Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
If you live in a home that’s too big for a single router to cover, you might consider investing in the Netgear Orbi RBK50 mesh routers to do the job instead of a standard Wi-Fi booster. We thoroughly tested the Orbi, and it outperformed all other mesh routers in nearly every way. If the best Wi-Fi possible is what you’re looking for, the Orbi RBK50 is your best option.
Our expert reviewers spent hundreds of hours thoroughly testing mesh routers in the Purch Labs. They collected data based on signal penetration through drywall, double drywall, doors, metal, soundboard and ceilings. They also looked at the 3D consistency of the signal by testing on floors below and above the routers. In addition, they tested throughput rates at 5, 15, 50, 100 and 150 feet. In all these tests, the Orbi RBK50 came out on top, with the Orbi RBK40 coming in at a close second.
This Orbi had an average throughput speed of 552.11 Mbps at 5 feet, which was the fastest in the test, even compared to the Netgear Nighthawk EX7000. However, what’s more impressive is the speed consistency as the testers moved away from the router. At 15 feet, the average speed was 510.9 Mbps; at 50 feet, it was 447.13 Mbps; at 100 feet, it was 371.42 Mbps; and at 150 feet, it fell to 229.07 Mbps. As with any wireless signal, performance is weaker the further away you get, but with the Orbi, the drop-off isn’t nearly as steep as most mesh routers.
Perhaps even more remarkable is the penetration of the wireless signal. It maintained a consistent throughput speed through all the materials, only dipping a little through the ceiling. It was less consistent on the 3D tests, which measured the throughput speeds at various points above and below the floor the routers were installed on. That said, it still beat the competition in the 3D tests.
One downside to the Orbi is the shape and size. While they look stylish enough to blend into most décor, the tall and thin body is easy to knock over. If you place these on a high shelf of a bookcase, it’s easy to imagine them falling off and breaking should someone bump into the bookcase.
Another potential downside is the lack of a smartphone app to access settings and setup. You use Netgear’s classic web interface to set up the mesh routers and adjust settings, which is fine if you’re familiar with Netgear equipment.
Mesh routers aren’t cheap, and the Netgear Orbi RBK50 is no different. But if you want the best possible Wi-Fi coverage and performance for your home, this is an investment you may want to consider.