Netgear has consistently announced new members in its family of 6802.11ax Wi-Fi routers over the last few months. We discussed the launch of 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 awards made the task difficult from the point of view of encouraging the adoption of the market.
Netgear aims to solve this problem with a new Nighthawk RAX40 AX3000 router. This AX4 model has a 4-stream configuration. Its MSRP of $ 200 is significantly lower than the price at which other Nighthawk Wi-Fi 6 routers are sold. While previous Wi-Fi 6 Nighthawk routers were based on Broadcom or Qualcomm silicon, the RAX40 is based on Intel's Moore Rapids platform (Intel Home Wi-Fi WAV600 chipset).
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|
|Space flow configuration||2.4G: 2×2
5G: 4×4 + 4×4
|Wired ports||5x 1 Gbps||6x 1 Gbps||5x 1 Gbps
1x 5 / 2.5 / 1Gbps
|5x 1 Gbps
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||SoC GRX350 from Intel AnyWAN||Broadcom BCM4908||Qualcomm IPQ8074||Broadcom BCM4908|
|Launch the 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 up to 2×2 configuration, single-client scenarios will see virtually no difference in performance with the RAX40 and its more expensive siblings. Things will obviously change when multiple wireless clients come into play simultaneously. The RAX120, for example, can support four simultaneous 2×2 MU-MIMO clients with its 8×8 5GHz configuration. That said, the RAX40 supports DFS and 160 MHz channels – two aspects that can immediately show the benefits of bandwidth to end users. In fact, the RAX40 can offer gigabit wireless connectivity to 802.11ac clients such as the Intel Wireless AC9560 found in Bean Canyon NUCs.
Overall, the introduction of the RAX40, particularly in connection with the availability of Cyclone Peak-equipped computer systems as of this quarter, is a major asset for the Wi-Fi 6. Broadcom and Qualcomm ecosystem (and, to a lesser extent, Mediatek) have dominated Wi-Fi router space for some time now. The addition of Intel as a serious player in this space is good news for consumers.