Netgear has gone all out for their latest mesh WiFi 6 system. Featuring the new WiFi 6E standard, the mesh system utilizes three different frequencies, 2.4Ghz, 5Ghz and 6Ghz.
The problem with a WiFi 6E mesh system is that you need to use one band for the backhaul. If the system shares a backhaul channel with a client channel, the throughput will suffer significant signal loss.
Netgear RBK853 vs Linksys AXE8400 vs TP-Link Deco X96
The existing flagship WiFi 6 RBK853 is a triband system with one dedicated 5Ghz backhaul channel. Competing WiFi 6E mesh systems such as the Linksys AXE8400 and the TP-Link Deco X96 also use a tri-band design, but this means that one of the bands will then have to be shared with the backhaul (unless you uses 6Ghz for the backhaul, which would defeat the purpose of a WiFi 6E system).
To counter this problem, Netgear is the first company to feature four separate bands. They have taken the existing, and already expensive RBK853 and added in a fourth band for the newly available 6GHz WiFi.
160Mhz 6Ghz for 2400Mbps client connections
The new 6Ghz band eliminates one of the big issues that WiFi 6 had. The 6Ghz channel has far more none overlapping channels allowing you to easily use the 160Mhz channel width. This should then allow the Netgear RBKE960 to easily provide 2400Mbps bandwidth to clients.
4×4 5Ghz backhaul for 2400Mbps
You shouldn’t lose too much speed on the backhaul either, the 5Ghz backhaul channel should connect at 4×4, providing 2400Mbps of throughput, the same as the RBK853.
10 GbE Internet & 2.5GbE
Good news and bad news. You now finally get 2.5GbE for LAN connections allowing you to make the most of that 2400Mbps WiFI bandwidth. You also get a 10GbE port for the LAN connection, handy for future-proofing your investment, but I feel like more people would likely have a 10GbE LAN and 1GbE+ Internet service. For me, that would have been the more future proof port arrangement, but the UK is a bit behind the times with Internet connectivity.
Price and Availability
The existing Netgear Orbi RBK853, which has two satellites, costs £940 on Amazon. So it is not too surprising that the most advanced mesh WiFi system on the market commands an unheard of price.
The RBKE963, which has a router and 2 satellites, has an RRP of £1499.99 or $1,499.99 USD / €1,699.99 EUR.
It is obviously not a bargain, but the £500 premium on the existing system makes sense considering the extra 6Ghz radio and new multi-gig Ethernet ports.
The Orbi Quad-band Mesh WiFi 6E System RBKE963 (router and two satellites) will be available for preorder today in the US and shortly in the UK.
Full Press Release
NETGEAR®, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTGR), the leading provider of award-winning connected products designed to simplify and improve people's lives, today introduced the next generation in smart home WiFi mesh systems. The Orbi™ Quad-band Mesh WiFi 6E System (RBKE960 Series) adds the newly available 6GHz WiFi band to deliver quad-band technology with faster Internet speeds to more devices simultaneously with less interference and wait time. The most powerful Orbi to date supports multi-Gigabit Internet throughout the home, improving WiFi performance for the growing number of devices in today’s homes while paving the way for new devices and experiences to come.
This past year pushed home networks to their limits. Average US household Internet speeds rose 30 percent and peak Internet traffic increased 38 percent over pre-pandemic levels. Activities necessitated by the pandemic such as remote work from home, virtual Zoom meets with friends and relatives, first-run movie streaming, online shopping, exercise, gaming, and ordering food are becoming the norm now and going forward. At the same time, Internet service providers are providing Gigabit plus Internet connections at scale, ranging from 1.2 to 2 Gigabits and even 10 Gigabits to homes. High-performance WiFi based on the latest 6E standard in the clear 6GHz band is the only means to harness such Internet speed at home to handle all these applications unimpeded.
New WiFi, New Orbi
The new Orbi Quad-Band WiFi 6E system builds on NETGEAR’s top-of-the-line Orbi Tri-Band WiFi 6 system (RBK853) by adding a fourth band for the newly available 6GHz WiFi. This new band provides the much-needed additional WiFi spectrum to handle multi-Gigabit WiFi speed on new smart phones and laptops, free of interference from other devices on the existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. And the WiFi 6E ecosystem is poised for rapid growth. Many devices already support WiFi 6E such as the Samsung Galaxy S21, and Fold 3 mobile phones, Dell Latitude 5520 and Lenovo Thinkpad T14 laptops, Samsung Neo QLED 8K TV and Intel WiFi 6E PCIe card, with more to come before Christmas.
Devices running on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi bands will also experience an improvement in coverage and increased speeds of up to 30 percent with the Orbi RBKE960 Series due to the system’s upgraded WiFi radio and antenna designs relative to the previous flagship model, the Tri-band Orbi RBK850 series. To augment the increased WiFi speed, the Internet connection has also been upgraded to support up to 10 Gigabits, the fastest Internet speed available now or in the near term. Additional 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet ports have been added on the router and satellites to provide an option for wired connections for customers with the latest multi-Gigabit Ethernet devices.
The industry’s first quad-band WiFi 6E system, Orbi ensures maximum throughput with 16 WiFi streams – the highest specification available — at all 3 bands, 2.4, 5 and 6GHz. Furthermore, similar to the previous tri-band Orbi systems, the RBKE960 series uses a dedicated WiFi 6 backhaul, pioneered by NETGEAR, for data exchange between the router and satellites without impacting the performance of connected devices.
Orbi WiFi 6E 3 pack (RBKE963) provides lightning-fast, wall-to-wall Internet access to homes of up to 7,500 square feet for WiFi 6 connections and is easily expandable for larger spaces or denser coverage of WiFi 6E connections with the addition of extra satellites.
“As a leader in networking for more than 25 years, NETGEAR is committed to creating best-in-class WiFi products that maximize the benefits of the latest WiFi technology. This next technological leap represents everything we’ve been striving for,” said David Henry, President & GM of Connected Home Products and Services at NETGEAR. “From the moment multi-Gigabit Internet enters your home through our 10 Gb Ethernet port, to our quad-band architecture, 2.5 Gigabit LAN ports and improved 5GHz performance all the way down to your latest WiFi 6E devices, there’s not a single bottleneck in this system. Our new Orbi Quad-band WiFi 6E Mesh System delivers top-of-the-line performance for not only today’s needs, but also for the future requirements of even the most demanding and sophisticated smart homes.”
- Industry-first quad-band WiFi System–– Supports four WiFi bands -2.4, 5 and 6GHz, for connecting the router/satellite to all your devices and an additional dedicated fourth 5Ghz WiFi band for connecting the router to the satellites.
- Supports all-new WiFi 6E 6GHz WiFi band – The6GHz WiFi band adds more than double the bandwidth of 5GHz, resolving issues with interference and congestion in the 5GHz WiFi band, and enables amazing multi-Gigabit WiFi speed for connected WiFi 6E devices.
- 16 WiFi Streams – to provide the best speed, range and performance to blanket your home with Internet speeds similar to what you receive from your Internet provider.
- 10 Gbit Ethernet port for Internet – Future-proof your home network with support of up to 10 Gbps Internet speeds.
- 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port for wired connections –Multi-gig Ethernet port for wired connection to network storage, LAN gaming, in-home media streaming, or use it to set up a wired multi-gig connection between the router and satellites with structured Ethernet wiring in your home.
- More Flexibility to Manage your Home Network with support for four different WiFi Networks – Main mesh WiFi Network for all your devices using the latest WPA3 for secure connections; IoT Network for all your legacy and IoT devices; 6GHz Only WiFi Network for all latest WiFi 6E devices and Guest WiFi Network.
- Orbi® App— Easily set up your WiFi System, manage your network remotely, pause the Internet on any device, track your Internet data usage and more.
State-of-the-Art Security and Services
The Orbi Quad-band WiFi 6E Mesh System supports the new, more secure WiFi Protected Access 3 (WPA3). With 128-bit encryption, the next generation of WPA protects against weak passwords that are easily cracked by hackers.
The new Orbi system also supports four separate WiFi networks. In addition to the default home WPA3 mesh network for 2.4, 5 and 6GHz devices and a guest network, users have the option to set up their new 6E devices on an exclusive WiFi 6E network to ensure these devices realize the best speeds and performance possible. There is also an IoT network for smart home devices such as smart plugs, lights, sprinklers, etc. that only support WPA2. These discrete networks allow for flexibility of network configuration, maximum performance and the separation of less secure devices from the main network.
For added peace of mind, Quad-band Orbi WiFi 6E includes a free 30-day trial of the newly enhanced NETGEAR Armor™ service to protect the connected home from online threats. Unlike traditional endpoint Internet security products, NETGEAR’s Armor is built into the router as a comprehensive security solution to monitor activity going to and from the Internet, protecting all the devices on a network, including Smart TVs, security cameras, game consoles, smart speakers, streaming players, and other smart home gadgets which typically would not be able to be loaded with Internet security protection software by users. NETGEAR’s Armor also protects the traditional computing devices such as smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktops, while eliminating the need for multiple security subscriptions or software on each of these computing devices. Also available as a paid subscription on the new system is NETGEAR’s Smart Parental Controls™, which help parents easily manage their children’s time and access online across all connected devices– ultimately promoting safe and healthy screen habits.
The award-winning design of Orbi has made it an elegant and unobtrusive element in some of the world’s most sophisticated homes. The Orbi Quad-band Mesh WiFi 6E System RBKE963 (router and two satellites) will be available for preorder today in the US and shortly in the UK on NETGEAR’s online stores (NETGEAR.com and NETGEAR.co.uk) — shipping in time for the holidays — and in other regions as WiFi 6E is approved. NETGEAR will also offer the Orbi WiFi 6E Black Edition for a limited time on NETGEAR.com. For larger homes looking to expand WiFi 6E coverage throughout every room NETGEAR will offer additional satellites and bundles on NETGEAR.com as well.
Pricing: Orbi Quad-band Mesh WiFi 6E System
- RBKE963: Router and 2 Satellites – 3 pack, $1,499.99 USD, €1,699.99 EUR, £1,499.99 GBP
- RBKE963B: Orbi Black Edition Router and 2 Satellites – 3 pack, $1,499.99 USD, €1,699.99 EUR, £1,499.99 GBP
- RBSE960: Add-on Satellite, $599 USD, €699.99 EUR, £649.99 GBP