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Netgear Orbi Tri-band mesh WiFi router – tips and tricks

Netgear Orbi Tri-band mesh WiFi router – tips and tricks
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Does Netgear Orbi Tri-band mesh WiFi router work with my existing Internet Service Provider? Yes. Orbi works with major ISP’s like Xfinity, Spectrum, COX, etc. Do you have to pay a monthly fee? No, there is no monthly fee to own/use an Orbi WiFi System. Orbi replaces your current WiFi router and connects to your high speed modem from your monthly Internet Service Provider. Do I need a modem with this WiFi system? Yes, you need a modem. Orbi works with your existing gateway or modem. However, Orbi Cable WiFi System (CBK40) acts as both a modem and a router and can replace your existing cable modem or cable gateway. Find more Orbi tips and tricks here.

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Is Netgear Orbi Tri-band mesh WiFi router worth buying?

The latest player in the home Wi-Fi system arena, Netgear’s $399.99 Orbi High-Performance AC3000 Tri-Band Wi-Fi System (RBK50) has a lot in common with the Ubiquiti Amplifi HD Home Wi-Fi System, the Luma Home WiFi System, and the Eero. All four offer whole-home Wi-Fi solutions consisting of a router and one or more satellites, they are all very easy to install and manage, and they don’t come cheap. That said, the Orbi ($299.99 at Best Buy) gives you the most bang for your buck, with impressive throughput speeds, Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) simultaneous data streaming, and a lot more management options than the other three. Is Netgear Orbi Tri-band mesh WiFi router worth buying? What are the Orbi tips and tricks regarding this?

What’s a Wi-Fi System?

Wi-Fi systems are hybrids of sorts. They offer an easy way to blanket your home in Wi-Fi without the need for additional wiring, range extenders, or access points. For some, setting up an access point is out of the question, as it requires running cables. Range extenders are wireless and fairly easy to configure, but their signal output is typically half as strong as the signal coming from your router.

The latest crop of Wi-Fi systems utilizes extension nodes, or satellites, to extend your Wi-Fi signal. Some of these systems use mesh technology, where the satellites communicate with each other to provide coverage throughout your home, but the Orbi router uses a dedicated Wi-Fi band to communicate with its satellite.

The biggest advantage that Wi-Fi systems have over range extenders is that the satellites are all part of the same network and provide seamless connectivity as you roam throughout the house, and do not need any configuration or management. Most range extenders, on the other hand, create a secondary Wi-Fi network that requires some degree of management and must be logged in to for Wi-Fi access. That said, you typically have more control over your network when using a router/extender solution (Orbi tips and tricks).

How to setup Netgear Orbi

Netgear Orbi Tri-band mesh WiFi router review

Design and Features

The Orbi system comes with a router and one satellite; they are identical in appearance and are encased in a white, soft-touch enclosure that looks like a slightly squashed cylinder. At 8.8 by 6.7 by 3.1 inches (HWD), they are significantly larger than the hexagon-shaped Luma components (4.1 by 4.6 by 1.1 inches) and the square Eero components (4.7 by 4.7 by 1.3 inches).

While not unattractive, they certainly don’t offer the sleek aesthetics of the Ubiquiti Amplifi HD ($339.99 at Amazon) , the Google OnHub($97.99 at Amazon), and the Starry Station, all of which are designed to be located where they can be seen. The Orbi is available as a two-piece kit that offers 4,000 square feet of coverage. Netgear also has an individual stand-alone router ($249.99) that covers up to 2,000 square feet, and it will eventually release individual satellites ($249.99 each) that provide up to 2,000 square feet of coverage.

A tri-band AC3000 device, the Orbi router has six internal antennas and can deliver theoretical throughputs speeds of 1,266Mbps to clients (400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 866Mbps on the 5GHz band). The third band is what separates the Orbi from the competition; it’s considered a backhaul band because it is dedicated purely to communications between the router and the satellite.

This is a 5GHz band that can reach maximum speeds of 1,733Mbps. The Ubiquiti, the Luma ($99.99 at PCMag Shop) , and the Eero ($399.00 at Amazon) are dual-band systems and do not use a dedicated band for router-to-satellite transmissions (orbi tips and tricks).

Netgear Orbi High-Performance AC3000 Tri-Band Wi-Fi System (RBK50)

At the top of each component is an LED light ring. On the router, the ring is solid white when booting up and blinks amber when it loses its Internet connection. A blinking blue and magenta light indicates that you’ve reached your Internet traffic threshold (more on this later), and when the light is out, everything is working properly.

Around back, at the base of the router, are three Gigabit LAN ports, a WAN port, a USB 2.0 port, and Sync, Power, and Reset buttons. Despite Netgear’s advertised claims that the USB port can be used to connect peripherals, such as hard drives and printers, it was not working at the time of this review, and a spokesperson could not confirm a date when a firmware update would fix the issue.

The satellite component also has a light ring that blinks white while the satellite is booting up and turns solid blue when the connection to the router is good, amber when it’s fair, and magenta when it loses its connection. The lights make it easy to place the satellite in a central location that will provide a strong link to the router. At the rear of the base are four Gigabit LAN ports, Reset, Sync, and Power buttons, and a USB 2.0 port that doesn’t work.

Whereas the Luma, Ubiquiti, and Eero systems are all configured and controlled using a mobile app, the Orbi uses a Web-based console, although a mobile app is in the works. The console is easy to use, and unlike the competition, it offers the kind of basic and advanced settings that you get with a traditional router.

The home page includes tabs for Basic and Advanced settings, and displays basic status information for Internet, Wireless, Attached Devices, and Parental Controls. Here, you can access basic Internet (Dynamic or Static IP, DNS, and MAC Address) and Wireless (SSID name and Security) settings and see which clients are connected and their IP address. You can also set up guest networks, a feature that was missing when the Orbi was first released.

Netgear Orbi High-Performance AC3000 Tri-Band Wi-Fi System (RBK50)

If you want more control over your network, the Advanced tab takes you to an Advanced Security section, where you can set up Parental Controls to block access to websites, restrict access to users, and have email alerts sent when someone tries to access a blocked site. You can also access Advanced Wireless settings that let you adjust transmit power, enable beamforming and MU-MIMO, use the router as an access point, and configure things like Static Routing, VPN Service, and Port Forwarding.

Included in the Advanced settings is a Traffic Meter that lets you view Internet traffic statistics and place limits on monthly upload and download capacities. When the meter sees that it’s reached its threshold, you can have it shut down Internet access to all clients. You can also use Advanced settings to configure things like IPv6 tunneling, view system logs, and update the router’s firmware.

Netgear Orbi Tri-band mesh WiFi router : Installation and Performance

The Orbi system is very easy to install. I plugged the router into my modem and connected it to my PC, powered it up, and typed http://orbilogin.com in my browser’s address bar to launch the setup wizard. After 10 seconds or so, it successfully connected to the Internet and prompted me to set up the satellite or to skip this step and do it later, which I did. I was then asked to create a password and answer two security questions, and was given the option to change the router’s SSID name. The router needed around 90 seconds to update its firmware and was ready to go.

To install the satellite, I placed it around 30 feet from the Orbi router in my living room, plugged it in, and waited around two minutes while it synced with the router. During this time, the light ring blinked white and magenta and then turned solid blue, indicating a good signal with the router. That’s it.

I performed a series of throughput tests on both the router and the satellite. As with the Luma and Eero systems, the Orbi uses a form of automatic band steering that doesn’t allow you to separate the 2.4GHz band from the 5GHz band, so my results are based on combined throughput speeds. Thanks to its use of a dedicated backhaul band, throughput on the Orbi satellite module was nearly identical to that on the router. With the other Wi-Fi systems, satellite throughput was significantly less than router throughput.

In my single-user close-proximity (same-room) tests, the Orbi router turned in a very respectable score of 480Mbps, and the satellite delivered an equally impressive 470Mbps. The Luma router delivered 457Mbps, but its satellite topped out at 106Mbps, and the Eero could only manage a top score of 188.7Mbps from any module. The Ubiquiti Amplifi HD scored 459Mbps in the close-proximity test when connected to the router and 193Mbps when connected to its strongest satellite.

At a distance of 30 feet, the Orbi router scored 223Mbps, and the satellite scored 220Mbps. The Ubiquiti Amplifi HD router also showed a throughput of 223Mbps, but its satellite maxed out at 168Mbps. The Luma router gained 76.1Mbps, and its satellite scored 77.2Mbps, while the Eero scored 71.2Mbps. By way of comparison, our Editors’ Choice midrange router, the Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream AC1900 MU-MIMO Gigabit Router ($128.98 at Amazon) , had a throughput of 495Mbps (close proximity) and 298Mbps (30 feet), and our top pick for high-end routers, the D-Link DIR-895L/R, scored 515Mbps and 324Mbps, respectively.

I tested the Orbi’s MU-MIMO throughput using three identical Acer Aspire R13 laptops equipped with Qualcomm’s QCA61x4A MU-MIMO circuitry. The router averaged 128Mbps in the close-proximity test, and the satellite scored 127.6Mbps. At 30 feet, both the router and the satellite averaged 124Mbps. These MU-MIMO scores can’t match the scores from our top-performing high-end router, the D-Link DIR-895L/R (264.6Mbps and 134.5Mbps, respectively), but they are certainly respectable. The other Wi-Fi systems we’ve tested don’t support MU-MIMO technology.

Verizon setup – Netgear Orbi Tri-band mesh WiFi router

Installation can be done in 3 key steps:

  • 1. Install Orbi
  • Download and Use the Orbi app to install and activate your Orbi router & Orbi satellite.
  • 2. Turn off the Wi-Fi on your Fios router
  • Fios Quantum GatewayUse one of the following methods:Use the My Fios app:
    1. Select Internet from the main screen
    2. Under My Networks, tap Enabled for your Wi-Fi network and switch Enable Private Wi-Fi Access to OFF
    3. Repeat for the other Wi-Fi network listed (2.4 GHz or 5 GHz)
    4. Repeat for any guest Wi-Fi network listed
    5. The Wi-Fi indicator light on your Fios router should be off 
    OROnline via My Verizon:
    1. Sign in to your account at Verizon.com/myverizon
    2. Choose Services > Internet > My Networks
    3. Then choose Manage and switch Enable Wi-Fi to OFF
    4. Repeat for the other Wi-Fi network listed (2.4 GHz or 5 GHz)
    5. Repeat for any guest Wi-Fi network listed
    Fios Advanced Wi-Fi Router and Other ModelsOnline via your computer
    1. Open a browser and enter 192.168.1.1
    2. Sign in with your router name and password
      • Router name: admin
      • Router password: The default password can be found on your router’s label
        Note: If you change the default password, use your new password
    3. Go to Quick Links on the left
    4. Select Change Wireless Settings, then change the button to turn wireless off
    5. The Wi-Fi indicator light on your Fios router should be off.
  • 3. Put your Orbi router in AP mode
    1. Open a browser and type orbilogin.com
    2. Sign in to your Orbi account using your user name admin and admin password created during the Orbi setup
    3. Select the ADVANCED tab > Advanced Setup > Router/AP Mode
    4. Select the AP Mode check box
    5. Click the Apply button (at the top) to save the changes. Your Orbi will reboot. Rebooting will be complete once the satellite’s LED ring light stops glowing magenta. Although you can log back into the Orbi login web page, you don’t need to.

How do I connect Orbi Router to my Fios router?

Connect one end of the Ethernet cord that came with your Orbi to your Fios router and the other end to the yellow Ethernet port on your Orbi router.


Why do I need to turn off Wi-Fi on my Verizon router?

You will be using your new Orbi WiFi network so turn off WiFi on your Verizon router to ensure all your devices connect to the Orbi WiFi network and to avoid possible interference of having multiple WiFi networks in your home,


How do I turn off Wi-Fi on my Verizon router?

Fios Quantum GatewayUse one of the following methods:Use the My Fios app:

  • Select Internet from the main screen
  • Under My Networks, tap Enabled for your Wi-Fi network and switch Enable Private Wi-Fi Access to OFF
  • Repeat for the other Wi-Fi network listed (2.4 GHz or 5 GHz)
  • Repeat for any guest Wi-Fi network listed
  • The Wi-Fi indicator light on your Fios router should be off OROnline via My Verizon:
  • Sign in to your account at Verizon.com/myverizon
  • Choose Services > Internet > My Networks
  • Then choose Manage and switch Enable Wi-Fi to OFF
  • Repeat for the other Wi-Fi network listed (2.4 GHz or 5 GHz)
  • Repeat for any guest Wi-Fi network listedFios Advanced Wi-Fi Router and Other ModelsOnline via your computer
  • Open a browser and enter 192.168.1.1
  • Sign in with your router name and password
  • Router name: admin
  • Router password: The default password can be found on your router’s label
    Note: If you change the default password, use your new password
  • Go to Quick Links on the left
  • Select Change Wireless Settings, then change the button to turn wireless off
  • The Wi-Fi indicator light on your Fios router should be off.

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