Netgear Orbi AX11000 (RBKE963) review: the most complete 6E mesh wifi system

The modules that make up the Orbi RBKE963 kit are particularly tall.  © The Digital

The modules that make up the Orbi RBKE963 kit are particularly tall. © The Digital

The Netgear Orbi AX11000 (RBKE963) is the very first 6E mesh wifi system to land in our territory. As usual, the manufacturer is attacking the market with the top of the range, and the features of this RBKE963 bring together what is currently the best in the consumer network sector. RBKE963 is therefore a 6E mesh wifi system with four wifi bands with a cumulative speed of 11 Gb / s, including 4.8 Gb / s dedicated to the brand new 6 GHz band. 10G and 2.5G RJ45 ports complete this sophisticated technical sheet. The launch price of this advanced mesh system is also rising: it currently counts € 1699.

© The Digital

In its mesh system, Netgear provides a module that acts as a router and others that transmit the wifi signal, called satellite modules. Orbi RBKE963 therefore has three parts, but a two-module version, called RBKE962, is also planned. The difference between the modules is made by the presence of a yellow RJ45 port on the router, called WAN. The latter connects directly to your carrier box or to the ONT box if your ISP allows you to do without its box (this is the case with Orange in France). The satellites are physically identical but without WAN connectors.



satellite module


Router module

The wifi properties of this mesh set are in line with current technology. RBKE963 is a 6E wifi model equipped with three usable frequency bands: 2.4 GHz at 1200 Mb / s, 5 GHz at 2400 Mb / s and 6 GHz at 4800 Mb / s. A fourth frequency band of 5 GHz at 2400 Mb / s is exclusively reserved for communication between the modules that make up the Netgear Orbi AX11000.

For the wired part, Netgear has also looked very large. Each module has a 2.5G standard RJ45 connector and three Gigabit ports – only the router module has a 10G standard WAN connector. If your home is fully wired, you can connect your modules using the 2.5G Ethernet connector and enable Ethernet backhaul.

© The Digital

Each module has a sync button, a reset button, and a proprietary power connector that the manufacturer also uses on some of its routers. An indicator light is present on the front between the bronze-colored lower part and the white upper part. Another very discreet indicator light, located above the power socket, allows you to know the status of the module during a reset.

© The Digital

In terms of design, Netgear has taken up the distinctive shapes of its Orbi. The measurements are impressive with 28 cm high for 19 cm wide and a depth of 8.3 cm. The weight is just as important: We measured 1.4 kg for each module. Therefore, it will be necessary to provide good fasteners to your shelves if you want to integrate them into your decoration.

Editor's rating: 5 out of 5

Ergonomics

The installation of Orbi is identical from one model to another, you will not be out of place if you know the ecosystem. The easiest way is to install the homonymous application and let you guide. The app explains in many steps the connection, the installation of the modules and their update. You can also select the name of your wifi network (SSID) as well as the password.

© The Digital

© The Digital

Once the mesh system has been configured, two SSIDs are created: the first includes the three frequency bands with an ORBIxx type name; the second SSID, called ORBI-IoT, is dedicated to connected objects. Some of the latter have problems with the SSIDs that collect all the frequency bands, Netgear has bypassed the problem by creating a dedicated SSID on the 2.4 GHz frequency band. It is also possible to disable it in the application interface. Note that it is also possible to create only an SSID for the 6 GHz band specifically for wifi 6E, which makes it possible to avoid roaming on the frequency bands, to take advantage of the best possible speeds and, above all, to reduce congestion by 2, 4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands, especially in cities.

© The Digital

© The Digital

The Orbi app does not vary much, although we are dealing with an advanced system. The options offered are the same as for the Orbi RBK352. The settings are therefore basic, limited to the name of the wifi network, its password and access to statistics. It is possible to enable guest wifi or the IoT network, but for advanced settings it will be necessary to go through the web interface. Netgear has still not decided to include free parental controls, even with simple features such as user-time intervals offered by TP-Link or Amazon Eero. It will therefore be necessary to subscribe to Netgear Armor, billed at € 99 / year, regardless of the price of this Orbi RBKE963 mesh system …

© The Digital

© The Digital

To make settings not found in the Orbi application, access the system’s web interface by entering the router’s IP address (10.0.0.1) in a browser or going to the orbilogin address. com. Users of Netgear routers will recognize the interface and set of editable settings. It is thus possible to change all the DHCP rules, DNS, or even to practice port forwarding. On the other hand, it is unfortunate to have to connect to “webmin” to configure your VPN or activate the SSID dedicated to the 6 GHz frequency band.

Editor's rating: 5 out of 5

Charges

To evaluate the performance of the Netgear Orbi AX11000 RBKE963 mesh system, we connected the router module to our operator box, to which we connected a laptop via an adapter for the 2.5 Gb / s connector. We transfer a 4.73 GB file (disk image) from the first laptop to another equipped with an Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6 chip, but also to a fixed desktop PC located on top and connected to a Gigabyte GC -WBAX200 PCIe card with outdoor antenna and updated with Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 chip that supports wifi 6E.

Tariffs recorded during a 4.73 GB file transfer on the 6 GHz band.  © The Digital

Tariffs recorded during a 4.73 GB file transfer on the 6 GHz band. © The Digital

Connected to the 6 GHz frequency band, we achieve average speeds approaching 1.3 Gb / s, whether it is connected to the router (point 1) or to the satellite (point 2). Also note that the speed does not vary once connected to the satellite thanks to the frequency band dedicated to communication between the modules.

When you are away from the modules and with a few obstacles (points 3 to 5), the speeds stabilize at around 670 Mb / s. Thanks to its three modules, the RBKE963 largely covers our home, and even point 5 usually utilizes problematic High throughput.

Tariffs recorded during a 4.73 GB file transfer on the 5 GHz band.  © The Digital

Tariffs recorded during a 4.73 GB file transfer on the 5 GHz band. © The Digital

On the 5 GHz frequency band, near-end speeds are lower, around 800 Mb / s for upload and just under 700 Mb / s for download. We also note that on this set, with some exceptions, the speeds are always higher for upload than for download. Away from the modules, the speeds decrease less markedly than at the 6 GHz frequency, which is normal, since the higher the frequency band, the more the crossing of obstacles reduces the speeds.

Tariffs recorded by transferring a 4.73 GB file on the 2.4 GHz band.  © The Digital

Tariffs recorded by transferring a 4.73 GB file on the 2.4 GHz band. © The Digital

The 2.4 GHz frequency band on the Netgear Orbi RBKE963 offers the best speeds we have seen, at almost 300 Mb / s. At our measuring points 4 and 5, our test PC does not even bother to connect to the nearest module, which explains lower speeds than they normally should be.

In light of the results, if you are looking for the highest speeds, make sure you are equipped with 6E wifi compatible devices and capable of capturing the 6 GHz band. Otherwise, it would be more reasonable to turn to a model that is happy with wifi 6 on the 5 GHz frequency band, such as the Orbi RBK852 or TP-Link Deco X90.

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