There many ways to show off financial success; you can get an expensive painting, don a nice watch, buy that nice guy a coffee every morning, or, better yet, snatch this Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6 Tri-band Mesh System (model SXK80) Netgear announced today. Hang it on the wall, and everyone knows you’re rich!
Indeed, if you think the home-oriented Orbi AX6000 (RBK852) that came out late last year is expensive, which it sure is, you’re in for a shocking revelation. This Pro version of the Wi-Fi 6 mesh has a suggested retail price of $770 for a 2-pack. And that’s just the beginning.
But it seems you’ll get what you pay for. You’d hope so anyway.
Wi-Fi 6 Mesh gone Pro
In return for the high cost, according to Netgear, the new system — designed primarily for office environments, though it will work anywhere — comes with advanced business features, fast speeds, and better reliability. The design itself also has some improvement — it looks the part and now seems to have mounting options.
At the core, though, the new Orbi Pro is similar to the home version. It, too, consists of two types of hardware, the Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6 Router (SXR80) and the Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6 Satellite (SXS80). You need one router for each network and then throw in up to six satellites to scale up the coverage.
Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6’s Hardware specifications
The Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6 mesh system shares the same Wi-Fi specs as the home version. For the most part, it’s the same hardware that runs a different firmware and is managed via a separate mobile app, called Insight.
Netgear says the new system will deliver extensive Wi-Fi coverage. Specifically, you can expect up to 3000 ft² (279 m²) out of a single hardware unit, or 6000 ft² for a 2-pack and up to 18000 ft² for a full system of all seven units.
Take these estimates with a grain of salt, though. Wi-Fi coverage is always a tricky thing and the use of “up to” allows for lots of wiggle room.
12-stream Wi-Fi, no 160 MHz channel width support
Similar to the Orbi RBK852, the Orbi SXK80 also a tri-band system that includes one quad-stream 2.4 GHz band and two quad-stream 5 GHz bands — it’s a 12-stream system if you do the math. One of the latter is a dedicated backhaul band that, by default, works solely as the link between the router and the satellite.
Both of the 5 GHz bands are capable of delivering up to 2400 Mbps via the 80 MHz channel width. As a result, the Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6 doubles the speed of the Wi-Fi 5 version.
Similar to the case of the Wi-Fi 6 home version, though, the new Orbi Pro also doesn’t support the venerable 160 MHz channel width. While that’s disappointing, it’s relatively normal, especially for a business device. The 80 MHz is the sweet spot that delivers both reliable performance and compatibility. And it’s plenty fast.
Flexible and fast port options
The Orbi Pro has more to offer in terms of wired connections, than the home version. Each hardware unit comes with five network ports. One is a 2.5 Gbps multi-gig port, and the rest are Gigabit. On top of that, you can also combine the second and third LAN ports, in each unit, into an aggregated 2 Gbps connection.
On the router, the first 2.5 Gbps port works as the WAN port by default. However, you can also turn one of its LAN ports into a WAN port, and now, this port will work as a multi-gig LAN, which is excellent in case you want to host high-speed wired clients.
The router also supports WAN Link Aggregation when working with a supported modem. So in all, this is an all-around multi-gig-ready mesh system, something you won’t find in any of the previous Orbi models.
By the way, the Orbi Pro supports wired backhaul, where you can use a network cable to link the hardware units. In this case, all of its Wi-Fi bands will be available to clients. And in case of a 2-pack, you can even use the multi-gig ports on both units for the backhaul connection.
But you should invest in the Orbi, or any tri-band mesh for that matter, only when you can’t run network cables. Wired networking has many hardware options that are both better and much more affordable.
Insight mobile app, subscription required
That’s because apart from the hefty initial price, the Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6’s Insight mobile app, which allows for managing your network from anywhere in the world, also incurs additional fees.
Indeed, the app’s first-year subscription is part of the hardware cost. After that, you have the option to keep it free if you use a 2-pack with the Insight Basic plan. Then, each additional unit will require an annual fee of $4.99. Or you can opt for the Insight Premium that costs $9.99/year per device that offers more advanced features and functions.
So, you first need to be rolling in the dough to buy the new Orbi Pro and then have to continue working hard to keep it. It’s expensive but also a great motivation, I guess.
In return, you can do a lot more with Netgear’s Insight infrastructure. For one, the app will work with all Insight SMB hardware, including the recently announced WAX610 Wi-Fi 6 access point.
On top of that, with the new Orbi, you can use it to create and manage up to four separate Wi-Fi networks for administration, employees, guests, and IoT devices. Virtual Wi-Fi networks (SSIDs) are nothing new, but it seems with the Orbi Pro, you can handle them with ease while maintaining advanced functions, such as with VLAN, client isolation, and so on.
By the way, the Orbi SXK80 is not compatible with all previous Orbi hardware, including the Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 5. Among other things, that might be because the older models are just not expensive enough.
Availability and pricing
OK, I’ll shut up about money, cost, and expensive before you start thinking I’m against success. So, here’s the good news. The new Netgear Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6 (SXK80) Tri-band Mesh System is available today in the U.S. for a cool $769.99 as a 2-pack (one router, one satellite), as mentioned above.
Those with a larger property can opt for the 3-pack (SXK80B3) or even a 4-pack (SXK80B4) for $1099.99 and $1489.99, respectively. Not sure how many to get? You can start with a 2-pack and add more satellites later. The add-on SXS80 goes for $419.99 each.
Wealthy Europeans will have to wait till the end of this month, but the bragging potential will still be massive. In the old continent, Netgear sets the Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6’s retail price to be €869.99 (£799.99), €1,189.99 (£1,099.99), and €1,499.99 (£1,379.99) for the 2-pack, 3-pack, and 4-pack, respectively. And a single SXS80 satellite unit will set you back €489.99 (£449.99).
There you go — one more thing to spend your hard-earned money on right now. Go ahead, and if you find it worth it, you can thank me later. I’m seriously considering getting one myself for a review. Check back in a while to find out if the bank has approved my loan.