Illustration for article titled Netgear's Nighthawk RAXE500 Is the First Really Good WiFi 6E Router

Picture: Wes Davis/Gizmodo

I’ve been reviewing a bunch of routers in a row, and the distinction between my very own experiences and the wildly good numbers and boasts on a producer’s web site is sufficient to make me really feel gaslit. Generally my outcomes is perhaps mediocre or the router fraught with instability or different issues, and I feel to myself, “Are my expectations simply too excessive? Do I similar to my regular router as a result of I already labored out all of the kinks over time?” Then I hook up one thing just like the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 and am reminded that there are distinctive experiences available. Not each router must be a wrestle.

Distinctive Design, Intuitive Interface

In case you’re not acquainted with the Netgear Nighthawk line, it’s probably you’ve not less than seen footage of them. Bear in mind Kylo Ren’s shuttle? It’s a miniaturized, murdered-out manta ray spaceship with fold-up wings that include the antenna array. It’s fairly well-positioned as a future-proofed router, with a single, configurable 2.5G LAN/WAN port, and hyperlink aggregation supported on the four LAN ports, in addition to on the WAN port together with the primary LAN port. It options two USB ports on the again, an LED mild toggle, recessed reset button, on/off change, and energy port.

The ability provide is, regrettably, a wall wart-style exterior provide, so that you’ll have to make room for it while you plug it in. While you first flip it on, you’ll hear the surprisingly loud onboard cooling fan kick on and blow for a bit, however that was the one time I ever truly seen the fan. Nonetheless, if that’s the kind of factor you’re delicate to, it’s possible you’ll contemplate it before you purchase one.

I discovered quite a bit to love in regards to the UI, each through internet browser and the Netgear Nighthawk app. The aesthetic is a nice black-and-white affair, with a primary residence display screen format that’s simple to grasp and navigate. From the house display screen, you’re a click on away from seeing what number of and which gadgets are related and to which band, an Ookla-powered web pace check, safety, router settings, visitor wifi, and a visitors meter. The visitors meter isn’t a reside, in-motion chart, however extra consistent with Eero’s strategy, exhibiting you a abstract of the overall and common quantity of knowledge downloaded and uploaded over varied durations of time. Eero’s model of that is includes extra granularity, displaying which gadgets are utilizing how a lot knowledge, which might be good to see right here, too, nevertheless it’s actually higher than nothing.

The device list is a nice touch.

The gadget checklist is a pleasant contact.
Screenshot: Netgear

The gadget supervisor checklist can be fairly good, permitting you to pause or resume the connection of a given gadget with a easy toggle subsequent to every one within the checklist. Safety for the Nighthawk is offered by Bitdefender, and requires a 1-year, $70 subscription, with a 1-month free trial to start out. Pleasantly, no bank card data is required for the trial, so no want to fret about forgetting to cancel the subscription should you didn’t prefer it. It should simply bug you so as to add that data till the trial is cancelled, so should you can take that, then it’s a no brainer to enroll.

I fairly favored the function set right here, amongst them a scan of your gadgets and analysis of the safety steps you’ve taken, with recommendation on issues like your password, which is a superb begin, however you’ll additionally get notified about which sensible residence gadgets you’ll have that current safety threats. Lastly, Bitdefender features a VPN with the Netgear Armor subscription. It’s not a alternative for a conventional VPN, nonetheless, because it solely works for as much as 200MB of each day visitors, so I wouldn’t rely on it on your legally-questionable downloads. However you may route your cellphone’s knowledge via it when out and about, which is good?

The browser UI has an identical format and set of choices because the app, although I discovered it a tad extra convoluted. That stated, if you wish to entry some extra superior configuration choices, that is the place you’ll discover them. Within the browser, you may allow or disable OFDMA or resolve whether or not you’d prefer to not broadcast a given SSID, as an example. You too can allow or disable Good Join, a function on many routers that allows you to use a single SSID for all the bands. When it really works nicely, it may be a really handy, easy technique to arrange a wise residence. Nonetheless, I discovered that with the Nighthawk, nothing related to the 5 GHz band. Many routers get round this with a function referred to as Band Steering, which makes an attempt to encourage a tool to maneuver to the quickest band it might probably hook up with. I requested Netgear about it, and was advised band steering is one thing that’s being labored out; they intend to launch the function in a future replace. Settings get extra superior from there, and although this nicely doesn’t go as deep as Asus routers are likely to, I feel it might fulfill most individuals for whom routers transcend a easy means to an finish.

Astonishing Efficiency

Illustration for article titled Netgear's Nighthawk RAXE500 Is the First Really Good WiFi 6E Router

Picture: Wes Davis/Gizmodo

The Nighthawk RAXE500 has a 1.Eight GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 512MB NAND Flash. Every band is able to 4×4 MU-MIMO, that means the router can transmit to a number of gadgets concurrently—a function that was, till WiFi 6, solely obtainable on the 5 GHz band. It additionally helps OFDMA, which is a brand new know-how that comes with WiFi 6 that subdivides channels, cramming extra knowledge in without delay for low-bandwidth purposes. Future sensible residence gadgets will profit from this as WiFI 6 propagates via newer gadgets. The router can even, due to its WiFi 6 compatibility, assist WPA 3, which is a breakthrough new security protocol that can largely compensate on your horrible wifi password.

In testing the router, the numbers I acquired had been fairly astonishing. For testing, Netgear despatched me a Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely, which moreover being a stellar Android cellphone can be one in all treasured few gadgets available on the market in any respect that’s able to sucking up web on the 6 GHz band, so it’s preferrred for checking throughput on this router. Actually, it was suspiciously preferrred. In testing, it truly did higher on the 5 GHz band than it did on the 6 GHz band, each once I was in the identical room and at additional distances (though, curiously, it was on the 6 GHz band that I noticed quicker pace at about 25 toes). In reality, I used to be getting near-gigabit speeds in my yard, which is totally bananas.

Then I ran assessments utilizing iperf 3, which helps you to check your native community pace by very simply and shortly setting one gadget up because the shopper and the opposite as a server. In the identical room with the router, I noticed throughput that approached 2 Gbps on the 6 GHz band, which I anticipated. What blew my easy thoughts was once I noticed barely higher efficiency on the 5 GHz band utilizing in any other case the identical setup, in the identical place. Then, shifting to the second place, I noticed drastically quicker pace on the 5 GHz band, averaging 673 Mbps to the 6 GHz band’s 416.5 Mbps. In fact, each are very quick, and the Nighthawk RAXE500 needs to be, however I merely hadn’t seen efficiency like this but with WiFi 6 on the 5 GHz band, and spent way more time than I’m prepared to confess making an attempt to determine what I used to be doing improper earlier than concluding it was simply that quick.

Illustration for article titled Netgear's Nighthawk RAXE500 Is the First Really Good WiFi 6E Router

Screenshot: Wes Davis/Gizmodo

Netgear defined that the Samsung gadgets have “compatibility” with this router, and whereas I’m unsure if there may be some particular, otherworldly bond between the 2, or if the Samsung gadget’s wifi is solely that good, these numbers did immediate me to hold out much more testing with different gadgets.

As soon as I did, I discovered numbers far more consistent with the upper finish of my expectations. Speeds on my MacBook Air utilizing WiFi 6 on the 5 GHz band was nearly an identical with what I acquired on the Linksys Atlas Max 6E mesh system I lately completed testing, whereas the Nighthawk nonetheless crushed the Atlas once I examined with my sixth-gen iPad, which is restricted to WiFi 5. On the two.four GHz band, the Nighthawk usually carried out in addition to others I examined, jamming over 100 Mbps via the tiny 2.four GHz pipeline utilizing the WiFi 6 protocol up shut, and nonetheless managing practically 60 Mbps once I took testing out to my again yard. That’s simply sufficient to stream 4k video, whereas you’d wrestle with any non-WiFi 6 router on that band at any considerable distance out of your nearest entry level.

Gaming with this router was usually fantastic, however I wouldn’t advocate it should you’re in search of top-tier gaming efficiency—the Nighthawk RAXE500 just isn’t a part of Netgear’s Professional Gaming collection of routers, in spite of everything, so that you received’t see the form of efficiency afforded you by the likes of the very glorious XR500, as an example. That stated, for the informal fan, it’s not going to spoil your periods.

Actual-Life Use

After the extra intense, directed testing I carried out on the primary couple of days, I lived with the Netgear Nighthawk as my major router for just a few days to search for any points cropping up with my sensible residence gadgets. I actually by no means noticed any main issues right here, with the gadgets all remaining on-line and speaking with each other. Siri was a bit of slower to reply than traditional, nevertheless it wasn’t noticeable till I paid consideration and began counting, noting a couple of half-second additional delay between my instructions and the resultant motion. This made sense later, once I found all of my gadgets had been caught on the two.four GHz band for the earlier a number of days. I discovered it telling that I didn’t truly assume to try which band I used to be related to, regardless of having streamed just a few 4K films in that point, performed an honest quantity of MarioKart 8, and listened to music in a number of rooms without delay, all with none main hiccups.

Value Shopping for?

However I’d be mendacity if I stated I didn’t have any points with the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500. The sensible join factor is chief amongst them, as a result of having the ability to run every little thing on the identical SSID makes a wise residence a lot simpler, however usually my points may be chalked as much as preferences. In terms of pure wi-fi efficiency, the Nighthawk knocks it out of the park.

I noticed a gradual connection all over the place in my residence, but in addition really quick speeds all over the place I went, making this a uncommon single entry level router that actually appeared to, not less than in my small residence, deal with each little bit of interference I threw at it with aplomb. Prime that off, with a reasonably intuitive person interface that also manages to provide you satisfying configurability past the floor degree expertise, and you’ve got a common function router that actually is a minimize above.

There’s, in fact, the matter of its steep price ticket—$600 is nothing to sneeze at, and it clearly places the Nighthawk out of attain for a lot of customers. However for the early adopters amongst you, this router is generally freed from the forms of “there be dragons right here” warnings that sometimes accompany know-how sitting on the sting like this.

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