If you find Netgear’s first Nighthawk MK63 mesh Wi-Fi system a bit underwhelming, here’s some good news. The networking vendor today announced the higher-end version of the same mesh, the Netgear MK83 Nighthawk Tri-band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System.
Netgear MK83: First Nighthawk tri-band system
Tri-band is the hallmark of Netgear’s mesh approach. Its well-known Orbi family has mostly been available in different tri-band variants, like the CBK40, RBK752, or RBK852 — the RBK13 is the only dual-band Orbi set.
The MK83 is also the second system from Netgear that’s based on the Wi-Fi EasyMesh concept. Supposedly, you’ll be able to use it with hardware from other vendors that follow this mesh standard.
The souped-up version of the MK63
In many ways, it’s a big step up from the MK63 that came out almost exactly a year ago. The two are similar, both coming in a 3-pack of identical-looking hardware units, which are actually a router (model MR80) and two satellites (MS80).
Indeed, the MK83 has everything that would make the MK63 great. For one, it now has double the amount of network ports. Specifically, the router has four, and the satellite has two. As a result, you can daisy-chain the units in a wired setup without resorting to a switch.
The hardware is now tri-band, and that means you can use them in a fully wireless setup without having to worry about losing too much bandwidth due to signal loss.
On the inside, both mesh systems share the same Quad-core 1.5GHz CPU, but the MR83 has slightly more RAM and flash memory.
Netgear MK83: Hardware specifications
While much better than the MK63, the new Nighthawk MK83’s hardware isn’t all impressive.
For one, it features rather subdued Wi-Fi specs that don’t support the venerable 160MHz channel width. It also uses two different 5GHz bands. Since one of these bands is used as backhaul, the speed you get will be that of the lower band.
And like the previous model, the MK83 doesn’t feature Multi-Gig nor does it have a USB port. There’s no dual-WAN or Link Aggregation, either.
In short, this is a rather modest mesh, no matter how you look at it.
|Netgear MK83 Nighthawk |
Tri-band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System
|Mesh Set||One Router + Two Satellites|
|Hardware Model||Router: MR80|
|Wi-Fi Designation||Tri-band AX3600|
(2x 5GHz and 1x 2.4GHz)
|Dedicated Backhaul Band||5GHz|
|Dimensions (Each Unit)||5.51 x 5.51 x 3.62 in |
(14 x14 x 9.2 cm)
|Weight||Router (MR80): 1.4 lbs|
Satellite (MS80): 1.38 lbs
|5GHz-1 Wi-Fi Specs||2×2 AX: Up to 1200Mbps|
Channel Width: 20 / 40 / 80MHz
|5GHz-1 Wi-Fi Specs||4×3 AX: Up to 1800Mbps|
Channel Width: 20 / 40 / 80MHz
|2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs||2 x 2 Wi-Fi 6 up to 600Mbps|
Channel Width: 20 / 40MHz
|Wi-Fi Security||WPA3 / WPA2 / WPA|
|Mobile App||Netgear Nighthawk|
|Web User Interface||Yes (Full)|
|AP Mode||Yes (as a single unit or a mesh)|
|Gigabit Port||Router (MR80): 1x WAN, 3x LAN|
Satellite (MS80): 2x LAN
|Processing Power||Quad-Code 1.5GHz processor, |
256MB flash, 512MB RAM
Similar feature set
Despite having better hardware, which is about 25 percent larger, the Netgear MK83 shares a similar feature set as the MK63.
It comes with a full Nighthawk web interface and can also work with the Nighthawk mobile app. You can expect both a common set of home network settings and ease of use out of this mesh system.
On top of that, you can also opt for the Netgear Armor protection suite, which is available as a 90-day free trial. After that, it’ll cost some $70 a year.
Netgear says the new Netgear MK83 Nighthawk Tri-band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System is available now with the suggested price of $499.99. That’s twice the current cost of the MK63 but still a good deal if you compared it to the 2-pack Orbi Wi-Fi 6 counterpart.
I’ll likely put the new MK83 through some real-world testing at some point. For now, you can check out my take on the MK63 to have an idea. Again, this new mesh system is very similar to its older (and lesser) cousin.
Netgear Nighthawk Mesh Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 System (MK63)
- Reliable performance, excellent coverage
- First EasyMesh system
- Wired backhaul support
- Compact design, easy to use
- Modest Wi-Fi specs, no dedicated backhaul
- Limited number of ports, switch required for wired backhaul configuration
- Lacks basic Wi-Fi settings, no 160 MHz channel width
- No multi-gig port, Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation
- Finicky QoS, online protection require mobile app and not free
- Not wall-mountable