We were impressed with Netgear’s WiFi 6E Nighthawk RAXE500 router, but it’s also $600 and is meant for larger houses. Now Netgear has a cheaper option, the $400 Nighthawk RAXE300, which is designed for smaller homes that still need ultra-fast (and futureproofed) wifi.
Like the RAXE500, the Nighthawk RAXE300 is a tri-band WiFi 6E router. It uses the standard 2.4GHz and 5GHz band as well as the newer 6GHz one (which is what makes WiFi 6E the next generation of wi-fi).
Traditionally, a tri-band router features two 5GHz channels and a 2.4GHz channel. The Nighthawk RAXE300’s advantage is that it eschews that second channel for the next-gen 6GHz band, which offers lower latency. Netgear says the RAXE300 offers a combined wi-fi speed of up to 7.8 Gbps in homes up to 2,500 square feet.
Earlier generations of the Nighthawk routers had adjustable antennas you could pivot depending on your home layout. But in its latest Nighthawk models, Netgear positioned the antennas in a way that’s optimized specifically for home use. The consolidation also helps eliminate the Nighthawk lineup’s previous spider-like aesthetic.
The RAXE300 supports up to eight wi-fi streams at a time—two streams of 6GHz, four streams of 5GHz, and two streams of 2.4GHz. Four Ethernet ports are available on the back of the router for tethering consoles and computers, plus a 2.5Gbps WAN port and a USB-C plug for connecting something like an external hard drive.
The RAXE300 is not cheap for a wi-fi router, because being on the cutting edge just costs a lot, but it is at least one of the more affordable Wi-Fi 6E options on the market—for now.
As part of its CES announcements, Netgear is introducing a new service inspired by its Nighthawk routers, but for its lineup of mesh wifi Orbi routers. The service is called Netgear Game Booster, and the app helps the routers prioritize network performance for playing—what else?—video games.
Nighthawk Pro Gaming routers have long had gaming-first features built into them to help both pro-level and novice gamers get the most out of their mediocre internet connections. But as more households adopt mesh wifi to help get faster wifi in more parts of their homes, Netgear is bringing some of those gaming features to its mesh routers.
Since ping is everything, Netgear’s Game Booster lets you peek at a Ping Heatmap to see which global servers have the current best rate for logging on. There’s also a Network Priority feature, which gives the console or PC latched on to those servers more priority over other online devices. And for those looking for an extra bit of protection, Game Booster includes a router-level ad blocker, which removes ads and limits tracking across websites and allows the curation of a universal blocklist.
Game Booster launches in the first quarter of 2022 and will be accessible from within the Orbi app with an active membership, which costs $50 a year after a 30-day free trial. The Orbi tri-band Wi-Fi 6 mesh routers series 750 and 850 will be the first to support Game Booster, along with the quad-band Wi-Fi 6e routers in series 960.