t be a big deal for most people, because there are so few MU-MIMO client devices on the market and the ones that are available are limited to 1x1 spatial streams.

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