NETGEAR Nighthawk MESH Wi-Fi 6 – an interesting low-cost compromise

Nighthawk Mesh Wi-Fi 6

The NETGEAR Nighthawk MESH Wi-Fi 6 gives you Wi-Fi 5 AX speeds potentially all over the house. It is an interesting low-cost compromise compared to its big brother, the Orbi RBK852.

The NETGEAR Nighthawk MESH Wi-Fi 6 is a compromise – in a good way. It is about half the speed, half the power, half the features, half the coverage and well under half the price. In fact, compared to the Orbi at 2-unit kit at $1399 this two-unit kit is $299 (currently $100 off).

It comprises an AX router (MR60) and one (MK62) or two (MK63) satellites (MS60) that can act quite well as a whole of home MESH system. It also supports Easy Mesh standard to link as an Access Point to an existing router that supports this standard.

What is NETGEAR Nighthawk MESH Wi-Fi 6

First, let’s start at your internet connection. It will be

  • FTTN in which case you have a CRAPPY CSP supplied modem/gateway with an Ethernet port and usually a telephone socket
  • FTTP – an Ethernet wall socket (you are existing modem may have a telephone socket so if you use this you will need to keep this modem in place)
  • HFC – An Arris box with an Ethernet socket (ditto)

Essentially you connect the MR60 router to the Ethernet port on any of the above and run through the setup.

What is does is adds low-cost AX1800 Wi-Fi via the router and one or two (max three) MS60 satellites – all with a maximum connection speed between the AX device and the Satellite of 1266Mbps (note this is not the data transmission speed between AX device and the router).

If you must connect it to the crappy modem/router, turn Wi-Fi off and connect everything to this.

The router and the satellites each have an Ethernet Lan port. You can use wired backhaul between one Satellite and the router. If you want to connect two or more Satellites, buy an inexpensive 6 or 8 port Ethernet hub for the router. You can also have more direct connect devices.

Setup

  • Download the NETGEAR Nighthawk app – it’s the same used for all Nighthawk products
  • Connect MR60 to the Ethernet port as above and power up
  • Connect MS60 satellites where you need them (5-10 metres from the MR60) and power up
  • The app takes you through setting up a NETGEAR account and configuring the system for first use
  • To make a Satellite wired backhaul simply turn it off, connect the cable to the router and turn it on

You can also access the router web interface via a connected PC or smart device

Tests

Please remember that we are testing a lower-specified system – half the speed of the Orbi reviewed here. I don’t expect more than 5-10 metres coverage and commensurately lower signal strengths. It is critical to have a decent signal overlap.

Nighthawk MESH Wi-Fi 6

Results are a rounded average of five tests. Test unit Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G Wi-Fi AX

Main Router
Distance-dBM (lower is better)Mbps (using the 5Mhz band)
At router-30 excellent1200 (max AX speed)
5m line-of-sight-42676
5m through two walls-60 (just usable)144

As 5m it halfway to the Satellites 1, and it took over and

Satellite 1 Wi-Fi backhaul – 10m line-of-sight to the router
At Satellite-30866
5m line-of-sight-56288
Satellite 2 – Ethernet wired
At Satellite-261200
5m through 1 plaster walls-60 (just usable)433
10m through 3 plaster walls*-80 (unusable)72 (unusable)
Satellite 2 Wi-Fi backhaul at 10m from router though three plasterboard walls.
1m-30866
5m through 1 plaster walls-66 (barely useable)276
10m through 3 plaster walls-80 (unusable)Nil-

These are very credible -dBm signal strengths. I was surprised that the Ethernet connected Satellite 2 shot up to 1200Mbps (Max AX speed).

And don’t fall for the Ookla Speedtest as proof. It is simply the speed of the internet to your device. It bears no relationship to the data transfer rates (up to 2400Mbps) between the Router and Satellite over the home network.

Seamless transfer from Router to Satellite

Transfer was generally seamless, but on several occasions, it required the test device to disable and enable Wi-Fi to switch over to the next Satellite or router.

NETGEAR Nighthawk MESH Wi-Fi 6

HardwareRouter (MR60)
Satellite/s (MS60)
Website here
Dimensions12.2 x 12.2 x 6.4 cm
Weight (each unit)286g each
Wi-Fi front haul
to connected devices
TOTAL AX1800 made up of 5Ghz/866Mbps
2.4Ghz/400Mbps
+Wi-Fi backhaul below
Wi-Fi Backhaul (not dedicated but dynamically allocated)5Ghz/866Mbps (satellites pair over this channel)
Ethernet backhaulYes but you may need an Ethernet hub to connect multiple devices to the MR60 router
AP (bridge mode) as well (different SSID)
MU-MIMOYes
Wi-Fi 6
OFDMA
Antenna

Yes
Yes (Uplink and Downlink)
2×2 each for 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz
Mobile AppNETGEAR Nighthawk (very similar to Orbi)
Ports (each unit)One Gigabit WAN port (MR60)
One Gigabit LAN port (MR60 and MS60)

Use as an Access Point Extender with other routers

The router can act as an Access Point transmitting a different SSID and set up a MESH network with its satellites. We understand that if using a NETGEAR Nighthawk main router you can use the same SSID as well (not tested yet – we will revisit that).

But this means you can get Wi-Fi 6 AX to your home even if you have a Wi-Fi 5 AC router.

GadgetGuy’s take – the Nighthawk MESH Wi-Fi 6 is well priced and great performance if you have the right home

I quite like this inexpensive NETGEAR Nighthawk MESH Wi-Fi 6. Its small, discreet and works well in the right small home, townhouse or apartment. As it is Dual-band its not for masses of connected devices – say a maximum of 10 to each node.

If you have a typical 300m2 single or two storey home, the three-pack is your best bet.

Place the router where the internet point is and place satellites up to 10 metres line-of-sight or 5 metres through walls/ceilings.

Or if you have two levels, place one Satellite upstairs almost over the router downstairs.

If you can connect via Ethernet do it in a star configuration – satellites will not connect to another.

That way, you bathe the home in usable (200-866Mbps) Wi-Fi with reasonable signal strengths.

The Orbi mentioned earlier is for larger homes, more devices and more streaming. And it is worth reading the review to see what you can do with MESH.

This is not a super-fast, fully-featured router but it is a terrific value and probably 100 times better than the crappy CSP supplied router.

It loses a few points because the seamless transfer is a bit hit and miss, and it is a dual-band but gains points for simplicity and surprising performance.

Features
8
Value for money
9
Performance
8
Ease of Use
8.6
Design
8.6
One of the best low cost options to add Wi-FI AX to small homes
Very easy setup - connects to your existing gateway
Access Point as well as MESH modes
Don't overload it - its a low cost device
Usaes EasyMesh - not compatible with Orbi MESH
8.4