Netgear Orbi – What Wi-Fi should be
If you want solid Wi-Fi connectivity at home, the Netgear Orbi is a strong contender as the system of choice. I recently had a 100Mbps/50Mbps fibre line installed at home and found that my entry-level router was negatively affecting my connectivity speeds. Black Friday then arrived, and I purchased a Netgear Orbi system on special to ensure I could take full advantage of my fibre speeds.
The system – model RBK50 – consists of a router and a satellite, which connect wirelessly to one another using a dedicated 5GHz channel. The idea is to place the router downstairs and connect it to your fibre line, and place the satellite in the middle of your home – or upstairs if you have a 2-storey home. Netgear’s firmware for the router is simple to use, and once you have plugged the devices in, connected to your ISP account, and linked the two Orbi units, your home is covered by a Wi-Fi mesh network.
The network offers 2.4GHz and 5GHz connections for devices, but users will only see a single SSID for both bands, the router, and the satellite – all of which use a single password for access. The Orbi router and satellite also sport Ethernet ports for wired connectivity. Both units also need to be plugged into a wall socket for power.
The Orbi system also sports multiple features and options in its firmware, two of which are MU-MIMO and Implicit Beamforming. MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output) allows a Wi-Fi router to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously.
This decreases the time each device has to wait for a signal, and speeds up the network. Implicit Beamforming allows the router to use information from devices that support beamforming to improve the Wi-Fi signal. Both options must be enabled in the Orbi’s firmware, and add to the system’s ability to provide a great Wi-Fi experience.
While the Orbi router and satellite are pretty to look at, the connectivity speeds they deliver is what stood out.
The Orbi system performed well in speed tests using the MyBroadband Speed Test App, and provided solid connectivity in the upstairs section of my home – which was the primary reason for its purchase.
The only blip on its test sheet was a download/upload speed of 58.23Mbps/26.11Mbps on an iPhone X, with the test location conducive to slower speeds for reasons unknown.
|Distance from Router||2.4GHz Speed (Down/Up)||5GHz Speed (Down/Up)|
|0m||88.38Mbps / 39.93Mbps||96.25Mbps / 45.28Mbps|
|5m (1 wall)||84.02Mbps / 23.92Mbps||85.25Mbps / 46.80Mbps|
|10m (1 wall)||76.60Mbps / 15.32Mbps||97.11Mbps / 47.69Mbps|
|15m (2 walls)||0.19Mbps / 0.25Mbps||1.20Mbps / 3.09Mbps|
|0m||74.12Mbps / 38.57Mbps||95.59Mbps / 48.39Mbps|
|5m (1 wall)||72.93Mbps / 47.14Mbps||95.95Mbps / 42.38Mbps|
|10m (1 wall)||69.50Mbps / 19.52Mbps||95.30Mbps / 28.42Mbps|
|15m (2 walls)||0.80Mbps / 0.00Mbps||Connection Failed|
|Distance from Router/Satellite||MacBook Pro||iPhone X|
|0m (Downstairs)||95.73Mbps / 47.05Mbps||95.48Mbps / 42.82Mbps|
|5m (1 wall – Downstairs)||96.43Mbps / 47.11Mbps||95.61Mbps / 46.32Mbps|
|10m (1 wall – Downstairs)||96.05Mbps / 47.22Mbps||58.23Mbps / 26.11Mbps|
|15m (2 walls – Downstairs)||1.41Mbps / 0.03Mbps||1.42Mbps / 0Mbps|
|0m (Upstairs)||95.02Mbps / 47.08Mbps||95.15Mbps / 38.03Mbps|
|5m (1 wall – Upstairs)||98.92Mbps / 46.87Mbps||94.18Mbps / 46.42Mbps|
|10m (1 wall – Upstairs)||94.78Mbps / 43.66Mbps||84.48Mbps / 29.40Mbps|
- ^ negatively affecting (mybroadband.co.za)
- ^ MyBroadband Speed Test App (mybroadband.co.za)
- ^ previously-tested entry-level router (mybroadband.co.za)
- ^ South African city with the fastest Wi-Fi speeds (mybroadband.co.za)