After much hype, the Netgear R8000 Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Gigabit Wireless Router is just a disappointment.
is positioned as a major upgrade to, which is one of the best — if not the best — Netgear home routers out there, the R8000 is impressive on paper. It is the first tri-band router with a total Wi-Fi bandwidth of up to 3,200 Mbps at any given time, and it comes with an innovative design.
However, when working as intended, the R8000 didn’t outperform its predecessor, or any of these other excellent AC1900 routers for that matter. During my testing, it suffered from a problematic 2.4Ghz frequency band, rendering it a 5Ghz-only router for the most part, and a comparatively short overall Wi-Fi range.
In all fairness, you can still enjoy it if you only use an 802.11ac Wi-Fi client, though you’ll need a lot of them to see any benefit. Considering its current $300 price (AU$399 in Australia, with UK pricing currently unavailable), however, I can’t think of any reason why you should buy it.
Same Powerful Hardware, New Design
Available in black, the R8000 is slightly larger than the R7000 (hence the name Blackhawk), taking the shape of a flying object. However, it is more compact than its predecessor, thanks to six collapsible antennas. I like that you can get them completely out of the way. However, you have to open them to get the maximum range.
Otherwise, the new router is identical to the R7000, with four gigabit LAN ports, a gigabit WAN port, and two USB ports (USB 2.0 and USB 3.0) on the back. At the top, right in the middle and running from front to back, is an array of fancy-looking LEDs that indicate whether the router is on or the status of its ports and Wi-Fi network. If the lights are too high, you can turn them off via a small switch on the back. Below these lights is an on/off button for the Wi-Fi signal and another button to activate Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS). WPS is an easy way to connect a WPS-enabled Wi-Fi client to a router, saving you from having to manually type in a Wi-Fi password.
Inside, similar to the R7000, the R8000 runs on a dual-core 1,000Mhz processor, and supports the latest Wi-Fi standards. It is capable of delivering Wi-Fi speeds of up to 1,300Mbps on the 5Ghz band and 600Mbps on the 2.4Ghz band. However, it has two separate access points for the 5Ghz frequency band, rather than all the other dual-band routers have. This means that at any given time, the R8000 has the potential for 3,200Mbps of bandwidth; This is the first router on the market with the designation AC3200.
As for its interface and setup process, the R8000 shares the R7000’s Netgear Genie firmware and uses similar methods to manage it, either via a web browser or the Netgear Genie mobile app.
Minimal performance gains, lots of disappointing returns
The R8000’s second access point on the 5Ghz band looks promising, but it made only a small difference in my testing.
for local devicesOf course, an individual Wi-Fi client still connects at a maximum of 1,300Mbps because it can only connect to one access point at a time. So, the only instance where you’ll see the benefits of the R8000’s two 5Ghz access points is when you have lots of 802.11ac clients – like a dozen or more of them – connecting to the router for intensive data-transfers. work at the same time.
Currently, there are fewer 802.11ac clients than there are 802.11n clients on the market (the R8000 has nothing more to offer 802.11n clients). (Read more about the Wi-Fi standard here.) And even if there are multiple 802.11ac clients in a household, I can’t think of if there’s a situation where more than a few of them need to be connected to one. In addition, intensive local work may be required. During my testing, I could not create a situation where a second 5Ghz access point was necessary.
to the Internet, R8000 shows no difference from other AC1900 routers. This is because the speed of any residential Internet broadband connection is much slower than the speed of 802.11ac Wi-Fi. In other words, you won’t notice any improvement at all for Internet-related tasks, such as streaming Netflix or downloading and uploading files.
Problematic 2.4Ghz band
Like all Wi-Fi routers, the R8000 has just one access point for the 2.4Ghz frequency band. This band is slowly becoming obsolete, as so many clients and routers are using it right now. But for the same reason, it’s also very important that a router supports this band, for backward compatibility: you don’t want to leave any 2.4Ghz clients out in the cold. But should you change any settings on the R8000, though, that’s exactly what can happen.