Netgear introduced their first product in the Wi-Fi system / mesh category, the Orbi, in August 2016. Its dedicated wireless backhaul (4x4 802.11ac / 1733 Mbps) and 2x2 radios with MU-MIMO support for the clients (on both the router and the satellite) made it one of the best performing Wi-Fi system kits in the market. Since the introduction of the Orbi RBK50 (AC3000), various vendors in the Wi-Fi market have come with their own variants. The increasing competition has turned out to be good for consumers, resulting in kits getting introduced at very competitive price points.

Many mesh systems come in packs of three, but, Orbi stood out with its claim of being able to blanket a 4000 sq. ft house with just a router and a satellite. Despite the high price (mainly due to additional hardware, compared to a regular router), mesh / Wi-Fi systems have been enjoying very good market reception. In order to tackle the increased competition (often coming in at a lower price point compared to the Netgear Orbi RBK50 kit), Netgear is introducing two additional members in the Orbi family - the RBK30 and RBK40. Like the RBK50, the main unit and the satellite in the RBK40 are similar in appearance and available interfaces. However, the physical dimensions of the RBK40's components are smaller than that of the RBK50. The RBK40 and the RBK30 share the same router, but, the satellite in the latter is of the wall-plug variety and has no wired ports. The other differences between the three are summarized in the table below.

Netgear Orbi Kits (Q1 2017)
Aspect RBK50 RBK40 RBK30
Class AC3000 AC2200
Backhaul 4x4 802.11 ac (1733Mbps) 2x2 802.11ac (866 Mbps)
Clients 2x2 802.11bgn/ac (400Mbps + 866 Mbps)
Wired Configuation (Router) 1xWAN + 4xLAN GbE Ports
Wired Configuration (Satellite) 5x GbE Ports None
Launch Date Aug. 2016 Mar. 2017
Launch MSRP $400 $350 $300

Netgear is able to reach these lower price points due to the following changes compared to the RBK50:

  • Replacement of the 4x4 backhaul radio with a 2x2 one (AC3000-class to AC2200-class) in both the RBK30 and RBK40
  • Updates to the power amplifiers to meet the lowered range requirements in the RBK30 and RBK40
  • Removal of the 4-port wired switch in the RBK30's satellite

During the press briefing, Netgear emphasized that they support both PC-based and mobile app-based setup for the Orbi. Particular stress was also made on the ability of the Orbi kits to operate effectively without any reliance on the cloud (unlike products such as the Google OnHub that have encountered various issues due to over-reliance on the cloud for day-to-day operation).

Netgear is also making the satellites available for purchase separately. The price points for these extenders range from $150 for the wall-plug variety to $250 for the one with the 4x4 backhaul link.

The new Orbi products also use the same Qualcomm Atheros IPQ4019 network processor SoC, along with the Wi-Fi SON features. While retaining the same feature set, the RBK30 and RBK40 expand the target market for Wi-Fi systems. The lower price points will also help Netgear in tackling the increasing competition.

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  • Chaitanya - Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - link

    With host of vulnerabilities being discovered daily with netgear products never going to get their wireless products. My last Netgear access point didnt even have an option to disable remote management via wireless which was always present in Linksys, Dlink and Tplink devices and disabled by default. Reply
  • aryonoco - Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - link

    Indeed.

    I'll start taking them seriously when they start taking security seriously. They just have no understanding of software updates and maintenance. Every single Netgear product I have touched runs ancient and vulnerable versions of OpenSSL.

    For a device that sits exposed to the outer internet, Netgear's approach to securing their products is amoral and borderline criminal IMHO.
    Reply
  • jramskov - Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - link

    You can use the Orbi in bridge mode. Reply
  • Einy0 - Monday, April 03, 2017 - link


    I couldn't agree more! With Netgear's security record as of late, I would not use one of their routers if someone gave it to me.
    Reply
  • fanofanand - Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - link

    I'm sure someone will correct me if I"m wrong here but the primary reason the Orbi outperformed was because of the dedicated backhaul channel. Eliminating the dedicated backhaul channel should reduce performance to the same as all other mesh systems. It's too bad they couldn't bring down the price without greatly reducing performance. Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - link

    There is still a dedicated backhaul channel in the new kits. Just that it is 2x2 instead of 4x4 Reply
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