Starlink Standard vs High Performance Dish: Which one to Choose?

Overview of Starlink and Its Dishes

Starlink is SpaceX‘s satellite internet service that leverages a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband internet around the world. The service uses small user terminals, dubbed Starlink dishes, to connect to the satellites and bring internet access to users’ homes or businesses.

Starlink Standard vs High Performance Dish

Starlink offers two types of dishes:

Standard Dish

The standard Starlink dish is the original dish design offered since the beginning of the public beta test in 2020. It features a compact form factor with a circular phased array antenna and motorized mount.

High Performance Dish

The high performance Starlink dish, also known as Starlink Premium, was introduced in 2022. This second-generation dish has a larger rectangular antenna design and no motorized parts.

Both dishes connect to the Starlink satellites in space to provide internet access. However, there are some key differences in their specs and performance.

Hardware Design and Specs

The hardware design and specs differentiate the standard and high performance Starlink dishes:

Dimensions and Weight

The standard dish has a diameter of 584 mm and weighs 9.9 lbs. The high performance dish measures 613 x 533 x 82 mm and weighs a heftier 13.9 lbs with its sturdier base.

Antenna Design

The standard dish uses a circular phased array antenna that must physically rotate to track satellites. Its antenna has 785 phase shift elements. The high performance dish utilizes a larger rectangular electronically-steered antenna array with 1,618 phase shift elements. This stationary antenna does not need to rotate mechanically.

Motors and Moving Parts

The standard Starlink dish is equipped with motors to adjust its angle and azimuth to lock onto satellite signals. This allows it to tilt and rotate as satellites pass overhead. Conversely, the high performance dish’s antenna is completely fixed with no moving parts. Its beam steering is handled electronically by the antenna itself.

Power Usage

The standard dish draws up to 100W of power during operation. Its motors androtating parts require more electricity. The high performance dish uses less than 65W of power thanks to its static design sans motors. This improves efficiency.

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Cable Length

Both dishes come with a 100 ft cable to connect to the router. The standard dish’s round cable is detachable, while the cable is integrated into the high performance dish.

Base Options

The standard dish has one triangular base option. For the high performance dish, users can select a standard flat base or a tilt mount to adjust the angle.

Internet Performance

When it comes to actually using the internet, the performance difference between the standard and high performance Starlink dishes is noticeable:

Speed

Starlink cites expected download speeds of 50-250 Mbps for the standard dish. The high performance dish unlocks 100-500 Mbps speeds, essentially doubling the bandwidth. For reference, the average fixed broadband internet speed in the US is around 150 Mbps as of 2022. The high performance dish can greatly exceed this level.

Latency

Starlink dishes offer low latency for satellite internet, but the high performance dish cuts latency roughly in half compared to the standard version. This leads to less lag and delays for gaming, video calls, and real-time applications.

Uptime and Reliability

Both dishes may experience occasional blips or outages in service as satellites shift overhead. However, the high performance dish’s larger field of view allows it to seamlessly switch between more satellites simultaneously. This minimizes disruptions in connectivity.

Performance Consistency

The standard dish’s speeds are more variable depending on satellite coverage and weather conditions. Its motors must work harder to track satellites in dense foliage or heavy rain/snow. The high performance dish’s stationary design paired with advanced phased array steering provides more consistent speeds regardless of environmental factors. Its signal locks on easier.

Coverage Area

There are some slight differences between the standard and high performance dishes when it comes to service coverage area:

Supported Regions

The standard dish is approved for use in most regions where Starlink provides internet access. However, the high performance dish has only launched in the US, UK, France, Germany, and Australia so far.

Rural Access

Starlink dishes aim to provide internet access in rural and remote areas unserved by traditional options. Both dishes can enable this, but the high performance version’s advanced antenna may have longer range to reach users in more isolated locales.

Mobile Use

The standard Starlink dish is capable of use in motion, like on vehicles, boats, and RVs. Its rotating mechanical antenna can adjust to constantly changing positions. The high performance dish currently does not support mobile use since its fixed antenna depends on being mounted stably in one location.

Pricing and Availability

There are major pricing and availability differences between Starlink’s standard and high performance satellite internet dishes:

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One-Time Hardware Cost

The standard dish costs a one-time payment of $599 upon signup. Meanwhile, the high performance dish commands a lofty $$2,500 upfront hardware payment.

Monthly Subscription Fee

All Starlink dishes incur a monthly network access fee. The standard dish subscription is $110 per month. For the premium experience of the high performance dish, subscribers pay $$500 monthly.

Portability Fee

There is no added fee to move the standard dish to a new service address in the same cell. However, Starlink charges a $$25 portability fee per month to relocate the high performance dish.

Availability

The standard dish has been continuously available for order since opening the public beta. Users may be waitlisted depending on volume. Conversely, the high performance dish has strict availability limitations. It has only launched for a few test markets with no timeline for expansion. Fewer users will realistically gain access to the costly high performance hardware in the near future.

Use Cases

The ideal use cases differ somewhat between the standard and high performance Starlink satellite dishes:

Individuals and Households

The standard dish adequately serves most regular internet needs for individuals and families in rural/remote regions, providing better-than-nothing broadband connectivity.

Small Businesses

Solopreneurs and small businesses with 5-20 employees can benefit from the standard dish’s 50-250 Mbps speeds for web apps, cloud software, ecommerce, etc.

Enterprise and Power Users

Large enterprises, creative agencies, remote teams, and ultra high-bandwidth households will require the 100-500 Mbps throughput of the high performance dish to satisfy their internet demands.

Mission-Critical Uses

Telehealth clinics, emergency responders, community centers and others requiring incredibly reliable internet without fail would need the high performance dish and its uninterrupted connectivity.

Pros and Cons

Comparing the merits and downsides of each dish model yields:

Standard Dish Pros

  • Lower hardware cost
  • Lower monthly cost
  • Roaming/mobile use possible
  • Available to purchase immediately

Standard Dish Cons

  • Slower max speeds
  • Higher latency
  • Performance varies with weather and foliage
  • Struggles in extremely remote sites

High Performance Dish Pros

  • 2X faster max speeds
  • Half the latency
  • More consistent speed/reliability
  • Advanced antenna tech unlocks new spectrum

High Performance Dish Cons

  • Much higher upfront hardware cost
  • Significantly pricier monthly subscription
  • No mobile use support currently
  • Strict availability limitations

Conclusion

In reviewing Starlink’s original standard dish versus the new high performance premium model, it becomes clear there are salient differences in the hardware specs, use cases, pricing and overall performance. The standard dish strikes an affordable balance for most potential Starlink subscribers lacking traditional broadband options in rural or isolated areas. Its capabilities start at 50 Mbps and scale up to 250 Mbps – ample to transform internet access for many unserved users even if latency and reliability show occasional flaws.

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Meanwhile, the high performance dish sits at the bleeding edge of satellite connectivity, roughly doubling speeds up to 500 Mbps down and slashing latency in half. But its $2,500 entry cost and $500 monthly fees restrict its audience mostly to deep-pocketed enterprises and power users with mission-critical internet needs unmet by standard options. Constrained availability also hampers wider high performance dish adoption for now. Ultimately, the standard dish appears a “good enough” compromise for average consumers dabbling in satellite internet access, while hardcore users require the premium performance promised by Starlink’s next-generation high performance hardware. Both dishes have the potential to further close the digital divide, just serving different ends of the internet demand spectrum.

FAQs

How much more does the high performance Starlink dish cost?

The high performance Starlink dish carries a one-time hardware cost of $2,500, over four times higher than the $599 standard dish. Its monthly network access fee is also $500, more than quadruple the standard $110 plan.

Why is the high performance dish so much more expensive?

You are essentially paying for vastly improved next-generation technology with the high performance dish. Its advanced phased array antenna unlocks double the bandwidth, halves latency, and offers industrial-grade reliability not possible with legacy satellite dishes.

Who is the high performance Starlink dish really for?

The premium high performance hardware caters to the most demanding internet users with mission-critical needs and high willingness to pay – large enterprises, remote creative agencies, online game streamers, etc. Most average consumers simply seeking better rural internet access do not require such extreme speeds and reliability.

Where can I get the high performance Starlink dish right now?

Availability remains extremely limited for Starlink’s high performance satellite antenna, with restricted pilot tests only live in a handful of US states plus small footprints in the UK, France, Germany and Australia last reported. Waitlists are extensive, even for these test regions.

Can I mount the high performance Starlink dish on an RV or boat?

Unfortunately mobile use cases like RVs, trucks, and boats are not currently supported by the high performance Starlink dish. Its fixed antenna depends on stable mounting to a permanent structure. Only the standard dish works for mobile setups at this time while in motion.

Sawood