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Should you go with Netgear Orbi or Linksys Velop for your Wi-Fi 6 mesh?

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A balanced mesh

Linksys Velop MX10



Dedicated Wi-Fi link

Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852)



The Linksys Velop MX10 is a sensibly balanced Wi-Fi 6 mesh system and even keeps compatibility with older Velop mesh nodes. The Orbi WiFi 6 gets higher Wi-Fi speeds but not by enough that most people would notice. The Orbi is a better fit for someone with an existing wired network with speeds over 1Gbps, even though for now, most home internet connections max out at 1Gbps. For most people, the Velop MX10 will deliver a very similar level of performance on the majority of devices at a lower cost.

Backward compatible designs

Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6

Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6Source: Netgear

If you are considering a mesh Wi-Fi system, it's likely because a traditional centralized router isn't providing consistent or fast coverage. One of the strengths of a mesh is that it can be expanded based on your needs to fit your home. The Linksys Velop series has a lot of options for expanding your mesh system whether you want to buy more Wi-Fi 6 routers or older, slower Wi-Fi 5 equipment. This older equipment is much cheaper and can be a good way to get internet service into low priority areas cheaply.

Netgear's Orbi line also has a lot of options but, unfortunately, the Orbi WiFi 6 system is only compatible with other Wi-Fi 6 Orbi equipment. This ensures a fast and consistent experience but raises the cost of expansion and also means you can't upgrade an existing Orbi system with Wi-Fi 6 equipment.

Linksys Velop MX10 Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852)
Wireless speed AX5300 AX6000
Wi-Fi standard Wi-Fi 6 (802.11AX) Wi-Fi 6 (802.11AX)
LAN Ethernet connections 4 per node 4 per node
Setup App or web App or web
Dimensions 4.33×4.33×9.84 inches 10×2.8×7.5 inches
WAN speed 1Gbps 2.5Gbps

On the spec sheet, these routers have quite a lot in common, with the Orbi coming in with slightly faster speeds. Overall, the Orbi system is better suited for a faster wired network, especially one with network storage thanks to the 2.5Gbps WAN port. Still, for most normal usage including multiple 4K video streams, the Velop's 1Gbps internet speed should be more than sufficient.

Coverage and expansion

Linksys Velop Wi-Fi 6 rear

Linksys Velop Wi-Fi 6 rearSource: Linksys

Out of the box, the router and node included with the Velop Mx10 system offer 6,000 square feet of coverage. This will be enough for most homes and careful placement can ensure you dodge things that might block your wireless signals such as concrete or brick walls. Of course, if you end up needing more coverage or have dead spots you can always expand your mesh.

By maintaining compatibility with older Velop systems, Linksys has allowed for a ton of expansion options. These options range from smaller dual-band Wi-Fi 5 systems to tri-band Wi-Fi 5 systems. Of course, there is also the option of adding a standalone Velop MX5 Wi-Fi 6 router as a node.

The RBK852 Orbi WiFi 6 pack includes one router and one node, which adds up to 5,000 square feet of coverage. If you know you'll need more, you can start with the three-pack or add additional nodes as needed. It is a bit disappointing that an existing Orbi system can't be upgraded with this new router but it does mean you'll have a faster, more consistent experience throughout your network.

Speed

Netgear Orbi with TV

Netgear Orbi with TVSource: Netgear

The majority of home internet connections max out at 1Gbps on cable or fiber. Both the Orbi and Velop systems are more than capable of delivering these speeds to compatible devices. For now, only a handful of newer network cards and phones will be able to take advantage of the full speed of either system. That being said, you likely won't notice the deficit outside of large downloads and speed tests.

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The Orbi system has a slight speed advantage as part of a mesh with 1,200Mbps available on the 2.4GHz band and 2,400Mbps available on one of its 5GHz bands. The final 5GHz band with 2,400Mbps is dedicated to maintaining the mesh connection.

The Velop isn't far behind with 1,174Mbps at 2.4GHz and 2,402Mbps and 1,733Mbps available on the two 5GHz bands. At first glance, it looks like the Velop is much faster and it can be, but in a mesh, it will have to share the wireless connection with a link to the base router. Still, it should be able to deliver a 1Gbps connection with a good signal.

Design

Netgear and Linksys each took a different approach to design. The Velop routers looking like part of an obelisk while the Orbi routers have a wider, but shallower housing. The Orbi router will stand out more with a two-tone color scheme that makes it look more like a space heater. Still, neither router looks bad and both keep all wired connections to a small area on the rear of the router allowing you to easily conceal all wires.

It's likely the Velops will more easily blend in with a room's decor which can be a plus when you are trying to find the best place for your mesh's signal.

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Which should you pick?

Linksys Velop AX5

Linksys Velop AX5Source: Linksys

If you're looking for great wireless coverage in a large home, you can't go wrong with either system. The Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 system strives for consistency with its dedicated band but in most cases, the Linksys Velop MX10 will be able to match the performance and will do so at a lower price. To help your decision, you can also add in Wi-Fi 5 Velop nodes to cheaply fill in dead spots where speed isn't as important. Both systems are great options but the Linksys Velop MX10 checks more boxes for more people.

Dedicated Wi-Fi link



Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852)

Fast WAN and a dedicated band

Fast and consistent Wi-Fi 6 speeds with a multi-gig WAN port makes the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 system a great option to upgrade a home network's Wi-Fi.

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