The Netgear Nighthawk X8 is the latest in the veteran company’s varied product line. This time around, the router is actually ahead of the curve, providing a quad-stream signal before any products on the market are able to even support it’s 2,166Mbps top speed. That said, it is clear that Netgear is aiming for this product to serve for years to come, a fact that might explain the nearly $400 price tag it carries as a suggested retail price.
The form factor for this router is interesting, with the top of the unit containing several ‘waves’ instead of a flat, uniform surface. This looks sort of neat visually, but is likely made is such a fashion in order to reduce the overall size of the already large unit. The X8 is just over a foot wide and around 9 inches deep, requiring a large footprint on a desk or mounted on the wall. Visually, the antennas light up at the tips with a dark blue light, matching the light up letters on the front of the unit. For the size of the router, it should look pretty, and it does.
Six LAN ports exist on the back of the unit, which is a couple more than the typical high-end router has. There are also two USB ports on the right side of the unit, hidden behind a flip-down door. The speed of items wired in directly is notably fast, while most wireless items tested with the unit saw at least some upgrade in speed. Most notable was an almost total elimination in lag when playing various Xbox One games online and a near total elimination of buffering or signal quality loss when using apps such as Netflix and Hulu. At no point in the two week test period did the X8 lose signal or experience any kind of noticed slowdown. The range proved insane, even when compared to previously reviewed routers in the Nighthawk line, when walking away from the central location. At one point in the test, the X8 was able to handle use of a Lenovo all-in-one desktop PC, two iPhone 6S smartphones, an iPad, Nintendo Wii U, Xbox One streaming Netflix and a Nintendo 3DS all on the wireless signal at the same time. It handled the load without any noticed issues.
Set up and installation was a snap. The Nighthawk X8 was up and running within just moments, with no unexpected hoops to jump through. After installation, it did seem to take a few moments for the desktop PC it was installed on to fully connect, but no wireless devices saw the same difficulty. During installation, the product will prompt you to load some software called the Genie, which is supposed to monitor your signal and keep it working properly. It proved to be little more than bloatware, using more computer resources than desirable. For this review, it was removed after just three days, yet the router’s signal has remained steady and reliable the entire time. Take the time to read each installation prompt so that you can skip downloading this pointless software.
Overall, the Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Tri-Band WiFi Router is a quality product, losing a star only due to the large price tag and large footprint. It is worth it for those who want to invest in a router that will serve their needs for some time to come, though it would be realistic to expect the price and possibly the size of the product to be smaller by the time there are quad-stream products in the hands of most consumers. Right now, most wireless products support only single or dual-stream, meaning the X8 isn’t going to necessarily be better in this area right away. For small businesses or families that require multiple devices to run at top speed at all times, however, the product is more than up to the task if you want to drop the cash. The reliable signal is also a plus, especially for small businesses.
Netgear supplied the product used for this review with the purposes of providing a review. No other compensation or promotional consideration was offered nor accepted.