Netgear has been announcing new members in their Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax router family regularly over the last few months. We discussed the launch of the RAX80 and RAX120 in detail last November. Since then, Netgear has also introduced a tri-radio solution, the RAX200. The RAX80, RAX120, and RAX200 currently have MSRPs of $400, $500, and $600 respectively. These price points have made it challenging from a market adoption encouragement perspective.

Netgear is aiming to address this issue with a new Nighthawk RAX40 AX3000 router. This AX4 model has a 4-stream configuration. Its $200 MSRP is significantly lower than the price points at which the other Nighthawk Wi-Fi 6 routers are being sold. While the previous Nighthawk Wi-Fi 6 routers were based on either Broadcom or Qualcomm silicon, the RAX40 is based on Intel's Moore Rapids platform (Intel Home Wi-Fi Chipset WAV600 series).

The table below summarizes the specifications of the four Wi-Fi 6 routers currently in the Netgear Nighthawk family.

Netgear Nighthawk Wi-Fi 6 Routers
  RAX40 RAX80 RAX120 RAX200
Spatial Stream Configuration 2.4G : 2x2
5G : 2x2
2.4G : 4x4
5G : 4x4
2.4G : 4x4
5G : 8x8
2.4G : 4x4
5G : 4x4 + 4x4
Speed Class AX3000 AX6000 AX6000 AX11000
Wired Ports 5x 1Gbps 6x 1Gbps 5x 1Gbps
1x 5/2.5/1Gbps
5x 1Gbps
1x 2.5/1Gbps
USB Ports 1x USB 3.0 2x USB 3.0 2x USB 3.0 2x USB 3.0
Radios Intel WAV654 Broadcom BCM43684 x2 Qualcomm QCN5054 + QCN5024 Broadcom BCM43684 x3
SoC Intel AnyWAN SoC GRX350 Broadcom BCM4908 Qualcomm IPQ8074 Broadcom BCM4908
Launch MSRP $200 $400 $500 $600

The Nighthawk RAX40 is a good entry point into the Wi-Fi 6 ecosystem for the average consumer. With almost all 802.11ax client platforms using a 2x2 configuration at the maximum, single client scenarios will see barely any difference in terms of performance with the RAX40 and any of its higher-priced siblings. Things will obviously change when multiple wireless clients come into play simultaneously. The RAX120, for example, can support four simultaneous 2x2 MU-MIMO clients with its 8x8 5GHz configuration. That said, the RAX40 supports DFS and 160 MHz channels - two aspects that can show the bandwidth benefits immediately to the end users. In fact, the RAX40 can deliver gigabit wireless to even 802.11ac clients such as the Intel Wireless AC9560 present in the Bean Canyon NUCs.

Overall, the introduction of the RAX40, particularly in conjunction with the availability of Cyclone Peak-equipped computing systems starting this quarter, is a big boost for the Wi-Fi 6 ecosystem. The Wi-Fi router space has been dominated by Broadcom and Qualcomm (and, Mediatek to a smaller extent) for quite some time now. The addition of Intel as a serious player in this space is welcome news for consumers.

Source: Netgear

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  • Valantar - Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - link

    Yeah, I've considered that option, but there's always been something making me think "I'll hold out for another generation" (most recently it was MU-MIMO support). As my ISP forces me to use their shitty modem as a DHCP server I'm considering going with a Ubiquiti access point instead (it doesn't support any sort of passthrough mode, so unless I get a router capable of dealing with that without causing conflicts I'm stuck using routers as access points anyhow). Sleek, always wall-mountable (SO few routers are these days!), very configurable, and pretty reasonably priced. Reply
  • sonny73n - Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - link

    I have one old version nighthawk that I bought for $150 a few years back. It’s in storage box now and I’ve been using a $50 TP-Link with DD-WRT since.
    I don’t need some expensive crap with mediocre SoC loaded with unnecessary buggy features that cause problems for basic functionality. Yea I’m talking to you, Linksys, Dlink and Netgear.
    Reply
  • HStewart - Tuesday, April 09, 2019 - link

    If you look up Nighthawk high end routers it is twice this one

    https://www.amazon.com/NETGEAR-Nighthawk-Quad-Stre...

    Personally I prefer Asus routers - but $200 is almost 1/2 above router.
    Reply
  • 29a - Tuesday, April 09, 2019 - link

    I agree Valantar, $200 is way too expensive. I paid less than $100 for my C7. Reply
  • Opencg - Tuesday, April 09, 2019 - link

    tp-link ac1900 (archer c9) is the best router still. Reply
  • Kantera - Tuesday, April 09, 2019 - link

    Moore Rapids? What a name.
    But I think I'll wait for the platform's successor-- Amdahl Widths.
    Glad that the pressure from Intel is on, though, and happy for .ax prices slowly approaching a sensible level.
    Is this Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ WPA3™? The Wi-Fi org product finder only shows the RAX120 as having a cert.
    Reply
  • Dragonstongue - Tuesday, April 09, 2019 - link

    IMO I consider "affordable" sub $80 when it comes to most computer things, especially things such as routers etc.... I consider anything above $200 (especially when on CAD shelves) is anything but "affordable" when there are many alternatives well below that price point....maybe not wifi 6 specifically, but you know "what I mean"

    I suppose "good" that at least some are there to take current best spec and try to get to better price alas as with anything tech related what they make and can plop on shelf for $ or $$ automatic becomes $$$ / $$$$$ ... granted some things such as high spec display port cable, USB 3.1 etc are $ cables to begin with, most phones/routers/motherboard on the other hand are famous for taking a $2 part and upcharging to 10s or 100s in some cases.

    ^.^
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, April 09, 2019 - link

    Affordable is going to always be off what a person makes. $600 one still has someone going they wish they had a $800 one with more features. Even the $80 walmart price range you seek is someone wanting $40.

    In the end its the features you look to what you want, and with all things electronics if its going to be useful 1-2 years down the line.
    Reply
  • Valantar - Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - link

    That's a weirdly individualized view. In general when something is labeled as "affordable" it is so by two metrics: compared to regular prices of products in that category, and what average people can/are willing to pay for a product. Anything is affordable to a billionaire, but that doesn't mean that anything can be labeled affordable because of that. Reply
  • Valantar - Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - link

    Have to agree with you here, pricing routers in these price ranges is quite absurd. Who cares enough about their wifi to pay $600 for a router? And calling $200 "affordable" is rather absurd. Reply

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