Today’s review sees one of my favourite products to review at the moment, in the form of Orbi’s RBK753 mesh networking kit from NETGEAR. Featuring tri-band WiFi 6 connectivity, with a total throughput of 4200Mbps. Let’s dig in and have a closer look…
Orbi RBK753: Specifications
Product page: Click here
Orbi RBK753: Unboxing and Closer Look
Taking a look at the box. In typical Orbi fashion, the RBK753 kit comes in a white box with blue accents. It features a nice picture of the product on the front and a whole bunch of useful information on the back and sides.
Opening it up, we’re greeted with a multi-lingual setup guide via the smartphone app.
Very glad to see the internal boxes cardboard with minimal plastic use inside wrapping the router and satellites inside. Keep these in the box to use them again in the future and not fill up the landfill.
The power connectors are included in a separate box. The adapters come with a US plug by default, but EU and UK adapters are also included indicating they will work with 110-volt and 240-volt mains wherever you are.
A good shot of the router and satellites straight out of the box. It’s hard to tell immediately which one is which, so Orbi have handily labelled them for you to get you going.
A close-up view of the router unit from the front and side. The units look incredibly good with the white and silver colour scheme. The black separation line lights up below the Orbi logo highlighting booting up and errors and then turns off when it’s in normal operation.
Another view of the bottom and top of the router unit. Nothing major to note here other than decent ventilation on the top and bottom which should allow plenty of ventilation for passive cooling as no fans are present in the units.
Finally, a shot of the rear of both the router and satellite units.
The router is on the left with the yellow WAN port labelled Internet, as well as 3 additional Gigabit Ethernet ports. Note the first port to the right of the “Internet” port can be aggregated to allow two separate Gigabit internet connections. A nice to have, even if the majority of people won’t make use of it.
The satellite(s) on the right features a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports which can be used to connect wired devices or a switch for additional connectivity.
Orbi RBK753: Setup and Configuration
Setting up the Orbi RBK753 requires a mobile app, so make sure you also have a NETGEAR account as this is needed.
Usually, a web browser could be used to complete the setup, but in this situation, Orbi has made it so easy to do so that I’d recommend using it. However, if you really don’t want to or can’t use the smartphone app then connect a laptop, PC, or Mac to the router unit and set it up there using the www.orbilogin.com URL.
The Orbi app is stupidly simple to use and I completed the configuration, including manually entering my ISP’s FTTP connection, WiFi configuration, connecting the two satellites, and a firmware update in about 15 minutes flat.
It’s hard to articulate just how easy Orbi and by extension, NETGEAR has made setting up the RBK753 for anyone, which for technology, is no mean feat! But the user interface is well laid out, and the steps are simple to follow.
Once done, you can make most configuration changes in the app. However, you’ll need to switch over to the web-based configuration page, using the www.orbilogin.com URL, to make more “advanced” changes typically found in a standard router menu.
Orbi RBK753: Under The Hood
Orbi has added a whole list of features to the RBK753 that you might find useful. We’ve compiled a list of them for you:
- Tri-band connectivity – utilising a single 2.4GHz and 5GHz band for WiFi devices to connect to the internet, and a dedicated 5GHz WiFi link for faster data connections between Orbi Router and Orbi Satellite.
- WiFi 6 (AX) – With a rated speed of 4200Mbps. 2.4GHz (600Mbps) + 5GHz (1200Mbps) for WiFi devices to connect to the Internet. 5GHz (2400Mbps) dedicated WiFi link for faster data connections between Orbi Router and Orbi Satellite.
- 2×2 Wi-Fi – 6 streams – High-performance internal antennas with high-powered ampliﬁers.
- Seamless roaming between satellites – The Orbi RBK753 units work together to form a unified network with a single network name. Walk through your home and stay connected.
- Beamforming – Concentrates wireless signal strength towards clients to expand the WiFi range.
Orbi RBK753: Testing & Results
The Orbi RBK753 offers tri-band WiFi 6 (AX) connectivity with the 2.4GHz band at 600Mbps and a 5GHz band at 1200Mbps for WiFi devices. There is a second dedicated “backhaul” 5GHz band with HE160 (160MHz) band running at 2400Mbps for a total theoretical bandwidth of up to 4200Mbps, hence the AX4200 branding.
Network speed test (iPerf3) using a Lenovo Legion 5 laptop with an Intel AX210 WiFi 6 (AX) card installed connected to a workstation (Host) on 10Gbps Ethernet via a switch.
As we’re testing a mesh networking kit, the RBK753, the testing needs to be extended.
As well as range testing (on a single unit), we want to see the speeds the satellites communicate with each other, this is called the Wireless Backhaul, this is done using 2 computers connected via Ethernet, which eliminates additional WiFi links.
The units are positioned in what we’d call a typical home layout with one downstairs acting as the router and a second unit upstairs in a central location. We believe this is the most typical use case for a mesh networking product like this.
2-metres (MegaBits): 875Mbps
10-metres (MegaBits): 756Mbps
15-metres – Second Floor (MegaBits): 562Mbps
Wireless Backhaul Testing:
Uplink (Megabits): 1555 Mbps
Downlink (Megabits): 1574Mbps
The Orbi RBK753 did well in terms of coverage. The 3-pack can handle a home of about 6000 ft² (557 m²), which is what is quoted. The RBK753 also supports 40+ devices connected concurrently.
Orbi RBK753: The Verdict
Remembering that the Orbi RBK753 is specced as a mid-range product in Orbi’s lineup, the results are actually not bad at all, with some of the best WiFi device speeds as well as the fastest backhaul speeds we’ve seen so far. That being said, it’s also the best spec we’ve tested so far, so we must temper expectations. Though, the performance on offer is brilliant for a 7 series Orbi mesh product.
The range of the 3-pack is very good too at about 6000 ft² (557 m²) and is probably overkill for my 3-bedroom house. I’d recommend the RBK752 unit instead, with a router and single satellite.
The Orbi RBK753 is limited in terms of what user-configurable options there are, especially when it comes to Wi-Fi.
Typically routers allow adjustments to be made to things like the HT link speed e.g. 20/40MHz on the 2.4GHz band and 80MHz or 160MHz on the 5GHz band, for example. But no such luck on the Orbi RBK753, the only wireless options are the ability to change the name (SSID), the channel selection for the 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels, and what security e.g. WPA, WPA2-PSK, WPA3-Personal, etc.
I personally had issues connecting 2.4GHz devices from my TP-Link light bulb and security cameras when WPA3-Personal was selected. But I’ve since learned that it’s due to the WiFi settings not offering WPA3 and WPA2 modes concurrently, instead they’re separate. Be sure to choose the mode that will work with all the devices you plan to connect.
The lack of WiFi options here isn’t new to mesh systems in general though, and Orbi is not the only guilty party. There are some counterarguments to be made though, and that is that Orbi has configured the RBK753 to work out of the box immediately, which for the majority of customers is, undoubtedly, something they actually want in a product like this.
It’s great to also have some decent performance options in the web-based configuration options too. More so than TP-Link’s Deco X50 I reviewed recently, though it’s a gold award winner.
With a nice overall white and silver accent aesthetic, including the matching white power supply and Ethernet cable, as well as a familiar and easy-to-use app with fantastic WiFi speeds, as well as matching the quoted range. They all come together to make a cracking package.
So, with everything on offer. What’s it going to cost you? How does £479.99 in the UK at the time of writing sound? Expensive? At first, I thought the same thing, but taking a look at the features and performance on offer, as well as the pricing of matching competitor products it becomes a much better option and one I fully recommend for those wanting a high-spec mid-range product.
So is the Orbi RBK753 for you?
If you’re looking for a decent spec mid-range mesh Wi-Fi kit, that comes with Wi-Fi 6 (AX) out of the box with an excellent range at around 6000 ft² (557 m²), awesome performance with tri-band connectivity, supports 40+ connected devices, looks great on a shelf and just plain works with minimal configuration then the Orbi RBK753 should certainly make your shortlist.
Big thanks to NETGEAR for sending the Orbi RBK753 mesh networking kit over for today’s review!