Netgear Nighthawk X8 R8500 AC5300 WiFi Router Review: Amplified AC

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Netgear Nighthawk X8 R8500 Setup

If you’ve ever used a Netgear router, or read a review of one, this will all seem very familiar as nothing about the browser-based interface has changed. Just about everything we wrote about the Nighthawk X6 in our previous review is the same, and we still think Netgear needs to overhaul the UI of its routers to something that is more user-friendly and modern. The current interface, overall, just looks dated to us due to its cartoony look-and-feel.

netgear x8 5

As far as the “setup routine” goes, there wasn’t one for this router. Normally, once you connect a router and power-cycle your modem, the first time you open a web browser or refresh an already-open browser you are greeted by a wizard that walks you through a setup process. That typically includes downloading the latest firmware, putting a password on the router’s admin screen, setting up wireless security, etc. We didn’t see any of that with the R8500, as once we were connected we had Internet access and were able to access the router by going to Netgear’s easy-to-use URL Routerlogin.net.

Once we typed in the default credentials we remembered from the previous review (admin/password), we were greeted by the browser interface, with both networks visible and unprotected. We quickly setup security for all three networks and began to explore the interface. It should be noted that anyone can access the setup wizard from anytime within the browser interface under the main advanced tab.

r8500 main

The main area of the interface gives you everything you need to know about your config at a glance, including the status of your Internet connection, number of attached devices, Parental Controls status, whether or not the Guest Network is enabled, and if any storage devices are attached. One issue we have with this interface though is there’s one box labeled “Wireless” that displays the SSID for one network and the password. That’s great and all if you need the password for your network, but on our test system it defaulted to only showing the SSID for the 2.4GHz network. This seems to us like a vestige from a bygone era, when routers just broadcast one network, which we’ll add goes along with our theory that Netgear hasn’t updated its browser interface in that long as well. There is no reason why this screen can’t display details for all the networks, and having it show just the 2.4GHz network, which some will never even connect to, is a minor annoyance.

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