First Look

Netgear Nighthawk X6 router introduces concept of tri-band wireless

Splitting the 5 GHz band to create a third lane of wireless LAN traffic

At the CE Week New York event today, Netgear announced its new Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router (model R8000), featuring 802.11ac wireless connectivity and using Broadcom’s new 5G Wi-Fi Xstream platform. The $300 device is now available for pre-order online, with availability expected later this year. 

The "tri" in tri-band refers to one 2.4 GHz bands and two 5GHz bands, but the company insists that the "three" bands it refers to aren’t just a marketing gimmick (if you heard "tri-band" you’d assume that there would be three different frequency bands, because of what we got with dual-band gear). The third band comes from splitting the 5 GHz band into two separate areas, so that faster devices utilizing that band (such as newer MacBook Pros, streaming video devices or gaming gear) can have traffic prioritization/higher speeds than older 5 GHz clients (such as older iPads and smartphones).

Netgear Nighthawk X6 R8000 802.11ac wireless router NETGEAR

The Nighthawk X6 wireless router from NETGEAR sports six adjustable antennas.

The router also comes with a new design, incorporating six antennas that flex outward from the center of the unit, and the company says it offers users a tutorial for proper location and placement of the antennas. Netgear says the combined Wi-Fi speed can reach up to 3.2Gbs (1,300+1,300+600 Mbps,if you use all of the bands), but take that with a grain of salt, because those numbers are ALWAYS theoretical. 

The Nighthawk X6 is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor (with three offload processors as well) and supports Netgear’s Beamforming+ technology, which lets users improve the Wi-Fi connection between a specific device and the router. The device also includes two USB ports -- one 2.0 and one 3.0 -- that let you connect USB-enabled external storage devices or printers. Software includes ReadySHARE Vault (automatic backup on PCs in the network that can be saved to a USB-connected drive), as well as typical wireless router features such as VPN support, SPI, NAT and the ability to create separate guest networks. The X6 also includes four Gigabit Ethernet port for wired LAN devices and a Gigabit Ethernet WAN port for broadband modem connections.

For more details on the Nighthawk, check out the video (above), in which Netgear’s Phil Pyo gave me an overview of the system at the CE Week New York event.

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