Since I posted the review on the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE16000, I’ve gotten questions about comparing it to the Orbi RBRE960, which is the router unit of the Netgear Orbi RBKE 960 series.
Well, an Asus GT-AXE16000 vs Netgear RBKE960 matchup is a bit like apples vs oranges.
For one, at launch, the former is available as a single router and the latter as part of a mesh system. But even with that aside, there is more to these routers than just the Quad-band notion. In many ways, this is the AiMesh vs Orbi mesh matchup.
Let’s dive in.
Asus GT-AXE16000 vs Netgear RBKE960: Similarities and differences
The Quad-band notion is the only thing these two routers have in common. They are traditional Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 routers with an additional 6GHz band to qualify as Wi-Fi 6E devices.
Generally, with two 5GHz bands, a router can host more devices on this frequency. It can use two portions of the 5GHz spectrum simultaneously.
And the 6GHz band means the broadcaster can support 6GHz clients.
How Quad-band pans out in the case of the Asus GT-AXE16000 and Netgear Orbi RBRE960 are two different stories entirely. But first, let’s check out their specs.
Asus GT-AXE16000 vs Orbi RBRE960: Hardware specifications
Again, the RBRK960 is the router unit of the Orbi RBKE960 series mesh.
Up to 1148Mbps
Up to 1148Mbps
Up to 4804Mbps
Up to 2,402Mbps
Up to 4804Mbps
Up to 2,402Mbps
Up to 4804Mbps
Up to 4804Mbps
5GHz-2 still unavailable to clients
|Router or satellite
|1x 2.5Gbps LAN,
3x Gigabit LAN
|1x 2.5Gbps WAN/LAN
2x 10Gbps LAN/WAN
|1x 10Gbps WAN
|LAN Link Aggregation
(LAN ports 1 and 2)
|WAN Link Aggregation
|Yes (WAN + LAN4)
|Yes (WAN + USB
or any other LAN port)
|1x USB 3.0
1x USB 2.0
|Mobile app or web interface
(via Dynamic DNS)
|Mobile app only
(Login account required)
|2.0GHz Quad-core CPU,
256MB Flash, 2GB RAM
|2.2GHz Quad-core CPU,
512MB Flash, 1GB RAM
(over 24 hours)
|≈ 475 Wh
|Dimensions (no antennas)
|10.4 x 10.4 x 2.9 in
(26.4 x 26.4x 7.4 cm)
|11 x 7.5 x 3.3 in
(27.94 x 19.05 x 8.38 cm)
|5.3 lbs (2.4kg)
|3 lbs (1.4 kg)
|October 12, 2021
|Only available as part of a $1499 3-pack
AiMesh vs Orbi: Differences galore
The Asus GT-AXE16000 and Orbi RBRK960 are as different as can be.
160MHz vs 80MHz channel width
On the table above, you’d note that the Asus has full support for the 160MHz bandwidth, while the Orbi only uses 80MHz on the 5GHz band. Consequently, the Asus has double the speed on this band when working with a supported client.
Bands vs Channels vs Streams
Bands, channels, and streams are items that make Wi-Fi confusing. Here’s a crude analogy:
A Wi-Fi band is like a road; channels are lanes, and streams are vehicles. On the same road, wider lanes are for larger vehicles. Vehicles with larger cargo spaces (2×2, 3×3, 4×4, etc.) can carry more goods (data) per trip (connection). Streams are like cars vs buses.
A Wi-Fi connection takes place on a single channel (lane) of a single band (road) at a time, but the more channels and bands there are, the more options and hardware devices you can use simultaneously to deliver better speeds. That’s because you can combine multiple contingent channels (lanes) into a larger one.
The actual data transmission is always that of the lowest denominator. Similarly, a bicycle can carry just one person at a relatively slow speed, even when you ride it on an open freeway.
The way Wi-Fi 6 works, 160MHz is not a guarantee. If you live in an area with lots of RADAR activities — every city has a weather station, many with an airport or two — chances are both routers have the same bandwidth.
But, weather permitting, the Asus gives you the options of the top bandwidth. And I’d take that any day.
The mesh roles and that 5GHz-2 backhaul band
In a mesh setup, the Asus GT-AXE16000 is much more flexible than the Orbi RBRE960.
The Orbi RBRE960 can work only as a router — you must get the satellite (RBSE96) that won’t work as a router. And it only supports certain Orbi satellites.
The Asus GT-AXE16000, on the other hand, can work as the primary router or a satellite hosted by another AiMesh router. And it works with all AiMesh routers.
Most importantly, the Orbi RBRE960’s second 5GHz (5GHz-2) band is never available to the client.
In all Tri-band sets, the Orbi ecosystem reserves this additional band with Netgear’s proprietary Wi-Fi configuration sole for the backhaul purpose.
The result is that the Orbi has excellent backhaul range, but the band is wasted when the wireless backhaul is not needed, such as when you see a wired backhaul or only need the router unit.
Users have much more flexibility with this band than Asus’s AiMesh.
Multi-Gig and port flexibility
The Asus GT-AXE16000 and Orbi RBRE960 support Multi-Gig, but the Asus has two 10Gbps and one 2.5Gbps port. On top of that, it includes more Gigabit ports and supports all you can think of in terms of port configurations, including:
- WAN assignment: You can make any of its ports work as the primary WAN port, instead of the default port.
- Dual-WAN: The router can support more than one broadband connection.
- Link Aggregation: You can combine two of its Gigabit ports into a 2Gbps connection for either a WAN or a LAN application.
The Orbi, on the other hand, has just one 10Gbps port (which works solely as the WAN port) and one 2.5Gbps LAN port. It has no port flexibility.
In a wired backhauling mesh system, the GT-AXE16000 has 10Gbps Multi-Gig right out of the box — you can get multiple units and daisy-chain them. The Orbi only has 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig, and you’d need a switch if you want to have more than one satellite.
Finally, the Asus has two USB ports to host several add-on storage features. The Netgear has none.
Features and privacy
Both routers have a standard set of network settings. Beyond that, the Asus GT-AXE16000 has many extra features, including a boatload of game-related settings and free-for-life online protection.
On top of that, you don’t need to register an account with Asus to manage the router remotely — you do that via Dynamic DNS — even when you use the mobile app.
On the other hand, the Orbi is one of the first flagship routers from Netgear that no longer has Remote Management. You must opt for a login account with Netgear to manage the router remotely, which can only be done via the Orbi app.
The RBRE960 has Armor online protection and Game Booster, but they are available as add-on packages that can cost over $100/year combined.
In short, the GT-AXE16000 gives you a lot with little or no privacy risk, while the Orbi requires you to connect to Netgear’s server and pay extra to enjoy it to the fullest.
Asus GT-AXE16000 vs Netgear Orbi RBKE960: Performance and ratting
Powerful hardware, Quad-band with Wi-Fi 6E support, three Multi-Gig ports (one 2.5Gbps and two 10Gbps)
Stellar performance throughout
Excellent set of game-related, online protection and monitoring features, full AiMesh 2.0 support
Unmatched port flexibility, including interchangeable WAN, Dual-WAN, and LAN/WAN Link Aggregations
Beautiful ROG Aura lighting
Expensive, NAS performance (when hosting a storage device) could be better
Awkward backhaul band design in a wireless AiMesh setup, no UNII4 (5.9GHz) support, no SFP+
Bulky design, not wall-mountable
Since there are only 2×2 Wi-FI 6 and Wi-Fi 6E clients, there’s no way to clearly show the difference in bandwidth (160MHz vs 80MHz) between these two routers on the 5GHz band.
Nonetheless, as single routers, the Asus GT-AXE16000 proved to be mostly faster than the Netgear Orbi RBRE960.
Powerful hardware with Quad-band Wi-Fi and Multi-Gig wired backhaul support
Excellent Wi-Fi coverage, fast performance
More Wi-Fi networks than previous Orbis, including two additional virtual SSIDs
No web-based Remote Management, few free features, Mobile app (with a login account and even subscriptions) are required to be useful
Rigid Multi-Gig ports’ roles, few Multi-Gig ports
The 2nd 5GHz band is unavailable to clients even with wired backhauls, no 160MHz channel width on 5GHz
Limited Wi-Fi customization, bulky design
The Asus GT-AXE16000 and Netgear Orbi RBRE960 are two different Quad-band approaches.
The Netgear Orbi RBRE960 is designed primarily for a wireless mesh system where the 2nd 5GHz band works solely and permanently as the dedicated backhaul. For this reason, you can’t even buy the RBRE960 as a standalone unit, which you shouldn’t anyway.
The Asus GT-AXE16000 is a flexible mesh router that works however you’d like to use it. In a mesh setup, though, only consider it if you intend to have Multi-Gig wired backhaul.