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Netgear RAXE300 Review (vs RAXE500): A Lesser yet Better Wi-Fi 6E Alternative

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If you’re looking for a Netgear Wi-Fi 6E router and feel the RAXE500 is not worth the cost — and you’re probably right — the Nighthawk RAXE300 8-Stream AXE7800 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6E router is welcome news.

Wi-Fi 6E: The pros, cons, and its novelty

As the name suggests, specs-wise, the RAXE300 is a lesser version of the RAXE500 with a total bandwidth of 7800Mbps compared to the 11000Mbps. In return, it costs $200 less.

In reality, in my opinion, the RAXE300 is a much better router in terms of hardware design — despite the similar look — and performance. But at the core, it has a lot in common with its older cousin.

This brief review, written mainly as a RAXE300 vs RAXE500 matchup, will focus on the differences between the two. Before continuing, you might want to check out my in-depth review of the RAXE500. But the RAXE300 is a better alternative to the previous model to cut to the chase.

Dong’s note: I first published this post on January 3, 2022, as a news piece when Netgear first announced the router and updated it on July 12, 2022, as a review after thorough hands-on testing. The router became available for purchase on July 1.

Netgear RAXE300 Nighthawk Wi Fi 6E router 1 6
The Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 AXE7800 Wi-Fi 6E is a massive router with a “spaceship” design like the RAXE500 model.

Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 vs RAXE500: Half of the 6GHz goodness, but (almost) double the value

As part of the Nighthawk family, the Netgear RAXE300 and RAXE500 have a lot in common. If you have used a Netgear router or any router with a web user interface, you’ll be able to work with either without issues.

Netgear RAXE300 Wi Fi QoSNetgear RAXE300 Wi Fi Settings
The Netgear RAXE300 has a generic QoS feature (left) and limited Wi-Fi settings where you can only pick a band to perform at a certain speed grade.

Let’s go quickly over their similarities.

Nighthawk RAXE300 vs RAXE500: Similarities

Both are massive Wi-Fi broadcasters with a cool-looking futuristic design with two large collapsible wings that house the antennas. On the inside, they are both Wi-Fi 6E routers, among a few from Netgear that support this new standard.

Since early 2021, disappointingly, Netgear has been removing features from the web interface to coerce users into the mobile app. Still, you can do a lot with these two in building a local network. Here are some bullet points of what you’ll find in both routers

  • Standard setup process: You can set up the router the way you do any other with a standard web interface by visiting its default IP, which is 192.168.1.1, from a connected computer, and the rest is self-explanatory. (Alternatively, you can also use the mobile app for this.)
  • Common network settings: There’s a standard set of network settings and features, including DHCP, Dynamic DNS, port forwarding, VPN, and so on.
  • Limited Wi-Fi settings: You can only set each band to work at “up to” a specific speed grade, which is somewhat redundant since there’s no reason why you don’t want to pick the highest number. And in any case, the router would still pick compatibility over Wi-Fi performance.
  • Generic QoS: There’s a QoS feature that you can turn on or off. Once turned on, it works based on a database. There’s no way to know what it does and how well.
  • ReadyShare-ready: You can use the router’s USB port to host a storage device. In this case, there are different ways to share the storage across the local network or the Internet. Or you can turn the router into a DLNA Media Server for local streamers.
  • Minimal Multi-Gig support: The router has just a single 2.5Gbps port that can work as a LAN (default) or a WAN (*). Consequently, there’s no way to get an actual Multi-Gig connection speed out of the router. But you can use this post to host a fast NAS server for a super-fast Internet connection to divide the bandwidth between connected clients.
  • Nighthawk mobile app: Apart from the web interface, you can opt for the Netgear Nighthawk mobile app, which is convenient to use but will require a login account β€” it can be a privacy concern.
  • Add-on subscriptions: There’s no built-in online protection or Parental Controls, but mobile app users can opt for Netgear Armor and other add-ons via yearly subscriptions.

(*) The router has a 1Gbps default WAN port. When the 2.5Gbps port is used as the WAN port — you can switch that via the router’s web user interface — the default WAN port will work as a LAN port.

Netgear RAXE300 Advanced SettingsNetgear RAXE300 Security Settings
Netgear RAXE300’s advanced security features: The router no longer has Remote Management among its Advanced features and while Parental Controls require the mobile app, its Security features can handle some effective web-filtering.

And that brings us to the differences between these two. But first, let’s check out their hardware specs.

Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 vs RAXE500: Hardware specifications

Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300
8-Stream AXE7800
Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6E Router
Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500
12-Stream AXE11000
Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6E Router
Model RAXE300 RAXE500
Wi-Fi TechnologyTri-Band AXE7800 Tri-Band AXE11000
First Band2.4GHz 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 
Up to 574Mbps
(20/40MHz)
2.4GHz 4×4 Wi-Fi 6
Up to 1148Mbps
(20/40MHz)
Second Band5GHz 4×4 Wi-Fi 6
Up to 4804Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
5GHz 4×4 Wi-Fi 6
Up to 4804Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
Third Band6GHz 2×2 Wi-Fi 6E
Up to 2402Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
6GHz 4×4 Wi-Fi 6E
Up to 4804Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
Backward Compatibility802.11a/b/g/n/ac802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Wi-Fi 6E 
(6GHz) Support
YesYes
AP ModeYesYes
Mesh-readyNoNo
Number of 160MHz 
Channels
7x on one 6GHz band
2x on one 5GHz band
7x on one 6GHz band
2x on one 5GHz band
Gigabit Network Port4x LAN, 1x WAN/WAN4x LAN, 1x WAN/LAN
Multi-Gig Network Port1x 2.5Gbps LAN/WAN1x 2.5Gbps LAN/WAN
LAN Link Aggregation Yes 
(LAN3 and LAN4)
Yes 
(LAN3 and LAN4)
WAN Link AggregationNoYes (WAN + LAN1)
Dual-WANNoYes (WAN+LAN1/2.5Gbps)
USB1x USB 3.0
(USB-C)
2x USB 3.0
(USB-A)
Mobile App Netgear Nighthawk Netgear Nighthawk
Processing Power1.7GHz quad-core CPU, 
256MB Flash, 512MB RAM
1.8GHz 64-bit CPU
512MB Flash, 1GB RAM
Dimensions 11.86 x 8.16 x 3.23 in
(30.13 x 20.79 x 8.2 cm)
11.7 x 8.3 x 3.07 in
(29.8 x 21.1 x 7.8 cm)
Weight2.23 lb (1.01kg)3.2 lb (1.45 kg)
Firmware Version
(at review)
1.0.4.52_11.0.2.56_2.0.34
Power Input100-120V100-240V
Power Consumption
(per 24 hours)
β‰ˆ 200WhNot tested
Release DateJanuary 2022January 2021
Price
(at launch)
$399.99 $599.99
Netgear Wi-Fi 6E routers’ hardware specifications: RAXE300 vs RAXE500

Nighthawk RAXE300 vs RAXE500: The differences

The most significant difference between the RAXE300 vs the RAXE500 is the fact the new router features 2×2 hardware specs on the latest 6GHz band and therefore has only half the capacity — 2400Mbps (2.4Gbps) instead of 4800Mbps (4.8Gbps).

Netgear RAXE300 vs RAXE500
Netgear RAXE300 vs RAXE500: The former (bottom) is slightly larger than the latter, with bigger ventilation and without an internal fan. Note the Wi-Fi on/off and WPS buttons on the RAXE300’s front.

However, in real-world usage, we only have 2×2 clients, such as the Intel AX210 chip, so you might not see huge differences since the client can only connect at 2.4Gbps. But in real-world testing, this spec put the new router at some disadvantages — more in the performance section below.

Other than that, here are a few noticeable differences between these two:

  • Fanless vs fan: The RAXE300, with lesser hardware specs, is slightly larger yet lighter than its older cousin. That’s because it now has a more airy chassis with better ventilation. With that, Netgear manages to do away with the internal fan, which is always good.
  • The new Wi-Fi on/off and WPS hardware buttons: The RAXE300 comes with two hardware buttons on its front. One is a Wi-Fi on/off switch, and the other is for WPS. Both are toggle buttons and are not a good idea since you accidentally press on them. While you need to hold the Wi-Fi button for two seconds to turn the router’s wireless bands on or off, it’s very easy to turn off Wi-Fi by accident in my trial.
  • USB-C vs USB-A: The RAXE300 comes with a single USB 3.0 port using the now-standard USB-C form. The RAX500, on the other hand, has two USB 3.0 ports using the old USB-A.
  • Remote Management: Since late 2020, Netgear has been quietly removing Remote Management (and some other features), even retrospectively, from its routers to force users into the mobile app. (The RAXE500 originally came with this feature, and if you’ve been using it, you’ll still have it.) The RAXE300, on the other hand, is the first Nighthawk router I know that comes without this feature, and you can never manage it remotely via Dynamic DNS.
  • Power adapter: The RAXE300 — the US model I have — uses a 100-120V (instead of a 100-240V) power adapter. This means you won’t be able to plug it in everywhere in the world. While this is unusual, it’s not a huge deal since generally, you should only use Wi-Fi broadcasters made for a specific region anyway.

Netgear quietly kills Remote Management in favor of the mobile app

Netgear RAXE300 vs RAXE500 Power Adapters
Netgear RAXE300 vs RAXE500: The power adapter of the former (left) can only handle up to 120V as opposed to 240V of the latter.

Netgear RAXE300 (vs RAXE500): Detail photos

Netgear RAXE300 Nighthawk Wi Fi 6E router
Out of the box, the Netgear RAXE300 Nighthawk Wi-Fi 6E router includes a standard power adapter and a CAT5E cable.

Netgear RAXE300 Nighthawk Wi Fi 6E router 1 7
The Netgear RAXE300 comes with two antenna wings that can collapse on its top.

Netgear RAXE300 Nighthawk Wi Fi 6E router 1 8
The Netgear RAXE300 is large, with noticeably big ventilation holes. It has no internal fan.

On the back, the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 comes with six network ports (one is 2.5Gbps) and a USB-C (USB 3.0).

Netgear RAXE300 vs RAXE500 1 4
The Netgear RAXE300 is similar but larger than the RAXE500

Netgear RAXE300 vs RAXE500 1 2
The Netgear RAXE300 now use a USB-C port instead of two USB-A port in the case of the RAXE500.

Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 Nighthawk Wi Fi 6E router Underside
Here’s the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300’s underside. Note how it’s wall mount-ready.

Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300: Mostly excellent performance

Unlike the RAXE500, one of the first Wi-Fi 6E routers, the RAXE300 is the 10th router of the new standard I’ve tested. That said, it no longer enjoys the “wow” factor.

Still, the route did very well in my week-long testing. Despite the lesser hardware specs, it felt like it was a better performance than its predecessor. Note though that I tested it with the latest firmware which likely included improvements likely weren’t available to the RAXE500 when I reviewed it.

Fast Wi-Fi performance, excellent range, and reliability

The Nighthawk RAXE300’s Wi-Fi throughputs were among the fastest I’ve seen, especially on the 5GHz, where it has top specs.

Netgear RAXE300 Wi Fi Performance
Netgear RAXE300’s Wi-Fi Performance
5GHz AC: Via a 4×4 client at the close range and a 3×3 client at the long range.

The router did well on the 6GHz band, too, though, as expected, it was noticeably slower than higher-tier peers.

The Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 had an excellent range during my trial. It’s always hard to gauge this, but its coverage proved to be as good as any high-end router. If you have a home of some 2000 ft2 (186 m2), it can reach every corner when placed in the middle.

It’s important to note that this is the router’s collective range. Its 6GHz has the same range as any other Wi-Fi 6E router: short. Don’t expect to get a meaningful 6GHz connection out of it from farther than 60 feet away within a line of sight. If there’s a wall, this range will be even much shorter.

The router passed my 3-day stress test with no issue. We experienced no disconnection from it.

Netgear RAXE300 Internet Speed Test
Here’s the Netgear RAXE300’s typical Internet speed to a 2×2 5GHz Wi-Fi 6 client within 40 feet (12m) distance while hosting 10Gbps broadband via its 2.5Gbps port.

In terms of Internet speed via Wi-Fi, I generally could get around 1.2Gbps from the router when it hosted a 10Gbps Fiber-optic line using its 2.5Gbps port.

So overall, considering the cost, the RAXE300 was impressive in Wi-Fi performance compared to the more expensive RAXE500. It’s a much better deal on this front.

USB 2.0-like NAS performance (when hosting a portable SSD)

The new router proved to be clearly behind the older model in its network-attached storage performance when hosting a storage device via its USB-C port.

I tried it with several external drives (from this best portable SSDs list) and generally didn’t experience USB 3.0 speeds. It stuck at the max sustained rates of USB 2.0.

Netgear RAXE300 NAS Performance
The Netgear RAXE300’s NAS performance (when hosting a portable SSD) is mediocre at best.

And that was the case whether I used a 1Gbps or 2.5Gbs wired connection for the testing. Sometimes, the router did peak at USB 3.0-like speeds, but its performance fluctuated so much during my standard test, which involves a large copy job, that in the end, the number ended up terrible.

Hopefully, a new firmware update will improve this but, for now, while using the RAXE300 for light network storage needs is OK, a real NAS server is in order if you want more.

Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300's Rating

7.8 out of 10
Netgear RAXE300 Nighthawk Wi Fi 6E router 1 5
Performance
8/10
Features
7/10
Ease of Use
8/10
Value
8/10

Pros

Wi-Fi 6E-ready with excellent performance

Flexible 2.5Gbps LAN/WAN port, USB-C

Robust web interface, helpful (optional) mobile app

Cool fanless, wall-mountable design

Cons

Middling 6GHz specs, no standard Remote Management via Dynamic DNS

No 10Gbps port, only one 2.5Gbps port; not-well-thought-out Wi-Fi on/off button

Limited Wi-Fi settings and online protection/Parental Controls require a mobile app and subscription

Mediocre NAS performance when hosting a portable SSD; 100-120V power adapter

Conclusion

The Nighthawk RAXE300 is a sensible Tri-band Wi-Fi 6E router from Netgear.

Considering the neutered firmware that no longer has Remote Management, I’d unlikely ever use it for myself. But overall this new outer is a much better deal compared to the RAXE500 which costs 50 percent more.

That said, if you want to remain within Netgear’s ecosystem, it’s safe to get the Nighthawk RAXE300 today. For possibly even better deals that might fit your needs better, check out other Wi-Fi 6E options.

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4 thoughts on “Netgear RAXE300 Review (vs RAXE500): A Lesser yet Better Wi-Fi 6E Alternative”

  1. Hello Dong,

    Nice write up. I have a dilemma. I only have an 800 ft apartment. Like a square area with 2 bedrooms on one side and kitchen and living room on the other side with no obstructing walls between them. My router (Netgear RAX70) is in the middle of my living room. I have no problems with wifi, except for the backyard outside my kitchen window.

    I plan to run a cat 6a cable from my router to the kitchen window so I can get back yard coverage. I’ve already tested moving the router to the kitchen Window and it gives me great coverage in the back yard. The inwall run will be around 35-40 ft of cat 6a cable.

    From reading your post I’ve come to 2 ideas.

    1) By this Router (Netgear RAX 300), put it in the central living room location and move my RAX 70 to the kitchen window as an wifi acess point using wired backhaul. Do I need to turn off the RAX 300 wifi so they don’t overlap? I read from one of your post that I should be able use the same sid for both router (RAX 300) and wifi access point (RAX 70). It would behave like a mesh system?

    2) Get 2 mesh router&wifi access point and use the wire backhaul. Do I need to turn off the main routers wifi?

    Regards,

    Peter

    Reply
  2. I’m I the only one tired of high end routers only having 4 ports on the back? With all the Dongles & Hubs modern routers should have at least 8 ports

    Reply

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