Home Technology

Stream, game and WFH with stylish Orbi, the ultimate whole home Wi-Fi upgrade

If your Wi-Fi doesn’t reach, and your palatial pad has more not-spots than hot-spots, it’s time to take your home network a tad more seriously.

A veritable supercar of wireless systems, Orbi from network specialists Netgear could be the plug & play home Wi-Fi upgrade that you’ve been waiting for – and it hasn’t been beaten with the ugly stick either.

The latest members of the Orbi family are the AX4200 , and step-up AX6000. Both employ tri-band WiFi 6 mesh technology, which allows multiple Orbi units to knit together to extend and strengthen your Wi-Fi network.  

Orbi routers are available either solo, or in either double or triple packs with range-extending satellites. The RBK752 and RBK852 packs are router and single satellite systems, while the RBK753 and RBK853 are triples, featuring a router with two satellites. The bigger your property, the more satellites you’ll want to cover it.

A veritable supercar of wireless systems, Orbi from network specialists Netgear could be the plug & play home Wi-Fi upgrade that you’ve been waiting for…

Banish buffering with the Orbi RBK852 router and satellite set

Netgear Orbi AX6000 RBK852 WiFi 6 whole home Mesh system review

Netgear’s new Orbi are ferociously well specified. While everyday routers, as supplied by your friendly Internet service provider, will struggle to handle more than a few devices working simultaneously, team RBK752/753 can handle upwards of 40 devices on a network simultaneously, while the step-up RBK852/853 sets can handle 60. That’s a lot of Fire TVs sticks.

A family can video conference in confidence, game competitively, stream live concerts and watch hours of Netflix and Prime Video in 4k, all without raising a sweat. 

Orbi is built around the high performance WiFi 6 standard, which is becoming increasingly commonplace. If your smartphone or laptop are WiFi6 enabled, they’ll benefit from the maximum speeds that Orbi can offer. The system is backwards compatible too, so older Wi-Fi kit works well too.

Orbi systems are best thought of as a performance upgrade. Just switch your ISP-supplied router, be it from BT, Virgin Media or whoever, to modem mode, and let Orbi take over the wired network and Wi-Fi heavy lifting. 

Set-up is handled by the Orbi app. Got guests coming around? Use it to create a Guest network so they can log on securely.

The cosmetics are nice. We trialled an RBK852 Orbi twinset and were immediately impressed with their design and finish. This system certainly doesn’t look like an escape from the office IT department. The curved design borders on chic and the white and silver trim finish is definitely premium. You could sit an Orbi on a bookshelf where it could easily be mistaken for a smart speaker, or a nerdy cousin of the PlayStation 5.

Wi-Fi reach is said to cover around 5,000 sq.ft. For best results park the satellite unit on a higher floor where possible, to take greatest advantage of its coverage.

The AX6000 RBK852 system is an impressive performer. It can support 12 streams of WiFi6, at speeds up to 6Gbps. If you hardwire your devices too, you’re in luck. The router and satellite have four Gigabit Ethernet ports apiece, so local devices can be hooked up via Ethernet. 

We reckon Orbi is about as future proof as wireless networking gets right now – and it does it in style too. 

The Orbi AX4200 RBK750 single unit and AX6000 RBK850 sell for £250 and £400 respectively, but it makes sense to buy them with a satellite. The Orbi AX4200 RBK752 two-pack sells for £450, while the RBK753 triple sells for £630. The AX6000 RBK852 sells for £700, while the RBK853 sells for £960.

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About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice, Ideal Home, The Luxe Review, Channel News and the i newspaper. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI, and contributor to industry trade magazine ERT. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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