Netgear Nighthawk RAX200

Netgear Nighthawk RAX200 tri-band AX11000, 12-stream router (review)

SBA
9.5

The Netgear Nighthawk RAX200 tri-band AX11000, 12-channel router is the stuff nerds dream about and with good reason. It is the best, fastest, and meanest router on the planet right now. It is the perfect engine for any large home or smart home setup.

In everyday parlance, the Netgear Nighthawk RAX200 is a V12 engine with turbochargers. It will support more 2.4Ghz devices in 4×4 300Mbps Tx/Rx stream, distributing 1200Mpbs to them. This can control hundreds of Wi-Fi smart devices.

Then there are two Wi-Fi 5Ghz bands. Both have 4 x 4 1200Mbps Tx/Rx streams and 4800Mbps bandwidth. You can opt for Wi-Fi 5 AC mode (if you don’t have Wi-Fi 6 devices). Wi-Fi 6 AX enables OFDMA and 1024 QAM aggregation (true 160MHz bandwidth) that allows Wi-Fi 6 devices to connect at the maximum 2.4Gbps each – very fast. And unlike Wi-Fi 5 or earlier, Wi-Fi 6 devices are full-duplex – the speed is both ways!

What does this mean?

The typical Telco-supplied dual-band AC1900 to AC2600 router usually has no more than 4-streams and pretty weak signal strengths. Pathetic really and not suitable for more than 10-20 Wi-Fi connections and 10-metre range.

In raw bandwidth alone, this is at least five times as powerful. If you use Wi-Fi 6 clients like the Samsung S21 Ultra or the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 it is at least five times the maximum data throughput (Wi-Fi 5 is 866Mbps half-duplex, and Wi-Fi AC is 2400Mbps full-duplex).


Netgear Nighthawk RAX200 tri-band AX11000, 12-stream router

  • Website here
  • Price: $899
  • From: Netgear and authorised retailers from 16 April 2021
  • Country of Manufacture: Vietnam

Netgear (Est 1996) is a leading US networking company. It makes class-leading routers, MESH Orbi systems, Wi-Fi extenders, switches/hubs, Powerline adapters and a massive range of business and service provider networking equipment. Arlo spun out recently as a separate security camera company.

It is a trusted company – no spyware, backdoors, or data collection other than what it needs to provide the service. NETGEAR has a zero-tolerance policy for both forced labour and human trafficking. It constantly assesses risks related to its supply chain and compliance with the NETGEAR Supplier Code of Conduct. For these reasons and that they make excellent and reliable gear, Netgear and Arlo have GadgetGuy’s 100% support.

The Netgear RAX200 tri-band AX11000, 12-stream router is the backbone of the connected home

First, if $899 knocks the wind out of your sails, you need to know that there are some other fantastic Netgear Nighthawk RAX range. Here is a summary

ItemRAX200RAX120RAX80RAX70
GG ReviewThis reviewHereHere 
Price$899$799$649$449
Speed (2.4/5Ghz)1200+4800+48001200+48001200+4800600+1200+4800
Processor1.8GHz quad-core2.3GHz quad-core1.8GHz quad-core1.5Ghz quad-core
Streams121288
Gigabit LAN/WAN5565
Multi-Gig2.5/1Gbps port2.5/1Gbps port1/11/1
USB-A 3.02221

There are also lower specified AX routers, including RAX43, RAX40, XR700 (Pro Gaming), and a full range of AC routers from AC750-5600.


All Netgear AX routers support

  • Beamforming to direct Wi-Fi signals to the connected devices
  • Smart connect to match Wi-Fi availability to the device
  • Netgear Armour (trial)
  • Circle parental controls (trial)
  • Netgear App or browser setup
  • VPN support
  • These are router and require a gateway if connected to HFC, FTTC, FTTN

Netgear sells via computer resellers and major CE retailers. Shop around, and you will find the RAX120 for $660 and the RAX80 for $539.

First impression

We have likened the Netgear Nighthawk the Flying Nun – Sally Fields and Star Wars Kylo Ren’s Command Shuttle. The Wings contain some of the antennae and fold ‘up’ to function.

Netgear Nighthawk RAX200

These are big routers and can wall mount with the ports then at the top or bottom if you like cables hanging down the wall.

Coverage

Even the most powerful router only has a circular 20-metre (diameter) inside home coverage area for 5GHz and 30 metres for 2.4GHz. You can get longer distances in uninterrupted line-of-sight. Or add an extender or mesh satellite.

First, read our one-page Kill Wi-Fi Blackspot guide to tell you where it is best to place the router. Let’s just say the worst place is in the garage or at either end of the house. It needs to be the centre of attention.


The article also mentions Wi-Fi extenders. Netgear has the excellent Nighthawk EAX80 8-stream Wi-Fi 6 AX6000 dual-band extender or the EAX20 AX1800 dual-band extender (these both support Ethernet backhaul).

If you don’t need AX, then the EX7700   or EX7500 wall plug – both an AC2200 tri-band with a dedicated Wi-Fi band for backhaul. These will extend the signal strength received by a further 10-20m for Wi-Fi AX and 20-30 meters for 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi.

Setup

You can use the Android or iOS app for easy setup. Or just connect via Cabled Ethernet to 10.0.0.1 or Wi-Fi.

It checks for a firmware update and then, after a few minutes’ reboots. Then you log in again with the new password and SSID.

Now, this is a beast

Distance-dBM (lower is better)Mbps (using the 5MHz band)
At router-31 excellent2401 (max AX speed)
5m line-of-sight-50 good2268 (amazing)
10m line-of-sight-55 good1361 (ditto)
15m line-of-sight-65 usable1225 (ditto usable)
5m through 2 plaster walls-651197 (ditto usable)
10m through 3 plaster walls*-80Nil (good 2.4Ghz signal)
Outside pool area 15mNo signalNil

EAX80 satellite Wi-Fi backhaul (Mesh mode – same SSID)

1m line of sight of Satellite-40866 (maximum AC)
5m through 1 plaster walls-47866
10m through 3 plaster walls-67819
Outside pool area 5m-69544

The figures above are impressive. They show an outstanding router antenna design that holds the signal out to the limits of the 5MHz band.


The Mesh Extender shows that while it is capable of AX6000 it will support a throughput of 488Mbps (2.4GHz) and 1441Mbps (5Ghz) = 1929Mbps in its current location. This is one of the few devices that tell you that actual bandwidth available. And for once, it is faster than a Gigabit Ethernet 1000/1000 backhaul.

EAX70 Mesh

Note: Using an Ethernet backhaul limits the device to an Access Point with a separate SSID.

Netgear Armour  30 day trial (not tested)

BitDefender’s Armor scans the network, blocks threats and warns about out-of-date IoT and smart home devices. More here.

Circle parental control (trial – not tested)

It has the usual parental controls and more at extra cost. You can set profiles for each family member, set schedules, time limits and bedtimes, automatically blocking a child from using any of their devices past a specific time. More here.

GadgetGuy’s take

The Netgear Nighthawk RAX200 tri-band AX11000, 12-stream router is overkill for most – any of the Nighthawk RAX routers will suit most homes. But it is enormously satisfying to have the world’s fastest and strongest router powering the smart home. And a router is generally a 5-year plus purchase; it is worth it.

The EAX80 (in Mesh or Access Point mode) solves Wi-Fi blackspots. The router is easy to set up, and the defaults are fine. For nerds, there are many customisable configurations. Other features like the Muti-Gig internet port (for those that can afford the NBN plan) and 2 x USB-30 Ports make it a very well-equipped router.


To mesh or not

Mesh – lots of little routers joined together is a comprise when compared to the RAX200 and a mesh satellite. But they all have a place in different sized homes and different smart home setups.

There is no doubt that MESH single sign-on is most convenient. Netgear has the Wi-Fi 6 Orbi range (8.5/10) as well as other Netgear Wi-Fi 6 Mesh (8.4/10) is you want a pure mesh system.

For me – the EAX80 is perfect to cover that ‘last mile’.

Rating

It is the best yet, although we have only reviewed one other AX1000 router – the ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 and it too is a beast. It scored 9.4/10. While it has a gaming focus, both routers performance is pretty much on par. ASUS has been around a little longer, and it is now selling for as low as $729 at mWave.

Netgear edges ahead because it is a network focused company, and its batwing design is far better than eight spider leg antennas.        

You can read other router reviews here.

Netgear Nighthawk RAX200 tri-band AX11000, 12-stream router
Netgear Nighthawk RAX200 is fast and powerful.
Features
9
Value for money
8.5
Performance
10
Ease of use
10
Design
10
Positives
Exceptionally fast Wi-Fi 6 home network
Heaps of bandwidth for 2.4GHz IoT devices
Amazing, strong coverage area
Makes the best use of whatever NBN speed you have
Negatives
Expensive but worth it
9.5