Hello, and welcome to our review of the exciting Wi-Fi 6e router from Netgear, the Nighthawk RAXE500.
We’ve been running all kinds of tests on it to find out if it’s as fast as Netgear is making it out to be. And the bottom line is that it is… for the most part.
When it came to us checking out the features, however, we were quite disappointed. We went to put each through its paces and found that one or two of even the most basic features weren’t up to scratch.
They might not be something you’re interested in though, so don’t rule out this router just yet. Because if you have a Gigabit internet plan, this could be the perfect device for you.
|Max Tested Wi-Fi Speed
|2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 6 GHz
|4x Gigabit, 1x 2.5 Gigabit
|2x USB 3.0
|11.7 x 3.07 x 8.3 in
Seeming as the RAXE500 is all about speed, let’s start there. The reason the RAXE500 is able to achieve such immense speeds is that it utilizes brand new Wi-Fi 6e technology, meaning it introduces a new 6 GHz band.
We’ll go into more detail about what that means later on, but for now let us tell you the top speed it managed in our test from 5ft away: 1203.59 Mbps. That’s crazy quick.
But, you will need a device that supports Wi-Fi 6e to support this kind of speed and not a lot of them do just yet. No Apple devices do, for example.
The RAXE500 is still fairly quick over the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands but it is beaten here by more affordable devices. You’ll need to use the former if you want to achieve the max range of this router, which we calculated to be around 100-110 ft.
If that’s not enough range, you can upgrade it seamlessly thanks to Mesh technology. More on how that works coming up shortly.
Other than that, the features aren’t looking so great. It’s missing QoS and you need to pay a subscription if you wish to get antivirus technology and parental controls. That seems a little harsh considering that this router is already very expensive.
The Nighthawk RAXE500 really is all about speed. We tested it with a Wi-Fi 6e ready device and managed to clock an eye-watering 1203.59 Mbps!
With that kind of speed, pretty much every internet process would be a walk in the park and downloading large files would take place in the blink of an eye. 1203.59 Mbps would allow you to stream 48 Netflix Ultra HD movies at the same time!
However, only a very limited number of devices are able to support Wi-Fi 6e at this time (Google Pixel 6 or Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, for example).
Make sure you check whether your devices can support this new 6 GHz band before you buy this router. We believe it is only worth buying this router if you have one or more of those devices.
If you don’t have a Wi-Fi 6e device, some different stats will need to be looked at. Using the 5 GHz band, we managed to achieve a speed of 770.94 Mbps which is still very quick.
Although, it is pretty identical to the lower-priced Netgear Nighthawk RAX43, so that might be the one to go for if you don’t have Wi-Fi 6e devices. Or is it? Because the even more affordable ASUS RT-AX58U goes even faster with a massive top speed of 889.41 Mbps in the same test…
The RAX43 and the RT-AX58U both also perform better from further away. When we ran the same test from a distance of 50 ft, these two managed speeds of 433.27 Mbps and 415.11 Mbps compared to just 301.08 Mbps under the RAXE500.
The 6 GHz band wasn’t able to beat the speed of the 5 GHz band on the RAXE500 at 50 ft.
In terms of range overall, the RAXE500 performs pretty well. It managed to hold onto a signal up to around 100-110 ft in our test (enough for medium or large homes) which is about as good as it gets for routers. And if you want to upgrade that range, there’s always Mesh available.
So what does this all mean? Well, there are two key things to take away here: the RAXE500 is only worth it if you are planning on using Wi-Fi 6e supporting devices, and if you plan on using your network from 50ft away or further then you might be better off with another router anyway.
On the technical side of things, the RAXE500 has great features. But in terms of accessories that will benefit your network, there are two key things missing.
Wi-Fi 6e technology
In 2021, an update to the current wireless standard, Wi-Fi 6, was announced. They called it Wi-Fi 6e, and it saw the introduction of a new wireless band, 6 GHz. It has a slightly shorter range than the 5 GHz one but a lot more speed.
It’s with this band that we managed to achieve the almighty speed of 1203.59 Mbps. No regular Wi-Fi 6 routers are able to get close to this.
The issue here is that not many devices support this new band. For example, no current Apple devices do at the time of writing. A few smartphones, such as the Google Pixel 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
So if you don’t have a Wi-Fi 6e ready device, you won’t be able to get the top speeds out of the RAXE500.
Another great thing about the addition of this extra 6 GHz band is that it brings the total number of bands for the RAXE500 up to three (on top of the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz ones).
This means that more bandwidth will be freed up for the extra bands and as a result, more devices can connect to the network and achieve good speeds overall.
Most of the router settings can be configured on your smartphone thanks to a pretty neat app called Nighthawk. Just connect to the router via Bluetooth and you’ll be connected in no time.
It’s not the most attractive app in the world but it’s pretty easy to use and should cause you no problems in doing what you need to do.
The app is also useful for setting up the router, but we’ll cover that bit later on in this article.
We were pleased to see that the RAXE500 provides the ability to add Mesh satellites to the network. If you’re not familiar with what Mesh is, it’s a way to extend the range of your network while keeping additional extenders (or ‘satellites’) under the same network name.
This means you can roam around your home without ever having to drop your connection.
It is worth noting that you might be better off going for a system that’s dedicated to Mesh if you have a large home. They will be more powerful and able to hold onto their speed better throughout the network than the RAXE500.
Netgear’s Mesh for its Nighthawk series is pretty powerful but its Orbi range of Mesh systems is better for covering a large home.
If you want to level up your network security with the RAXE500, you’ll need to subscribe to Netgear Armor – top-tier antivirus software for your router. In fact, it’s some of the best antivirus software out there with constant updates to repel any potential attacks.
A Netgear Armor subscription will also bring you parental controls. With the upgrade, you’ll be able to set categories of content to particular ‘users’ (groups of devices) which really helps you stay in control.
It comes at a price though. Netgear Armor is quite an expensive subscription, but you do get a free trial when you buy the router in the first place to see if it’s right for you.
The fact that you have to pay for these seems a little mean considering how expensive the router is in the first place (we’d expect it from a budget router), but in our eyes it’s still worth going for the upgrade. The added security and the elite parental controls will be unmissable for a lot of people.
RAXE500 owners will only be able to get one year of warranty in the US. That’s the bare minimum legal requirement.
To put that into context, TP-Link offers a limited lifetime warranty for a lot of its routers and ASUS offers two or three years. Hopefully, you’ll never have to make a warranty claim but the peace of mind that you can do it is always a nice thing to have.
What’s it missing?
One of the key missing features for the RAXE500 is QoS. Short for Quality of Service, this neat tool allows you to pick a handful of devices to receive priority from the network by throttling the bandwidth of other connected devices.
This will allow for faster speeds and lower latency as and when you need it, ie. if you are about to embark on a mega gaming session.
It seems odd that a router of this prestige doesn’t have QoS. Most other routers on the market do have it so we’re confused as to why Netgear has made this decision.
The RAXE500 is also missing parental controls which again, seems like a very strange decision from them. Parental controls are a great way to keep particular types of content away from the eyes of particular network users.
So if you have young kids in the home that you want to keep away from harmful or malicious sites, you can set up parental controls from the network to their devices. That is, if you have almost any other router than the RAXE500…
There’s no denying that the RAXE500 is a mean looking router. It looks like it’s come from the future or perhaps some kind of military testing facility. It actually resembles a stealth bomber jet, and we’re into that.
It’s a pretty heavy thing at 1.45 kg. And it’s a little on the large side so this might need to be considered by people who have a limited amount of space to work with for their router setting.
The RAXE500 is practical though. It comes with 4 Gigabit LAN ports as standard for those who want to plug in their devices via Ethernet for a faster and more stable wired connection.
And there’s a multi-gig port which will provide speeds of up to 2500 Mbps! This will come as great news to anyone with a superfast internet plan. Downloading files or any other internet process at that speed would be a lot of fun.
The RAXE500 also comes fitted with 2 USB 3.0 ports. This is great for charging devices fast and plugging in other external equipment like a printer or a hard drive.
To get your router set up, the best thing to do is download the Nighthawk app from the Play Store or the App Store. Setting it up on your smartphone is super easy and only takes a couple of minutes.
All you need to do is plug the router in with the cables that come in the box, power it on and open up the app with Bluetooth on your smartphone switched on. The app should instantly find the router and guide you through the steps.
If you don’t have a smartphone, you can still use a computer to set up the router but it does take slightly longer. This time, plug the router in and power it on then open up your desktop browser. Enter “192.168.1.1” into the URL bar and follow the instructions on screen.
The Nighthawk RAXE500 offers the best value for those who own Wi-Fi 6e devices. If you don’t, another router will certainly be more valuable to you. You can get faster non Wi-Fi 6e speeds from other routers.
This router is pretty expensive. But it would be unfair for us to dock too many points here as the bottom line is that the max possible speed from it is immensely fast. Plus, it’s got a strong range of 100-110ft which should cover a lot of homes.
A reason the RAXE500 loses a few points in this section is that the features are not up to scratch. Pretty much every router that comes close to the price of this thing has QoS, and a lot of other routers don’t charge you for extra security like the Netgear Armor subscription.
Of course, the features aren’t all bad. A little value is restored by the fact that the RAXE500 has Mesh capabilities. Plus, there’s always that multi-gig port which is going to be a pretty essential ingredient for users who want to get next level speed.
Other Critics’ Thoughts
We’ve been plowing through other reviews of the RAXE500 to find out what other experts had to say about it. And in general, there seems to be a consensus: the RAXE500 is super expensive but will still appeal to a lot of people because of its raw speed at the top end.
There has been a lot of frustration from reviewers over the fact that you do not get QoS or parental controls. We can’t wrap our heads around why they have made the decision to exclude these pretty essential tools. It really could be the nail in the coffin for a lot of people in their decision to not buy this router.
The bottom line from other reviews is in line with what we have been saying: this router is only worth it for those who have Wi-Fi 6e ready devices. And the fact that there aren’t a lot of these yet certainly limits the audience for this router.
Some More Routers to Consider
If you don’t have Wi-Fi 6e devices but still have a large home and a fast internet plan, here are some great routers that won’t cost you quite as much money but will still bring you the performance (and features) you’re looking for.