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Wireless Networking Upgrades

Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Router With Active Antennas Tested (hothardware.com) 85

MojoKid writes: Netgear recently launched the Nighthawk X8 router, which is part of a new round of second-gen wireless AC devices dubbed "Wave 2", carrying the AC5300 moniker. Instead of using a 3x3 configuration with six antennae, this router offers a 4x4 configuration, with four internal antennae and four active external antennae, each with their own blue LEDs to signal their active state. The actual amplifiers are on the antennae themselves, rather than down on the main board, helping to boost the signal and minimize crosstalk and loss associated with modern PCB circuitry. Each 5GHz radio is able to broadcast at 2.1Gbps compared to 1.3Gbps on Gen 1 devices, and the bandwidth on the 2.4GHz channel is also increased from 600Mb/s on Gen 1 devices to 1GB/s. When you take both 5GHz channels at 2,100Mb/s and add it to the 1,000Mb/s on the 2.4GHz channel, you end up with a number around 5,300Mb/s, hence the branding. Performance-wise, the Nighthawk X8 is one of the fastest Wi-Fi routers on the market currently. However, its hefty price point might be hard to justify for most mainstream users. Enthusiasts and small office/home office users looking for ultimate range on a 5GHz channel with lots of clients connected will appreciate this routers throughput and power, however.
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Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Router With Active Antennas Tested

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  • Antennaes? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    What's the thought process that results in that spelling?

  • all the better to "see" you with, my dear......NSA
  • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @08:26PM (#51311463)

    I've got a cheaper dual band 802.11ac router in my house and I'm not very impressed with range on 5 ghz. In fact it only really works well in the same room. No other 5 ghz signals in the area except for a directional ubiquity device on the roof, which works great by the way. I know range in 5 ghz isn't great compared to 2.4 but are others having better luck in a home through walls? If this is supposed to be a viable option in congested 2.4 ghz environments, I wonder how people are using it. My brother had a similar experience with a dual band router also.

    • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Friday January 15, 2016 @09:07PM (#51311687) Homepage Journal

      I've actually separated SSID's now for 2.4 and 5 GHz, as 2.4 is so much better unless large file transfers are about to happen near the AP.

      One SSID I have that only rides a VPN out doesn't even get an instance on the 5GHz radio as the local speed difference is not significant.

      These new discrete amps are supposed to make it somwwhat better, but, I dunno - if you need tremendous wireless speed far away such that you're willing to setup LACP and all that to backhail it, maybe you can also put an AP nearer the client or put up with "only" a gigabit? The market seems small for using all the features at once.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        With my ac87u I am hitting about 60MB per second (not bit). When I first got it I got about 30. Using the rmerlin firmware I have got up to 60.

        That is about 20ft away thru 1 floor (insulation and 2x8s).

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Depends on the users location and the building standards over the years. From one end of the parked RV back into the home? Plasterboard, wood, plastic wrap with quality plastic veneer?
      A more traditional design with real brick and cement was used or a steel structure? Is the users computer in a basement expecting bandwidth up to the second floor network? A tent undercover just outside? A sleeping area created in the crawl space?
      How many other users have returned home to now live in once spare bedrooms
      • by caseih ( 160668 )

        Wood frame house, all on one level, drywall walls. The house was built in 1981; I have no idea what was in the paint back then. My brother just built a small house last year (two stories) and he definitely gets poor signal upstairs and 10 feet down the hall. Maybe it's just a crappy TP-Link Archer C7. 2.4GHz signal is great everywhere (and speeds are excellent) which is expected of course since 2.4 GHz penetrates better than 5 GHz. No heavy use generally, in fact nothing uses 5 Ghz right now since I can

        • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
          All I can suggest is to borrow a friends advance unit and try different distances and in different rooms. The created network might be amazing and work really well or not be so great in different locations. Some people have had great success with the more advanced business grade repeaters and extenders as an option.
          The price can go up for the more useful units. All the best.
    • My Apple AirPort Extreme 802.11ac seems to cover our whole house (built in 1960) pretty well. The signal going through 2 walls doesn't seem to degrade much, as far as I can tell. I can stream movies to my iPad when I'm out in the family room, for instance (so that's through two walls). And I can still use it when I'm outside barbecuing in the summer.

      I haven't tried anything more rigorous like measuring the transfer time of a gigabyte of data from various locations though.

    • The only issue I have with the 5GHz range is that once it is encrypted, it drops down to the 2.4GHz speed. So, essentially to even get close to a rated 5GHz speed I'd have to run a vpn or stay completely unencrypted. I fu and bought an rt-n66u. Should have bought the ac but it was $$. Plus on fios, verizon does not allow for bridging (both theirs and mine use nor can I use my motorola surfboard either as fios is a different protocol.
    • They also only compared it to a bunch of random crappy Best Buy routers, how does it compare to Ruckus, Aruba, and others? If they're trying to compete with high-end APs/routers (and the prices are getting close), they should be evaluated against those, not just half a dozen other vendors' repackaging of the same Broadcom chipset.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I have a fairly long house and find that 5ghz is fine from one end to the other. Probably depends what your walls are made of. 5ghz is uncongested here, so speeds are much better.

  • Great (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It only takes one idiot with one of these to interfere over all useable 2.4G and 5G bands at once so nobody gets a decent connection (i assume the kind of kiddie interested in this wont have obss active as that slows things down). But hey, its got big numbers, right? They should just ban these from the get go.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      It makes me wonder if there's an underground market for wifi gear that is capable of exceeding the power limits to help deal with this.

      I know it's illegal (and maybe it wouldn't help, either, since you'd have to hack the clients, too, to get full use out of it). I'd kind of chalk it up, though, to how are they gonna catch you? I don't often see FCC radio snooping vans driving down my street (they do have little rotating dishes on the roof, don't they?). And I know that nobody in my neighborhood would thi

      • it's entirely doable, just change the country the wifi is located in to a country that allows higher power.

        Was at a conference and as a demo, the instructor changed his laptop with 2 antennas to be a 'rogue' AC, his normal connection to the wifi and then the other set to some other country where he could ramp up the power and now everybody in the room connected to his AC over the hotel's.

        Just a config item somewhere....don't remember where though.
        • by ruir ( 2709173 )
          Indeed...I changed in TP Links Archer 7 the country from US to Portugal and suddenly I was able to increase the potency from 17 to 20.
  • by stevel ( 64802 ) * on Friday January 15, 2016 @08:45PM (#51311579) Homepage

    I have had one of these for a month or so now. The range is fantastic (even with 5GHz) as is the throughput, though the Ethernet bonding feature isn't useful to me.

    However, I, like many other X8 users complaining in Netgear's support forum, have an ongoing issue with the WiFi in that devices still show they're connected but no data flows. And if you have a device that tries to connect to the access point, the router rejects it. Rebooting the router fixes it for a while. Netgear support has been very responsive and they've given me beta firmware, but the problem persists. It's especially aggravating for my DVR which goes back to an "unconnected" state each time this happens, meaning I have to go through its configuration again.

    Netgear is sending me a replacement router to see if that helps. I hope it does, as otherwise I love this thing. I was able to disconnect a repeater I had running on the other side of the house as I didn't need it anymore.

    • They must have "Scienced the shit" out of it.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      I replaced the old router serving as the house AP with a Ubiquity UniFi AP-AC-PRO - a nice fairly low cost enterprise-class AP over the holidays. (It only costs $150!)

      And I have to admit, I'm impressed - covers three floors and everything with full signal at 2.4GHz, and at 5GHz, it's actually usable on all three floors.

      Even better, I didn't have to do any of the WiFi dances to get a signal - just a rock solid signal that doesn't drop or do anything funny.

      Sure, the consumer space has a lot of higher tech gea

      • by sribe ( 304414 )

        I replaced the old router serving as the house AP with a Ubiquity UniFi AP-AC-PRO - a nice fairly low cost enterprise-class AP over the holidays. (It only costs $150!)

        And I have to admit, I'm impressed - covers three floors and everything with full signal at 2.4GHz, and at 5GHz, it's actually usable on all three floors.

        Thanks for that; I need to look into one of these ;-)

  • There are so many errors in these numbers I don't know where to start. There is a mixing of bits and bytes. There also seems to be a seemingly random transition from the Giga- and Mega- prefix. Even the notation isn't consistent (Mb/s vs Mbps). Example: " Each 5GHz radio is able to broadcast at 2.1Gbps compared to 1.3Gbps on Gen 1 devices, and the bandwidth on the 2.4GHz channel is also increased from 600Mb/s on Gen 1 devices to 1GB/s. When you take both 5GHz channels at 2,100Gb/s and add it to the 100
    • An approximation used in telecommunications is that the required bandwidth for a communications signal is at least the baudrate. As such, 5.3 Gb/s throughput router would need a little over 5.3 GHz of bandwidth to make the physical layer work. Pretty sure that's not happening with a 5 GHz router ...

      If you want to run a protocol layer on top of that, given a shared communications medium and randomly located stations, much more bandwidth is required.

  • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @09:31PM (#51311795)

    Fuck it, we're going to 12 antennas.

    • Fuck it, we're going to 12 antennas.

      It only goes to 11.

    • Lets put on 20 and charge $900. And that will be what the guy at best buy will sell your mom for watching netflix on her laptop and making facebook faster on her ipad.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Sadly, unlike razor blades, this affects everyone else around you. By hogging multiple channels it just aggravates the congestion on 2.4ghz. The only saving grace for 5ghz is that it doesn't penetrate as far, but even low level noise from neighbours can still affect you.

      Rather than trying to get ridiculous speed from WiFi by screwing everyone else, maybe we need to look at alternatives. Power line networking with very low range transceivers in each room, or some kind of optical networking perhaps.

  • Remember, no client devices can talk on two wireless networks at the same time. So, "adding" the bandwidth together for the 3 wireless networks is pointless. And, wireless is half-duplex (aside from MU-MIMO, which is pretty cool tech advancement in 802.11ac), so actual performance is less than half of the listed bandwidth (especially when considering protocol overhead, security, etc). Still blazing fast though.
    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      My wifi card has three aerials, so that it can talk to my router via three concurrent channels.

      I do only get sustained 700MB/s transfer rates though, so I accept it could be faster.

  • R8500, not AC5300 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @10:30PM (#51311997)

    the actual model number is R8500 [netgear.com] and "AC5300" is just marketing shitting on the desk. a side note: netgear actually seems to be open source friendly now as they are using version of dd-wrt and openwrt for their routers.

  • Extremely negative reviews of one Netgear product on Amazon
    NETGEAR ProSAFE FVS318G 8-Port Gigabit VPN Firewall (FVS318G-200NAS)
    Customer Reviews: Average 2 stars of 5
    Worked for Two Weeks, Then Nothing But Trouble [amazon.com]
    Locks up after 5 mins [amazon.com]
    both hardware and production support are horrible. I bought 2 and have to return both [amazon.com]
    Fast FW-Router when it works.... [amazon.com]
    Bad firmware out of the box [amazon.com]
    Slow, solid and slow [amazon.com]
    Very ridiculous and disappointed. [amazon.com]
    Flakey administration; otherwise a good [amazon.com]
  • 11% negative reviews: NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 [amazon.com]

    Quote: "The LVL 1 support team at Netgear took my information and had me try 2 beta firmwares that did not resolve the issue. They asked for all the devices connected to the router and screenshots with the config file. All the information was supplied and escalated to a higher LVL support group. ... My time is being used to beta test their product. They obviously know something is not right with the unit as my Actiontec GL1000 router works perfectly as does my Nighthawk R7000. The Nighthawk R8500 will lock up with no access to the internet or internal setup. All lights remain on but the unit becomes unresponsive and a power cycle is required to restore access."

    I've had the same problem with Netgear FVS336G routers, random lockups. The problem: Configuration is more complicated than the manual suggests.
  • I'm curious how the GigE ports are arranged...a common configuration is for the system-on-chip (processor, RAM, etc all in one package) to only have one or two GigE ports, and either have one LAN and one WAN (with the LAN ports broken out via an onboard switch) or only one port connected to an onboard switch with VLAN tagging to separate the WAN and LAN ports. If there aren't enough real interfaces off the SoC, link aggregation is going to be useless when routing between the wired and wireless networks (wi

  • And how does it compare to my preferred EnGenius?
    Those mentioned don't look like professional stuff; rather like top products for the advanced home user, sorry to say.
    Correct me if I'm wrong.

  • This is a geek forum - why aren't you all running dedicated devices (firewall/switch/APs)?

    Anyone who buys Netgear's junk deserves the pain they will inevitably receive. I've had the displeasure of using Netgear's home and "pro" stuff over the years and it's all been absolute junk.

    Flaky VPN firewalls, switches that fall over during heavy usage - or don't participate in spanning tree properly, wireless devices that need to be reset constantly to work...yadda, yadda...

    I don't expect home users on a budget to

  • I considered the X8, but after having used various Netgear stuff in the past with issues, I decided to try another brand for a change: Asus. While my relationship with Asus is also a love/hate one, I had never used their routers before, so I thought it time to give them a chance.

    I replaced a 300N Wi-Fi network powered by a Netgear and a 500mbps Powerline network also 'powered' by Netgear with an Asus RT-AC5300 router as main unit, and an RT-AC88U as 'bridge' unit in my home office (Wi-Fi --> 8 port ether

If I have not seen so far it is because I stood in giant's footsteps.