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Mesh systems versus mesh extenders…

Dual-band versus tri-band…

There are a lot of options when it comes to configuring your home WiFi network for top performance. And as wireless technology continues to improve, that number of options continues to grow with companies releasing upgraded WiFi equipment that deploy these innovations in a variety of ways.

One example is the NETGEAR Orbi Tri-Band WiFi Mesh System, a pioneer and our flagship offering for the WiFi mesh market.  Unlike competing dual-band mesh systems that transmit all data on only the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies, Orbi features a third backhaul radio band for dedicated communication between the router and the satellites in the network.

As a result of Orbi’s success, NETGEAR continued its trailblazing trajectory by developing Nighthawk Mesh. Like Orbi, Nighthawk Mesh also features tri-band capabilities that extend WiFi coverage (see: How to Extend WiFi Coverage in Your Home). But this then raises the questions: How are these products or solutions different? Which is best for my home network?

Let’s compare dual-band mesh systems (like Google WiFi) to Nighthawk Mesh (a tri-band mesh extender) and Orbi (a tri-band mesh system) by evaluating their performance in these key areas: speed, coverage, and compatibility.

Which Delivers the Most Speed?

Dual-Band Mesh Systems Dual-band mesh systems use only the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies to transmit data, whether between the router and satellites, the devices and the router, or the devices and the satellites. These frequencies consequently become very congested, which significantly reduces the network’s overall throughput.
Nighthawk Mesh Nighthawk Mesh extends the range of an existing router—whether you have an older router installed by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or a state-of-the-art router with the latest WiFi technology. Nighthawk Mesh delivers up to 100% higher throughput, or speed, than dual-band mesh systems. However, the overall speed depends on the router you have. A 2×2 or 3×3 AC router would provide maximum flexibility in setting up a home network with many devices and diverse WiFi needs.
Orbi Orbi is a comprehensive tri-band mesh system, complete with a state-of-the-art WiFi router and two satellites that all communicate with one another using a third dedicated backhaul radio band. The available bandwidth in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies therefore increases for your WiFi device transmissions, resulting in maximized throughput. More devices can transmit more data with Orbi because there is more bandwidth available to do so.

 

Which Offers the Best Coverage?

Dual-Band Mesh Systems Dual-band mesh systems can provide seamless, extended coverage to average-sized homes. However, because they lack the third dedicated backhaul radio band, the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies become congested, which negatively impacts signal strength and coverage. Deploying additional WiFi nodes in a dual-band system does expand coverage, but it also has negative consequences since it reduces the speed.
Nighthawk Mesh Nighthawk Mesh also provides seamless, extended WiFi coverage. However, its signal strength is dependent on your WiFi router. Current routers with the latest WiFi technology deliver stronger signals over larger areas.  A Nighthawk Mesh extender like EX8000 is a powerful partner to your Nighthawk router. Adding another mesh extender creates an ideal arrangement for a larger home when you need more WiFi for more devices and in more places, without compromising on speed.
Orbi Orbi WiFi Systems provide seamless, extended WiFi coverage in even the most palatial of homes. As a multi-point system, you can easily deploy additional WiFi satellites to expand coverage to every room.

 

Are They Compatible with My WiFi Devices?

Dual-Band Mesh Systems The compatibility of a dual-band mesh system varies by its model and manufacturer.
Nighthawk Mesh Nighthawk Mesh works with any WiFi router, from the most basic dual-band ISP router to the latest tri-band routers. It is also backwards compatible with older WiFi devices.
Orbi As a comprehensive tri-band mesh system, Orbi comes complete with a state-of-the-art WiFi router and satellites that are backwards compatible to work with all your WiFi devices.

 

And the Winner Is…

Tri-band and dual-band mesh systems and mesh extenders all seek to provide seamless WiFi coverage to home networks using innovative wireless technology. However, the success of their deployments contrasts significantly.

Generally speaking, dual-band mesh systems don’t deliver the fastest speeds or extended coverage that are standard in tri-band mesh products. They are therefore not recommended for modern-day home WiFi networks.

With that said, then, which tri-band mesh product is better suited for your WiFi home network: Nighthawk Mesh or Orbi? Ultimately, it depends on your router and your needs.

If you have a more recent WiFi router or have to use an ISP provided box due to contractual obligations, then Nighthawk Mesh delivers extended coverage and faster speeds at the lowest cost. Flexibility to create a mesh system with any brand router is another reason you would go for the Nighthawk Mesh. Nighthawk Mesh extenders are compatible with ISP gateways, as well other routers on the market.

If, however, you have an outdated WiFi router, such as one installed by your ISP, then it’s likely time to upgrade to the Orbi Tri-Band WiFi Mesh System, an easy scalable solution that can grow with your WiFi needs.

So There You Have It.

Mesh Mashups Unmeshed.

 

Arun Kulathumony

Product Line Manager

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