Netgear on Tuesday announced four new high-end Wi-Fi 6 wireless routers for increasingly connected homes. The expanded lineup arrives as households see an increasing number of gadgets vie for bandwidth, from PCs and game consoles, to smartphones and a growing base of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
This is where Wi-Fi 6 is designed to shine. Otherwise known as 802.11ax under the old nomenclature, Wi-Fi 6 does not just bring faster speeds compared to Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), but also better handling of multiple devices simultaneously. This is accomplished through a technology called Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM).
"Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) enables efficient data scheduling so that more transmissions can be sent at the same time, resulting in an impressive capacity increase in your network. This increased or available bandwidth allows you to add more devices to your network," Netgear explains.
Using OFDA, Netgear's new Nighthawk AX4 4-stream AX3000 (RAX40) router offers "efficient data transmission and upload Wi-Fi speeds" for up to 16 devices at the same time. It's also the least expensive of the four new models, though it's not inexpensive—it carries an MSRP of $199.99.
The RAX40 is a 4-stream that delivers up to 3Gbps speeds combined: up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz channel and up to 2,400Mbps on the 5GHz channel. It also features a single USB 3.0 port for connecting external devices (storage or printer), and has a built-in 4-port GbE switch for wired connections.
Netgear also announced availability of three other models. They include:
- Nighthawk AX8 8-stream AX6000 (RAX80): $399.99
- Nighthawk AX12 12-stream AX6000 (RAX120): $499.99
- Nighthawk Tri-Band AX12 12-stream (RAX200): $599.99
Each one ups the ante with faster speeds, with the most expensive of the bunch adding a third band, as we reported on a few weeks ago. They bring a different style too, resembling something you might see flying around in a Star Wars movie.
For most consumers, though, the RAX40 is the most sensible path to Wi-Fi 6 (out of the bunch). It has the bandwidth to accommodate crowded networks and 4K Ultra HD streaming, and is a relatively future-proof solution (as far as such a thing is possible).
The RAX40 and RAX120 will be available sometime this month, followed by the RAX200 hitting store shelves in May. The RAX80 can be purchased right now.