Netgear Orbi AXE11000 review: A mighty mesh router that’s more than you need



Chris Monroe/CNET

Netgear already makes the fastest and best-performing mesh router we’ve tested to date, and now there is a new model of that system that provides in help for Wi-Fi 6E, a brand new designation for Wi-Fi gadgets outfitted to function in the recently opened, ultrawide 6GHz band.

Dubbed the Netgear Orbi AXE11000, the system boasts the standard 2.4 and 5GHz bands, plus a second 5GHz band for backhaul transmissions, plus the brand new 6GHz band for Wi-Fi 6E connections. Netgear is advertising and marketing it accordingly as the world’s first quad-band mesh router — and it comes with a quad-digit price ticket, too: $1,500 for a three-pack.

Like

  • Highly effective efficiency and quick speeds
  • Helps all generations of Wi-Fi, together with Wi-Fi 6E connections over 6GHz
  • 10Gbps WAN port helps multi-gig web plans after which some
  • Upfront privateness disclosures

Do not Like

  • Too costly to advocate
  • Inconsistent routing compromises speeds to a small diploma
  • Weaker add vary over 6GHz
  • Restricted management over community settings in Orbi app

For the cash, you are getting one of the crucial future-proofed routers we have ever seen, able to hitting wi-fi speeds of as much as 2.4 gigabits per second (2,400Mbps) on the 5GHz band, or as much as 4.8Gbps for Wi-Fi 6E gadgets on the 6GHz band. As for wired connections, every gadget within the system features a 2.5Gbps LAN port and three extra gigabit Ethernet jacks, whereas the router’s WAN port helps incoming speeds from the modem of as much as 10Gbps.

That may have appeared like overkill just some months in the past, however with web suppliers like AT&T, Comcast Xfinity, Ziply Fiber, Google Fiber and others continuing to roll out multi-gig internet plans, high-speed ports like these may be related before you assume.

Positive sufficient, the Orbi AXE11000 was a formidable performer after I examined the system out at my dwelling and on the CNET Good Residence — nevertheless it wasn’t excellent. With 4 bands to juggle, the mesh has extra work to do because it routes your connection, and the system appeared to battle with that course of a bit greater than earlier-gen Orbi setups. It was nonetheless in a position to max out my common speeds in each room of each surroundings I examined it in, nevertheless it wasn’t fairly as flawless as its predecessor, the less advanced Orbi AX6000.

That makes this mesh system a bit like a bodybuilder — excessively highly effective, however perhaps not fairly as nimble because it should be. It is principally a moot level for the reason that system works so nicely, nevertheless it additionally makes the Orbi AXE11000 robust to advocate for many households, particularly up in opposition to worthy alternatives that cost considerably less. That is as robust a router as you’d anticipate for the worth, and it may not be lengthy earlier than most of us will need our dwelling networks to help Wi-Fi 6E, however there isn’t any want to interrupt the financial institution right here.

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Chris Monroe/CNET

First impressions

The Netgear Orbi AXE11000 is a mesh system manufactured from three large-sized gadgets, every outfitted with 12 separate inner antennas, high-power amplifiers and a 2.2GHz quad-core processor. Design-wise, they appear fairly just like the previous generation of upright, incisor-ish Orbi programs, however the addition of bronze accents on the base provides them an appropriately premium look compared. In different phrases, they do not simply seem like Orbi routers; they seem like good Orbi routers — and so they’re additionally accessible direct from Netgear in an all-black build, which is one other good design contact.

The Orbi AXE11000 router includes a WAN port that helps incoming speeds of as much as 10Gbps, which is twice as quick because the quickest web plans within the nation.


Chris Monroe/CNET

Every gadget seems to be an identical, however they don’t seem to be; one among them is your designated router, and it consists of the WAN port that you’re going to use to attach the system together with your modem by way of Ethernet cable. Conveniently coloured in can’t-miss yellow, that WAN port helps incoming speeds as excessive as 10Gbps, which is twice as quick because the quickest web plans accessible anyplace within the US. Do not anticipate this technique to bottleneck your community speeds anytime quickly.

As for the remainder of the ports, every gadget within the system, router and satellites alike, features a LAN jack that helps wired connections at speeds of as much as 2.5Gbps, which is nice in the event you plan to attach the issues with an Ethernet cable for a totally wired backhaul. You will additionally discover three extra gigabit Ethernet jacks for connecting wired community gadgets, sensible dwelling dongles and different peripherals. You will not discover any USB jacks on any of the gadgets, although — that is fairly typical with mesh routers lately, however I nonetheless would have preferred to have seen at the least one right here to can help you join issues like printers and exterior storage drives to the community.

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Netgear/Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Setup and app controls

Netgear’s Orbi app does an excellent job of strolling you thru the setup course of, which solely took me about 10 minutes. You will scan a QR code and plug the router into your modem and into energy, add the satellites in, after which faucet your method by way of fast connectivity checks and a firmware replace, all of which ensures that your system will get off on the precise foot.

I did not take a look at the setup course of on an Android gadget, however on iOS, the app was upfront with its privateness disclosures, with popups looking for separate permissions for information monitoring and for location monitoring. The notifications make it clear that the app tracks your information throughout the web sites and apps you utilize with a purpose to ship personalised advertisements, and you’ve got a transparent alternative to take that data and choose out altogether. Location monitoring is used strictly to auto-connect your gadget to recognized Wi-Fi networks and for system administration, the app says, however you’ll be able to choose out of that, too.

On iOS, the Orbi app provides you clear alternatives to choose out of knowledge assortment and placement monitoring throughout setup.


Netgear/Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

For extra particulars on these practices, you’ll be able to try Netgear’s sweeping privacy policy, which covers all Netgear services. It is the standard legalese, and an Orbi- or at the least a router-specific model of the coverage can be much more useful for customers, nevertheless it nonetheless affords a have a look at Netgear’s insurance policies on the subject of information assortment and safety. Particularly, the corporate tracks issues like your community analytics and profile settings alongside your web utilization habits, geolocation information, and inferential information about your conduct and preferences, a lot of which is used for advertising and marketing functions. That is mainly par for the course with routers lately (and with all kinds of linked gadgets), and once more, I give Netgear some credit score for making it straightforward to make an knowledgeable opt-out choice on the onset of setup.

As soon as setup is full, the app affords a reasonably slim mixture of options. You may run a fast pace take a look at or test an inventory of gadgets linked to your community, however you will not discover a lot flexibility out of your Wi-Fi settings. There is no choice to separate the bands into separate networks, for example, and different widespread settings and tweaks are absent as nicely. Throughout setup, the app mentions a brand new characteristic that allows you to create a separate community strictly for IoT devices, however I could not discover that possibility anyplace as soon as the system was up and working. 

Couple that with a gentle stream of popups that nag you to subscribe to Netgear’s premium cybersecurity instruments, and it is an app that might positively profit from a giant replace, or an overhaul even. Nonetheless, it will get the job accomplished, which is the necessary half.

The Orbi AXE11000 (inexperienced) was in a position to high out my 300Mbps fiber connection in each room of my home — however the common speeds from three different programs, together with the previous-gen Orbi AX6000, have been sooner.


Ry Crist/CNET

Efficiency was robust, not the strongest

As you’d most likely hope from such an costly mesh router, the Orbi AXE11000 was a powerful performer in my at-home speed tests, the place I clock the system speeds in 5 rooms all through my 1,300-square-foot dwelling in Louisville, Kentucky. My fiber web plan helps add and obtain speeds of as much as 300Mbps, and with the router and a single satellite tv for pc in play, the Orbi AXE11000 was simply in a position to high that out on a Wi-Fi 6 consumer over a number of days in each room I examined it in. 

That is a powerful consequence, however the general common speeds weren’t the quickest I’ve seen. Curiously sufficient, the highest spot nonetheless goes to the previous-gen Netgear Orbi AX6000. The highest-rated TP-Link Deco W7200 was a contact sooner in my dwelling than the Orbi AXE11000, too — identical goes for the Arris Surfboard Max AX6600. All of these are tri-band Wi-Fi 6 fashions that do not embody help for Wi-Fi 6E. The Orbi AXE11000 continues to be a extra highly effective and succesful system than any of them, nevertheless it wasn’t fairly as sharp when it got here to routing my connection appropriately.

The Orbi AXE11000 did not optimize speeds in my dwelling fairly in addition to the previous-gen Orbi AX6000 (left). It is a hardly noticeable distinction in follow, nevertheless it’s clear once you graph out your pace take a look at outcomes.


Ry Crist/CNET

You will get a greater sense of this by evaluating the person pace take a look at outcomes between the 2 Orbi programs in the identical spate of checks. That is what you are within the graphs above, with every dot representing my obtain pace throughout a single pace take a look at for the given system within the given room. The AX6000 system saved these speeds excessive and constant, as a result of it doesn’t matter what room I used to be in or the place I had began my connection from, it was making good choices about which band to make use of and which gadget to route my connection by way of. The AXE11000 system noticed these dots dip in sure rooms, and whereas there are a variety of potential the reason why, the likeliest is that it was routing my connection by way of the extender at occasions when it could have been higher to ship it on to the router.

It was a difficulty that appeared to persist no matter which gadget I used to be working my checks on. As I discussed earlier, the Orbi AXE11000 does not provide the possibility of separating the bands into distinct networks, so I wasn’t in a position to isolate the 6GHz band and see the way it carried out by itself. Nevertheless, I made positive to check the system with three separate consumer gadgets — an Apple iPad Air 2 from 2015 that makes use of Wi-Fi 5, a Lenovo ThinkPad laptop computer that helps Wi-Fi 6 and a Samsung Galaxy S21 that helps Wi-Fi 6E. With all of them, I noticed the identical kind of minor quirks that often brought about speeds to come back in a bit decrease than anticipated. It did not have an effect on system efficiency in a noticeable method, however nonetheless brought about it to complete exterior of the highest spot so far as common speeds are involved.

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Ry Crist/CNET

The graphs above present the typical obtain and add speeds by room on every of these three gadgets. Not surprisingly, the Wi-Fi 5 gadget was the slowest general, significantly with respect to uploads. The Wi-Fi 6 gadget noticed its add speeds dip barely in direction of the center of my dwelling, as nicely. In the meantime, with its help for Wi-Fi 6E permitting it to place the 6GHz band to work, the Galaxy S21 logged the quickest add and obtain speeds general, although the efficiency was basically indistinguishable from the Wi-Fi 6 ThinkPad.

My checks weren’t accomplished there, although. I additionally wished to see how the system would carry out in a bigger surroundings with each satellites in play, so I boxed it up and hauled it out to the 5,400-square-foot CNET Good Residence, situated within the rural outskirts of Louisville. Speeds are considerably restricted in that a part of city, however we’ve a fiber hookup with uploads and downloads of as much as 100Mbps, and I wished to know if the Orbi might max these speeds out throughout your entire place.

Obtain speeds have been close to excellent throughout the CNET Good Residence, however the system struggled considerably with add speeds at vary with my Wi-Fi 5 gadget — and, surprisingly, with my Wi-Fi 6E gadget, too.


Ry Crist/CNET

Positive sufficient, it might. Testing throughout eight rooms within the multilevel dwelling, the Orbi was in a position to ship glorious obtain speeds to all three gadgets in all rooms (the graph on the left), with solely a slight dip for my Wi-Fi 5 gadget within the basement (the ultimate 4 rooms on the chart). Uploads have been one other story, although. Once more, the Wi-Fi 5 gadget noticed some noticeable pace dips at vary, and even on the primary ground in the master suite, however now the Wi-Fi 6E gadget was seeing dips, too. In the meantime, the Wi-Fi 6 gadget noticed add speeds that held up quite a bit higher at vary. That is totally different from what I noticed at my home, the place the Wi-Fi 6E gadget led the way in which with the quickest uploads general.

The takeaway there may be that your mileage might range relying on a variety of variables, together with the format and measurement of your property. It is also necessary to maintain the information in context. The Orbi AXE11000 was in a position to ship max or near-max obtain speeds to Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E gadgets in each room of each surroundings I examined it in. That is an particularly good consequence within the CNET Good Residence, the place the one router that normally runs the connection usually sees speeds that plummet into the one digits down within the basement. The Orbi setup by no means stalled or dropped my connection throughout any of my checks, and it by no means did the rest that might trigger me to note a shortcoming with my connection throughout routine use.

All of that’s glorious, even with some slight inconsistencies within the add speeds — however is it adequate for a system that prices nicely over a thousand {dollars}?

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Chris Monroe/CNET

The decision

With a system this costly, it is necessary to grasp what you are paying for. Within the case of the Orbi AXE11000, you are basically paying tons of greater than the previous-gen Orbi AX6000 to get that system with a 6GHz band added into the combination. That brings full help for Wi-Fi 6E into play — however we’re still not seeing clear performance benefits at home for devices like those. In lots of circumstances, a Wi-Fi 6E gadget like that Galaxy S21 will do exactly as nicely linked to an honest Wi-Fi 6 router as it could linked to a Wi-Fi 6E router.

I anticipate that to vary within the coming years as web speeds enhance, increasingly gadgets undertake Wi-Fi 6E, and as producers proceed to make higher use of the usual. Wi-Fi 6E requires full help for Wi-Fi 6, so there are no previous-gen Wi-Fi 5 gadgets on that 6GHz superhighway slowing issues down — that signifies that a system like this may be an particularly good match for environments surrounded by a lot of competing Wi-Fi networks with a lot of potential interference. And in the event you’re in a crowded public area like an airport or a stadium, then a Wi-Fi 6E connection that silos off your site visitors from most people round you may be a godsend. However that is an argument for having a Wi-Fi 6E gadget on the go, not for having a Wi-Fi 6E router at dwelling. 

Backside line: This can be a superb system with a variety of enchantment for deep-pocketed future-proofers, nevertheless it’s greater than most individuals at the moment want, and that makes it tough to advocate at such a excessive asking worth. If I have been shopping for as we speak, I would slightly go together with the previous-gen Orbi AX6000, or higher but, an excellent inexpensive tri-band Wi-Fi 6 system just like the TP-Link Deco W7200 or the Asus ZenWifi XT8. If I wanted a three-piece system with two extenders, the Eero Pro 6 would get me there for about $800 lower than the Orbi AXE11000. Any of these can be more than enough for right now, and sufficient to tide you over till Wi-Fi 6E is a extra compelling improve at dwelling.



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Netgear Orbi AXE11000 review: A mighty mesh router that’s more than you need

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