NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8 Wi-Fi 6 AX6000 router rocks
4.5Overall Score
Name: NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8
Price (RRP): $599
Manufacturer: NETGEAR

The new NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8 Wi-Fi 6 AX6000 router is the first GadgetGuy has had to review. The result – yes, it is fast, but boy do we have a lot to learn about Wi-Fi 6.

That is not disparaging at all to the new NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8 Wi-Fi 6 AX6000 router (Model RAX80-100AUS website here). It is just that our paradigms for a Wi-Fi 5, AC router don’t really fit the expanded capabilities of AX routers all that well. This does things we are not yet familiar with and can’t really measure until we get more AX client devices.

In fact, before we reviewed this router we wrote a tutorial on Wi-Fi 6 AX (here), that will be constantly updated as we review other AX routers and figure out what effect the new jargon like OFDMA, 1024-QAM, Medium Access Control, 2×2/4×4 streams, QoS etc., has on performance.

Review: NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8 Wi-Fi 6 AX6000 router

It looks like Star Wars Kylo Ren’s Command Shuttle. It pleases my Lord Emperor, but it may be an acquired style taste.

NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8

The Wings contain some of the antennae and must be folded ‘up’ to function. It can wall mount with the ports then at the top or bottom – that is if you like cables hanging down the wall.

NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8

Setup

We start with the standard advice that you need to plan where the router should go for best network speeds. The best place is right in the middle of where most of your IoT is. That way you can connect much by cabled gigabit Ethernet – it has five RJ-45 ports, and you can use an Ethernet hub if you need more.

NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8
Put it in the middle of everything – not in an out of the way cupboard

Why use Ethernet? Because it is 1000Mbps full-duplex (both ways) versus Wi-Fi’s say 866Mbps half-duplex (transmit or receive but not at once). Plug in your smart 1K or 4K TV, Blu-ray (if you use it as a streaming device), Roku box (Telstra TV), PC/Mac and Foxtel. You may also have some hardwired Arlo or D-Link camera base stations (these can be bandwidth hungry), Samsung SmartThings or Philips Hue hubs. These IoT devices are best off the Wi-Fi network that can become congested.

NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8

Now you ask how do I get the NBN (and you need that if you intend to stream video) to my router when the port is in a remote cupboard or basement?

NETGEAR has a pair of Powerline 2000 + Extra pass-through power, Ethernet over Powerline adaptors. Plug one into the power at your NBN Gateway point and the other into the power where your router is ideally situated, and it will bring Gigabit speeds to the router.

NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8

I also use these to attach Wi-Fi range extenders instead of variable mesh routers as well. You can have several connecting IoT devices to the router.

The Nighthawk app or 192.168.1.1 or http://routerlogin.net/

You have three ways of setting up the router. If you use the Nighthawk app from Android or iOS, it is easy with a Wizard to guide you through setup and changing Admin and SSID passwords. It is the easiest way to set up the via a ‘dumbed down’ interface and requires you set up a NETGEAR account for ‘marketing purposes’ – you can opt-out.

NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8

 Or plug in an Ethernet cable and go in via a browser. There you have the choice of a Basic (similar to the app) or Advanced interface. You don’t have to set-up a NETGEAR account to use these unless you wish to enable remote access or ReadySHARE (USB file/backup).

 Tests – distance

NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8

Using the Wi-Fi AX enabled Samsung Galaxy S10+ (review here) we get 1134Mbps at 2 metres from the router. Similarly, the Wi-Fi AC enabled Samsung Galaxy Note9 gets 1083Mbps, but it uses the VHT80/160 channel aggregation to do that.

NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8
Yes, it really is using Wi-Fi 6

At 10 metres it drops to 866Mbps (amazing). One floor down its 150-200Mbps (5Ghz) and one further floor down (in a three-level building) it has dropped back to 50-75Mbps on 2.4GHz.

That is a slight improvement in the 5Ghz band over our reference D-Link AC5300 router but remember this is at least three years old but does support VHT80/160 bandwidth aggregation.