Netgear Nighthawk X8 R8500 Introduction
Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300. Instead of using a 3x3 configuration with six antennae, this router takes it to the next level with a 4x4 configuration, with four internal antennae and four active external antennae, each with their own blue LEDs to signal their active state. This means the amplifiers for the antennae are on the antennae itself rather than down on the main board, helping to boost the signal without crosstalk or signal loss associated with modern PCB circuitry. Each 5GHz radio is able to broadcast at 2.1Gbps compared to 1.3Gbps on Gen 1 devices, and the bandwidth on the 2.4GHz channel is also increased from 600Mbps on Gen 1 devices to 1Gbps. When you take both 5GHz channels at 2,100Mbps and add it to the 1000Mbps on the 2.4GHz channel, you end up with a number around 5,300Mbps, hence the branding.
Another big feature of routers like the Nighthawk X8 is support for MU-MIMO, which stands for Multi-User Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output. This is essentially the same technology we saw in 80211.N routers (MIMO) but with multiple channels of data at once, instead of just a single channel. Unfortunately, at the time we went to press here Netgear had not "officially" implemented functionality for this feature, but there is a beta firmware available on their website, if you're daring and want to play with it.
One other cool feature of the R8500 is the presence of six LAN ports as well as the standard WAN port. The “extra” LAN port can be used for Link Aggregation if you have a switch or NAS that supports it, like the new Netgear ReadyNAS RN212 or RN214. This theoretically allows multiple clients to transmit from the router at speeds beyond Gigabit, but only in certain scenarios and for multiple users.
|WiFi Band||Simultaneous Tri-Band WiFi - Tx/Rx 4x4 (2.4GHz) + 4x4 (5GHz) + 4x4 (5GHz)|
|Beamforming||Implicit & Explicit Beamforming for 2.4 & 5GHz bands|
|Number of Ethernet Ports||Seven (7) 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet ports: 1 WAN & 6 LAN
Dual Gigabit Ethernet Port Aggregation
|Number of USB Ports||Two (2) USB ports: 1 USB 3.0 & 1 USB 2.0 port|
|Key Features||Smart Connect intelligently selects the fastest WiFi band for every device
Load Balancing distributes WiFi devices ensuring usage of both 5GHz WiFi bands
MU-MIMO capable—simultaneous streaming of data for multiple devices
Eight (8) high performance antennas with high-powered amplifiers
Four (4) external Active Antennas enhance weak signals and reduce interference for best WiFi performance (patent pending)
Dynamic QoS prioritizes network traffic by application & device
ReadyCLOUD USB Access—Personal & secure cloud access to USB storage anytime, anywhere
ReadySHARE Vault—PC software for automatic backup to USB hard drive connected to the router
DLNA server to find & play your media on TVs & game consoles
VPN support—secure remote access to your home network & Internet
Enhanced Parental Controls to manage web filtering & accessibility by profiles or devices
NETGEAR genie home network manager includes remote access to manage your network away from home
|Security||Customized free URL to set up personal FTP server
VPN support—secure remote access
Guest network access—separate & secure
WiFi Protected Access (WPA/WPA2—PSK)
Double firewall protection (SPI and NAT) Denial-of-service (DoS) attack prevention
|Processor||Powerful dual core 1.4GHz processor|
|Memory||128 MB Flash and 512 MB RAM|
|Physical Specifications||Dimensions: 12.44 x 10.39 x 2.40 in (316 x 264 x 61 mm)
Weight: 3.70 lb (1680 g)
|Package Content||Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Router (R8500)
Quick install guide
|Standards||Two (2) USB ports: 1 USB 3.0 & 1 USB 2.0 port
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz 1024QAM support
IEEE 802.11 a/n/ac 5GHz1024QAM support
Seven (7) 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet ports: 1 WAN & 6 LAN
The rear of the unit sports the aforementioned six LAN ports along with the WAN port, a power on/off switch, and a reset pinhole. There is one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port along the side of the router behind an easy-to-open door, and the front boasts push-button control of Wi-Fi, LEDs, and WPS.
In addition to the features listed above, it also supports all the traditional features you’d expect from a Netgear AC router including beamforming, DLNA support, Dynamic QoS, and it even supports ReadyCLOUD USB access, so you can access data stored on a connected USB device from any internet connection, basically turning any portable hard drive into a NAS. It also supports the Smart Connect technology we saw in the Gen 1 routers, whereby both 5GHz bands appear as one SSID allowing the router to “intelligently” assign devices to the band it thinks will offer the most bandwidth.
currently on sale at $349), making it $100 more expensive than the previous model, the Nighthawk X6. For comparison, the Asus AC5300 router sells on Amazon for $495 currently, so the Nighthawk X8 seems like a bargain by comparison, but it’s quite a bit more pricey than AC3200 routers.