Netgear's new Nighthawk Wi-Fi 6 mesh router costs less than Eero or Nest

The new, two-piece Wi-Fi 6 mesh router goes on sale later this month for $230.

Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
Expertise Smart home technology and wireless connectivity Credentials
  • 10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
Ry Crist
2 min read

In 2019, Netgear was first to market with routers that supported Wi-Fi 6, the newest, fastest version of Wi-Fi. Now, as 2020 begins, the company is adding a multipoint mesh system to that Wi-Fi 6 lineup -- and at $230, it'll cost less than what you'll currently pay for competing systems such as Eero or Nest Wifi, which don't support Wi-Fi 6 at all.

Dubbed the Netgear Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System and due in stores later in January, the two-piece setup is a dual-band router with a design that's nearly identical to the dual-band Netgear Orbi mesh system that we reviewed just last month. For about $100 more, the Nighthawk system paints the hardware black, adds an Ethernet port to the back of each satellite and, most importantly, adds in support for Wi-Fi 6.

Support for Wi-Fi 6 means that the Nighthawk mesh system can transmit data faster and more efficiently than previous-gen routers. Netgear clocks those top speeds at 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1,200Mbps on the 5GHz band. For comparison, the Wi-Fi 5 version of Netgear Orbi specs in with top speeds of 400Mbps and 866Mbps on the two bands, respectively.

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The backs of the Netgear Nighthawk mesh router (left) and satellite extender. The two are nearly identical in appearance, and the satellites include an Ethernet jack, which you don't get with the dual-band Netgear Orbi mesh system.


Those speed gains are much more modest than what Wi-Fi 6 is truly capable of, which is a reflection of the budget-minded price tag. Same goes for the antennas. With two of them inside each unit, the Nighthawk mesh system supports 2x2 MU-MIMO connections, which allows the router to send signals from both antennas at once. It's a feature that can boost speeds to devices that include multiple antennas of their own, but other routers -- including the Nest Wifi router, which includes four antennas on the 5GHz band -- can do more with it.

Read more: Best internet providers in 2020  

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For a mesh router that takes better advantage of that Wi-Fi 6 potential, you'll need to spend hundreds more on a high-end system such as the Asus RT-AX92U, the Linksys Velop, the AmpliFi Alien or Netgear's own Wi-Fi 6 version of Orbi, which can move data at stated speeds of up to 2,400 Mbps on the 5GHz band.

That Netgear Orbi 6 system currently costs $650, though. For many, an alternative that costs more than $400 less will likely serve as a welcome addition to Netgear's catalog.

We'll test the new system out just as soon as we can get our hands on it -- expect to see more of this system on CNET in the very near future.