Netgear Orbi 970 Series review: the ultimate Wi-Fi 7 mesh network system

If you can afford the Netgear Orbi 970 Series, then all of your Wi-Fi needs are sorted for many years to come

Netgear Orbi 970 Series mesh system
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

If you're not immediately put off by the thought of paying this much money for mesh network devices, then the Netgear Orbi 970 Series is quite simply one of the best systems around – and with Wi-Fi 7 support, it's likely to be for many years to come too.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Seriously superior performance

  • +

    The latest Wi-Fi 7 standard

  • +

    Straightforward mesh setup

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Seriously expensive hardware

  • -

    Units are on the bulky side

  • -

    Some features cost you extra

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When it comes to the best mesh Wi-Fi systems you can buy, devices from Netgear's Orbi brand have consistently ranked near the top of every list we've put together – and the Netgear Orbi 970 Series is the latest and greatest in the range, with a price to match.

If you want the very latest in Wi-Fi 7 connectivity for your home, these units should be on your shortlist. Here we'll explain everything you need to know about this mesh network system in our comprehensive Netgear Orbi 970 Series review.

If you're after even more buying advice, we'd like to direct you to our guides to the best wireless routers and the best Wi-Fi 6 routers, which feature plenty of other options.

Netgear Orbi 970: price & availability

If you're studying listings online, the Netgear Orbi 970 Series mesh network system we're looking at here – made up of three units – is the BE27000 Mesh Wi-Fi System with the product code RBE973SB. At the time of writing, the package is going to cost you £2,199 from Netgear UK, and $2,299 from Netgear US.

Netgear Orbi 970 Series review: design & setup

Netgear Orbi 970 Series mesh system

(Image credit: Future)

As usual with Netgear Orbi hardware, everything is set up through a mobile app you can install on Android or iOS, and we had no problems getting up and running with our phone – even the obligatory firmware update didn't take long. All in all it took us about 20 minutes from opening up the box to being able to enjoy our new mesh network.

Bear in mind that these are pretty chunky units: they stand 294mm (11.6in) tall, so it's a couple of pint glasses on top of each other (and wider in diameter too). They're not really the type of devices you can hide away, but they're fairly well designed – they look like quality pieces of hardware, all curves and subtle LEDs. We're reviewing the 3-pack here, but a 2-pack is also available, and white or black are the colour options.

Netgear Orbi 970 Series mesh system software

(Image credit: Future)

The standard Orbi app (it's the same no matter what Orbi model you're using) offers easy access to all the key settings for the network: you're able to check up on connected devices, set up a guest network, and test the speed of your internet, for example. Basic parental controls are included, but features like automatic schedules and website tracking will set you back £49.99/$69.99 a year.

Netgear Armor is another subscription which costs extra – yours for £84.99/$99.99 a year – though a 30-day free trial is included with your purchase. It gives you a wealth of extra security features, including a built-in firewall and Virtual Private Network (VPN), and advanced threat protection and vulnerability scans for all the devices on your network.

Netgear Orbi 970 Series review: performance & features

Netgear Orbi 970 Series mesh system

(Image credit: Future)

There's no doubt the Netgear Orbi 970 Series comes with an impressive specs list attached: speeds up to 27Gbps (though of course it won't improve your broadband speed), quad-band technology with a dedicated backhaul for managing data, 8,200 square feet (around 760 square metres) of coverage, and plenty more besides. Then there's Wi-Fi 7, up to 2.4x faster than Wi-Fi 6, depending on the scenario.

Put simply, performance levels here are top-tier. Of course Wi-Fi speeds depend on a number of factors, including how thick your walls are, the speeds your internet provider is giving you, how many devices you've got connected, whether or not you've lent your neighbour your Wi-Fi password, and so on – but we feel confident in saying that the Netgear Orbi 970 Series is very difficult to beat.

Wi-Fi 7 devices remain few and far between, but even on Wi-Fi 6 gadgets we saw improvements in speed at the extremities of our two-storey semi-detached property, compared to our existing previous Wi-Fi 6 mesh network. We didn't notice any signal drops or buffering, even with a dozen or so devices connected at the same time. Unless you live in a stately home, this system is going to give you everything you need – and then some.

Netgear Orbi 970 Series mesh system

(Image credit: Future)

Our back garden is relatively small – just a few square meters – but the Wi-Fi signal from our current mesh network doesn't reach very far into it. In contrast, the Netgear Orbi 970 Series was able to reach all the way to the back fence with speeds comparable to those we were getting indoors, which gives you one example of the sort of improvements you can expect to see if you upgrade.

Of course every setup is different – in terms of building layout, and existing hardware – so the question of whether or not the Netgear Orbi 970 Series is worth the upgrade for each and every scenario is difficult to answer. Based on our testing though, you'd have to try very hard to give it any problems, either in terms of how many devices it can support or the reliability of the signal it can provide to those devices.

You're well covered for wired options as well, with a 10Gbps Ethernet port on each box, four 2.5Gbps Ethernet ports on the main router unit, and two 2.5Gbps Ethernet ports on each of the satellites. With Wi-Fi this good and reliable, you might not need to wire up any of your computers or consoles, but it's always handy to have the option anyway.

Netgear Orbi 970 review: verdict

Netgear Orbi 970 Series mesh system

(Image credit: Future)

With any piece of hardware – one of the best phones or the best laptops, as well as one of the best mesh network systems – there's a question about paying top dollar for kit that's at the top of the range. Is the iPhone 15 Pro Max better than the iPhone 15? Undoubtedly. Is the extra expense worth it for the average user? Well, that's another question entirely.

And that's where the Netgear Orbi 970 Series finds itself right now. Based on the time we've spent with this pack of three Orbi units, we'd say it's phenomenally good at getting high-speed Wi-Fi into every nook and cranny of your home, and out into the garden and the street too – but, realistically, few people will want to pay or should pay this much money for their mesh network devices.

That leaves us with a product that impresses in every department, yet is only going to appeal to a small group of people right now. If you've got a big house, plenty of money to invest, a top-tier broadband package, and a lot of devices you want to connect up to Wi-Fi, then by all means go all-in on the Netgear Orbi 970 Series. You certainly won't be disappointed by the performance you get.

For the rest of us, the many cheaper and less powerful options out there will do just fine – especially while Wi-Fi 7 is still getting established. It might be worth revisiting the Netgear Orbi 970 Series in the future if your existing Wi-Fi network is starting to creak under the strain, and you have numerous Wi-Fi 7 gadgets at home.

Also consider

Despite the benefits Wi-Fi 7 brings, many people will be more than happy with Wi-Fi 6, which is where something like the Netgear Orbi RBK863S comes in. You get the same number of units, you get strong and solid Wi-Fi throughout your home, and you pay less than half the price of the Netgear Orbi 970 Series that we've reviewed here. As it's no longer the latest model, prices will continue to drop too.

If you're absolutely committed to the Wi-Fi 7 future, then have a look at the Eero Max 7 from Amazon. We reviewed the 2-pack bundle, which will set you back £/$1,149.99, but even the 3-pack version is significantly less than the Netgear package we've reviewed here. It's still expensive, and not quite as feature-packed or powerful, but the Eero Max 7 is definitely another option worth considering.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.