While Wi-Fi 6 may offer significant speed improvements on the current 5Ghz band, the performance is often held back due to congested Wi-Fi networks and pesky radar, creating the need for DFS (Dynamic frequency selection) channels.
Wi-Fi 6E is the next-gen Wi-Fi we have really been waiting for. This expands the Wi-Fi network into the latest 6GHz band, which is completely separate to 5Ghz with significantly less congestion, a lot more channels and less issue with DFS.
Similar to the original Wi-Fi 6E, the rollout of hardware has been slow. Quite a few devices were announced last year, but availability is scarce and pricing astronomical. The recently launched Netgear Orbi RBK853 AX6000 will set you back just under a grand direct from Netgear, and there is currently no availability elsewhere.
The Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500, which was announced as CES 2021, still isn’t available in the UK, but it launched for $600.
Things are starting to look up, though. At CES 2022, Netgear has announced the new, more affordable Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300.
Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 vs RAXE500 Specification
Similar to the Wi-Fi 6 Nighthawk routers, it offers very similar performance to the more expensive counterpart, cutting back on the available streams, which many households won’t even notice.
The new router features 2×2 hardware specs on the latest 6GHz band, meaning it is only capable of 2.4Gbps instead of 4.8Gbps.
That may sound like a massive downgrade, but client devices can only use 2×2, so you are only ever going to connect at 2.4Gbps anyway.
A 4×4 router still has some advantages, if you are in a large household or perhaps an office, it will be able to handle more Wi-Fi 6E clients at full speed at the same time. I suspect this would be quite rare for most home users.
Netgear has also trimmed down the 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi 6 specification. This is also a 2×2 band vs 4×4 of the RAXE500.
You then lose one USB 3.0 port, giving you just one.
The processor has been downgraded to and it has less RAM and flash storage. I suspect this won’t make much difference. The RAXE500 likely needed more processing power so it could handle the extra streams.
One important thing that remains the same is the Ethernet ports. The RAXE300 retains the 2.5Gbps port which is likely used for WAN but can also work as LAN. You then have an additional 4 gigabit LAN ports.
With the 2.5GbE port, you should easily be able to achieve over a gigabit Wi-Fi speeds when using the 6Ghz channel and 160MHz channel width.
So you are not missing out on a great deal, and you can get this for 33% less than the RAXE500 with an RRP of $399.99 vs $599.99.
Availability is stated as the first quarter of 2022, but who knows if or when it will arrive in the UK.