If network speed is what you crave, then the fastest route is a physical Ethernet connection.
But if you need data wirelessly, then a high speed router is what you have to invest on. Your existing dual band router could probably give you good speeds with 5GHz, but that’s only true when it comes to a device or two on the same channel. With numerous devices on the wireless networks demanding simultaneous data connections, your network is definitely brought down to its knees. So you go ahead and invest on a higher speed broadband connection. But that won’t solve your network speed requirements for all those devices at home. How? Let us explain.
Your existing router is only able to serve a few devices at full internet speeds. You can configure it with QoS and obtain optimal internet speeds for each device. So your TV can get the highest speeds, while your mobile devices can get secondary priority. But when you start gaming, your router may divert more internet priority to your laptop or console.
Today’s world is nothing without data. Though internet speeds and an unlimited data connection may be your current pipeline at home, is your router capable enough to serve every device that demands a good speed? Probably not! Current generation routers can serve a device or two, as we stated earlier, but newer generation routers can serve more than that, without your other devices having to compromise on speed.
Imagine a conventional home with two 4K televisions, a gaming console or laptop, few smart speakers, few mobile devices, and throw in an additional laptop or two. And it has a good 200Mbps internet broadband, or probably more. Now all those can be connected easily to a conventional router, and all are happy to browse the internet till one or two devices demand higher speed to avoid buffering. That’s your TV with a 4K movie running. Add to that a smartphone or laptop which also demands a higher speed internet and it has to wait till the TV’s buffering is done. So, in short, every device starts suffering because the router in that home is not powerful enough to multitask. What’s the solution? Upgrade that gateway – the router.
Wi-Fi 6 is the next generation of wireless networking that needs to be put to work in a demanding environment.
So what is Wi-Fi 6? Click on this article to read more about Wi-Fi 6. But we are not here to talk about Wi-Fi 6. We are here to talk about Netgear’s Wi-Fi 6 beast, the AX8.
Netgear recently released the next generation wireless router in the Nighthawk series – the AX6000 Nighthawk AX8 8-Stream Wi-Fi 6 Router (Model # RAX80). The router is a powerful beast and is aimed at those who require high-speed data delivery to multiple devices, simultaneously. The router fits perfectly in a new-age home environment that demands high-speed internet data on the fly. This router can deliver up to four times more data capacity in comparison to previous standards. In short, this router can serve up to four devices with the highest speed internet/data simultaneously without anyone suffering buffering or waiting issues.
First, let’s check out what this Nighthawk has to offer.
Netgear AX6000 Nighthawk AX8 Design and Specifications:
As futuristic as it looks, the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 resembles a stealth bomber residing on your table. With a large footprint and two collapsible fins, this one will look awesome on your desk or wall. The top has the two folding fins that house four powerful antennas on each side. The centre has a unique design that is made of a grilled metal mesh and plastic. Below that mesh is a cooling fan that’s visible from an angle. This fan helps cooling the powerful internals. The front has a spaceship-like look, and so does the rear. The rear is the main business end with all the controls and ports you would need – five Gigabit Ethernet ports and a Gigabit WAN port in line with two USB 3.0 ports and a power switch. Switches for turning off the lights and resetting the router are also available. LED lights are visible over the top, towards the rear, to indicate the status of the router, internet and Ethernet ports respectively.
- Wi-Fi standards of 802.11ax, dual band:
- 2.4GHz AX- 4x4 (Tx/Rx) 1024 QAM 40MHz with up to 1.2Gbps
- 5GHz AX- 4x4 (Tx/Rx) 1024 QAM 160MHz with up to 4.8Gbps
- Backwards compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
- Wi-Fi range: for very large homes
- Ethernet (LAN) ports: total 6 x 1Gbps, with two ports dedicated for LAN and WAN aggregation each
- USB ports: 2 x USB 3.0 for printers, external storage. Use as NAS, backup drives, printer sharing
- Processor: quad core 1.8GHz, 64-bit
Netgear AX6000 Nighthawk AX8 Features
The AX8 is definitely powerful enough and can support simultaneous 4K/8K streaming to up to 4 devices at the same time. And being a Wi-Fi 6 router, it operates in the 160MHz channel with new-age compatible devices. So if you have the Samsung Galaxy S10 series and above, the iPhone 11 series, the Pixel 4 or any of the new-age laptops/smartphones that support Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi ax, using this channel, there will be almost zero interference with other devices operating in the 2.4GHz/5GHz range, leaving the Wi-Fi 6 devices to get the best of data performance. In short, get Gigabit speeds on Wi-Fi itself. The Nighthawk AX8 supports uplink and downlink OFDMA to efficiently use air-time with better frequency reuse, reduced latency and increased network efficiency. This is extremely useful for latency sensitive applications such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and Internet of things (IoT) sensors.
And add to that a whopping five Gigabit Ethernet ports to get your laptop/desktop or TV on the highest speeds needed. While the USP of the Nighthawk AX8 is the simultaneous 8-stream and Wi-Fi 6, another USP that you will not find in conventional, or high-end routers in the market, is the link aggregation ports. What are they? Well, if you have a 1Gbps LAN card, you can get just 1Gbps data throughput. But if you want, you can link two LAN cards on your PC/desktop and connect the two LAN cables to ports 4 and 5 on the router and get a full 2Gbps speed. While that applies to PCs and laptops on the local network, you can also club/combine two 1Gbps broadband connections to create a whopping 2Gbps internet pipeline using the link aggregation ports on port 1 and WAN. You will have to configure the router via the Settings page to activate and use it. You can use the two ports to double your bandwidth data or provide network redundancy if one internet link fails.
Lastly, two USB 3.0 ports are available on the business end that allows you to use the router as a printer server or as a storage server. Simply connect a printer and share it to the entire network of home or office devices or add an external storage and allow everyone to store their data, back up their devices or simply stream media content from it. Lastly, you can also use this port to have automated backups from all your devices in the network. And if that’s not enough, you can also access the storage from anywhere around the world, via the internet. Simply register yourself for Netgear’s ReadySHARE and get access to your data from anywhere.
Netgear AX6000 Nighthawk AX8 Performance
To be very true, tapping the true potential of a wireless router can be pretty challenging. The entire test and performance can completely vary from home to home and will be different in every scenario. Disturbances from the neighbouring wireless routers and other wireless devices in the premises, the room where it is installed, the composition of the walls, the number of walls, the furniture, etc. are the main issues with wireless network roadblocks. Add to that your network PCs, devices, the background services in your operating systems, the virus scans, the real-time internet security and a lot more, which slows down your network intermittently. So testing a router without all of these will be a lab-based scenario, where it is supposed to give you perfect scores that can go through the roof.
The real test is in a real-world scenario where you use the device on a daily basis. We used the said router in our office and found almost no issues with our Wi-Fi in the areas and spots where the older router needed an extender. Apart from the usual colleagues basting their messages on WhatsApp to some of them streaming YouTube and Netflix in office, our gamer too never complained about networking or internet issues. It was like the router was doing its job transparently without us having to swear about the ISP.
Armor, the built-in Bitdefender antivirus, was also active and managed to shovel out a few too many instances where our devices could be at threat. In short, some websites did not open on our devices because Armor had blocked it from the router itself. And on the fly, our Admin app (the Nighthawk smartphone app) would pop up stating that it completed a scan on the networked/connected devices to check if they are safe and not compromised in any way too.
With newer devices (Wi-Fi 6 compatible smartphones), we witnessed faster latching up to the Wi-Fi and fewer issues with connectivity and internet speeds. Thanks to the higher channel (160MHz) in the 5GHz band that it operates on, there is almost no congestion on the network when it comes to Wi-Fi 6 usage. Hence, devices with Wi-Fi 6-ready chips are the best ones to tap the full potential of the router. But that happiness will soon be over when our colleagues upgrade to newer smartphones ahead. Till then, we are making the best use of it on our existing Apple and Samsung flagships. In short, if you have the compatible client (Wi-Fi 6 handset/laptop), then you could get speeds of up to 4.8Gbps, making this router one of the fastest routers to have in a demanding network. That’s almost 25-30% higher speeds over current AC routers – thanks to 802.11 ax. However, as we stated earlier, that’s the best case scenario, but it all depends on your network and the devices using it at any given point of time.
Netgear AX6000 Nighthawk AX8 Verdict
With Wi-Fi 6, this router is definitely ready enough to protect your future devices with speed and security for the next few years ahead. At least till the next Wi-Fi standard comes across. However, you need clients (compatible devices) to make use of it. Investing in it is definitely a great idea, but only if you desire high-speed internet without interruption, and that too simultaneously to two or more devices. Your next smartphone or laptop will be Wi-Fi 6 ready, but your existing router will not be able to tap the full performance. So if you are already planning for a new router or initiating a new setup, then the AX8 should be on the top of your list. If your network requirement is even more than what the AX8 can serve, then you should check out the AX12. That beast costs twice more but promises you more in return. So be it the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 or AX12, these routers are best used if you are planning a new networking setup at home or office, or for those looking to upgrade their networks in gaming parlours or SMEs. If your area is large and empty, or smaller, a single router can work, but if you have multiple walls in between, you may require additional routers to help boost the signal to each and every room. The Netgear routers can also form a mesh system if you need to deploy one or more of these.