The last few months taught you the importance of a Wi-Fi router, didn’t they? No longer can you simply assume that the basic box that your internet service provider, or ISP supplies as a formality will suffice. Finding that your phone or laptop has no Wi-Fi signal in one part of your home or having internet crawl to a standstill as you attempt to navigate a Zoom call even as your child is trying to learn the ways of the world on virtual classes on Microsoft Teams, is absolutely no fun. There are no two ways about it. You need a good Wi-Fi router, and one that can not only handle the growing data consumption but also be able to handle more and more devices at home—phones, TVs, laptops, PCs, tablets, smart speakers and more. The new Netgear Nighthawk RAX50 drops in at just the right time then.
This Is A Router Ready For The Future: The Netgear Nighthawk RAX50 Wi-Fi router is priced around Rs 18,799 and there’s a reason why this does have a slight premium over some of its siblings, including the Nighthawk RAX40 (around Rs 12,399). This is as future proof a Wi-Fi router as you would find this side of Rs 20,000 and one that isn’t a Wi-Fi mesh. This is a Wi-Fi 6 router, which means it supports the latest Wi-Fi generation taking up the theoretical network top speed ceiling as well. There are more streams for your devices to utilize for faster internet speeds and this router is also primed and ready for broadband lines as fast as 1Gbps. The Netgear Nighthawk RAX50 Wi-Fi router is powered by a triple-core 1.5GHz processor and the companion Netgear Nighthawk app (free for Android and iPhone) makes setting this up as well as configuring it a breeze. This is a 6-stream router which has 4×4 streams for 5GHz up to 4.8Gbps speeds and 2×2 for the 2.4GHz band with up to 600Mbps speed. It is a surprisingly big drop off for 2.4GHz but to be fair, you’re not likely to be using this band for video calls on your PC or 4K streaming on your TV.
The High Hopes That Rest On Its Shoulders: This is a Nighthawk series router and Netgear has designed this to look the part very much. Futuristic, edgy and aggressive, something that is indicating fast speeds and top-notch performance from the outset. The thing is, looks only can do so much, but the Netgear Nighthawk RAX50 Wi-Fi router does seem to be following through on the spec sheet with the potential too. You get one WAN and 4 LAN ports, all Gigabit ethernet, mind you. This would be very useful if you have a home broadband line that’s up and around the 1Gbps mark. Four fairly tall external antennas for range and coverage, and in my experience, the Netgear Nighthawk RAX50 Wi-Fi router is adequate for most three-bedroom apartment sizes—that should give you a fair comparison with your home size. But placement will make a big difference in quality of connectivity, and you may be able to achieve that by moving it a few inches forwards or upwards—it is usually that simple to improve Wi-Fi range at home.
You’ll Get This Running In No Time: Setting this up is seamless. Gone are the days when you had to fish out a laptop, a LAN cable and enter a scary IP address in the web browser. Simply download the Netgear Nighthawk app on your phone, connect the router to your internet modem and power it on—the app will detect it at some point soon enough and help you through the setup. With my Airtel Xstream internet line, the detection and getting this up and running took less than 10 minutes, of which about 6 minutes were taken by a firmware update which meant the Netgear Nighthawk RAX50 Wi-Fi router had to reboot as well. As a rule, best to get these updates downloaded and installed soon enough, because they often have critical security patches too.
How’s The Range And How Are The Speeds? For a typical three-bedroom modern day apartment, the Netgear Nighthawk RAX50 Wi-Fi router easily covers all corners of the indoor area. A lot of the range and resulting internet performance will depend on the Wi-Fi hardware on the device you are accessing it on—as a standard rule, older laptops and phones have weaker Wi-Fi hardware and may struggle for signal in the farther reaches of any Wi-Fi router’s range. As far as my observations go, this router can deliver around 240Mbps speeds three walls away and around 90Mbps four walls away—this is on a 300Mbps broadband line. About 5 feet away from the router, with no walls in the way but no direct line of sight either, this delivered around 330Mbps, considering Airtel Xstream lines are configured with headroom for line losses. The router smartly shifted devices to 2.4GHz band, particularly smart speakers—this is when I had kept the same SSID for Wi-Fi for 2.4GHz and 5GHz—and did this better than a lot of Linksys routers and indeed the Ubiquiti Amplifi HD. However, for some reason, one Lenovo smart clock keeps dropping connectivity every few minutes for a handful of seconds—and that’s not something I’ve been able to blame on signal strength of the lack of it.
A Wider Highway For Your Internet: The Netgear Nighthawk RAX50 is a 6-stream router which has 4×4 streams for 5GHz up to 4.8Gbps speeds and 2×2 for the 2.4GHz band with up to 600Mbps speed. The more bands for 5GHz means more devices can connect and utilize higher speeds without other connected devices facing any reduction in the bandwidth available to them. It is a surprisingly big drop off for 2.4GHz but to be fair, you’re not likely to be using this band for video calls on your PC or 4K streaming on your TV.
The Last Word: A Wi-Fi Router Par Excellence, Pity It Cannot Extend Into A Mesh Too
The Netgear Nighthawk RAX50 Wi-Fi router is actually a very simple choice if this falls in your budget. It has a loaded spec sheet and delivers on the performance too. Particularly consistent and reliable for fast broadband lines and doesn’t at all complain if you are streaming 4K content on two TVs at the same time. You probably don’t want to get into that muddle and the Netgear Nighthawk RAX50 Wi-Fi router ensures you don’t need to actively get involved in anything. It doesn’t require any sort of monitoring, can do firmware updates on its own during the late hours of the night and the smarter options such as remote access allow you to keep an eye on your internet line when need be. You also get drawn into the whole subscription scenario with the Netgear Armor threat protection solution which can keep an eye on all connected devices for any threats or vulnerabilities—but mind you, this is optional, and you can very well do without it.
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