Tuesday, 09 April 2019 23:31

Netgear goes Wi-Fi 6 with Nighthawk AX4

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Netgear has announced the Nighthawk AX4, which it claims to be the first Intel-based Wi-Fi 6 router to reach the market.

Another claim to fame for the Nighthawk AX4 is that it is the first mainstream dual-band 4-stream Wi-Fi 6 router.

According to Netgear, the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 include:

  • Up to 75% reduction in latency;
  • Up to 3x faster than baseline 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) 2x2 solutions;
  • Up to 256 devices can connect to an Intel-based Wi-Fi 6 router and share bandwidth simultaneously for a consistent signal; and
  • Improved security, including simplified passwords and improved protection against wireless hacking.

These translate to improved user experiences for everything from video streaming and video conferencing to gaming and more, Netgear explained.

Wi-Fi 6 is the marketing name for the 802.11ax wireless networking standard, which is positioned as the successor to 802.11ac (now sometimes known as Wi-Fi 5).

The Nighthawk AX4 works with existing Wi-FI devices, including those with Wi-Fi 5 (aka Gigabit Wi-Fi) interfaces. But getting the full benefits requires devices to be Wi-Fi 6 capable.

Earlier this year, Intel announced that its upcoming Ice Lake processors would have integrated Wi-Fi 6. The first PCs with built-in Wi-Fi 6 are expected this quarter.

Other advantages of Wi-Fi 6 include improved battery life for clients, plus support for very large numbers of low-speed devices, notably IoT devices.

A Wi-Fi 6 router or access point can automatically optimise the network to cope with large or small packets. It can also adapt for situations where its footprint overlaps with another router or access point, doubling the effective capacity compared with Wi-Fi 5.

The Nighthawk AX4 will be available this month in the US, but local availability and pricing is yet to be confirmed.

Netgear recently released in Australia the Nighthawk AX8 Wi-FI 6 router with a street price around $600. This model uses a 1.8GHz quad-core processor of unspecified provenance and works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

It supports four simultaneous Wi-Fi streams on the 2.4GHz band and another four on 5GHz.

The AX8 features six Gigabit Ethernet ports and supports port aggregation for use with compatible Netgear cable modems that support multi-gigabyte speeds and to connect one device to a pair of LAN ports for faster file transfers.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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