Netgear Orbi RBK13: Blanket Your Home Inexpensively

The new Orbi RBK13 Mesh Wi-Fi System from Netgear.

If you’ve been eyeing a set of Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi system but can’t stomach the price, here’s some good news. The networking company today announced a new variant, the Orbi RBK13, that has the lowest costs within the ecosystem, just $230 for a set of three hardware units.

Update: The full review of the RBK13 is available here.

To put this in context, the original ORbi RBK50, released a few years ago, still goes for $300, the newer CBK40 currently costs $350, and the upcoming Wi-Fi 6 RBK852 will cost $700. All for a set of two hardware units.

Modest Wi-Fi specs, no dedicated or wired backhaul

In return to the low-cost, the RBK13 is the first Orbi system that uses dual-band Wi-Fi 5 — all other Orbi sets are tri-band. As a result, it doesn’t have a dedicated backhaul band, which will likely translate into slower performance.

Though the hardware units of the new Orbi are identical-looking, like the case of all other Orbi systems, they can’t work interchangeably. There’s one router unit (model RBR10) and two satellites (RBS10). The router comes with two Gigabit network ports (1 WAN and 1 LAN) while the satellite has no network port at all — there’s no wired backhaul option.

In terms of specs, however, all units are the same. Each is a 2×2 Wi-Fi broadcaster capable of delivering up to 867 Mbps on the 5GHz band and 400 Mbps on the 2.4GHz. They are also relatively low-powered, running on a quad-core 710MHz CPU. The router also comes with 256MB Flash and 512MB RAM.

Nonetheless, Netgear says, the RBK13 can cover some 4,500 ft² (418 m²) with Wi-Fi signal strong enough to deliver a typical broadband connection, which ranges from 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps of download speeds.

Built-in security, Circle with Disney parental control, and Alexa support

Like the case of the RBK50, the new RBK13 has built-in support for Netgear Armor that protects the entire network against online threats. Armor is not free, however, and costs $70 after a trial period.

For a family with children, the RBK13 includes  Circle with Disney parental controls feature. What’s more, the system works with Alexa and also uses the same Netgear Orbi mobile app for setup and on-going management. It also has a web user interface.

Availability

Netgear says the new Orbi RBK13 Mesh Wi-Fi System is available for pre-order now and starts shipping early next month. You’ll soon find it at retailers. 

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