Most routers in the past several years have used the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, but this is getting long in the tooth now, especially as more devices use Wi-Fi than ever, and the performance demands have increased exponentially with the likes of media streaming and cloud data.
IEEE 802.11ax, also known as Wi-Fi 6 is the technology that will supersede 802.11ac but has been slow out of the gates and very few products are on the market today. The new technology brings multiple improvements including allowing the connection to operate in both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz ranges, thus creating more available channels. It will also expand the MU-MIMO capability from 4 streams on AC to 8 streams and it can deliver a nearly 40 per cent increase in pure throughput
Netgear’s Wi-Fi 6 capable line includes the Nighthawk AX8 and Nighthawk AX12. Both devices look like a cross between something from Star Wars and a stealth bomber, but this unusual design supposedly provides optimal internal antenna positioning for the devices.
Inside is a 64-bit 1.8GHz quad-core processor so it can easily manage heavy home traffic. The device also has 6 Gigabit LAN ports with two USB 3.0 ports, and is capable of up to 2Gbps wired connectivity.
While 802.11ax is very promising I am more excited about the increasing availability of multi-gigabit ethernet. According to Netgear, the Nighthawk AX8 is the world’s first home router with Multi-Gig Internet support, compatible with the upcoming Multi-Gig Internet wave in DOCSIS 3.1.
The Nighthawk AX12 pushes the envelope further being a 12-stream Wi-Fi router with a more powerful processor. It has a 64-bit 2.2GHz quad-core processor and has eight high-performance antennas that ensure your 4K UHD streaming is uninterrupted. You won’t even need a mesh Wi-Fi network with this as Netgear claims it is a single solution for “very large homes.”
The rear of the device has four 1Gig ethernet ports and a single 5G multi-gig port which does limit the multi-gig functionality a bit, you would need to pair it with a 10Gbe/5Gbe switch to make the most out of it.
Netgear offers free automatic updating as long as you are connected to the internet. This includes not just the software interface but the actual firmware inside gets automatic updates. This is a particularly important feature as Netgear and many other brands have suffered issues with hacked routers in the past when users have no updated the passwords or firmware.