NETGEAR and Eero each take a rather different approach when it comes to building a mesh Wi-Fi network. Eero makes the most of a couple different products — the Eero Pro can pair with another Pro or an Eero Beacon. This is simpler than NETGEAR's buffet of options, which include a cable modem, a speaker, multiple routers, and satellites. The simplicity of the Eero makes it a much easier product to understand but with a cost significantly higher than the Orbi, it doesn't seem worth it.
Coverage and quality
Either of these products can create a strong and reliable mesh network that will keep your devices running strong as you move through your home. It's easy to get caught up in the raw speed capabilities of a router but for most people, anything a modern Wi-Fi 5 (802.11AC) router can output will be more than enough. Both of these routers also bring along multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output (MU-MIMO) technology that keeps the network performing consistently even with a lot of connections.
|NETGEAR Orbi RBK22||Eero 3-pack|
|AC Wi-Fi speed||AC2200||N/A|
|CPU||710 Mhz quad-core||700 Mhz quad-core|
|Coverage||2,000 sq ft per unit
4,000 sq ft total
|1,500 sq ft per unit
5,000 sq ft total
With its speed being more than enough for most usage, Eero sets its sights on simplicity and subtlety. The Eeros do blend in well with any room's decor so they can be placed in an area with the best signal to the main router. This will keep speeds consistent and useful.
The Orbi system can deliver faster speeds but its bigger package and variety makes it slightly more cumbersome to set up efficiently. However if you are willing to put in the extra time needed in setup, you can build a faster mesh Wi-Fi system and still save money over Eero.
What's up with Eero's speed?
The keen reader will have noticed that the Wi-Fi speed of the Eero is nowhere to be found. If you are of a nerdier disposition, this can be rather annoying, but the average consumer isn't as interested in a quantitative Wi-Fi speed. They just want to know if it's fast and consistent. To that effect, if you expect wireless gigabit speeds at home, Eero is not for you.
Eero recommends the base Eero product for connections up to 350Mbps and will be capable of delivering this speed with a good mesh connection. The Eero Pro can take that up to 550Mbps thanks to tri-band Wi-Fi but you'll be paying significantly more for it. While speeds over 100Mbps will be enough for pretty much anything you do on your PC or tablet, if you download a lot and want a higher maximum throughput, Eero isn't for you.
Coverage, and simplicity
It can be hard to tell how well Wi-Fi signals will travel through your home but NETGEAR has put together some recommendations on its website to help you pick a package that makes sense for you.
Knowing exactly which product you should use with Orbi can a little daunting at first with NETGEAR offering two Satellite mesh points, a wall-plug Satellite, an outdoor Satellite, and a smart speaker. The more powerful units are larger and carry a higher price. The router in this Orbi package is the RBR20 can cover 2,000 square feet with the same coverage on the RBS20 Satellite bringing the total to 4,000 square feet.
Eero makes the choice a little easier, though a bit less flexible. It offers its dual-band Eeros and Beacons covering 1,500 and 1,000 square feet respectively, and the tri-band Eero Pro, which covers 1,500 square feet as expansion options. All of these Eero devices will work together but you'll want to keep the fastest router connected to your modem. So if you have an Eero Pro, it should be connected to your modem with the other Eero routers making up the rest of the mesh.
This three-pack of standard Eeros covers 5,000 square feet, but you should keep in mind that this measurement isn't perfect. There will be some overlap and other elements like concrete walls and HVAC systems will reduce the total coverage. Both devices do have an available gigabit Ethernet port so a wired device can be connected with little to no speed sacrifice.
Size and aesthetics
The main router for the Orbi is larger than the Eero, but it's far from ugly. In a rounded white housing, it almost looks like modern art when placed next to a conventional router. It does not hide as well as the Eero, so if you want your Wi-Fi setup to be completely hidden, it will be more of a challenge. If you aren't afraid of showing off your Orbi, a matched networking setup is possible with the Orbi speaker and modem.
When it comes to setting up a good mesh network, the most important thing is your needs. If the Eero's smaller coverage unit and lower speed is too much of a sacrifice for you, something effective could be created from the wider Orbi ecosystem. With higher Wi-Fi speeds, greater coverage, and a much lower price tag, the Orbi series is a better candidate for your new home Wi-Fi network.
Big and capable
A bunch of options
Fast speeds and a ton of compatible accessories makes the NETGEAR Orbi one of the most versatile mesh options available. This router delivers high Wi-Fi speeds and modern technology to keep your connection fast and efficient.
Easy on the eyes
As simple as possible
The impressively small size of Eero combined with its high-end technology makes this one of the easiest and most powerful mesh networks you can get. The fact that it can be easily tucked away makes it a product that can go in any room of the house.
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