(CNN) —  

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 it can deliver and the amount of bands for connectivity. The 6 is the mainstream one with speeds of 500Mbps and dual-band connectivity for your devices to live on and use. The 6 Pro packs more of a punch with speeds of 1,000Mbps 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.

  • Eero 6 ($103, originally $129; amazon.com)
  • Eero 6 Three Pack ($223, originally $279; amazon.com)
  • Eero Pro 6 ($183, originally $229; amazon.com)
  • Eero Pro 6 Three Pack ($479, originally $599; amazon.com)

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

PHOTO: Jacob Krol/CNN

Routers aren’t always the friendliest of devices when it comes to set up. With Eero, though, it’s an effortless experience.

To set up, you’ll need the Eero app (on your Android or iOS phone), which will walk you through the whole setup. 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 let down as not all Eero 6’s are made the same — the additional two nodes that come in the three-pack don’t feature any ethernet ports. They only have 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 is 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

PHOTO: Jacob Krol/CNN

The Eero 6 has a more modest feature set compared to the Pro 6.

Each Eero 6 is a dual-band router, meaning it has a 2.4Ghz band and a 5GHz band inside. Those are, essentially, the standards — 2.4Ghz is still cooking, but it’s the legacy in terms of bands, while 5Ghz 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 900Mbps with the additional nodes, it will only cast out up to 500Mbps. 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 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz. Within the Eero application, you can turn band-steering on, in which it takes a look at the device, the bands it can run on and pushes it towards 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 upwards 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 100Mbps against the entry-level Eero. The Eero 6 router itself was pulling 800Mbps down and about 920Mbps up, on average.

An iPhone 12 Pro connected to one of the secondary nodes averaged 100Mbps down and 207Mbps up. That’s a nearly identical download speed and a significant jump by about 70Mbps on the upload compared to previous Eero.

Eero Pro 6: Fast speeds with minimal effort

PHOTO: Jacob Krol/CNN

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 trickles down to the devices connected as well.

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 2.4Ghz band and two 5Ghz 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 upwards 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 310Mbps down and 303Mbps up. The actual intake on the main Eero Pro 6 was a zippy 940Mbps down and 940Mbps 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.

Everything else

PHOTO: Jacob Krol/CNN

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 a month) or Secure+ ($9.99 a 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 a month upgrade.

Bottom Line

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 can deliver modest speeds, offer easy smart home setup and features Wi-Fi 6 inside.

  • Eero 6 ($103, originally $129; amazon.com)
  • Eero 6 Three Pack ($223, originally $279; amazon.com)
  • Eero Pro 6 ($183, originally $229; amazon.com)
  • Eero Pro 6 Three Pack ($479, originally $599; amazon.com)