UPDATE: Pricing and availability information added.
Netgear has released the Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Smart Wi-Fi Router, its most powerful router to date and the fourth product in the company's series of Nighthawk routers. According to Netgear, this new router is its high-end solution to problems caused by the increasing number of devices popping up in today's home networks. The Nighthawk X8 comes with a set of features designed to give tech enthusiasts increased range and performance.
The Nighthawk X8 is a tri-band AC5300 wireless router that can deliver network speeds of up to 1000 Mbps for the 2.4 GHz band, and 2166 Mbps for its two 5 GHz bands.
For processing, the router uses Broadcom's 40 nm-based BCM4709 communications processor with a 1.4 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core at the heart of its microstructure, and a BCM4366 SoC that gives the router its 802.11ac tri-band support.
Connectivity-wise, the Nighthawk X8 includes one WAN/Internet port and six gigabit Ethernet ports on the back of the router, eight antennas (four internal and four external), and two USB ports (3.0 and 2.0).
The Nighthawk X8 is also capable of connecting to NAS devices that support dual port aggregation. By using two ports on the router and on the NAS, a consumer can get better throughput in order to watch stored content, such as 4K video, sitting on the connected storage device.
The Nighthawk X8 is also MU-MIMO capable. This means that the router has the physical architecture to support the Wireless AC Wave 2 technology, but MU-MIMO support won't be available until later this year when Netgear enables it as part of a future firmware update. Once updated, the router can reap from the benefits of MU-MIMO and increase the number of clients that simultaneously connect to it.
With the Nighthawk X8, Netgear introduced its Active Antenna technology into the higher-end router scene. According to Netgear, the new antenna technology changes the way that external antennas are powered by the router. By bypassing the router's PCB, each antenna will benefit from better noise cancelling, reduced interference, and better signal direction, but at the same time, it won't pull additional power draw from the power source. This new antenna tech may help in performance, but it may also hurt a little when it comes to cost. Netgear explained that it's reserving Active Antenna for its high-end wireless products, as the technology's inclusion is a significant contribution to this device's, and upcoming products', final price.
Smart Connect is a feature that lets the router intelligently assign wireless devices to an appropriate Wi-Fi band. By knowing to put older devices on the slower band, the Nighthawk X8 can keep slower devices off of the faster networks, thus letting fast devices work faster.
Two additional features that are highlighted on the Nighthawk X8 are load balancing and Dynamic QoS. The load balancing feature is tied to the router's two 5 GHz bands and lets wireless users connect to the 5 GHz band with the best availability. Dynamic QoS allows a user to allocate bandwidth to specific applications and helps shape network traffic to wireless devices.
When asked about open source support, Netgear stated it will have the first release of the open source firmware ready and available for the Nighthawk X8 at myopenrouter.com, the company's open source community website.
Other Nighthawk X8 features include remote management and access via Netgear’s genie app, enhanced parental control, and ReadyCloud which allows the user to attach USB storage to the Nighthawk X8 and access it from most anywhere through a web enabled device.
The Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Smart WiFi Router is available now and can be purchased online and in stores for an MSRP of $399.99 US.