Netgear mesh only?

Chippy_boy

Regular Contributor
Hi

I've been using Asus for years, so don't know much about how to configure Netgear these days, but I am considering moving over to a new Orbi RBKE963B system to take advantage of 6GHz wireless backhaul (for various reasons I need not go into).

Currently, I am using pfSense as my router/firewall, and I run Asus XT8's for the mesh only. The Asus config option is “Access Point(AP) mode / AiMesh Router in AP mode". It all works fine and just the same as before I installed a pfSense firewall/router.

Is the same possible with the Orbi system? I need the mesh functionality but not the routing, NAT and firewall. pfSense handles all DHCP, NAT and firewall duties so I need to disable all of that in the Orbis but retain the mesh functionality.

Thanks
 

tgl

Senior Member
I don't have that exact model of Orbi, but I have an RBK850 setup I bought a year ago that I used successfully in AP mode. Having said that, I absolutely would not recommend it. They don't seem to test the AP mode a lot: setting it up is annoyingly finicky and bug-ridden. Also, if you're coming from ASUS, you are likely to find that the Orbi firmware lacks a lot of configuration options you're used to having. And you have to put up with a very slow (2 or 3 minutes) router reboot cycle for even very minor config changes. (ASUS does that too, but not for quite as many settings, and their reboot is faster.)

Another reason I'm an ex-Orbi user is that you can't opt out of their remote firmware updates, and they have been known to push updates that brick your router. With ASUS at least you get to choose which set of firmware bugs you're going to put up with.

I did like the Orbi hardware: when it was working, it was impressively fast. But the firmware problems soured me on it.

If you like your XT8s, you should take a serious look at the ET8, which is pretty much the exact same gear except the third (backhaul-dedicated) radio is 6GHz not 5GHz. There's no support in it for 6GHz clients AFAICS, but you didn't mention that as a requirement.
 

Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
known to push updates
I never ventured into mesh options with any OEM because they're a joke compared to using actual AP's and setting up the network properly.

However, Netgear was the reason I went DIY after constant updates and not resolving anything with each one. They're annoying.

@Chippy_boy I'm going to assume you don't have wired locations and that's why you're looking at "mesh" options?

Do yourself a favor and get some Ethernet wired to the locations and then you aren't stuck buying $1500 sets of junk when you can put in $350/AP options instead that just work. If you weren't looking for6ghz options there's even AP's that are only $150/AP that work better than most of the junk being sold.

Even if you didn't get things wired up you could still do wireless backhauls with actual AP's as long as at least 1 of them is wired into the PFS box.

Now, if you need / want 6ghz + the high bandwidth you'll need to look for QUAD band options and those are going to give you 2/5/6 for client use and an additional 6 band for backhaul.
 

tgl

Senior Member
Do yourself a favor and get some Ethernet wired to the locations and then you aren't stuck buying $1500 sets of junk when you can put in $350/AP options instead that just work.

I can second that. I spent a bit under $1K to have a pro run ethernet from my 1st floor living room to 3rd floor office. (It's an old brick house, so I think the price was entirely fair.) That was money way better spent than the "mesh" systems I'd been using to bridge those networks before.

Also, if all you need is an AP, you can get SMB-grade APs for the same or less money as you'll spend on consumer-grade wireless routers. That router-capable CPU and third radio for backhaul add a lot to the cost of the latter. I'm happier with the Zyxel APs I have now than either the Netgear or ASUS mesh gear I tried before. The Zyxels are not perfect mind you, but they have fewer issues than the consumer-grade stuff, for less money.
 

Chippy_boy

Regular Contributor
Thanks everyone for your helpful replies. I will stay clear of Netgear for the reasons mentioned.

Regards ethernet cabling, yes that would be marvellous wouldn't it. If only life was that simple.

But people really need to understand that retro-fitting it in some domestic properties is absolutely not possible. If you have a fully decorated house, the redecoration cost, AND hassle can massively out weigh any other considerations. For example, it's not so long ago cost me £3,000 to have the lounge decorated. I am not going to even contemplate channelling out plasterboard and re-doing whole sections of wallpaper - possibly even all the wallpaper if matching batch numbers of new rolls cant be found. Let alone the dismantling of the wall units, and uninstalling all the hifi and reinstalling it, which is a whole day job in itself. And that's just the lounge. To get ethernet in there in the first place, I'd have to do same in the office and hall. The disruption would be enormous and the cost, eye-watering even if the Mrs would allow it, which she absolutely would not. And all for 1 ethernet cable? Er, no!

It's an absolute non-starter. If it wasn't, I would have done it already.
 

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