NETGEAR Orbi Mesh Router With Cable Modem Review: Blanketing Your Home Network

NETGEAR Orbi Home Mesh WiFi System: Total Home Coverage

Mesh networking is starting to take a foothold in the home market, but the technology has actually been around for quite sometime. In fact, you have most likely been connected to a mesh network at some point in time without even realizing it. Hotels, universities, and malls have been using the tech for years to keep their students and customers seamlessly connected to the internet over large areas. The cost of setting up and maintaining a large, mesh network is worthwhile for the enterprise and major institutions, but for the rest of us -- until recently -- mesh networks have simply been out of reach. This has kept the technology out of the hands of the average consumer, but over the last couple of years, Netgear, along with a few other companies, have started a home mesh Wi-Fi revolution.

The Orbi (CBR40) we will be showing you here today is not Netgear's first mesh Wi-Fi router, nor is it the first to enter our lab. Back in 2016 we were able to review the Netgear Orbi AC3000, a powerful mesh WiFi system that consisted of a single router and satellites that offered 3Gbps of Tri-Band Wi-Fi coverage of up to 4000 sq ft. It did this without traditional range extenders, boosters, or repeaters, many of which create more problems than they solve. Unlike these products, the AC3000 didn't need to create a secondary SSID as is the case with some range extenders. It also didn't need to process and repeat the Wi-Fi signal, effectively cutting your total bandwidth in half. Instead it offered total home coverage with no dead spots at full speed over a single wireless network, with devices linked together over a dedicated, high-speed backhaul.

ex800 style

The latest Orbi system we are looking at here offers everything its predecessor did, but it ups the ante by incorporating a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem as well. This addresses a couple of issues that can arise when using a 3rd party modem. First off, everything is plug-and-play. With the modem, router and satellite all purpose built to work together, setup and maintenance is a breeze. The other issue it addresses is financial. Most internet service provides charge a property tax or rental fee when using their hardware. This can range anywhere from $5 to $10 USD a month or more depending on your provider. With the Orbi modem you don't have to pay that rental fee, so the device should pay for itself over time.

The Orbi Home Mesh Wi-Fi router with Cable Modem (model CBR40) has a 2x2 (2.4GHz) 400Mbps channel, a 2x2 (5GHz) 866Mbps channel and another 2x2 (5GHz) 866Mbps channel. In total this gives it a combined speed of up to 2.2Gbps, but it also offers Tri-Band support, MU-MIMO, 32x8 channel bonding in the cable modem, and a powerful internal quad-core processor. What this means is the Orbi has the speed and feeds to keep your network humming, even if you've got a ton of devices connected. 
NETGEAR Orbi Home Mesh WiFi Router with Built-in Cable Modem (CBK40)
Specifications & Features
WiFi Technology
Speed and Range DOCSIS 3.0
32x8 CableLabs DOCSIS 3.0 Certified Modem
WiFi Performance
AC2200 (400Mbps @ 2.4GHz + 866Mbps @ 5GHz)
WiFi Band
Tri-Band WiFi-Tx/Rx 2x2 (2.4GHz) + 2x2 (5GHz) + 2x2 (5GHz)
Dedicated backhaul
One WiFi Name with Any Router or Modem Router
Smart Roaming connects your mobile devices to the most robust WiFi signal Other Technical Features of Nighthawk X6S
One WiFi Name with Any Router or Modem Router
Smart Roaming connects your mobile devices to the most robust WiFi signal Other Technical Features of Ni
Number of Ethernet Ports Four (4) Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports
One (1) Cable/Coaxial port
Key Features Two-in-one--DOSCIS 3.0 Cable Modem + 2.2Gbps Tri-Band WiFi Router
Compatible with all major Internet Service Providers - Xfinity from Comcast, Cox internet plans and more
WiFi coverage up to 2,000 sq ft with high performance AC2200 WiFi
Security WiFi Protected Access (WPA/WPA2-PSK)
Guest network acess - Separate & secure
Physical Specifications
Dimensions: 6.7 x 3.1 x8.9in (170.3 x 78.9 x 225.8mm)
Weight: 2.15lbs (975.2g)
Package Contents One (1) Orbi Cable Modem Router (CBR40)
One (1) 2m Ethernet Cable
One (1) 12V/3.5A power adapter
Quick start guide
Price  $399 -- Find The Orbi Home Mesh Wi-Fi System @ Amazon

The include router / modem combo is rated for about 2000 sq ft of coverage (give or take depending on the building configuration and construction). With larger areas you'll need to connect the include satellite. With the two units combined you will get up to 4000 sq ft of coverage, which is good for a large house, or small office. The kit we evaluated, model CBK40, included one additional satellite and is available for $399 at the moment, but you can add an additional 3 satellites if necessary, for up to 8000 sq ft of coverage. Of course, if you only have a 2000 sq ft house you can opt out of the satellite system all together and just pick up the modem/router, which currently costs $299.99 on its own on Amazon.
small netgear wifi link

With all the included technology and interoperability, the Orbi mesh Wi-Fi system is all about ease of use and high-performance, trouble-free home networking. The question is, can it deliver? Let's find out...

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