Review: Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Tri-Band Router

I’ve been testing a lot of routers lately, and the latest one to end up in my test lab is the Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Tri-Band Router. This is one of Netgear’s high performance routers and it takes a really conservative approach in terms of looks:

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It’s big as it takes up a lot of real estate, but it’s thin and flies under the radar unlike a lot of routers in this class. It has plenty of venting to keep it cool. It’s got four antennas that are non-removable. That might be a bit of a mistake as I’d love to know how you would replace one without having to send the whole router in for service. Oh yeah, the antennas also do this:

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The tips light up which will be cool to some. Other interesting features include:

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There are a pair of USB ports for storage via a USB hard drive, or a printer for printer sharing. But they’re behind a door which is kind of strange.

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Lit buttons on the front are there to turn on and off the LEDs, use WPS, and enable and disable WiFi.

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The lights to indicate the status of Internet access and ports are on the top of the router.

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You get six gigabit Ethernet ports for all your wired devices. The first two are aggregate ports (via the 802.3ad standard) for those who want extra speed from a wired device that supports this feature.

In terms of WiFi, you get one 2.4 GHz channel running at gigabit speeds, and a pair of 5 GHz channels running at 2.1 gigabits each. What’s cool is that you can take the 5 GHz channels and bond them so that you can have devices automatically float between the two so that no one channel can be overloaded. And from what I could tell, it tended to make the right decisions as to which device needs to go where.

Setting the router up is easy and so is managing it. The wizard that walks you though the setup is clear and easily understandable for all types of users. Advanced users can leverage the advanced settings to get access to all the cool stuff to make devices go faster or lock things down. If using the web based setup isn’t for you, you can use an app called the Netgear Genie app for iOS or Android that gives you the ability to do the same thing from your phone or tablet. And if the standard firmware does nothing for you, there is DD-WRT firmware that is apparently available. Another feature that is available but I didn’t test is Amazon Alexa & the Google Assistant support.

In terms of speed, I’ll simply say that Nighthawk X8 is the new speed champ as far as I am concerned. I got this result over 802.11ac within 5 feet of the router:

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This beats the ASUS ROG Rapture AC5300 Gaming Router which clocked a speed of 841 Mbps when I tested it on my gigabit Internet connection. Not only that, I got good coverage in my condo as I was able to get a good signal in places that most routers struggle to reach. The fact that this router supports beamforming likely helps with that. It also supports MU-MIMO to keep things speedy. Speaking of speedy, anything and everything I tossed at it could not slow it down.

What’s missing? Well, it doesn’t have the advanced and somewhat unique security features and massive levels of customization that the ASUS ROG Rapture AC500 Gaming Router has. That may bother some people as they may see those as being desirable features. But there’s enough here that it should not bother you in my opinion. Gripes? I’m not a fan of the non-removable antennas like I mentioned earlier. Other than that, I cannot think of anything to be critical of.

So, what does this all cost? Amazon Canada sells it for $299 CDN. If you look around, you may find it for less. What’s my bottom line? While the ASUS ROG Rapture AC5300 Gaming Router has more features, and I still think is the overall better value, the Netgear Nighthawk X8AC5300 Tri-Band Router is a touch faster. Seeing as it’s about $200 cheaper than the ASUS offering, if you simply want nothing but the fastest router around the Netgear is very much worth a look.

 

 

 

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6 Responses to “Review: Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Tri-Band Router”

  1. […] it gets worse for them. ASUS and Netgear read my posts and sent me the ROG Rapture AC5300 and the Nighthawk X8 respectively. The review of the latter is due to be posted tomorrow (UPDATE: The review is now […]

  2. […] didn’t work for everyone. But by that point, things had escalated to such a point that both Netgear and ASUS were serving up routers to me in the hopes that I would review them and give them some […]

  3. […] also talked to my contact at Netgear who served up this router for me to review shortly after this story broke. Speaking on background, his comment was that […]

  4. […] roll back to a firmware that worked. Though that didn’t work for everyone. In the meantime both Netgear and ASUS were serving up routers to me in the hopes that I would review them and give them some […]

  5. […] 100 Mbps in raw speed getting up to a speed of 823 Mbps. That put it in the range of the ASUS and Netgear gaming routers which had beaten it rather handily when I tested each of those […]

  6. […] For someone is a gamer or who wants speed above all else: The Netgear Nighthawk X8 […]

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