Sunday, January 24th, 2021

Netgear Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6: A Mesh for Those with a Crazy Deep Pocket

Orbi Pro Office
So expensive, the Orbi Pro AX6000 is a subtle — or maybe not so subtle — way to let others know you’re doing well.

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.

SXK80 Wi Fi Coverage
The new Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6’s Wi-Fi coverage per Netgear.

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.

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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.

Orbi Pro Ports
Each Orbi Pro unit comes with 4 Gigabit LAN ports and one 2.5 Gbps port. Note how that of the router (left) is the WAN port by default.

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.

SXK80 Mobile App
The Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6 is part of Netgear’s Insights cloud-based ecosystem.

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.

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13 thoughts on “Netgear Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6: A Mesh for Those with a Crazy Deep Pocket”

  1. I recently replaced a two-year old home unit (RBR40 & 3 RBS40’s) with this Orbi Pro (SXR80 & 2 SXS80’s). I live in a older brick home with little opportunity to run wires, and with the construction of this house, the WiFi is a challenge. What I like about the new system:
    1) Powerful – 3 unit system provides stronger and broader coverage than the previous 4 unit system.
    2) Lots of flexibility, but also what I dislike. I found that that multiple VLAN options made things much more difficult to manage (devices bouncing between VLANs and SONOS music dropping connections). I ended up setting the whole unit up as one network and it works great. But now I have a really expensive system with many features that I don’t/can’t use.
    What I dislike:
    1) The insight app is crap. The Orbi Netgear app used for the home units is much more functional. (and it doesn’t crash). The insight app is useless, I typically do everything by web interface.

    I would recommend this for people who have a large wireless need and also have some network experience. I work in IT so this was not difficult to set up, however, if I did not work in IT this would be a challenge to set up.

    Request of Netgear: I would like to see the Insight App be on par with the Orbi App

    Reply
  2. I just bought this router & 1 satellite. Speed is great, but VLANs are questionable. Devices that connect to VLANs other than the primary VLAN via the satellite are incorrectly assigned IP addresses of the primary VLAN. Also 3 devices on my network jumped VLANs even though they had never been logged into those VLANs. These issues are now at level 3 tech support. Waiting to hear back if they know what is causing the issue, how to fix it and when it will be fixed. Also, guest network can be password protected, but no WPA2 or WPA3.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing, Cindy. And congrats on being rich! 🙂 It seems the issue you mentioned is the fact that VLAN was not in effect. If VLAN is something you really want, I’d not recommend this set.

      Reply
      • Haha, I wish. Not rich, just trying to future proof. The VLANs work perfectly via the router, but they get the wrong IPs via the satellite. And a few devices have jumped VLANs even though they were never logged into them. Been working with Netgear almost a week. Hoping today the issues will be explainable and resolved to give me confidence. But yes, to-date the VLANs on this product are not sufficiently reliable. A bummer.

        Reply
    • @Dong Ngo, Received confirmation from Netgear that I found a bug. Really obvious issue, so surprised it passed testing before market. Anyway, firmware update targeted for mid-January. In the meantime, VLAN security is not as advertised.

      Reply
  3. I run 2 Amplifi Aliens in mesh configuration. Its the same price. And I also have the option of connecting the two both wired or wirelessly. I have them connected with a cat 6 cable as an ethernet backbone, which gives a better signal for the 2 points to communicate with each other than wirelessly.

    They work great. This is also a tri band AX Wifi6 system.

    I can also access them anywhere in the world that I can get internet access. Without a monthly fee

    Reply
  4. Wired networking has many hardware options that are both better and much more affordable.

    Which ones do you recommend for whole home that is wired?

    Reply

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