Netgear ORBI RBK852 Wifi 6 review


Wifi, this wireless data transmission system that we could not do without today, has further evolved from standard to move into its 6th generation, on the menu: increased speed, improved range and support for a greater number of connected devices. It didn’t take less for manufacturers to come up with new and better products. Netgear is no exception and is therefore evolving its Orbi mesh system for individuals, with the sweet name of RBK852 (all combining the RBR850 router and an RBS850 satellite). So we put it in place and gave it a whole battery of tests, here is our full return.

Router unboxing

Netgear offers its kit in a package that is most ordinary, sober, in line with its other Orbi products, with its white and blue colors. The front side presents the product with a photo, the Netgear and Orbi brand as well as the affixing Wifi6, AX6000, tri-band, for 6 pieces and 6Gbps. At the mere mention of these few elements Netgear announces the color, and without making it a whole visually exaggerated dish. The rear side displays some specificities as well as a diagram extolling the merit of this new version of Orbi, with the dedicated wireless link (backhaul) between the router and the satellite allowing to maintain better flow rates everywhere in the house and on all connected devices. The sides for their part display functionality on one side and the mobile application on a smartphone on the other, allowing the future purchaser the possibility of controlling the whole via this device.

Once unpacked, we find the two Orbi elements, a few quick start sheets as well as a cardboard box containing the two power adapters (with plugs type F: EU / FR and type G: UK) and a network cable RJ45 (Ethernet) white and flat.

It is therefore the essential which is offered and we note all the same, independently of the unboxing, that the two power adapters come out of 12V – 3.5A, or more than 40W, rather beefy for WiFi terminals.

NETGEAR WiFi mesh system …

  • NO DEAD ZONE: Total WiFi coverage an area of ​​350m² and 60 devices Technology …
  • ULTRA-FAST WIRELESS GIGABIT SPEED: the AX6000 WiFi 6 allows streaming at the same time …
  • WORKS WITH ALL INTERNET ACCESS PROVIDERS: Replace your Box and repeaters …
  • TRI-BAND TECHNOLOGY: a band dedicated to communication between the base / router and …

Router design

Netgear retains the general shape of its Orbi, a bit like a (flattened) vase all in curve. The router, as well as the identical satellite in design, will find a place in an interior or an office with this advantageous plastic. However, the brand has modernized their base and slices with some sort of metallic gray surround / surround Of the nicest effect. Besides, there are now a dark blue / anthracite gray slit between this hoop and the white face, which in its lower part incorporates the notification light which suddenly reveals a luminous halo, which makes it very good visually.

At the level of this luminous halo, we count 4 colors : white upon ignition, fuchsia pink when there is no internet connection or link between the router and the satellite, yellow orange when the quality of the router / satellite link is not good and blue on a good router / satellite link. However, once everything is functional (or after 3 minutes for blue and orange-yellow colors), the router and the satellite no longer emit any light.

All the visual elements of the terminals are in plastic, which is normal since WiFi and metal do not mix well. In terms of weight, the router weighs 1.29 Kg, just like the satellite. This is partly due to a imposing radiator that you can see by removing the white back part. When we talk about radiator, the cooling is passive and therefore only broadcasts no noise, the Orbi charging stations can therefore be installed in any room, they will not interfere with residents, either in terms of light or noise.

In terms of size, they are all the same impressive with dimensions of 25.4 x 7.1 x 19.05 cm, which is slightly larger than the previous version, namely the Orbi RBK50 kit (RBR50 + RBS50: 22.58 x 7.89 x 17.03 cm). Compared to a “classic” flat router, it is not necessarily larger, it is just that it stands up and gives this impression a little massive.

Here we can compare the new RBK850 router to the RBR20 (mini Orbi which is the smallest of the siblings, but also the least well equipped).

The only real difference between satellite and router are at the level of the connectors : if the satellite has 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports (in addition to a reset button and the power connector), router adds 2.5Gbps Wan port. Apart from that, each box has a “Sync” button on the back, it is used to add an additional satellite, because in an RBK852 kit (RBR850 router + RBS850 satellite) the two elements are presynchronized.

Technical characteristics

  • Wifi coverage: 350m²
  • Wireless Tri-band AX6000 : 2.4 GHz (1,200 Mbit / s) + 5 GHz (2,400 Mbit / s) to connect WiFi devices to the Internet

  • 5 GHz WiFi connection (2400 Mbit / s.) dedicated (backhaul) for a faster data connection between the Orbi base and the Orbi satellite

  • Base (RBR850 router) and Orbi satellite (RBS850): 8 antennas high-performance internals with powerful amplifiers Beamforming implicit and explicit for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, compatible MU-MIMO for the simultaneous distribution of data to several devices, 2.2 GHz Quad-Core processor. Base: 512 MB NAND Flash memory and 1 GB RAM

  • RBR850 base: 1 WAN 2.5 Gbit / s port + 4 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports
  • Satellite RBS850: 4 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports
  • Radio 1: Band 2.4Ghz: Max 900Mbps, IEEE® 802.11b / g / n / ax 2.4GHz: 256-QAMsupport
  • Radio 2: Band 5 GHz Front haul: Max 2400 Mbps, IEEE® 802.11a / n / ac / ax 5GHz: 1024-QAMsupport
  • Radio 3: Band 5 GHz Back haul: Max 2400 Mbps, IEEE® 802.11a / n / ac / ax 5GHz: 1024-QAMsupport
  • Dimensions : 25.4 x 7.1 x 19.05 cm

  • Weight : 1.29 kg
  • Security : Standardized WiFi security (802.11i, 128-bit AES encryption with PSK), rSimple guest WiFi network to configure separate and secure Internet access for guests
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Network protocols: TCP / IP, DHCP, DynamicDNS, and UPnP, Compatible 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T, RJ-45
  • Power adapter: Europe: 230V – 50 Hz, input, / 12V, 3.5A output
  • Operating temperature range: 0 ° to 40 °
  • Electromagnetic emissions: FCC Part 15, SubpartB, Class BIECS-003, Class BEN 55032, EN 55035, Class BAS / NZSCISPR 32, Class B
  • Maximum number of devices connected to the WiFi network: 2.4 GHz: 127/5 GHz: 127
  • Operating frequency of the Wifi bands: 2.4 GHz: 2.412–2.472GHz (Europe, ETSI, Japan, and China) and 2.412–2.462GHz (US) / 5 GHz: 5.18–5.24GHz and 5.745–5.825GHz (US and China) , 5.18–5.24GHz and 5.5–5.7GHz (Europe and Japan)
  • 802.11 security: WPA-PSK[TKIP], WPA2-PSK[AES], WPA3-PSK
  • Package contents: 1 Orbi base (RBR850) 1 Orbi satellite (RBS850) 1 Ethernet cable (2 m) 2 12 V / 3.5 A power adapters Quick Start Guide

  • 2 years warranty

System installation

The installation of the RBK852 kit is simple and relatively fast, it would have taken us about half an hour to get a fully operational system, this time taking into account the update (firmware) of the router as well as the satellite.

Just connect the Orbi terminals, connect the RBR850 router to the Internet via a network cable (on a port in your box), connect to the Orbi Wi-Fi network with your phone / tablet and follow the instructions step by step with the application (downloadable from the application stores).

The base and satellite settings will be made automatically and the only real interventions on the part of the user relate to accounts and access.

Getting started

the Orbi system, aimed at individuals, aims to be something simple, both in installation and in use. And from this point of view, it is successful. Theapplication interface shows it, but purists can find it too simplistic, being limited to only a few features, the most interesting of which are listing of devices connected by terminal (by separating the 2.4 and 5Ghz bands as well as the wired links) with ability to instantly cut traffic for each. Other features include a speed test of the Internet connection, management of the guest Wi-Fi network, a network mapping (which only shows the Internet, the router and the satellite on our Samsung phone) and the measurement and monitoring of traffic.

Below on the first line some screenshots from the Android Orbi application, and in the second line of other screenshots but from the Netgear Genie application (we see that the mapping works better here, at least with our Galaxy S9 +) .

Fortunately, it is still possible to completely manage your network via a web console by connecting to the base via its IP address, if for its part the satellite only allows the visualization of what is connected (as well as and status and update), the base offers everything you would expect from a router (DNS, Routes, VPN, opening and initiating ports, NTP, blocking of sites and services, usage planning, etc.).

Unlike the Nighthawk routers, from the Netgear gaming range, the Orbi RBK852 leaves the user the choice of only 4 Wifi channels (36-40-44 and 48 but none on the 100 band), this is part of the Orbi spirit “Netgear takes care of everything” so that the user has the least things to do by himself, and therefore automatically and optimally manages everything that happens concerning the links: channels, bands …

On the technical side, the RBK852 kit diffuses Wifi6 in its form AX6000. It should therefore be understood that each terminal transmits on 3 bands (tri-band): 1 of 2.4Ghz and 2 of 5Ghz (including 1 of 5Ghz reserved for the router / satellite link called backhaul when the satellite is connected). Equipped with 12 streams shared in 4 streams on each band, the bandwidth of which is fixed at 80Mhz, it gives in the end 1200Mbps for 2.4Ghz band and 2400Mbps for each 5Ghz band, or 6000Mbps in total.

Orbi’s Mesh system allows the addition of additional satellites, and these can be linked to the system by “star” operation (all the satellites connect to the RBR850 base) or by “Daisy chain” (the satellites connect to each other / in cascade to extend the range in length). This freedom allows the user to best adapt his installation in relation to his home / place to equip.

Unlike the “old” Orbi, parental control (Circle With Disney) happens to be absent subscribers, as does the Armor security module (advanced protection solution against computer threats for the home network, mobiles and home automation devices, powered by Bitdefender, a major market player in security / antivirus solutions). However, after contacting Netgear about this, it seems to be in the works for a later integration, via a firmware update (but maybe not both at the same time).

On the negative side, we regret theno USB port per terminal (or at least on the router), which would have made it possible to share a printer as its predecessor proposed, or even a hard drive, with the dream of NAS possibilities.

Concerning 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig Wan port, having no connection of this type, so we could not test and verify this support (to our knowledge only the new Freebox Delta offers Multi-Gigabites (up to 10Gbps) with a single port, and moreover it will apparently be necessary to adapt the connection in order to be able to take advantage of it, ie an additional cost to what the operator is already asking for this offer). In addition, this speed of 2.5Gbps would be shared between the devices connected to the Orbi since its Ethernet ports are limited to Gigabit (10-100-1000Mbps), perhaps a device connected alone by Wifi on the band 5Ghz could (almost) reach this speed but it remains theoretical.

It is possible to obtain a speed Multigig Internet by another means: Ethernet port aggregation (use 2 Ethernet ports to share the data to be transmitted, each Ethernet port offering 1Gbps, the theoretical maximum speed is therefore 2Gbps). On the base, you must use the Wan port as well as the Ethernet port n ° 1, and connect them to a compatible device. From memory, the Livebox 5 offers a 2Gbps Internet connection via the aggregation of 2 ports, however we could not verify it, not being equipped with this box.

Performances

Here we are in the thick of it, the speeds that can be expected from this new Orbi. For that, we have made measurements in different contexts : without, with some devices connected by Wifi and with many devices connected by Wifi / by transferring between computers: bottom-down, bottom-up, top-up (knowing that the router is located at the bottom and the satellite at the top) / with the router-satellite link via Wifi or Ethernet cable / that the devices used for the measurements (Nuc server and measurement laptop) are connected via Wifi or Ethernet cable. In all cases where the measurement was made at the top (with or without satellite), the office door (room at the top right on the map) was always closed and the connected devices as well as the measuring device (s) were there. As for the bottom, the measuring devices were about 1m from the Orbi base if they were connected to it via WiFi, the other devices being a few meters from the base (from 2.5m to 5- 6m). With each new measurement, the status of the connections was checked by connecting to the router interface (to find out which devices were connected to which terminal in order to always have the same test configuration).

Below the devices used to charge the WiFi, on the left for the bottom (connected to the base) and on the right those for the top (connected to the satellite), in total there are 22, in addition to the 2 measuring devices.

The equipment used for the measurements consisted of:

– Server: Intel Nuc Core i7 computer with Pcie 4x M2 Nvme SSD disk connected in Lan Gigabit for wired and using a Netgear Wifi AC1900 USB3.0 adapter (ref A7000) having for flow max 1300Mbps on the 5Ghz band for Wifi.

– Laptop with Pcie 4x M2 Nvme SSD disk connected in Lan Gigabit for wired and using a Intel AX200 internal WiFi module whose max speed 2400Mbps in 5ghz over a 160Mhz bandwidth with 2 streams.

– Devices connected to the terminals in Wifi (maximum total of 22 devices, in addition to the 2 measuring devices): 8x mobile phones, 1x desktop PC with USB3.0 AC1200 WiFi key, 6x laptops, 4x tablets, 2x Android TV box, 1x speaker connected with Android, for a total screen definition of: 4x 1440p, 11x 1080p , 5x 720p and 2x 480p. All devices were evenly distributed on each terminal (both in number and in screen definition). Each device was connected to Youtube to play a video in the maximum of its definition (video footage in the city of several hours: a camera films a walk in a city in activity and the plans change very regularly).

Note: The Orbi allows a wireless link with a maximum speed of 2400Mbps with the following conditions: 4 streams, bandwidth 80Mhz (fixed max) and 1024-QAM, and the AX200 card of the measurement laptop allows a speed of 2400Mbps maximum with different conditions: 2 streams, bandwidth 160Mhz and 1024-QAM. The association of the 2 devices (Orbi and laptop measurement) therefore limits the link with 2 streams for a bandwidth of 80Mhz, or a maximum speed of 1200Mbps. It is therefore more than likely that the speeds could be even better than those measured with the adoption of suitable equipment. : transmitter and receiver in 2400Mbps: 4 streams with bandwidth of 80Mhz, 1024-QAM. Unfortunately, there are currently only a few solutions to convert your devices (desktop or portable computers) to Wifi 6 fulfilling these conditions: to our knowledge, there is still no Wifi6 USB key, the AX200 module for laptop is the fastest on the market and for desktop computers there are a few Pci Express cards, but that’s it.

  • First, we wanted to see how it reacts Orbi compared to a classic Internet Box, here an SFR box Zive model, in different measurement contexts (high, low …) and whether it is only with the 2 connected measurement devices, then adding 4 devices then with 24 devices in total (2 measurement devices and 22 connected devices).

As we could imagine, wired the results are very similar, But in WiFi, we can only note that the Orbi provides much better speeds, moreover the latter suffer from the remoteness with the Box, unlike Orbi which even if its speeds decrease, remain exploitable without satellite. With satellite, the speeds are very good as long as the server is wired, because its AC1300 link (at 1.3Gbps) greatly reduces speeds (compared to its Ethernet link at 1000Mbps). Regarding the incidence of the quantity of devices connected in Wifi on the terminals, with Orbi we feel it but it’s still reasonable and even if the transfer time has been extended, it is still suitable for file transfers up to a few GB. On the contrary, distance and quantity of devices connected to Wi-Fi will have got the better of the box which can no longer even transmit data. We also note that the dedicated Backhaul link between the RBR850 router and the RBS850 satellite (2400Mbps) holds up and exchanges between high and low remain undisturbable despite the 22 devices connected by Wifi on the 2 terminals (mainly when the server is connected wired, because we always notice this kind of flange when connected in AC1300).

Important note: If the Internet box does well vis-à-vis the Orbi in some cases where 22 devices are connected by Wifi, throughout the measurement period, the Youtube videos of a good dozen devices were very regularly buffered, and always a dozen devices (not necessarily the same) saw the definition of streaming reduced, generally towards 480p. Which was not the case with Orbi. We conclude that if the transfers in these contexts were able to be performed, the general user experience with the Internet box suffered as the conditions were not similar and that half of the devices encountered viewing problems ( despite our attention to restore each case of fall in definition as quickly as possible).

  • Then, we wanted to know if the satellite behaved like a router if the 2 measuring devices (which exchange files) were connected to it (always in different contexts) by checking the incidence of the router-satellite link (in Backhaul Wifi 2400Mbps or in Ethernet).

The general remark is that the router-satellite link is very little impacted by its nature (BackHaul Wifi 2400Mbps or Ethernet). Likewise we will be able to see in comparison with other series of measurements that the fact that the 2 measuring devices are connected on the same terminal (whether the base or the satellite) had little effect on the flow rates (slight advantage when connecting to the router), there are 2 possibilities that we could not verify: the first is that the satellite switches directly from one PC to another and suddenly the data does not even pass through the router, and the second is that the data passes well through the router but the speed of the dedicated link (Ethernet or Backhaul Wifi 2400Mbps) is so fast that the bit rates are only slightly affected, but it seems that this is the first idea that is the right one: the satellite switches directly from one computer to another, without going through the base. Concerning I’addition of 8 WiFi devices, this has little impact on speed transfers.

  • In this series of measures, we wanted to check the impact of the nature of the dedicated link between the base and the satellite (BackHaul Wifi 2400Mbps or Ethernet) by connecting each measurement device to a terminal and also check the incidence of adding devices over Wifi.

Here too we can see that the nature of the dedicated link between the base and the satellite (BackHaul Wifi 2400Mbps or Ethernet) has a relatively low impact on speeds (sometimes it doesn’t even matter), just like connecting 8 additional devices via WiFi on the terminals.

  • Finally, we launched a final series of tests but with the 2 measuring devices connected to the base, this makes it possible to check whether the presence of other connected devices disturb the speeds (with the use of the dedicated link between the base and the satellite (BackHaul Wifi 2400Mbps or Ethernet)), to compare the results with the case where the 2 devices are connected to the satellite (we were just talking about this during the second series of measurements) and always the impact of a quantity of additional devices connected via WiFi.

Just as we were able to verify in previous tests, the presence of additional devices connected to Wi-Fi has little impact on speed, nor for the more intensive use of the dedicated link between the base and the satellite (BackHaul Wifi 2400Mbps or Ethernet). As we said during the second series of measurements, the fact that the measuring devices are both connected to the base or the satellite has no effect on the data rates.

To generalize all the tests and readings, we note that rates are lower when the server is connected to a terminal (no matter which base or satellite) in Wifi5 AC1300 (in comparison with a wired link), which is not the case (or in any case to a much lesser extent) with the laptop equipped with Wifi6 AX1200. We can only note the very good functioning of the Netgear Mesh system, where the speeds are very good and even allow themselves to remain usable in the worst scenario. Likewise, the difference between small and large files during transfers is important, large file transfers are always faster and less victims of the different measurement conditions (whether the measurement PCs are Wi-Fi, Ethernet, than there are a large number of additional devices connected…).

We made a last small bonus measure for the shape (we thought there was one missing!), The result of which could almost sum up the performance of this Wifi6 Mesh kit: we left the base at the bottom near the Internet box ( we connected the server PC in Ethernet on the RBR850) and we placed the satellite on the desk of the room at the very top on the right on the plan (which is a desk) on which the wired measurement PC was connected: the transfer speed turned out to be almost as fast as if they had been wired on the same terminal (we saw a slight drop in speed for small files). In our case this could be summed up as: the adoption of the Netgear Wifi6 RBK852 kit will have made it possible to wirelessly link 2 separate zones at the same speed as if a cable had been drawn.

As for ping (latency), if it does not appear in the measurement tables, it is that we did not want to overload them too much, and anyway it has always been very good whatever the context. It obviously depends on the type of connection between the 2 devices pinged between them, as well with everything wired (the 2 connected devices as well as the base-satellite link) we are between 0 and 1 ms, and in all Wifi (most disadvantageous case) we move on to 16ms, knowing that ping with Wifi AX is more efficient than with Wifi AC (which was used here for one of the 2 measuring devices). Besides, in the case of the figure where the 2 measuring devices were each connected to a terminal (one on the router and the other on the satellite) and the base-satellite link was made in Wifi via the reserved 5Ghz band (backhaul), the ping between the 2 measuring devices was raised to 4 ms, which is still excellent. To know that the presence of other devices connected to the terminals (Wi-Fi as well as wired) had very little impact on ping.

A quick word about roaming (switching from one terminal to the other when traveling with your device): we were able to verify that roaming is working by connecting to the router’s web interface (also visible with the application), it is done seamlessly and very quickly, this is due to the fact that it is the Orbi system that manages roaming and not the connected devices as in the case of a Mesh system composed of compatible Wifi repeaters.

Finally, regarding the stability of the transfers, they were all very stable, with very little variation between the start and the end (or not at all in a good part of the cases), and there is only when there are 24 devices connected by WiFi that we can see that the transfer curve makes a small sinusoid, but nothing too bad, it is even impressive.

Consumption

The Orbi base, when it is not little or not used (but connected), consumes between 10W and 10.5W, once we start to connect people (in Wifi on the 2 user bands as well as hardware in Ethernet) and to pass data, the requested power goes to 15W.

The 42W AC adapters are therefore oversized, at least they will not risk overheating!

Conclusion of the test

In the end, Netgear gives us a very good surprise here, with a high-flying Wifi6 Mesh satellite base assembly who also happen to be very visually friendly. The scope, as the debit, is there, and never have we measured such rapid transfers for a solution of this type. The power of Wifi 6 is put in the spotlight, and despite many connected devices that simultaneously streamed videos in HD, never have we encountered any connection, latency, buffering or outage issues on any device, even adding a good big transfer over the network.

The local flows are excellent whatever the conditions, and if you have Wifi 6 compatible equipment, it’s even better (otherwise you are constrained by the speed of its connected equipment, such as Wifi 5 AC type).

The set up is very simple, there is almost nothing to do except enter the access passwords. This simplicity is also in use, the Orbi range from Netgear being aimed mainly at neophytes wishing for something efficient but easy. Moreover, the simplified interface of the mobile application shows it, fortunately the most demanding can always go to the Web administration interface in order to settle everything with little onions.

Connectivity level each terminal offers 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports, the router adding a 2.5Gbps Wan port, all this is very practical and allows you to extend a wired local network by connecting 2 separate areas with a very fast dedicated WiFi connection. We just find a pity that one or two Ethernet ports are not also 2.5Gbps (at least on the router), which would have allowed a wired computer to benefit from more Internet bandwidth (if its Internet connection allows it). USB ports are also missing, which would have been welcome to share a printer or an external hard drive.

Of course, all this debauchery of technology and performance comes at a price, and Netgear makes him pay the high price: 799.99 €, which is enough to seriously reflect on the real need to switch to Wifi 6, but once the course is crossed, nothing will make you go back.

Where to buy it?

Last Amazon price update was: May 19, 2020 10:37 AM

When you are not practising, someone somewhere is practising & when you will meet him, he will win.
CEO and Founder at NotesStack
Works at VIT University, Vellore
Studied Computer Science and Engineering at VIT University

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