The NetGear Orbi is a better option than the Google WiFi system, which has a maximum coverage area of 4,500 square feet.
We’ve often seen the launch of Orbi, Google Wifi and other different wi-fi system products. One thing for sure is that they are expensive compared to common Wi-Fi or even powerline solutions.
So instead of blindly buying a solution based on ads and marketing, it would be a good idea to take a look at what these new systems actually offer before buying them.
How were they tested?
To make sure that our results are accurate and reliable, I will be testing 5 different scenarios using 2 routers from each system. In the first test, both systems will be in the same room (same floor) to see what kind of speeds they produce when there’s no obstruction between them.
The second test will be done in an obstructed environment (3 walls in-between) while keeping other variables unchanged. If possible, I’ll also try setting up Orbi behind existing Google wifi to see if it works (Yes/No). Here are the following variables that may affect data transfer speed between two devices:
1). Distance: how far away is each node from its corresponding router?
2). Obstruction: there’s a wall in-between, will it affect speeds?
3). Firmware: Are the devices running on the latest version available at time of test?
The reason behind choosing these 3 variables is because we believe they’re important when deciding to add more nodes. For example if Orbi is not able to function properly behind another wi-fi router, then it won’t be much use for people who prefer using only one secondary router.
Also, how well each device performs in an obstructed environment may determine its range and speed capabilities. Same goes for firmware versions update checker which may indicate that some features are buggy or nonfunctional at this stage. So without further ado here are the results of our tests.
If you’re interested in more speed test results, please feel free to leave a comment below because I’ll be providing complete charts/tables soon. Please note that some drawbacks are our fault e.g. not disconnecting other wi-fi routers before testing.
|Netgear Orbi||Google WiFi|
|Parental Controls||Yes- Comprehensive||Yes- Limited|
|Dimensions (Inches)||6.7 x 3.1 x 8.9||4.2 x 4.2 x 2.7|
What we liked about both Orbi and Google WiFi:
1). What’s a Mesh Network?
One of the key things behind these new routers is their mesh network capability which allows each node to talk to other nodes and ‘extend’ wifi coverage.
This is achieved by repeating or repeating data packets through multiple nodes so that there are no weak areas in your house where signal strength is poor.
It has nothing to do with speed because most people who buy them actually lack the range power of older wi-fi routers. So if you’re looking for something better than Just Powerline, they would be great options although you also need to consider the price.
2). Extra Feature
While Orbi can’t play YouTube 360p videos, it’s still a great router with lots of useful features including parental controls which you can use to monitor your kids’ internet usage and apps upgrades. Perhaps if they wanted to kill it in this segment, they could have included USB 3.0 connectivity so that editing 4K videos would be possible.
As for Google WiFi, it has an app that allows you to prioritize devices (Add them into the ‘Family Wi-Fi’ section) depending on their importance during times when there isn’t enough bandwidth.
This is something most people never thought was possible but the implementation of smart technology will make it a mainstream feature in no time.
As you can see from this Orbi vs Google wifi speed test video, it has a stronger signal even without full bars which are something we didn’t expect at all. This means that if you have a large house, you’ll be able to enjoy wireless internet just about anywhere.
When performing the same tests on our other wi-fi routers, connectivity was almost impossible but with Orbi, we had complete coverage and speeds just as expected.
The only downside here is that Orbi doesn’t work well behind another router so if you’re looking for something easy to set up, Google WiFi would be a better option.
Also, if you want to use Orbi as a primary router, you’ll be better off buying it from Amazon because purchasing directly from their website means dealing with lots of baggage and outrageous shipping fees.
4). Easy To Setup & Use
For the average person who doesn’t live in their basement most of the time, Google WiFi is definitely an amazing product for wireless internet coverage. It’s extremely easy to set up and that makes it ideal for people who are still unboxing their first gaming console or just bought their very first smart TV.
You can literally plug it in, connect your modem/router wirelessly, turn on the switch and start using your wi-fi connection almost instantly! No need to open ports or change subnets unless absolutely required.
The biggest difference between Google Wifi vs Orbi is the price. If you’re not looking for that extra ‘something’ but still want to enjoy what Orbi has to offer, you can do so by going with a two-pack instead which only costs around $300.
And in my opinion, this router was worth every penny because it has made our streaming experience much better and we’re not having problems when multiple people are connected at the same time.
By comparison, a single Google WiFi unit costs close to $130 while a three-pack retails for almost $400 which is way too much especially if your house isn’t big enough.
In terms of connectivity and performance, Google WiFi wins hands down because it can easily cover medium-sized houses. Orbi, on the other hand, is much better if you want complete coverage regardless of the size of your house/office so it would be our top recommendation for people who are serious about their streaming needs.
If you have any questions/concerns about this article, feel free to shoot us an email and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Orbi’s latest update is ‘out of this world’.Instead of using an AC1900 router to support their mesh Wi-Fi system, Netgear decided to bump up the speeds by adding AC3000 capabilities which are amazing news especially if you have multiple devices connected at the same time.
Not only that but Orbi’s satellite units now come with ethernet ports so there’s no need to use USB mini or Ethernet connectors anymore. It just doesn’t get any better than this.
The Competition between Google WiFi and Orbi has been a long time coming considering both of these mesh wifi systems were released around the same time.
The biggest question is whether or not either of them can actually replace your primary router without any issues whatsoever. Or, should you pick up a combination of both to achieve optimal connectivity throughout your entire household? Well, let’s find out as we go through this article together.
Pros Of Google Wifi:
- Extremely easy to use and set-up
- Small and compact so it won’t take too much space on your table/shelf etc
- You’ll be able to use just one network name (SSID) for all three units so you don’t have to worry about changing settings
- Network stability has been improved by a large margin compared to the original Google WiFi model
- It’s extremely affordable and great if you’re on a really tight budget
- Now includes ethernet ports for wired connections which is a huge plus
- You can only set up one base unit, but this shouldn’t be an issue because it’s already enough to cover most medium-sized homes.
If more coverage is required, add another unit or two for between $129-$159 per pack. Don’t expect blazing fast download/upload speeds because these were never meant to be high-performance routers.
Also, Google WiFi doesn’t support 5GHz frequency bands while Orbi does so if you need faster speeds in general, Orbi is the better choice. One base unit can only connect to one modem/router which means it won’t be able to boost your entire network’s bandwidth.
So if you want full coverage without any issues at all, Google WiFi isn’t the way to go unless you’re extremely tight on cash.
Pros Of Orbi:
- One of the best mesh wifi systems on the market right now (if not the best)
- The satellites are extremely easy to set up and use
- Network speeds remain strong at all times so this is great for online gaming, streaming 4K videos, etc
- You can choose to use one router or combine multiple units/routers depending on your specific needs
Supports 5GHz frequency bands which means things like fast downloads, video chats, etc work perfectly well without any lag whatsoever
- All three units MUST be connected to each other which can obviously become annoying if you’re looking for that ‘whole home’ coverage. Also, Orbi is much bigger than Google WiFi so make sure you have enough space on your shelf/table.
It’s much more expensive than Google WiFi but it has all the capabilities of turning any home into a smart home with its Alexa integration (just say the keyword and whatever you want to happen will happen). Also, Orbi does come with ethernet ports too which is great if you’re looking for faster speeds in general.
If you find that either Orbi or Google WiFi is just too expensive, you’re in luck because there’s a great deal running right now for the Linksys Velop mesh wifi system which has 3 nodes/units in total.
It comes with similar features to both Orbi and Google WiFi so it really is worth considering if you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on either one of them.
Recommending Google WiFi for most people out there who are looking for the best value per money possible, it simply doesn’t belong in this list.
Now, Orbi might cost more than three times the price of Google WiFi but it’s still the best choice for gamers and video streamers.
The reason for this is that Orbi covers your entire home/office with strong signals while at the same time, helping you save tons of money on utilities.
Most gamers and streamers will be using their devices non-stop so they’ll need really strong networks to ensure lag-free performance which isn’t possible with either Google WiFi or Linksys Velop (both are great choices if you’re looking for normal connectivity though).