Review: Netgear's Orbi Quad-Band Wi-Fi 6E is the Rolls Royce of Wi-Fi mesh systems

Netgear Orbi RBKE963 WiFi 6E Mesh System released in New Zealand and reviewed by Newshub.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Netgear has just released what it's calling the "world's most powerful Wi-Fi system", promising it will give you "lightning fast Wi-Fi speed to every room and device".

The Orbi Quad-band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System is an eye-wateringly expensive package, launching in New Zealand with a recommended retail price of $3199.

That's a huge amount to invest in a Wi-Fi system - so why would anyone want to? Is it possible that spending that amount could actually end up saving some Kiwi families money?

I've been using the latest Orbi mesh system for the past few weeks and here are my thoughts.

The good

If you like your wireless internet fast, well, this is the fastest.

For families with lots of demanding internet usage going on in the house at the same time, this system along with a fibre internet connection will mean no waiting around for each other, no taking turns and no buffering.

Not many households in Aotearoa will actually be able to use this to its full potential - only those with hyperfibre connections and a few Wi-Fi 6E capable devices will get a sense of its true power.

But for everyone else, it still gives the fastest Wi-Fi you could have in your house and future-proofs for any upgrades over the next few years.

The mesh system comes with a primary router and two satellites that boost out a super powerful 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E network as well as 5GHz and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi 6 networks. The satellites are connected on their own dedicated 5GHz connection, too.

You can also set up guest networks and a dedicated IoT (Internet of Things) network from the app if you want. 

That all basically means there's plenty of optimising and tweaking you can do, on top of the intense optimisation Netgear has already done, to always ensure you're getting extremely fast internet to everything that needs it in your home.

One way it could theoretically save money is by cutting down on cabling and wired network installation costs.

Generally if you want blazing fast internet in every room of your house, you need to get LAN cables into them all.

This new Orbi system is fast enough where you don't really need to.

If you're considering getting a new house all cabled up with outputs in every room - or as a much more expensive option, considering having this professionally done in an existing, older home - you could be forking out thousands in labour and materials, ie more than this mesh system.

Beyond the cost saving it's just a lot more convenient having considerably less cables running around your house.

Not only does the system give up to 10.8Gbps in wireless internet speed, the main unit and each satellite has multiple LAN ports, too. You can plug a hub into one of them if you want, or just wire up a few devices as well as connect with others over Wi-Fi.

NETGEAR Orbi RBKE963 AXE11000 Quad-band WiFi 6E Mesh System - 3 Pack, 10Gbps & 2.5Gbps Ethernet Port.
Photo credit: supplied/Netgear

In my house, I get around 930 Mbps on my wired network. Plugging into one of the Orbi satellites was giving me around 720.

For most things, that's fast enough. I can do things like watch 4K videos with that, play multiplayer games with that - it's well worth not running cables everywhere for such a tolerable, relatively small drop in speed.

Netgear says you can have up to 200 devices connected concurrently which I haven't been able to test, but I can say it has very easily run 39 devices at once at my place. At times, five of those were streaming HD or 4K content at the same time and we never had an issue doing so.

I have also enjoyed the app for various home network stuff like seeing what devices are connected where, testing my speed, performing various optimisations and customisations - it's a brilliant companion app that has elevated how I use the internet at home.

The bad

The price point obviously puts this product out of reach for many families in New Zealand.

But even for those who can afford it, it could well be overkill. Seeing as there aren't many Wi-Fi 6E capable devices around, unless you're planning on getting some soon you may not need a Wi-Fi 6E mesh system.

What's disappointing about that premium price is there are a few less than premium aspects to it.

While the app is awesome, its constant nagging you to buy a subscription to Netgear Armor and the company's Smart Parental Control isn't. Those are great services, but after having forked out so much for the mesh system you could expect a year's subscription to each thrown in, rather than the standard 30 days free trial anyone can get.

What may be less of an issue for most folks but was another disappointment for me is that the main Orbi unit doesn't replace your modem. You can't go straight into it from the ONT (Optical Network Terminal), you still need your modem as an in-between device and it would be nice if you didn't.

The top of each Orbi unit has a grill on it, presumably as a vent to let out heat from inside. I haven't been using it long enough, but there is a chance that over time this will accumulate dust in it and require cleaning.

The only other thing is how big these units are and how they look. I personally dig the aesthetics of them and they fit in well in my home, but for some they may be a bit too large and unsightly to blend in with your home's decor.  

NETGEAR Orbi Quad-band WiFi 6E Mesh System.
Photo credit: supplied/Netgear

The verdict

The Orbi Quad-band 6E package is the Rolls Royce of Wi-Fi mesh systems.

If having the fastest, most reliable internet possible in every corner of your home to every device in your home is a high priority for you, it's definitely worth looking at - and potentially a better option than cabling up your entire house.

However, it will be overkill for some families and does cost an extraordinary amount.

For others, it will be worth it.

It's the best in class home Wi-Fi mesh system on the market right now.

Newshub was supplied a Orbi Quad-band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System for this review.