Review: Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Tri-Band WiFi Router – R8500 – EFTM
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Review: Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Tri-Band WiFi Router – R8500

Stunning performance from a high-end networking device

In 2016 it’s not enough to just have WiFi in your home, with the demands of a large number of devices in the home doing so much more than just email and web surfing there’s more pressure than ever on the centre of your network – your Router.  This week – we’ve been blown away by the new Netgear R8500 Nighthawk.

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The problem for most people is they don’t realise what they need until they’ve invested in, or been given, something that just doesn’t cut it.  The router your ISP provides will give you WiFi, so will a router at almost any price.  However if it’s quality and signal you want, you ave to spend money – you get what you pay for here.

This R8500 from Netgear is a while new look for the company, heading back to a more traditional “box” look with a nice swirled design on the front/top.   After a couple of years of stealth like designs with six or more antenna’s the R8500 is quite a stylish device from a design perspective.

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I chose to mount this one on the wall to allow me to free up desk space, and point the antenna in more specific directions around my home.

When I first saw the R8500 at CES in January I was impressed by the antenna technology.  These are “industry first” “Active Antennas”.   On routers until now the amplifier of the WiFi signal sat on the motherboard of the router with a cable running up the antenna.  The R8500 flips that on its head, with the amplifier located at the top of the antenna.  This means the router is receiving a much cleaner and stronger signal right from the get-go, reducing signal degradation in the space between the antenna and motherboard.

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While it’s great to look at – with light-up tips of each of the antennas there is genuine performance benefits.

Combined with the tri-band WiFi networks this router has given my entire home a boost in WiFi coverage.

Netgear has a WiFi coverage app, but I wanted to look for a coverage report using an independent App.

I downloaded Telstra’s “WiFi Maximiser” app.  This is a cool little tool that gives you an instant coverage report, but perhaps better still you can draw a floorplan of your home and do tests throughout to give you a heat-map of WiFi signal strength.

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Now, I’m not saying we’ve got a massive house, but it’s certainly not small.  Our two-story layout is not uncommon for many, but I’ve also done the worst thing possible and placed our internet connection and WiFi router in the bottom corner of the home. Despite this – “great” coverage all over.  Even in the furthest bedroom of the home upstairs – the opposite end of the home.

This is the best coverage we’ve had – those furthest rooms have often been a mid-range signal area – in fact just two years ago when we moved here we had a WiFi range extender in the middle to give better coverage up there.  That’s how far WiFi technology has come in just two years.

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There are a bunch of features on this router that help justify the $699 price tag, but it’s still a hefty price for the average home.  That’s really the only downside of this impressive beast.

Up to 5.3Gbps speed, Tri-band WiFi, Quad stream with four data streams per WiFi band, Active antennas, six ethernet ports (two of which can be aggregated for a Network Storage unit), MIMO WiFi and Quality of Service by application and device are all the features you’d ever likely want in a router.

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For a family with devices streaming TV, gaming, stored movies and any other number of applications chewing up your internet – the only way to get the most from your internet is to invest in the device that can actually deliver across your home – the Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Tri-Band WiFi Router – R8500 – is that very device.

Web: Netgear

 

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Trevor produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He has a weekly radio show on 2UE, as well as appearances across the country and regularly provides Technology Commentary to Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave. Like this post? Buy Trev a drink!
3 Comments on this post.
  • Frank Iuston
    3 April 2016 at 9:41 pm
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    Wonderful review Trevor, been thinking of a nighthawk for a little while. I’m on cable for my internet (optus) and in February my Cisco 2203 modem died so they replaced it with a Netgear CG3000v2. This damn modem/router has been nothing but trouble! Drops out regularly, randomly reboots etc. I’ve heard some really bad stuff about the CG and my experiences just confirm it. If the wifi is that lousy on it (and it probably is), is it worth running it in bridge mode and then letting the nighthawk handle the wifi and routing?

  • Sean Hawkins
    4 April 2016 at 1:21 pm
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    Hi Trevor
    When does this beast hit Australian shelves? im tossing up on this modem and one other at the moment!

    • Trevor Long
      4 April 2016 at 1:34 pm
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      From what I can see – JB HIFI has them now!

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