Review: NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 Smart Router
Initially, I didn’t think I needed to replace my router. I’ve been using an Apple Airport Extreme router for years. The Apple router worked pretty fine for me and I thought it was the top of the line in routers… I say “was” because the Nighthawk X8 showed me that it wasn’t. Before installation of the Nighthawk X8 I wondered if I needed a new router, then after installation I wondered how could I have gone so long without this new router. Let’s do a quick rundown of what makes this router the new standard, I’ve been using it for a few weeks and I am legitimately impressed.
Here are some of the key features (as listed on NETGEAR’s Nighthawk X8 product page):
- Smart Connect intelligently selects the fastest WiFi band for every device
- Load Balancing distributes WiFi devices ensuring usage of both 5GHz WiFi bands
- MU-MIMO capable—simultaneous streaming of data for multiple devices
- Eight (8) high performance antennas with high-powered amplifiers
- Four (4) external Active Antennas enhance weak signals and reduce interference for best WiFi performance (patent pending)
- Dynamic QoS prioritizes network traffic by application & device
- ReadyCLOUD® USB Access—Personal & secure cloud access to USB storage anytime, anywhere
- ReadySHARE® Vault—PC software for automatic backup to USB hard drive connected to the router
- DLNA® server to find & play your media on TVs & game consoles
- VPN support—secure remote access to your home network & Internet
- Enhanced Parental Controls to manage web filtering & accessibility by profiles or devices
- NETGEAR® genie® home network manager includes remote access to manage your network away from home
There’s a lot of features here and honestly you probably won’t use them all but it is much better to have more than you could use than not enough to use.
The setup process was exceptionally easy. Literally, all you have to do is connect the wires and power it on. With all that it can do, I expected the process to be full of tech configurations. It’s literally a 2-step process to get started. You connect the router and boot up the app. It comes pre-configured with a network name and password. Netgear recommends that you keep the network name and password for the best user experience. You can always change it later on when you’re more comfortable with the user interface.
I noticed a major change in my internet speed immediately after installing the Nighthawk X8. I thought there wouldn’t be much change in wi-fi due to it being over the air but once again my predictions were proved wrong, which is a good thing. I conducted a speed test on both my desktop and Macbook to ensure quality testing.
Macbook Pro (Wifi):
As you can see from the speed tests, the download numbers greatly improved.
The Nighthawk X8 comes with a hefty price tag but it is quality built. This thing isn’t gonna fall apart once you take it out of the box. It is expensive compared to other routers on the market but you get what you pay for. The retail price of the Nighthawk X8 is $399. Everyone won’t want to spend that much on a router but if you’re serious about your internet then you will most likely spend a few hundred on a quality router regardless. Would you rather wait 3 days to download an HD quality movie or do you want it in 20 minutes tops? That’s usually what the deciding factor is when choosing a router for your devices.
It’s one of the coolest looking routers I’ve ever seen. It’s as powerful as it looks. The router features Seven (7) 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet ports (1 WAN & 6 LAN) and two USB ports (1 USB 3.0 & 1 USB 2.0 port). The usb ports have an open & close lid to keep dust out and to blend better with the overall aesthetic of the router. The router is entirely covered in wave shaped vents so it gets plenty of ventilation to keep cool.
The Nighthawk X8 has a lot to offer, more features than any other router I’ve ever owned. I was most intrigued by the cloud capability. Compared to previous models of the Nighthawk, that’s one of the new features added to the X8 model. I love how the router prioritizes connections to give my gaming consoles faster internet than that of my tablet. The NETGEAR genie app is what makes NETGEAR routers stand out. Not only do you use it to set up the router but it allows you to monitor the connections. You can see which devices are currently using your internet and you can also enable a temporary wifi hotspot for friends to use so that you don’t have to give them your log in information. The Nighthawk X8 is indeed a Smart router. If routers were cars, this would be your top of the line luxury sports model.