Netgear just announced its first two Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) products, the Nighthawk AX12/12-stream AX6000 WiFi Router (model RAX120) and the Nighthawk AX8/8-stream AX6000 WiFi Router (model RAX80). They are the answers to those Asus announced a while back.
Update: The full review of the RAX120 is now available here.
Top-tier Wi-Fi specs
There are a lot of similarities between Netgear’s two new routers.
Both sport a futuristic-looking design and shape like space ships. They also share the top Wi-Fi speed of up to 4.8Gbps on the 5GHz and of up to 1.2Gbps on the 2.4GHz. Both are backward compatible with previous Wi-Fi standards. And both come with five Gigabit LAN ports — with Link Aggregation — and one Gigabit WAN (internet port).
8-stream MU-MIMO vs. 4-stream MU-MIMO
The biggest difference between the two is the RAX120 features 8-stream MU-MIMO while the RAX80 has 4-stream MU-MIMO. As a result, the former is capable of supporting twice the amount of simultaneous Wi-Fi 6 clients than the latter, per each Wi-Fi channel.
The ability to handle multiple clients per stream is a new feature of Wi-Fi 6. It’s called Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) which optimizes signals’ efficiency.
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Before you get all excited, though, it’s not yet possible to enjoy the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 because you’ll need Wi-Fi 6 clients for that. Like with previous Wi-Fi standards, the client side of the market will take a while to catch up. In other words, there are not many reasons to rush to buy a Wi-Fi 6 router right now.
However, both of these routers will work with all existing Wi-Fi clients and chances are, thanks to their powerful hardware, they will deliver a better Wi-Fi range than your current router.
It’s a good idea to wait till you have Wi-Fi 6 clients before getting a Wi-Fi 6 router. However, if you can’t wait, the RAX80 is available for pre-order now at $399.99.
As for the RAX120, it won’t be available until next year. And you can’t buy it, either, since it’s only available via Netgear’s new Premier Membership (currently in beta) where you pay a small subscription for the hardware. More details of the membership will also be available next year.