Netgear Orbi 6: This $700 mesh router demolished our speed tests

    Look, I’m not right here to inform you to spend $700 on a mesh router. In reality, given the glut of intriguing new mesh routers that price lots of much less, you nearly actually should not. What I’ll inform you is that the AX6000 model of Netgear Orbi — the 2-piece, $700 tri-band system that helps Wi-Fi 6 — is the quickest and most spectacular mesh router I’ve ever examined.

    LikeThe Wi-Fi 6 model of Netgear Orbi is the quickest mesh router we have ever examined, and it is a cinch to setup and use, too. Support for Alexa and the Google Assistant allows you to activate a visitor community or pause the Wi-Fi to a misbehaving child’s machine with a fast voice command.

    Don’t LikeYou’ll want an ultra-fast web connection with the intention to justify proudly owning such an costly mesh router, particularly when you could have so many intriguing new options this yr that price much less.

    How quick? Let’s evaluate it to Nest Wifi, our present high decide within the mesh class. We clocked that system’s high wi-fi switch speeds at 612 Mbps at a close-range distance of 5 ft. Netgear Orbi 6 hit a high velocity of 666 Mbps — at a distance of 75 ft. Up shut, the quantity was 871 Mbps, which is the quickest velocity we have ever seen from a mesh router in that take a look at.How spectacular? When I took the two-piece Orbi system dwelling and examined how briskly I used to be in a position to join all through my home, I noticed common speeds on the farthest level from the router that had been 95% as quick as my common quickens shut, in the identical room because the router. No different mesh system I’ve examined has managed to get any larger than 82% in that very same take a look at. Most are available under 60%.

    Still, as succesful because the high-end Orbi system is, it is overkill for most people, particularly in case your web connection is not at the very least 500 Mbps. In my dwelling, the place my fiber web plan nets me speeds of as much as 300 Mbps, my common speeds all through the home got here in at 289 Mbps with Netgear Orbi, which is best than the whole-home common of 222 Mbps that I noticed from Nest Wifi, and higher than some other mesh router I’ve examined. But it wasn’t noticeably higher. Both connections felt comparably snappy as I browsed the online or streamed TV. Pick one of many two at random, set it up in my dwelling, and ask me to spend a weekend utilizing my community like regular, and are available Monday I would not be capable of inform you which system I’d been utilizing.And, if it is Netgear Orbi’s help for Wi-Fi 6 help that is tempting you, know that a lot of new Wi-Fi 6 mesh methods are set to debut within the coming months. That features a few choices that you’ll rating for $250 or much less, like Netgear’s personal Nighthawk-branded Wi-Fi 6 mesh system. Almost everybody seeking to improve to a mesh router this yr ought to begin with methods like that earlier than blowing the financial institution on extra mesh than they want. But credit score to our new velocity king — should you merely need the quickest, best-performing mesh cash should buy, look no additional.Mesh 101Mesh routers are methods that embody range-extending satellite tv for pc gadgets. You plug the router into your modem like regular, after which plug the satellite tv for pc in some place else in your house. The satellite tv for pc maintains a robust reference to the router and serves as a sign booster if you’re connecting from afar.

    In different phrases, a mesh router is a stable alternative should you’re seeking to unfold a speedy Wi-Fi connection all through your house and remove annoying useless zones. They do not provide high speeds which can be as quick as customary, single-point routers, however they do provide a lot better protection. And, since your house’s web plan nearly actually caps your high speeds at charges effectively under what any trendy router is definitely able to, that superior protection will make a way more noticeable distinction in your web expertise.But does it need to price $700?No — you’ve got obtained loads of mesh options that price lots of much less, together with well-reviewed choices like Nest Wifi, Eero, and the dual-band,Wi-Fi 5 model of Netgear Orbi, which is a way more budget-friendly possibility at $199 for a three-pack. With the Wi-Fi 6 model of Orbi, a three-pack prices $999.It’s not essentially Wi-Fi 6 that makes the higher-end Orbi (which I’m calling “Netgear Orbi 6” to keep away from confusion with different Orbi methods) a lot costlier. Like I stated, Netgear’s personal Wi-Fi 6 Nighthawk mesh system prices simply $230 for a two-pack. The actual distinction is that Netgear Orbi 6 beefs issues up with a quicker processor, quicker high speeds, and — most significantly — a second 5GHz band that the system makes use of as a devoted backhaul connection between the router and its satellites. That lets the system transfer knowledge round as you are connecting in a way more environment friendly method, and with none additional interference, all of which helps you to get pleasure from quicker connections at a distance, when the satellite tv for pc is in play.It’s an particularly killer function together with Wi-Fi 6, as a result of the router and satellite tv for pc can take full benefit of recent Wi-Fi 6 options with the intention to transfer knowledge round quicker than ever. Even should you do not but personal any Wi-Fi 6 devices able to taking full benefit of the speedy new customary, the tip result’s that connecting to the web if you’re near the satellite tv for pc needs to be practically as quick as if you’re close to the router itself.The router features a multi-gig WAN port that may help incoming speeds as excessive as 2.5Gbps, plus 4 extra LAN ports. You’ll discover 4 LAN ports on the satellite tv for pc, too.
    David Carnoy/CNET
    Other high-end {hardware} touches embody the multi-gig WAN port on the router that may help incoming speeds as excessive as 2.5Gbps (2,500Mbps). Prior to final yr, the WAN port on most routers capped your incoming velocity at 1Gbps, and plenty of nonetheless do. As web speeds proceed to rise and increasingly more of us achieve entry to gigabit speeds, single gig WAN ports like that may turn into much more of a bottleneck.Netgear’s not alone on this new premium tier of tri-band, Wi-Fi 6 mesh routers. The latest model of Linksys Velop presents an almost equivalent pitch, and retails for $700 as effectively. Same goes for the AmpliFi Alien, from Ubiquiti, which prices $700 for a two-piece mesh setup. Meanwhile, the Arris Surfboard Max Pro prices rather less at $650 for a two-pack.Later this yr, along with 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, each of which is able to price a fraction of what Netgear Orbi 6 prices. They will not carry out on the identical degree with out that backhaul channel, however they’re going to nonetheless be lots nearer to the candy spot for many consumers.Of all of the mesh methods we have examined, Netgear Orbi 6 netted the quickest wi-fi switch speeds at shut vary (blue), and completed in a digital tie with the Arris Surfboard Max Pro for the quickest common speeds throughout all distances.
    Ry Crist/CNET
    Setup and efficiencyAs I stated on the high, the Orbi 6 is our new velocity chief so far as mesh is anxious. In our lab, we used that multi-gig Ethernet jack to attach Orbi’s router with a neighborhood server, then we used a Wi-Fi 6-equipped laptop computer to connect with its wi-fi community. We had been in a position to obtain recordsdata from the server at speeds of as much as 871 Mbps at shut vary, which is as quick as mesh methods like these get. At a distance of 75 ft, speeds solely fell to 666 Mbps, which is great.That’s lots of velocity, however I additionally needed to see how the system carried out in a real-world setting. So, I set it up at my home, a 1,300 sq. ft. shotgun-style dwelling with a 300 Mbps fiber web connection, and began operating dozens upon dozens of velocity exams from completely different rooms. Throughout all of it, I streamed reside HD video to my TV with the intention to simulate typical community congestion.Speaking of setup, it was comparatively painless. You’ll obtain the Orbi app to your Android or iOS machine (or connect with the Orbi net portal), then comply with the directions. Just plug in your router and satellite tv for pc when instructed, give your community a reputation and a password, and watch for Netgear to get you up and operating. The course of took barely longer than with Nest Wifi, Eero, or AmpliFi, but it surely labored completely and had my community up and operating in about 10 minutes.From there, you’ll handle your system from the Orbi app. The controls do not go as deep as you may get with one thing like a gaming router, however you at the very least get choices to pause the Wi-Fi to particular gadgets, or run a fast velocity take a look at.The Orbi 6 (blue) demolished my at-home exams. No matter what room I examined from, my velocity hardly fell in any respect from my plan’s most of 300 Mbps.
    Ry Crist/CNET
    Speaking of velocity exams, the leads to my dwelling had been, once more, spectacular. My common velocity in the lounge, the place the router is situated, was an ideal 300Mbps — and that common hardly dropped in any respect as I moved round the home. My again rest room is the farthest spot from the router, and it is a widespread useless zone if I’m testing a normal, single-point router. With Orbi 6, my common speeds again there solely fell to 288 Mbps, which is 95% of what I used to be getting within the entrance of the home, up near the router.That’s a ridiculously sturdy consequence. Compare it to Nest Wifi and the tri-band Netgear Orbi Voice, the 2 strongest Wi-Fi 5 mesh setups I’ve examined. Each of these was in a position to hit a median obtain velocity of 164 Mbps in that again rest room.This warmth map exhibits the sign energy from the Orbi 6 router and satellite tv for pc, every situated upstairs within the 5,800-sq.-ft. CNET Smart Home. Green is nice right here, yellow is nice — and orange is flat-out superior.
    Steve Conaway/CNET
    The Orbi 6 was additionally a standout when it comes to sign energy. We examined it by taking it to the 5,800 sq. ft. CNET Smart Home, the place we used NetSpot software program to measure the sign energy from the router and the satellite tv for pc throughout dozens of factors on the primary flooring, the place each gadgets had been located, and in addition within the basement under. The stronger the sign in a given spot, the quicker you’ll connect with your community.Compare the Orbi 6 warmth map above with these warmth maps from our high Wi-Fi 5 mesh setups. No orange in any of those.
    Steve Conaway/CNET
    The result’s that warmth map above, the place blue is dangerous, inexperienced is nice and yellow is nice. At shut proximity, the Orbi router and satellite tv for pc every took us previous yellow and on into orange territory, which not one of the Wi-Fi 5 mesh methods we examined final yr had been in a position to do. Our early outcomes for different Wi-Fi 6 mesh methods we’re testing, together with the Arris Surfboard Max and the brand new Linksys Velop, are wanting sturdy, too.That stated, word that whereas the protection was undoubtedly satisfactory all through the vast majority of the house, the sign wasn’t as sturdy down under within the basement, the place issues extra on par with what we noticed from mesh methods that help Wi-Fi 5. That tells me that whereas Orbi 6 may provide stronger connections at distance, it additionally may not be any extra of a magic bullet for multi-story properties than present mesh methods already are.Feel the necessity for velocity?Netgear Orbi 6 is proof constructive that mesh networking and Wi-Fi 6 make for a fairly killer combo. When the router and its satellite tv for pc are in a position to make use of Wi-Fi 6 speeds and options to cross knowledge backwards and forwards, everybody advantages — most notably with quicker connections at a distance.Still, at $700 for a two-pack, this can be a very troublesome system to suggest. You’ll want an web plan of at the very least 500Mbps earlier than you may discover a lot of a distinction between Orbi 6 and cheaper options like Nest Wifi, Eero, and even Netgear’s personal budget-priced, Wi-Fi 5 model of Orbi. At $700, Orbi 6 is greater than twice as costly as all of these, and it would not embody distinctive extras like built-in sensible audio system or a tool prioritization engine. And if it is Wi-Fi 6 that you really want, then it’s best to nearly actually wait to see how the inexpensive, dual-band Wi-Fi 6 mesh methods due out this yr carry out in our exams. Either that, or watch for a major sale.

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