Depending on your location, Starlink will offer you different hardware options. For Residential and Roam orders in the US, the choice comes down to “Standard” or “Standard Actuated”. The Starlink website doesn’t give much information on the differences between the two models, but there are a lot of things you should be aware of before making a decision.
In this guide, I will break down all the differences between the two equipment options, Standard and Standard Actuated. Learn about the hardware, mounting options, installation process, and available accessories. I will talk about performance, reliability, and offer my overall recommendation for which hardware you should get.
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Starlink is going from Gen 2 to Gen 3
Although Starlink refers to the equipment options as simply Standard and Standard Actuated, the reality is that they are two different generations of Starlink hardware. Standard Actuated is Gen 2, and Standard is Gen 3.
The Gen 2 Standard Actuated dish was released in late 2021, and has been the default equipment option for Residential and Roam since it was released. The Gen 3 dish, aka Standard, was released in December of 2023. Standard is the newest hardware version, with several important changes over the Gen 2 hardware.
Starlink is currently in the process of transitioning from Standard Actuated to Standard. Production of the older Standard Actuated dish has stopped, and Starlink is working to clear out all of their inventory before making their Gen 3 Standard dish the only available option. Standard Actuated won’t be available for much longer, because it is older hardware that will soon be retired. Standard will replace it as the default Starlink equipment.
The cost of both Standard and Standard Actuated is identical, at $599 plus taxes and shipping.
The hardware between the 2nd generation Starlink and 3rd generation Starlink is different in many ways. Starlink upgraded the power supply, router, cables, and dish with Gen 3 Standard. In this section, I will detail all the important changes between the Standard and Standard Actuated models.
The Standard dish is slightly larger than the Standard Actuated dish. Standard Actuated is about 12″ wide and 20″ long, while Standard measures 12″ wide and 24″ long. The increased antenna surface area gives the Standard dish a higher field of view (FOV), 110 degrees vs 100 degrees. The Standard Actuated dish has a much thicker and taller form factor because of the built in mast and motors.
The “actuated” part of Standard Actuated refers to the electric motors inside the antenna housing. The motors, which are connected to the mast, can rotate and tilt the Standard Actuated dish, enabling it to self-align to the Starlink satellites. In contrast, the Standard dish has done away with the built in mast and motors. The Standard dish must be manually rotated during the initial installation, with the help of the Starlink app.
It’s important to understand that both the Standard and Standard Actuated dishes are electronic phased array antennas, that can track and get a signal from the Starlink satellites without physically moving. They both use their wide field of view to digitally “steer” signals to and from the satellites. Beyond the initial alignment during installation, having motors isn’t really an advantage, as the Standard Actuated dish won’t continuously move or adjust. Both antennas work electronically, without having to constantly move to follow the satellites.
The Standard Actuated hardware kit comes with the Gen 2 Starlink Wifi router, which uses Wifi 5 technology. It is mesh-enabled, meaning you can wirelessly pair additional Gen 2 or Gen 3 routers to increase the coverage area of your Wifi network. The Wifi radio is dual band, meaning no dedicated 5Ghz channel for mesh. The Gen 2 router doesn’t have Ethernet ports to directly connect devices, but Starlink does offer an Ethernet Adapter to give you a single LAN port. The Gen 2 router in the Standard Actuated kit can cover up to 2000 sq. ft.
The Standard hardware kit includes the upgraded Starlink Gen 3 router. The Gen 3 router uses Wifi 6 technology, allowing for faster Wifi speed and better range compared to the Standard Actuated router. The Gen 3 router can cover up to 3,200 sq. ft., and has a tri band radio for improved mesh performance. Starlink listened to customer feedback regarding the lack of Ethernet ports on the Gen 2 router, and included 2 Ethernet LAN ports on the Gen 3 router. Other improvements over Gen 2 include a physical reset button and a multi-color status LED on the front of the router.
A single cable connects the Starlink dish to the router, with all models of Starlink. The Standard Actuated kit includes a 50′ Starlink cable, which uses proprietary connectors on each end. One end plugs into the Gen 2 router, and the other end plugs into the Standard Actuated dish. Longer cable lengths are available if needed, but aftermarket cables are not available.
With the Standard dish, Starlink has changed the Starlink cable back to standard RJ45 connectors. The Standard hardware kit includes a 50′ Starlink cable, with identical RJ45 connectors at each end. One end plugs into the router, the other end connects to the dish. A longer 150′ Starlink cable is available for the Standard dish, and thanks to the RJ45 connectors, aftermarket cables can be used.
The proprietary connector design on the Standard Actuated dish has been a source of many issues and failures. One of the most common problems with Starlink is the Starlink Unplugged or Rebooting message, which occurs when the cable or connectors fail. Many customers using the Standard Actuated dish have had to replace the Starlink cable or router. Time will tell if the change to standard RJ45 connectors on the Standard dish will solve the cable and router issues.
All Starlink kits include a temporary mounting base, best for portable use, or for mounting to a flat surface. The Standard Actuated kit contains a mounting base with four legs, each containing a hole for mounting hardware. The Standard kit has a much smaller footprint, thanks to an integrated “kickstand”. The kickstand can fold away for storage, or flip out for a quick deployment. Like with the Standard Actuated base, the kickstand on the Standard dish can be attached to a flat surface with the included screw holes.
The mounting base included in Starlink kits is not designed for permanent installation on a home. Starlink sells several different mounting options for both the Standard and Standard Actuated models. I will cover mounting options a bit later in the guide.
The accessory options for the newer Standard dish aren’t quite as extensive as the accessories offered for the Standard Actuated dish. That will change as time goes on, but right now, accessories like the Starlink Travel Case aren’t available for Standard. Other accessories, like the Ethernet Adapter, aren’t applicable or relevant to the Standard dish because the Gen 3 router has Ethernet ports built in.
Both Standard and Standard actuated have different cable length options available, and both have mounting accessories for roofs and walls, which I will cover in the next section. The Standard Actuated dish has an available mesh system, while the Gen 3 mesh nodes haven’t been released yet.
For more on accessories, check out our Starlink accessory guide.
Setup and installation differences
Because the design of the Standard and Standard Actuated dishes are so different, setup and installation is different too. In this section, I will cover the differences with mounting and installing.
No matter which hardware option you pick, you will have several mounting options to choose from. Starlink offers several types of mounts for both Standard and Standard Actuated. You can also use aftermarket mounts and poles with the Starlink Pipe Adapter, which is available for both models.
Both hardware kits can be installed directly to a roof, facia board, eave, or exterior wall, with the appropriate mount. Although the design of the new Standard kit doesn’t include a mast, a mast is included with most of the Starlink mounting accessories.
Be sure to check out our Starlink mounting guide for more detail on how to mount your Starlink dish.
Installation and aiming
No matter which Starlink model you pick, installation is pretty simple. Just plug everything in, perform the setup using the Starlink app, and you can be online in minutes. But one of the biggest differences between Standard and Standard Actuated is the initial aiming of the dish to the Starlink satellites.
Like I mentioned before, the Gen 3 Standard dish doesn’t have motors. The Standard dish has to be manually rotated during the initial installation process. Thankfully, the Starlink app tells you exactly which way to point it. If you live in the US, that direction is generally north. You don’t have to manually adjust the tilt/angle of the Standard dish. All of the mounting options put the Standard dish at about a 20 degree angle.
The Standard Actuated dish has built in motors that automatically aim the dish, based on your location. When you first power on the Standard Actuated dish, it spends about 15 minutes calibrating to its location. At the end of the boot up process, it will move to a final position, determined by where the most Starlink satellites are in your area. The Standard Actuated dish does not try to aim away from obstructions, and beyond the occasional adjustment from Starlink, it doesn’t move again after the initial calibration.
For more detail, check out our Starlink Setup and Installation Guide.
Performance and reliability
Generally, the Starlink dish model you pick doesn’t affect your internet speed or reliability. The bigger factors for performance are your location, service plan, and obstructions. The Standard dish does have a more powerful antenna, with a beefier power supply. But that doesn’t necessarily mean faster internet speed.
The Standard hardware kit does have a slight reliability advantage in weather. The bigger power supply and more powerful antenna in the Standard kit allows for better performance in rain and snow, where satellite internet generally struggles to maintain a good connection.
The performance capabilities of all Starlink models, from the original Gen 1 dish to Gen 3 Standard, are about the same. The equipment isn’t that different in regards to internet speed. I’ve tested every model of Starlink dish, on various service plans. In my experience, hardware doesn’t affect speed as much as the other factors I previously mentioned.
Standard or Standard Actuated – Which hardware should you buy?
At this point, I’ve covered all the important differences between the Gen 2 “Standard Actuated” and the Gen 3 “Standard” hardware options. So, which one should you pick if you are buying Starlink for the first time?
In my opinion, the Standard dish is the best option. Not only is it the latest and greatest technology from Starlink, it has the following advantages vs the Standard Actuated dish:
- Better Wifi router – The range and Wifi speed of the Gen 3 router in the Standard kit is a big upgrade over the Gen 2 router in the Standard Actuated kit
- Ethernet ports – The Gen 3 router has two built in Ethernet LAN ports, compared to no Ethernet port on the Gen 2 router
- Better form factor – The Standard kit is a better option for portable use cases, like camping and RV’s. The included kickstand makes the Standard dish very thin and packable, compared to the bulky mast and profile of the Standard Actuated dish
- Standard RJ45 connectors – The standard cable and connectors of the Standard hardware kit should solve the reliability issues that plagued the Standard Actuated kit. Also, it gives customers more options for cabling, since aftermarket cable products are compatible with the Standard dish, unlike with the Standard Actuated dish
- Cheaper accessories – The mounts and accessories sold by Starlink for the Standard model are generally cheaper than the equivalent accessories for the Standard Actuated dish. Starlink has refined the design and manufacturing process for their newest accessories, passing some savings on to the consumer
The Standard Actuated dish is still a good option if you don’t like some of the design changes with Gen 3. If the self-aiming feature seems very important to you, the Standard Actuated dish is the way to go. That guarantees you won’t have to climb back up on your roof to make adjustments.
Another advantage of the Standard Actuated dish is the lower power consumption. The Standard Actuated dish uses 50-75 watts on average, compared to 75-100 watts for the Standard dish. If you live off-grid or plan to power your Starlink with solar or a battery system, Standard Actuated is the better choice.
What about upgrading from Gen 1 or Gen 2?
If you currently own a Gen 1 or Gen 2 system, and are wondering about upgrading to the Gen 3 Standard dish, I don’t think it’s worth it. The upgrades I listed above for Gen 3 are nice to have, but won’t really change your internet experience drastically if you already have a working Starlink system.
The Standard Actuated hardware option is Starlink’s 2nd generation hardware, while Standard is the 3rd generation dish. There are several design changes between the two generations, including the elimination of the motors, an upgraded Wifi router, and different mounting accessories.
I recommend people pick the Standard dish for almost all applications, whether you are using Starlink for home internet, or for portable use. The upgrades make it a no-brainer for new customers. But if the self aiming motors are a top priority for you, Standard Actuated is going to deliver similar internet performance.