The router with endless options
If you're looking for the full set-up to make your home smarter, Orbi is the router for you. With expansions to give you some speakers and voice commands, it's quite the catch. Prices are a bit high, but worth it if all the perks are what you're looking for.
- More square footage per satellite than Google Wifi (500 extra square feet).
- Three radios for more support.
- USB Port.
- More LAN ethernet ports.
- Much more expensive packages.
Great connection, better prices
Google Wifi offers great coverage options at competitive prices. It's a better option for people in smaller homes, or who want less coverage, but that'll be a deterrent for many customers.
- A cheaper option for smaller homes.
- Still has great connection speeds.
- Each unit only covers 1,500 square feet.
Orbi RBK50 vs. Google Wifi tech specs
These two routers have some pretty notable differences, so let's take a look at what's inside before we go into why one might be better for you than the other.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Orbi RBK50||Google Wifi|
|Coverage||5,000 sq ft||4,500 sq ft|
(1733 + 867 + 400Mbps)
|Frequency||2.4 GHz, 5 GHz||2.4 GHz, 5 GHz|
|Wireless standards||Radio 1: 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz, 256QAM support|
Radio 2: 802.11a/n/ac 5GHz, 256QAM support
Radio 3: 802.11a/n/ac 5GHz, 256QAM support
710 MHz (each core)
|4GB eMMC flash|
|Ports||USB 2.0||No USB|
|Ethernet||Router: 1 WAN, 3 LAN|
Satellite: 4 LAN
|2 Ethernet per unit|
One is WAN, one is LAN
After looking at the spec charts you can see that both routers support beamforming. This is important when it comes to getting a stronger signal directly to your device, as opposed to a wild radius where you lose signal the further away you get from the router or satellite. Both are also adaptable to 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz connections, so you don't have to worry about your older devices not connecting to either of these routers. However, while they both support 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, the Orbi router has three radios while the Google Wifi only has the one. Since they both have quad-core processors there isn't too much of a difference there, but the radios are important when it comes to boosting the signal on the device.
Now, let's take a closer look at the Google Wifi. The price option is significantly cheaper, looking at about $256 for a 3-pack and $100 for a single pack. Each unit covers 1,500 square feet, so if you're working from a smaller apartment than the Google Wifi is the perfect choice for you. This way you still have the great connection, which is very similar between the devices anyway, but you don't have to put out so much money to cover square footage you don't need to anyway.
Then there's the Orbi RBK50. This 2-pack, found for $330 on Amazon, covers up to 5,000 square feet in your home. That's not all. Unlike the Google Wifi, the Orbi has a USB port for you to use with supported external hard drives or ReadyShare Printing. With ReadyShare you can print directly from your phone, laptop, or computer as long as they're all connected through the same Wi-Fi. Other than that, there are expansions for your Orbi devices (that you can read about below) and there are no expansions for the Google Wifi.
Both of these routers are extremely family-friendly as both support parental controls. With the Orbi RBK50, you have parental controls through Disney Smart, which allows you to control your family's access to the internet by device, app, or website. Then, with the Google Wifi, you have parental controls through the same app that controls the rest of the router's features — it'll even allow you to pause Wi-Fi on specific devices! If you are having any issues with your Google Wifi there is even a 24/7 phone support from Google and a 1-year warranty should problems ever arise.
Now let's take a look at the Orbi's expansions. If you're looking to make your home a little smarter, or already have smart devices, than the Orbi router is well worth your investment. There is an Orbi expansion, called the Orbi Voice, which is a speaker satellite that you can find on Amazon for $300. Or, you can skip the standard package and go right for the router and Orbi Voice for $429 (which is $200 cheaper than purchasing it as an add-on for more than double the price since it's only $100 more than the standard package).
Google Assistant is supported on both of these devices, but the Orbi Voice is the only one that is also compatible with Amazon's Alexa. These give you the ability to take voice controls for other smart devices in your home (like lights). In this regard, the Voice is still much more amazing as it improves its own signal for streaming music by maintaining its own connection and also acting as another satellite for your home. This means while you're jamming out to your favorite tunes in your living room you can tell the Voice to turn off the kitchen lights and still have an extended connection to the phone you're using.
Google Wifi for your average home
This router is perfect if you want a better Wi-Fi connection and you're not too concerned about having your home filled with smart products. It's an amazing device for almost $100 less than the competition here, so it's a go-to for people with less space.
Our pick for the average home
The wallet-friendly choice
This kit is perfect for the average home wanting better Wi-Fi connections. If you have a smaller home you can get the single package for only $100 and save yourself a load of money. Each unit covers 1,500 square feet of coverage with great connection speeds to boot.
Netgear Orbi RBK50 for upgrading not just your internet, but your home
With all of the amazing features of Orbi, from their amazing connections to the USB port abilities, this router is really going for being an all-in-one. Since it's compatible with your Smart products, if you've got the Orbi Voice, it sets you up for perfectly for seamless integration.
Our pick for Smart Home users
Mesh Tri-band for performance
With this mesh system, you get 5,000 square feet of coverage and up to 3.0Gbps on your internet speed. There are eight total Ethernet ports between the router and satellites, and even the ability to take it a step further with the indoor and outdoor expansions.
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Essa Kidwell is an expert in all things VR and mobile devices who can always be found with an Oculus Go, a Pixel 2, and an iPhone 7+. They've been taking things apart just to put them back together for quite some time. If you've got a troubleshooting issue with any of your tech, they're the one you want to go to! Find them on Twitter @OriginalSluggo or Instagram @CosmeticChronus.