Never has there been as much strain on our wi-fi networks as there is now, so a good router is essential and Netgear’s latest X8 ticks all the boxes in terms of speed, range and capacity.
With the growing number of wireless devices in the average household and our take-up of streaming services like Netflix, having a solid router that can handle that load and keep us connected anywhere in our homes has never been more important.
Netgear’s X8, easily the best wi-fi router the company has produced, is a tri-band device which can achieve combined wireless speeds of up to 5.3Gbps.
A unique feature of the X8 is the Active Antennas. The tips of the four antennas are ringed by a blue light and inside each is an amplifier to boost the signal as it travels into the router’s motherboard and back out again.
The result is a cleaner and stronger signal to all of the devices in your home.
On the design side, the X8 is head-turner. Apart from the cool blue lights on the antenna tips, there’s also a wave pattern on the main panel and as well as illuminated ports.
We set up our X8 on the wall of our office – this was a product we didn’t want to hide but display on the wall like a painting.
There are six Gigabit Ethernet ports so you can connect even more wired devices. Two of the ports can also be aggregated to double the connection speed to a NAS (network attached storage) for even faster backups and streaming 4K ultra high definition content.
My only gripe with the design is the positioning of the ports. When the X8 is wall mounted, the ports end up on top so cables can be easily seen.
But that’s no deal breaker for us. The Netgear X8 absolutely delivers.
For our set up in a two-storey home, the X8 was positioned in a room towards the centre of the lower floor.
As a result, we still had full coverage at either end of the house including the rooms upstairs and our bedroom at the very end of the house.
But our coverage didn’t stop there. Even at our back fence and the road outside our home, we still had coverage and could even stream a YouTube video in these locations.
It’s one of the fastest and most robust routers we’ve ever used
There are several features that make this a possibility.
One is the tri-band set up – one 2.4Ghz and two 5Ghz – that can direct your network traffic to the band that will suit it best.
If you’re doing things like streaming 4K and HD video or playing online games, you’ll get priority on one of the 5Ghz bands thanks to the QoS (Quality of Service) feature onboard.
If you’re checking Facebook, reading emails, browsing the web or doing some online shopping then the 2.4Ghz band is more than enough to handle these tasks.
The Quad Stream technology which delivers up to four data streams per wi-fi band while MU-MIMO (multiple user-multiple in multiple out) handles the multiple streams to multiple devices like a traffic controller.
Under the hood driving this all is a powerful dual-core 1.4Ghz processor that provides the performance and the platform to get your maximum wi-fi speeds.
The X8 is an 802.11ac device which means it can lock on to devices on your network with beam forming technology and track them so there is a constant connection.
ReadyCloud allows users to plug in their USB hard drive and create their own personal cloud storage which is accessible from anywhere within and outside of your network.
What also impressed us with the Netgear X8 was how easy it was to set up.
Once connected, the Netgear Genie detected the modem and stepped us through how we wanted the router to be configured – as our main router or another access point.
Netgear Genie also allowed us to easily change the name of the network and set our own password.
This application provides a dashboard that can help you keep track of your network, allow guest access and also set up parental controls.
The Netgear X8 is priced at $699 which is more expensive than rival (and inferior) routers.
But you get what you pay for which is an excellent package that includes a range of top shelf features and peace of mind that you’ve got a wi-fi network that can easily meet your needs today and into the future.
The Netgear has hit a home run with the X8. It not only looks good but also offers speed, range and performance to create wi-fi network that can handle everything you throw at it.