Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

Netgear Orbi AX4200 (RBK752) Review: A Well-Balanced Wi-Fi 6 Mesh

When Netgear first announced the Orbi AX4200 (RBK752), I assumed it was the lesser version of the flagship Orbi AX6000 (RBK852). And on the surface on it, I was right.

Looking deeper, it’s a different story. There’s a lot more to love in this new and well-balanced mesh Wi-Fi system. The fact it’s significantly more affordable alone means many can experience it. Most importantly, chances are it delivers the same experience you’d get from the RBK852 anyway.

So, if you live in a large property with a sub-Gigabit Internet connection, this 2-pack full-wireless mesh is an excellent buy, especially considering the current cost of around $400 for a 2-pack or $515 for a 3-pack.

If you have wired your home, though, its direct rival, the Linksys Velop MX4200, is probably a better choice. Or you can get any of the dual-band sets in this list of top Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems.

Orbi RBK752 with Box
Netgear Orbi AX4200: The Orbi WiFi 6 AX6000 includes two identical-looking hardware units.

Netgear Orbi Whole Home Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System (RBK752)

$379.99
8.5

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.0/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

  • Fast, reliable Wi-Fi with large coverage
  • Relatively affordable
  • Useful, well designed mobile app
  • Support WAN 2Gbps Link Aggregation
  • Full web interface with all common settings and features

Cons

  • No 160MHz channel support, limited Wi-Fi customization
  • Not compatible with Wi-Fi 5 Orbi hardware
  • Few LAN ports; No Multi-Gig, Dual-WAN, or LAN Link Aggregation, or USB port
  • The fast 5GHz band only works as backhaul, even in a wired setup

Netgear Orbi AX4200 (RBK752): A well-rounded wireless mesh for a large home

It’s impossible to look at the RBK752 without thinking of its older and beefier cousin RBK852. That’s because the two are almost the same. They share the same mobile app, web interface, settings, features, and physical design — with the former being a tad smaller.


Extra: How to read Wi-Fi 6 Orbi model numbers

There are three telling things in the model number of a Wi-Fi 6 Orbi hardware unit: The first letter, the third letter, and the last digit.

  • The First letter (often R or C) means the character of the hardware.
    • R = It’s a standard setup, be it a single router or a mesh system. For example, RBK852 means this one is a standard mesh system.
    • C = There’s a cable modem involved. For example, CBK752 is a mesh system with a built-in cable modem.
  • The 3rd letter (often K, R, or S) means the hardware unit’s exclusive role.
    • K = Kit. This means you’re looking at a multi-hardware-unit package. So RBK752 refers to a kit of more than one hardware unit.
    • R = Router unit. For example, RBR750 is the router unit of the RBK752.
    • S = Satellite unit. For example, RBS750 is the satellite unit of the RBK752.
  • The Last digit (often 0, 2, and 3) shows the package’s total hardware units.
    • 0 = Single hardware unit (either a router or a satellite.)
    • 2 = A 2-pack (router + satellite). For example, RBK752 is a 2-pack cable-ready mesh that includes a CBR750 gateway and an RBS750 satellite.
    • 3 = A 3-pack (router + 02 satellite). The RBK853 is a 3-pack mesh system that includes one RBR850 and two RBS850 units.

OK, if you’re confused, that makes two of us. I’m keeping my fingers crossed right now in hopes of not having made a typo, to say the least.


The hardware of the Orbi RBK852 and RBK752 work interchangeably. So you can use an RBR850 router with an RBS750 satellite, or vice versa. They are also both not backward compatible with Wi-Fi 5 Orbi hardware.

That said, this review is somewhat a supplement to my take on the Orbi AX6000. It’s a good idea that you check out that one first.

READ  Netgear Orbi AX6000 (RBK852) Review: Great Wi-Fi for a Hefty Price
Orbi RBK752 Ports
Netgear Orbi AX4200: The Orbi RBK752 hardware has one LAN port fewer compared to that of the RBK852.

Netgear Wi-Fi 6 Orbi hardware specifications: RBK752 vs. RBK852

As you’ll note on the table below, the RBK752 is slightly smaller, lighter, and doesn’t come with a 2.5Gbps WAN port. It also has one LAN port fewer in both the router and satellite unit.

Both share the same WAN Link Aggregation feature, where you can combine the WAN and LAN1 ports into a single 2Gbps WAN connection. This is a great feature when you use a supported modem and a faster-than-Gigabit Internet connection.

Router (RBR750)Satellite (RBS750)Router (RBR850)Satellite (RBS850)
Dimensions9.1 x 7.2 x 2.8 in (23.11 x 18.28 x 7.11 cm)9.1 x 7.2 x 2.8 in (23.11 x 18.28 x 7.11 cm)10 x 7.5 x 2.8 in (24.5 x 19.05 x 7.11 cm)10 x 7.5 x 2.8 in (24.5 x 19.05 x 7.11 cm)
Weight (each unit)1.9 lbs (862 g)1.9 lbs (862 g)2.86 lbs (1.3 kg)2.86 lbs (1.3 kg)
Wi-Fi SpecsTri-band Wi-Fi 6 AX4200Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 AX4200Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 AX6000Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 AX6000
5GHz-1 Band2×2: Up to 1200Mbp2×2: Up to 1200Mbp4×4: Up to 2400Mbps4×4: Up to 2400Mbps
5GHz-2 Band4×4: Up to 2400Mbps4×4: Up to 2400Mbps4×4: Up to 2400Mbps4×4: Up to 2400Mbps
2.4GHz Band2×2: Up to 574Mbps2×2: Up to 574Mbps2×2: Up to 574Mbps2×2: Up to 574Mbps
Dedicated Backhaul Band5GHz-25GHz-25GHz-25GHz-2
Wired Backhaul SupportYes (5GHz-2 still not available to clients)Yes (5GHz-2 still not available to clients)Yes (5GHz-2 still not available to clients)Yes (5GHz-2 still not available to clients)
ProcessorsQuad-core 1.4 GHz processorQuad-core 1.4 GHz processorQuad-core 2.2GHz processorQuad-core 2.2GHz processor
Memory512 MB NAND flash and 1 GB RAMNone512MB NAND flash and 1GB RAMNone
AP (bridge mode) SupportYes (as a single router or a system)N/AYes (as a single router or a system)N/A
Channel Width Support20 MHz, 40 MHz, 80 MHz20 MHz, 40 MHz, 80 MHz20 MHz, 40 MHz, 80 MHz20 MHz, 40 MHz, 80 MHz
Backward Compatibility802.11b/g/n/ac802.11b/g/n/ac802.11b/g/n/ac802.11b/g/n/ac
Ports (each unit)1x Gigabit WAN, 3x Gigabit LAN2x Gigabit LAN1x 1Gbps/2.5Gbps WAN, 4x Gigabit LAN4x Gigabit LAN
Link AggregationWAN only (WAN+LAN1)NoneWAN only (WAN+LAN1)None
Price (at launch)$450 (2-pack)TBD$699 (2-pack)TBD
Hardware specifications: Netgear Orbi RBK752 vs RBK852

What’s most significant is that the RBK752 uses two different 5GHz bands, and only the lower-tier (5GHz-1) is available to clients. So while the two have the same backhaul speed, the sustained speeds at the end-devices are more modest on the RBK752.

(In reality, though, that made a little difference as you will see in the performance section below.)

Like the RBK852, the RBK752 also doesn’t support the venerable 160MHz channel. As a result, at best, clients can connect at 1.2Gbps of negotiated speed with the sustained rates significantly lower. But the mesh will be fast enough for any sub-Gigabit Internet connection.


Extra: Orbi RBK752 vs. Orbi CBK752

The Orbi RBK752 is available as a cable-ready variant called Orbi CBK752.

As mentioned above, “C” in this case is for cable. So, the only difference between the two is that the latter’s router unit, the CBR750, is a cable gateway — it a router + modem combo.

In many ways, the CBR750 unit is the same as when you use the RBR750 and a CM2000 modem together.

However, note that while the RBR750 can work with any broadband service, the CBR750, which doesn’t have a WAN port, can only work for those with Cable Internet. So, it’s more rigid.

Other than that distinction, from Wi-Fi performance’s perspective, the RBK752 and CBK752 are the same. Keep that in mind if you’re looking for a review of the Orbi CBK752. By the way, I might review the CM2000 modem separately when I manage to get a faster Internet connection.


An improved design

While looking the same as the previous model, the more compact design actually makes the RBK752 a lot better, in my opinion. The hardware units are now shorter and narrower, yet it has the theme thickness, resulting in a better footing. They won’t topple easily.

While they are not wall-mountable out of the box, they also come with screw holes for mounting accessories. They also look slightly better, too, with a sleek and slightly concave top.

Netgear Orbi AX4200 (RBK752): detail photos

Orbi RBK752 Retail Box
The Netgear Orbi AX4200 RBK752’s retail box.

Orbi RBK 752
The Netgear Orbi AX4200 include two seemingly identical hardware unit.

Orbi RBK752 Back
From the back, though, you’ll note Orbi RBK752 includes a RBS750 (router) has more ports than a RBS750 (satellite) unit.

Orbi RBR750 Hand
Both units of the Orbi RBK752 share the same weight. Each is not exactly bulky but nor is it compact.

Orbi RBR750 Ports
The are the ports of the Orbi RBR750. Note the Link Aggregation.

Orbi RBS750 Ports
The Orbi RBS750 has just two LAN ports. You can use them for wired clients or wired backhaul.

Orbi RBR750 Underside
The underside of the Orbi RBR750. Note the screw holes for mounting.

Orbi RBS750 Underside
The underside of the Orbi RBS7520 is basically the same as that of the router unit.

Orbi RBK 752 Top
Netgear Orbi AX4200’s hardware looks quite sleek from the top.

Pre-sync hardware, familiar setup setup process

Other than the minor differences in the look, ports, and Wi-Fi specs, the Orbi RBK752 shares the rest with the RBK852. To avoid repeating myself, I’ll recap them here.

Out of the box, the two hardware units are pre-synced. As a result, all you have to do is set up the RBR750 unit like a standalone router. After that, plug the RBS750 (satellite) unit at a good distance, and you get yourself a full-operational mesh.

(Note: Each unit does have a sync button which is only necessary when you use it with hardware unit of another Orbi set or a standalone Orbi satellite.)

It’s important to note that the Orbi has a full web interface that’s available at its default IP address which is 192.168.1.1 (or routerlogin.com). Just navigate a browser there from a connected computer and the rest is self-explanatory.

Alternatively, you can also use the Orbi mobile app. In this case, you need an account with Netgear to tie your mesh to. Now, you’ll be able to conveniently manage your network on your phone even when you’re out and about, at the risks of your privacy.

It’s worth noting that the app is quite well designed. It also comes with a visual network map and some handy tools, including a speedtest.net-based internet speed test, and a real-time WiFi Analytics section.

READ  Mesh Wi-Fi System Explained: How to Best Use Multiple Broadcasters

Standard feature set, Zero Wi-Fi settings

Like the case of the RBK852, the RBK752, specifically the RBR750 router, has a common set of network settings found in most home routers. These include QoS, Dynamic DNS, IP address reservation, port-forwarding, and so on.

There’s also a built-in OpenVPN server which will come in handy for those who travel a lot, and Traffic Meter that monitors and controls the Internet bandwidth.

Orbi RBK752 Wi Fi Settings
The Orbi RBR752 is quite thin on Wi-Fi settings.

And like most Netgear routers and mesh systems, the RBK752 comes with a short trial of Netgear Armor online protection. To use it, though, you’ll need to resort to the mobile app. Similarly, you can also opt for Netgear Circle by Disney Parental Control feature, another entire app.

Like most Netgear routers, and especially Orbi systems, the RBK752 is thin in Wi-Fi settings. There’s almost nothing you can do with it other than changing your Wi-Fi network’s name and password. But this is not exactly all bad. It makes life easier for those who want something they can set up and forget.

Netgear Orbi AX4200 (RBK752): Excellent performance

Without a multi-gig port, the RBK752 doesn’t have any chance to wow anyone in its sustained Wi-Fi 6 throughput. As it turned out, though, the mesh very well in my testing, even edging out the beefier cousin in certain tests.

Indeed, as a router, the RBR750 scored sustained speeds between some 710Mbps to 875Mbps to a 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client, which had the negotiated connection of 1.2Gbps within the range of up to 40 feet (12 m) away.

Orbi RBK752 Router Mesh Performance
Orbi RBK752 Router Mesh Performance

Due to the lower Wi-Fi specs, the router didn’t do as well with Wi-Fi 5 clients, however. I used a 4×4 one at the close range (10 feet) test, and it had a sustained speed of some 660Mbps. At 40 feet away, my 3×3 client averaged some 600Mbps. Still, these are impressive numbers.

As a mesh system, the RBS750 did well, too. One thing to note right away that there was little signal loss. (I always test mesh systems in a wireless setup.)

You’ll note in the chart below that the sustained number of the satellite unit is quite close to those of the RBR750 router. That’s a clear sign of a strong wireless backhaul band.

Orbi RBK752 Router Mesh Satellite Performance
Orbi RBK752 Router Mesh Satellite Performance

The Orbi RBK752 registered about the same coverage as that of the RBK852. specially. The router unit, by itself, could handle some 2000 ft² (186 m²). And that means with two unit, you can expect to blanket a home of some 4000 ft2.

Of course, the actual coverage will vary depending on the environment. But it’s safe to say this set has a great range.

As a single router or a mesh system, the RBK752 passed my 4-day stress test with no issues at all. I used it as our main system, and there was nothing to complained about. That’s quite something since some individuals in my household tend to complain a lot.

Conclusion

The Netgear Orbi AX4200 (RBK752) Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System delivers a clearly better experience than the previous and much more expensive version, the RBK852. Part of that sure is because I tested the latter almost a year ago, likely with less refined software. (The RBK852 indeed works better now than I first tested it.)

But you can’t beat the price. At more than $200 less, the RBK752 is comparatively a steal. So, again, if you’re looking to get a full wireless mesh for a large home, this one is an easy recommendation.

READ  Best Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Systems of 2021: The Real-Deal Collection

42 thoughts on “Netgear Orbi AX4200 (RBK752) Review: A Well-Balanced Wi-Fi 6 Mesh”

  1. Great review — convinced me to buy AX4200 + 2 satellites which now work in my 3000 sq ft home. However, my mobile devices (laptops, phones) do not switch hubs readily when roaming unless I switch networks (main guest). I’ve read about Orbi advanced settings including MU-MIMO, implicit beam-forming and fast-roaming. However, it appears that they are hidden or don’t exist in the control menu (advanced or otherwise). I’d like to tinker to improve sluggish hand-offs to more liked I’d imagined in reading the description ‘seamless.’ If no control options, maybe hub placement strategies? I look forward to your advice.

    Reply
  2. Is it necessary to have Netgears security software with the Orbi AX4200? I have security software installed in my computer and it covers my phone and tablet too, or is a security suite specifically for the router necessary?

    Reply
  3. Hi Dong, if I have a 3-storey, 3200sf house and internet coming into the basement, can I use one of these in the basement and another on the top floor? Or do I need a third unit? I’ve read that there’s such thing as too many nodes, so…

    Reply
    • You probably won’t’ need three, but the second unit needs to be on the 2nd floor. It needs to be close enough to the first one. If that doesn’t work out then you’ll need a third one.

      Reply
  4. Dear Dong, your posting regarding the Orbi RBK750 is very helpful to me; thanks. Would you kindly help more by answering my question? I recently purchased a Netgear CAX80 modem router to connect to my three Unifi AP Pro’s that are four years old. The system was experiencing connectivity issues which improved after I disabled the wireless feature on the CAX80. I have today ordered the RBK753S in the hope of replacing the Unifi AP’s. I would like to use the CAX80 because I have already invested in the unit. Should I connect the RBK753 router with or without turning off the router feature on the CAX80? If it should be turned off, should it be done prior to installing the RBK753, or after installing? Thanks for any help.

    Reply
      • Dear Dong,

        First and foremost, thank you very much for giving me some of your time. You provide a good example of people helping people just for the sake of helping.

        The moral of the story is that one should always begin with the end in mind. Unfortunately, I am only just realizing how much I don’t know about network management. Fortunately, reading your posts is helping tremendously. I will keep my current system working until WiFi 6E is introduced and then spend the money and effort to upgrade when the investment will survive for a few years. You have inspired me to continue learning on this topic, and for that I am appreciative. Thanks, Greg

        Reply
  5. Dear Dong

    I just got 1000mbit fibernet in a 1800 squarefeet, 2 story house from 1920 (so no concrete walls). Have a single Google Wifi Mesh that I tried shortly, but my phone kept choosing the 2,4ghz band on the Google mesh giving me around 80mbit wirelessly.

    So now I’m looking for a foolproof (as I’m not that tech-savvy) WiFi-mesh that will allow me for 200 mbit+ on the second story where my office is. Thinking that the RBK752 (2 pack) is a good bet, but here is my question:

    My internetprovider keeps saying: It has to be able to do VLAN tagging 101. Does the RBK752 allow this out of the box or does it require any tampering (if possible at all)?

    Best regards Frederik Fagerlund

    Reply
    • I know the Orbi allows for some VLAN (many others do, too) but not necessarily the type required by your provider, Fred. I think you’d better use the provider-supplied hardware and then turn that gateway into the bridge mode, or go with a double NAT. More here.

      Reply
      • Thank you for the quick answer! And there shouldn’t be any obvious trouble using the Orbi RBK752 as a double NAT?

        BR Frederik

        Reply
  6. Hello!

    Awesome site and reviews! Thank you!

    I’d like to ask for some spiritual guidance.

    I currently have gigabit internet (Comcast) and an Asus RT-AX92u. This setup alone isn’t enough to cover our entire house (1700sq ft, bedrooms/office in the basement). Between getting another Asus and going with Costco’s Orbi (AX4200), which of the two would be the better option?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  7. Awesome site..love it….I have had Orbi’s and EERO’s (both the pro and eero 5’s).
    Are you aware of any mesh system that would allow for multiple SSID’s? I am aware of the ASUS’s—but the fact they don’t broadcast the Guest network on the satellites not sure if I want to go that way. About 7500 squ ft house–all wired…I need to have 3 separate SSID’s (and I don’t want to split the 2.4/5ghz either) Other than going with a Meraki? 🙂 Thanks again!!!!

    Reply
  8. Hi Dong,

    Love your work, I have had these routers for about 5 months now and have noticed that the backhaul actually caps out at 1200Mbps per the Router GUI. I sent out a note to Netgear Support and they haven’t been able to give me a resolution.

    People with the RBK850 Series have the correct 2400Mbps backhaul. Does this impact the client side speeds at all?

    Reply
  9. Hey there,

    Great informational read. I’ve had this system for a few months now as I only recently replaced my Nighthawk R7000, which worked great until I maxed it’s concurrent device limit.

    With that said, do you or anyone else on here know the exact concurrent device limit for the AX4200? It claims 40+, but what’s the exact number? I seem to be rapidly approaching 40 devices and fear I need to upgrade to the AX6000.

    Reply
  10. Hey Dong – You are awesome. Thank you. Like a lot of others I am debating between the Costco Orbi RBK753 3-pack (which at $429 eliminates the cost disadvantage) and ASUS ZenWiFi XT8. I have a three story home so the Orbi’s extra satellite has appeal. I’m on Xfinity but about to move to ATT 1GB fiber.

    My question is this. Consumer Reports gives Orbi a 2/5 for security but never explains why. I’m trying to understand if I should be concerned and what differences bothered them vs. ASUS (rated 4/5).

    Any thoughts there?

    Reply
    • You still read Consumer Reports, David? 🙂 I’d say if you want something easy to use and stable out of the box, go with the Orbi. If you want something with lots customization and excitement, go with the Asus.

      Reply
          • Fantastic site Dong, first and foremost. I thought I saw you wrote that there was an issue with Netgear having access to all your internet traffic with regards to the Orbi system. Is that an issue with the Asus XT8 as well? I’m guessing most people around 3000-4000 sq ft are down to these 2 systems to buy. FYI the RBK 752 is now on sale for $379, which may sway mine and others’ leaning I think. Thank you in advance.

  11. I bought these from Costco and couldn’t be more pleased with them. They just work wirelessly without any effort. I had people complaining about dropped Zoom calls before and since it has been a breeze. I did have one issue with Lenovo based Chromebooks connecting though. I ended up going in to the advanced settings online (not the phone app) and adjusting the RTS to something higher. After rebooting both they are now connecting without issue at 1500. I think the default value was set to 50.

    I have recommended this set to everyone I know as the perfect blend of cost to performance in a mesh system.

    Reply
    • I’d go with the Asus, mostly because it has a lot more features and settings. But if you want something that requires less work and maintainace this one is better.

      Reply
  12. Hi Dong,

    First time poster, here. I’ve been waiting a while for your review of this unit. Here’s my journey:

    – Long-time user of Apple AirPort Extreme/Time Capsule, but having moved to a larger home a couple of years ago, I’ve been on a search for a more suitable replacement – preferably a mesh network.

    – About 4 months ago I purchased the 3-pack of this unit (Costco) and had, by-and-large, a great experience. However, of our ~20 devices, 1 (a MacBook) would not stay connected to the internet. I spent hours troubleshooting with both Netgear and Apple. At the end, each pointed the finger at the other and told me to try a new solution.

    – I then bought eero pro (Wifi 5) 3-pack. Very easy install, and was reliable for connection, but I was significantly underwhelmed after having experienced firsthand the benefits of Wifi 6 and a dedicated backhaul (neither of which eero offered). The performance speed tests were ~50% of my incoming internet speed from my ISP in a majority of the house. My devices would not switch from node-to-node with any ease or predictability. I returned to the store.

    – I then bought Linksys Velop MX10. It was good, but it was expensive. It seemed to perform well (flawless connectivity), but not quite as strong in performance as my initial Orbi RBK753 – namely, with Orbi speeds remain close to full (per the ISP), in between nodes (Satellites), and throughout more of the house, but Velop seemed to diminish by about ~30%.

    – On a wing and a prayer I returned the Velop MX10 and simply bought another set of Orbi RBK753’s. This time, they worked. All devices connected/remain connected. I’ve now had them running for ~90 days, and save for a few internet outages (primarily attributed to my ISP) and one incident where all devices were losing connection to the internet, after determining it was neither my ISP or modem, I simply restart the router and satellites, and I’ve been back in business, since.

    I’m sharing this, hopefully to be helpful to others weighing options. Honestly, I was eagerly awaiting the eero Pro 6’s, but it seems they are all together underwhelming per user reviews, and Dong’s reviews, here.

    Lastly, I’m on the fence between keeping these Orbi’s vs. the new Linksys Velop AX4200 (MX12600) [3-pack]. I had great performance out of the MX10 (2-pack), but it was simply too expensive compared to Orbi, and being only 2 units. The main difference of interest for me is the USB port on each unit on the MX12600. I do a lot with backups to external drives (NAS “light”). This isn’t an option with Orbi, unless I invest in a true NAS solution – i.e. Synology.

    Dong, any thoughts to add regarding my situation?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  13. Great review. I was forced into these as my old mesh system died after a firmware update and this was the best router i could go out and buy in my area. Costco has these $100 less than netgear.

    My original plan was to return them after i got something better. I have 9000 sq ft home. These worked so good out of the box, i just got another set to complete the coverage! I set up the second router as a wired access point in one corner of the house with the main router connected to four satellites. The fourth satellite is quite a distance away from the main router, but it is doing a great job of daisychaining from a satellite in between.

    I agree that no one should expect gig plus performance. I am getting at least 200 mbps in all corners of my house, which is not something i thought possible for under $1000!

    It does take awhile for it to optimize itself. For a few weeks the fourth satellite would stop daisychaining and try to link with the main router. Its been working well for 4 months now. The “nest thermostat” issue is also real, and weird. That could be a dealbreaker for some people.

    Reply

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