Netgear Orbi AX6000 RBK852: how to improve your home WiFi connection

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The Netgear Orbi RBK852 system is designed to provide a better WiFi network than that of a modem, both in terms of power and coverage. The Netgear Orbi RBK852 system, composed of an Orbi RBR850 router and an Orbi RBS850 satellite, is the manufacturer’s most powerful WiFi solution. This WiFi 6 compatible package is currently available for €789. These Netgear references are part of the Orbi AX6000 range that includes the Netgear Orbi RBK852 (router + satellite) and Netgear Orbi RBK853 (router + 2 satellites) to which you can add as many Netgear Satellite Orbi RBS850 satellites as the square footage of your home requires.

The Netgear Orbi RBK852 is composed of an Orbi RBR850 router (right) that replaces the modem, and an Orbi RBS850 satellite (left) that extends the range of the WiFi signal.

Why is the WiFi of modems from internet providers limited? How can you improve your WiFi network and which is the best Netgear solution to use for your home?

Netgear: the brand

Netgear is a company known for its computer networking and telecommunications equipment. It was founded by Patrick Lo in 1996 as an independent company within Bay Networks. Its headquarters are located in California. During the 2008 Wiffies Awards, Netgear received a Golden Award for showcasing WiFi from its site. The manufacturer offers a wide range of consumer products dedicated to computer networking and offers solutions to extend the Wi-Fi network of routers from internet providers. The brand has a range of powerline products and several solutions to improve WiFi networks known as MESH WiFi routers/repeaters.

Netgear: all the brand’s solutions to improve WiFi

Sometimes the WiFi coverage of the internet router is not powerful enough to cover a large area or to manage the many connected devices in the home. This is often the case in multi-storey residences or in old houses and apartments with thick walls. Netgear’s catalog offers multiple product ranges to address this issue.

Netgear WiFi routers: home, business and gaming WiFi

A WiFi router is a device designed to create a WiFi network for domestic or professional use. It replaces the WiFi network created by the modem when it is not powerful enough. The WiFi router sits between the modem (internet box) of your internet service provider and all your connected devices (computers, smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, AV network players, audio network players, smart objects). It allows them to access the internet (streaming services, web browsing…) through the modem’s internet connection and to communicate with each other. The interconnection of all your devices via the WiFi router constitutes what is called the local area network (LAN).

Netgear WiFi routers allow you to overcome the weakness and slow speed of the WiFi of some modems by offering better speeds and the possibility to connect many devices simultaneously. Moreover, certain Netgear WiFi routers offer advanced features that are very useful for managing your local network.

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Optimized for gaming, the Netgear XR500-100EUS WiFi router features 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports and a dual band WiFi controller. Its 4 antennas ensure excellent WiFi coverage to provide a gaming experience without interference.

You can therefore check the status of the network in real time (ping, bandwidth used by each connected device, position of the various applications, etc.) and change different parameters. For example, it is possible to configure the distribution of bandwidth to each connected device and application in order to prioritize them. This way, a download on one of the home’s PCs won’t affect an online gaming session or a movie being streamed on Netflix on the connected 4K UHD TV in the living room.

No access to fiber optic broadband? Try Netgear’s 4G WiFi routers

If your location does not allow you to access to fiber optic internet or adequate ADSL speeds but the 4G coverage is satisfactory, it is a good idea to invest in a 4G WiFi router like the Netgear Nighthawk 4G LTE WiFi (LAX20).

It works very simply: insert the SIM card of any 4G operator and let the application guide you step by step. In a matter of seconds, you’ll have a high-performance Wi-Fi network with high-speed 4G Internet access.

In the absence of fiber access or satisfactory ADSL coverage, the Netgear Nighthawk 4G LTE WiFi LAX20 router is ideal for establishing a high-performance WiFi network at home with Internet access via the 4G mobile network.

Netgear Orbi range: expandable WiFi made easy

The Netgear Orbi range has been designed for all those who wish to improve and/or extend their WiFi connection over large areas and who aren’t familiar with managing a network. Attractive and easy to configure and use, Netgear Orbi devices make it easy to deploy a fast, stable and secure home or office WiFi network, replacing the operator’s modem WiFi network. The very intuitive Orbi application makes it possible to keep an eye on the network and to set up effective parental control (managing the online content that your children can view and the times that they can access the internet on various devices).

The Netgear Orbi RBK20 pack (1 router + 1 satellite) can cover up to 250m².

A Netgear Orbi system consists of a transmitting base and one or more satellites in charge of extending the WiFi signal that allow the pack to cover up to 700m² depending on the model. The Netgear Orbi system can overcome obstacles thanks to its tri-band technology which guarantees the transmission of the signal through walls and floors.

The Netgear Orbi range is ideal for implementing WiFi networks over large areas.

Netgear Orbi is ideal for multi-storey houses, lofts, old houses and apartments with thick walls or renovated farm buildings, for example. The Netgear Orbi range is also well suited for implementing secure corporate WiFi networks in large office buildings, warehouses or logistics platforms.

Netgear Nighthawk WiFi 6 mesh extension: WiFi 6 mesh network

The Netgear NightHawk WiFi 6 Mesh system makes it easy to take advantage of the latest WiFi standard by developing a highly effective WiFi mesh network to replace the WiFi network of the internet provider’s modem. The default configuration includes a router and a satellite that cover up to 200m². Each additional satellite extends the existing network coverage by an additional 100 square meters with the same network name and seamless roaming. This means you can move throughout the coverage area without experiencing any loss in connection quality or fluidity, and without having to manually reconnect to any of the repeaters. The transition happens automatically, whether you’re using a smartphone, tablet or laptop to surf the internet or watch Netflix.

The compact and efficient Netgear NightHawk WiFi 6 Mesh system is a discreet solution to your WiFi connection problems. It can be discreetly integrated into most environments and provides a very strong WiFi signal.

Netgear WiFi repeaters: universal WiFi network amplification and extension solution

Unlike the Netgear Orbi and Netgear NightHawk WiFi 6 Mesh systems that replace the WiFi network of the modem with a more powerful WiFi network, Netgear WiFi repeaters simply act as a relay and amplifier of the WiFi signal of the modem. Placed at the limit of the coverage area, they recover the signal to extend its range. The WiFi repeaters are therefore compatible with internet boxes from all providers. They can also be used with a WiFi router or a 4G WiFi router to extend its range.

There are two types of Netgear WiFi repeaters:

  • Large format WiFi repeaters such as the Netgear EAX20 which takes the form of a box with multiple Ethernet ports and has an external power supply.
The Netgear EAX20 WiFi repeater is WiFi 6 compatible and can handle 4 simultaneous high speed WiFi streams. It also has 4 Ethernet ports.
  • Compact WiFi repeaters that are plugged directly into a mains socket. Generally equipped with an RJ45 network connector, they can also be equipped with a grounded electrical plug so as not to “block” the wall socket to which they are connected (Netgear EX6130-100FRS, for example).
Compatible with modems and standard WiFi routers, the Netgear EX6130-100FRS WiFi repeater is suitable for large homes.

Netgear USB WiFi adapters: boost your computer

We often blame the home WiFi network when the wireless connection with a laptop isn’t good. But sometimes the problem comes from the computer’s integrated WiFi controller, which is never very efficient, or from its small antenna.

The addition of a USB WiFi adapter like the Netgear A6210, to be plugged into one of the computer’s USB ports, can make all the difference. The WiFi becomes more stable, without untimely interruptions, with more constant transfer speeds. These USB WiFi adapters are also recommended for connecting a desktop computer to WiFi if an Ethernet cable connection is not an option.

The Netgear A6210 USB WiFi adapter was designed to work with Windows computers. It ensures a stable and very powerful WiFi connection for streaming, gaming and internet navigation.

Modems: inefficient access providers

Modems or internet boxes from ISPs are often mass-produced and their components are usually chosen for their low cost and rarely for their performance. As we all know, the number of WiFi devices connected to the home network is constantly increasing. Laptops, smartphones, tablets, TVs, wireless speakers and amplifiers, game consoles… It is not uncommon for a household of 5 people to generate over a dozen simultaneous WiFi connections. While one person watches an HD series on Netflix, another is playing online video games, a third watches a concert in HD via the local Plex server, a fourth checks an online recipe and a fifth listens to music, all while a voice-controlled multi-room audio system (Alexa, Google Assistant) takes up a good chunk of the bandwidth.

If the cumulative streamed data rate remains below the speed of the internet connection speed, it’s not uncommon for the WiFi network to crash and some users to be penalized by lag issues. Symptoms range from Netflix switching to low definition, to music playback cutting out or even stopping altogether, not to mention huge latency for online games. These problems are made worse by the distance between each WiFi device and the modem.

Their attractive design means the Netgear Orbi modules don’t necessarily have to be hidden.

Why is my WiFi network slow?

There are several reasons why WiFi connections slow down or crash. The internet box/modem is a mini computer whose components (processor and memory) are very often small. Therefore, when the computing power is insufficient, the box slows down and causes streaming cuts for example. The second reason is the WiFi transmitter often only transmits on the 2.4 GHz band, which is very congested. As a result, when radio waves have to pass through the floor and two walls to reach your smartphone, transmission performance collapses. And more generally, the firmware of modems is far from perfect and the activation of advanced features sometimes leads to errors that are rarely fixed by updates.

Netgear Orbi RBK852 / AX6000: fast processor

With the Orbi range, Netgear offers powerful devices for the management of your home WiFi network. Netgear Orbi is an upgradeable system, the RBK852 kit being composed of a router with WiFi access point (Orbi RBR850) and a WiFi satellite (Orbi RBS850). The user can add other Netgear Satellite Orbi RBS850 repeaters to extend the WiFi coverage (outbuildings, basement, garden, etc.). Each Orbi module is equipped with a multi-core processor and 8 internal WiFi antennas. Each also ensures MU-MIMO compatibility to stream your data simultaneously to multiple devices.

The Netgear Orbi is a tri-band system, which means that it establishes one WiFi network on the traditional 2.4 GHz band (with automatic and dynamic selection of the best channel), and two networks on the modern 5 GHz band. Thus, each WiFi device communicates with the Orbi router or repeater to establish the best possible connection. The two Netgear Orbi WiFi access points adjust their transmission power and channels dynamically, depending on the devices in the household, as well as the surrounding WiFi networks, so that they are not affected by the presence of foreign WiFi devices.

The Netgear Orbi WiFi system therefore establishes three networks with theoretical bandwidths of 1,200 Mbit/s and 2,400 Mbit/s. These raw data rates are expressed in the immediate vicinity of the antennas and drop as the distance increases (and when the radio frequencies have to cross obstacles). If a recent laptop can expect to communicate at 30 MB/sec in WiFi, in the same room as an Orbi, a smartphone separated by 2 walls will have to limit itself to 3 MB/sec. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to stream videos and music. Above all, Netgear announces excellent stability.

The Netgear Orbi WiFi router has a QR Code that you simply have to scan using the Netgear Orbi application during the installation.

Netgear Orbi AX6000: WiFi 6

Since its launch in 2019, WiFi 6 has brought many improvements to wireless connections, starting with increased range, higher bandwidth and simultaneous support for more devices. This makes WiFi 6 especially useful for latency-free network gaming or sharing large quantities of files across the local network. 40% faster than WiFi 5, WiFi 6 offers up to 9.6 Gbps of theoretical bandwidth compared to only 3.5 Gbps for its predecessor. WiFi 6 also maintains a stable and fast connection when many devices are present on the network. Until now, WiFi 5 could communicate with several devices, but they could not respond at the same time. WiFi 6 has a new standard called Mu-MIMO (Multiple In, Multiple Out) that allows different devices to receive and transmit data simultaneously. To do this, the WiFi controller is able to divide a WiFi network into several sub-channels. Each of these sub-channels can then carry data from a different device. This technology is called OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access). WiFi 6 is therefore ideal for latency-free online gaming or efficiently sharing numerous files on the local network.

Netgear Orbi RBK852: technical characteristics

WiFi coverage

  • Up to 350m²
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

Orbi router (RBR850)

  • 8 high-performance internal antennas equipped with powerful amplifiers
  • Implicit and explicit beamforming for 2.4 and 5 GHz bands
  • MU-MIMO compatibility to transfer your data simultaneously to several devices
  • Powerful 2.2 GHz quad-core processor
  • 1 x 2.5 Gbit/s WAN port
  • 4 x LAN Gigabit Ethernet ports

Orbi satellite (RBS850)

  • 8 high-performance internal antennas equipped with powerful amplifiers
  • Implicit and explicit beamforming for 2.4 and 5 GHz bands
  • MU-MIMO compatibility to transfer your data simultaneously to several devices
  • Powerful 2.2 GHz quad-core processor
  • 4 x LAN Gigabit Ethernet ports

Tri-band WiFi

  • 2.4 GHz (1,200 Mbit/s.*) + 5 GHz (2,400 Mbit/s.*) to connect WiFi devices to the internet
  • Dedicated 5 GHz WiFi connection (2,400 Mbit/s.*) for a faster data connection between the Orbi base and satellite

Storage

  • Base: 512MB NAND Flash and 1GB RAM

Security

  • Standards-based WiFi Security (802.11i, 128-bit AES encryption with PSK).
  • Guest WiFi Network is easy to setup separate & secure Internet access for guests

General

  • Dimensions (hxdxw): 25.4 x 7.1 x 19.05cm
  • Weight: 1.29kg

Contents

  • 1 x Orbi base (RBR850)
  • 1 x Orbi satellite (RBS850)
  • 1 x Ethernet cable (2m)
  • 2 x 12V/3.5A power adapters
  • Quick start guide

Netgear Orbi RBK852: installation

Using your smartphone or tablet is certainly the easiest way to install and configure the Netgear Orbi RBK852 package. In practice, you need to connect the router to your modem with the Ethernet cable provided. The router has a yellow Ethernet port named “Internet” that you have to connect to one of the modem’s Ethernet ports. We then turned on the router (the power supply is provided), launched the Netgear Orbi mobile app, scanned the QR code on the router’s label and followed the instructions on the smartphone. Everything worked very well and very quickly. However, you end up with two cascaded routers – the one integrated in the modem and the one in the Orbi pack – and the WiFi transmitter of the box continues to emit unnecessarily.

After creating an account, the Orbi app allows you to install the “router+satellite” system simply by scanning a QR Code with your smartphone.

So there is a better way to do this. With a computer connected to the home network, open up a browser and type in the address of your modem. Very often, this “gateway” IP address is indicated underneath the box. It can be found in the computer’s network connection settings. 99% of the time, the address is 192.168.x.1 (x is 0, 1 or 2). The modem’s administration web page is then displayed. The username and password can also be found on the underside of the box. Once you are logged in, simply look for the advanced settings and the option to deactivate the “router” part of the box. Once confirmed, restart the router and turn the Orbi off. When the modem box restarts, turn on the Orbi, launch the mobile app and follow the instructions. This is the best configuration as the Orbi system will entirely manage the local network and the Internet access of the different connected devices.

No need for an installation manual, the Netgear Orbi application guides you step by step through the configuration.

Netgear Orbi RBK852: Netgear Orbi app and cyber security

Available for iOS and Android, the Netgear Orbi mobile app allows you to monitor WiFi network operation in real time. If remote management is enabled, control is possible from anywhere in the world. The app gathers basic information, allows you to change the WiFi password if needed, reboot the router, add an additional Orbi satellite repeater, as well as manage parental controls (available soon via update).

In addition to registering the device for easy warranty support, the Orbi app allows you to test the speed, continuously monitor who is connected to the network and easily add a “guest” for a temporary WiFi connection.

It is possible to list connected devices (WiFi, Ethernet), each of which can be renamed and blocked if needed. Netgear has partnered with Bitdefender and Orbi for cyber security management. This subscription-based service called Netgear Armor offers protection for an unlimited number of connected devices against cyber threats. Netgear Armor offers multi-level cyber security for your smartphones, computers, smart TVs, security cameras and anything other smart objects in your home. With Bitdefender VPN, connections are secure and encrypted and your online activity is kept private, even when you’re on an unsecure public network. If your personal devices are misplaced or stolen, Netgear Armor can locate them, lock them and even remotely wipe the data to make sure you don’t lose anything (only on Android devices and Windows laptops). Lastly, Netgear Armor constantly scans for potential vulnerabilities and alerts you when there is a threat via your Nighthawk or Orbi app. Easily block suspicious devices on the network, analyze and assess your security level and get tips on how to protect your devices and data.

The last steps of the system installation give you the possibility to secure your network in an efficient way, but for a subscription fee.

Netgear Orbi AX6000: connectors

In addition to its internet/WAN port, the Netgear Orbi RBR850 router is equipped with four RJ-45 gigabit Ethernet ports and a connector for the power supply. The four RJ-45 ports allow you to connect a computer, a NAS, or a switch (network multi-socket) for example. These three ports are ultra-fast and make copying large video files easier, for example. The Netgear Orbi RBS850 satellite repeater is equipped with 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports to which you can connect any Ethernet device. Unfortunately, there are no USB-A ports to connect a printer or an external hard drive and share them over the local network.

The Netgear Orbi RBR850 router has 1 RJ45 port (Internet access) and 4 Ethernet ports. The RBS850 also has 4 Ethernet ports.

Netgear Orbi: advanced setup

The Netgear Orbi mobile app doesn’t provide access to the Netgear Orbi router’s advanced functions. They are only accessible via the web interface. You have to use a web browser (smartphone, tablet, computer) and enter the router’s IP address or http://orbilogin.com. Advanced features include opening ports or adding external VPN settings.

Netgear Orbi RBK852: impressions

We used the Netgear Orbi RBK852 system with several WiFi devices to test the range and accessibility of the WiFi network in a 120m² L-shaped house where the current WiFi network does not allow us to enjoy the internet in every room. This is explained by the presence of many walls, by the distance between the box and the devices, but also by the limited power of the modem’s WiFi. Unsurprisingly, the Netgear router outperformed our Orange fiber box. It’s not much, but gained about 5% in bandwidth. Previously, all streaming was impossible in the room. Once the Orbi satellite was installed, the streaming did not cause any latency problems on a smartphone (iPhone 5 SE and iPhone 7) or laptop (MacBook Air). We had no problem streaming from Youtube, even at 20m from the router and 20m from the repeater. The response times of the smartphone on the Internet seemed particularly fast. With the Plex app, we were able to watch a movie on a remote server without any lagging or buffering. Access to different parts of the movie was instantaneous.

The first speed test without the Orbi system allows us to see that the ability to receive the WiFi network decreases by more than half with 2 walls at only 10 meters from the modem. With 4 walls and a distance of 20 meters from the modem, the network is sometimes invisible…

Installing the satellite in the room furthest from the box allowed us to cover the whole house with a powerful WiFi network. Netgear specifies a WiFi coverage area of 350m² (about 6 rooms) with the RBK852 pack. And you can add several satellites for an additional 145m² WiFi coverage each time. During our test, we enjoyed a powerful internet connection inside and outside our home. Listening to music via high-speed streaming or watching a movie in the garden 10/15 meters from the modem or satellite is therefore quite feasible, all while allowing the simultaneous connection of several devices.

The second speed test with the Orbi system installed at both ends of the house showed that the WiFi network remains extremely powerful wherever you are in the house. It is even possible to use a powerful WiFi network in the garden and in an adjacent garage.

Netgear Orbi: conclusion

It is evident that Netgear remains one of the most successful actors when it comes to improving connection performance. The MESH WiFi system shows its ability to outperform the original internet box’s weak network. The simple installation makes it easy to set up and you will quickly benefit from a reliable WiFi network. The coverage is extended, the speed is greatly improved and it is now possible to easily surf the Internet in all four corners of the house. This performance comes at a price that may seem a bit high at first, but if you have several people simultaneously using the Internet at home for different purposes (social networks, online gaming, HD TV, music, videos, etc.), the Netgear Orbi AX6000 / RBK852 could be an excellent investment and help you avoid many conflicts. The design is also quite attractive, which only adds to the pack’s appeal.

What we liked:

  • The quick and easy setup
  • The performance that was superior to that of the ISP’s router
  • The many Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • The extended WiFi coverage
  • The very easy to use mobile app

We would have liked:

  • Free parental control
  • USB ports to share a hard drive and a printer

The Netgear Orbi AX6000 / RBK852 does what it sets out to do: it’s easy to use and its WiFi coverage is powerful, fast and, most importantly, stable. The setup and control application allows you to remotely monitor what’s going on in your home. Even under the stress of high Ethernet and WiFi data rates, the Orbi system does not falter. An ideal solution for a household that loves VOD services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, etc.), for multi-room audio streaming and online gaming.


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Après plusieurs années passées dans la vente de produits high-tech d'occasion avant de rejoindre l'équipe de Son-Vidéo.com en 2007, je ne compte plus les amplis, enceintes, casques, TV, vidéoprojecteurs et autres baladeurs qui sont passés entre mes mains... Je suis toujours curieux de découvrir de nouveaux produits et de partager cette passion pour la hi-fi et le home-cinéma.

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