We’re spending more time online than ever before, and internet speeds have steadily increased to match our new online habits. We spend hours streaming on services like Netflix and Spotify, and online gaming has become more prevalent than ever before. Many people don’t realize, though, that an outdated router could be significantly hindering their speeds.
Below we go into an in-depth comparison of the eero vs. Orbi. Which smart router is best for your home?
Navigate this article:
eero vs. Orbi — About
The eero product family is made up of eero gateways and eero beacons. The gateway replaces your regular router, and then the strategically placed beacons work in tandem with the main hub in order to deliver top-quality WiFi to every inch of your home.
Starting up a new eero network is incredibly easy. The primary eero device will connect to your modem to receive internet service, and additional eeros or eero beacons will work together in order to beam a strong WiFi network with no dead spots with a pretty impressive range.
Netgear as a company has an incredible reputation when it comes to routers, and they have been in the internet technology game since long before the idea of a smart WiFi system came onto the market. Their intelligent WiFi solutions are made up of the Orbi line.
The Orbi is truly one of the best options on the market for small homes to medium-sized businesses, and delivers speedy connections to the entire home in a similar fashion to eero: a mesh network.
There are two products within the Orbi family — the Orbi and the Orbi Pro. The Pro version is largely intended to work in office settings while the original Orbi is designed more for residential applications.
Setting up your Orbi network couldn’t be easier. Just plug your router into your modem and adjust the various settings with ease from the Orbi app. Keep in mind that while the main router and satellites look nearly identical, they are not interchangeable. This means that you’ll have to have one router specifically as the base, and then the satellites separate to provide the mesh network.
Netgear as a whole is known for producing quality products, and have recently extended beyond internet gear into smart products like the Arlo smart cameras.
eero vs. Orbi — Things in Common
Let’s start the discussion by talking about what the eero and Orbi have in common.
Both routes function to reduce WiFi dead zones. With traditional routers, it’s likely that the signal starts to drop off in certain areas of your home. This often leaves people searching their homes for better reception when they’re trying to use the web, and that’s no longer necessary with the introduction of the eero and Orbi. The mesh network effectively eliminates dead zones in your home by filling the entire property with strong, reliable WiFi.
However, before you rush out and buy a smart router, you may want to download an app like Wi-Fi Sweetspots for iOS, or Wi-Fi Analyzer for Android. These apps allow you to see where the signal in your home starts to drop off. Oftentimes you can address issues in your signal simply by moving your existing router around a bit, and if that’s the case you can save a significant amount of money by passing on the new router.
With that said, there are definitely benefits to the eero and Orbi outside of reducing WiFi dead zones as well. The routers function to deliver faster WiFi to smartphones, PCs, and tablets around the home, but they also offer a great deal of smart home support. The Ethernet ports allow you to plug in any smart hub and enable your existing ZigWave technology.
Bridge mode allows you to manage your network on the eero or Orbi through your existing router. This approach may eliminate some of the useful features of your router so we recommend sticking to the default configuration. With that said, the ability to go into bridge mode in unique cases where you’d like to keep your existing router infrastructure is definitely a benefit — especially in the case of small businesses using products like the Orbi Pro. Bridge mode is pretty simple to activate from the eero or Orbi app, so if you’re looking to keep your network functioning as is while expanding it with a mesh setup, the option is there with both products.
The two routers have the same impressive hardware and technology, both featuring 512MB of RAM and 4GB of flash storage. There are some slight differences in the processor with the eero using Quad-core 700MHz technology and the Orbi using Quad-core ARM 710Mhz. In practice, you should see similar capabilities from both devices.
Speaking of technology, both routers feature support for MU-MIMO, also known as multi-user, multiple input, multiple output. Traditional routers can support a number of devices on the network at the same time, but they are only ever streaming data to one at a time. This causes devices to compete with one another for available bandwidth, and leads to a slower network over all. MU-MIMO available on the eero and Orbi means that the router can communicate with all devices simultaneously, leading to a more stable and quicker connection for all your favorite tech.
Controlling your router with your voice is a possibility with both the eero and orbi due to their Amazon Alexa support. As long as you have a compatible Alexa product like an Echo or Echo dot, you can enable the appropriate skills and control the various settings of your router solely using voice commands. It’s the perfect option if you’d like to easily pause the internet to keep your kids on track with homework, just keep in mind that when Alexa voice activation is active it’s available for anyone, so keep an eye on your children to avoid any unsupervised setup adjustments.
Last but not least, setup is incredibly easy with both the eero and Orbi. It’s as simple as taking things out of the box, plugging them in, and going through an easy setup process on the eero or Orbi app. In a matter of minutes, you’ll be enjoying top-tier WiFi throughout the entire home.
eero vs. Orbi — Differences
Difference #1: WiFi Connectivity – There are some fundamental differences in the WiFi connectivity between the eero vs. Orbi, although they both do an incredible job of delivering fast and consistent WiFi.
Both the eero and Orbi feature Tri-band, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi radios, but they differ in the way that they utilize those frequencies.
The eero uses simultaneous 2.4GHz, 5.2GHz, and 5.8GHz connections in order to provide greater bandwidth to your various devices. While the majority of routers are only dual-band, the extra radio gives your devices more room to function without competing for a signal.
With single eero router on the 5GHz band, testing showed a long range speed capacity of 183.5 Mbs and a close range rating of 452.4 Mbs.
The Orbi uses tri-band radios, but it goes about things a little bit differently. The 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands are the primary way that devices communicate with one another, and the third band — another 5GHz band — serves a special purpose.
That third band is exclusively dedicated to the WiFi backhaul, which means that it focuses on transmitting data between the Orbi router and its satellites. This ensures an extremely stable connection, as the Orbi won’t have to compete with other devices in order to bounce WiFi between the base and the external devices that form the mesh network.
The 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios provide a theoretical peak throughput of 1.2Gbps, although testing does show some drop offs. With that said, the orbi does come ahead in speeds by averaging 509.8 Mbps at close range and 368.2 Mbps at 100 feet.
Difference #2: Units & Range – While both the eero and Orbi form mesh networks in order to transmit WiFi an impressive distance, they differ in their range and how the devices combine in order to make up the network.
The eero offers the ultimate in flexibility, as you can add as many eero devices to the network as you’d like. This makes the potential range absolutely incredible, although in practice most homs will be using just a few.
1 eero and 1 eeero Beacon will cover 1-2 bedroom homes with a coverage area of up to 2000 feet. Bump that up to 2 eero Beacons, and you have enough technology to cover 2-4 bedrooms and 3000 square feet. The 3 eeros Pro Pack will cover 3500 square foot homes, and so on and so forth.
If you’re willing to invest in more eero units, you’ll be able to extend your signal an impressive distance. Just keep in mind that the layout of your home can have an effect on the strength and distribution of your signal. So you should keep length, the number of the rooms, and potential interference like brick walls, large appliances, or metal doors in mind when placing your beacons.
The Orbi’s setup is far more simple, but still covers an impressive range. The default setup of one router and one satellite can cover up to 5000 square feet, and the system itself can support up to 3 satellites and 1 main router. You shouldn’t have issues covering any residential environment with maximum setup of equipment outside of the largest homes. If you’re looking for an even more impressive range, we recommend taking a look at the Orbi Pro system — discussed in further detail in our NETGEAR Orbi vs. Orbi Pro comparison.
Difference #3: Wired Connectivity – While most of the time you’ll likely be hooking up your devices to the internet through WiFi, there are definitely situations where you might want to hardwire a device. There are some differences between the devices, however, on their support for wireless connectivity.
On the eero hub, you’ll find dual auto-sensing Gigabit ports for WAN and/or LAN connectivity, as well as a USB-C port for the AC power adapter. There are no ports on the beacons, which means you’ll essentially be limited to those two Gigabit ports on the router itself. This can be a bit of a problem for those who are looking to hardwire equipment in other areas of the house, or for those who want to hook up a larger number of devices.
The Orbi router and satellite are far more flexible. The Orbi router features 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports. One of the ports is designed to connect to your router, but the other three are fair game for connecting devices like network storage, printers, or gaming PCs. You’ll also find a 2.0 USB port on the back of the device, although the functionality of the port isn’t really all there. Netgear plans to enable features like Readyshare support on the USB slot at a later date, but in its current iteration it’s largely limited to tasks like hooking up printers.
Unlike the eero, however, the Orbi satellites also have their own ports. On each satellite you’ll have access to four Gigabit ports and one USB port, which makes connecting your various devices much more flexible than with the eero system. Place your Orbi satellites strategically in areas with a lot of technology, and hardwire your equipment into the network while hundreds of feet away from the main router.
There’s no doubt about it: the Orbi definitely has the advantage when it comes to wired connectivity.
Difference #4: Nightlight – While this feature isn’t necessarily related to the functions of the WiFi router itself, the eero Beacon has a nightlight as an additional cool feature. The beacons plug directly into your outlets, and include a 10 Lumen LED nightlight that projects downwards. It features automated activation and dimming that can be activated by the device’s ambient light sensor or with a manual schedule set in the eero app.
Just as you can control your WiFi network with Amazon Alexa, you can also control the lighting on the eero beacons, making it easy to light up the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night or make sure everything’s turned off when it’s time to go to bed.
Unfortunately, the Orbi doesn’t have any analagous feature.
Difference #5: Subscription – The eero and Orbi both have a subscription service, and offer different sorts of features that all seem to revolve around increased security and convenience.
The eero Plus subscription is designed to make spending time online a safer and more enjoyable experience overall. Having a fast network is great, but leaving it open to cybercriminals or having your kids access adult areas of the web can definitely put a damper on your enjoyment. eero Plus offers a solution to these issues with a small monthly fee.
Threat Scan is a feature that will check each site you or your kids visit against a database of millions of known threats, and stop navigation to the website if it recognizes it as malicious. This can save a lot of time and money spent trying to remove a virus or malware from your PC by keeping your computer from visiting those sites in the first place.
Family-Safe Browsing will automatically tag sites that contain violent, illegal, or adult content. You can easily choose from the eero app the type of content you’d like your children to be able to see, and filter out inappropriate content without any additional input on your part. While it’s still important to keep an eye on your kids’ internet usage, it’s an excellent safeguard against the seedier areas of the internet.
Ad Blocking is a useful feature for the entire family, as it will get rid of annoying ads and pop-ups on a network level rather than forcing you to rely on ad blockers on each individual device. Ad blocking is convenient, but it will also reduce load times on ad-heavy sites which leads to a faster browsing experience overall.
Encrypt.me VPN protection allows you to browse the web privately and securely using a virtual private network. This is a useful feature for those who work from home or who frequently use unsecured public WiFi at places like cafes or airports. An eero Plus subscription comes with 5 accounts for no additional charge.
1Password Password Manager is a useful utility that essentially allows you to use one password for the entirety of your online logins. In order to protect your information from a potential hack, it’s important to have a unique username and password for every site. That can be difficult to remember, however, so 1Password Password manager gives you one common password while remembering every password across all of your online services.
Malwarebytes Antivirus Software is one of the leading programs for virus and malware protection, and subscriptions on their own are relatively expensive. The eero Plus subscription includes Malwarebytes for up to 3 devices for no additional charge, which keeps your technology protected without hurting your wallet.
All together, these services would cost around $368 per year, but an eero Plus subscription is just $99 per year. So if you find these features useful, it’s worth opting for the monthly fee from eero rather than buying services individually.
As far as the Orbi goes, the subscription is the Disney Circle service that focuses almost entirely on offering parents a huge amount of control and flexibility over how they monitor and control their children’s internet usage.
The basic version of the Circle app is available for free, and includes access to services like the ability to pause the internet, see your kids’ browsing history, and filter out harmful website. If you pay an additional fee for the premium service, however, you’ll unlock a huge lineup of features that are incredibly useful for those who want to keep an eye on their kids’ time online.
Time Limits is a useful feature that lets you control how much time your children are spending online. While internet access is useful in many ways for kids — both for entertainment and education — it can quickly become a problem if it becomes their only activity. Time Limits features a huge amount of customization and allows you to limit access to certain apps and websites, giving your kids a certain amount of “screen time” every day. Cut off access at specific points to mobile gams, social media, streaming services, and more with a simple toggle — or even toggle apps individually. It’s an excellent way to manage internet access without constantly nagging your kid.
Bedtime allows you to set a specific time that internet will turn off for your kids’ devices every night. When it’s time for bed, kids should be trying to sleep rather than playing mobile games or browsing Facebook. Bedtime is the perfect solution for ensuring that bedtime is actually spent resting, and the customizability allows you to set separate times for different kids. Allow your teenagers to stay up later while getting the youngsters in bed at a more reasonable time from one convenient location.
Offtime allows you to set certain times during the day where internet access should be disabled. Offtime is an excellent option for ensuring that homework gets done expediently after school, or for focusing on family time during meals or after dinner. The Orbi router will automatically cut off access at this certain points, and remind kids that it’s time to disconnect should they try to access the internet during these offtimes.
Rewards allows parents to use internet access as an incentive. While the majority of the internet usage will probably be managed using the combination of features like Time Limits, Bedtime, and Offtime, there are always situations where you want to reward your kid with a little extra time online. Dole out internet access as rewards in general or for specific apps, or move bedtime a little later for the kids when they have friends over — all from the Disney Circle app.
Usage doesn’t offer any features itself, but is an excellent way to keep an eye on how your schedules and settings via Circle are performing. Usage gives a detailed breakdown of the internet usage for your entire family, which is a great way to keep your kids’ (or your own) social media habits in check.
Outside of the Circle app subscription, Orbi products also feature free technical support for 90 days. After that three month period, you’ll have to pay a fee for additional help should something go wrong.
It’s difficult to decide which subscription service is better overall, but we feel that the Orbi is the superior option for families with kids while the eero comes out on top for general usage.
Difference #6: Design – Last but not least, there are some significant differences between the eero and Orbi in terms of design. The eero base measures 4.76 x 4.76 x 1.26 in. The products are beautiful, sleek, and are designed to sit flat on the table, making them easy to blend in with the rest of your home.
The eero beacon looks very similar, although sort of cut in half with dimensions of 4.76 x 2.91 x 1.18. They also plug directly into the outlet without a cord, which saves valuable counter space and makes the beacon easy to integrate pretty much anywhere. We recommend installing them where you might be able to make use of the night lights!
The Orbi, on the other hand, is much bulkier and is essentially a large tower at 8.9 x 6.7 x 3.1 inches. The device looks pretty sleek, but is very difficult to hide in any way. You could technically use it as some sort of book end, but in general it’s going to be hard to view it as anything other than a large router.
The eero is definitely king when it comes to design, as it’s the perfect complement to any decor.
eero vs. Orbi — Comparison Chart
|WiFi Connectivity||Tri-band WiFi radios,
2.4GHz, 5.2GHz, and 5.8GHz
|Tri-band WiFi radios,
2.4GHz and 5GHz
IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
|Wired Connectivity||Two 1Gb ports WAN/ LAN
eero Beacon: None
|1 WAN; 3 LAN;
One 2.0 USB;
4 Gb LAN;
One 2.0 USB;
|Security and network services||WPA2||WPA/WPA2-PSK|
|Reduces WiFi Dead Zones||Yes||Yes|
|Range||1 Router + 1 Satellite up to 2,000 sq. ft.||1 Router + 1 Satellite up to 5,000 sq. ft.|
|Processor||Quad-core 700MHz||Quad-core 710MHz|
|Subscription||eero Plus||Premium Circle app
Technical Support after
90-day free trial
|Dimensions||4.76” x 4.76” x 1.26”||8.9” x 6.7” x 3.1”|
eero vs. Orbi — Accessories
All you need to get started with the eero or Orbi comes right in the box, but there are some additional add-ons you might want to consider that enhance the experience.
The primary add-on for the eero is the eero Plus subscription which adds a lot of utility and security features for a low monthly fee. If you’re worried about the setup process, however, you can purchase eero WiFi System Setup from Amazon to take the hassle out of getting your network set up and running efficiently.
For the eero Gen 1, Gen 2, and Pro, we also recommend looking into mounting options like the MYRIANN Wall Mount Holder for eero, Wall Outlet Mount Holder, and HumanCentric Wall, Ceiling and Drop Ceiling Mount Bracket.
The Orbi, on the other hand, has a number of satellites that offer unique utility to your router system.
The Orbi Voice Add-on WiFi Satellite and Smart Speaker expands your WiFi coverage while adding Alexa integration to your home. Check the news, keep an eye on the weather, stream music, control your smart home, and more from the satellite itself rather than relying on an Echo or Echo Dot.
If you’d like to take your signal out into the yard, the Orbi Outdoor Satellite is the only weather-resistant outdoor WiFi mesh system on the market. Your satellite will be protected by the elements and beam your network up to 2500 square feet away, making it easy to browse facebook on the patio or watch YouTube even at the far corners of your property.
Last but not least, the Orbi Plug In Satellite functions similarly to the eero Beacon in that it plugs directly into your outlet. The Wall-Plug will extend your coverage by up to 1500 square feet with high-performance AC2200 WiFi. With the ability to plug the satellite into an electrical socket in your hallway or kitchen, you’ll keep your tables clutter-free and the entirety of your home filled with a strong connection.
eero vs. Orbi — Our Thoughts
It’s difficult to determine which router is actually better since they are similar in a lot of ways and both offer an excellent WiFi network across your entire home. There are a few things to keep in mind, however, that might influence which product is right for you.
The maximum number of add-on units with the eero are unlimited, which may lead to a greater range than the Orbi that only supports three. It would be a significant investment to buy a ton of beacons, but it’s possible to cover even gigantic properties with reliable WiFi if you’re willing to purchase the units.
One way that the eero does fall behind, however, is that the beacon units don’t feature any ports while the Orbi satellites offer 4 on every device. If wired connections throughout your home are important to you, the Orbi is probably the superior choice unless you decide to go with the eero Pro setup.
From a design standpoint, the eero also comes out a head due to the Orbi’s large size and less attractive aesthetic, but the Orbi’s Circle subscription is extremely useful for families with kids.
Long story short, there are pros and cons to each device. Which router is best is really going to depend on what you’re looking for.
Last update on 2020-02-18 at 13:09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API