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My first 6GHz router: Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300

My thoughts on the cutting-edge Wi-Fi 6E with the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300.
Sid Metcalfe

Cartesian Mathematics Foundation


May 16, 2023

I recently got my hands on the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 - a router with the latest Wi-Fi 6E technology. I’ve been curious to see if the hype around the 6GHz band could really translate into tangible benefits for my array of connected devices.


Unboxing and First Impressions

A photo of the netgear nighthawk raxe300 still in its box setting the scene for the unboxing

Right out of the box, the aesthetics didn’t disappoint. The unit, with its unique wing-like antennas, manages to look both futuristic and incredibly sophisticated, a tough balance to strike. It’s a conversation starter, yet it doesn’t scream for unnecessary attention like some gaming routers do with their over-the-top designs. However, keep in mind the size – when fully extended, it will need some space, something I hadn’t fully considered beforehand.

Diving into the technicalities, the RAXE300 is a beast with promises of 7.8 Gbps speeds and Wi-Fi 6E support. Knowing I had the cutting edge of Wi-Fi technology at my fingertips was exhilarating. It doesn’t include a modem, but the inclusion of two Ethernet WAN ports with Gigabit and 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet offers ample flexibility for high-speed internet connections. Seeing the four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports brought a nod of approval from me, thinking of the wired connections for my gaming PC and console setup. Plus, the USB-C port for joining storage devices to the network showed that Netgear indeed thought about the modern tech enthusiast with ample gadgets.

Handling the RAXE300, I noticed the simplicity of the interface with just two buttons – WPS and Wi-Fi On/Off. In the age of apps and touchscreens, such simplicity in design for immediate, tactile interactions is something I appreciate. The discretion of the status LEDs on the back of the device is a neat touch, providing clarity without constant blinking lights in your line of sight.

The potential of the tri-band, including that much-coveted 6-GHz band, set my mind racing with possibilities. As someone who has long suffered the pains of a congested network, knowing I could have a separate band for high-demand tasks brings a comforting sense of control.

I must address the double-edged sword of the subscription services for security and parental control features, though my full judgment will be saved for later in the full article. On one hand, Netgear Armour and Smart Parental Controls requiring subscriptions atop an already premium-priced router does make me raise an eyebrow. I can’t help but wish that some of these services came as a standard part of the package, given the investment.

But for now, the tangible quality of the RAXE300 in my hands, the promise of high-speed 6E performance, and the possibility of a streamlined, next-generation home network have me optimistic. It represents more than just an incremental step up from my previous model; it feels like stepping into a whole new arena of connectivity, and I can’t wait to see how it reshapes my digital landscape.

Setting Up The RAXE300

A screenshot of the netgear nighthawk app on a smartphone showing the setup interface

Getting the RAXE300 up and running was surprisingly straightforward, and as someone who’s been through my fair share of router setups that turned into weekend-long troubleshooting marathons, that’s a huge plus in my book. Pulling the RAXE300 out of the box, I was immediately ready to get it integrated into my home network, hoping to bask in the blazing speeds of WiFi 6E.

Firstly, Netgear’s decision to put both network name and password right on the router’s base is a small but welcome detail that sped up the process. I grabbed my phone, scanned the QR code with the Nighthawk app, and voila, my devices were online faster than you can say “Wi-Fi 6E.” I appreciated how the app took away the need for typing in the long default passwords or navigating through a browser-based setup, which can be a bit intimidating for those not versed in networking jargon.

As I dived deeper into the setup, one unique highlight was the tri-band capabilities, which by default set up three separate Wi-Fi networks corresponding to the 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz bands. Sure, for the average user, having a single SSID for all bands might seem easier, but I liked having the option. It gave me the freedom to prioritize certain devices on certain bands—my gaming rig and 4K streaming box got dibs on the 6GHz band for that low-latency, high-performance connectivity.

The accompanying Nighthawk app proved useful, but admittedly somewhat limited for power users looking for more granular controls. Having dabbled with custom firmware and extensive router settings in the past, I found the app’s interface refreshingly simple but craved a bit more under the hood. That’s where the web interface snuck in to save the day—albeit with room for improvement. Quality of Service (QoS) settings, USB storage fine-tuning, and advanced network configurations required logging onto the router from a browser. This flip-side layer of control was more my speed, enabling tweaks and tunings to coax the best performance out of the RAXE300.

Now, one persistent niggle I’ve encountered with Netgear in the past has been the subscription model for features like Armor and Smart Parental Controls, which many might expect to be integrated without an ongoing cost. For the record, the 30-day trial is a decent taste test, but the paywall is something prospective users should be mindful of.

It’s important to note that, beyond initial setup, router placement plays a crucial role in network performance, especially for Wi-Fi 6E’s higher frequencies which can be more sensitive to obstructions. In my own home, centering the router proved key to achieving widespread coverage—those six internal antennas weren’t just for show.

In my journey with the RAXE300, it wasn’t just about connecting to the internet—it was about unlocking a high-speed, stable, and future-proofed home network experience. The ease of use for everyday consumers, combined with the potential for deeper customization, places this router in a sweet spot for a wide user base. From unboxing to enjoying low-latency gaming sessions, the process was less “setup” and more “seamless transition” into the 6GHz bands of opportunity.

The Verdict on Netgear’s 6GHz Leap

A composed shot of the router with a thumbs up or star rating graphic overlay to represent the final assessment

After weeks of putting the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 through its paces, I’m ready to deliver my verdict on this sleek piece of networking kit. My 6GHz journey with the RAXE300 has been, on the whole, a high-flying experience, marred only by a few turbulence pockets that might bother only the more tech-averse users.

First off, the router’s design is a win in my book. I loved the futuristic aesthetic—those foldable wings aren’t just for show, they conceal a potent array of antennas that push out a strong signal that doesn’t fade into the ether. It’s stylish enough to sit proudly on a shelf, not hidden away, which helps with signal coverage too.

Speaking of signal, the RAXE300’s performance on the 6GHz band really stood out. In my small city apartment, which is chock-full of smart home gadgets, the 6 GHz band has been nothing short of a revelation. Devices that support it latch on and the speeds are impressive. The future-proofing aspect here excites me—knowing that as more devices adopt WiFi 6E, I’m poised to take full advantage.

However, taking full advantage does hinge on one main factor: distance to the router. The RAXE300 is a champ in close quarters. If I’m within spitting distance of the unit, I get speeds that have me downloading games and streaming 4K content without a hiccup. It’s when I move further away, line-of-sight blocked by a wall or two, that the router begins to show a more average side. It’s still more than capable, but it underscores the RAXE300’s suitability for medium rather than sprawling spaces.

Let’s talk features. While it has no shortage of bandwidth and speed, I did find Netgear’s approach to functionality somewhat bifurcated. There’s the simplicity of the Nighthawk app, which is gentlemanly for users not wanting to dive into the tech weeds. But for tinkerers like me, defaulting to the app felt a little like being handed the kiddie menu. Enter the web interface, which is where the main course is hidden. From QoS tweaks to DLNA setup, it’s all there—if you know where to look. The dual nature of setup and management is an odd choice, but not a dealbreaker by any means.

The thorniest part of this whole setup is the subscription model for advanced security and parental controls. Having to pay extra for services that some routers bundle as part of the purchase ledger seems like a penny pinch on Netgear’s part. It’s worth mentioning though, for the peace of mind that comes with the Armor security and robust parental controls, some might find the subscription worthwhile.

In summing up, despite being on the pricier end and having a performance curve favoring closer distances, the RAXE300 rises above many of its peers, especially in the new frontier of 6GHz networking. Its strengths lie in its speed, forward-looking tech, and a design that won’t be an eyesore in a modern home. With the industry galloping towards more WiFi 6E adoption, owning the RAXE300 feels a bit like having one foot in the future. For someone who values high-speed internet and is ready to bet on 6GHz growing into its potential, the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 is a solid investment.