The new Netgear Orbi Quad-band Mesh WiFi 6E system (also known as the RBKE960 series) makes use of Wi-Fi 6E, as the name suggests. If you’re not familiar with that standard, Wi-Fi 6E introduces the 6GHz band for swifter performance, and with quad-band tech, this new system doesn’t just offer faster speeds but is also capable of supporting more devices.
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Essentially, what Netgear has done here is taken the Orbi Tri-Band flagship mesh networking package (RBK853) and added a fourth 6GHz band. This provides another option as well as the existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, with all the aforementioned benefits, and also the boon of keeping multiple devices less susceptible to interference, spread as they are across three rather than two bands.
In total, the RBKE960 offers support for four separate networks – your standard home Wi-Fi network, a guest network, an IoT network for smart gadgets specifically, and a Wi-Fi 6E dedicated network to ensure 6E devices get the best possible speeds (and lack of congestion).
Another upgrade comes in the form of support for up to 10 Gigabits internet, should you be lucky enough to have an ultra-fast connection. There are also additional 2.5Gbps Ethernet ports on the main router device and satellites alike, should you opt for a wired connection rather than wireless.
On the security front, the new product supports WPA3, and the Orbi WiFi 6E comes as a 3-pack which is good for delivering coverage to a house of up to 7,500 square feet in size.
That 3-pack will retail at $1,499.99 in the US, or £1,499.99 in the UK (€1,699.99 in Europe). Extra satellites for even larger homes will be priced at $599 / £649.99 / €699.99.
The mesh Wi-Fi system will be up for pre-order via Netgear’s online store today in the US, and the same will be true in the UK in the very near future.
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This looks like a really smart advance for Netgear, although remember that you don’t just need a router system which supports Wi-Fi 6E, but your devices need to have the tech on-board as well. It is already present on some cutting-edge hardware, though, which includes laptops like the Dell Latitude 5520 and Lenovo ThinkPad T14, and phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S21.
Mind you, even if you don’t have the requisite devices to make use of Wi-Fi 6E, Netgear claims that other hardware can still witness considerable performance benefits from this new mesh Wi-Fi system. In fact, the Orbi Quad-band can offer a speed boost (and improvement in coverage) of up to 30% compared to the existing Tri-band Orbi, the manufacturer reckons. This is thanks to a superior antenna design and upgraded Wi-Fi radio compared to the existing flagship product.
With a new top-end product delivering these impressive performance boosts, Netgear’s Orbi family just became more compelling, although the price tag here will, of course, cause some serious pause for thought in terms of the budget for a good many folks.
Given the limited number of supporting Wi-Fi 6E devices right now, is this Orbi system really worth the steep asking price? Probably not, although to be fair, it’ll be seriously future-proof, and does have benefits for non-6E devices as pointed out.
For those lacking the seriously deep pockets required here, the Orbi range has already been rounded out with the addition of a more affordable offering. That would be the RBK353, which offers straightforward dual-band Wi-Fi 6 and does so at a far more palatable price of $399/£250 for a 3-pack (although even that isn’t cheap compared to some rivals).
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).