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NETGEAR Orbi RBK13 Whole Home Wi-Fi Mesh Platform Review

NETGEAR Orbi RBK13 Whole Home Wi-Fi Mesh Platform Review

NETGEAR has a few things to clean up with the Orbi RBK13 whole-home wireless mesh platform, but it has potential. Let's take a look.

By Tyler Bernath on Feb 3, 2020 10:15 am CST
Rating: 80%Manufacturer: NETGEARModel: RBK13-100NAS
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The Orbi lineup has garnered a significant amount of success since its launch nearly three years ago. In that time, we have had countless iterations of the platform, and today, we have yet one more to add with the RBK13, a three-node dual-band wireless mesh system.

The RBK13 goes away from the standard "tower" form factor of past Orbi appliances. It sets its sights on the direct competition with Google Wi-Fi and Eero platforms that utilize a more friendly footprint and aesthetic design. That said, the RBK13 is a three-node kit setting itself up in the AC1200 class with a NETGEAR RBR10 router and two RBS10 satellites.

Each unit is capable of 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 867Mbps on the 5GHz band. The platform in use is Qualcomm, with the IPQ4019 seen in many current-gen mesh platforms. It is also likely this unit shares the same memory configuration with 256MB of DDR3 and 128MB of NAND flash.

The MSRP of the NETGEAR Orbi RBK13 comes in at $229.99 with a one-year warranty.

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The packaging is quite similar to past Orbi products. We have an image of the nodes on the front with applicable branding and features below.

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The back goes into more detail with use cases and features, including added support for NETGEAR Armor and Disney Circle parental controls.

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Each of the three nodes comes with a power cable, while the router adds an ethernet cable.

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The small form factor is likely the first thing to stand out; the front offers branding and LED above.

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The backside offers sync and power input to the right with WAN and LAN to the left.

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The setup of the Orbi platform is run through the app on both iOS and Android platforms. Above, we begin setup by connecting all cables to the Orbi router.

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Running through setup, we name our home network, adding a password. You can optionally use the default setup that comes with the kit.

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Once the setup is complete, you will have the dashboard seen above. A list of connected devices below in device manager with NETGEAR Armor security to the right. A built-in speed test is available with the Internet Speed tab and to the right of that Disney Circle Parental Controls.

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The device menu will show you the currently connected platform, with the ability to disable them instantly by toggling the switch. Devices are categorized by connection type as well.

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The Internet Speed tab offers you the ability to check your network connection.

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Wi-Fi settings allow you to change the SSID and password along with security settings. You also have two options for easily sharing your network settings with a QR Code or link.

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The sidebar settings menu offers options for adding satellite, new setup, or support. You can also manage your account and add-ons from here.

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LAN throughput came in at 942 Mbps for wired connections and 274 Mbps for 5GHz wireless.

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2.4GHz was a little disappointing coming in at 76 Mbps.

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Moving over to 5GHz, we see performance reaching 322 Mbps with a backhaul of 131 Mbps.

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Unable to force 2.4GHz, I was only able to test mobile throughput with the 5GHz network. That said, we had interesting performance, starting at 208 Mbps and holding that line to the end at 168 Mbps.

Closing this review, the RBK13 is an interesting product and having tested this in early December, things could have changed with recent firmware updates. That said, the RBK13 is the poorest Orbi platform I've tested; performance was not typical of anything I have seen in the past, and I have tested multiple competing platforms that shared the same hardware with no issues. Perhaps, the saving grace of this platform is its stability as there were no issues in that aspect, and NETGEAR will certainly, in time, get the performance worked out.

Build quality is top-notch, as is the case will all Orbi platforms of the past. The integrated LED isn't overly bright, and the form factor does work out quite well for deploying this platform within your living space. The app works out quite well for aiding the setup process, I had no bumps or setbacks during the setup of the RBK13, and it does offer a solid interface for managing devices and securing your network. A few things could be cleaned up by integrating both NETGEAR Armor and Parental Controls into the app, not pushing consumers into a separate platform to use those features.

Pricing for the Orbi RBK13 is quite reasonable, landing at $229.99, $70 under most of its competition, including Google Nest and Amazon Eero.

Tyler's Test System Specifications

Buy at Amazon

Performance70%

Quality80%

Features90%

Value80%

Overall Rating80%

The Bottom Line

Orbi RBK13 offers a fantastic list of features including device security with NETGEAR Armor and top level parental controls with Disney Circle, but lacks somewhat when it comes to performance.

80%

NETGEAR Orbi Whole Home WiFi System

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Tyler Bernath

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Tyler Bernath

Growing up in a small farm town in northern Ohio, technology was never around unless it was in a tractor. At the early age of nine years old, my parents brought home our very first PC and I was instantly hooked and quickly learned what it meant to format a hard drive, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95 as my parents slept. As I grew up, many things changed around me, but my love and enthusiast nature always kept my PC at my side. Eager to get deeper into technology, I started reviewing products.

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