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

NETGEAR Orbi Home Mesh WiFi System: Final Thoughts

We really like the NETGEAR Orbi Mesh Router With built-in Cable Modem kit, model CBK40. The kit offers fast AC Wi-Fi that can cover up to 4000sqft with the included satellite, and it could potentially save you money over the long run. The initial purchase of $399 is expensive in light of some standalone routers and cable modems, but the overall price is right in line with other mesh systems on the market and those don't come with a modem built in. And that built-in modem is important, because it could eliminate any equipment rental fees from your ISP and ultimately pay for the entire kit.

The Orbi system also supports key technologies like Tri-Band WiFi and MU-MIMO. We have referenced these features throughout the review and for good reason. Anyone buying a router in 2018 should expect these features as standard. Both allow a router to connect to multiple devices without tanking Wi-Fi throughput. In our testing the Orbi mesh system offered strong performance at various distances and there were no dead spots in our roughly 1500sqft test area -- it even allowed us to add Wi-Fi coverage to an barbecue pit that never got a signal from our original router.

Setting up the Netgear Orbi was also straightforward and simple. For the most part the "Orbi" app took care of all the heavy lifting. All we had to do was give the modem access to our Xfinity account and after that everything was pretty much automatic. Even setting up the satellite was a breeze -- in our case we didn't even have to use the manual Sync button and everything just worked right out of the box.  

When we evaluated the previous-gen AC3000 Orbi system, one of the only complaints we had was that it had only 3 Ethernet ports. This time around Netgear has included a full quartet of ports on the back of the router, so we have to give them credit where credit is due. Netgear even included dual Ethernet ports on the satellite, so there is no shortage of physical connectivity. However, we did find another issue and one that many others have run into as well. The Orbi router supports both 2.4Gbps and 5Gbps bands, but it doesn't give you the option to choose which band you'd like your devices to connect to. During our testing our laptops were connected to the 2.4Gbps band more often than not, which resulted in reduced performance in some cases. Hopefully a future firmware update will give the end-user more control over how devices connect.

Ultimately though, if you're looking to give your home network a modem make-over and minimize equipment rental fees from your ISP, the  NETGEAR Orbi Mesh Router With Cable Modem kit may be for you. Setup is a breeze, performance is good, it delivers on its promises, and requires minimal compromise. This is solid buy overall, if we've ever seen one, especially since it could pay for itself over time.
hothardware recommended

  • Easy setup and configuration
  • Single SSID
  • Built in cable modem
  • Eliminates dead spots over larger areas
  • 4 + 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Tri-Band and MU-MIMO support
  • Automatically puts devices on 2.4 or 5Gbps networks
  • High up front cost
  • Not DOCSIS 3.1 capable
  • No Integrated VoIP Support

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