Orbi WiFi System (RBK13) AC1200 REVIEW | MacSources
A powerful WiFi solution for an average household.
I’ve been an Orbi fan for many years now. I used to dread setting up WiFi routers, but Netgear’s Orbi line of products makes it really easy and they produce a solid connection to the internet. My primary experience has been with Orbi’s Tri-Band routers, but I finally have the option to check out one of the mesh systems that rely on the dual-band WiFi — the Orbi AC1200 (RBK13). This system is designed to be more affordable while still providing the same level of support as the higher-priced Orbi systems. Before I outline all the details of the Orbi RBK13, let’s look at the differences of Orbi’s main systems — Orbi RBK852, Orbi RBK50, and the Orbi RBK13.
Orbi RBK852 Orbi RBK50 Orbi RBK13
The Orbi WiFi System RBK13 features the award-winning Orbi technology that delivers high-performance throughout the whole home. The AC1200 system provides super-fast WiFi up to 1.2Gbps for streaming, gaming, and other internet-based needs. The RBK13 three-pack includes one WiFi router and two satellites to cover houses up to 4,500 square feet. The system is compatible with all internet service providers and is recommended for homes with more than 50Mbps internet plans. To get started, you simply connect the Orbi router to your cable modem.
In addition to the basic high-speed WiFi service the Orbi RBK13 provides, the system also features NETGEAR Armor (powered by Bitdefender) — a best-in-class anti-virus and data theft protection for all devices (smartphones, tablets, and computers) connected to your network. The service that is included is a 30-day trial. After that trial, users have the option to upgrade their service to a standard annual contract for $69.99 (at the time of publishing). Circle Smart Parental Controls are also included and easily managed through the Orbi app. Parents can pause device internet access, view site history usage, and filter websites for free. Other features like setting online time limits and scheduling device internet access are available for the premium monthly fee of $4.99 (the first month is free as a trial).
The Orbi RBK13 is compact and the design is meant to fit with most types of home decor. With this system, you can enjoy high-speed WiFi with the convenience of a single WiFi name for the entire home. Users have a seamless connection as they move from room-to-room. The router has two (2) Gigabit Ethernet Ports (1 WAN + 1 LAN) for wired connections and the system works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. A guest WiFi network is also a features owners can take advantage of so that they don’t have to share their personal network password.
4,500 sq. ft.
Orbi Router & Satellite (RBK13)
Two (2) high-performance internal antennas
Implicit & Explicit Beamforming for 2.4GHz & 5GHz bands
MU-MIMO capable for simultaneous data streaming
Powerful Quad-Core 710MHz processor
AC1200 Dual-Band WiFi
2.4GHz (400 Mbps)
5GHz (866 Mbps)
Dimensions: 4.1 x 4.1 x 2.7in
Two (2) 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet ports (One (1) WAN & one (1) LAN)
128MB Flash and 512MB RAM
Comprehensive anti-virus & data theft protection for your PC, Mac ®and mobile devices with NETGEAR Armor ™
Standards-based WiFi Security (802.11i, 128-bit AES encryption with PSK)
Guest WiFi Network is easy to setup separate & secure Internet access for guests
Circle ®Smart Parental Controls to manage content and time online for all your devices. Learn more at netgear.com/circle
What’s in the Box
One (1) Orbi Router (RBR10)
Two (2) Orbi Satellites (RBS10)
One (1) 2m Ethernet cable
Three (3) 12V/1A power adapters
Quick start guide
The Orbi RBK13 comes in a moderately sized box. The front of the box features an image of the RBK13 system (1 router and 2 satellites) and the main details of the Orbi (coverage, WiFi speeds, NETGEAR Armor, and parental controls). The back of the box shows a diagram of a house with suggestions of where to place the Orbi so that you get the best coverage and additional features are mentioned along with the Orbi app. The bottom of the box is where most of the detailed information on the product is located. I always prefer the companies include this information since it’s not always information that you can find online. For example, part of the technical specifications of the Orbi RBK13 is its WiFi standard. I was not able to find that information on the website from Netgear, but it was on the bottom of the box. As it turns out, the WiFi standard this Orbi uses is IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac or WiFi 5. The Orbi RBK852 unit I outlined above is compatible with WiFi 6.
The box is covered with cellophane, which is easily removed with a pair of scissors. Once you remove the outer carton, you can reveal the Orbi system by opening the interior box. Right on top of the box, you’ll find a “Let’s get started” card that informs you to Download the Orbi app, Secure your system with the NETGEAR Armor trial, and then Explore the Orbi app. The back of this card shows what should be included in the box and an overview diagram of the layout of the units. Beneath that card you will find the three Orbi parts (the router and satellites). Once you lift those out, you can remove the carton they were sitting in and then pull out the box that has three power adapters and one Ethernet cable (to connect the router to the modem) wrapped up inside.
Aside from the quick start card, there is no instruction manual. You can always visit the Netgear support page for the RBK13 or pull it up on the app, but there is not a printed copy in the box. The reason behind this is because you typically just follow the set-up instructions provided by the app. The Orbi app really does a great job of helping to get you set-up and connected wirelessly through the Orbi. While I’m on the subject, the app has some great features to it including a device manager, control of the NETGEAR Armor and parental controls (if applicable), WiFi settings, a Network Map, Guest WiFi, and Traffic Meter. My favorite feature is the Device Manager because you can see exactly what devices are pulling traffic from your network and you have complete control of each one. Let’s say that you find an iPad connected to your network that you don’t recognize. You can turn off the WiFi signal just to that iPad without affecting the rest of the devices that are connected.
So, back to the set-up process. As I mentioned from the beginning, Netgear and Orbi make this incredibly painless. You download the app and set-up an account. Before you go any further in the app, you will want to make sure that your router is plugged into the modem using the provided Ethernet cable, and that you have power connected to the router, too. Then you use the app to scan the QR code on the router and follow the additional instructions given by the app. You will need to reboot the modem and then wait for the system to come online. You will want to select places for your satellites to live and connect them to power, too. Once the router comes online, the satellites will follow shortly. All in all I think the set-up process took less than 15 minutes to complete. If you have a firmware update it may take longer, but it’s a very easy process that the app walks you through.
Once the system is up and running, you can fine-tune your settings and you can complete activities like Speed Tests. In the speed tests I did, the Orbi reached speeds over 400Mbps on the 5GHz network. Our service caps at 500 Mbps and the results I got were comparable to other Orbi Router’s I’ve tested. The biggest difference I noticed with the RBK13 is that it can only accommodate up to 15 devices wirelessly. This ends up being a problem for anyone who has smart devices that use a WiFi signal.
Netgear makes a solid product with the Orbi systems. The Orbi RBK13 is a good choice if you need to fill out dead spots in your home and on a tight budget. It provides a strong mesh network for your home and even though it’s not a feature-rich as its more pro-level cousins, the RBK13 does deliver on its promises. I wouldn’t buy this version of the Orbi if you have a lot of WiFi-dependent smart devices in your home, but if you are a standard user and just trying to get a better signal throughout your house for your computers, tablets, and smartphones, you will likely have good luck with the Orbi RBK13.
Originally published at https://macsources.com on August 21, 2020.