Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System Review: Expensive but very fast

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Verdict

Large, assuming and extremely fast, the Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System can evangelize faster-than-wired speeds on its 6GHz band, and lightning-fast Wi-Fi on its regular ii.4GHz and 5GHz bands. With powerful parental controls and splendid security, this is the all-time all-round mesh system bachelor today – but it’s expensive.

Pros

  • Extremely fast
  • 6GHz beats Gigabit Ethernet
  • Smart security features

Availability

  • UK
    RRP: £1499.99
  • United states
    RRP: $1499.99

Fundamental Features


  • Wi-Fi
    A Wi-Fi 6E mesh system, information technology offers a fast 6GHz network plus the standard 5GHz and 2.4GHz networks

Introduction

Faster cyberspace connections, the use of ever more devices and greater demand mean only i thing: we need faster Wi-Fi. That’s where the Netgear Orbi RBKE963 comes in. This is a Wi-Fi 6E mesh system that uses that latest version of Wi-Fi to innovate a make-new 6GHz high-functioning aqueduct for amend-than-Ethernet speeds.

Packed full of the latest features, this is every bit close to time to come-proofing equally you tin can go – simply you’re paying for information technology.

Design and Build Quality

  • Large router and satellites
  • Lots of Ethernet ports

Although the Netgear Orbi RBKE963 looks similar to previous mesh systems, the router and ii satellites are larger than on the Wi-Fi six Orbi RBK852. A new antenna layout, plus a need for the 6GHz band mean that a trivial more space is required.

Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System router front

The router and 2 satellites are of the aforementioned size (279 x 190 x 84mm), but the port layout is slightly different. On the router, y’all get a WAN port. This is a 10 Gigabit Ethernet port – given that the fastest cyberspace connexion available at the moment is 1Gbps, having 10 times that capacity available means you lot’ll exist fine for years to come.

Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System router ports

Then, there are three Gigabit Ethernet ports, and one faster 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet port. This can either be used to straight connect a faster device (many newer PCs have a matching port), or you can employ it to connect the satellites together (this is known as a wired backhaul).

The satellites feature the same arrangement of Ethernet ports for wired devices or, again, you can utilize the faster 2.v Gigabit Ethernet port for the wired backhaul.

Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System satellite ports

The advantage of two.five Gigabit Ethernet is that it volition run over standard Cat 5E cabling; if you lot have an older Orbi system with Ethernet running around your house, this new organization offers an instant upgrade.

Features

  • Parental controls and security
  • App delivers remote control
  • You demand the web interface for advanced options

As has been the case with all previous Netgear mesh systems, set-up is via the Orbi app. This takes you through both configuring the Wi-Fi network and placing whatsoever satellites around your home. Satellites can be connected via the dedicated 5GHz backhaul network (wireless) or via Ethernet (wired).

Since this is a new system, but the RBSE960 satellites are supported, not the older RBS860 or RBS760 Wi-Fi 6 models. That’s a shame, since the older satellites accept identical wireless specs, simply just don’t have the 6GHz networking option.

Having said all that, I plugged an RBS860 satellite into my home network via Ethernet and rebooted it. It doesn’t appear as a satellite, simply it does update its configuration and wireless settings if I change them. I don’t recommend going downwards this road, just it appears to piece of work to a degree.

From the app, you tin can see which devices are continued to your organisation, change the Wi-Fi proper noun and toggle the guest network. You can’t take control over your wireless networks, and for more than in-depth settings, yous’ll need to use the web interface.

Via the web interface, you lot can modify the channels used by the 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz networks. And yous can split the 6GHz network off from the 2.4GHz/5GHz networks if you prefer. That fashion, you can ensure that newer devices are connecting to the fastest network possible.

Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System web interface

Due to the requirements that 6GHz networking has to utilize WPA3 security, the ii.4GHz and 5GHz networks take to support at the minimum, WPA2 + WPA3 mixed manner. That’s so that they can mitt off to the 6GHz network for supported devices.

This change is great for security, but means that some older devices may not be able to connect. If you experience problems, at that place’s a Wireless IoT network that you lot can plow on, which supports older versions of WPA for legacy devices. There’southward no particular security do good to this network, every bit you tin can read well-nigh in my guide to the Netgear IoT network.

I should also mention that WPA3 back up and 6GHz support is a piddling hitting and miss. I’ve got have a Z690 motherboard that supports both, simply had to update the driver to get it working. And I could only connect to the 6GHz network using Windows 11 when I combined the networks; my estimator refused to connect to the individual 6GHz network. The situation will improve, but this is early days for 6GHz networking, with few devices that support information technology.

As with other Orbi mesh systems, the Netgear Orbi RBKE963 comes with parental controls built-in. The standard version allows you to create profiles for each household member, arranged with all of their devices. For each profile, you can interruption all internet access across all devices at the touch of a push button.

Pay for the higher tier (£vi.99 a month or £49.99 a year) and you tin likewise set time limits, schedules and bedtimes; track internet access and fix the level of internet filtering per person.

Netgear Armor is likewise bachelor, with a i-month trial (otherwise £84.99 per year). Powered by Bitdefender, Armor protects your entire network, blocking spam and targeted attacks, as well every bit scanning your devices for any issues. Plus, you get Bitdefender software to install on whatever physical computers you accept.

Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System app

For network-wide security, it’southward skillful to have, but the organization can be a little strange. I received a message informing me that my Netatmo Thermostat had been scanned; but that’south an onetime device that I connected to an old Orbi organisation years ago for testing.

Internally, the Netgear Orbi RBKE963 is something of a beast: a quad-band Wi-Fi organization with 16 streams per satellite. Streams are a picayune like individual networks, and devices tin can use one or more, assuasive bandwidth to either to be shared more widely or devoted to a unmarried device. With one router and iii satellites, this package fits in 48 streams in total.

The breakdown is a quad-stream 5GHz network defended to the backhaul (2400Mbps, 600Mbps per stream). You and then go the customer-facing networks: quad-stream 2.4GHz (1200Mbps, 300Mbps per stream), quad-stream 5GHz (2400Mbps, 300Mbps) and quad-stream 6GHz (4800Mbps, 1200Mbps per stream).

Equally yous’ll see, the 6GHz network has a huge amount of bandwidth available, and that’s downwards to less bandwidth and an increase in the number of channels bachelor. The 6GHz network has 14 new 80MHz channels and seven new 160MHz channels that don’t overlap; 5GHz networking has only ii 160MHz channels, and they overlap. In practice, a 5GHz network volition often throttle back to avert clashes with a neighbouring network.

So, why not utilize 6GHz for the backhaul? This is considering the downside of 6GHz is that it delivers less range, so sticking with 5GHz is more reliable.

With 6GHz you may find some issues punching through walls, depending on your domicile’s construction. The do good of a mesh system such equally this is that you can place satellites where they have the well-nigh effect, putting 6GHz devices near to them.

Performance

To test the functioning of the Netgear Orbi RBKE963, I first started with the 6GHz band. Using my Z690 PC as the server, I continued a laptop with a 2.five Gigabit Ethernet adapter to the satellite. With the TamoSoft Throughput Test, I saw boilerplate throughputs of 1143Mbps.

Running the aforementioned test using purely Gigabit Ethernet, I achieved average throughputs of 934Mbps. As yous can run across, in the right situation, 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E can be faster than Ethernet – who’ll want cables in the hereafter?

Moving to my standard tests, I used a standard Wi-Fi half-dozen laptop to exam operation around my house. At shut range to the router, I saw throughputs of 508.34Mbps. This is a little lower than the aforementioned exam on the RBK852, although variance is a mutual theme with Wi-Fi testing, due to interference at different times of the day.

Moving to the first floor, functioning was the best I’ve seen at 333.26Mbps. On the second flooring, close to a satellite, throughput was an incredible 439.95Mbps – the fastest I’ve seen at this range.

Netgear Orbi RBKE963 vs Netgear Orbi RBK852 vs Netgear Orbi RBK752

Latest deals

Should yous purchase it?

If you lot desire the all-time and fastest mesh organisation available, and have the kit that can brand the most of it, you won’t be disappointed.

That price will be difficult to justify for the majority, and standard Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems are bachelor for a lot less.

Final Thoughts

Brutally fast and packed full of features, the Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System is the fastest overall system I’ve tested, particularly at range. When using the 6GHz band, I saw performance levels that were improve than those delivered via a regular wired Gigabit Ethernet network.

In terms of future-proofing, this mesh system delivers everything yous’re likely to need now and well into the time to come. Price is likely to be an issue; this system is hugely expensive, costing even more the previous generation product. If you want the best, then this is it; even so, if yous’re more cost-witting, bank check out the guide to the best routers.

How we examination

Different other sites, nosotros examination every wireless router we review thoroughly over an extended menstruation of time. Nosotros use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we observe. We never, ever, take money to review a product.

Find out more than about how we test in our ethics policy.

Used as our master wireless router for the review flow

Nosotros throughput examination all wireless devices using the same equipment in the aforementioned locations so that we have authentic comparisons

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FAQs

What does Wi-Fi 6 on the Netgear Orbi RBKE963 give you?

You get a new network running on the 6GHz band, which offers more bandwidth with less interference.

Is the Netgear Orbi RBKE963 backwards compatible with older Orbi systems?

No, you lot can’t mix and match satellites from older systems.

Trusted Reviews test information

5GHz (showtime flooring)

5GHz (close)

5GHz (second floor)

Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System

333.26 Mbps

508.34 Mbps

439.95 Mbps

Full specs

UK RRP

U.s. RRP

Manufacturer

Size (Dimensions)

Release Date

Offset Reviewed Date

Model Number

Wifi Spec

Special features

Number of Ethernet ports

Operating Modes

Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System

£1499.99

$1499.99

Diesel

190 x 84 x 279 MM

2022

01/02/2022

Netgear Orbi RBKE963 vs Netgear Orbi RBK852 vs Netgear Orbi RBK752

Wi-Fi 6E AX1100

Netgear Armor, Netgear Parental Controls

iv

Router

Jargon buster

Wi-Fi half dozen

One of the latest wireless standards that allows for faster speeds and meliorate coverage when paired with compatible routers.

Source: https://www.trustedreviews.com/reviews/netgear-orbi-rbke963-wi-fi-6e-mesh-system

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