The Eero 6 and Pro 6 mesh routers — announced in September — are finally shipping. The new features? Wi-Fi 6 (a faster standard to distribute connectivity to devices ) and Zigbee connectivity (a communication standard for smart home gadgets).
What sets the 6 and Pro 6 apart? The Wi-Fi speeds each can deliver and the amount of bands for connectivity. The 6 is the mainstream one, with speeds of 500 Mbps and dual-band connectivity for your devices to live on and use. The Pro 6 packs more of a punch, with speeds of 1,000 Mbps and tri-band (aka three bands) connectivity.
Essentially, it’s a difference in the internet speeds the routers can deliver and room for connections to live on. And there’s a price difference.
We’ve spent over a week testing both Eeros, and they each deliver a dependable network with some added fluidity.
Setup is easy as pie
Routers aren’t always the friendliest of devices when it comes to setup. With Eero, though, it’s an effortless experience.
To set it up, you’ll need the Eero app (on your Android or iOS phone), which will walk you through the whole process. If this is your first time setting up an Eero, you’ll start by making an account and then select to create a network. And here’s the important part: If you’re opting for an Eero 6, you’ll need to use the main node, which features two Ethernet ports on the back.
And this is a bit of a letdown, as not all Eero 6s are made the same — the additional two nodes that come in the three-pack don’t feature any Ethernet ports. They have only a single USB-C port for power. In comparison, all of the Eero Pro 6s feature three ports: two Ethernets and a USB-C for power. We’re pretty bummed that the core 6s don’t feature Ethernet ports.
You’ll connect the Eero 6 with the Ethernet ports to your modem with the included Ethernet cable. The Eero app will find that node after it begins to glow blue and will switch to white once it’s set up. Using the app, you’ll name the network and set a password. If you’re upgrading a current home network, a handy trick is to keep the same network name and password. Just make sure it’s identical — even with capitalized versus uncapitalized letters. This way all of your devices will automatically reconnect.
After the network is created, Eero will walk you through placing the other nodes. It’s equally simple — find a spot and give it power. The app will find it, you’ll name the node and it will cast your internet farther. Each Eero 6 covers up to 1,500 square feet, and a Pro 6 covers 2,000 square feet.
If you’re setting up just one Eero, you’re likely done with setup in under five minutes. For us, it took about 15 minutes to set up all three. The best part about the Eero experience is that it all lives in the mobile app. You can see which devices are connected, set content filtering, make changes to the network and much more.
Eero 6: Ideal for smaller networks
Each Eero 6 is a dual-band router, meaning it has a 2.4 GHz band and a 5 GHz band inside. Those are, essentially, the standards — 2.4 GHz is still cooking, but it’s the legacy in terms of bands, while 5 GHz is faster with more capacity and the ability to deliver faster speeds.
And while the main Eero 6 router can handle speeds of up to 900 Mbps with the additional nodes, it will only cast out up to 500 Mbps. It’s not a slouch, but if you have gigabit speeds, the Eero 6 just doesn’t make sense, as it can’t hit the speeds you’re paying for. You’re paying for super-fast speeds from your internet service provider but would be pairing it with a router that physically can’t deliver those.
Arguably, the big appeal of the Eero 6 is support for Wi-Fi 6. And while this doesn’t automatically deliver faster speeds to each of your devices, it improves how the network is distributed and the capacity of your network. If you think of your home network as a highway, Wi-Fi 6 adds in a few more lanes and tries to avoid backups. This way, if you’re adding closer to 50 or 60 devices to your Eero 6 network, it can properly distribute and structure it so devices are on the proper band getting solid speeds.
With an iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, we did notice improved speeds and overall stability from the original Eero to Eero 6. Keep in mind, though, that the new iPhones are Wi-Fi 6-capable as well, so they can really take advantage of the new tech inside these routers.
Like past Eeros have done, the 6 will intelligently connect your devices to the proper band — either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. Within the Eero application, you can turn on band steering, in which it takes a look at the device and the bands it can run on, then pushes it toward the better and steadier band. This is especially helpful, as the Eero 6 is only a dual-band device and, historically, these can have some potential slowdowns with a lot of devices connected.
While in the past we’ve encountered some issues with these, we didn’t experience any detrimental slowdowns or connectivity drop-offs with upward of 50 devices connected to the Eero 6. Our intake was a gigabit connection from Verizon Fios. And with the change to Eero 6, we saw nearly identical download speeds but improved upload speeds by about 100 Mbps against the entry-level Eero. The Eero 6 router itself was pulling 800 Mbps down and about 920 Mbps up, on average.
An iPhone 12 Pro connected to one of the secondary nodes averaged 100 Mbps down and 207 Mbps up. That’s a nearly identical download speed and a significant jump by about 70 Mbps on the upload compared to previous Eero.
Eero Pro 6: Fast speeds with minimal effort
Pro 6 is both the more expensive and faster router from Eero. After all, it has Pro in the name and represents the new flagship offering from the brand. And it doesn’t just provide you with more powerful hardware, but it also trickles down to the devices connected.
Each Eero Pro 6 is the main router, with two Ethernet ports for easy hardware connections.
Inside the Pro 6 is a tri-band setup: a single 2.4 GHz band and two 5 GHz bands. Essentially, this is more room for devices to connect and more capacity. This, paired with Wi-Fi 6, can let the Eeros work some magic for proper resource allocation and ensure a stable connection for upward of 100 connected devices.
Throughout our testing period, we didn’t experience any slowdowns and locked in speeds that were a bit faster over the previous Eero Pro routers. The only difference here is Wi-Fi 6 and the updated design. On average, with a Wi-Fi 6 device like an iPhone 12 Pro, we scored 310 Mbps down and 303 Mbps up. The actual intake on the main Eero Pro 6 was a zippy 940 Mbps down and 940 Mbps up — perfectly optical in most cases.
The Eero Pro 6 is definitely faster over the core 6, but you’ll need internet speeds that are faster and more devices on the network to notice the swiftness and smoothness that it provides. If you’re living in a smart home with a ton of connected devices, the Pro 6 makes the most sense.
As we mentioned in the beginning, the 6 and Pro 6 both feature a Zigbee hub inside. Zigbee is a connectivity standard for smart home devices. To unlock this feature, you’ll need to link your Eeros with an Amazon account. It’s not really a forward-facing feature by any means, but you’ll be able to connect smart home devices that connect over Zigbee (like a smart bulb or door sensor) with ease.
The last equation of Eero is the optional Secure ($2.99 per month) or Secure+ ($9.99 per month) subscriptions. The base Secure plan gives you a lot for a minimal investment: ad blocking, insights on how your network is used, content filtering and advanced security. Secure+ keeps all this and adds in three services: 1Password, Encrypt.me and Malwarebyte. It’s a serious value, and we recommend going all in on it if you can afford it. If not, the standard Secure provides some nice features that, while we wish were standard, are certainly worth the $3 per month upgrade.
If you have a home filled to the brim with connected devices and have a fast internet plan, the Pro 6 is the way to go. For everyone else, the Eero 6 will get the job done and even offer noticeable improvements over the base Eero (we just wish the company didn’t skimp on ports). Also, if you upgrade over the entry-level Eero, don’t throw the nodes away, as they can run in tandem with the Eero 6.
If you currently have an Eero Pro setup, know that the Pro 6 isn’t a dramatic improvement. It does add in Wi-Fi 6, which will offer future-proofing, but you can likely push out the upgrade purchase a bit longer. If you do make the jump, know that you can use your existing Pros with the Pro 6 on the same network.
Either route you opt for, you’ll know that you’re getting a router that delivers modest speeds, offers easy smart home setup and features Wi-Fi 6 inside.