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Netgear courts gamers and launches a new Wi-Fi 6E router at CES 2022

Promising clean bandwidth for congested networks via the previously unavailable 6GHz band, the newest Nighthawk router hits stores soon for $400.

Netgear

This story is part of CES, where CNET covers the latest news on the most incredible tech coming soon.

Netgear is continuing to push forward with Wi-Fi 6E, a new designation for routers and other Wi-Fi devices that are equipped to transit signals in the recently opened 6GHz band. Case in point: the newly announced Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300, a tri-band Wi-Fi 6E router making a virtual debut at CES 2022.

Scheduled to hit stores in the first quarter of 2022 for $400, the RAXE300 costs $200 less than last year's Wi-Fi 6E Nighthawk flagship, and it sticks to the same black-bodied design as before, with eight antennas packed into a pair of sleek, foldable fins. The result is a router that looks like it'd be right at home in the Bat Cave, or in any other environment with presumably high demand for bandwidth. 

Video: Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-FI 6E: Here's the difference in three minutes

Wi-Fi 6E routers like the RAXE300 are Wi-Fi 6 devices that add in access to the 6GHz band. Earlier-gen Wi-Fi devices can't connect over that band, which keeps it free from interference.

Netgear

To that end, the router includes a WAN port capable of handling incoming wired speeds of up to 2.5Gbps, as well as support for wireless speeds of up to 4.8Gbps on the 5GHz band and up to 2.4Gbps on the 6GHz band. That 6GHz band is exclusive to Wi-Fi 6E devices and free from interference from slower, previous-gen Wi-Fi 5 devices, making it a bit like Wi-Fi's VIP section.

"We're seeing customers upgrading their home broadband services to speeds greater than 1Gbps and they don't want these speeds to be bottlenecked by older Wi-Fi 5 connections," explained David Henry, Netgear's president and GM of Connected Home Products and Services. 

That's a fair point, but keep in mind that most homes don't have access to multi-gig internet plans or an abundance of Wi-Fi 6E devices ready to connect over 6GHz. That means that it's still quite early for routers like these, making them more of a future-proofing splurge than a critical home networking upgrade. On top of that, the 6GHz band offers less wireless range than the 5GHz band, particularly with respect to uploads, so in many cases, the 5GHz band will still be your best bet for a fast, robust connection.

Netgear Orbi mesh routers will soon come with the same gaming-minded features as the company's Nighthawk Pro Gaming high-performance routers.

Netgear

In addition to the new Nighthawk router, Netgear has a gaming-minded update for its Orbi line of multi-point mesh routers. Specifically, the Orbi app will soon be upgraded to include support for Netgear Game Booster, the same set of network optimization tools found in the company's Nighthawk Pro Gaming line of high-performance routers.

Along with letting gamers play on the server with the lowest ping, Game Booster includes a device prioritization engine as well as an ad blocker that can limit device tracking.

Netgear

The primary Game Booster selling point is its game-specific heatmap of available servers, which allows PC gamers to select the server with the lowest ping for faster performance whenever they're playing online. Netgear claims that the feature can help reduce lag by up to 93%, an appealing pitch for competitive online gaming, where split-second decisions can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Meanwhile, Game Booster's Network Priority feature allows users to prioritize traffic to specific gaming PCs, consoles and other devices on their network, while a new Adblocker feature allows them to automatically block ads and limit tracking on whichever network devices they wish, gaming or otherwise.

"Our Orbi customers have taught us that you don't have to be a pro gamer to want to play like one and we're happy to put the power to affect gaming performance in their hands with Netgear Game Booster," Henry said.

We'll know more once we've had the chance to put all of Netgear's latest gear to the test -- stay tuned for a deeper look at how everything performs later in 2022.