Up until recently, Wi-Fi has been a little cumbersome to keep up with. Did you want 802.11ac? 802.11n? What about 802.11a? Is that better or is 802.11ac? Well last month, the Wi-Fi alliance simplified things. Wi-Fi 6 is the latest technology, with Wi-Fi 5 being current-generation and Wi-Fi 4 is the previous stuff. But, the NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8 and Nighthawk AX12 are here as some of the first Wi-Fi 6 routers.
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NETGEAR Wi-Fi 6 Router Designs:
These new routers from NETGEAR have familiar features and specs, but completely new designs. Gone are the multi-antenna arrays that resemble your most hated spider, and here is a design that resembles Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced ship.
The NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8 and AX12 routers from NETGEAR feature completely encased antennas. Inside each “wing” there’s a 4×4 antenna array for the AX8 and 8×8 antenna array for the AX12. Each array is used for either the 2.4GHz network or the 5GHz variant. This is a much more ascetically pleasing design, in my opinion, as it looks a lot better than having a dozen antennas sticking into the air.
NETGEAR Nighthawk AX12 Wi-Fi 6 Router Features:
The AX12 is the higher-end of the two routers announced. You’ll get Wi-Fi 6 in both, which is 802.11ax for those who want to know the official spec. For Wi-Fi transfer speeds, you’ll get up to 6Gbps throughput. That means you’ll have plenty of room for everyone to be on the network at one time using it for streaming, gaming, and more.
Port-wise, you’ll get Multi-Gig Ethernet ports. This means that the Ethernet ports on the AX12 are capable of 5G/2.5G/1Gbps transfer rates, which is up to 5 times the normal speeds.
NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8 Wi-Fi 6 Router Features:
The NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8 is very similar to its bigger brother, boasting 6Gbps Wi-Fi speeds and dual 4×4 antenna arrays for 5GHz and 2.4GHz networks. Where things start to differ, however, is with the Gigabit Ethernet ports. The AX8 features 5 1Gbps ports, meaning you’re losing out on the 5G/2.5Gbps speeds that the AX12 packs.
NETGEAR Wi-Fi 6 Router Pricing and Availability:
The NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8 will set you back for $399 and goes on sale this month. The AX12, however, will come sometime in 2019 with pricing still unannounced. That’s a lot of money for a router, considering you can pick up some great options on Amazon for around $100, and a mesh system for around $250.
Should you buy NETGEAR’s Wi-Fi 6 Router?
The short answer is, probably not. Wi-Fi 6 is a brand-new technology, and very few products actually support it. The iPhone XS doesn’t, iPad Pro does not, and no Mac has support for 802.11ax just yet. So, because of this, it’s probably best to hold off on upgrading to a Wi-Fi 6 router for the time being, unless you just love living on the edge.