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Netgear Orbi CBK40 Review: Easy but Pricey Cable Upgrade

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Since the original Orbi RBK50 that came out two years ago, Netgear has released many variants of its popular Wi-Fi system. The Orbi CBK40 is the latest and a special one. It’s the first Wi-Fi system on the market that has a built-in cable modem.

The new hardware means that cable users can skip the modem when replacing their Internet box. However, at $400, the system is pricey. It’ll take almost three years for you to get your money back, assuming you pay a $10/month equipment rental fee.

Cost aside, the CBK40 proved to deliver fast speed and excellent Wi-Fi coverage in my testing. That said, this mesh system is an easy recommendation for those still using a rental cable gateway—and only for them alone.

Dong’s note: I tested the CBK40 with Comcast. However, the system’s supposed to work with other cable companies, such as Spectrum or Cox. Check with your provider to make sure.

The Orbi CBK40 share the same design yet is totally different from all other Orbi sets.
The Orbi CBK40 shares the same design yet is different from all other Orbi sets.

Netgear Orbi CBK40: A familiar mesh system

The Orbi CBK40 is a typical Wi-Fi system. It comes in two units. The first (model CBR40) is the cable gateway, a router, and a cable modem combined in a single box. The other is a satellite extender unit (model RBS20). You use the gateway to connect to the Internet and then place the satellite unit at some distance away to extend the Wi-Fi coverage.

As a set, the Orbi CBK40 is similar to the standard Orbi RBK40 thanks to its AC2200 Wi-Fi designation. The only difference is the CBK40’s satellite unit is smaller and has only two LAN ports instead of four.

Currently, at $400, the CBK40 costs more than the RBK40 set—which itself is pricier than competing systems –, plus a high-speed cable modem. The thing is, with the CBK40, you’ll have just one box at your Internet drop instead of two. Maybe its cord-cutting benefit is worth the extra dollars. Maybe not—it’s your call.

The cable connector, in the place of a WAN port, means the system only works for cable Internet users.
The cable connector, in the place of a WAN port, means the system only works for cable Internet users.

Limited use

It’s important to note that the CBK40 only works with a cable Internet service. Similar to a cable gateway, its m gateway unit doesn’t have a WAN port. Instead, it has a coaxial connector, so you won’t be able to use it if you change your Internet service to fiberoptic or DSL.

What’s more, if you use both Internet and phone service from your cable provider, the CBK40 won’t work, either, since the gateway unit has no telephony capability.  

Like all Orbi systems, the CBK40 works with other Orbi satellite units, such as the RBW30, the RBS40, or the RBS50. As a result, you can start with just the gateway unit—currently costs $299—and add a satellite or two later when you want to increase the Wi-Fi coverage.

However, if you’re already using another Orbi system, you might want to think twice before getting the CBK40. The reason is you’ll have to remove the existing system’s router unit and use the gateway unit of the CBK40 in its place. You can’t use a router unit of any Orbi system as a satellite unit, as far as I know. Consequently, in this case, you are better off getting a separate cable modem.

Middling specs

The CBR40’s built-in cable modem, per Netgear, can deliver up to 1.4Gbps of internet speed. That’s nice, but in reality, you will never experience that with the system because its 2×2 Wi-Fi specs cap at 867Mbps.

Wi-Fi standard802.11ac
Wi-Fi bandsTri-band (two 5GHz bands and one 2.4GHz band). AC2200 (866+866+400Mbps)
Dedicated Backhaul2×2 (5GHz) 867Mbps
Voice commandWorks with Amazon Alexa & the Google Assistant
DimensionsCable gateway: 6.7 x 3.1 x 8.9in (17.02 x 7.87 x 22.61cm), Satellite: 5.6 x 2.4 x 6.6in (14.22 x 6.1 x 16.76cm)
WeightCable gateway: 2.15lbs (.98kg), Satellite:  1.05lbs (.48kg)
Modem32×8 CableLabs certified DOCSIS 3.0 Modem
PortsCable gateway: Four Gigabit LAN ports, one Cable/Coaxial connector; Satellite: Two Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports
Access point modeNo
On/Off buttonYes
Netgear Orbi CBK40’s hardware specifications

So, in the real world, you’ll get an actual Wi-Fi speed of around 500Mbps at best. Still, that’s plenty fast, considering most cable users get 250Mbps or lower download speed. So, the system will work out for the majority of cable Internet plans. But if you have a gigabit-class cable plan, the CBK40 is not the mesh you want.

Easy setup

Setting up the Orbi CBK40 is similar to that of any router with a web interface, and you also have the option to use the Netgear Orbi app. You first set up the router, then add the satellite unit via a sync button on the back of each hardware unit. Each hardware unit has a ring-shaped LED light top that glows in different colors to help placement. Specifically:

  • Blue: The Orbi router and satellite successfully synced, and the connection between the router and satellite is good.
  • Amber: The Orbi router and satellite successfully synced, and the connection between the router and the satellite is fair. Consider moving the Orbi satellite closer to the Orbi router.
  • Magenta: The Orbi gateway and satellite failed to sync. Move the satellite closer to the router and try again.

This light won’t stay on but goes off after a few minutes.

Netgear Orbi CBK40’s detail photos

The CBK40 mesh system includes a cable gateway and a satellite unit.
The Netgear Orbi CBK40 includes a hardware unit, the gateway (router), and the satellite.

The Orbi CBK40 share the same design yet is totally different from all other Orbi sets.
The back of both Netgear Orbi CBK40’s units

The CBR40 cable gateway unit share the same look as other Orbi routers. Note the cable signal sync light on the right.
The front of the Netgear Orbi CBK40’s gateway unit (CBR40)

A gateway like this Netgear Orbi CBR40 will likely have a built-in 5G receiver instead of a cable modem.
The Netgear Orbi CBK40’s gateway unit includes four Gigabit LAN ports and a service connector.

The cable connector, in the place of a WAN port, means the system only works for cable Internet users.
It has no WAN port.
All the information required for a telephone-based cable activation can be found on the gateway unit's underside.
All the information required for a telephone-based cable activation is on the gateway unit’s underside.

The RBS20 satellite unit looks similar to other Orbi satellite unit but smaller.
The front of the Netgear Orbi CBK40’s satellite unit

Due to smaller size, the RBS20 has only two LAN ports.
The back of the Netgear Orbi CBK40’s satellite unit

Quick cable activation

Setting up the router unit with the cable service is easy, too, similar to activating any other modem or gateway. I detailed the process in this post, but here are the steps:

  1. Connect the gateway unit to the service line, then turn it on then wait for a few minutes till the sync light on the front, which shapes like a globe, shows solid blue.
  2. From a computer connected to the gateway via a network cable or Wi-Fi, launch a web browser, you’ll get to a page where you can activate the unit. Alternatively, you can call the provider and give them the unit’s model number (CBR40), its serial number and its MAC address. They will activate it for you.

It took me less than five minutes to have the review unit activated with Comcast.

You can easily find out to which hardware unit a client is connected.
You can easily find out to which hardware unit a client connects.

Responsive web interface, decent feature set

The Orbi CBK40 shares the same Netgear Genie web interface as other Netgear routers. It’s not one of my favorites due to the excessive amount of menus and sub-menus. However, the interface is now responsive, much better than those used in Netgear routers released a few years back.

The Orbi CBK40  also shares a similar set of features to other Netgear routers. You’ll find all standard router settings and can also set up the CBR40 as a VPN server.

What’s more, you can integrate the system with Google Assistant or Alexa voice command. I didn’t test this out, however. In my opinion, enabling voice commands for a router can bring in more problems than benefits.

In all, the CBK40 has more features and settings than most other Wi-Fi systems. But compared to the Asus Lyra Trio, it’s far behind. For example, it doesn’t have built-in online protection or a robust QoS engine.

Netgear Orbi CBK40: Excellent performance

The Orbi CBK40 worked very well in my testing. Being a tri-band system, it has a dedicated backhaul band that works solely to connect the two hardware units. As a result, there’s very little signal loss.

Dongs Mesh Score

The system’s range was also impressive. The gateway unit by itself could easily cover some 1800ft² (≈165m²) without any problem in my trial. It has such a long range that I could place the satellite unit some 75 feet away and still noted only mild signal degradation between the two. With both hardware units, the system can easily cover some 4500ft² (≈420m²). Keep in mind that Wi-Fi signals depend on the environment, so your mileage will vary.

The signal hand-off worked well, too. I could move seamlessly between the two hardware units without losing connectivity. Overall, I didn’t run into any problem during my three-day stress test of heavy and constant usage.

As for the Internet, since my Comcast connection tops at 250Mbps—and I did get that in full—there was no way for me to find out how fast the Orbi CBK40’s built-in cable modem speed could be. Chances are it’s more than fast enough for most cable users.

Netgear Orbi CBK40's Rating

7.6 out of 10
Orbi CBK40 With Names
8 out of 10
7 out of 10
Design and Setup
8 out of 10
7.5 out of 10


Excellent performance

Easy to setup

Built-in fast cable modem



Middling Wi-Fi specs

No WAN port, no telephony capability


The Netgear Orbi CBK40 is not for everyone. For one, it only works for cable users and only those without a cable digital telephone plan.

Most importantly, it’s expensive. You can get a mesh system with more features, like the Asus Lyra Trio, plus a separate cable modem and still have some dough to spare. 

However, if you want to have the fewest number of boxes and wires to keep your place the least cluttered possible, the CBK40 is still a great choice.

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