At a glance
The Mesh Wi-Fi system has become quite popular within the past couple of years, and it is easy to see why.
This type of Wi-Fi system is user-friendly and manages to expand the overall wireless signal by using proprietary standalone accessories or access points without going through the hoops with installing third-party Wi-Fi nodes.
The Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System is bringing a lot of advantages to the table in terms of wireless performance.
First off, the Orbi utilizes Wi-Fi 6 technology which is the most advanced wireless technology to date.
This makes the Orbi Wi-Fi 6 future-proof as well. Don't worry if the devices you have are not Wi-Fi 6 ready, though. The Orbi Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System works perfectly well with older versions - Wi-Fi 5 devices, for example, can hit 1,000Mbps without any hiccups with an optimized setting.
The Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 System comes with a router as well as an additional satellite unit (you can purchase other Orbi satellite units separately if you need to expand your Wi-Fi further).
Both router and satellite node have four built-in Ethernet ports which also means your wired internet connection is not limited to where the router is located.
However, don't expect to achieve Gigabit internet speeds using the Orbi satellites – that said, connecting to the 5GHz channel can yield nigh similar numbers in regards to internet speeds.
Utilizes Wi-Fi 6 system technology that can easily cover 5,000 sq. ft.
Ultra-fast Wi-Fi with the AX Mesh Wireless System.
Wi-Fi 6 systems can support up to 100 connected devices at once.
Features tri-band wireless technology and Gigabit ethernet.
It is equipped with Ethernet port aggregation to combine two Gigabit Ethernet ports (LAN and WAN) to deliver even faster internet speeds.
Comes with the Netgear Armor security protocol that offers enhanced defense against viruses and malware for all connected devices.
Routers and satellites are equipped with their Ethernet ports.
Compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice controls.
Modern and Friendly Design
As the Netgear Orbi is a mesh Wi-Fi system, it features a unique design with a more rounded appearance compared to the typically angular and sleek design of most modern routers.
The Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System features two nodes (router and mesh satellite) that you can install in your home.
The node acts as a wireless signal expander, thus, boosting your Wi-Fi signal's range significantly. Since both router and satellite are designed as one, you won't experience any considerable dips in regards to wireless internet performance.
The Orbi satellite measures in at a rather compact 10 x 7.5 x 2.8 inches (H x W x D) and features a white with silver accent aesthetic.
The LED status indicators are located near the base of the unit, which keeps the entirety of the white shell of the device neat and clean.
The Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 looks much like it fits into the world of Wall-E if I were to simplify the description of its appearance. Specifically, the Orbi router and nodes look like EVA's little siblings.
Easy to Read LED Status Indicators
The LED lighting status of the Orbi is also quite easy to distinguish. For example, once the node has acquired an excellent internet connection, it will glow blue. It will change into an amber color if the connection is a little unstable and magenta if the node fails to sync with the router. Other LED color status that you might come across are green (powering up), solid amber (booting), and blinking red (system error).
Less is Sometimes More
When it comes to your standard Mesh Wi-Fi systems, it is pretty common to find products that come with three units (one router and two satellite nodes).
However, the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System only comes with one pair (router and satellite).
While this might initially give you pause and it's justifiable to think that it might provide smaller coverage, that is far from the truth of what the Orbi Wi-Fi 6 Mesh can deliver.
The Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 Mesh can easily outperform some of the mesh systems in the market today that features two additional satellite nodes.
The standard package for Orbi Wi-Fi 6 Mesh is more than enough to cover a large house. However, if the need arises, Netgear also offers this mesh Wi-Fi system in a three-pack version.
Simplified Mesh Setup Procedure
While the thought of setting up a Wi-Fi mesh system might seem a little bit daunting, Netgear managed to create a relatively smooth experience that caters to both experienced and beginners alike.
When it comes to setting up the Orbi mesh system, the first thing you need to do, besides booting up the router and node, is to install the Orbi app on your mobile phone.
The Orbi app is available for both Android and iOS devices so no worries of incompatibility issues there.
Alternatively, you can connect to the Netgear Orbi web portal the old-fashioned way via your web browser.
Fortunately, both web portal and mobile app interface are pretty easy to use with the mobile app being the most user-friendly in terms of interface and navigation. Expect to go through the initial setup process.
We recommend you opt for the automatic setup wizard configuration if you are unsure how to configure the router.
Once you have gone through the initial setup procedure, make sure you rename your SSID and place a password for your Wi-Fi network as well – this is crucial.
The whole installation and setup will most likely take you around 10 minutes to complete.
Straightforward Configurations with the Orbi App
The Orbi App offers basic configuration options but is not as in-depth compared to the possibilities that the Netgear web portal provides.
The Orbi App can handle basic router settings, but if you wish to optimize your network fully, you'll need to go to the web portal config for that.
The Orbi App, on the other hand, will still be able to provide you with the basic features such as the ability to check the connected devices, pause the internet connection of specific devices, and run a quick diagnostic speed test of your network.
Functionalities and Features
Simple Router Features
Convenience is the name of the game when it comes to the Netgear Orbi RBK852. For a mesh Wi-Fi system, the Orbi is most certainly a far more user-friendly choice compared to the competition.
The Orbi App also makes rebooting the router quick and easy as you can do so via your smartphone anywhere in your home. What's more, the Orbi app helps you install the satellite node at the most optimum location in your residence.
This will guarantee that the connection between the router and node will be optimized.
The Netgear Orbi RBK852 also utilizes top-notch wireless backhaul technology that can clock speeds of up to 2,400Mbps.
Also, as we have stated earlier in this review, the Netgear Orbi uses Ethernet ports as well – this includes the nodes.
The advantage of this feature is for homes with extra-thick walls or residences with large obstructive furniture or appliances dotted around the house, which might negatively affect the wireless connection.
By having the option to connect via Ethernet, you are guaranteed that you always can achieve maximum internet speeds, anywhere in your home.
At the moment, if you wish to add more satellite nodes to your Wi-Fi mesh system, you might need to shell out extra cash as each Orbi node is quite expensive.
Here is hoping that Netgear starts releasing cheaper mesh node alternatives like they did with previous models. However, please note these more affordable models are, as expected, slightly slower.
Armed with Future-proof Technology
The most prominent feature that the Netgear Orbi RBK852 has in its arsenal is without a doubt the Wi-Fi 6 technology that it has equipped in its unassuming design.
Fortunately, Wi-Fi 6 technology is compatible with previous Wi-Fi standards, so you don't have to worry about your devices not being compatible with this router mesh Wi-Fi system.
What makes the Wi-Fi 6 technology special lies not just with its increased speeds, but its ability to accommodate multiple devices at once. How many devices, you ask? How about up to 100 clients at the same time?
The Wi-Fi 6 technology factor is the primary reason for the Netgear Orbi 6's price tag, and it is worth noting that this technology is still relatively uncommon to find in the market with some Wi-Fi 6 routers priced exuberantly high.
While it is true that the Orbi 6 does have its rivals in the Wi-Fi 6 tech arena, it does manage to stand apart with one particular feature – a dedicated backhaul in both router and mesh node units.
An Ace Up its Sleeves
Like we have discussed earlier in this article, the Orbi 6 incorporates Ethernet ports not only in the primary router device but also with the satellite nodes. This considerably expands wired connectivity in your home.
This also means that users will be able to access the benefits of wired internet connectivity, such as faster speeds and a highly stable connection.
As far as we are aware, this is a feature that is currently unique to the Netgear Orbi 6 Mesh System. This unique feature alone makes the Netgear Orbi 6 a highly attractive Wi-Fi mesh system that is worth the investment.
Little Dog with a Big Bite
The Netgear Orbi 6 certainly has an unassuming, almost welcoming, design. Don't let that fool you, though, underneath its welcoming aesthetic is a beast.
Namely, the Netgear Orbi 6 comes equipped with an upgraded quad-core 2.2 GHz processor with 512MB Flash and a whopping 1GB of RAM. For a router that looks like the Orbi, these specs are impressive.
As the proverbial icing on the cake, the Netgear Orbi 6 takes an extra step further by also utilizing port aggregation technology that allows users to use two ports (LAN and WAN) and combine them into one ultra-fast wired connection.
A Straight Shooter Cowboy
When it comes to performance, you can expect great things from a device such as the Orbi 6. First and foremost, Wi-Fi 6 tech, which automatically elevates it from the pack.
To go into further detail, connecting to the 2.4GHz band will clock in speeds at around 1,200Mbps.
While switching to the 5GHz band will push that number towards 2,400Mbps. Of course, these are theoretical numbers; what about the real-world application?
To properly test the Orbi 6's potential, we used a laptop that features a 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 card to see just how fast this mesh Wi-Fi system truly is.
As per usual, we connected our laptop and stayed within the same room as the main Orbi router.
Putting Orbi 6 through a speed test, our laptop managed to clock in a blistering 480Mbps for download speeds and up to 580Mbps in upload speeds.
Moving further, we headed down to the first floor and ran a speed test once again.
Even at a fair distance (around 40-feet), the Orbi 6 still performed exceptionally well with a download speed of 300Mbps and 330Mbps for upload speeds – more than enough to cover 4kvideo streaming and MMO games.
It's a Steep One, but is it Worth the Plunge?
Simply put, the Netgear Orbi 6 is expensive. At roughly $700 for a pair, that's a considerable investment, to say the least.
This is why we only recommend this particular Wi-Fi mesh system if you meet specific criteria to make sure you make the most out of this $700 unit.
First off, make sure that your ISP plan gives you around 500Mbps. Anything lower than that and you won't experience much difference from a router or mesh system half the price.
Secondly, if you are itching to get your hands on a Wi-Fi 6 router, then the Netgear Orbi 6 is undoubtedly a reliable option with its well-rounded capability and a handful of unique features that are not present anywhere else.
While the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System is definitely on a league of its own when it comes to performance, it does come with certain drawbacks.
Netgear's focus on providing a simple and straightforward experience caused a certain level of customization/optimization to be removed.
Overall, while the Orbi 6 is definitely pricey, it does come with some unique perks that can be argued as worth the price of admission.