The Netgear RAXE500 is a pioneer in the Wi-Fi router market, and it appears to be a wireless network powerhouse at least on paper. With no antennas to attach, it also has a good appearance and is simple to set up, at least in terms of hardware. But as testing will show, it has a lot of difficulties on a busy network. Additionally, Netgear adds a fee for continuing security support despite its extremely high cost.
But first, a little introduction to modern Wi-Fi, before we get deeply into the router’s specifications: Even though it appears that Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is still relatively new, Wi-Fi 6E is the most recent version of specifications to meet our needs for wireless data. These standards’ nomenclature can be difficult to understand, in part because Wi-Fi 6E is also referred to as 802.11ax. On the 5 GHz band, 6E has even greater theoretical speeds.
The major adjustment is a completely new frequency, 6 GHz, which should be much less congested, at least until all of your neighbours upgrade their equipment as well. However, don’t anticipate that any of your current technology will gain much from 6E. You won’t be able to benefit from these improvements until you upgrade your device to Wi-Fi 6E. For additional information on the changes between Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, see our feature.
Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 review: Design and features
The RAXE500’s distinguishing winged shape is shared by the majority of Netgear’s earlier Nighthawk routers. With a 298 x 211mm footprint and a subdued black case, it is fairly small and unobtrusive. At the back of the device are four Gigabit Ethernet connections, one 2.5Gbits/sec LAN socket, and two USB 3 ports which make it simple to connect external drives and share them over your network.
To connect wired clients together at 2.5GbE speeds as there is only one of these, you will require an external switch; however, you can combine two gigabit ports to create a second multi-gig connection. A 2Gbits/sec internet connection can be supported by combining the gigabit WAN socket with one of the LAN ports. Similar to Netgear’s prior Wi-Fi 6 routers, your network is administered from the same uninspiring web panel. To accommodate the new 6E frequencies, only a few configuration options have been added.
You can either set unique names and security settings for each of the 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz networks, or you can combine them under a single SSID and let the router assign each client to the most appropriate band. Additionally, the Nighthawk mobile app allows you to check the wireless signal strength around your home, see who is connected to your network, and turn the guest network on and off. It also supports dynamic DNS and a VPN service that you can use to access your home network from anywhere.
Even though you may manually block specific websites using the Nighthawk programme, you are unable to impose time restrictions or timetables for each device. And only a 30-day trial version of the Netgear Armor security module is offered. After that, to continue using the service for the first year and an additional £85 per year, if you want protection against intrusions, dubious websites, and suspicious network activities.
Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 review: Setup
The Nighthawk RAXE500 offers the option of utilising a linked browser or signing into Netgear’s Nighthawk app to configure it, similar to many rival products. Versions are available for iOS and Android. Both strategies include setup instructions and drawings. The first step is to download, instal, and accept the licence for the Nighthawk app using a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra phone.
To begin, I had to give the app permission to access my phone’s location. After that, I made a Netgear account that required email confirmation. I chose the type of networking equipment I have and then followed the shown directions after plugging in the router and restarting my internet modem.
We next took a photo of the router’s QR code. I verified that the router was online after it restarted and showed a slide show of the features of the Armor security programme. The system names and passwords for the combined 2.4 and 5GHz LAN as well as one for the 6GHz communications were then modified. I concluded by responding to two verification queries.
Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 review: Performance
In testing, setting up the RAXE500 was quick and simple. I downloaded the Nighthawk mobile app, chose New System Setup, and then from the list of available devices, chose Wi-Fi router. I unplugged my modem and then plugged it back in after scanning the QR code on the sticker that was sent with the router. I used the supplied LAN cable to connect the RAXE500 to the modem, turned it on, and waited for it to boot up for around 45 seconds.
It took the app another 30 seconds to recognise it, and then I was asked to join the network. I was told to generate a network name and password as well as an admin name and password after the router was detected right away. I completed the installation after responding to two security questions, giving the app a minute to customise the router and preserve my settings.
There are no comparable 6GHz throughput results since the RAXE500 is the only Wi-Fi 6E router we have tested. In addition, we were unable to enable the 6GHz band on a laptop powered by an Intel AX210 6E CPU. A Netgear representative claims that this is a Windows 10 compatibility problem rather than a router problem. In fact, connecting a Samsung S21 Ultra 5G phone that is 6E compatible to the 6GHz band was effortless.
In order to compare the RAXE500 to other Wi-Fi 6 routers we’ve tested, we conducted our customary 2.4GHz and 5GHz tests using our standard Wi-Fi 6 test laptop. In order to assess throughput across all three bands, we also performed a few throughput tests using the S21 phone. On our 2.4GHz and 5GHz performance tests, the RAXE500 delivered great speeds, as seen on the Wi-Fi 6 throughput chart.
The Linksys MR9600 AX6000 (111Mbsp), the TP-Link Archer AX11000 (133Mbps), and the Netgear RAX120 were all outperformed by its 149Mbps 2.4GHz speed (125Mbps). Its 30-foot test speed of 60Mbps placed it 22Mbps ahead of the Linksys MR9600 AX6000 and directly behind the TP-Link Archer AX11000 (67Mbps) and Netgear RAX120 (63Mbps) (38Mbps).
Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 review: Price and availability
The Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 is one of just a few Wi-Fi 6e products that are currently being sold, and it is available from numerous large electronics retailers. At $599, it costs over three times as much as certain high-performance Wi-Fi 6 routers and nearly $200 more than the visually comparable Netgear Nighthawk RAX80 with Wi-Fi 6. you can buy this product from amazon.
The Wi-Fi 6e era is here. The first of a predicted flood of tri-band Wi-Fi 6e routers that maximise Wi-Fi performance is the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500. The RAXE500’s capacity to transport nearly 2.5Gbps at close range makes the wait worthwhile as it completely destroys the competition. It not only outperforms Wi-Fi 6 routers but also holds the record for the fastest router in the universe, setting a new benchmark for high-performance Wi-Fi. More importantly, the RAXE500 is the best router for real-world application because in addition to security software, it sends a powerful signal through walls and floors to assist fill an older home with numerous cracks and crevices.
You aren’t limited to utilising a linked browser or an app to instal and setup the RAXE500; Netgear gives you a choice. From RTS Threshold to the Wi-Fi channels it uses, it provides one of the broadest ranges of customization choices so that the RAXE500 can be configured how you want it to.
The Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 costs twice as much as inferior routers like the TP-Link Archer AX6000 or the Linskys Max Stream MR9600, but it is worthwhile because it transmits more data. In other words, the RAXE500 sets the performance bar for competing devices to aim to reach in addition to bringing Wi-Fi up to speed. Yes, it’s pricey, but if you want to be the first on your block to take advantage of Wi-Fi 6e’s performance potential, this is the router for you.