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R8000 Nighthawk X6: Should you buy?

Updated on August 17, 2015
Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-band Wi-Fi router (R8000)
Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-band Wi-Fi router (R8000) | Source

This Netgear Nighthawk R8000 review is written for a broad range of readers with different levels of technical know how. As such I would like to thank the more technical savvy readers for their patience as I try to explain some of the things which they may have taken for granted.

For a start, it important to know that unlike some some networking devices know as the gateway which has both modem and router in the same box, the Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 is ONLY a wireless router. As such, you will need to get another piece of equipment - the modem before you can use the Netgear X6 AC3200.

It will not work if you do not connect it to a modem.

How to make the connection to the Nighthawk R8000
How to make the connection to the Nighthawk R8000 | Source

What you need to get connected to the internet

In a gist, for those who just want to get the Netgear Nighthawk R8000 and use it without all the techie mumbo jumbo...

1. Sign up with your internet provider. For example Comcast, TWC, ATT etc and get the appropriate broadband package.

2. Connect your modem to the outside world through your provider. Majority of the modems used here in the USA will be cable modems but there are also some ADSL modems used. ADSL uses the telephone land line.

3. Connect your Netgear Nighthawk R8000 to the modem with an Ethernet cable.

X6? There are six antennas on this Netgear Nighthawk AC3200 WiFi router
X6? There are six antennas on this Netgear Nighthawk AC3200 WiFi router | Source

What is the Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-band Wi-Fi router (R8000)?

Ok. ok. I know the Netgear Nighthawk X6 is the wireless router but what are all those descriptions after the product name?

Don't worry, I will go through each one of them and also explain the technology behind it so that by the end of this hub you will know absolutely what you are buying in the simplest terms.

You can then decide if the Netgear Nighthawk X6 is for you or not.

What are the standards?
What are the standards? | Source

What does the 802.11 number stands for?

Even though you don't see that number after the name of the Netgear Nighthawk AC3200, it is very important and is present in all routers.

The IEEE 802.11 is a set of Media Access Control (MAC) specifications for implementing Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) computer communications. This standard provides the basis for wireless network products using Wi-Fi.

Currently the 802.11 "A","B","G","N" and "AC" standards are being use. Those alphabets defines amongst other things, the frequency used, bandwidth, speed and range of the router. However due to the improvements in technology and ultimately the lower cost, the "N" and "AC" technologies are the most popular now as they are faster. They also have a longer range and gives you the best dollar value.

These standards are backward compatible so you will have no problems accessing your AC router with your N class smartphone. On the other hand, if your client device is AC and your router is N, then you are limited to the features of the N.

The best right now is "AC" followed by "N". The Netgear Nighthawk R8000 is an "AC" class router.

How many bands?
How many bands? | Source

Dual band, tri-band?

AC class routerz generally transmit in the both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bandwidth. As such, most of the AC class wireless routers you see in the market have the description "Dual Band".

So does tri-band means that the wireless router uses three bands? Well, the answer is no.

What tri-band wireless routers like the Netgear Nighthawk AC3200 does is to use two 5 GHz channels instead to handle more 5 GHz devices. The wireless router splits the slower 5 GHz clients from the faster 5 GHz clients and then allocates them to the 2 different 5 Ghz channels so the faster clients will not be slowed down by the slower clients.

Three dedicated bands of the Netgear X6 R8000
Three dedicated bands of the Netgear X6 R8000 | Source
3200 Mbps or 3.2 Gbps
3200 Mbps or 3.2 Gbps | Source

What is this 3200 magic number?

3200 Mbps or 3.2Gbps - that is the total combined speed that you can get out of the Netgear R8000 for uninterrupted streaming.

This 3200 Mbps comprises the total of 600 Mbps in band 1, 1300 Mbps in band 2 and 1300 Mbps band 3 of the three bands described above. All slower legacy devices in the 2.4 Ghz range will be connected to the band 1 transmitter while the faster dual band devices broadcasting in the 5 Ghz range will be connected to band 2.

Through its load balancing feature, the fastest and newest 5 Ghz AC devices will be connected to band 3.

Is there a triband adapter? How come I can never find it?
Is there a triband adapter? How come I can never find it? | Source

With three bands what WiFi adapter should I use with the Netgear Nighthawk R8000?

In order to maximize the usage of the speed of the wireless router, the client must also match router side in terms of the standards.

However there is no such thing as a triband adapter. The tri-band router has three radios - a 2.4 Ghz and two 5Ghz radios. The Netgear X6 triband can automatically or manually balance the load on the 5Ghz band between the two 5Ghz radios.

For example, if you have a mix of 5Ghz N and AC client devices, the router will separate their signals on the different 5 Ghz radios so the "N" devices will not slow down the "AC" devices.

If you want to do it the easy way, then just use the "Smart Connect". If "Smart Connect" is not enabled, you can still manually configure it.

When the "Smart Connect" is enabled, you will see one ssid for both the 5Ghz channel. However if you disable or uncheck "Smart Connect", you will have two ssids for the 5Ghz bands - one for each radio.

You get a total of 3 separate ssids for all the three bands. With that, you have the option for your device or client connects to the radio you specify.

What is the signal distance of the Netgear X6 R8000
What is the signal distance of the Netgear X6 R8000 | Source

How far can the signal go?

This is a very difficult question to answer.

This is because signal strength depends on many factors such as your concrete wall, steel reinforced flooring, steel walls etc All these could potentially bock or greatly reduce the signal strength and range.

However a survey on many forums has found the signal strength of the Netgear R8000 to be one of the strongest you can get in the market.

These were some of the comments from owners of the Netgear R8000 that I found in the forums:

"When I walk up to my neighbor's house (about 300' away, clear view in the country), I can pick up my 2.4GHz line on my iPhone 6. It's right at the edge, though."

"When I purchased this router, the salesperson told me that this router is powerful enough to cater to an office space equivalent to a large warehouse. I haven't tested it to verify his statement. However, the multistory house I live in, it is operating flawlessly."

"One of the reasons we selected this router was it had a good range. We haven't had any range problems. We tested the range with a cell phone connection and it was significantly over a 100 feet through standard office walls before we got out of range. Based on our good experience with it I actually bought a second device for use in another city."

Cat5 or Cat7? Which gives me better transmission rate?
Cat5 or Cat7? Which gives me better transmission rate? | Source

What cable should I use?

Now that we have gone through some of the technical aspects of the Netgear R8000 wireless router, its time to connect the router to your modem.

So what kind of cable should you use for the best performance?

There are basically the Cat 5 or the Cat7 cables. Cat is the short form of "category" and the Cat5 cable is a twisted pair of cable used for carrying signals; sometimes commonly referred to as the "Ethernet cable".

Cat5 is able to provide performance of up to 100 MHz and is suitable for 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX (Fast Ethernet), and 1000BASE-T (Gigabit Ethernet). Cat 5 is also used to carry other signals such as telephony and video.

The other is the Cat7 which is used for long runs on high speed networks. It has more twists per linear foot, allowing it to run for longer distances and avoiding noise or crosstalks along the way.

Hence, if you are just connecting the router to the modem then Cat5 is more than sufficient.

Don't buy the Netgear X6 R8000 when...
Don't buy the Netgear X6 R8000 when... | Source

When you should NOT buy the Netgear R8000

Right now the Netgear R8000 is one of the more expensive wireless router in the market.

So if you have only a couple of devices in your home, you can save some money by buying an earlier model such as the Netgear R7000. The Netgear R7000 is also a very good wireless router and is by no means a push over as far as wireless routers are concerned.

However before you decide you want to save some money, do note that according to the various polls that were taken over the last few years, it appears that the number of WiFi connected devices in the average household is increasing; with 6-8+ devices in the average home and continuing to rise. I am sure if you look closely in your own home, you will find this to be true.

So for many owners, getting the Netgear R8000 is a good way to future proof as well as cover current and possible future needs.

This is because this router does have the capability to have an extraordinary number of devices to be connect to your wireless network; that which might overwhelm a lesser router.

Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-band Wi-Fi router (R8000)
Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-band Wi-Fi router (R8000) | Source

What can you expect from the Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-band Wi-Fi router (R8000)?

If you decide to go with the Netgear Nighthawk X6, then what can you expect to get? Here is what you get with the Netgear X6:

  • Total speeds of up to 3.2Gbps. You get the fastest combined WiFi speed for uninterrupted streaming a tri-Band WiFi that delivers more WiFi to more devices - good for streaming videos with one of the fastest gaming speeds around
  • You have Dynamic QoS bandwidth that can be prioritize by application and device
  • Its six high performance antennas with powerful amplifiers helps give you the maximum WiFi range while its Smart Connect intelligently selects the best WiFi for each of your devices
  • You get lag-free gaming via its 1GHz dual core processor
  • You enjoy stronger connections and WiFi signals for mobile devices through its implicit and explicit beamforming+ technology
  • Have the ability to connect to a USB 3.0 port for high-speed and storage-ready access
  • Get automatic continuous and scheduled backup for Windows PCs on your network with the free ReadySHARE Vault app
  • User friendly personal dashboard to manage your network
  • Its Genie app allows you to easily monitor, connect and control your home network from a large variety of devices such as PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Android device.

What owners has to say about their Netgear X6

"...so, to tell you the truth. I have always hated Netgear. When a client put in one of their low end routers months ago, I groaned. Now, I'm here to say the R8000 (AKA AC3200) - JUST SCREAMS. And it is equally MAC friendly, has a nice iphone app and serves as an iTunes server.

I think it will be a while before anything beats this. Wow..."

By Scott D. Nelson on July 10, 2014

"...this is the most impressive router that I have had the opportunity to use. The speed is what impresses me the most of course, but also the ease of set-up which is the simplest I've seen so far, with the possibility to do a lot of customizing..."

By PT Cruiser on August 1, 2014

"...bottom line, if you want an excellent upgrade to your aging 802.11g or 802.11n router, now is the time to jump in and get this awesome router. You will not be disappointed...unless that is if you have a thin wallet..."

By Ninjawithagun on July 18, 2014

I found those feedback at Amazon.

NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Gigabit WiFi Router (R8000) Compatible with Amazon Echo/Alexa
NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Gigabit WiFi Router (R8000) Compatible with Amazon Echo/Alexa

If you are looking for the ultimate WiFi, something that can give you the extreme speed, then the Netgear Nighthawk X6 delivers the fastest combined WiFi speed up to 3200 Mbps in the market today.

Through its triband feature, the Netgear X6 will allow you to get more WiFi in many devices across your home network and automatically connects slower and faster devices in separate WiFi network to ensure that both your 5GHz WiFi networks are maximally utilized.

At the time of writing, this is one of the best WiFi router in the market today.

 
Netgear R7000
Netgear R7000 | Source

What if the Nighthawk R8000 is not right for me?

What if the Netgear Nighthawk R8000 not for you right now or even in the near future?

If that is the case, then you may want to look into the earlier Nighthawk R7000. By the way, before the introduction of the Netgear X6, the Netgear X4 R7000 is a formidable competitor to its peers!

Many people don't mind spending a few dollars more for a newer and better technology because the main bulk of the cost is actually the service monthly charge and not the hardware.

Below is a table comparing both the Netgear X4 R7000 and Netgear X6 R8000.

Feature
Nighthawk X4 (R7000)
Nighthawk X6 (R8000)
Combined WiFi speeds
2330 Mbps
3200 Mbps
Speeds per band
600 + 1730
600 + 1300 + 1300
Data transfer rate
1900 Mbps
3200 Mbps
Processor speeds
1.4 Ghz Dual Core processor with 1 dual core Offload processor
1.0 Ghz Dual Core processor with 1 dual core Offload processor
Quality of Service (QoS)
Dynamic
Dynamic
No of Antennas
4 external
6 external
No of USB ports
2 x USB 3.0
1 USB 2.0 + 1 USB 3.0
eSATA port
Yes
No
VPN support
Yes
Yes
802.11 AC
Yes
Yes
LAN ports
4
4
Price
180
280
Nighthawk X4 vs Nighthawk X6 (Netgear R7000 vs Netgear R8000). Note that the price is an estimate for comparison purposes only

If you are absolutely new to routers and want some basic information and hand holding, I highly recommend that you read my guide on how to select the best wireless routers.

Can you recommend me a good modem to go with the Netgear X6?

What is the best modem to go with the Netgear Nighthawk R8000?

If you are looking for a good and fast modem to pair with the Netgear AC3200, then the Arris Motorola SB6183 is current the best cable modem that you can get.

Other alternatives that you can explore include the older Motorola SB6141 or even earlier Motorola SB6121. You can follow the link to another of my hubs to decide if the Motorola SB6141 or SB6121 is better for you.

Your assistance would be much appreciated...
Your assistance would be much appreciated... | Source

Help me please?

The objectives of many of my hubs are to provide information to the many people out there who don't really care about the technical aspects of a technical device like the wireless router but would like to know just enough technical aspects of it so they can make the right choice.

As such I am trying to make the language and content as simple and as non technical as possible. To help me strike that balance it is important I get feedback from my readers.

As such could you kindly do me a favor and spend a few seconds to feedback to me in the few polls below?

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The information presented on the Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-band WiFi router here is sufficient to help me make a decision

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