After extensive testing I determined Netgear Orbi RBK50 (2-Set) is the superior mesh system with faster speeds and brilliant range. However, Linksys Velop (2-Set) is recommended for those who prefer robust phone software instead of pure performance.
I’ll review Linksys Velop vs Netgear Orbi by comparing them in setup, software, performance, and design.
This section is very close, but Orbi wins by just a little. However, Velop is no slouch.
Netgear Orbi’s installation is straightforward with the app. However, syncing the routers isn’t as easy. It would be smoother if they got the network running first and then adding the satellites later, but the app has you do everything at once.
Speaking of satellites, Orbi has a specific base router and the other nodes are satellites. Other mesh systems don’t do this.
Linksys Velop has reliable phone setup and good instructions, but the loading times are poor. Don’t be surprised if you see a wheel spinning for minutes without any updates. The installation has you set up the main node first and then the others, which is better than Orbi’s all-in-one installation.
Once during the installation I was asked to restart the second node and start the process over. But, everything worked fine from there. You also only need to set up two nodes rather than three, which is theoretically faster than Orbi.
Setup Winner: Netgear Orbi
Neither mesh router is perfect with software, but Linksys Velop is far superior to Netgear Orbi.
Orbi has lots of advanced features through the Netgear admin panel on the web interface, but the phone app is awful. Mesh systems should make WiFi simpler, but the app lacks smart features and parental controls. You can at least see your devices, pause them, or change their names.
The phone app offers port forwarding and QoS settings. It doesn’t rely on the cloud. It supports MU-MIMO and works with VPN pass-throughs. It works with Alexa for enabling guest networks and rebooting WiFi. You can measure daily, weekly, and monthly bandwidth usage. The interface isn’t great, but it’s something.
There are some areas that need improvement. Connection between the nodes and app is unreliable. It might take several minutes to connect. The app’s layout is poor with text running off the side. There’s also a “Router Not Set Up” error that pops up half the time, but the router is really fine and the app will agree once you dismiss the error. You only get parental controls with “Circle with Disney,” which is $5 a month. While you can reboot the system from the app, it takes 15 minutes to boot up.
Velop’s app looks much better and has good features, but sometimes it’s slow. There’s also no web-based interface. You can pause or schedule a pause through the app. You can also block specific websites on any device. This is helpful if you have kids and want them to stop browsing at a certain hour.
You can prioritize up to three devices in the app so they get more resources (for playing games, uploading videos, working, etc). Devices can be renamed and you can see which node they are connected to. There’s also the channel finder feature that optimizes every device for the best wireless channel.
Velop offers port forwarding, UPnP, DNS, IPv6, WAN, and DHCP IP reservations. It also supports Mu-MIMO and VPN pass-throughs. The app notifies you when a node is offline. Alexa can give you WiFi credentials and enable guest networks. Linksys Shield is $50/year to block inappropriate content for kids.
While the features are pretty good, you’ll get more with Eero or Google WiFi. They allow you to group devices with one profile. This lets you pause access on any and all devices in the group. Velop also doesn’t offer real-time bandwidth data or calculating total bandwidth usage. You get both of these with Google and Eero.
Software Winner: Linksys Velop
Both are reliable here, but Velop is good while Orbi is exceptional. I have a 117/mbps maximum internet speed.
The solo router averages about 100/mbps in my home and backyard. Netgear claims the Orbi RBK50 two-set covers 5,000 square feet, but I think 4,500 is more accurate. I didn’t experience cutouts or disconnections between the nodes. If you do, then the nodes might be positioned incorrectly.
Obri uses three bands and has a dedicated backhaul channel so the routers can communicate. This gives Orbi the fastest performance of any mesh system I tested. When combined, the Orbi two-set averages 115/mbps in my house.
Next up is Velop. The solo router averages about 95/mbps in my home and backyard. I’ll say the performance of one Velop is better than Google WiFi. When combined, the Velop two-set averages 104/mbps. The rated distance is 4,000 square feet, but 3,500 was more accurate.
Velop also has three bands like Orbi, but it doesn’t use any as a dedicated backhaul. While I didn’t personally experience dropouts during my tests, other users have reported this. It depends largely on the structure of your home and the node placement.
While the speed was pretty good, the price-to-performance ratio was poor. It’s not as fast as Eero, but it costs just as much. It also lacks the value of Google WiFi.
Performance Winner: Netgear Orbi
There is a major difference in design here. Orbi is fantastic while Velop honestly isn’t that great.
The Orbi RBK50 is 9 inches tall and ugly. You can’t tuck it away out of sight and you need two of them.
The two-piece system comes with seven extra Ethernet ports for accessories.
Velop doesn’t look good at all. The router is tall, has ventilation holes, and the holes commonly collect dust. There are Ethernet two ports on each, which gives you three ports in total to work with.
Velop recently released a model that plugs into the wall. While I haven’t used it, I can see a few problems. This is only dual-band, they can’t be bought in a pack with the Velop AC2200 router. This would cost $400 at least. You only get a single Ethernet port for accessories.
Design Winner: Netgear Orbi
So, who wins with Orbi vs Velop? While Velop’s app is significantly better, that’s the only place it really shines. It’s not as fast, doesn’t look as good, and the setup is a tiny bit harder when compared to Netgear Orbi. Yes, the Orbi app is awful, but it more than makes up for it with blazing fast speeds and best-in-class performance.
If you’ll be playing with the controls a lot and need an app, then Linksys Velop might be better. If you want a fast router with no reliability issues, then Netgear Orbi is the best choice.