Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

Netgear MK83 Nighthawk Wi-Fi EasyMesh System Gets Tri-band, More Ports

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.

However, the new MK83 is the first in tri-band set in the Nighthawk line, which is mostly available as a standalone router — things like the RAX120 or RAX200.

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.

Netgear MK80 Front
The front of the Netgear Nighthawk MK80 Router.

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.

Netgear Nighthawk MK83
The front and back of the Netgear Nighthawk MK83 hardware units.

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 SetOne Router + Two Satellites
Hardware ModelRouter: MR80
Satellite: MS80
Wi-Fi DesignationTri-band AX3600
(2x 5GHz and 1x 2.4GHz)
Dedicated Backhaul Band5GHz
Wired BackhaulYes
Dimensions (Each Unit)5.51 x 5.51 x 3.62 in
(14 x14 x 9.2 cm)
WeightRouter (MR80): 1.4 lbs
Satellite (MS80): 1.38 lbs
5GHz-1 Wi-Fi Specs2×2 AX: Up to 1200Mbps
Channel Width: 20 / 40 / 80MHz
5GHz-1 Wi-Fi Specs4×3 AX: Up to 1800Mbps
Channel Width: 20 / 40 / 80MHz
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs2 x 2 Wi-Fi 6 up to 600Mbps
Channel Width: 20 / 40MHz
Wi-Fi SecurityWPA3 / WPA2 / WPA 
Backward Compatibility802.11b/a/g/n/ac
Mobile AppNetgear Nighthawk
Web User InterfaceYes (Full)
AP ModeYes (as a single unit or a mesh)
USB PortNone
Gigabit PortRouter (MR80): 1x WAN, 3x LAN
Satellite (MS80): 2x LAN
Link AggregationNo
Dual-WANNo
Processing PowerQuad-Code 1.5GHz processor, 
256MB flash, 512MB RAM
Warranty1-Year
Price$499 (3-pack)
Netgear Nighthawk MK83’s hardware specifications.

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.

MK83 Home Office Environment
The Netgear MK83 Nighthawk Tri-band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System comes in a 3-pack set.

Availability

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)

8

Performance

8.5/10

Features

7.0/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Reliable performance, excellent coverage
  • Affordable
  • First EasyMesh system
  • Wired backhaul support
  • Compact design, easy to use

Cons

  • 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
READ  Netgear MK63 Nighthawk Mesh Review: A Modest but Reliable Performer

8 thoughts on “Netgear MK83 Nighthawk Wi-Fi EasyMesh System Gets Tri-band, More Ports”

  1. Howdy!
    So how do you think this device compares to the Orbi RBK753? Ports are the same. Wi-Fi specs are similar (Orbi has slightly faster backhaul). Do their software features tend to differ? (I presume the MK83 features will be identical to the MK63.) I know it is hard to describe every feature in your reviews, so if you can give a feeling that they are really similar or one has more features than the other. I am just trying to decide if it makes sense to pick up the Orbi for $430 or to wait on this for $450. I prefer this from an aesthetic standpoint, but if the Orbi has features that I might use, then I would go for it instead.
    Thanks,
    Josh

    Reply
      • Thanks for the reply.
        I went ahead with the Orbi RBK753S to replace my XT8. I reviewed the Orbi settings vs my parent’s MK63 and the only thing it was missing was QoS. The Orbi is going back to Costco for sure though. My cell phone (Galaxy S21) keeps disconnecting from it. That is just an automatic return for me. No issues with any other items though.
        I am back to the XT8 (poor wired performance to the web, annoying to try and setup mesh, and my thermostat can’t see it since the latest fw update). I am frustrated with this whole thing. I can deal with the poor wired performance on the XT8 as I intend to add a RT-AX86U eventually as the main router (hopefully it can handle my internet speed). It is just frustrating that neither of them just functioned well out of the box.

        Reply
          • Yep, that is definitely the way I wanted to go. Your articles are very helpful. I do like a lot of the the extras that Asus includes. Makes me feel like I can do things.
            The problem is that I currently don’t have a wired network. I intend to do some remodeling in the next year, but until then I wanted to take the easy route with the dedicated wireless backhaul (I would have bought XD4 instead). The intention with the RT-AX86U was for after I get the wired in place. If I want fix the performance issue, I might get one and use MoCA adapters to one of the XT8s for the time being.
            For reference the Netgear had no problem giving me 900/900 to my PC wired into the router. The Asus gives me 600/350. I was able to get it to go up to around 800 by changing the MTU on my computer, but I didn’t want to run that way for compatibility reasons. So much for the 2.5Gbps WAN port (I am only using 1Gbps, but it is not what is holding me back). Hopefully, the RT-AX86U has the ability to handle the faster speeds.
            Thanks again,
            Josh

  2. Hey Dong!

    Do you know what tri-band AX routers exist where the faster band CANNOT be used by normal wireless clients (ie. dedicated backhaul), versus those that do? Are there any hacks/alternate firmware/settings to change this on those that normally CANNOT?

    My Current List (03/17/2020):
    – Amazon Eero Pro 6
    – Arris SURFboard mAX (W21) (W121)
    – Arris SURFboard mAX Plus (W30) (W130)
    – Arris SURFboard mAX Pro (W31) (W133)
    – ASUS RT-AX92U
    – ASUS RT-AX95Q / RT-AX6600 / ZenWiFi AX (XT8)
    – ASUS RT-AX95U
    – ASUS GT-AX11000
    – ASUS GT-AXE11000
    – D-Link DIR-X9000 (unreleased)
    – Linksys Velop MX4000 (MX8000)
    – Linksys Velop MX5300 / MX5 (MX10600)
    – MIFON X1 (XR2142T)
    – Netgear Nighthawk MR80 (MK83)
    – Netgear Nighthawk RAX70
    – Netgear Nighthawk RAX78
    – Netgear Nighthawk RAX200
    – Netgear Orbi Pro SXK80
    – Netgear Orbi RBR750 (RBK752/3/3S/4)
    – Netgear Orbi RBR850 (RBK852)
    – TP-Link Archer AX3200
    – TP-Link Archer AX90 (AX6600)
    – TP-Link Archer AX11000
    – TP-Link Deco X5700
    – TP-Link Deco X90
    – Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien
    – Verizon G3100

    Reply

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