Another generation of wireless routers is here now: Netgear may be the first manufacturer to give a tri-band router. This new class of device is suitable for the web of Things (IoT)-that is, it’s designed to handle the increasing number and selection of devices most of us have on our networks. The Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band WiFi Router (R8000) ($299) makes an extraordinary debut, deftly managing multiple wireless devices about the same network, though a few minor rough spots that resulted in in my own testing show a firmware update could be in order soon.
We’ve only had dual-band routers as yet, operating on the two 2.4GHz and 5GHz band. The Nighthawk X6 offers a 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands. These dual 5GHz bands become performance load balancers. An increasing number of home networks have tablets, smartphones, and gaming consoles performing heavy-demand throughput tasks, such as for example streaming HD video. You’d normally want to assign those devices to the more-robust 5GHz band, but with so many gizmos competing for throughput, you’d soon saturate it. The X6 automatically configures its two 5GHz bands on different channels, in order to hook up more devices at 5GHz without the performance suffering.
What’s more more likely to immediately strike you about the Nighthawk X6, however, is its bizarre design. It appears like a robotic insect. The router includes a rectangular chassis that slopes upwards and six retractable external antennas that may fold in and right out of the housing. When fully extended, they make the router appear to be a six-legged bug flipped on its back. These antennas swivel, letting you position them to find the best signal, however they could be tricky to go and, while reasonably sturdy, seem to be like they might be simple to break with rough handling.
In the Nighthawk X6 are some powerful components. The AC3200 identifies its total theoretical bandwidth: It supports up to 600Mbps on the two 2.4GHz signal or more to 1300Mbps on each 5GHz band. It’s advertised as offering up to 3.2Gbps speeds, but that isn’t real-world speed. Actually, the X6 isn’t even among the five most effective routers I’ve tested. That isn’t necessarily a problem, however, as the purpose of this router is to take care of many devices on a network simultaneously; it isn’t really about blazing-fast throughput for an individual device. I’ll reach that later. Other noteworthy elements of the X6 add a dual-core 1GHz processor with three offload processors, 128MB of flash memory, and 256MB of RAM.
Back to the surface: On the X6’s back panel certainly are a USB 2.0 and a 3.0 port, both which can support printers and external drives. The trunk panel also offers a WAN port and four LAN ports, an LED off/on switch, and a on / off switch. Thirteen LEDs run-down the top-center panel, providing statuses of the router’s various connections, such as for example WAN and USB.
The X6 is really as large since it is weird-looking. It’s a great deal larger and heavier compared to the original Nighthawk-which is a big piece of hardware. The prior Nighthawk ($154.99 at Amazon) measures 1.97 by 11.22 by 7.26 inches (HWD) and weighs about 1.6 pounds. The X6’s dimensions are 2.14 by 11.63 by 8.92 inches (HWD), and it weighs almost 2.5 pounds.
Of course, such a major and powerful device needs satisfactory cooling, and Netgear gives plenty of, in the kind of vents on the complete topside of the router and along the trunk panel. I left filmmaker Ken Burns’ 10-hour Civil War documentary running on Netflix through the router overnight, and the X6 was barely warm another morning. Overheating shouldn’t be a concern with this router, though, much like any router, you will need to stick it somewhere with decent airflow.