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Google Wifi vs Nighthawk (2020): Which Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System Wins?

A slew of Wi-Fi 6 mesh routers are hitting the market this year, bringing the new wireless standard to homes eager for better Wi-Fi. One of the first to be released is the Netgear Nighthawk MK62 Mesh WiFi System, a compact two-piece package that’s surprisingly more affordable than most mesh routers. How does it fare against one of the popular low-cost mesh solutions such as Google Wifi? We take a look and give you the rundown below.

Google Wifi vs Nighthawk Mesh Wi-Fi Comparison Chart

ModelGoogle Wifi 3-PackNetgear Nighthawk MK62
 Google Wifi - 3-PackNetgear Nighthawk MK62
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Dimensions4.1 x 4.1 x 2.7 inches4.8 x 4.8 x 2.5 inches
Weight0.75 pounds0.63 pounds
Area Coverage4,500 sq. ft.3,000 sq. ft.
Wi-Fi TypeWiFi 5WiFi 6
Wi-Fi SpeedAC1200AX1800
BandsDual-bandDual-band
LAN Ethernet Ports3 total2 total
USB PortNoneNone
Mobile AppYesYes
Web BrowserYesYes
Parental ControlsYesYes
Guest NetworkYesYes

Design

Both Google Wifi and Netgear Nighthawk have minimalist designs.

Google Wifi vs Nighthawk Mesh Router Design
Overall you’d likely find the Google Wifi mesh points (left) to be easier on the eyes than the Netgear Nighthawk MK62 (right).

One thing both of these mesh Wi-Fi routers have in common is their compact and minimalist design. They’re roughly the same size and are intended to look appealing on any desk surface or counter top. We can imagine the white puck-like form of the Google Wifi mesh point to be a bit more appealing to most, but the Netgear Nighthawk MK62 can be less obtrusive.

Interestingly, the LED band around the middle of the Google Wifi router lights up differently depending on the status of the network. You can further customize it via the mobile companion app so it’s not just there for style points. Meanwhile, the Nighthawk only has a tiny LED light to indicate its power.

Connectivity

The Google Wifi has a wider coverage than the Netgear Nighthawk MK62.

Google Wifi vs Nighthawk Mesh Router Connectivity
Mesh routers like the Google Wifi lets you enjoy fast connections across multiple floors.

While each mesh point of both Wi-Fi systems can extend wireless coverage up to 1,500 sq. ft., the Netgear Nighthawk MK62 ships with just two nodes. For the same price you can grab the 3-pack Google Wifi and get a maximum coverage of 4,500 sq. ft. instead. Moreover, you’ll experience stronger signal strength at overlapping areas of these mesh points, making the Google Wifi a bit better for both smaller and larger homes.

Wired connectivity is also pretty important for whole home Wi-Fi systems, since you’ll undoubtedly want physical connections for TV streaming and printers and such. Both Google Wifi and Netgear Nighthawk MK62 have a single LAN Ethernet port on each node, though the former has WAN ports on all of them while only the main router of the latter gets one. This can be a bit limiting if you have several devices you want plugged in.

Performance

The Netgear Nighthawk MK62 offers faster speeds than the Google Wifi.

Google Wifi vs Nighthawk Mesh Router Performance
With the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology, you can achieve much higher max speeds with the Netgear Nighthawk MK62.

The headline feature of the Netgear Nighthawk MK62 Mesh System is of course its Wi-Fi 6 technology. It’s the latest standard for Wi-Fi that’s was only recently ratified last year. It essentially raises the top speeds of the 2.4GHz band and 5GHz band to 600 Mbps and 1,200 Mbps, respectively, which is roughly a 50% jump from Wi-Fi 5 speeds of 400 Mbps and 866 Mbps, respectively.

In addition, Wi-Fi 6 improves the network’s ability to handle more devices than ever, allowing the whole family to maximize their home’s wireless Internet potential. However, the catch is you won’t see much of a difference between it and Wi-Fi 5 if your ISP plan tops at, say, 300 or 400 Mbps. In essence, the speed gains will only be noticeable if you’re subscribed to high-speed fiber plans.

As such, for most homes you’re going to get a similar experience between the Google Wifi and Netgear Nighthawk MK62 systems. Both use powerful multiple aerials to broadcast signals throughout the house, and with careful placement, you can ensure that you don’t get any dead zones even in the backyard or in the attic. We’d say that the Google Wifi mesh system has the edge here since it has proven to be consistent while the MK62 system is a bit newer.

Software and Other Features

The Google Wifi has a simpler interface and setup than the Netgear Nighthawk MK62.

Google Wifi vs Nighthawk Mesh Router Software and Other Features
You can access all relevant network settings on the Google Wifi app.

Much of Google Wifi’s popularity comes from its simplicity and user-friendliness. Homes without much technical wireless network knowledge won’t have to deal with complicated settings since Google made sure that all relevant controls are present on the companion app and that they’re easy to understand. Setting it up out of the box is also very easy, and won’t take more than five or ten minutes after you’ve placed and plugged them in.

In contrast, while Netgear also ensures you can access important settings and network info on their Nighthawk app, you can find even more toggles and switches on its web browser admin panel. This is very much like the router interfaces of a decade ago though, so only those who have enough technical know-how are likely to take advantage of it.

You’ll get all of the common extra Wi-Fi features on both systems, such as parental controls, guest network settings, device access control and network status updates. We find the Google Wifi app to offer a better user interface overall though.

Verdict

The Google Wifi offers better value than the Netgear Nighthawk MK62 unless you have a high speed Internet plan.

For most homes the Google Wifi mesh system will represent good value since it offers more flexibility with 3 nodes that can accept wired LAN connections each. You can spread coverage out to a larger area or improve signal strength in smaller homes and apartments. Best of all, it’s very simple to setup and maintain, so you don’t need to deal with technical details if you just want faster Wi-Fi.

While you only get two mesh points with the Netgear Nighthawk MK62, they’re capable of higher speed gains thanks to their Wi-Fi 6 tech. If you have an ISP plan that’s higher than 400 Mbps, you’ll be better able to enjoy your top speeds with the MK62 mesh system. Moreover, it has better future-proofing since Internet subscriptions will only offer ever higher speeds to match Wi-Fi 6 standards.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ Does Google Wifi work with NETGEAR?

No, Google Wifi can only create a mesh network with Google Nest Wifi, Google Wifi, and OnHub routers.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is there are monthly fee for Google Wifi?

No, there is no additional monthly fee to use Google Wifi. It’s a router, firewall and mesh Wi-Fi solution that relies only on your existing Internet service (which you still need to pay for every month).

๐Ÿ“Œ How far does the NETGEAR Nighthawk reach?

It depends on the particular model. The NETGEAR Nighthawk MK62 can cover up to 3,000 square feet.

๐Ÿ“Œ Can I use NETGEAR Nighthawk as an extender?

Yes, though it will depend on whether your primary router is compatible with the particular Nighthawk router. Most Nighthawk routers should work well with other Nighthawk routers.

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Derick Bondoc
Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.