I tried Google Wifi, Eero, and Orbi — here’s which one you should buy

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Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

I’ll never go back to using a regular WiFi router and extender after trying Eero, the first mesh WiFi system I tested.

A single WiFi router doesn’t cover my whole house, and extenders cut my internet speeds in half. Plus, I continuously need to reconnect devices between the router and extender, and they’re a pain to setup.

Mesh WiFi systems fix all those problems, and their apps offer easier setup and control than traditional routers.

The mesh WiFi systems I tried, including the Eero, Orbi, and Google Wifi, all update themselves automatically without having to do anything, too.

But I can’t use all three systems at the same time, so I need to make a choice. Here’s how I picked the right WiFi system:


First, let’s take a look at internet speeds from the main, primary routers from Eero, Orbi, and Google Wifi. All of them performed extremely well.

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Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

The main, primary routers from all three companies gave me excellent download and upload speeds that actually exceed my 100 Mbps down/35 Mbps up advertised speeds from my internet service provider (ISP).


Now, let’s take a look at the performance from each system’s satellite units.

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Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

I placed each company’s satellite unit upstairs in my house, with the primary router downstairs.

The Eero and Orbi satellites performed admirably, giving me nearly the same results as the main unit.

The Eero’s satellite achieve 99.6 percent of the main unit’s download speeds, and the Orbi’s satellite achieve 99.9 percent of the main unit’s download speeds. That means the main units were transmitting data to the satellite units efficiently.

Google Wifi’s satellite performed comparatively poorly, as it struggled to achieve download speeds above 70 Mbps, which averages out to about 57 percent of the speeds the main unit achieved.

Despite Google Wifi’s poor satellite result, I could still stream Netflix, browse the web, and lurk on social media just fine upstairs, as 70 Mbps is still pretty fast. And even if you have slower internet service from your ISP, say around 25 Mbps, and Google Wifi’s satellite only achieves about 15 Mbps, you’d still be fine for streaming and general internet use. Yet, you’ll be better off with the Eero or Orbi if you have internet service slower than 25 Mbps.


Performance aside, each system has its own set of pros and cons that are also important to consider.

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Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Eero

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Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Pros:

– Excellent performance.

– Sleek, compact design.

– Incredibly easy setup.

– Good app.

– Updates itself without any manual intervention.

Cons:

– Expensive.

– Only two Ethernet ports for wired devices (only one on main unit).


Netgear Orbi

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Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Pros:

– Excellent performance.

– Sleek design.

– Updates itself without manual intervention.

– More Ethernet ports (three on main unit, four on satellite).

– Most WiFi coverage per unit (2,000 square feet).

Cons:

– Large.

– Somewhat expensive.

– Setup isn’t as easy as Eero or Google Wifi.

– App is poorly designed (Netgear says it’s in the process of updating it).


Google Wifi

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Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Pros:

– Sleek, compact design.

– Incredibly easy setup.

– Excellent app.

– Updates itself without manual intervention.

– Least expensive.

Cons:

– Satellite unit performance was comparatively poor.

– Only two Ethernet ports for wired devices (only one on the main unit).


So which one would I pick?


I’d pick Google Wifi.

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Antonio Villas-Boas/Google

For my needs, and for my buck, Google Wifi does what I need it to do, even if the satellite unit’s performance was lacking compared to the others.

The price difference is a big factor in my decision. A Google Wifi three-pack costs $300 while an Orbi 2-pack costs $380 (there’s no three-pack, but two Orbis cover the same amount square footage as three Eeros and Google Wifi), and an Eero three-pack costs $500. That’s $80-200 I can save, or spend on wine (I like wine) by going with Google Wifi. And Google Wifi’s single and two-pack options are also cheaper than Eero and Orbi.

For an $80-$200 savings, I don’t mind so much that the Google Wifi satellite unit doesn’t perform as well as the Eero or Orbi. My internet service is fast enough that it can afford a little downgrade of speed for my less important devices connected to the Google Wifi satellite.

For my specific setup, the devices that I want to receive the fastest possible speeds are all connected to the main unit downstairs. And, as you could tell tell from my test, the main unit performs just as well as the others, giving my most important devices downstairs the maximum download and upload speeds my internet service will allow.


Why not Eero or Orbi?

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Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

At $500, the Eero three-pack is the most expensive option by far compared to Google Wifi’s $300 three-pack and Orbi’s $380 two-pack.

Netgear’s Orbi satellite delivers better performance than Google Wifi’s, and each Orbi unit covers more square footage than the Google Wifi units, but I can save the $80 extra that the Orbi two-pack costs, or even $200 that the Eero costs. As I mentioned above, I personally don’t mind so much that the Google Wifi satellite doesn’t perform as well, as it served my needs just fine.

Plus, the Orbi units are rather large, even if they have a nice design.

However, if you need the best performance from a satellite unit, and/or you can spare the extra $80 that the Orbi two-pack costs, Netgear’s Orbi is your best bet.