The Netgear Nighthawk AX8, aka RAX80, looks every bit as cool as its name would suggest it should. This winged wireless router is a high-speed, high-security device that packs in the latest Wifi 6 connectivity.
All that means this isn't one of the more affordable options out there but rather one that costs a lot but delivers plenty of bang for your buck. This is the latest 802.11ax router but there are still other options that offer this standard for a lower price, just don't expect them to be as fast.
This is a high-performance router built to offer some of the best throughput speeds, plenty of wired connectivity, and ease of setup and use via the iOS and Android apps. The onboard Netgear Armor software means you get malware apps some of which are included for free for the first year. But is this the best wireless router (opens in new tab) for you? Read on to find out everything you need to know in this Netgear Nighthawk AX8 review.
Netgear Nighthawk AX8 review: Design, build and features
It's rare that we get to say a router is good looking but in the case of the AX8 that is definitely a statement that fits. This is a wing-toting, streamlined feature of a device that actually enhances the room it's placed in.
Those two wings are home to the antennas, with two in each for a total of four. These are for the wireless signals but they can be folded down for easy storage or when not in use, say if using Ethernet only. The downside to the wings is that they can't be aimed or replaced as they're built-in.
The device measures 10.8 x 8 x 2.8 inches when folded down, but extends when opened to 12 x 8 x 6.3 inches. Soft rubber feet keep the silver and black unit in place but it can also be wall mounted or affixed to the underside of a table.
Grilles in the front and on the top help to dissipate heat build up. During our testing the top end of that temperature was 105 degrees Fahrenheit, even when working at its peak performance.
Inside the router is a Broadcom BCM43684 Wifi chip, a 1.8Ghz quad-core processor, which is supported by 1GB of RAM and 512MB of flash storage. All that makes it one of the most powerful routers you can buy.
The bands cover both 2.4GHz and 5GHz and uses beamforming technology to make sure the signal is optimal for connected devices.
Round the back are five Ethernet LAN ports with port aggregation supported, meaning you can to connect one device using two ports for a 2Gbps bandwidth. There is also a USB 3 port for high-speed data transfers.
The LED lights are minimal, keeping this as unobtrusive as that Nighthawk name suggests – there's even a button to turn these off entirely if you want. There is also an easy setup WPS button and on/off switch at the rear.
The Netgear Armor software offers great security with access to malware protection apps like Bitdefender included for a period of 12 months.
This router does support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but can't be controlled directly, but rather through a device when this has been setup with that unit.
Netgear Nighthawk AX8 review: Performance
This is, hands-down, one of the fastest Wifi routers out there right now. In fact, in our testing – and we've tested a lot – this is the fastest performing router bar none.
The top end speed achieved in our close range testing was a very impressive 1.4Gbps. But once you extend the range beyond that same room this does drop off with a 50-feet distance getting 277Mbps and 75-feet topping out at 143Mbps.
At our peak testing distance of 90 feet the limit was 20Mbps – so just enough to watch a 4K Netflix (opens in new tab) stream, then. By comparison, the other high-end routers we tested weren't even discoverable at that range.
One of the great features this router offers is its ability to send a signal through walls, even in older homes. Going through a wall to a device 20-feet away, in the next room, this managed to hit speeds of just over 1Gbps – putting it head and shoulders above the competition.
Across floors, performance was also impressive and class leading. From downstairs to upstairs this managed to hit speeds of 629Mbps. It did all this while running reliably with no issues even when in use constantly. If your home computer (opens in new tab) is in a different room, or you want to use it with one of the best laptops (opens in new tab), it's perfect.
Netgear Nighthawk AX8 review: Price and warranty
This is one of the best routers you can buy and, as such, is one of the more expensive. That said, it's not the most expensive and can be snapped up for less than $300, at the time of publishing.
In longer term use you're looking at 13 watts of power used when working and 5.5 watts when idle. That equates to about $10 per year if used for 12 hours a day at 13 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The Netgear Nighthawk AX8 comes with a one year limited warranty. This includes 90 days of access to the company's technicians for support with set up. You can extend that to two years for $30. If you want to extend the warranty to two years that will cost you a further $80.
Should you buy the Netgear Nighthawk AX8?
If you want the fastest Wifi router out there right now which also looks great and is easy to setup and use then the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 is perfect. It performs well across both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz ranges, it doesn't overheat, and it looks great too. The only real downside is price, but with Wifi 6 this is future-proofed to last you a very long time.