Sometimes, big homes experience problems with Wi-Fi coverage when they rely on only a Wi-Fi router. Most people suggest a mesh system that would cover the entire house with a Wi-Fi signal without having to change access points as you go from one room to another.
Two of the most popular mesh Wi-Fi systems available now are Amplifi HD and Netgear Orbi.
Bottom Line Up Front: I like both of this routers, but if I had to make a choice I would definitely lean towards the Netgear Orbi available here. It has more features (better parental controls, higher throughput, triband system) for what I personally look for.
Of course, continue reading for the full comparison…
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First Up: Amplifi HD
The Amplifi HD has an eye-catching design that you would want to show off. It does not have the sharp and edgy look and futuristic design of other routers, but it does stand out in its simplicity.
The router takes the form of a cube, measuring 3.9 inches on all sides. The antennas are hidden inside, so there are no unsightly antennas or switches.
The router also sports a round LCD screen. The touch display measures 1.6 inches in diameter. The main screen shows you the time, date, and day.
You can tap the screen to see other information, including download and upload speeds, the number of bytes that it has received, the number of devices that are currently connected, and the IP address of the router, among others.
The Wi-Fi signal is extended throughout the house with the help of the mesh points. Each Amplifi HD package comes with two of these mesh points and they measure 7.1 inches long.
Like the router, these mesh points are eye-catching, modern-looking and pristine with an all-white color scheme. You would need to plug them into an AC outlet for them to work.
It needs to be mentioned that the Amplifi HD makes use of LED lights, which make the device more beautiful while also serving a function. The router has a white ring of light underneath it, giving it the illusion of floating.
While the mesh points have signal strength meters that also serve to break the all-white look.
Does it work well?
A good mesh Wi-Fi system should be able to give you Wi-Fi signals when you are at the farthest points of your house and even outside to the yard or the patio. It should also do so in a way that speed is not compromised.
The Amplifi HD more or less delivers a more consistent Wi-Fi speed than other mesh Wi-Fi systems. Others like the Eero and Google Wi-Fi start out strong, giving you fast speeds when you are near the router, but the speed drastically reduces as you move away.
For example, Amplifi will give you 370 Mbps within five feet, but when you get to 50 feet, the speed would only be 350 Mbps, and then down to 230 Mbps at 150 feet away.
Meanwhile, a Netgear Orbi RBK40 would start you out at around 550 Mbps, but this would drop to 480 Mbps at 50 feet away and only 190 Mbps at 150 feet away.
What’s more, you can throw anything its way and it will still give you fast and reliable Wi-Fi connection. For instance, if there are five of you at home watching a video at the same time, or streaming music as well, then it should not be a problem. The videos would not buffer and your music will not be interrupted.
Other systems in the Amplifi line
Aside from the Amplifi HD, there are two cheaper Amplifi versions in the market. If you find the price tag of $349 a little bit too prohibitive for your taste, you can opt for the Standard or the LR versions, which are cheaper at $199 and $299, respectively.
Of course, with the cheaper price, you could expect some trade-offs, such as lower throughput, and for the range and performance to be sacrificed.
When it comes to the recommended coverage area, the Amplifi HD can effectively cover 20,000 sq. ft., while the Amplifi LR and Standard can cover 20,000 sq. ft. and 10,000 sq. ft., respectively.
What you would like about the Amplifi HD
The Amplifi HD works really well and can deliver fast Wi-Fi signals no matter where you are in the house. But what makes Amplifi HD even better is that it is very easy and straightforward to set up, even for those who do not have any experience setting up a Wi-Fi mesh system or even a network.
Just plug the router to your modem and then download the mobile app or go online to configure your Amplifi HD.
The Amplifi HD comes with a mobile app that is easy and intuitive to use. The screens are not only easy to figure out, they are also not cluttered with useless information.
The mobile app also allows you to set up and configure your system, access your Amplifi HD even when you are not home, and provide guest access easily. It can also show you several useful metrics.
What could be better
There is no parental control that would allow you to protect your kids from visiting the dark side of the Internet or from watching porn. Amplifi HD, however, allows you to pause Internet access when it is time for lunch.
Also, the system does not use MU-MIMO technologies that would have lessened the times that each device spends waiting for a signal as well as speeding up the network.
Next Up: Netgear Orbi
The Netgear Orbi promises to deliver fast Wi-Fi speeds anywhere in your home. The Orbi Wi-Fi System RBK50 is enough to cover an area of 5,000 sq. ft. and if that is enough, you can purchase another satellite that would give you 2,000 sq. ft. additional coverage.
It costs $400 but you can get it for a lower price from Amazon (For the latest prices & discounts, check here). Now here’s the thing, the Orbi covers more ground with fewer units than other mesh systems.
Like the Amplifi HD, Netgear wanted Orbi users to stop hiding their routers. Unfortunately, while the networking giant made their router and satellites huge (8.9 x 6.7 x 3.1 inches big!), they did not put too much thought into its design.
The Netgear Orbi look like oval plastic towers with LED lights at the top.
The lights are color coded and will let you know the status of your Orbi: it glows white when it’s starting up, blue to let you know everything is working fine, amber if you have slow Internet connection, and magenta if you do not have any Internet connection.
Netgear Orbi is tri-band. It has the usual 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands that your devices will be using to get onto the Internet. It also has another 5 GHz band that is dedicated for the router and the satellite.
This means that the satellites will not compete with your devices for precious bandwidth, giving you stronger and faster Wi-Fi signals all throughout.
MU-MIMO. Orbi uses MU-MIMO technology to send data to several devices simultaneously. This means that you can play videos without buffering and music without any skips.
Easy set up. Orbi is very easy to set up. The router and satellites are already paired with each other and all you have to do is to find the perfect place for each of the unit so that it can reliably and adequately cover your entire house.
What’s more, you do not have to use the mobile app to configure the system, it’s all done for you.
There are several kits available for the Netgear Orbi System.
|Orbi Wi-Fi System||RBK50||RBK40||RBK30||RBK44|
|MSRP||$399 (For the latest prices & discounts, check here)||$349 (For the latest prices & discounts, check here)||$299 (For the latest prices & discounts, check here)||Not yet available|
What you would like about the Netgear Orbi
Netgear Orbi works with Amazon Alexa, although it is quite limited to enabling or disabling your guest network, checking your Wi-Fi settings, and restarting the router.
Using the browser-based app or the Netgear Genie app for Windows, you can pause Internet access, use OpenDNS to block certain sites, or just let Netgear filter the traffic.
What could be better
The Netgear Orbi comes with the Netgear Genie mobile app, but it really does not do much. The app does not even include a speed meter for your network. If you want to customize and get more control of your system, you would need to get the Netgear Genie software or use the browser-based app to do so.
The mobile app is not intuitive to use. For instance, it displays your SSID and password and there is no way for you to hide both. You cannot use it to set up a guest network, set a maximum transmission unit for the router, nor set up port forwarding. All of these are reserved for the browser app.
Some of the things that you should know is that Netgear Orbi tends to have faster speeds at shorter distances, but that can drop as you go further away from the router or satellite. Meanwhile, Amplifi HD tends to give you a more uniform speed whether you are near any of its unit or far.
Overall, however, the Netgear Orbi delivers faster speeds than the Amplifi HD for distances of up to 150 feet. Also, at 100 feet, the Netgear Orbi delivers almost the same speed as the speed you get from Amplifi HD at 15 feet.
Both the Amplifi HD and the Netgear Orbi systems deliver when it comes to range, speed, and easy setup. On paper, however, the Amplifi HD system claims to be able to cover an area as large as 20,000 sq. ft., four times the coverage provided by the Orbi RBK50 and 2.5 times wider than the RBK44.
Nevertheless, the Orbi is still able to cover more ground than either Eero or Google Wi-Fi.
Both offer mobiles apps and Web-based apps to interface with the system. But the Amplifi HD does a better job at delivering a mobile app that is both easy to use and allows for remote access to your router, while its Web interface remains minimal and very limited.
Conversely, Netgear Orbi allows you to do more with its Web interface, even accessing it remotely when you want it. But it comes with a very limited mobile app that does not even tell you your bandwidth usage and Internet speeds.
Both systems would want you to stop hiding away your router. Netgear Orbi makes that difficult by creating really big routers and satellites that look very similar. However, it looks like a huge plastic tower, which some people might want to keep out of the side.
Meanwhile, the Amplifi HD looks like a modern digital clock with its cubic form factor. Personally, we would not mind having the Amplifi HD out in plain view because it does function as a clock, telling you the time and the date, as well as important information about your network.
|2.4 GHz and 5 GHz||2.4 GHz and two 5 GHz|
|Ethernet ports||5 on router only||4 on all units|
|USB 2.0 port||Yes||Yes|
|WAN based QoS||No||No|
|Maximum coverage||20,000 sq. ft.||8,000 sq. ft.|
|Theoretical throughput||1.75 Gbps||3 Gbps|
|Network standards||802.11 b/g/n/ac||802.11b/a/g/n/ac|
All these being said, there is no question that both the Amplifi HD and the Orbi systems can deliver fast and reliable Wi-Fi connectivity to every part of the house.
However, with its triband system, MU-MIMO support, better parental controls, higher throughput, and compatibility to more Wi-Fi standards, the Netgear Orbi is a better choice, especially if you are thinking about using the same router far ahead into the future.