Rbk852: NETGEAR RBK852 Mesh WiFi Home Networking Solution

Orbi RBK852 Review: Solid Wi-Fi, Hefty Price

Important note

In late December 2021, I realized that Netgear had been quietly and retrospectively removing major features from its existing Nighthawk and Orbi devices via firmware updates, effectively reducing the hardware’s capability.

I published this review before that time. Consequently, while the hands-on experience remains largely relevant, the rating or recommendation might no longer fully apply.

Even at a reduced street price of some $700, Netgear’s Orbi RBK850 Series — currently available as a 2-pack (model RBK852) — AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System is still crazy expensive.

For the most part, it’s an excellent Wi-Fi system but, for my money, not hundreds of dollars better than the recently released budget-minded Orbi RBK13.

But among its peers, the new Wi-Fi 6 Orbi is a better deal. It has a lot to offer, despite some of its features being unavailable till mid-next year.

That said, if you’re looking for a Wi-Fi 6 mesh system that delivers “no matter the cost,” the Orbi RBK850 is worth considering now.

The Orbi RBK850 Series AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 mesh system includes two identical-looking hardware units.

Table of Contents


I remember being shocked to learn about the Orbi AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System’s suggested retail price back in September.

At the time, Netgear priced it at $700 to be the most expensive home mesh system on Earth. “This thing must be very different!” I thought.

Beautiful but mildly unstable shape

Well, out of the box, hardware does have a bit of design change — it’s pretty nice-looking — but it largely remains the same.

The Orbi 850 Series shares the same ideas as most previous Wi-Fi 5 Orbi systems, such as the Orbi Voice or the CBK40. It includes two seemingly identical units; each takes the shape of a standing vase.

The Orbi 850 Series’ hardware has a relatively thin base for its massive body.

One is a router (model RBR850), and the other is a satellite (RBS850). Each weighs 2.86 lbs (1.29 kg) — not exactly light — and stands 10-inch (24 cm) tall with a body tapering toward the egg-shaped base that’s just 2.8-inch (7.11 cm) wide in the middle.

The whole thing looks elegant, but the small footprint means it might topple more frequently than you’d like. You can’t mount it out of the box, but there are two threaded holes on the underside, likely for some mounting accessories.

Simple setup

As for how the mesh works, you connect the RBR850 router to an Internet source (like a modem), and the RBS850 satellite will automatically extend the router’s Wi-Fi while sharing the same network settings. You only work with the router unit in terms of setup and management.

The Orbi AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 has the same setup process as the previous Orbi, and it’s simple. The router unit has a full web interface, just like any standalone Netgear routers, like the RAX200 or RAX120. So you can apply the standard method to put it to work. Here’s how that is, in brief:

  1. Hook the RBR850 router to the Internet using its WAN port.
  2. Connect a computer to one of its LAN ports, or its default Wi-Fi network printed on its label.
  3. From the connected computer, open a browser and navigate to routerlogin.com or the router’s default IP, which is Follow the onscreen instruction to create an admin password and a Wi-Fi network.

And that’s it. Out of the box, the two hardware units are pre-synced. Place the satellite unit at a distance, and the two will create a mesh system.

Well-designed mobile app

Alternatively, you can also use the Netgear Orbi mobile app for the setup process. With this app, used in all Orbi systems, you have the option of creating an account and sign in with Netgear. In this case, you can use the app to manage the system when you’re away from home.

The Netgear RBK850 shares the same Netgear Orbi app with other Orbi sets.

The app allows for an overview look of your home network with network maps of the connected clients. There are also many handy tools, including a speedtest.net-based internet speed test, and Wi-Fi Analytics that shows the signal strength in real-time.

Fast WAN with Link Aggregation but no multi-gig LAN port

Each of the new Orbi’s hardware units has four Gigabit LAN ports. The router also has a 2.5Gbps port that works solely as its WAN (Internet) port. There’s no way to turn it into a LAN port.

As a result, in your local network, the best speed you get caps at 1Gbps. The only time you can ever experience a faster rate is when you have a Gig+ or faster broadband connection. And then only fast Wi-Fi 6 clients can enjoy that speed, on a good day.

The Netgear Orbi 850 Series’ router unit has a 2.5Gbps WAN port, which can also work with another LAN port to create a 2Gbps WAN connection.

And the Netgear RBK850 is all about delivering super-fast Internet. Although its WAN port can do 2. 5Gbps, the router can aggregate it and the first LAN port into a single 2Gbps broadband link.

This port design reminds me of the RAX200’s and works with a modem without a 2.5Gbps port but two 1Gbps ports with Link Aggregation.

Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 but no support for 160MHz channel width

Like most other Orbi sets, the new RBK852 is a tri-band system. Each of its two hardware units is has a 2.4GHz band and two identical 5GHz bands, one of which works exclusively as the link between them as the dedicated backhaul.

As a result, the system can deliver fast speed in a large area, with no or low signal degradation, even in a wireless setup. In other words, you can expect clients connecting to the satellite to have similar speeds as when they do the router.

By the way, the system also supports wired backhaul — you can use a network cable to link the hardware units. In this case, it’ll be more reliable, with lower latency, but you’ll waste its dedicated backhaul band, which is still not available to clients.

Unlike other Wi-Fi 6 routers from Netgear, the new Orbi Wi-Fi 6 system doesn’t support the 160MHz channel width. So, as a 4×4 system, its top speeds will caps at just 2.4Gbps, or 1.2 Gbps, when working with existing 2×2 clients.

The Netgear RBK852 has a standard web user interface with limited Wi-Fi settings.

No support for previous Orbi hardware

Like all Orbi hardware, you can’t use the RBR850 router in the place of the RBS850 satellite and vice versa. That’s to be expected. What’s disappointing is that each unit, as their specific role, is incompatible with previous Orbi systems’ hardware.

Specifically, if you’re using an RBK50 or any other ORbi system and want to upgrade to this Orbi Wi-Fi 6, you can’t reuse any satellite units.

Initially, Netgear intended to make them all work together, but the differences between the Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 members of the Orbi family proved to be too great to overcome. And that’s quite sad news for existing Orbi users.

Netgear Orbi AX6000 (RBK852): Hardware specifications

Hardware Router (RBR850) Satellite (RBS850)
Dimensions 10 x 7.5 x 2.8 in (24.5 x 19.05 x 7.11 cm) Same as Router
Weight (each unit) 2.86 lbs (1.3kg) Same
Wi-Fi Specs Tri-band 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 AX6000: 2400Mbps (5GHz) + 2400Mbps (5GHz)+ 1200Mbps (2.4GHz) Same
Processors Quad-core 2.2GHz processor Same
Memory 512MB NAND flash and 1GB RAM None
MU-MIMO Support Yes Yes
MIMO Yes Yes
AP (bridge mode) Support Yes Yes
Dedicated Wireless Backhaul Yes Yes
Wired Backhaul Support Yes
(Dedicated backhaul band unavailable to clients. )
(Dedicated backhaul band unavailable to clients.)
Ports (each unit) One 2.5Gbps WAN port, Four Gigabit LAN ports Four Gigabit LAN ports
Price (at launch) $699 for one router and one satellite n/a

Netgear Orbi AX6000 (RBK852)’s hardware specifications.

Standard feature set

Thanks to the full web interface, the Netgear Orbi AX6000 has all the network settings and standard features found in most routers. So you’ll find all the usual suspects, including QoS, Dynamic DNS, fixed IP address reservation, port-forwarding, and so on.

There’s also a Traffic Meter feature that helps with monitoring and controlling the Internet bandwidth. The router can also work as an OpenVPN server.

If you have a modem, the Orbi RBK852 can work as its default router mode. If you want to use it with an existing router or gateway, there’s an option to make it work in the access point mode. In this case, though, you can’t use any of its features.

Overall, the Orbi 850 Series has a standard set of features, more than most purpose-built mesh systems.

By the way, like some other Orbi systems, including the RBK13, the RBK852 comes with the Netgear Armor online protection and Circle by Disney Parental Control features. The former requires the Netgear mobile app to work, and the latter has a separate app of its own

Limited Wi-Fi settings

Similar to other Netgear routers, the Orbi RBK852 is rather thin on Wi-Fi settings. For example, you can’t use the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands as two separate networks. Nor can you pick their channel width. But you do have an option to turn off Wi-Fi 6 for some reason.

In short, generally, you want to leave most of Orbi RBK852’s Wi-Fi settings at default. Home users will see that as ease of use, while savvy users might find it lacking.

Netgear Orbi AX6000 (RBK852)’s detail photos

The Orbi 850 Wi-Fi 6 System AX6000 comes in a fancy box.

Out of the box, each Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852 system unit has a label to help distinguish the two.

The RBR850 router is almost the same as the satellite unit

The RBR850 router’s back. Note its 2.5 Gbps WAN port.

You can only tell the Orbi 850 Series Wi-Fi 6 System AX6000’s units part by looking at their ports.

Netgear Orbi AX6000 (RBK852): Excellent mesh performance

The good news is the Orbi RBK852 sure beats all other Orbi sets and many mesh systems on the market, where it matters the most: Performance. It did well in my testing.

As a single router, the Orbi RBR850 almost topped the chart of mesh routers with the sustained speed of some 835 Mbps for close range and nearly 780 Mbps at 40 feet (12m) away.

The router also had an excellent range. I was able to get a decent connection to it from some 80 feet away, with one wall in between. So when placed in the middle, it can likely handle a home of 2000ft² (186m²).

Compared with standalone Wi-Fi 6 routers, the Orbi RBR850’s lack of a multi-gig LAN port and 160MHz channel hampered its standing. It was below the average. It’s important to note that I tested it and all Wi-Fi 6 routers, using 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients since faster clients didn’t exist yet.

But the Wi-Fi 6 Orbi made up for that when working as a mesh. Thanks to the dedicated backhaul, its Orbi RBS850 satellite unit topped the mesh satellite charts with some 820 Mbps at close range and almost 800 Mbps at a long range. Both were faster than the Arris SURFboard mAX Pro by small margins.

The system also had excellent coverage. With the two units, I was able to get a decent signal in a large area. It’s safe to say it can easily cover roughly 5000ft² (465m²). But this changes depending on the environment.

The seamless handoff worked quite well, too. I did note, though, that my test Wi-Fi client hardly jumped when I was in between the two hardware units, likely due to their long range. But when I walked past one, the device would switch to the closest unit automatically.

Intermittent lag spikes, delay in reporting connected clients,

One thing to note, though, is that I experienced intermittent lag when connected to the satellite unit. High latency in a wireless mesh setup is relatively common, however.

That said, if you intend to use the RBK852 in a home with a lot of real-time communication, like video conferencing, it’s a good idea to link the two units via a network cable. Hopefully, this will improve via future firmware updates.

By the way, while you can view the currently connected clients using the web interface or the mobile app, there’s a significant delay in reporting to which hardware unit they belong. At times, a connected client didn’t even show on either the satellite or the router list.


8.5 out of 10


8 out of 10

Ease of Use

8.5 out of 10


7 out of 10


Fast, reliable Wi-Fi with extensive coverage

Full web interface with all common settings and features

Useful, well-designed mobile app

2.5Gbps Multi-gig WAN ports

Support WAN 2Gbps Link Aggregation


High cost

No 160MHz channel support, limited Wi-Fi customization

Not compatible with Wi-Fi Orbi hardware

No multi-gig LAN port, intermittent lags

Bulky design


The Netgear Orbi 850 Series AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 mesh system — tested as 2-pack RBK852 — is a sure and easy way to cover a large property with fast Wi-Fi. It’s also proof that upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 now will cost you. So, maybe you should wait a while, at least till all of its features are available.

But if you’ve already made up your mind on getting a Wi-Fi 6 mesh, compared with the similarly-priced and comparably-specced Arris SURFboard mAX Pro, the Orbi Wi-Fi 6 AX6000 is a better choice thanks to the number of features and settings it offers.

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Netgear Orbi RBK852 vs Asus ZenWiFi XT8: Solid Bets

I should have written this Netgear Orbi RBK852 vs Asus ZenWiFi XT8 matchup long ago. They were among the first Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems you could find, and that, by the way, was the first similarity among a few they had.

But better late than never. On top of that, with Netgear’s recent release of the Orbi RBK860 series — similar to the RBK850 series plus a gloried 10GbE WAN port — this post is now as relevant as ever.

In many ways, the two represent the similarities and differences between the two Orbi and ZenWiFi mesh brands.

And for those who have asked me to do a matchup between the Orbi RBK852 vs ZenWiFi Pro XT12 this post will also help since I reviewed the X12 by comparing it to the XT8.

Netgear Orbi RBK852 vs Asus ZenWiFi XT8 (right): These two mesh systems are so different from the look alone.

Table of Contents


Netgear Orbi RBK852 vs Asus ZenWiFi XT8: Representing two wireless mesh concepts

As mentioned, there are more differences than similarities between the two. But let’s start with their names since both contain a lot of information.

Specifically, per their naming conventions, the Orbi RBK852 is a 2-pack of the Wi-Fi 6 RBK850 series, and the ZenWiFi XT8 is a Tri-band 8-stream Wi-Fi 6 set.

Understanding the model names

If you’re unfamiliar with these conventions of the two mesh brands, the boxes below will help.

Netgear Orbi’s naming convention

Generally, though not always, a Netgear Orbi set’s model number starts with RBK — RBK50, RBK13, RBK752, RBK852, and so on. Those supporting Wi-Fi 6E have an additional E, like the case of the RBKE960.

Dissecting the Orbi’s model name

There are three telling things in an Orbi model name: The first letter, the third (and 4th) letter, and the last digit. The 2nd letter is always the same — B is for Orbi.

  • The first letter (often R, C, or N, but there might be more) means the hardware’s character.
    • R: It’s a regular (standard) setup, be it a single router or a mesh system. So, for example, RBK852 means this one is a standard mesh system.
    • C: There’s a cable modem involved. For example, CBK752 is a mesh system in which the router unit has a built-in cable modem.
    • N: This is when the router unit is cellular-capable. N here is short for NR, or “new radio,” a fancy name for cellular Internet.
  • The 3rd letter (often K, R, or S) means the hardware unit’s exclusive role.
    • K = Kit. This means you’re looking at a multi-unit package that includes one router and at least one satellite. So RBK752 refers to a kit of more than one hardware unit. How many? See the last digit below.
    • R = Router unit. For example, RBR750 is the router unit of the RBK750 series.
    • S = Satellite unit. For example, RBS750 is the satellite unit of the RBK752.
    • The 4th letter (if any): That’d be the letter E which stands for Wi-Fi 6E, like the case of the recently announced RBKE960 series.
  • The last digit (often 0, 2, 3, etc.) shows the package’s total hardware units.
    • 0 = Single hardware unit (either a router or a satellite.) Generally, it signifies a series of hardware releases.
    • 2 = A 2-pack (router + one satellite). For example, RBK752 is a 2-pack cable-ready mesh that includes a CBR750 gateway and an RBS750 satellite.
    • 3 = A 3-pack (router + two satellites). The RBK853 is a 3-pack mesh system with one RBR850 router and two RBS850 satellite units.
  • The last letter or letters (if any): Most Orbi hardware doesn’t have this last letter. For those that do, it’s intended to add some extra, such as:
    • B: This letter means the hardware is black, like the case of the RBKE960B.
    • S: It’s for “security,” like the case of the RBR860S, where the unit includes a one-year subscription to Netgear Armor (instead of a 30-day trial.)
  • Extra: The middle digits (often 5, 75, 85, 96, etc) are Netgear’s in-house designations to show the hardware’s Wi-Fi specs. They are a bit arbitrary. Specifically:
    • 5: This is for Wi-Fi 5. For example, the original RBK50 is a Wi-Fi 5 Orbi.
    • 75: This is for a tri-band Wi-Fi 6 with two 2×2 bands and one 4×4 band. Example: the RBK752.
    • 85: Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 hardware with all 4×4 bands. Example: the RBK850 series.
    • 86: The same as the RBK850 series with the router unit having a 10GbE Mult-Gig port (instead of 2.5GbE) — the case of the RBK860 series.
    • 96: Quad-band Wi-Fi 6E with all 4×4 bands. Example: the RBKE960 series.

If you’re still confused, you’re not alone, but generally, you get the idea. For example, the RBRE960 is the standard high-end Wi-Fi 6E router unit of the Orbi RBKE960 series.

Asus ZenWiFi’s naming convention

Asus have had more than half a dozen and counting ZenWiFi models, including CT8, XT8, XD4, XP4 hybrid, XD5, XD6, ET8, XT12, and ET12. There will be more in the future.

Dissecting the ZenWiFi model names

These model names include two letters and a number. Here are what they mean.

  • The first letter indicates the Wi-Fi standard:
    • C stands for 802.11ac or Wi-Fi 5.
    • X: 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6.
    • E is for Wi-Fi 6E.
  • The second letter indicates the number of Wi-Fi bands:
    • T means Tri-band. This is for a system where each hardware unit has three Wi-Fi frequency bands.
    • D means Dual-band — each hardware unit has two Wi-Fi bands.
  • The last digit indicates the number of Wi-Fi streams each broadcaster has.

With that, we can now read each model name easily.

For example, the ZenWiFi ET8 is a tri-band Wi-Fi 6E system where each broadcaster is a Wi-Fi 6E tri-band system with each hardware unit having eight streams, including a 4×4 6GHz band, a 2×2 5GHz band, and a 2×2 2.4GHz band.

Both mesh sets are designed to work primarily in a fully wireless setup — they fit best in large homes where running network cables is not an option. But both can also work via wired backhauling — you can use a network cable to link the hardware units.

And that’s about where their similarities end, as you’ll note in the table below.

Orbi RBK852 vs ZenWiFi XT8: Hardware specifications

Name Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 AX6000 Whole Home Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System Asus ZenWiFi AX XT8
Hardware Router: RBR850
Satellite: RBS850
Two identical routers
Wi-Fi Grade AX6000 AX6600
Dimensions 10 x 7. 5 x 2.8 in 
(24.5 x 19.05 x 7.11 cm)
6.29 x 2.95 x 6.35 in  
(16 x 7.5 x 16.15 cm)
Weight 2.86 lbs (1.3kg) 1.56 lb (710 g)
5GHz-1 Wi-Fi Specs
(channel width)
4×4 AX: 2402Mbps 
2 x 2 AX: 1201Mbps 
5GHz-2 Wi-Fi Specs
(channel width)
4×4 Wi-Fi 6: 2400Mbps 
4 x 4 AX: 4804 Mbps
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs
(channel width)
4 x 4 Wi-Fi 6: 1148Mbps
2×2 AX: 576Mbps
Dedicated Backhaul Band 5GHz-2
(By default, flexible)
Wired Backhaul Yes
(5GHz-2 still not available to clients)
Gigabit as a pack
Multi-Gig as satellite
Backward Compatibility 802. 11ac/n/g/a/b 802.11ac/n/g/a/b
Mobile App Orbi
(Required for many functions)
Web User Interface Yes 
AP (Bridge) Mode Yes Yes
USB Port None 1 x USB 3.0
Gigabit Port Router: 4x LAN
Satellite: 4x LAN
3x LAN
Multi-Gig Port Router: 1x 2.5GbE WAN
Satellite: None
1x 2.5GbE WAN
Link Aggregation Router: Yes (2Gbps WAN)
Satellite: None
Dual-WAN No Yes
Processing Power 2. 2 GHz 64-Bit Quad-Core CPU 1.5GHz quad-core CPU, 
256 MB Flash, 512 MB RAM
US Price $699.99

Netgear Orbi RBK852 vs Asus ZenWiFi XT8: Hardware specifications

Orbi RBK852 vs ZenWiFi XT8: It’s the ease of use and stability vs flexibility, speed, and customization

From the get-go, the Orbi is designed for ease of use and stability. The entire Orbi ecosystem evolves around the dedicated backhaul concept.

Orbi RBK852: Ease of use, stability, and high cost

This concept is based on the fact that the hardware’s 2nd 5GHz band (the 5GHz-2 of the upper channels) is permanently delegated to link the mesh hardware units, leaving the 5GHz-1 as the only band to works as the fronthaul to serve clients.

In other words, all the 5GHz-2 band does is support connections between known devices, namely the Orbi router and the Orbi satellite. Without having to be compatible with any existing clients, Netgear can engineer this band proprietarily to deliver extremely long-range with a strong signal.

That said, the RBK852, as well as any Orbi set, has excellent range and coverage — supposedly as excellent as can be for a wireless connection.

However, when you use a network cable to link the hardware units or the RBR850 as a single router, the 5GHz-2 becomes useless — it’s a waste since it can’t work with clients.

To understand the Orbi’s permanent backhaul concept, which Netgear often refers to as “patented dedicated backhaul,” you can liken the mesh system’s router unit to a special 4WD pickup truck with a separate engine for the rear wheels dedicated solely to the job of pulling a trailer.

This engine makes sense and is great when the truck has a trailer attached (a mesh system) but becomes dead weight when the truck works just by itself (standalone router) — it’s now a full-time front-wheel-drive vehicle.

It’s probably not a good idea to consider such a truck unless you intend to use it to pull a trailer most, if not all, of the time.

The point is Netgear’s Orbi only makes sense when you need a fully wireless mesh Wi-Fi system and never when you need a standalone router, where the second 5GHz band is a big waste in terms of hardware cost and energy consumption.

Furthermore, in Wi-Fi 6 (and 6E) Orbi sets, Netgear removes the use of the DFS channels entirely to ensure stability. Without DFS, Wi-Fi 6 can use channels up to only 80MHz in width and, therefore, deliver only half the potential speed of the standard.

Consequently, the Orbi RBK852 has just half the bandwidth of its Wi-Fi 6 specs on the 5GHz band, and only half of that is available to the clients, as you might have noted in the table above.

No matter in what configuration — single router or wireless/wired mesh — Orbi hardware always has only half of 5GHz fronthaul bandwidth compared to other similarly-specced broadcasters that don’t support DFS, or one-fourth bandwidth of those that do.

Other than that, the Orbi’s web interface has little Wi-Fi customization — you can’t even separate the bands as different SSIDs — and over the years, Netgear has slowly removed free features to coerce users into using its Orbi mobile apps where it can charge users a premium for add-on features, such as Netgear Armor.

It’s worth noting that, hardware-wise, an Orbi router (the RBR850) and Orbi satellite (RBS850) can work only in their rigid role. To form a mesh, you need at least one router and one satellite and then add more of the latter to increase the coverage. If you have just two routers or two satellite units, they can’t work together.

Netgear Orbi RBK852 vs Asus ZenWiFi XT8: The former (right) comes with two distinctive hardware units (router and satellite), and the latter includes two identical routers.

ZenWiFi XT8: Flexibility, speed, customization, and affordability

The ZenWiFi approach is entirely different. It’s the same as any AiMesh hardware.

Specifically, the mesh set includes two identical routers. Each can work as a standalone router or a mesh member. And if you need to increase the coverage, you can get more units or any AiMesh-supported hardware.

All ZenWiFi hardware can work either as the primary router of a mesh system or a satellite. And that’s also the case with any other AiMesh hardware.

By default, the 5GHz-2 band is a dedicated backhaul band. However, you can easily open it to clients — effectively making it no longer “dedicated”.

This approach dramatically increases the front haul bandwidth, and when you use wired backhauling, all bands of the XT8 are available to serve clients.

Speaking of wired backhauling, when working as satellites of another AiMesh router with a 2.5Gbps LAN port, the XT8 is ready to deliver Multi-Gig wired backhauling, increasing the entire mesh system’s bandwidth significantly.

But in any case, the XT8 is designed primarily to work as a fully wireless system. Over there years, there have been instances where new firmware updates caused a wired setup to fail. So the XT8 has been more buggy than the RBK852.

In return, it offers lots of Wi-Fi customization and network settings. Most importantly, you get all features for free, there’s no premium add-on to ponder over, and the Asus mobile app doesn’t require a login account which lowers the privacy risks.

In August 2022, the XT8 had a firmware update that enabled it to support the UNII-4 portion of the 5GHz spectrum, making it even better in a fully wireless setup.

Finally, you can get it for about just two-thirds of the RBK852’s cost. And that brings us to the real-world performance of the two.

Orbi RBK852 vs ZenWiFi XT8: Performance and ranking


8.5 out of 10


8 out of 10

Ease of Use

8.5 out of 10


7 out of 10


Fast, reliable Wi-Fi with extensive coverage

Full web interface with all common settings and features

Useful, well-designed mobile app

2.5Gbps Multi-gig WAN ports

Support WAN 2Gbps Link Aggregation


High cost

No 160MHz channel support, limited Wi-Fi customization

Not compatible with Wi-Fi Orbi hardware

No multi-gig LAN port, intermittent lags

Bulky design

Orbi RBK852 vs ZenWiFi XT8: Wi-Fi performance
Tests were done in a fully wireless setup with the satellite placed 40 feet (12 m) from the primary router. Performance

8.5 out of 10


9.5 out of 10

Design and Setup

8.5 out of 10


9 out of 10


Fast Wi-Fi performance and large coverage at a comparatively affordable cost

Improved and flexible AiMesh

Lots of network settings and useful features, including free real-time online protection for life

Full 4×4 dedicated backhaul band with optional wired backhaul support

Multi-Gig WAN port with Dual-WAN and WAN link aggregation


No 160MHz 4×4 support for Wi-Fi 6 clients in a dedicated wireless backhaul setup

No Multi-Gig LAN port or LAN link aggregation

Only four network ports on each hardware unit

Firmware can be buggy, especially via wired backhaul

Storage performance (when hosting an external drive) could be better

Generally, you should consider the ZenWiFi XT8 or the Netgear Orbi RBK852 (or any Orbi, for that matter) when you need a fully wireless mesh system. Specifically, you live in a large home, and it’s just too hard, or you’re too lazy to run network cables.

Both can work with wired backhauling. However, in this case, the Orbi RBK852’s 5GHz-2 band is completely wasted, and the ZenWiFi XT8 has had issues in the past.

If even the wired backhauling kinks have been worked out for the XT8, you should get the ET8 or one in Asus’s myriad of dual-band AiMesh options for a wired home.

The two deliver similar Wi-Fi performance, with the Orbi having a slightly better range (but worse in latency) in my experience. As for features and settings, the XT8 has lots more to offer, but that also means there are more chances you can cause issues without knowing it.

And finally, the XT8 has a USB port to work as a mini NAS server and costs significantly less.

All things considered, I’d pick the ZenWifi XT8, but if you want something super easy to use, the Orbi RBK852 has its appeal. Ultimately it’s your call.

Looking to compare other Wi-Fi solutions? Check them all out here.

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Netgear RBK852-100EUS Orbi Whole Home Tri-Band Mesh WiFi 6, Router + 1 Satellite, 11AX Mesh AX6000 WiFi (up to 6Gbps) – White | NG-RBC852-100EUS

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Netgear Orbi WiFi RBK852 Review


The Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 RBK852 can’t be faulted for speed and range as this Wi-Fi 6 mesh system delivers the fastest results we’ve ever seen. What you gain in performance, however, you lose in features: this system lacks the parental controls and security features of the old Orbi system. This, combined with the high price, means the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 RBK852 is aimed at first-time users – everyone else is better off sitting on their hands.


  • Exceptionally fast
  • Great app
  • Tons of Ethernet ports


  • Misses features available on the old system
  • 9 0022 Expensive


  • Review price: £699.99
  • WiFi 6 (up to 6Gbps)
  • 4×4 2.4GHz (1200Mbps)
  • 4×4 5GHz (2400Mbps)
  • Coverage: up to 5000 square meters Feet
  • 2.5 gigabit WAN
  • Four Gigabit Ethernet ports

With the launch of the original Orbi, Netgear demonstrated the true power of wireless mesh systems. Today, the company is back with Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 to show how next-generation wireless connectivity is used to create mesh networks that are even more powerful.

But with the increased price and lack of features, is Wi-Fi 6’s new speed worth the expensive upgrade?

Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 design Sleek design with optional Ethernet port

Many competing mesh systems are sold as three packages, but the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 is mostly sold as two packages (RBK852, £699. 99) which includes a router and satellite. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this results in less coverage than three-satellite systems; The Orbi Wi-Fi 6 package offers a superb range that will easily fit into a large home. If you need more insurance, then there’s the three-pack RBK853 (£949.99).

From the outside, the router and satellite look the same. In fact, the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852 package looks similar to the original set, only this time with a degree of contrast with a silver base and a more slanted body. Both devices are slightly larger than competing satellites, although at 254 x 195 x 710mm it’s not that hard to find their home.

Router and satellite look the same

While it’s not immediately obvious from the outside that the wireless standard has been upgraded, there are clear signs on closer inspection. Flip the router over and you’ll be in sync with a 2.5Gb/s Ethernet WAN port that’s designed for the fastest fiber optic broadband connections of today and tomorrow.

There are now four Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired devices, one more than the original. This device lacks the USB port that was included in the original, although this is not a feature that many will miss.

The satellite has four additional Gigabit Ethernet ports that provide a decent level of flexibility for connecting wired devices.

Related: Best Wi-Fi Extenders

There is an additional Gigabit Ethernet port over the original Orbi router.

Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852 Features — Several key features are missing

As with the original system, the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852 is installed and managed through the Orbi app. In addition to making it easier to get started, the app also gives you remote access to your router – handy if you need to reboot your router when you’re on the go.

The application provides pointers to the best location for both the router and the satellite to ensure a reliable and fast connection between them. One of the reasons Orbi systems are so powerful is because they use a dedicated wireless link for backhaul (connection between satellites).

This new system has a four stream wireless stream that runs at 2400 Mbps, up from 1733 Mbps compared to the original system. You don’t need to use wireless: the system also supports Ethernet backhaul, so you can use a wired network instead. This is especially useful if your home has very thick walls or you need more range; I have an outside office and rely on ethernet to get internet there.

More wireless bandwidth should help the system if you need to add more satellites. At present, adding satellites is expensive; but we expect Netgear to release cheaper, slightly slower variants later, as they did with the existing Orbi range.

Related: Best Password Manager 2020

The app is great, but some features are yet to be implemented

First a quick word of warning. If you have old Orbi satellites, you can connect them to the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852 via Ethernet and they will appear in the app. However, the system is not designed to be backwards compatible, and we’ve had issues with devices that kept changing IP addresses. An update is in progress, but for now, updating the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852 means dropping any existing satellites.

In the meantime, you will also have to accept the loss of function. If you like the Circle parental controls available with the existing Orbi, which lets you group and control your kids’ devices for web filtering and throttling, you won’t find them here. You’re also missing out on Netgear Armor’s security features. Both are coming, but so far the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852 does less than its sibling.

The current Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852 is a basic router that offers one wireless network for your home with an additional guest network that you can turn on or off.

Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852 performance – the fastest speeds yet

Wi-Fi 6 makes the internal wireless performance much higher than the original system. Four 5GHz streams run at 2400Mbps and four 2.4GHz streams run at 1200Mbps. That’s twice as many threads as the original, and each one is faster. Here, each 5GHz stream runs at 600Mbps and each 2.4GHz stream runs at 2.4GHz.

Streams are especially important with Wi-Fi 6 compared to the old 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 standard. When Wi-Fi 6 devices connect, the router may decide to give each device its own stream, or a faster device may accept multiple streams for increase in maximum throughput. Stream sharing in Wi-Fi 5 is much simpler and more limited, and the standard is generally slower.

Related: What is Wi-Fi 6?

With the mesh system, the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 increase as you add more satellites. With these two packages, there are 16 streams for devices; add another satellite and you get a total of 24 streams.

As with mesh systems, the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852 represents both networks under the same name. Devices are then pushed to the best lane based on performance and capabilities. Fast roaming also keeps devices connected to the nearest satellite for the best performance on devices that can be moved, such as laptops and mobile phones.

For performance testing, we used a laptop that had been upgraded to a Wi-Fi 6 2×2 card, allowing for a maximum of two streams. When tested at close range, we saw download speeds of 588.1Mbps and upload speeds of 485.43Mbps. Moving to the first floor, the speeds were still high: download speed 341.78 Mbps, upload speed 309.23 Mbps. On the second floor, the results were impressive – 367.51 Mbps download speed and 309 upload speed.68 Mbps. Only the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 was faster in our tests, although that single router doesn’t have the range of the new Orbi.

As you can see from the graph below, the new Orbi Wi-Fi 6 is much faster than the previous model, the RBK50.

Should I buy the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852?

With more and more wireless devices, Wi-Fi 6 can help eliminate bottlenecks and improve performance, as we can see from the test results here. What’s more, the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852 is a mesh system that further enhances throughput by expanding wireless access points to provide the bandwidth your home needs. From a purely speed standpoint, this is a truly fantastic and fast wireless system.

However, even though Orbi Wi-Fi 6 is gaining speed, it is currently losing features, no parental controls, and no security options. This is a shame considering the price of this mesh system. While I’m sure Netgear will launch these features in the near future, it’s disappointing to not have them today.

Also, there aren’t enough Wi-Fi 6 devices to really take advantage of this system, making the original Orbi RBK50 a better buy for most. Most modern daytime laptops now support Wi-Fi 6, but you’re out of luck if you bought your laptop more than a couple of years ago. Consoles like PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch are also not supported.

However, even taking these negative points into account, we can’t change the fact that the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852 is amazingly fast.