NETGEAR NIGHTHAWK X8
The Netgear Nighthawk X8 is another massive router. It measures a whopping 31 x 26 cm and weighs about 1.7kg. Because of its width, it looks like a Blu-ray player with antennas. Still, it’s less outlandish compared to the ASUS RT-AC5300, and the only unusual thing about it is its undulating top panel that resembles waves in the sea.
To the left of this panel is a column of LED status indictors, and the Nighthawk X8 router has indicators, for each of its Ethernet LAN ports. On the front-facing panel, you get buttons to turn the Wi-Fi and LED indicators on and off, and a single button for WPS setup.
Moving to the rear, we can see a single Gigabit Ethernet WAN port and six Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. Considering the amount of connected devices we have these days, having six ports is a refreshing change. Two of these six ports also support port aggregation, which means they can be combined to create a single super-fast connection.
The Netgear X8 only has half the number of external antennas compared to the ASUS RTAC5300. However, Netgear claims they are more efficient because these are active antennas, meaning the signal amplifiers have been moved from the motherboard onto the external antennas themselves. This supposedly improves signal quality and performance.
Underneath it all, the Nighthawk X8 uses the same Broadcom 4x4 5G XStream platform as the ASUS RT-AC5300. This means a 1.4GHz dualcore BCM47094 ARM Cortex A9 processor and three BCM4366 4x4 radios. MU-MIMO is supported, but compatible clients are required if any performance gain is to be seen.
Like all other Netgear routers, the Nighthawk X8 comes preconfigured. A sticker on the router indicates its SSID and also its password, so you could use it straight out of the box. The Netgear Genie setup user interface is not the easiest to use, despite the option for Basic or Advanced settings. Furthermore, certain features like Parental Controls and ReadySHARE require additional registration or software, which makes it tedious and frustrating to setup.
There’s also a Genie app available for iOS and Android devices, but it is limited in use and missing some features that are found on the router’s web browser interface.
The Netgear router has independent LED indicators for each of its LAN ports.