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Netgear RAX120 Router Review: The Multi-Gig Age Is Here

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Important note

In late December 2021, I realized that Netgear had quietly and retrospectively removed major features from its existing Nighthawk and Orbi devices via firmware updates, effectively reducing the hardware’s capability.

I published this review before that time. Consequently, while the hands-on experience remains largely relevant today, the rating and recommendation might no longer fully apply.

Netgear quietly kills web-based remote access in favor of its mobile app

The Netgear Nighthawk AX12 12-Stream AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Router (model RAX120) is my second Wi-Fi 6 router after the Asus RT-AX88U, yet it feels like the first. That’s because I didn’t have a Wi-Fi 6 client to test the Asus. I do now, thanks to Intel’s newly released AX200 adapter card, which is an easy Wi-Fi 6 upgrade.

It’s important to note that the Intel AX200 is a mid-tier dual-stream (2×2) Wi-Fi 6 client, while the RAX120 is a faster 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 router. (No typo here, I’ll explain the router’s 8×8 specs below). That said, the Wi-Fi performance reported in this review is potentially only half of the router’s top speed.

Even with this constraint, the Netgear RAX120 is one of the fastest routers I’ve used — its multi-Gigabit Ethernet port is a game-changer. And the router is cool-looking to boot. Place it in the open, and you’ll get yourself a great conversation starter.

On the downside, with a current cost of somewhere between $400 and $500, the router is too expensive considering its lack of gaming, mesh capability, and cyber-security features.

But, if you’re looking to upgrade your small or medium home to Wi-Fi 6 immediately, the Netgear Nighthawk AX12 is definitely worth consideration.

Netgear RAX120
The Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 looks fantastic.

Netgear Nighthawk RAX120: Beautiful design

The AX12 is a huge router, but that only means there’s more to love. It looks fantastic, taking the shape of a spaceship with two delta wings and a smooth aerodynamic body. Hidden inside the “wings” are the antennas, which can collapse to make the router less bulky.

You want the antennas up for better Wi-Fi coverage, but the router works fine with them folded down. And then, the package looks like a futuristic race car. So, no matter how you put it, this is a neat piece of hardware.

On the back, the RAX120 has the standard four Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN (Internet) port. The first and second LAN ports can work together in a Link Aggregation mode to deliver a 2Gbps connection — excellent for a NAS server like the Synology DS1019+. Nothing new here, though — I’ve seen many routers with this feature.

Netgear AX12 Ports
The Multi-Gig port makes the Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 truly a router of the next-generation speed.

Multi-Gig support

What makes the RAX120 stand out is the Multi-Gig LAN port, which can connect at up to 5Gbps — this port can also work in 1Gbps and 2.5Gbps modes. Thanks to this port, the router’s wired connection is no longer the bottleneck when working with Wi-Fi 6 clients.

Other than that, there are two USB 3.0 (5Gbps) ports to host storage devices. Again, considering the Multi-Gig port, the RAX120 has the potential to deliver ultra-fast network-attached storage performance when hosting a storage device.

Internal fan, non-mountable

Though not evident, the RAX120 does have an internal fan under the top cover — it’s not easy to reach. Fans are generally associated with noise and tricky maintenance in long-term use.

During my ten days of testing, the router got warm enough to trigger the fan several times. It wasn’t noisy, but I could purposely hear it from a few feet away in a quiet room.

By the way, the router is not wall-mountable. It has four rubber feet on its underside to stay securely on a surface.

Netgear AX12 Folded
The Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 works fine with its “wings” folded down.

Powerful hardware, complicated Wi-Fi specs

Not only the Netgear RAX120 router looks the part, but it also packs a big punch. The router sports a 64-bit 2.2GHz quad-core processor with 512MB DDR3 RAM and 1GB of internal flash memory. That’s a lot of raw power.

As for Wi-Fi, on the 2.4GHz band, the RAX120 features the 4×4 setup and has a top speed of 1.2Gbps. Despite the high spec, chances are you won’t get a much faster rate than a high-end Wi-Fi 5 router on this band. That’s because, for years now, the 24GHz band has been mainly used to make a router backward compatible with legacy clients.

Wi-Fi 6 StreamSpeed at 80 MHzSpeed at 160 MHzApplicable Netgear Router Models
1×1 (single stream)600 Mbps1.2 GbpsAll
2×21.2 Gbps2.4 GbpsRAX40, RAX80, 
RAX120, RAX200
4×42.4 Gbps4.8 Gbps RAX50, RAX80, 
RAX120, RAX200
8×84.8 GbpsxRAX120
Netgear Wi-Fi 6 Routers’ 5 GHz bandwidth.

On the 5GHz, things get a bit complicated. The RAX120 features the 8-streams (8×8) Wi-Fi 6 setup on paper. However, this is only true when you use the 80MHz channel width — where a single stream can deliver 600Mbps.

If you use the new 160MHz channel width — where a single stream can deliver 1.2Gbps — the RAX120 now only works in a 4×4 setup. It can only handle 160MHz in 80+80 mode). So, in terms of number, no matter how you want to define its streams, this router always has the top speed on the 5GHz band of 4.8Gbps.

In real-world usage, it gets a bit thorny when Wi-Fi 5 clients are involved.

Nonetheless, as marketing goes, combining the number of streams on both bands (12 streams), we have AX12. And combining the top speeds of both bands (6000Mbps), we have the AX6000 designation. Now you know why the router’s full name is such a mouthful.

Netgear RAX120 vs RAX80

The complicated 5 GHz Wi-Fi 6 specs above is the only significant difference between the RAX120 and RAX80. The latter has straightforward 4×4 specs, meaning it has the regular top 5 GHz bandwidth of 4800 Mbps via the support for the 160 MHz channel width.

Furthermore, the RAX80 has no multi-gig ports, a big downer for a Wi-Fi 6 router.

Netgear Nighthawk RAX120: Hardware specifications

Full NameNetgear Nighthawk AX12
12-Stream AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Router 
Wi-Fi TechnologyDual-Band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) AX6000
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs2.4GHz AX: Up to 1.2Gbps
(4×4 at 20/40MHz)
5GHz Wi-Fi Specs5GHz AX: Up to 4.8Gbps
(8×8 at 20/40/80/80+80MHz)
Backward Compatibility802.11a/b/g/n/ac 
Network ports4x LAN ports, 1x WAN
Link AggregationYes (LAN ports 1 and 2)
Multi-Gig Port1x 5Gbps LAN/WAN
USB Port2x USB 3.0 
Processing Power64-bit quad-core 2.2GHz CPU,
512MB Flash, 1GB RAM
Dimensions12.2 x 7.48 x 1.77 in 
(310 x 190 x 45 mm)
Weight3 lbs (1364g)
Netgear Nighthawk RAX120’s hardware specifications.

Wi-Fi 6: Backward compatibility vs. performance

Considering Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and older clients generally don’t work with a 160MHz channel, for compatibility, you will need to use the RAX120 — or any other dual-band Wi-Fi 6 routers, for that matter — in 80MHz, or lower, channel width.

Consequently, in this case, Wi-Fi 6 clients will connect at half the speed. More specifically, the 2×2 Intel AX200 client will get a top speed of 1.2Gbps instead of 2.4Gbps. To have a Wi-Fi 6 network that’s compatible without compromising the performance, for now, you’ll need to use a tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router and dedicate a 5GHz band solely for Wi-Fi 6 clients.

There’s also another minor compatibility issue. For example, for security, the Netgear RAX120 and most Wi-Fi 6 routers support more robust Wi-Fi password protection with WPA3 encryption. However, most existing clients can only handle WPA2 or older. That said, you’ll need to use the Wi-Fi 6 routers with WPA2 for a long until legacy clients have updated software drivers.


Netgear RAX120’s detail photos

Netgear AX12 Angle
The Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 looks good from any angle.

Netgear RAX120 Fan
Look closely, and you’ll see the Netgear RAX120’s internal fan, which only runs when the router gets hot.

Netgear RAX120 Wings
The Netgear RAX120’s view from behind with one wing folded down.

Netgear RAX120 Ports
The Netgear RAX120 comes with an interesting mix of ports.

Netgear RAX200 vs RAX120 B
The only way to tell the Netgear RAX200 (front) and the RAX120 apart is to look at their ports.

Netgear Nighthawk RAX120: A familiar, standard router

Despite the new look, the RAX120 is a conventional router in setup and ongoing management. If you have worked with a Netgear router before or any router with a web interface, for that matter, you’ll find yourself right at home with this one.

Familiar setup process

The Netgear RAX120 has the same setup process as any router with a web user interface. Here are the steps:

  1. Connect the router’s WAN port to an Internet source, such as your modem, then turn it on.
  2. Connect a computer to the router, either to one of its LAN ports with a cable or to its default Wi-Fi network printed on its underside.
  3. From the connected computer, open a browser, such as Chrome, and point it to the router’s default IP address, which is 192.168.1.1, or routerlogin.net
  4. Follow the wizard to create an admin password and the Wi-Fi network(s).

And that’s it. From then on, you can repeat step #3 each time you need to change a setting or manage your home network. Alternatively, you can also use the Netgear Nighthawk mobile app. I prefer the web interface, however.

Responsive user interface

The router’s web UI is similar to that of previous Netgear Wi-Fi 5 routers. It has two tabs, Basic and Advanced. I noted that Netgear no longer used the bloated Netgear Genie branding, which is a welcome change. The interface is now much leaner and more responsive.

The interface is relatively self-explanatory. Most people won’t need to go further than the Basic tab. It’s where you can view connected clients and set the router’s basic settings, like Wi-Fi names/passwords, guest networks, and so on. The Advanced tab is for savvy users who want to customize their home network.

5Gbps
The Netgear Nighthawk AX120’s Multi-Gig LAN port can connect at up to 5Gbps.

A standard feature set with Access Point and client modes

And the RAX120 has all the usual settings you’d want from a router. You can easily view connected clients, reserve an IP address for a particular client, block its access via MAC address, and so on. The router also supports Dynamic DNS, which is very helpful if you want to set up remote access services at home.

The router can work as a VPN server or a VPN client. VPN features are helpful for those wanting to connect securely when out and above without worrying about their privacy. The RAX120 supports OpenVPN, which is easy to set up and use.

There’s also a handy Quality of Service (QoS) engine. You can quickly prioritize connected clients or applications, though you do have to add one at a time.

Netgear RAX120 Mode
You can use the Netgear RAX120 as a router, an Access Point, or a Client.

By the way, the RAX120 can work as a router (default), an Access Point, or a (very expensive) client (Bridge Mode). To change its roles (or modes), log in to the web interface to the Advanced tab, navigate to Advanced Setup, and click on “Router / AP / Bridge Mode.”

I tried out all these roles, and they worked as intended. The RAX120 has all the features and settings for home users and some extra for advanced users. But it doesn’t have everything I’d expect from a router of its caliber.

Netgear RAX120: What you’ll miss out on

Considering the cost, I’m disappointed that RAX120 doesn’t include some valuable features available in other high-end routers, including:

No built-in cybersecurity protection: The real-time ability to protect the entire network against online threats. The omission of the online protection feature is surprising, considering Netgear has been rolling out the Armor feature for other routers, including the Orbi. It’s my educated guess that, eventually, Netgear Wi-Fi 6 routers will get Armor via firmware updates.

No online gaming support: While you can customize the RAX120’s QoS to support online gaming, the router doesn’t have any game-specific features like the Asus RT-AX88U or Netgear’s own XR500.

No mesh capability: The RAX120 is a standalone router and will remain that way. While you can use some extenders, like the EX8000, to create a pseudo mesh, Netgear doesn’t have anything close to Asus’s AiMesh or Synology Mesh. If you want a Wi-Fi 6 mesh from Netgear, you’ll need to wait for the Orbi RBK 152‘s release.

Netgear AX12 Mode Setting
The Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 has simplistic Wi-Fi settings.

Simple Wi-Fi settings, advanced network storage options

Similar to previous Netgear routers, the RAX120’s Wi-Fi settings are relatively simple. You can pick the channel for each band and set it to work in a mode of “up to” a certain Wi-Fi speed.

In other words, you can’t configure much more than that. As a result, by default, RAX120 is easy to set up but generally favors compatibility over performance.

On the other hand, when hosting a storage device, the RAX120 offers multiple options for users to access the storage space. You can share it locally, like any server, and access it without using third-party software.

If you’re willing to install Netgear’s ReadyShare applications, you’ll have the option to back up data and access files via the Internet. Moreover, there’s also a Media Server function that turns the router into a streaming server for local network streamers.

Netgear AX12 Bottom
The Netgear Nighthawk RAX120’s underside, the router is not wall-mountable.

Netgear Nighthawk RAX120: Excellent performance

I tested the RAX120 the same way I tried other Wi-Fi routers, but this time using Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 clients — namely an Intel AX200 and a Killer 1650x upgrade add-on cards. I also used the router’s 5Gbps network port to connect to my test server, which has a 10Gbps network card.

It was a bit tricky to test the RAX120. At times, I had to change its Wi-Fi settings to ensure it delivered the fastest possible Wi-Fi 6 speeds and, at others, to make it work with Wi-Fi 5 and older clients. In the end, though, I was pretty happy with the router’s performance.

Fastest Wi-Fi speeds to date, familiar range

For Wi-Fi 6 tests, at a close distance of shorter than 10 feet (3 m), the Intel AX200 clients showed that they connected at 2.4Gbps, and I had a sustained copy speed of more than 1300Mbps (1.3Gbps), noticeably faster than any Wi-Fi 5 routers.

Netgear RAX120 5GHz Performance

When I moved the clients to some 40 feet (12 m) away from the router, they now connected between 1.2Gbps and 1.7Gbps with average sustained speeds of more than 900Mbps, among the fastest.

But you don’t need Wi-Fi 6 clients to enjoy the router. When used with 4×4 Wi-Fi 5 devices, the RAX120 impressively averaged almost 950Mbps and some 820Mbps at close and long distances, respectively — better than any Wi-Fi 5 routers I’ve used.

Netgear RAX120 2.4GHz Performance

On the 2.4GHz, as expected, the RAX120 did about the same as most Wi-Fi 5 routers. I tested it with the Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 clients and some Wi-Fi 5 clients, and the scores were similar. Overall, it registered around 120Mbps and 320Mbps for long and short ranges, respectively.

The RAX120 has about the same wireless coverage as a high-end Wi-Fi 5 router. It can cover a home of some 2000 ft² (185 m²) with a relatively strong signal throughout when placed in the middle.

The router was reliable in my testing. For more than a week, there was no unexpected disconnection or other issues.

Unprecedented network storage speed

Regarding network storage speed, the Gigabit network port has generally been the bottleneck; the RAX120 bucks that trend with its Multi-Gig port.

I tested its network storage feature using a USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) My Passport SSD portable drive, and the router delivered a stellar performance. Via a 5Gbps wired connection, it registered a sustained data copy speed of more than 230 MB/s for reading and almost 190 MB/s for writing. — by far the fastest I’ve seen in a router, even faster than most dedicated NAS servers.

Netgear RAX120 NAS Performance

The router was impressive when I switched to using one of the RAX120’s regular Gigabit LAN ports. It now, impressively, delivered the copy speeds of around 112 MB/s for writing and reading — virtually the cap real-world speed of a Gigabit connection.

With this speed, the RAX120 likely has no problem serving storage space to multiple network computers. However, it’s still primarily a router. For a real network storage experience, I’d recommend a dedicated NAS server.

Netgear Nighthawk RAX120's Rating

8.1 out of 10
Netgear AX12 Front
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
7.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
9 out of 10
Value
7.5 out of 10

Pros

Powerful hardware, fast performance

Beautiful design

Multi-Gig network port (5Gbps)

Well-organized web user interface

Ultra-fast network storage performance

Cros

Expensive

No online protection, gaming, or mesh features

A bit bulky

Conclusion

With the Netgear Nighthawk AX12 12-Stream AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Router RAX120, one thing is clear: The age of Multi-Gig is here, and it’s pretty. This router is an awesome-looking piece of hardware that will take your home network up considerably. It’s pricey, but it delivers.

Remember, though, that we’re still in the early stage of Wi-Fi 6. There aren’t many clients, and none right now can fully take advantage of the RAX120.

Also, while Wi-Fi 6 supports earlier Wi-Fi standards, mixing them up will significantly slow Wi-Fi 6 devices down. That’s not to mention other compatibility issues.

For this reason, it’s not a bad idea to wait for a while, at least till most legacy devices are either updated or phased out, before getting into Wi-Fi 6. But if you can’t wait, well, there’s the RAX120 that you can count on.

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64 thoughts on “Netgear RAX120 Router Review: The Multi-Gig Age Is Here”

  1. Dong,

    I’ve just had to return this to Amazon due to random reboots. From a few web searches it seems it’s related to the fan trying to spin up and there not being enough power due to the power connector having some issues. I’m fairly disappointed because it seemed to have everything I needed. I’ve always used netgear and it’s quite powerful and speedy. Is this issue something you’ve heard of before? And can you suggest an alternative?

    Reply
  2. Is there any advantage of buying RAX120 or RAX200 over RAX80?
    Also RAX80 over RAX50? Apart from the multigigabit port?

    Reply
    • Yes, Jugi. They are different routers that cost differently for multiple reasons. Read the reviews to find out for yourself.

      Reply
      • RAX80 is RAX200 without additional 5GHz band and no 2.5Gbps port, otherwise seems to be the same. I think you didn’t recommend having 2 5GHz bands on the same router. I don’t have a lot of wifi devices, total around 6, with 3 working at the same time at max. I think that RAX80/75 should be enough, or even RAX50?

        Reply
  3. Really thanks for this useful review.
    I’d like to know your opinion about a matter.

    I’m having this RAX120 for almost a month now and I’m really disappointed about its control user interface. Both web and mobile.

    I came from using an entry level Asus router and even the most simple things which Asus user interface provides doesn’t seems to appear on Netgear NIGHTHAWK web or mobile interface.

    – Individual traffic monitoring per device
    – MAC ID filter (This can be via ‘access control’, however you need to log in to web via a desktop to allow an incoming device)
    – Mobile app takes ages to connect with router. Sometimes not at all
    – Same goes with the web interface, it reminds me of 2005 when it’s comes to loading time.
    – QOS seems very much basic.

    End of the day this router feels like router which came from 2000 decade.

    So I’m wondering why a cutting edge router like this, one of the best in game misses so much features? Is this similar with all router brands or is this just Netgear thing?

    I know when looking at the hardware, it does what it made for.
    Am I over expecting other features?

    Currently I’m planing to sell this in used market and buy a
    Asus GT-AX11000 or Asus RT-AX89X. However before that I thought if I could pick your brain on this and what do you think?

    Reply
  4. Hi,

    I have had the RAX120 for a while now but recently moved to a 3 story house with a less than ideal location for the main input so have been testing it vs. a Linksys MX4200 I picked up (wired backhaul)

    I am curious though re this comment in your review..

    ‘Considering Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and older clients generally don’t work with a 160MHz channel, for compatibility, you will need to use the RAX120 — or any other dual-band Wi-Fi 6 routers, for that matter — in 80MHz, or lower, channel width.’

    ..I currently have my RAX120 set in up to 4803 mbps (160MHz) mode and all of my older 5Ghz devices can see and connect to it just fine. I can read this as a best of both world setting i.e. WiFi 6 clients should connect at full speed whereas others connect??

    As an aside I have been quite surprised as to just how well a single Velop compares to the RAX120 in my setup so maybe the Nighthawk is overkill anyway and the Velop looks a lot neater!

    Reply
  5. The speed keeps dropping with every FW release. I used to get over 900 Mbps on a 940 Mbps internet connection. Every FW has decreased the speed and the latest release provides less than 400 Mbps. You need to take another look at this router.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the tip, LAH. Try resetting it and setting it up again. There might be a setting somewhere that causes the slow speeds.

      Reply
  6. Your site is such a find, thanks for the excellent review. I am wondering how the range compares to the AX8 (RAX80) across the board not just for 2.4ghz as mentioned above?

    Does it have an advantage range wise on 5GHZ that might give it the edge for streaming content in further flung corners of the house? I have read elsewhere that the RAX120 may even be better than the RAX200 on account of the qualcomm chipset?

    Price so similar enough now for it not to be deciding factor if there are improvements even small but of course if range is unlikely to be better no sense in throwing cash away!

    Reply
  7. Thank you for the amazing review. The RAX120 looks so powerful on paper compared to a lot of the other routers on the market. Also just noticed that it looks like the RAX200 has a gloss finish compared to the matte finish of the RAX120.

    I am struggling to keep this as my router. I been using Netgear products for over a decade and the R8500 and my RAX120 have given me hell for the past month. Constant disconnects with some devices. I tried everything I could think of and Netgear support is a joke. My last ditch attempt is to change the SSID from what my old router used to be to the default one that comes when you factory reset. So far it seems to work but I am not going to get my hopes up. I have a Velop MX5 coming as a replacement if the SSID change doesn’t work (read your review on the MX10 to get to that decision).

    Reply
  8. Thank you kindly for the comments and apologies for all the typos and errors. Just to confirm that both of my devices have Intel AX200 and Gigabit Ethernet.
    I tested file transfer speed with SSD attached to USB port via Gigabit: it maxed out port’s connection speed at 112 MB/s. I then tested via WiFi and the speed fluctuated between 6-50 MB/s. I was expecting to see at least 112 MB/s as WiFi 6 should outperform the Gigabit Ethernet connection. Am I missing something here? From the post you’ve linked I read that you test NAS performance only via highest performing Ethernet connection but not via WiFi. Should file transfer speeds over WiFi be similar to the speeds tested via iPerf so if it’s about 1000Mbps according to your review than the file transfer should be at least 100Mb/s?
    For iPerf I had a PC as a server connected via wired Gigabit to the various Ethernet connections RAX120 has got while laptop was connected via WiFi and it never went over 100 Mbps which is lower than the file transfer speeds.
    I’ve since returned the router and waiting for a replacement. I am struggling to understand how to make RAX120 work the best for WiFi 6: I only had one WiFi 6 clients connected in my tests but in real world it can be a mixture of WiFi 6 and 5 clients so it can make the router move over to 80 Mhz channel width thus lowering the speed for WiFi 6 devices? Even RAX200, according to your review, cannot make any of the 5Ghz bands exclusive for 160 Mhz channel width. Is the new Asus RT-AX89X any better in this aspect? I could connect all my WiFi 5 devices to the 2.4Ghz channel but that would be a slight downgrade to my current setup given that we’re in an apartment block.
    My main reason for getting WiFi 6 router is to have WAN that matches or outperforms wired LAN Gigabit connection for my home NAS.
    Apologies for such a long comment – I don’t expect it to turn into a consultation by any stretch but would appreciate just a couple of pointers.

    Reply
    • As it is now, 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 hardly outperforms a wired Gigabit connection, Nikita. For your need, I think you should try a tri-band router. I’d recommend the GT-AX11000 since it offers a lot of Wi-Fi customization.

      Reply
  9. First of all, thanks for such all your through reviews! I know this one is quite dated now but there haven’t been any product updates since (apart from mesh version and Asus RTAX89X which is not available yet!) so I would appreciate your input.
    File transfer speeds with the router sitting within 2m distance using couple of Intel AX200 equipped devices were fluctuating between 6-50 mbit/s (SSD connected via USB). In iperf (second laptop as a ‘server’ connected via ethernet port) it was even lower maxing out at 100mbps. Tried all sorts of bands. Connection properties showed 2.4Gbps connection speed. However at the same time it comfortably maxed out my internet connection speed of 150mbps.
    If I understood you correctly, you said in compatibility section that if router is set to 160Mhz WiFi 5 devices won’t pick it up which I found not to be the case. You’ve also said that it was tricky to test WiFi 6 as you had to adjust the settings, however at the same time that WiFi setup is simplistic in that you can only set up the band and the mode of ‘Up to’ WiFi speed. This doesn’t make it very clear.
    Could you kindly describe which settings you had to adjust to get maximum WiFi 6 speeds and whether at makes any difference for the SSD to be connected via USB or 5g port (latter I assume is possible with a PC/server in between). Many thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Nikita,

      1. For how I test routers, check out this post.
      2. Please use the correct measurement unit. I’m not sure what you meant by mbit/s and mbps. Are they MB/s or Mbps?
      3. Make sure your laptop supports Gigabit (1000 Mbps) and not Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps).
      4. Certain Wi-Fi 5 clients can also work with the 160 MHz, especially with the latest firmware/driver. Netgear routers, however, generally automatically adjust the settings to accept clients so the notion of separating the two bands in them was just by guess. I mentioned that in the review of the RAX200.

      Hope this helps.

      Reply
  10. Fantastically helpful review and site. I wish I had found this before I made a rush purchase. I just ordered an AX12 (Rax120) and was trying not to send even more money on the tri-band version. Naturally I have now learnt that it won’t reach far enough so I need to extend it…and it doesn’t support mesh…doh!

    Main use is day to day house internet with 500mb, (hopefully soon gigabit) internet. Typical mixed use (kids streaming HD, 2 workers at home on emails and video calls etc.). Have iPhone 11 – loved using wifi 6 with it. Relies on cable modem for internet. I want to double the distances the ax12 can reach, but a good part of the extended area is to cover outhouse and garden which doesn’t need same quality of service necessarily. I guess could even need third box.

    Think I made an error. I could add extender (s) or try and return / resell the ax12 and start again as multi-extenders could prove expensive and not future proofed.

    Any suggestions? Am trying to make sure I keep the house happy in lock-down 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks, Nik. Glad you’re here. Hope you and your family stay safe!

      For your case, you should consider a mesh system. I’d recommend the ZenWiFi XT8 but you can also consider other Wi-Fi 6 ones. alternatively, if you don’t want to return the RAX120 AND can run network cables, you can get an access point (not an extender) and place it far from the router. Then name its SSID and password the same as those of the RAX120. That will work.

      Reply
  11. Fantastic review! I’m late to this party but hoping for some input. I had to replace my Apple AirPort Extreme after 5 years. I ordered the RAX120 on Amazon as it was $100 less than any local stores ( I always feel like a tool doing the price match thing). Two days after I placed the order Ohio was put on the Stay Home list by the governor. As I knew my Apple unit was dying I rushed out to Microcenter and bought the RT-AX88U in case something went south with the Netgear unit’s delivery. The Asus until has been working wonderfully with 20 connected units and a computer gamer in the house. Now my Netgear unit arrives today…I have always been a fan of better. I also like to keep my routers for YEARS. The only WiFi 6 devices in the house are two iPhones but I know that will change over the next few years as it becomes standard. I want to open the Netgear and set it up and see how it compares but am wondering for $100 more than the Asus if it’s worth it. It looks like the short range is and long range on the 2.4 are definitely faster. I also have a basement I need covered with a connected washer and dryer. Hoping for your opinion on this and thank you again for such an extremely informative article!

    Seth from Ohio

    Reply
    • You’re using the better router, Seth. No need to try the Netgear. If you need to extend your coverage, get another (cheap) ASUS router and use AiMesh.

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  12. I’m stuck between this AX12 router, or the AX8 version or the ASUS AX88U? Price of the NETGEAR AX8 & ASUS are pretty even @ $290 with the AX12 being $379. Thoughts on them in terms of: (1) coverage area capability of 2.4Ghz WiFi? And (2) real use c-nnections for many WiFi devices in your home?
    Also, I can put my router on the first or second story of my home. Which is best for WiFi co stage area?

    Reply
    • Chances are all of them will have the same Wi-Fi coverage, Mickey. I haven’t tested the AX8 but it just has lower specs so fewer features and capability. The Asus will have more features but is not as stable as the Netgear. As for your home, the best place is to put the router on the ceiling on the first floor. If that’s not an option, then on the 2nd floor, as center as possible. Hope this helps.

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  13. Hi There, according to the “From the manufacturer” section at amazon there are multiple references to supporting 2gbps internet, but this article (and netgears official site also) indicates that the internet port is only 1gbps. I bought this and I was hoping my purchase would be future proof if my ISP ever offers 2gig connections but now I’m confused. Will the port aggregation slots or the multi-gig ethernet port switch modes to uplink for internet or did I just make a bad purchase? The specifications say 1/2.5/5gbps WAN or LAN specifically, so maybe the multigig port can be used for internet (which is fine for me because I don’t have NAS). But then when they say the router supports internet speeds up to 2gbps it makes me think that’s using the port aggregation instead since the advertised internet speed is exactly 2 x 1gbps.

    Reply
    • The router’s 2.5Gbps port can work as either a LAN or a WAN. However, on the modem side, there’s no 2.5Mbps WAN speed, only 2Gbps, 3Gbps or 5Gbps. By the way, I haven’t tried the Multi-Gig port as a WAN, my Internet is sub-1Gbps.

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  14. Might want to update the article, as there is now a mesh option for this router, the NETGEAR Nighthawk 8-Stream WiFi 6 Mesh Extender AX6000 (EAX80)

    Reply
    • I was aware of the EAX80 when reviewing the router, Oscar. The EAX80 is just an extender, similar to the EX8000 that I mentioned in the review. It won’t turn the RAX120 into a real mesh system.

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  15. Dong, another well written review. Thank you.
    I was able to buy this Netgear AX 6000 with the 12 channels on Amazon for $317 (don’t know why since the price is back to $399 now) so I consider myself lucky. I also got the Intel AX200 finally to work in my new workstation and here is what I am seeing. I now get a consistent 450 to 500mbps Internet downloads through my Google Fiber connection (testing through fast.com and speedtest.net) ten times each. However, the upload speeds are over 700mbps consistently. The Netgear is about 20 feet away but line of sight with only a door separating it and the workstation. Any idea why my download speeds are so much lower than my upload speeds? An ethernet connection into the Netgear with my laptop gives me 960mbps up and down speeds (fast.com mainly). I tried setting the 5GHz setting on the router to use the 160mhz band which I assume is really 80+80? Didn’t see a difference between that and the 80mhz setting.

    Reply
  16. Great read! Just came across this on a google search. I’ve read a lot on the AX12 and this is by far the best article I’ve seen. I just got the AX12 Tri Band. Dong, how did you change the settings to deliver wifi 6 performance only? I wanted to change 1 band like you recommended for 6 only.

    Reply
    • You can’t with Netgear, for now. You can only do that with Asus Wi-Fi 6 routers. Just use only the 160MHz channel width.

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  17. Thank you for the clearest information on this product. I have purchased it, but realize I misunderstood the marketing language. I have security concerns with WiFi and and also prefer wired access to my 5 computing devices and 3 streaming devices. I had planned to use MOCA networks to bring variously located wired devices to the 5 GB port, but it is unclear to me if there would be any great benefit relative to a 1 GB port. I am also very concerned about the lack of front end cyber security. Seems I will need a separate laptop serving full-time as a network monitor and to run whole network cyber software (recommendations welcome).

    Reply
  18. I had been previously looking at installing Ubiquiti Access Points, but if the Netgear will cover my house, is there any real benefit to the Ubiquiti products?

    Reply
  19. Thank you so much for your very good written articles!
    Maybe you can help me with this:
    I am doubting between Asus AX88U and this. Its a big price difference, but I like the multi GB options and the raw speed I can see in your tests. For me its important though to be able to use a 4G usb stick for 4G fallback. As far as I know the Asus supports that. I cannot find any info on the Netgear AX12 in this regard. Do you know if it will work? (was looking at Huawei E3372 for the Netherlands).
    Thank you

    Reply
    • The AX12’s USB port is only for storage, Murk. If you really need to use a 4G dongle, the Asus is the way to go.

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  20. Thank you for your review! I can now confirm from your article that RAX120 supports 160 Mhz channel width with Intel AX200, not 80+80 Mhz which is not supported by AX200.

    Reply
  21. Would you get the this Netgear ax12 or two Asus blue caves in a mesh network? Which would give the better performance overall in your opinion?

    Reply
    • They are apples and oranges, Deandre. But if you want the fastest speed possible, go with the Netgear. If you’re happy with sub Gigabit speeds and need large coverage then go with the Asus units. The Asus also has built-in network protection for free.

      Reply
  22. You’re a great word person, love reading your articles. This AX12 review is a scoop. Haven’t seen anything like it elsewhere. Some suggestions. Make it clear that the My Passport is a USB 3.0 interface device (as opposed to wired or wireless device). I had to double check the My Passport specs to understand that. I understand that the AX200 is 2×2 but what about the other clients (2×2 or 4×4)? I’m wondering about the performance of the AX4 and AX8 models? Would the AX4 perform the same on WiFi6 2×2 tests? All the models appear to use a different manufacturer for the processor so performance isn’t clear to me.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Robert. There’s a link where I mentioned the My Passport SSD which will take you to my full review of the drive itself. The Intel 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 AX200 is about the only add-on card you can get now so 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client is about the only client you can get. As far as I know, there’s no 4×4 or faster Wi-Fi 6 client yet. That said, no matter what router you use, 2×2 is currently the top Wi-Fi 6 speed. This will change.

      Reply

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