Netgear has been announcing new members in their Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax router family regularly over the last few months. We discussed the launch of the RAX80 and RAX120 in detail last November. Since then, Netgear has also introduced a tri-radio solution, the RAX200. The RAX80, RAX120, and RAX200 currently have MSRPs of $400, $500, and $600 respectively. These price points have made it challenging from a market adoption encouragement perspective.

Netgear is aiming to address this issue with a new Nighthawk RAX40 AX3000 router. This AX4 model has a 4-stream configuration. Its $200 MSRP is significantly lower than the price points at which the other Nighthawk Wi-Fi 6 routers are being sold. While the previous Nighthawk Wi-Fi 6 routers were based on either Broadcom or Qualcomm silicon, the RAX40 is based on Intel's Moore Rapids platform (Intel Home Wi-Fi Chipset WAV600 series).

The table below summarizes the specifications of the four Wi-Fi 6 routers currently in the Netgear Nighthawk family.

Netgear Nighthawk Wi-Fi 6 Routers
  RAX40 RAX80 RAX120 RAX200
Spatial Stream Configuration 2.4G : 2x2
5G : 2x2
2.4G : 4x4
5G : 4x4
2.4G : 4x4
5G : 8x8
2.4G : 4x4
5G : 4x4 + 4x4
Speed Class AX3000 AX6000 AX6000 AX11000
Wired Ports 5x 1Gbps 6x 1Gbps 5x 1Gbps
1x 5/2.5/1Gbps
5x 1Gbps
1x 2.5/1Gbps
USB Ports 1x USB 3.0 2x USB 3.0 2x USB 3.0 2x USB 3.0
Radios Intel WAV654 Broadcom BCM43684 x2 Qualcomm QCN5054 + QCN5024 Broadcom BCM43684 x3
SoC Intel AnyWAN SoC GRX350 Broadcom BCM4908 Qualcomm IPQ8074 Broadcom BCM4908
Launch MSRP $200 $400 $500 $600

The Nighthawk RAX40 is a good entry point into the Wi-Fi 6 ecosystem for the average consumer. With almost all 802.11ax client platforms using a 2x2 configuration at the maximum, single client scenarios will see barely any difference in terms of performance with the RAX40 and any of its higher-priced siblings. Things will obviously change when multiple wireless clients come into play simultaneously. The RAX120, for example, can support four simultaneous 2x2 MU-MIMO clients with its 8x8 5GHz configuration. That said, the RAX40 supports DFS and 160 MHz channels - two aspects that can show the bandwidth benefits immediately to the end users. In fact, the RAX40 can deliver gigabit wireless to even 802.11ac clients such as the Intel Wireless AC9560 present in the Bean Canyon NUCs.

Overall, the introduction of the RAX40, particularly in conjunction with the availability of Cyclone Peak-equipped computing systems starting this quarter, is a big boost for the Wi-Fi 6 ecosystem. The Wi-Fi router space has been dominated by Broadcom and Qualcomm (and, Mediatek to a smaller extent) for quite some time now. The addition of Intel as a serious player in this space is welcome news for consumers.

Source: Netgear

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  • Xajel - Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - link

    No thanks, I'll wait for Ubiquiti; UAP-AC-Pro or nanoHD successors to be precise.

    And yes, I know it will be a sad long wait.
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - link

    I'm guessing its because its a small company? I often hear that about them being good products, just not much in the upgrade department for new stuff. I actually got one of the antenna for them still in box i forgot about. lol
  • Samus - Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - link

    Ubiquiti is an IT depts wet dream.

    The management and scalability alone make them incredibly cost effective solutions. They are insanely reliable and stable. Security seems good if not very good.

    The problems with them are mostly customization (which is good but complex options are often command line driven - and the community is excellent at helping with this) and of course availability. Micro Center seems to have taken them seriously at retail, offering most if not all of their mainstream products in every store.

    The real complaints I have with them as a company seem to be them drifting from various norms and standards. Many of their older products didn't conform to the 802.3af PoE standards and instead had some hackjob implementation that only worked with their own proprietary PoE injectors. Engenious is notorious for doing this as well.

    Most models were revised around 2016-2017 to support 802.3af and standard 48v PoE switches and injectors, but astonishingly, the model numbers weren't changed and no solid manufacturing date was provided to indicate when the batch of 802.3af models became available. So it was a crapshoot and I think this whole debacle really held them back in the corporate space as a serious contender for enterprise-grade network equipment.

    That said, they have so many good products that could easily sell for more. The Edgerouter Lite, a $50 router, handles more packet traffic than most $500 enterprise routers. The AP-AC Lite is the best access point you can buy for $100 and includes a PoE injector - although this model STILL isn't 802.3af to this day afaik. But the real magic is when you get a number of their products under the same software umbrella. Management becomes just beautiful, even if you just have a router switch and 2-3 AP's in mesh or "wired mesh" aka multi AP mode where they are simply configured to all have the same WLAN name and internally determine the client handoff to the best AP.
  • Moody66 - Thursday, May 30, 2019 - link

    They are no better than anyone else.
  • Gunbuster - Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - link

    So they solved the problem of getting gigabit to my phone where I don't really need it? All for $200? People here's a tip. Where you need high speed run a $10 copper Ethernet cable.
  • Kamus - Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - link

    ppft, cables, what are you, poor?

    I bet you also use wired headphones you pleb!
  • Valantar - Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - link

    "Affordable router". "$200". What in all possible hells is happening to the wireless router market?
  • FSWKU - Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - link

    $200 routers have been almost normal for a while now. I picked up a Linksys EA7500 a while back (when AC1900 was still all the rage) for that, and it it came with a free cable modem.
  • Valantar - Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - link

    $200 being normal is one thing, it being considered "affordable" is an entirely different thing. I've held out on upgrading my router for nearly a decade (got a 2nd-tier Dlink back in the N days, and everything that matters in my household is wired so it does fine), but I paid something like $100 for that. Even factoring in inflation, the difference between that and today's 2nd tier routers is easily 2-3x.

    I'd be happy to pay $200 for a feature-packed high end model, but for what amounts to an entry-level version with current specs? Nope. As for the high end ones: you can get a pretty good laptop, or a very good phone for $600. Spending that kind of money on pipes to feed them? Unless you have a huge family and no wired connections, that's insane.
  • sonny73n - Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - link

    If you want a feature-packed and affordable router, get a TP-Link and flash it with DD-WRT. Check their device support list for firmware and router hardware info.

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