WiFi 6 is the latest Wi-Fi standard and promises faster speeds, improved security and a whole host of other advantages. The rollout was slow for both devices that support the new standard and routers that form the backbone of your faster network.
The Netgear Nighthawk AX8 AX6000 is one of a handful of WiFi 6-enabled routers that are currently available in India. Let's take a closer look at this futuristic-looking router to find out whether it is a future-proof network solution for your home.
Netgear Nighthawk AX8 AX6000 design and specifications
We have seen some routers designed to blend in with their environment, but it can be said with certainty that the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 AX6000 is not one of them. It has a visually striking design that resembles a spaceship with "wings" that extend upwards on both sides.
Each wing contains two high-performance antennas. Fortunately, the wings can be folded in if you want to put the router away. Of course, the router also works with the wings folded, but it's likely that this will affect performance.
All ports are on the back of the router, and the status LEDs are on the top but back, which is a little strange. What's worse, the LEDs are very weak, and sometimes we had a hard time seeing them, especially when the room was well lit. There is a physical switch to turn the LEDs on and off (right next to the reset button), but no way to control their intensity, not even through the software settings.
There are two physical buttons right next to the LEDs – WiFi and WPS. The latter is self-explanatory, so you can quickly add a Wi-Fi device to the network using the WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) protocol while pressing the former for a few seconds to turn Wi-Fi on or off. We're not sure how useful this button is, especially since it switches the main WiFi network. assigning it to the guest network would have made a bit more sense.
You get five gigabit LAN ports, one WAN port and two USB 3.0 ports. You can aggregate two gigabit LAN ports for higher speed if your device supports it. According to Netgear, the aggregation can also be used for your internet connection by using one of the LAN ports in addition to the WAN, if your ISP supports this. This means that the router supports internet speeds of up to 2 Gbit / s. Of course, no ISP in India is offering anything close to it yet, but it's nice to know that you have this option for the future.
Thanks to WiFi 6 support, this router is also future-proof in many other ways. You get theoretical Wi-Fi speeds of up to 1.2 Gbit / s over the 2.4 GHz spectrum and up to 4.8 Gbit / s over 5 GHz. There is support for beamforming and 160 MHz channel, with the promise of gigabit Wi-Fi speeds for devices that support these underlying technologies.
WiFi 6 also brings a number of other improvements, including OFDMA support to ensure that slow devices attached to this router don't bring the entire network to a standstill. This router also supports 4X4 MU-MIMO, which means you can have a total of 8 Wi-Fi streams (4 in each band) at the same time, increasing the total bandwidth available for devices. All of this means that, at least in theory, you should be able to stream high quality video on multiple devices at the same time, while still having enough bandwidth to play competitive games, for example, provided you have a fast enough internet connection.
The router is operated by a quad-core CPU with 1.8 GHz. A fan is switched on each time the router is restarted. We haven't heard them at any other time, but that could change if the router is really overloaded with dozens of devices that are simultaneously carrying tons of data into the network.
Netgear Nighthawk AX8 AX6000 – Getting Started, Software and Features
Getting into the router via the web-based user interface of a PC was fairly easy and we had no problems during the initial setup. You can also download the Nighthawk app to set up and manage the router. However, you need to create a Netgear.com account, which was a red flag in and of itself. In addition, the control you get beyond the initial setup is pretty limited, and you'll need to use the web-based interface to make any important changes.
By default, separate networks (SSIDs) are created for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels. However, you can also merge them and let the router assign the channels for each device. You can also enable guest networks, with the option to use separate 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz SSIDs.
Advanced users will be delighted to find that almost everything they expect is supported. This includes dynamic DNS, port forwarding and triggering, remote management and even an integrated VPN server. There is a traffic display that allows you to monitor all internet usage and optionally, by flashing a yellow / green LED, to notify you when the user-defined limits have been reached, or to disable internet access altogether.
The above functions for aggregating Internet and WAN ports are also included in the settings. The USB ports support Netgears ReadySHARE, which allows you to easily share attached drives or printers on devices on the local network or the Internet, run a DLNA media server, and even use a drive as a backup destination for the computers on the network. However, we connected a 128 GB USB stick to the port and an SSD, and neither was recognized. A Samsung laser printer that we connected to the router was also not recognized.
The only QoS control level available is "automatic". If this option is activated, an online database is used to optimize the traffic in your network. In theory, apps that require faster access to the Internet have priority. We would have liked to have more precise control over this performance aspect of the router.
There are no sensible parental controls, although you can block websites based on keywords and domain names. You can also block services based on the ports they are working on.
The router is listed to support Alexa and Google Assistant, e.g. B. to quickly switch the guest WiFi network with a voice command. The feature worked as advertised with Alexa, although we weren't as lucky with Google Assistant, although we managed to link our Netgear account as required.
Netgear Nighthawk AX8 AX6000 performance
Testing this router was not easy due to the lack of WiFi 6 devices on the market. The only ones we had for a long time were an iPhone 11 and a Samsung Galaxy S10e. We decided to do a series of file transfer tests between these devices and a PC connected to the router via wired Gigabit Ethernet. We compared the results with the results we found performing the same tests on all devices connected to a Netgear Orbi. This is one of the fastest tested 802.11ac routers.
While there was no visible indication on the iPhone that we were connected to a WiFi 6 network, the Samsung Galaxy S10e showed a tiny "6" above the normal Wi-Fi symbol. The phone also showed that the network powered by Netgear Nighthawk AX8 AX6000 has theoretical top speeds of 1200 Mbps compared to 780 Mbps for the Orbi.
Since the Samsung Galaxy S10e is only a few meters away from the Netgear Orbi and there is a clear line of sight between them, we were able to transfer a 25.9 GB file from our computer to the phone in 9 minutes and using the popular file sharing app 45 seconds. When we connected both devices to a WiFi 6 network powered by Netgear Nighthawk AX8, the same transfer at the same distance from the router was completed in 6 minutes and 30 seconds.
With iPhone 11, AirDrop transfers were even faster: it took 8 minutes and 07 seconds to transfer the same file over the 802.11ac network and 5 minutes and 02 seconds over the WiFi 6 network.
We then tried to transfer files between the two phones, the two of which were only a few meters away from the routers. With the Orbi, the file transfer was completed in 15 minutes and 05 seconds, while the Nighthawk AX8 enabled the transfer in just 10 minutes and 45 seconds.
To mess things up a bit, we have both phones about 25 feet away from the routers, but still with clear lines of sight between all devices. The transfer time using the 802.11ac network with Orbi processor was reduced to 19 minutes and 15 seconds, while with the Nighthawk AX8 AX6000 the transfer could be completed in 13 minutes and 4 seconds.
Although Netgear optimistically lists the WiFi range of the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 AX6000 (instead of an actual number) as "very large houses", in our experience the range was only slightly larger than that of a single Orbi node.
There will be a time when WiFi 6 will be ubiquitous, and hopefully the Wi-Fi experience in our homes and offices will be much better. Unfortunately, this time is not yet there. As we start to see some WiFi 6 devices coming onto the market, it's still very limited to top end devices and very select ones.
So if you want to buy a premium router with a budget of around Rs. 25,000, you have a decision to make. If you want to buy something that will serve you well in the next three to five years, you can buy something like the Nighthawk AX8 AX6000 and be fairly satisfied with the experience.
Daily performance is very good, range is better than most routers, and you get a future-proof product. However, if you have a very large home and value WiFi coverage in every corner these days, a WiFi premium solution like the Netgear Orbi is a better choice.
price: Case 24,999
- Excellent performance
- Very good range
- Limited QoS and parental controls
- Barebones app
Reviews (out of 5):
- Design / Build: 3.5
- Features: 4
- Performance: 4.5
- Value for money: 4
- Total: 4