Netgear Orbi Tri-Band WiFi System Review and Comments

Discussion in 'Networking & NAS' started by Greg Hook, Aug 6, 2017.


    1. Greg Hook

      Greg Hook
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    2. JoeSepi

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      Nice review, I've just got BT’s ‘Whole Home WiFi’ and I'm very impressed, I don't get the connection issues I would get with the Home Hub and the strength of signal is vastly improved as is the coverage - hard to ignore Bt's offering now the price has come down from £300 to £189 and you get three devices.

      Mesh WiFi seems to be the way forward.
       
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    3. Abacus

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      Nice Review, however, are you sure the Readyserve is just for a printer, as normally in most Netgear routers that have it, it is setup for a HDD (Which can be setup as a NAS) and you have to manually change it for use with a printer.

      Bill
       
    4. robinthakur

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      I have the Orbi and it is still the fastest Mesh network for the home, faster than the google one and the BT one by a good margin. The issue I have, and you will also have if you have Nest Cams is that they constantly disconnect if beamforming or Mimo is enabled. This is with the latest firmware. It's honestly so annoying I am considering returning the Orbi. You don't pay this much to have to put up with issues like that.
       
    5. 1080 jawbreaker

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      just get a couple of those glade plugin style ap/extenders for £20 each
       
    6. robinthakur

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      The appeal of the Orbis is the speed and the fact that they are a mesh network meaning that they communicate on a separate channel and don't therefore cut transmission speed by 50% for every extender you add. Hey are also dual network so slower devices on the network don't drop the speed for everyone. I've also found that beam-forming and mimo now work with nest after the latest firmware update, so That's fixed at least. I replaced a couple of Apple Airport extremes with these and speed wise couldn't be happier.
       
    7. mickevh

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      It is certainly going to appeal to the home market for people who cannot, for many perfectly legitimate reasons, install a "proper" cabled backhaul for a cellular Wi-Fi infrastructure.

      No professional would choose to deploy a "mesh" system unless there was no other option. The best way to deploy large scale Wi-Fi infrastructure is (still) with a cellular pattern of AP's connected together with "proper" cabled ethernet backhaul links. Though in the larger scales we would be talking about an "enterprise" solutions with controllers and management platforms beyond the needs a smaller domestic scenarios.

      One of the nice things about the reviewed system is that it uses separate radio channels for the client access and backhaul link which avoids some of the throughput (speed) clobbering that happens if the same radio channel is used for both client access and backhaul, the latter being what a lot of "repeaters" do, (incidentally, repeaters can justifiably also be called a "mesh" system.)

      One wonders what happens if one deploys more than one "satellite" AP's - do they all use the same backhaul channel to talk to each other, thereby reintroducing speed clobbering if they are bouncing traffic around each other, and how they determine the routing to bounce traffic off each other to get where it needs to go - but that's probably an academic debate of little interest to all but the experts.

      One suspects the next year or two is going to see an increasing number of these sort of "whole home" products (and things like SkyQ which is similar) bought to market to address coverage issues for SOHO users who have discovered that a single router (AP) can't cut it and realised there are no magic "uber routers" out there with "much better signal" that everyone else's. (Albeit that there's no such thing as "Wi-Fi Signal" as most people conceive it, but that's probably a debate for another day.)

      "Lights out" (or at least "out the back") is a nice feature too. I used to work in a university providing Wi-Fi to the dormitories and some of our guests used to find it rather annoying to have an AP in their room "twinkling" away at night. It can make it difficult to get to sleep apparently.
       
      Last edited: Aug 6, 2017
    8. Fergal82

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      I've had orbi and it went back because although it provided excellent wi-fi coverage, i found it was problematic when switching between the nodes / satellites.

      I then switched to the linksys velop and although it reports quicker speeds I found drop outs are now a regular occurrence / also didn't play nicely with my sonos.

      I have google wi-fi boxed waiting to try and if that's no good then I'm going to give the whole mesh system a miss.

      Might give the unfi ap a try as that seems to provide decent wi-fi coverage.
       
    9. NickC4555

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      I've had an Orbi system for a few months, and have mixed thoughts. The coverage is good and the speed on 5GHz a/c is excellent. Some devices, particularly iOS ones though, constantly drop out for a few seconds. It's a known problem and several firmware updates haven't fixed it. Also, in spite of how it is marketed, Orbi is not a true mesh system, it has a star topology, so every satellite has to communicate with the main router.
       
    10. Fat_Tony

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      Hi folks,

      Ive just started doing a bit of research into this system as im curious to improve my current set up (the usual story, thick stone walls, long house with loads of black spots etc)

      The first and most important question for me is does it require a wired connection to the internet source/router?

      The reason I ask is that we are too rural for regular broadband so have to use mobile wifi devices, and im not sure if this system can work with a mobile wifi box?

      Secondly, does this system still use the electrical wiring the way home plugs did? Again its no good for me if so as we have 2 separate electrical circuits at either end of the house.

      Thanks
       
    11. NickC4555

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      Short answer: Buy something else. Anything else. Netgear constantly pushes unstable and untested firmware updates that you have no way of disabling the installation of, which disrupt your system in new ways with every release. Check out this topic about the most recent version: Announcing availability of OrbiOS 2.1 - NETGEAR Communities

      To answer your questions:

      1. It does.
      2. It doesn't.
       
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    12. Fat_Tony

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      Thanks that doesn't sound much good then, will keep looking into options.
       
    13. Trollslayer

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      There has been a serious security issue reported last week on Netgear routers (which I won't link to) that could affect this. It would mainly affect drive by attacks.
       
    14. mickevh

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      A Wi-Fi system doesn't "care" how the connection to the Internet is established - indeed a Wi-Fi system doesn't "care" whether you have an Internet connection at all - the two are unrelated. You can build a perfectly good Wi-Fi system without an Internet connection. Technologically, "Wi-Fi" does not equal "Internet," albeit that most people confund the two as that is their principal use case.

      If your Mi-Fi avails a wired ethernet connection to your Wi-Fi system, (this or any other,) it should work fine.
       
      Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
    15. Fat_Tony

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      Thanks

      My mifi does not have an ethernet port however I connected it to a WiFi extender which does have a socket, and that was sufficient to run my Hue lighting system so I can connect to a wired connection if required

      I get what you mean about the confusion of terms relating to wifi.

      What system might be best for whole house coverage? (it's roughly the size of 2 standard 3 bed houses with big thick stone walls) we've done homeplugs with very mixed and unreliable results. We currently each have a mifi but 4x monthly subscription isn't cheap.

      Thanks
       
    16. mickevh

      mickevh
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      It has always been the case, and still is, that the best way to avail Wi-Fi coverage in all but the smallest use case is to deploy a "cellular" coverage pattern of multiple hot-spots using Wi-Fi Access Points all connected to some common cabled network infrastructure to provide (what I call) the "backhaul" link between the AP's themselves and between the AP's and the rest of the (cabled) network which of course includes connection to the Internet (however that may be achieved.)

      Quite literally an "AP in each room" - the classic mistake is to deploy the "AP-s in the corridors" and wonder why it doesn't work very well when every single radio transmission has to pass through at least one wall - often more and AP's are "sparsely" deployed - ie lots of clients per AP. Deploy the AP's where the users are. When I did a couple of big deployments in educational establishment, (think lots of kids in classrooms with a phone in their pocket and an iPad on the desk) I put an AP in every classroom, more in the bigger classrooms, lecture theatres, cafeteria, and so on.

      Obviously in a house an "AP in every room" is going to increase the cost, so one might choose some judicious deployment - say one in the main "living room," one in the master bedroom (and the kids will just have to lump it) or perhaps you want to give their bedrooms one each too, or perhaps one between them. Less important, one might assess, is the kitchen, bathroom, hall, porch, landing, stairs, etc. It's a bit of a value judgement depending on how much you want to spend.

      The "trick" is how one establishes the backhaul links:

      Best is over a cabled ethernet infrastructure of wires, switches, and (in very large and complex deployments) routers (I'm talking "proper" routers here, not SOHO get-you-on-the-Internet Omni-boxes,) though you are highly unlikely to need extra routers for SOHO.

      If you cannot get the drills out and install the cabled infrastructure, then tunneled over the mains using powerline technology is probably next best.

      It is also possible to use Wi-Fi technology for the backhauls, but that is compromised because any AP pairings that talk to each other for the backhaul transmissions will need to be close enough to avail good signalling conditions (both ways) and the "only-one-thing-at-a-time-can-transmit" nature of Wi-Fi often means that throughput ("speed" as users perceive it) can be compromised by Wi-Fi backhauls as the air time has to be shared (as in competed for - it's anything but "fair) for both client-AP transmissions and backhaul transmissions. So called Wi-Fi "Repeaters" are a classic exemplar of this - that can clobber the throughout.

      Some of there newer "whole home" and "mesh" systems and things like "tri-band" AP's/routers try to mitigate the throughput clobbering by using different radio channels for the client-AP and backhaul transmissions enabling both to occur concurrently. This certainly helps, especially in smaller deployments, but it's not the magic bullet that negates that wired backhauls is still a better option.

      I believe (having not use any) some of the "whole home" type systems are beginning to bring to the SOHO realm things that have been long used in enterprise systems in that the AP's "talk" to each other to do things like distribute clients, handle the roaming hand offs more smoothly, establish the channel plan and so forth. Until fairly recently, this was exclusively the preserve of enterprise grade systems and SOHO AP's/Routers were all "stand alone" bits of kit that didn't talk to each other at all.

      It's worth noting that such AP-AP cooperation features are not dependent on the type of backhaul you use. Forever, enterprise AP's that "talk" to each other have been capable of using Wi-Fi for the backhauls - sometimes called things like "mesh" links. So "managed" systems of collaborating AP's and "mesh" Wi-Fi links are not fundamentally inter-related or dependent on one or another, it just so happens that things marketed into the SOHO realm as "whole home" type systems often happen to do both. In an ideal world, "whole home" AP's would also be wired backhaul capable (as enterprise systems are) offering the best of both worlds, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn that many are not and there's some kind of "base" AP that (wired) connects to the "rest of the network" and all the others are Wi-Fi only.

      For the best Wi-Fi experience, wait till she's at her mothers for a week end, get the drills out and install some UTP - you know you want to. :D

      I've not used it, but others here speak well of Ubiquity as an easy to use/deploy managed Wi-Fi solution for small estates. You might care to see what others have to say about it.
       
      Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
    17. Fat_Tony

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      Thanks for all that info, please dont think me rude after such a long post but im about to jump in the car for a 90 mile trek home.

      Funnily enough she's the man of the house when it comes to drills and DIY but thankfully she's very open minded to my whims and projects lol

      Ill read through again later, I really need to get a better understanding of all this as a proper slution at home is long over due. Our mifi boxes are superb but I need fixed and permanent reliable wifi for some of the smart home stuff im starting to get into.

      Thanks again
       
    18. mickevh

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      HTH - that'll give me some time to read back and correct all the spooling mistakes and granma.

      Incidentally, if you're saying you have 4xMiFi's (& service charges) and instead want to use just one - I cannot see how that would present a problem provided it can be connected to you "internal" infrastructure in some way. It's essentially the same as any other domestic Internet service except you are using the cellphone system for your service provision instead of the "wires in the street" telephone system.

      Bear in mind that the bandwidth of your ISP link will then be competed for by all your devices.
       
      Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
    19. neilball

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      There are plenty of 4G routers that have a built in network switch and SIM card carrier. Some are more expensive than others (I’ve used the Draytek 2869/2862 range for this before but these come under the “more expensive” end of the market). This would remove the need to use the mifi unit and readily connect into a normal wired infrastructure. You could then use the methods described above to install a distributed WiFi infrastructure with APs connected via Ethernet. If you went with a Draytek 2862 then you could also use their “managed” WiFi APs for improved roaming handover as you move around the house.
       
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    20. Fat_Tony

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      Thanks guys

      Ive just been trying to absorb all this info and make sense of it all.

      I have looked at 4g routers but again its the thick wall and limited coverage that prevents it being effective. At this stage I dont think a fully wired system throughout the house is practical although we are planning some fairly extensive renovation work in future so would certainly revisit the idea. Its also quite out of my comfort zone, im far better with home cinema stuff than computers.

      Having watched alot of youtube videos on the Orbi im still quite curious to see how it performs in my house. Im quite tempted to try it, with a view that it can go back if its not suitable. One review specifically mentioned its ideal for those not capable/comfortable with more advanced set ups.

      I suspect if it doesnt work, I might look into getting installers in to come and do a proper job throughout the whole property.

      Again thanks for all the advice, if i do decide to give the Orbi a try ill report back with how I get on.
       
    21. Trollslayer

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      I hope you find a solution.
       
    22. Fat_Tony

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      Another concern is our Internet speeds are not great at best, although perfectly sufficient. I suspect it might cause problems but only one way to find out.

      If for example it worked at one end of the house, could we add a second set up with a seperate internet supply or would the satellites get confused talking too each other?

      Thanks
       
    23. Trollslayer

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      You could put them on different bands.
       
    24. Fat_Tony

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      On a YouTube video I just watched, the reviewer was complaining he couldn't make the system stick to 5hz (?) and that it kept "deciding for him"

      No idea how accurate that is but I'm trying to watch the bad reviews aswell as the good.
       
    25. Mr X

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      I did a lot of extensive testing of Mesh systems in my house trying to find the perfect solution. I know Orbi very well and it worked a treat for about 6 months until they launched new firmware version 2 and it then became very hit and miss so that’s when I started my quest. Here’s the short version..

      Fastest system by far was Orbi due to it being the only Tri band out there currently and has the dedicated backhaul. But latest firmware is a dog and it’s been like that for months now.

      Google Wi-fi - nice but find it slow and can’t be used in AP mode which I didn’t know at the time so no good for me. Also had to reboot a few times.

      Amplifi HD - loved this and wanted to keep it. Bit costly. Looks great and much smaller foot print than the Orbi. Main negative was lack of any Ethernet ports on the mesh units. Speed was better than Google but not as good as Orbi. But was rock solid and never crashed or rebooted at all in the 60 days I had it.

      Was going to live with lack of Ethernet as I liked it so much but then my neighbour (non techy) asked me to sort out his Wi-fi coverage on a low budget. Recommended BT Wi-fi Whole house to him. 3 units £99 deal at the time. Now it’s £189 but still much cheaper than any thing else mentioned.

      I had not bothered with BT to be honest based on poor previous experience of the smart hub 6 which was terrible and the fact that I didn’t think their product could compete with guys like Netgear and Amplifi who are the “experts”

      How wrong I was! Long story short it made me go out a purchase one! It was almost as fast as Orbi and in fact far better speeds on 2.4 than the 2.4 of the Orbi and range was actually much better which I wasn’t expecting. Almost 2 months and not a single reboot and whilst it didn’t have the 4 ethernets if the Orbi it does have one on each disc/mesh which solved my other Issue. The only thing I didn’t like and still don’t is the look of it but that’s a personal thing. Anyway for me it’s worked out to be the best and I’m shocked at writing that. So BT is the winner and that’s what I run with now.

      Good luck and hope my experience helps you in some way.
       
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    26. Fat_Tony

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      Thanks very much, very useful and gives me plenty more research to get stuck into.

      I'd assumed the BT solution was specifically for BT customers, ill go have a look now
       
    27. Fat_Tony

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      Ps what sort of home layout and size are you working with?

      Is it best for the main orbi (or equivalent) to be central as possible in the house or does it not matter with this technology?

      Thanks again
       
    28. Fat_Tony

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      BT sounds interesting, and at the lower price I guess you could easily add more recievers.

      You may not have read earlier in the post 6 but I using it with a mifi device, connected to an extender to give me an ethernet port.

      It's a terrible set up so not sure if it's doomed to fail, I'll invest in a 4g router if I have no other options.
       
    29. Mr X

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      Nope in fact it's not a router it's just an access point. I use mine with a 1GB fibre to home connection with my ISP's router which is why I need something that runs in access point mode.
      In fact here's speed test that i ran in bed over the weekend. I'm upstairs and the BT disc I was connected to (I have 3) was almost directly downstairs. Running Speedtest on my iPhone X connected to BT whole house.

      fullsizeoutput_54da.jpeg

      My house is quite large at around 4000 sq feet over 2 floors. It's detached and I don't have any other interfering networks just fields so lucky in respect of that. The mesh also gets me about 150-200ft feet down front and back gardens before it struggles. Each additional disc is £79 just but look out for returns/refurbs on BT Shop at £57

      Ideally Orbi (or any router/ap) should go in the middle of your house but that's not always practical. As of firmware 2 the Orbi now runs star topology but also daisy chain so that less of an issue. BUT like I said that where firmware issues started for me and just wouldn't go away.

      BT whole house also offers star and daisy-chain and despite not having dedicated backhaul still out performed my Orbi. Even though its main disc is connected to one side of the house it automatically chooses strongest connection, so in my case it's star...

      fullsizeoutput_54e2.jpeg



      Oh and all my testing was done using Amazon so I could easily return products that didn't perform to the advertised standard for full refund.
       
    30. Fat_Tony

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      Really appreciate your findings, the whole firmware thing is very off putting. You are left at there ransom entirely.

      How many discs can you use with BT? I'm close to pulling the trigger but want to give it the best opportunity to work so might try 5 discs.

      I'm preparing myself for disappointment as we have so much stacked against us to begin with, but would loved to be proved hugely wrong.
       

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