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IFA 2019: Netgear’s new Orbi RBK850 mesh router is all ready for Wi-Fi 6 and FTTP

IFA 2019 saw a lot of Wi-Fi 6-capable laptops being announced, but what about Wi-Fi 6 routers? Enter the Netgear Orbi RBK850, the long-awaited successor to the original Orbi RBK50.

Very much an upgrade to the original Orbi RBK50, a firm Trusted Reviews favourite, the new RBK850 kit promises buyers a number of key benefits. 

Firstly, as it’s a Wi-Fi 6 system, the RBK850 router and satellites use twice as many spatial streams as the RBK50, meaning a greater number of phones, tablets, and laptops can enjoy fast 2.4GHz and 5GHz connections. Top wireless speeds here have also increased, from 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz frequency to 1.2Gbps, and from 866Mbps to 2.4Gbps on the higher 5GHz frequency. 

Related: IFA 2019

Secondly, the wireless backhaul has increased to a maximum of 2.4Gbps, which compares very nicely to the 1.73Gbps you’d get with an RBK50. Expanded wireless traffic between the router and satellite units ultimately means users can enjoy faster wireless speeds on their devices. 

Thirdly, Netgear’s added a 2.5Gbps multi gigabit Ethernet port to the RBK850 router, all but setting you up for whenever BT, Virgin Media, Vodafone, or Hyperoptic finally come to your postcode with gigabit fibre broadband.

“Currently, your one port is ‘only’ 1Gbps. Now, we’re using multi gigabit, but on the one side,” Lionel Paris, product marketing manager for Netgear’s EMEA consumer products division told Trusted Reviews

“The same Ethernet port can either do up to 1Gbps, or, it can do 2.5Gbps. So if you are lucky enough to get fibre at home, and your provider can give you over a gig, boom, we will serve you.” 

Related: Best Wi-Fi Extenders

While BT’s FTTP footprint currently passes over 1.2 million homes, and Virgin Media’s roughly half that figure, phones capable of making use of those higher Wi-Fi speeds available now include the Samsung Galaxy S10, OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro, and the Sony Xperia 1. Laptops that’ll play ball with Wi-Fi 6 routers announced at IFA 2019 include the new Acer Swift 5, and AsusPro (B9450).

While we had no Wi-Fi 6-enabled phones or laptops to hand to test this out, Paris was confident enough in the prowess of the Orbi RBK850 system to declare that this will be good for the foreseeable future. 

“This product cannot be saturated,” Paris said. “It’s good for the next 4-5 years. Everything we are proposing here is basically based on the current standard.”

While exact dimensions and weights were not available at the Netgear IFA stand, you can see from the photo below that they’re a little bigger than the older RBK50 units. For what it’s worth, they’re a bit heavier, too.

If you’re already convinced and are in shut-up-and-take-my-money mode, here’s how much you’ll need to cough up.

Netgear Orbi RBK850 – Price and release date

A starter kit (RBK852) containing the new Orbi router and one satellite device will set you back £749.

If you’re living somewhere with more rooms and floors, or you need wider coverage for whatever reason, then you can grab a larger 3-pack kit (RBK853) for £1049. Alternatively, if that’s too much to stick on your credit card at once, or you need even more coverage, you can grab a single node (RBS850) for £429.

That’s certainly not cheap, but if the longevity and power of the Orbi RBK850 is as good as Netgear’s saying, you won’t need to invest in a new router for a good while.

The Netgear Orbi RBK850 range is due to go on sale in November.

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