Netgear Orbi WiFi 6, hands on: State-of-the-art mesh wi-fi with a price tag to match

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  • $699.99

Netgear hit the ground running with its new range of Nighthawk routers last year, making it one of the first manufacturers to adopt the new WiFi 6 standard (a.k.a. 802.11ax).

The company has now extended WiFi 6 support to its Orbi range of mesh networking systems. Like most of the Orbi range, the new Orbi WiFi 6 System AX6000 is primarily designed for home users who want to extend the range and reliability of their wi-fi network. However, the improved speed and capacity offered by WiFi 6 mean that the Orbi WiFi 6 could prove useful for many businesses in larger offices, or in public locations such as hotels and restaurants.

Pricing & options

As you might expect, the Orbi WiFi 6 sits right at the top of the Orbi range, offering tri-band 802.11ax wireless networking with a maximum speed of 6Gbps that far outstrips existing 802.11ac routers and mesh systems. The WiFi 6 standard also supports features such as OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) that increase capacity by improving the router's ability to simultaneously transmit data to multiple devices on crowded networks.

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But high-end performance means high-end pricing too, with a two-pack system capable of covering up to 5,000 square feet (465 square metres) costing £709.99 (inc. VAT; £591.66 ex. VAT, or $699.99). There's also a three-pack option that increases coverage to 7,500 square feet (697 square metres), albeit with a hefty price tag of £969.99 (inc. VAT; £808.33 ex. VAT, or $999.99) that even many businesses might balk at.

orbi-wifi-6-main.jpg

The primary Orbi WiFi 6 mesh router plugs into your broadband modem via a dedicated 2.5Gbps WAN port. There are also four Gigabit Ethernet ports. Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 support offers total wireless speeds up to 6Gbps.

Images: Netgear

Design & features

Like previous Orbi models, this new WiFi 6 mesh system consists of a primary router, and one or more secondary 'satellites' that can be placed in other rooms or locations in order to provide greater range and reliability than a single standalone router (with one of the 5GHz bands acting as a dedicated 'backhaul' that connects the satellites to the main router). 

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Along with support for WiFi 6, the primary router includes a 2.5Gbps WAN port for high-speed internet connectivity via your existing broadband modem or router, along with four additional RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired network connections. The latter option will be useful for many offices that prefer the reliability and security of wired networks, as will the ability to use 'link aggregation' to further enhance performance by combining the 2.5Gbps WAN port with one of the 1Gbps LAN ports. 

There's no WAN port on the satellite units, but each satellite does include four Ethernet ports for additional wired connections. It's odd, though -- especially given the premium pricing for this model -- that there are no USB ports provided that might allow you to connect a printer or storage device that could be shared on the network.

orbi-wifi-6-2-pack.jpg

The two-pack Orbi WiFi 6 system, comprising a primary router and one satellite, covers up to 5,000 square feet (465 square metres).

Image: Netgear

Netgear's Orbi app is also rather basic. It does include the ability to create a separate guest network, but lacks many quite basic features, including parental controls for home users, and the ability to specify different levels of network access that's found in Netgear's existing 802.11ac-based Orbi Pro.

It's still early days for this new wi-fi standard, so the Orbi WiFi 6 isn't an essential upgrade at the moment. However, the sheer performance and capacity of this new mesh system can provide a useful 'future-proofing' option for businesses that need to support ever-increasing numbers of wi-fi devices on their crowded networks.

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Specifications

General
Enclosure Type Desktop
Frequency Band 2.4 GHz (1 band) / 5 GHz (2 bands) / 5 GHz (3 bands)
Encryption Algorithm 128-bit AES
Networking
Form Factor desktop
Type Wi-Fi system
Connectivity Technology wired, wireless
Data Link Protocol 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11ax, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
Features Circle with Disney, Explicit Beamforming, MU-MIMO technology, beamforming technology, gateway mode, sync button
Compliant Standards IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11ax, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11i, IEEE 802.11n
Wireless Protocol 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Line Coding Format 1024 QAM
Wi-Fi System Components extender, router
Wi-Fi System Coverage up to 5,000 sq.ft
WAN Ports Qty 1
Mesh Networking Yes
Power Device
Type external power adapter
Modem
Antenna Qty 8
Interface Provided
Interface Ethernet 1000Base-T
Qty 1, 4
Connector Type RJ-45
Type LAN, WAN
Comments on extender
Miscellaneous
Encryption Algorithm 128-bit AES
Color Category white
Antenna
Antenna Qty 8
Antenna Form Factor internal
Processor
Clock Speed 2.2 GHz
Header
Brand NETGEAR
Product Line NETGEAR Orbi
Country Kits North America
Packaged Quantity 1
Cable Details
Type network cable
Included Qty 1
Length 6.6 ft
Dimensions & Weight
Weight 2.87 lbs
Line Properties
Line Coding Format 1024 QAM
Internet of Things (IoT)
Intelligent Assistant Compatible Alexa, Google Assistant

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Where To Buy

Netgear Orbi AX6000 WiFi 6 System

Part Number: RBK852