Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 System AX6000 (RBK852) Review
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Netgear Orbi RBK852 is a two-piece Wi-Fi 6 mesh system that delivers solid connectivity and very good performance, but its feature set is a bit behind considering its high price tag.
You’ll need deep pockets to afford Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 System, The Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 System AX6000 (RBK852) is easily the most expensive kit we’ve ever tested to date. Like the Velop AX, the Netgear Orbi is a two-piece system designed for larger homes that features a mobile app for easy setup and management. In our tests Netgear Orbi delivered impressive scores, also has features of USB connectivity, device prioritization, parental controls, and protection against viruses and malware.
As with other Orbi models such as RBK50V and the RBK50 smart speaker, the RBK852 two large nodes uses mesh technology to communicate with each other over a dedicated 5GHz radio band. The nodes each measures 10 by 7.5 by 2.8 inches (HWD) and a status LED near the base and a white with silver trim. The RBK852 nodes provide up to 5.000 square feet of wireless coverage.
Node’s LED signals through colors
The router node’s LED will glow solid amber while booting, solid green when powered up, solid magenta when it’s lost its internet connection, and blinking red when there’s a problem with the firmware. The satellite node’s LED will glow amber when the connection is only fair and blue for three minutes when it acquires a solid connection to the router. A magenta LED indicates that the node has failed to synchronize with the router.
The router node has four gigabit LAN ports and a single multi-gig 2.5GBbps WAN port. The satellite node has four gigabit LAN ports. Neither component is equipped with a USB port for connecting with peripherals like a printer. Inside are 2.2GHz quad-core processor, eight antennas, 512MB of flash memory and a 1GB of RAM.
The Orbi kit is a 12-stream, tri-band AX6000 system that supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 technologies including 1024 QAM, WPA3 encryption, and Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) data transmission. It also supports signal beamforming and 4×4 MU-MIMO simultaneous data streaming and can reach maximum data rates of up to 2,400Mbps on each of two 5GHz bands and up to 1,200Mbps on the 2.4GHz band.
The RBK852 uses the same mobile app as the Orbi RBK13 Wi-Fi system, but there are some significant differences. The RBK13 uses Netgear’s Armor (powered by Bitdefender) to protect your clients and network from viruses and malware and comes with basic parental controls courtesy of Disney Circle. But the RBK852 does not currently offer either feature, although the company rep told me that features ore on the roadmap to be added in 2020.
The RBK852 supports WMM QoS which prioritizes voice and video traffic but lacks the basic individual device prioritization settings that you get with the Linksys Velop MX10 system. You can use the Netgear web console to create access schedules. You can manually enter the website URL that you want to block.
The mobile app opens to a home screen that displays the number of connected satellites and displays the Orbi status (online or offline). Below are tabs for Internet Speed, Device Manager, Wi-Fi Settings, Network Map, Traffic Meter, and Guest Wi-Fi. To see a list all connected clients, which nodes they’re connected to and their security status, tap the Device Manager tab. From here you can pause network access of any client.
Tapping the Network Map tab displays the node components and router and lets you see which clients are connected to each node, as well as details such as serial number, firmware version, IP address, and MAC address. If you’d like to measure download throughput and Internet upload, tap the Internet Speed tab then run the Okla.-powered Speed test utility.
To change your Wi-Fi security settings, enter your credentials, and edit your network name, tap the Wi-Fi Settings tab. The Traffic Meter tab lets you see how much data has bee downloaded and uploaded each day. The Orbi RBK852 supports Google voice commands and Alexa through which you can speak to do things such as check your Wi-Fi settings or Internet speed or enable Guest Wi-Fi
A Snap to Set Up
Installation was very easy, quick, and identical to the Orbi RBK13 system. I create an account on the mobile app and tapped yes to install a new Netgear product. I scanned the QR code on the router, rebooted my modem, and using the included LAN cable, connect the Orbi router to the modem. I placed the satellite node about 30 feet away from the router, plugged it in, and tapped Next.
Within 90 seconds, the nodes were connected to the Orbi network. I created an administrator name and password and network name and password. Also, enter some security questions in case I forgot my password and waited another two minutes for the system to save my settings. After a quick update, the mesh system was up and running.
We test Wi-Fi 6 routers using a DELL XPS 13 ultraportable with a Killer wifi 6 AX1650s network adapter as the client. Since the Netgear Orbi RBK852 is only the second mesh system that we’ve tested that uses wifi 6 technology, we compared it to the Velopp AX MX10 kit (WiFi 6) and to the Asus RT-AX88U, a standalone Wifi 6 router. We’ve also compared its throughput to our Wifi 5 Editor’s choice mesh system, the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus.
See How We Test Wireless Routers
The Orbi RBK852 score is very good in our performance tests. The router node’s node’s result of 862Mbps on the close-proximity test was 80Mbps faster than the Asus RT-AX88U and just a little bit slower than the Linksys Velop MX10 router. Plus point is that Orbi showed a 36 percent increase in performance over the TP-Link Deco M9 plus router. Once again coming right behind the Linksys router, the Orbi router delivered 325Mbps at a distance of 32 feet. It was 94Mbps faster than the TP-Link router and edged the Asus router by 6Mbps.
As for the Netgear Orbi RBK852 satellite node, it gives 640Mbps in the close-proximity test compared to 668Mbps for the Linksys Velop MX10 satellite. It was 40 percent faster than the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus satellite. In the 30-foot test, the Orbi satellite’s throughput of 550Mbps showed a 46 percent increase over the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus satellite but trailed the Linksys by 61Mbps.
Speedy But Spendy
A Wi-Fi mesh system like the Netgear Orbi RBK852 can help if your router is struggling to deliver wireless networking to the most remote areas of your house. It uses the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology to deliver faster throughput than its Wifi 5 cousins and offers the OFDMA architecture and latest WPA3 encryption. It’s also equipped with numerous LAN ports and multi-gig WAN port, and its user-friendly mobile app makes it a cinch to install and manage.
On the other hand, although the RBK852’s performance was little much in line with other Wifi 6 routers, it missing a few key features, including age-appropriate parental controls, client-and application-specific QoS settings, and anti-malware protection. If you don’t own any Wi-Fi6 devices and aren’t planning on the bandwagon any time soon, you can save much with a Wi-Fi 5 mesh system. Such as sour Editors’ Choice, the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus. It comes with parental controls, malware protection, and doubles as a home automation hub. Check the product at Netgear.com
- Easy to install
- Solid throughput
- Multi-gig WAN
- Four LAN ports.
- No USB connectivity
- Very expensive
- No anti-malware, parental control, or QoS options.