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Meet the fastest mesh router we've tested yet

How fast? Let's compare it to the Nest Wifi, our current top pick in the mesh category. We clocked that system's top wireless transfer speeds at 612 megabits per second at a close-range distance of five feet. The Netgear Orbi 6 hit a top speed of 666Mbps -- at a distance of 75 feet. Up close, the number was 871Mbps, which is the fastest speed we've ever seen from a mesh router in that test.

How impressive? When I took the two-piece Orbi system home and tested how fast I was able to connect throughout my house, I saw average speeds at the farthest point from the router that were 95% as fast as my average speeds up close, in the same room as the router. No other mesh system I've tested has managed to get any higher than 82% in that same test. Most come in below 60%.

Still, as capable as the high-end Orbi system is, it's overkill for most folks, especially if your internet connection isn't at least 500Mbps. In my home, where my fiber internet plan nets me speeds of up to 300Mbps, my average speeds throughout the house came in at 289Mbps with the Netgear Orbi, which is better than the whole-home average of 222Mbps that I saw from the Nest Wifi, and better than any other mesh router I've tested. But it wasn't noticeably better. Both connections felt comparably snappy as I browsed the web or streamed TV. Pick one of the two at random, set it up in my home, and ask me to spend a weekend using my network like normal, and come Monday I wouldn't be able to tell you which system I'd been using.

And, if it's the Netgear Orbi's support for Wi-Fi 6 support that's tempting you, know that a number of new Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems are set to debut in the coming months. That includes a few options that you'll be able to score for $250 or less, like Netgear's own Nighthawk-branded Wi-Fi 6 mesh system. Almost everyone looking to upgrade to a mesh router this year should start with systems like that before blowing the bank on more mesh than they need. But credit to our new speed king -- if you simply want the fastest, best-performing mesh money can buy, look no further.

Mesh 101

Mesh routers are systems that include range-extending satellite devices. You plug the router into your modem like normal, and then plug the satellite in somewhere else in your home. The satellite maintains a strong connection with the router and serves as a signal booster when you're connecting from afar.

In other words, a mesh router is a solid choice if you're looking to spread a speedy Wi-Fi connection throughout your home and eliminate annoying dead zones. They don't offer top speeds that are as fast as standard, single-point routers, but they do offer much better coverage. And, since your home's internet plan almost certainly caps your top speeds at rates well below what any modern router is actually capable of, that superior coverage will make a much more noticeable difference in your internet experience.

But does it have to cost $700?

No -- you've got plenty of mesh alternatives that cost hundreds less, including well-reviewed options like the Nest Wifi, Eero and the dual-band, Wi-Fi 5 version of the Netgear Orbi, which is a much more budget-friendly option at $199 for a three-pack. With the Wi-Fi 6 version of the Orbi, a three-pack costs $999.

It's not necessarily Wi-Fi 6 that makes the higher-end Orbi (which I'm calling the "Netgear Orbi 6" to avoid confusion with other Orbi systems) so much more expensive. Like I said, Netgear's own Wi-Fi 6 Nighthawk mesh system costs just $230 for a two-pack. The real difference is that the Netgear Orbi 6 beefs things up with a faster processor, faster top speeds and -- most importantly -- a second 5GHz band that the system uses as a dedicated backhaul connection between the router and its satellites. That lets the system move data around as you're connecting in a much more efficient manner, and without any extra interference, all of which lets you enjoy faster connections at a distance, when the satellite is in play.

It's an especially killer feature in combination with Wi-Fi 6, because the router and satellite can take full advantage of new Wi-Fi 6 features in order to move data around faster than ever. Even if you don't yet own any Wi-Fi 6 gadgets capable of taking full advantage of the speedy new standard, the end result is that connecting to the internet when you're close to the satellite should be nearly as fast as when you're near the router itself.

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Other high-end hardware touches include the multigig WAN port on the router that can support incoming speeds as high as 2.5Gbps (2,500Mbps). Prior to last year, the WAN port on most routers capped your incoming speed at 1Gbps, and many still do. As internet speeds continue to rise and more and more of us gain access to gigabit speeds, single gig WAN ports like that will become even more of a bottleneck.

Netgear's not alone in this new premium tier of triband, Wi-Fi 6 mesh routers. The newest version of Linksys Velop offers a nearly identical pitch, and retails for $700 as well. Same goes for the AmpliFi Alien, from Ubiquiti, which costs $700 for a two-piece mesh setup. Meanwhile, the Arris Surfboard Max Pro costs a little less at $650 for a two-pack.

Later this year, in addition to that new $230 Wi-Fi 6 Netgear Nighthawk mesh system, we'll be testing out dual-band Wi-Fi 6 mesh routers from D-Link and TP-Link, both of which will cost a fraction of what the Netgear Orbi 6 costs. They won't perform at the same level without that backhaul channel, but they'll still be a lot closer to the sweet spot for most shoppers.

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Setup and performance

As I said at the top, the Orbi 6 is our new speed leader as far as mesh is concerned. In our lab, we used that multigig Ethernet jack to connect the Orbi's router with a local server, then we used a Wi-Fi 6-equipped laptop to connect to its wireless network. We were able to download files from the server at speeds of up to 871Mbps at close range, which is as fast as mesh systems like these get. At a distance of 75 feet, speeds only fell to 666Mbps, which is excellent.

That's a lot of speed, but I also wanted to see how the system performed in a real-world setting. So, I set it up at my house, a 1,300 sq. ft. shotgun-style home with a 300Mbps fiber internet connection, and started running dozens upon dozens of speed tests from different rooms. Throughout all of it, I streamed live HD video to my TV in order to simulate typical network congestion.

Speaking of setup, it was relatively painless. You'll download the Orbi app to your Android or iOS device (or connect to the Orbi web portal), then follow the instructions. Just plug in your router and satellite when instructed, give your network a name and a password, and wait for Netgear to get you up and running. The process took slightly longer than with the Nest Wifi, Eero or AmpliFi, but it worked perfectly and had my network up and running in about 10 minutes.

From there, you'll be able to manage your system from the Orbi app. The controls don't go as deep as you'll get with something like a gaming router, but you at least get options to pause the Wi-Fi to specific devices, or run a quick speed test.

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Speaking of speed tests, the results in my home were, again, impressive. My average speed in the living room, where the router is located, was a perfect 300Mbps -- and that average hardly dropped at all as I moved around the house. My back bathroom is the farthest spot from the router, and it's a common dead zone if I'm testing a standard, single-point router. With the Orbi 6, my average speeds back there only fell to 288Mbps, which is 95% of what I was getting in the front of the house, up close to the router.

That's a ridiculously strong result. Compare it to the Nest Wifi and the triband Netgear Orbi Voice, the two strongest Wi-Fi 5 mesh setups I've tested. Each of those was able to hit an average download speed of 164Mbps in that back bathroom.

The Orbi 6 was also a standout in terms of signal strength. We tested it by taking it to the 5,800 sq. ft. CNET Smart Home, where we used NetSpot software to measure the signal strength from the router and the satellite across dozens of points on the main floor, where both devices were situated, and also in the basement below. The stronger the signal in a given spot, the faster you'll be able to connect to your network.

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The result is that heat map above, where blue is bad, green is good and yellow is great. At close proximity, the Orbi router and satellite each took us past yellow and on into orange territory, which none of the Wi-Fi 5 mesh systems we tested last year were able to do. Our early results for other Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems we're testing, including the Arris Surfboard Max and the new Linksys Velop, are looking strong, too.

That said, note that while the coverage was definitely adequate throughout the majority of the home, the signal wasn't as strong down below in the basement, where things looked to be more on par with what we saw from mesh systems that support Wi-Fi 5. 

That tells me that while the Orbi 6 might offer stronger connections at distance, it also might not be any more of a magic bullet for multistory homes than existing mesh systems already are.

Feel the need for speed?

The Netgear Orbi 6 is proof positive that mesh networking and Wi-Fi 6 make for a pretty killer combo. When the router and its satellite are able to use Wi-Fi 6 speeds and features to pass data back and forth, everyone benefits -- most notably with faster connections at a distance.

Still, at $700 for a two-pack, this is a very difficult system to recommend. You'll need an internet plan of at least 500Mbps before you'll notice much of a difference between the Orbi 6 and less expensive alternatives like the Nest Wifi, Eero or even Netgear's own budget-priced, Wi-Fi 5 version of the Orbi. At $700, the Orbi 6 is more than twice as expensive as all of those, and it doesn't include unique extras like built-in smart speakers or a device prioritization engine. And if it's Wi-Fi 6 that you want, then you should almost certainly wait to see how the less expensive, dual-band Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems due out this year perform in our tests. Either that, or wait for a significant sale.

Sours: https://www.cnet.com/reviews/netgear-orbi-ax6000-wifi-6-system-review/

NETGEAR Orbi WiFi System RBK50 - Wi-Fi system - 802.11a/b/g/n/ac - desktop - with Orbi Voice WiFi Satellite & Smart S...

Orbi Mesh WiFi System with Orbi Voice delivers whole home WiFi with a superior smart speaker experience. Tri-band Mesh WiFi brings high-performance WiFi throughout your home and extends your existing WiFi for less buffering and dead zones. It has Amazon Alexa built right in so you can voice control your music and other smart home devices. Audio by Harman Kardon creates an exceptionally rich, room-filling sound. Enjoy the convenience of one WiFi name, Circle with Disney Smart Parental Controls, guest WiFi and other advanced router features. Orbi is ready right out of the box and works with your Internet service provider. Easily set up and manage your whole home WiFi and smart speaker with the Orbi app.

Coverage for homes up to 4,500 sq. ft. with combined speeds up to 3Gbps.

Tech Specs


Quick Specs


Device Type

Wi-Fi system - mesh - with Orbi Voice WiFi Satellite & Smart Speaker

Wi-Fi System Components

Router, extender

Wi-Fi System Coverage

Up to 5,000 sq.ft

Data Link Protocol

Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac

Frequency Band

2.4 GHz (1 band) / 5 GHz (2 bands)

Intelligent Assistant

Google Assistant, Alexa

Features

MU-MIMO technology, guest access, FastLane3 technology, Circle Smart Parental Controls, Explicit Beamforming, Implicit Beamforming, NETGEAR Armor

Compliant Standards

IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac

Dimensions (WxDxH)

6.7 in x 3.1 in x 8.9 in

Device Type

Wi-Fi system - mesh - with Orbi Voice WiFi Satellite & Smart Speaker

Wi-Fi System Components

Router, extender

Wi-Fi System Coverage

Up to 5,000 sq.ft

Data Link Protocol

Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac

Frequency Band

2.4 GHz (1 band) / 5 GHz (2 bands)

Intelligent Assistant

Google Assistant, Alexa

Features

MU-MIMO technology, guest access, FastLane3 technology, Circle Smart Parental Controls, Explicit Beamforming, Implicit Beamforming, NETGEAR Armor

Compliant Standards

IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac

Dimensions (WxDxH)

6.7 in x 3.1 in x 8.9 in

See more tech specsSee less

General


Device Type

Wi-Fi system - mesh - 3-port switch (integrated) - with Orbi Voice WiFi Satellite & Smart Speaker

Wi-Fi System Components

Router, extender

Wi-Fi System Coverage

Up to 5,000 sq.ft

Connectivity Technology

Wireless, wired

Data Link Protocol

Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac

Frequency Band

2.4 GHz (1 band) / 5 GHz (2 bands)

Encryption Algorithm

WPA, WPA2-PSK

Features

MU-MIMO technology, guest access, FastLane3 technology, Circle Smart Parental Controls, Explicit Beamforming, Implicit Beamforming, NETGEAR Armor

Compliant Standards

IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac

Line Properties


Line Coding Format

256 QAM

Internet of Things (IoT)


Intelligent Assistant

Google Assistant, Alexa

Expansion / Connectivity


Interfaces

  • WAN: 1 x 1000Base-T - RJ-45
  • LAN: 3 x 1000Base-T - RJ-45
  • USB 2.0: 1 x 4 pin USB Type A
  • LAN: 4 x 1000Base-T - RJ-45 - on extender

Antenna


Power


Power Device

External power adapter

Miscellaneous


Cables Included

1 x network cable - 6.6 ft

Dimensions & Weight


General


Device Type

Wi-Fi system - mesh - 3-port switch (integrated) - with Orbi Voice WiFi Satellite & Smart Speaker

Wi-Fi System Components

Router, extender

Wi-Fi System Coverage

Up to 5,000 sq.ft

Connectivity Technology

Wireless, wired

Data Link Protocol

Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac

Frequency Band

2.4 GHz (1 band) / 5 GHz (2 bands)

Encryption Algorithm

WPA, WPA2-PSK

Features

MU-MIMO technology, guest access, FastLane3 technology, Circle Smart Parental Controls, Explicit Beamforming, Implicit Beamforming, NETGEAR Armor

Compliant Standards

IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac

Line Properties


Line Coding Format

256 QAM

Internet of Things (IoT)


Intelligent Assistant

Google Assistant, Alexa

Expansion / Connectivity


Interfaces

  • WAN: 1 x 1000Base-T - RJ-45
  • LAN: 3 x 1000Base-T - RJ-45
  • USB 2.0: 1 x 4 pin USB Type A
  • LAN: 4 x 1000Base-T - RJ-45 - on extender

Antenna


Power


Power Device

External power adapter

Miscellaneous


Cables Included

1 x network cable - 6.6 ft

Dimensions & Weight


Sours: https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/netgear-orbi-wifi-system-rbk50-wi-fi-system-80211a-b-g-n-ac-desktop-with-orbi-voice-wifi-satellite-smart-s/apd/aa392927/networking
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Netgear Orbi Outdoor Satellite (RBS50Y) review: Netgear's outdoor Wi-Fi extender performs out of this world

The Netgear Orbi Outdoor Satellite extends your Wi-Fi network outside your home, to the yard, garage or pool. Its performance will surprise you, but you'll have to pay $330 to get one. Plus it only works with a Netgear Orbi router (RBR50, RBR40, RBR20 or SRR60). But in the end, your network will thank you.

Be careful where you put it

The all-white, rectangular prism-shaped Orbi Outdoor is larger than you'd expect, measuring 8.3 by 2.7 by 10.6 inches and weighing more than 3 pounds. It's designed to be mounted outside to a wall or placed on a stand, which is included.

It's weather resistant with an IP56 rating for dust, water and temperature. Netgear advises that you shouldn't submerge it in water, but it will hold up in rain, snow and temperatures between -4 and 122 Fahrenheit. If you live in a colder climate, you may want to mount it inside a garage or just bring it out when you need it.

On the back you'll find the power, reset, sync and LED buttons. It doesn't have Ethernet or USB ports for wired devices, but that's probably a good thing. You wouldn't want just anyone to be able to plug into your network.

When you mount it to a wall or the stand, the buttons are a little hard to see and reach, so make sure you familiarize yourself with them before setting it up. The power cord is 10 feet long, so you have some leeway if you need to reach an outlet. An outdoor extension cord would help as well.

Security is always a concern when leaving a valuable device like this outdoors. The secure mounting latch is held in by just two screws, which anyone could take out in less than 30 seconds. I would definitely recommend putting it somewhere out of sight, up high or not easily accessible. Also, the network name and password are listed on the back, so make sure you change them.

The Orbi Outdoor has an ambient light, which you can turn on and off, dim or set on a timer. It isn't super bright, but it will shed some light on the surrounding area. This will draw attention to the device, but people may think it's just a light. During setup it lights up in different colors (blue, magenta, amber) to tell you the status. But disappointingly you can't select any of these colors when you turn the light on. Netgear said it doesn't have plans to add this feature right now.

Hurry up and wait to set it up

Setting up the Orbi Outdoor was relatively easy, but it did take about 15 minutes. I spent most of that time waiting for it to connect or sync. It did work on the first try though.

You need to have an Orbi router already set up in your home. Orbi mesh systems come with one unit designated as a router and additional satellites, so make sure your router is an RBR50, RBR40, RBR20 or an SRR60 model. You can't use the Orbi Outdoor with any other routers right now, but the good news is that Orbi is one of the best mesh systems out there. You'll have to spend upwards of $700 for a two-piece system plus the outdoor satellite, but in this case, you get what you pay for.

To set up the Orbi Outdoor, plug it in near your main Orbi router. I had no problem from about 15 feet away. I waited 3 minutes for the white light to stop pulsing and turn solid. This meant it's ready to sync.

To do this, I pressed sync first on the Orbi Outdoor and then pressed sync on the Orbi router. Then, things got a little trippy. It turned blue for a minute, magenta for a minute, blue for minute, magenta for 30 seconds, blue for 3 minutes and then turned off. The blue meant it worked. The rest, apparently, was just for fun.

Then I unplugged it, brought it outside and plugged it back in. After a few minutes, I connected my computer to the network and was ready to enjoy fast Wi-Fi in the backyard.

After setup, Netgear automatically disables the sync button on the Orbi Outdoor for security, but you can enable it from the router menu in a browser at orbilogin.com.

If you haven't used the Orbi system before, the app is easy to use. Once the Orbi Outdoor is connected, a new icon labeled Outdoor Orbi populates the menu. From it, you can see details like hardware version, firmware version, device type, MAC address and IP address. You can also turn the light on or off and dim it. If you want to set the light on a timer, you will need to access the Netgear menu from a browser.

Powerful specs worth the price of admission

If the price scared you away, the specs will bring you back.

The Orbi Outdoor is an AC3000 tri-band satellite, with speeds of 400Mbps on 2.4GHz and 867Mbps on 5GHz, including "2x2;2" antennas (that's two transmit antennas, two receive antennas; two spatial streams) for each band. Its dedicated 5GHz backhaul channel offers 1,733Mbps with 4x4;4 antennas. This proved to be high quality during my speed tests. Check out the results below.

The hardware is impressive for a satellite. It has a quad-core 710MHz processor, 512MB of RAM and 256MB of flash memory. MU-MIMO can be turned on for fast simultaneous connections and parental controls are available for the entire system. It also offers both explicit and implicit beamforming, the latter of which helps older devices (for example, those with 802.11n specifications) achieve better performance.

Netgear says the Orbi Outdoor will add 2,500 square feet of additional coverage to your network. But having tested it, I believe that's an understatement.

Wi-Fi here, there and everywhere

The Orbi Outdoor performed much better than I ever expected. You won't believe how far away I was and still able to stream HD video.

To get a feel for what the Orbi Outdoor could do, I did a baseline test 10 feet away from the main router while indoors. It performed at 643Mbps. Then I tested speeds from the main router when I was outside. At 40 feet away, I was already getting inconsistent speeds with an average of less than 10Mbps. The signal had to go through a bunch of walls, so it automatically connected to 2.4GHz. 5GHz wasn't even available. As I moved farther away the signal would go in and out, eventually disappearing beyond 70 feet. You've probably experienced inconsistent speeds like this at home with any Wi-Fi router or system, which usually aren't good at penetrating exterior walls.

Once the Orbi Outdoor was turned on, everything changed.

I set up the satellite outside about 30 feet away from the main router. Then I wired a server computer to the main router and wirelessly connected a client computer to the 5GHz band of the Orbi Outdoor, which gave me a throughput of 478Mbps. This is the same location where I previously saw less than 10Mbps from the main router. At 30 feet away from the Orbi Outdoor, it performed at 416Mbps. Amazing.

Please note that you can't find the best signal and choose which band (2.4GHz or 5GHz), router or satellite you're connecting to. The Orbi system does this automatically. It would have been nice to have a manual option, but most mesh Wi-Fi systems, such as the Samsung Connect Home, don't let you choose either.

I wanted to really see what the Orbi Outdoor could do, so I walked 100 feet away from the unit and ran some speed tests. During the first test, it connected to 2.4GHz and hovered around 50Mbps. I thought I'd found its breaking point, but I was dead wrong. The next tests all connected to 5GHz and averaged an incredible 257Mbps.

I tried one last time to find its limit with a real-world scenario. I grabbed my phone and connected to the Orbi Outdoor Satellite. I walked another 100 feet away, pulled up an HD video on YouTube and hit play. It was crystal clear at 200 feet. That sold me. 

Netgear also offered some advice on placement. It said to put the satellite at least 10-15 feet away from the main router to avoid Wi-Fi interference. During setup, the colors will tell you if placement is poor. Magenta means you've got a bad connection or none at all. Amber indicates a limited or low connection. You're looking for a blue light, which indicates a solid connection. 

Netgear added that while testing in a near ideal environment, it was able to get two Orbi Outdoor Satellites to connect at greater than 10Mbps at 1,000 meters away. That's nearly two thirds of a mile.

Keep in mind that speeds you experience will largely depend on what you're paying for from your internet service provider. It'll typically be less than 100Mbps unless you have a fiber connection. According to SpeedTest, a site for testing Wi-Fi and mobile speeds, the US average for broadband download speeds (wired and wireless combined) in December 2017 was 77.32Mbps.

Should you buy one?

Netgear's Orbi Outdoor Satellite is worth it, even for its high price. It only works with an Orbi router, which isn't cheap, and the satellite itself will run you $330. Expect to spend upwards of $700 for a router, indoor satellite and outdoor satellite. But you won't regret it when you're swimming in Wi-Fi whether you're lying in bed or lounging by the pool.

Orbi Outdoor Satellite Specs

BrandNetgearModelOrbi Outdoor Satellite (RBS50Y)
IEEE 802.11 Standarda/b/g/n/acClassAC3000
Speed (Mbps)3000 (400+867+1733)CPU ProcessorQuad core 710MHz
FrequencyTri-band (2.4GHz+5GHz+5GHz)RAM Memory512MB
Ethernet Ports0Flash Memory256MB
USB Ports0Guest Wi-FiYes
Antennas2x2 (2.4GHz); 2x2 (5GHz); 4x4 (5GHz dedicated backhaul)Parental ControlsYes
Spatial Streams2 (2.4GHz); 2 (5GHz); 4 (5GHz dedicated backhaul)MU-MIMOYes
Modulation256-QAM 5/6BeamformingYes (Explicit and Implicit)
SecurityWPA2, Secure mounting latch, IP56 weather-resistant rating SetupApp or Browser
Size (in)8.3x2.7x10.6Weight (lbs)3.06
Approximate coverage per unit (sq. ft.) 2500Extra FeaturesAmbient light
Sours: https://www.cnet.com/reviews/netgear-orbi-outdoor-satellite-review/
Orbi Router: How to get the fastest long range Wi-Fi Connection (2020) part 2

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Maximum satellites orbi

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Netgear Orbi Review: Finally! The Best WiFi Router! 😍

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