Netgear AC3200 Review – Nighthawk X6 (R8000) TRI-BAND WIFI

What is AC3200?

Generally, the 'AC' dictates the overall speed of the router, but that is not always the case. It is much more complicated than what most manufacturers make it seem.

There is a difference between the speed of the router and the range or coverage of its Wi-Fi signal.

First off, the AC term is taken from the type of network standard that the router is using. In this case, the AC means that the router uses 802.11ac network standard, which is one of the latest iterations of this system.

Most AC routers will provide excellent speeds due to it being a dual-band router. Users will be able to take full advantage of both 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels.

In this case, the Netgear router we are reviewing comes with an AC3200 tag. This means that the router has a max speed of 3,200Mbps. Well, not exactly. Theoretically, it should reach 3,200Mbps as it will typically utilize three channels.

For the Nighthawk X6, users can take advantage of one 2.4GHz channel that clocks in speeds of up to 600Mbps and two 5GHz channels that each provide 1,300Mbps. In total, it should give users up to 3,200Mbps.

However, this is merely the potential of the router and not its actual average performance. There are several factors to consider when it comes to determining the overall average speed that you can squeeze out of your router.

Factors such as location and ISP must be taken into account if you wish to maximize the speed and coverage of your browser. Its AC is just one branch of an overarching structure.

Netgear Nighthawk X6 R8000 Review
Intro

The Netgear Nighthawk X6 has some big shoes to fill when you consider that the previous R7000 model was one of the manufacturer's hottest sellers.

Now, with the R8000 unit we get some noticeable upgrades, but will it be more than enough to help it stand on its own in today's highly competitive router market?

At first glance, the Nighthawk X6 is certainly an impressive beast with its tri-band technology and innovative design.
As we have stated earlier while having an AC3200 tag might sound impressive at first, know that this is not the definitive average of its speed.

We have put the AC3200 through the wringer to find out, and our initial response might surprise you. Let's go through every detail to determine if the R8000 is a worthy successor to the R7000.

Design

The Nighthawk X6 takes on a very angular looking aesthetics which, when the antennas are flipped up, makes it right at home in space opera movie.

Its large design will take up a significant footprint on your desk. Fortunately, you can opt to mount it to the wall if space is an issue.

The entire device has a dimension of 11.5 x 8.8 x 2.2 inches, so it is as large as your typical coffee table hardcover book.

The Nighthawk X6 is also quite generous with its LED with a total of 13 found throughout the device.

The LEDs will help you determine the status of your internet connection quickly. However, the constant blinking lights might not be as visually enticing for some, so Netgear placed a switch that lets users turn off the LED.

The power button and WPS switch can be found on the top of the router, which is much more convenient. One of the Nighthawk X6's major selling point is its use of six MIMO antennas.

Another plus to its design is with the adjustable antennas which you can fold flat to the unit or angle to optimize signal distribution in your residence.

I do want to point out that the antennas feel slightly flimsy, so I suggest you handle the unit with extra care.

Another thing we liked about the Nighthawk X6's overall design is with its power supply which uses a power brick, similar to the ones used by laptops.

If you prefer a cleaner look on your wall outlet, then you will find this design choice a good inclusion.

The ports are all located on the back of the unit. You get access to two USB ports designated for 2.0 and 3.0 USB connectivity.

Add its built-in ReadyShare into the mix, and you have a router that helps streamline file sharing to all clients in its network as well as help turn your printer into a fully wireless one.

Within the Nighthawk X6's 'X-Wing' design lies a tri-band system. It features one 2.4GHz and two 5GHz channels to help prevent client overload and avoid signal interference from other Wi-Fi signals in the area.

Also, the six MIMO antennas incorporate beamforming technology to help optimize Wi-Fi coverage in each residence.

The Nighthawk X6 uses a dual-core 1,000Mhz processor which allows it to support the current wireless standards (802.11ac).

The advantage of using two separate 5GHz channels is that the Nighthawk X6 can indeed bolster its connection speed without encountering the typical issues that most dual-band router encounters.

The Nighthawk X6 also had the distinction of being the first router to get the designated number of AC3200, making it an innovator in the market.

Also, the Nighthawk X6 comes with the standard Netgear features such as Netgear Genie support which makes adjusting the router settings significantly more convenient.

Security

The Nighthawk X6 R8000 features an up-to-date security system that should offer enough protection for your home network.

This router incorporates the industry-standard security protocols such as WPA2 and even comes with its VPN.

The security system of the R8000 allows users to block specific sites as well as clients from gaining access to their network.

Also, users will be able to take advantage of Guest Network Access which allows individual clients access to the internet but not to your home network.

Overall, the Nighthawk X6 provides a decent security wall that will protect your network from both malware and DOS attacks. However, more advanced third-party security measures must be put in place to cover all the bases.

You will also have access to parental controls which will allow you to limit the internet usage of particular clients in your network.

This is great for parents who need to supervise their child's use of the internet. You can also block specific sites and keywords from being accessed within your network.

How Do I Setup My Netgear Nighthawk X8?

As with all current Netgear router models, the Nighthawk X6 is a breeze to install and set up.

Connecting different devices to the Nighthawk X6 proved to be incredibly easy and quick.

Devices can connect by inputting the Wi-Fi password or by pressing the WPS button, which will circumvent the security protocols.

You can either set up the Nighthawk X6 using the web browser interface of their Netgear Genie app.

The app is designed to be compatible with Android and iOS devices, making the ability to customize your network far more convenient.

The Netgear Genie app is designed to streamline your experience in regards to customizing and checking the status of your network.

While the interface does feel a bit outdated, it does what is needed, and navigation is relatively simple and easy to follow.

Additionally, Netgear Genie also sends email notifications to you whenever a new client logs in to the system. Thus, making sure that you are well aware of how many active clients are connected at all times.

For more advanced users, you can also opt to manually configure your network if you wish to optimize your experience.

The level of customization that the Nighthawk X6 is quite impressive as you can place access points and even input Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) size and details of IP V.6.

Also, of note, each of the three open channels provided by this router can be customized to have different names which should avoid confusion when connecting to a specific Wi-Fi band signal.

Specifications


1.

Dimension: 11.5 x 8.8 x 2.2 inches

2.

Antennas: 6, not removable

3.

Wi-Fi: Tri-band, 802.11ac

4.

Wi-Fi Standard: 802.11ac, 702.4Mbps

5.

Ports: x4 Gigabit Ethernet, x2 USB 2.0 and 3.0

Pros

  • Decent range and performance.
  • Tri-band Wi-Fi.
  • Netgear Genie app makes setup and customization quick and easy.
  • Six adjustable antennas with beamforming technology.
  • Four Gigabit ports and two USB ports (2.0 and 3.0).

Cons

  • The overall speed is somewhat lacking when compared to other tri-band routers.
  • It is quite expensive.
  • The router does not have an e-SATA port.

How Many Devices Can the Nighthawk X6 Handle?

Since this is a tri-band router with a designated AC3200 rating, you can expect the Nighthawk X6 to handle a total of 96 devices at the same time.

Of course, such an overbearing number of connected devices will cause a significant dip in both speed and stability, but it can still allow all clients to access and browse the internet.

It can handle 64 devices before any drop in its average throughput rate will be noticed.

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