Game on! Following Asus with its GT-AXE11000, Netgear announced today at CES 2021 the first Wi-Fi 6E router of its own, the Nighthawk RAXE500 Tri-band Wi-Fi router. If the name rings a bell, that’s because this new router is more than likely based on Netgear’s high-end traditional tri-band RAX200 unit. The two are very similar.
(Again) this is a different type of tri-band
As I detailed in this post, the RAXE500 is a new type of tri-band. The way Wi-Fi 6E goes, equipment needs to include the existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, plus the new 6GHz band, to be fully compatible with existing and new clients.
That said, the RAXE500 is very much the RAX200 with a 6GHz band in the place of one of its two 5GHz ones. It’s just like the Aus GT-AXE11000 to the GT-AX11000, if not precisely the same case.
The gist is that while it’s great to have a Wi-Fi 6E broadcaster, you need to have compatible clients to enjoy the benefits. Right now, there’s none on the receivers’ end unless you’re willing to put in some work and upgrade your computer.
In the meantime, if you have a ton of 5GHz clients, a Wi-Fi 6E router won’t help. At all.
Rumor has that, though, you will find devices (laptops, phones, etc.) with built-in support for Wi-Fi 6E by mid-2021.
Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500: Hardware specifications
The details of the RAXE500 are still sketchy. But following is what Netgear is willing to unveil. For the most part, things are the same as that of the RAX200.
The new RAXE500 router is a 4×4 router. It has four streams across the board in all three bands (2.4Ghz, 5GHz, and 6GHz). Combined all together, you’ll get the total bandwidth of 11000Mbps, which is that of the RAX200 (2.4GHz + 5GHz + 5GHz).
The new router comes with four Gigabit LAN ports, one Gigabit WAN port, and one 2.5Gbps LAN/WAN port. A 1.8GHz quad-core processor powers this router. If that sounds familiar, that’s because the RAX200 has the same specs.
However, what’s most significant is the fact the new router now comes with 7 160MHz channels width on the 6GHz band and another two on the 5GHz band. The former is not part of the problematic DFS spectrum, allowing supported clients to connect at their top speeds with zero interrupting.
And finally, like most other Nighthawk Wi-Fi 6 routers, the RAXE500 comes with Netgear Armor protection (subscription required). You also have the option to have its firmware updated automatically.
Nighthawk RAXE500: Stock detail photos
Here are a few photos of the new router provided by Netgear. Keep in mind that I’m working on a review of this unit and will replace these with my own in due time.
At the very least, you’ll notice how the design of the RAXE500 is basically that of the RAX200, which is quite cool. The new router comes with the futuristic look of a spaceship having the antennas dubbed as wings that can be folded on its top.
Functionality aside, it sure is going to be a great conversation starter.
Pricing and availability
So when can you start bragging about (having) it? According to Netgear, the Nighthawk RAXE500 Tri-band Wi-Fi router is shipping in the first quarter of 2021.
It’s not cheap, though, with the suggested retail price of $600. That’s some $50 more expensive than the Asus counterpart. But high pricing has been how Netgear rolls with its home Wi-Fi equipment.
Check back (relatively) soon for the RAXE500’s full review.