This NETGEAR Orbi 960 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System increased my speeds by nearly 50% — purchasing a router actually does make a difference

Lightning fast.

Orbi 960 Wi-Fi 6E router
(Image: © Future)

iMore Verdict

The Orbi 960 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System is incredibly expensive, there’s no denying that. But, it does help your home network reach the capabilities advertised by your provider, and for larger homes, it is absolutely worth the investment. Ultimately, however, its worth depends on how much you need and value fast Wi-Fi speeds.

Pros

  • +

    Greatly improves Wi-Fi speeds

  • +

    Improves reception in weak spots

  • +

    Amazing for game streaming

Cons

  • -

    Very expensive

  • -

    Router + Satellites are very big

  • -

    Plugs are annoyingly large

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For years I’ve been interested in the capabilities of expensive routers and whether or not they are worth the price over the standard ones supplied by your network provider. NETGEAR’s Orbi 960 is the crème de la crème of Wi-Fi mesh systems so it seemed fitting to try the 3-pack out to determine whether or not buying a fancy router is actually worth it.

After around a month of testing the Orbi 960 system, I’m impressed with the improvements on my home network by using the Orbi, but is it worth paying over $1000? Let’s find out.

NETGEAR Orbi 960: Price and availability

Orbi 960 Wi-Fi 6E router

(Image credit: Future)

The NETGEAR Orbi 960 is available directly from NETGEAR or from Amazon and the mesh system starts at $1,049 (currently $949) for a router and one satellite which covers up to 6,000 sq. ft. If you want two extra satellites instead of one like the configuration I’m reviewing here, then it will cost you $1,499 (currently $1,299).

The Orbi 960 is available in white and black, although you’ll need to buy at least two extra satellites with the router to get the black version. The router and one satellite package is only available in white. If you've got a smaller home, the router on its own will set you back just under $600 from Amazon.

NETGEAR also offers a 4-pack (router + 3 satellites) for $1,999 (currently $1,799) which covers a property of up to 12,000 sq ft.

In the UK, NETGEAR pricing is far more expensive starting at £1,199 for a 2-pack and increasing to £3,799 for a 6-pack. Interestingly, the product specs for coverage differ too, with slightly less square footage.

NETGEAR Orbi 960: What’s good?

Orbi 960 Wi-Fi 6E router

(Image credit: Future)

I’ve been skeptical about the need for spending money on a router for a while but the Orbi 960 Mesh System has opened my eyes to what speeds are possible with high-quality equipment.

For over a year I’ve had 1Gbps fiber speeds through my provider, yet any time I’ve used sites like Speedtest by Ookla my internet speeds show closer to the 700Mbps for download and around 60 Mbps for upload. Since moving over to the Orbi, my internet speeds have drastically improved and now I get well over 1Gbps download speeds and 100Mbps uploads. The drastic improvements here have made game streaming services like GeForce Now an absolute dream to use, allowing me to finally play games like Cyberpunk 2077 on my Mac in all their glory.

The Orbi 960 Mesh System has also fixed issues with blind spots in my apartment that have plagued my internet use for over a year. Before, I would need to use 5G in my bedroom to access the internet, with shoddy Wi-Fi reception leading to intermittent drops. Now, those 1Gbps speeds run flawlessly throughout my whole apartment, with no blind spots anymore. While I don’t have a huge property to test the advertised 9,000 sq ft. I can confirm that in smaller places, the Orbi has no issues whatsoever. I have so much tech in my home that it has been seriously impressive to see how many products can use my internet at once without any hesitation — Orbi has made living with my partner that much easier!

Orbi 960 Wi-Fi 6E router

(Image credit: Future)

With the capability to reach up to 10.8Gbps and take full advantage of Wi-Fi 6E and its 6GHZ band, the Orbi 960 will give you the experience you’d want and hope for in a product of this quality and price. You may not need this much futureproofing, like with a 10 Gig Ethernet port, but considering some people never buy a router or mesh system in their lifetime, this one checks all the boxes.

NETGEAR Orbi 960: What’s not so good?

Orbi 960 Wi-Fi 6E router

(Image credit: Future)

I have two main issues with the Orbi 960 Mesh System. The first is just how ungodly and big they are across a home. While the black router and satellites blend into the background, these products are huge. For comparison, my Orbi 960 router is the same size, if not slightly taller, than my Xbox Series X.

The day the Orbi 960 Mesh System arrived at my home, my partner was unhappy, to say the least, at how big these three towers were in our home. A month or so later and she’s just come to accept them, but make sure you’re aware of the size and the best color to blend in when buying your Orbi 960.

The other issue, which has genuinely made me scream with anger is the actual plugs that power the Orbi router and satellites. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve kicked these huge plugs that stick out of the wall by mistake. I hope NETGEAR decides to move to flatter power supplies in future models because each plug protrudes the wall by what I’d assume is nearly 10cm.

Orbi 960 Wi-Fi 6E router

(Image credit: Future)

NETGEAR Orbi 960: Competition

Eero 6+

(Image credit: Amazon)

There are many routers and mesh systems out there that will improve your internet speeds without forking out over a thousand dollars for something like the Orbi 960.

NETGEAR offers routers like the Nighthawk Tri-Band or the Orbi 960 as a standalone router for smaller spaces. Both will give you fantastic performance, especially if you live in an apartment.

As for mesh systems, NETGEAR has just released the Orbi 970, capable of Wi-Fi 7 and the company also has cheaper options like the Orbi 750 Mesh System which can be found for under $500.

Elsewhere some of the best HomeKit routers like Amazon eero Pro 6 give you faster internet speeds compared to the router from your provider and smart home security features.

NETGEAR Orbi 960: Should you buy it?

Buy the NETGEAR Orbi 960 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System if…

  • You want the best game streaming possible
  • You have a large home with blind spots
  • You need the fastest internet possible

Don't buy the NETGEAR Orbi 960 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System if…

  • You don’t like the design
  • You don’t use fiber 
  • You’re on a budget

NETGEAR Orbi 960: Verdict

The Orbi 960 Mesh System has been an absolute pleasure to use. Aside from large hardware, annoyingly shaped plugs, and an expensive price tag, the Orbi 960 delivers in taking your home network speeds to the next level. If you want to game stream in 4K and live in a large home, this mesh system won’t let you down. This truly is one of the best Wi-Fi routers for Apple devices.

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.