Netgear Orbi RBK763
The best WiFi 6 mesh networking kit
NETGEAR’S ORBI systems have carved out a niche at the top of the mesh router market with premium products and highend price tags. The RBK763 three-pack (two satellites and a router) follows this route by being a bit more expensive than its WiFi 6 competition, but does it justify that with a performance to match?
This three-pod system should offer enough coverage for most households at 7,500 sq. ft. These are relatively big and bulky devices at 8.3 x 6.6 x 2.5in, so not as compact as the Amazon Eero Pro, though this size does help with signal performance. The satellites may look nice, but they aren’t the easiest pieces of kit to hide away in your home.
The Orbi phone app is all that’s needed and we were up and running in around 15 minutes or a little more if a firmware update is required. The app gives plenty of guidance about where to place the satellites and everything is straightforward and easy to follow.
Netgear has done a good job with the subtle light bars on the router and the satellites that reassure you that everything is connected and working. If there’s a problem, the colored lights will let you know. Included in the box with the RBK763 system you get the router, two satellites, power adapters for all three, and an Ethernet cable for attaching the Netgear router to your existing router.
Mesh systems have to cope with an array of different house types, and your mileage may vary depending on the layout, location, and size. However, in our two-bed apartment, the units delivered speedy and reliable Wi-Fi to every corner. With one satellite a couple of rooms away from the router and the other upstairs, we got the same speeds everywhere, even in the garden—walls, floors, and glass doors are no problem for this package. Each satellite also has a couple of Ethernet ports, meaning you can also use a wired connection.
Netgear claims you can hook up as many as 75 devices at once and get maximum speeds of 5.4Gbps (which will, of course, depend on factors such as your broadband connection and the age of your connected devices). Crucially though, it’s a tri-band router, so as well as 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels for your gadgets, there’s also a dedicated 5GHz channel just for the router and the satellites to talk to each other. That’s basically the difference between this and the Linksys system reviewed on p80 of this issue, and it means much better reliability, as well as a higher price.
In addition to the mobile apps, there’s also a web interface, which gives you access to more advanced settings, such as port forwarding and UPnP. You also get a year of enhanced Armor security protection for free, but thereafter it’s a monthly payment, as are the advanced parental controls. If these are important to you, it may be better to look for a more feature-rich router with these included.
The Orbi offers top-notch networking you can rely on, which for many heavy internet users will be more than worth the asking price. For most people, the 760 series is the ideal price point, whereas the more expensive 960 series uses newer technology, such as Wi-Fi 6E, to spread the signal further but for a much higher price. For us though, the 760 series sits right in the sweet spot of price and features and is the best WiFi 6 mesh kit for most people who don’t want to spend silly money.