Orbi from Netgear and Eero are two of the most popular Wi-Fi systems on the market today. Both systems are known for their ability to meet the ever-increasing demand that devices are placing on home Wi-Fi.
It’s not just smartphones, tablets, laptops, PC’s and gaming consoles anymore; we’re constantly progressing towards a fully equipped “smart home” with more and more Wi-Fi enabled appliances, such as refrigerators, washers, driers and ovens, all in addition to the ever popular “Amazon Echo” and “Google Home” devices.
These progressions mean that Wi-Fi systems have had to, and will continue to have to, upgrade their capabilities. Even aside from the added strain caused by these new devices, as technology in general progresses, the expectations of consumers are growing faster and faster.
Orbi and Eero have been two of the very best systems to meet these growing expectations. The former made giant strides when it implemented its mesh technology, allowing each of its routers to communicate with one another, creating a fluid connection able to hold up seamlessly over large areas.
This means that every corner of a home can access undiminished Wi-Fi, regardless of how far from a router it is. With this system, your devices connect directly to the “mesh” network instead of having to reach all the way to the router.
The Eero system also uses mesh technology, offering you the same blanket of uninterrupted Wi-Fi. Although, more so than Orbi, it strongly focuses on attention to detail, offering a small, stylish home system geared towards convenience as well as functionality.
With either of these, you’ll be getting a modernly styled Home Wi-Fi system that provides a strong, reliable and fast network. But there’s a lot to consider before shelling out the cash for a top-notch Wi-Fi system. Let’s take an in depth look at Orbi and Eero and talk how the two stack up against each other.
How We Tested
We put the Netgear Orbi and Eero systems through the same testing. We went through the setup and configuration process, putting ourselves in the shoes of the average customer, while also keeping in mind that a significant portion of users will have a strong knowledge of tech.
After setup, we simply connected our device to the newly available Wi-Fi network and tested the connection speed. The Netgear Orbi system was first up. About 10 feet away from the main router, we consistently got speeds of over 500 Mbps, which is pretty incredible.
As we got further and further away from the router–about 35 feet–the speeds did decrease, but never dropped below 200 Mbps. Next, we connected the device to the one Orbi satellite unit and measured at the same distances. The averages were nearly identical, proving that the Netgear Orbi system delivers on its promises of lightning fast Wi-Fi regardless of router proximity.
Next, we did these exacts same tests with the Eero Home Wi-Fi system. About 10 feet from the Eero main router, we measured an average speed of 388 Mbps. Not bad. From 35 feet away, the speeds dropped, as expected, but fell beneath 180 Mbps only on occasion. We then connected to one of the Eero beacon units, and, same as the Netgear Orbi, there were no significant difference in speeds between the main router and the beacons.
Our tests proved that while both systems are powerful and extremely steady, the Netgear Orbi has consistently faster speeds. The real takeaway, however is that Mesh Wi-Fi systems are the real-deal.
Comparison: Orbi vs Eero
The Netgear Orbi Kit comes with two or more units, one main router and one or more satellite units, all of which are mostly identical. The satellite units are long, plastic cylinders colored in plain white, while the main router is white with a splash of blue on top. The Orbi is lightweight, which, given its height, makes it easy to knock over; so be careful where you place it.
Unlike the big, industrial styled routers of old which often feature unattractive cords and blinking lights, these units look sleek and modern. In place of the blinking LED lights, Orbi has instead opted to display the status of your Wi-Fi system by including a single light on the top of the device. If the unit is working properly, no light will be displayed.
If your unit is disconnected from the internet, the device will display a steady purple light, and if it’s rebooting itself, a flashing white light will appear. This light system does forfeit a small amount of functionality in favor of style.
Overall the Netgear Orbi system blends in well with most types of furniture, and though the units don’t add much, they definitely don’t subtract to the appearance of your home.
The most impressive aspect of Orbi’s units is that each one comes equipped with four Gigaport ethernet ports.
The Eero system comes with a very similar setup to the Netgear Orbi system: one main router as well as one or more “beacons” (Eero allows you to purchase additional beacon units to extend the coverage as needed.). The units featured in the Eero kit are a good deal smaller than those featured in the Orbi kit, and lie flat instead of standing upright, making them less intrusive physically and visually.
The LED light used for the Eero unit is quite well done: One small light, plainly in view on the face of each unit, displays a solid white light when connected to the internet, a solid red light when unable to connect, and a blinking green light to indicate system errors.
While this type of system seems to be inherently weaker than the traditional blinking LED displays featured on older routers, Eero has done a good job modernizing the design without sacrificing too much functionality.
Both systems are sleek, minimalistic and attractive. While there’s not a huge advantage either way, Eero’s design gets the slight edge here.
When it comes to ease of installation and setup, Eero cannot be beaten. The product truly excels in these areas, consistently receiving rave reviews. Simply plug in the units, download the app on a mobile device, and follow the instructions.
After installation, the Eero app allows you to easily view your network, monitor device usage, and share or limit your internet as you see fit. You can even allow guests to access Wi-Fi while keeping your passwords off-limits. Perhaps the most useful feature of this app comes in the form of parental control.
Parents can easily set which times certain devices can connect to the internet. The setup is quick, hassle-free and easily customizable. And after installation, Eero automatically updates and troubleshoots itself.
The only downside for Eero’s installation is the same thing that makes it great: the simplicity of the app. While great for most, Eero might lack the advanced customization that more knowledgeable users seek.
While perhaps not as exceptional as Eero, Orbi also features a very fast and easy setup process. Simply plug in the satellites and connect the base router to your ISP modem. You’ll then need to connect your device to the router. Once you’ve done that, you’ll just follow the simple step by step guide. This is an easy process that requires no tech-savvy.
There’s no need to assign IP addresses or fuss with renaming networks. The process for adding additional satellite units is also very simple. Just plug them in and power on.
Both products are extremely easy to install, setup, and use. Eero gets the edge here, though not due to any wrong-doings on the part of Orbi. Eero’s setup process is extraordinarily simple. Their app gives you effortless control over your Wi-Fi network, the likes of which can’t be found elsewhere.
We already know that “mesh” systems provide great quality Wi-Fi. These are truly the systems of the future, and it’s not hard to see why. They outperform traditional Wi-Fi systems in almost every area, certainly every significant one.
But how do these two particular mesh systems compare to each other in terms of performance?
It took Eero–a startup company founded in early 2015–a while to find its footing. When the first generation of Eero was released, the product was undoubtedly behind the curve. Although the design was interesting, the product couldn’t quite keep up with its competitors in terms of speed and reliability.
Eero, being the young, ambitious company that they are, constantly updated and improved the first generation Eero system. Building upon that progression, Eero outdid themselves completely with the second generation of their product.
Eero now uses three tri-band routers as opposed to dual-band, which allows the system to cover a much larger area in high quality Wi-Fi, while also allowing a higher number of devices to connect. This constant improvement has turned Eero’s system into a favorite for many consumers.
When it comes to Wi-Fi speed and reliability, Eero has made all the right changes needed to keep up with Orbi. The Wi-Fi their system provides, while, perhaps not quite as strong as Orbi’s, is still very fast and reliable.
The one area in which Eero falls considerably behind is area coverage. Three different Eero Wi-Fi kits can be purchased. The smallest kit includes:
1 Eero Router and 1 Beacon Unit
This kit sufficiently blankets a 1 to 2-bedroom home in stable Wi-Fi, offering about 2000 sq. ft of coverage.
1 Eero Router and 2 Beacon Unit
This second beacon adds an additional 1000 sq. ft. of coverage, taking the coverage area for this kit up to 3000 sq. ft. total, which is the size of a typical 3-bedroom home.
3 Eero Routers
The largest kit offered simply includes 3 Eero routers, leaving the smaller beacon units out altogether. This kit provides steady Wi-Fi across an area of 3500 sq. ft. If you’re home or office is bigger than this, you’ll need to purchase additional routers or beacons as necessary.
Orbi provides some of the fastest Wi-Fi you can imagine. The product is adored for its super-fast speeds and stability. Even the largest homes usually fall easily within this products coverage range.
Although Eero has taken giant strides in catching up, Orbi still provides the fastest Wi-Fi on the market. Their tri-mesh system allows you to take your device anywhere in the home without having to disconnect and reconnect to different units.
With Orbi’s Wi-Fi system, you get one continuous web of unbelievably high-quality Wi-Fi from wall to wall and floor to ceiling.
The standard Orbi systems provides this Wi-Fi seamlessly across an area up to 5000 sq. ft. This outstanding coverage area means that fewer people will need to buy additional units, which, when dealing with such expensive systems, is a huge plus.
Orbi is also continuously improving its technology. Their latest update brought about daisy chain networking. “Daisy chain” is a term that describes one way in which devices are able to connect to the router.
Before daisy chain, it was necessary for each satellite unit to be in range of the main router, but now, with daisy chain, the satellites can connect to either the router or to other satellites, giving you much more versatility when choosing the placement of units within your home.
Orbi has also has recently began supporting ethernet backhaul which allows your network to continue functioning during any times you might have an increased number of clients and nodes.
Netgear Orbi Product Features
- Super-Fast Home Wi-Fi: With Orbi you’re getting the fastest Wi-Fi on the market. No matter how many devices you connect, the Wi-Fi remains consistent and, above all, fast.
- Industry Leading Coverage Area: With just 2 units, Orbi still manages to provide over 5000 sq. ft of coverage.
- Service Compatibility: Orbi works with all major internet providers including Verizon, Comcast AT&T, and more.
- Convenient App: The Orbi app allows for easy customization of your Wi-Fi.
- Effortless Setup: No need to assign IP addresses or rename networks.
- Pairs with Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant: Pairing either of these with Orbi lets you use voice commands to control your Wi-Fi. You can ask Alexa to enable Wi-Fi for your guests or have her tell you the current settings.
- Advanced Setup (if Desired): Orbi gives technologically inclined users the ability to have total control and tinker with every facet of the settings.
- Parental Controls: Orbi has some great parental control features, which allow you to easily limit screen time and content on any device.
- 1 Orbi Router Unit and 1 Satellite Unit: The Orbi Home Wi-Fi system includes 1 lightweight main Router unit and at least 1 Satellite unit. Additional satellites can be purchased separately to extend the coverage range.
- Memory: 4GB Flash and 512 MB RAM
- Ethernet Ports: Each unit in the Orbi system comes equipped with 4 ethernet ports.
- Special Networks for guests: Configure a separate Wi-Fi network for guests to use without having to share your home password.
- Daisy Chain Networking: Daisy chain networking allows for each unit to connect one another, offering you great placement flexibility.
Eero Product Features
- 1 Router and up to 3 Beacon Units: The Eero home Wi-Fi system is available in 3 different kits, featuring 1, 2 or 3 beacon units, depending on your needs. The main router, as well as these beacons, are well designed and non-descript. Users love the way they blend into their homes.
- High Speed Wi-Fi: Eero provides powerful Wi-Fi coverage able to handle a large amount of users and devices without slowing down.
- Convenient App: While Orbi’s app is good, Eero’s app is great, especially when it comes to installation.
- Effortless Setup: Eero’s system is unbelievably easy to set up, making it perfect for the average user.
- Service Compatibility: Like Orbi, Eero works with all major internet providers, including Verizon, At&T, Comcast and more.
- Memory: 1 GB flash storage and 512 MB of RAM.
- Built-in Bluetooth: Allows you to easily sync to your mobile devices.
- Large Coverage Area: Although Eero’s coverage area–only about 3500 sq. ft. without purchasing additional beacon units—is definitely the weakest aspect of the product compared to its main competitors, the system still offers users a massive upgrade from traditional non-mesh systems.
Some of the biggest developers in the networking world have been slow to join in on the mesh-Wi-Fi revolution. Slowly but surely, however, we’re seeing more and more companies develop their own systems, the most notable of which is the Google Wi-Fi Mesh System.
Although Google’s Wi-Fi system lacks some of the advanced features of Eero and Orbi—the backhaul capability being the most notable of these absences—it is a slightly more affordable option.
The only place where Google’s system really excels is physical design. If you’re looking for a good-looking, capable albeit less advanced, mesh Wi-Fi system that’s user friendly and more affordable–The Google Home Mesh system might be the perfect choice for you.
Who Should Get This?
Mesh Wi-Fi systems are perfect for anybody who wants to cover a large area in excellent Wi-Fi. If your home is large or has an unusual layout, you’re probably used to experiencing Wi-Fi dropouts or dead-zones.
Mesh Wi-Fi systems are the answer to this problem. If you want to avoid these dead-zones, want to support multiple devices simultaneously, or want to run powerful gaming engines with confidence, either the Netgear Orbi, or the Eero Home Wi-Fi system will work wonders for you.
However, as we’ve highlighted above, there are some significant differences between these two powerful systems; choosing the right one based on your individual needs and preferences is important, and will no doubt have an effect on the overall satisfaction you’ll get out of your home Wi-Fi system.
The main things that set the Netgear Orbi system apart from its competitors, is the blistering speed it provides. If raw performance is your main concern, the choice is easy.
Netgear Orbi wins hands-down. Orbi manages to outshine Eero in almost every performance category. Both systems possess tri-band units, but Orbi’s decision to use one entire 5GHz radio band just for backhaul has proven to be very effective.
Eero on the other hand, elected to leave all three of its radio bands open for either client usage, or backhaul traffic. Eero’s performance suffers from this decision. It does, however, gain a very small edge in terms of stability, compared to Orbi.
The biggest separation between the two products, however, comes in the form of area coverage. If your home is very large, over 3500 sq. ft, the Eero system simply will not cut it for you.
If you do decide to go with Eero, to gain the necessary amount of coverage you’ll need to purchase the most expensive kit, and then purchase one or more additional beacon units. Orbi’s ability to cover over 5000 sq. ft with its standard two-unit package makes it an excellent choice for those needing to cover large areas.
It must be noted, however, that this ultra-powerful system can overachieve. If you live in a smaller home, one of the smaller Eero systems can provide fast, reliable Wi-Fi for all your devices, likely at a cheaper price than Orbi’s powerful two-unit system.
While both systems look modern and inoffensive, Eero does have a clear edge in aesthetics. Even if you prefer the look that Orbi has designed (unlikely), the height to weight ratio of the main router puts it in danger of being knocked over, making its physical design slightly, but undeniably, inferior to Eero’s.
Another thing to consider is the rate of improvement. Always with an eye towards the future, both companies update their products often. Eero has seen a particularly large amount of improvement in a small amount of time. The difference between Eero’s first gen and second gen products is huge. You can expect more of the same.
These are two of the best systems on the market today. Both are widely popular and generally well-reviewed; and both performed remarkably well in our testing.
Overall, these are two great products. Each system has its own small set of flaws and large set of strengths. There can be only one winner, however; and in our opinion, the Netgear Orbi’s strengths proved to be more significant. It provides faster speeds, over a larger area of space, while offering more ethernet ports and daisy chaining for flexible unit placement. And so, our pick is: The Netgear Orbi
For now!!! In the ever-improving world of technology, things can change quickly, and Eero has shown nothing but promise.