Real World Bandwidth Test: Netgear Nighthawk X8 vs Airport Extreme

Airport extreme vs netgear nighthawk x8Back in April I told you about the new router I bought, the Nighthawk X8 from Netgear. I bought this router for two reasons. I already had an Airport Extreme 802.11ac router with beam forming antennas, but after talking to Bart about how insecure the Internet of Things devices are, I wanted to run two parallel networks. The second reason is because it sounded really cool.

Just a few weeks ago, Denise Crown did a review of the same router for us. She’s a serious network nerd (Masters degree in Telecom) so I really liked hearing her perspective on it.

One thing neither of us did was any kind of network speed tests to see whether a) we needed this router and b) whether the new router improved speeds or reduced dead spots in our homes. We had both been influenced by Dave Hamilton of the Mac Geek Gab where he talks a lot about routers. I reached out to Dave and asked him what he uses to check network speeds. I knew that while running speedtest.net was a relatively good way to test your Internet speeds, it wasn’t a good way to test the speed of your internal network. Since the speed test was going through Internet and back, it had far too many variables involved.

Before we dig into the tests, let’s review the devices. The Airport Extreme is the current model, which has internal beam-forming antennas. It’s only a dual-band router, with one radio for 2.4 GHz and another for 5 GHz. The Nighthawk X8 is a tri-band router with two 5 GHz radios and one for 2.4 GHz. By having two 5 GHz radios the Nighthawk can send and receive at the same time. It also sports four internal antennas and four active external antennas. That all sounds swell, but at 1.7x as much money for the Nighthawk X8 over the Airport Extreme, let’s see how they perform relative to each other in real world testing. Continue reading “Real World Bandwidth Test: Netgear Nighthawk X8 vs Airport Extreme”

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