I recently implemented the Orbi system for my 2-story, 4,000+ square foot home and all I can say is WOW! I’d like to start off my review by providing my previous setup for comparison. Previously, I was using a Netgear AC1750-WiFi Cable Modem Router combo (C6300) and a Netgear AD7200 Nighthawk X10 (R9000) router setup as an access point. I was using this hardware on Time Warner Cable’s (Spectrum) 100mb down and 10mb up plan. The AC1750 was setup upstairs in the study while the AD7200 (X10) was setup downstairs in the master bedroom. The two devices provided a solid range and covered the entire home with Wi-Fi. A few spots in and around the home would get degraded performance but I could still get internet access everywhere.
When upgrading to the Orbi system, I disabled the AC1750’s Wi-Fi signal and began using the Orbi router by plugging it into the AC1750 modem (Note: I took the X10 completely out of the equation). Upon implementing the system, I could tell a noticeable difference. Every (let me repeat – EVERY) spot in the house now got the maximum speeds from this service (117.50mb down and 12mb up). The signal is so strong that I also get the same speeds in my front and back porch/yards. Performance-wise, this setup is king!
The packaging is exactly what you would expect from a high-end Netgear product. It is nicely put together in a minimalistic, well-organized manner making it easy to unpackage and setup. Netgear has a mobile application that allows you to setup the system but I chose to use the web portal and my laptop. Once you begin the process, it immediately walks you through the setup using the wizard which is incredibly easy (I would bet money that both my 2 year old daughter and 70+ year old father could figure it out). One thing to point out is that the MU-MIMO and Beamforming feature settings are disabled by default, which is a bit odd. However, both can be found and enabled in a matter of seconds from within the advanced section of the setup menu under “Wireless Settings”.
The system provides incredible speed throughout your house using the dedicated triband connection between the main router and the satellites. My initial thought was to stick the router in the middle of the house and put the satellites on the far opposite ends of the house to expand the network as far as I could. However, upon further consideration I decided to bring the satellites a little closer to the router to ensure the connection between the devices was optimal and the results were ideal! One of the coolest things about the Mesh system is that the system automatically switches you from the router to the satellites and vice-versa to ensure you are on the fastest connection. In my previous setup, I frequently had to manually switch between devices and bands to ensure I had the strongest connection. With Orbi, it creates a single network and automatically switches between bands and devices so you don’t have to worry about it. I wanted to get a good comparison to see if the Orbi system was truly superior than my router/modem and access point setup I previously had so I did a speed test from 9 different locations across the property (which included my neighbor’s yard). Out of the 9 tests, 3 yielded the fastest speeds I could get from both setups resulting in a “tie”. The other 6 tests resulted in a superior performance from the Orbi system. Whenever you can beat the X10, you have my attention!
Along with the performance value, I am impressed with the convenience features that come with the Orbi. The only wire that is required for satellites to function is a power cable. This allows you to place the devices pretty much anywhere and you can move them from room to room based on your needs. Just unplug and take it wherever you want. In addition, each satellite has 4 Ethernet ports so you can hardwire devices where you need a more reliable connection. The system also comes with the standard convenience settings like the ability to provide/add guest networks, apply parental controls (website blocking, Wi-Fi availability scheduling, etc.), visibility into the devices attached to the network, etc. The Orbi system also contains general configuration settings like port forwarding, establishing static routes and setting up VPN service via OpenVPN.
I am currently running numerous devices including phones, tablets, laptops, 5 security cameras (Arlo), 6 smart switches (TP-Link), 6 smart lights (Phillips), 5 virtual assistants (Amazon Echo and Dots), 6 Dish Network devices and more. All the devices worked perfectly with the Orbi system without any latency on the first try, making the transition process painless.
The RBK5x model apparently has Alexa integration but Netgear has stated that the Alexa integration feature will be coming soon to the RBK4x version in a future patch. All in all, I highly recommend the Orbi system for anyone who has a large home and for small businesses. It exceeded my expectations and the value it offers is worth the cost. If you want reliable, high speed internet across a large space with the luxury of not having to worry about being connected to the strongest connection, then I would seriously consider the Orbi system. I received this product for free as part of Netgear’s First Look Review Program.