At a glance
With wireless internet connection being the norm, the demand for increased and stable broadband services are also seeing an uptick in the last couple of years.
At the moment, Wi-Fi 6 is the current industry standard. Wi-Fi 6 or in techno-speak, 802.11ax is a wireless standard designed to accommodate multiple clients simultaneously, up to 100 devices – as some Wi-Fi 6 ready routers claim.
That's quite an impressive feat and will be of great advantage to homes or establishments that see a hefty amount of human traffic daily.
This is where the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 comes into play. This router comes equipped with Wi-Fi 6 standard, which means it can effortlessly support all wireless devices in any residence.
Those who have ISP plans that deliver up to 500Mbps will also experience a considerable boost in their upload and download speeds when they switch to a Wi-Fi 6 router.
But are these particular advantages enough for the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 to be a worthwhile investment?
The Nighthawk AX8 comes with a price tag that you can't scoff at, so it is best to consider all the benefits and drawbacks to determine if the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 will meet your needs and personal preferences.
8-Stream Wi-Fi Ultra-fast speeds (1.2 + 4.8Gbps)
Equipped with 4-stream MU-MIMO.
OFDMA allows for more devices to connect while maintaining network speed and stability for all devices.
Armed with Netgear Armor for optimum advanced security protocols to protect your home network from online threats and viruses.
Provides 160MHz channel support.
Take advantage of the advanced 64-bit 1.8GHz quad-core processor.
Features port aggregation that allows users to combine two Gigabit Ethernet ports to boost internet speeds considerably.
The Nighthawk AX8 comes with a total of 6 Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Compatible with the Nighthawk App and features advanced settings such as Dynamic QoS (Quality of Service) and Circle Parental Controls.
The Nighthawk AX8 can also be operated using Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa voice control program.
The router is designed to be backward compatible with previous wireless standards.
A Router for the Proud Rebel "Scum"
The Netgear Nighthawk AX8 is one of the most visually distinct routers in the market today.
This is due to the design of the router, which takes inspiration from classic science-fiction space opera franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek.
The Nighthawk AX8 looks like it will fit right in with a fleet of Rebel Alliance A-Wing Fighters.
The design of the AX8 features a pair of foldable "wings". Well, these may look like wings, but they are the AX8's antenna.
That's quite a playful way of integrating the antenna into the router's design while also enhancing its aesthetic features.
However, these antennas did sacrifice versatility as it cannot be detached and has very limited maneuverability.
The Netgear Nighthawk AX8 measures in at a girthy 12 x 8 x 6.3 inches when the wings are opened. While it slightly shrinks down to 10.8 x 8 x 2.8 inches if you fold the sides.
On average, the Nighthawk AX8 will take up a decent amount of footprint so take that into account if you already have a somewhat limited space to work within your home.
Fortunately, the Nighthawk AX8 does come with a wall-mount which means you can install it vertically on your wall if you wish.
Basic Router Port and Button Configuration
When it comes to the available ports and button layout, the Nighthawk AX8 decided on following the road most travelled rather than carving their path.
This is a smart and practical approach as to why mess with what already works, right?
Over at the top of the router are the power button and WPS button, making it relatively easy to access.
Shimmy on over to the back and you will find five Gigabit Ethernet ports which are one more than the standard four ports present in most routers.
Personally, having an extra Gigabit Ethernet port is never a bad thing. The Nighthawk AX8 also comes with two USB 3.0 ports.
Additionally, two of the Gigabit Ethernet ports at the back can be aggregated into a single port which transforms it into a 2Gbps pipeline.
There is also an option to aggregate the WAN port with a LAN port for those who have a high-end broadband connection at home as this will undoubtedly squeeze every ounce of speed that your router can deliver.
There is also a switch that operates the LED status indicators if you wish to turn it off.
Underneath the Nighthawk AX8 is a soft padded base that not only helps it prevent scratching the surface of your counter or table but also improves the overall grip/traction of the unit on the surface.
The unit is also well-ventilated, and temperature did not exceed 40 degrees Celsius (105 Fahrenheit).
My Way or the Highway
Surprisingly enough, the Nighthawk AX8 can only be installed and set up using the Nighthawk app.
The lack of a web portal configuration for the Nighthawk AX8 router resulted in a somewhat limiting experience for those who prefer the ability to optimize their router configuration personally.
The silver lining here is that the Nighthawk app is a pretty straightforward application to use, and the interface is designed to be as user-friendly as possible.
The Nighthawk app is also available in both Android and iOS stores but seems to be programmed explicitly for smartphones as it is only available in vertical format.
As stated earlier, the Nighthawk AX8 is relatively easy to set up.
After booting up the router, you will be asked to create a Netgear account. You are then required to scan the router's QR code which is located at the bottom of the unit.
The router will once again restart, and you will need to follow the setup wizard to complete the process. Afterward, you will then be required to rename the SSID and create a password for your Wi-Fi network.
The router might need to update its firmware during the setup procedure, so just let it do its thing. In total, you can expect the installation and setup of the Nighthawk AX8 to take no more than 10 minutes of your time.
Functionalities and Features
Future-proof, but is it Future-perfect?
The main selling point of the Nighthawk AX8 is its Wi-Fi 6 wireless standard. This places the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 along with the group of routers that are future-proof.
Wi-Fi 6 is designed to be the solution for bandwidth congestion and network traffic caused by multiple connected devices.
However, one caveat to Wi-Fi 6 routers is that only devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) that also have Wi-Fi 6 wireless standards will be able to unlock the router's full potential.
If you look at the market, there are already a handful of devices that use Wi-Fi 6 technology, but they are still not considered to be the industry standard at the moment.
What makes the Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax standard special is that it significantly increases the overall data that can be transferred.
Compared to the 802.11ac standard, the 802.11ax delivers a 25% increase in total data transfer. Also, 802.11ax is designed to utilize the full potential of both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands.
Overall, the Nighthawk AX8 certainly makes the most out of the Wi-Fi 6 technology.
Unfortunately, only those with devices that are also equipped with this wireless standard will be able to enjoy the fruits that an 802.11ax standard can offer.
Multiple and Flexible Streams for Multiple Clients
As an 8x8 router, the Nighthawk AX8 is equipped with eight dedicated streams that come with their own bandwidth. This means that eight devices can connect to the Nighthawk AX8 and each has a dedicated stream of their own.
The Nighthawk AX8 also has port aggregation, which means that users can combine two streams into one, further boosting the overall speeds and performance that they can tap into using the router.
A closer inspection with the AX8's 8x8 stream will show that four streams use 5GHz channels while the other four utilize 2.4GHz channels.
Theoretically, the 5GHz streams can reach a maximum of 1.2Gbps for a total of 4.8Gbps. Again, these are theoretical numbers, but even if you just hit around half of those, that is still an incredibly impressive performance.
If your ISP plan delivers around 500Mbps, you will notice a significant improvement in network speeds if you switch to the Nighthawk AX8.
Easy to Use and User-Friendly Interface
This aspect of the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 is where the division will mostly appear.
While the Nighthawk App is designed to be as simple and easy to navigate as possible, with the main router features front and center, this also left the interface quite barren in terms of customization.
This is one of, if not the only, drawback of the Netgear Nighthawk AX8. Simply put, it is simple to a fault, and because of this, it loses some of the more in-depth settings that advanced users will undoubtedly be looking for in a router.
Short-Range Router that Packs a Punch
If we are talking about a Wi-Fi 6 router with the best throughput performance, the Nighthawk AX8 is definitely among the best in the market today.
Testing the Nighthawk AX8's speeds, it performed well above our expectations. Note that during this test, we used a smartphone with Wi-Fi 6 standard to ensure that we will be able to push the Nighthawk AX8's capabilities to its limit.
Within the same room at a distance of 10-feet, we clocked the speed at a blistering 1.4Gbps.
You won't have any issue streaming 4K videos here.
Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi range is severely lacking with the Nighthawk AX8 as its internet speeds dropped quite fast the further we moved away from the router.
At around the 40-feet mark, the AX8 only delivered around 280Mbps which is a rather steep drop compared to some Wi-Fi 6 routers that we tested. At 100-feet away, the AX8's Wi-Fi signal was already dipping in and out.
Because of these results, we mostly recommend the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 to those who live in a relatively small home or individuals who stream high-def and 4K videos regularly.
At close proximity, the Nighthawk AX8 is a monster that delivers high-speed throughput and excellent stability.
The Netgear Nighthawk AX8, as you would expect, is a high-end router with a price tag to prove it.
This is to be expected considering that it is equipped with a Wi-Fi 6 standard which is the most advanced wireless standard that we have at the moment.
It is also designed to provide top-tier throughput speeds and comes with router features that will push its performance to new heights.
It is currently priced at $399.99 and is a serious investment. However, if you can afford it and have been looking to upgrade your Wi-Fi system at home, then this powerful, user-friendly router is a great choice.
Overall, the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 is one of the best routers that you can buy at the moment.
If you are willing to shell out cash for a premium router, then, by all means, do not let me stop you from taking advantage of this excellent Wi-Fi 6 router from Netgear.
That said, do not expect the Nighthawk AX8 to provide an in-depth level of customization. This is pretty much an automated router that does all the heavy lifting for you.
Great news for beginners, not so much for those who wish to tweak their router setting for further optimization.
We give the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 a passing grade even with its shortcomings. The insanely high throughput speeds that the AX8 can deliver at a short-range is reason enough to check it out.