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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  • alpha64 - Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - link

    Fascinating, from what I read, it appears the "Intel" SoC (GRX350) uses a MIPS CPU. From what I see it was from the purchase of Lantiq, which was a spinoff of Infineon (all this according to WikiDevi).
  • Araemo - Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - link

    What scares me is it's listed as related to the Puma 7. If it is, I would be very hesitant to buy this without seeing some reviews by detailed reviewers (Smallnetbuilder/etc.. someone who actually checks detailed multi-client throughput, latency, jitter, etc...), given how bad the latency problem of the Puma 6/7 was.
  • zepi - Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - link

    For $500-600 I'd except to have more than 1x 2.5/5GbE ports.

    (I suppose RAX200 support 5GbE as well?)
  • ksec - Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - link

    Nice, but right now I think I will skip this gen and wait for the 802.11be, coming in 2020/2021

    While there were supposed to be 802.11ax Phase 2, I think all of that will be morphed into 802.11be.

    I am also hoping with a little more time we could figure out how to bring NBase-T ( 2.5/5Gbps Ethernet ) for the masses.
  • Eliadbu - Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - link

    I'll wait for their or I or other mash technology with wifi 6.
  • hescominsoon - Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - link

    remember the puma chipset from intel in cable modems? That didn't work well. Let's see if this actually works correctly.
  • Irata - Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - link

    At least they did not fail completely like networking equipment using the Atom C2000 series

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