Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 review: Massive capacity

This router is fast. The Nighthawk RAX120 had no issues keeping up with my demands, including a weekend of gaming, downloading, and even streaming on multiple devices. I have Cox for my internet connection and pay for 500Mbps downloads and 10Mbps uploads. Unsurprisingly, the RAX120 didn’t miss a beat delivering these speeds.

The router automatically assigned its 5GHz band to 5.8GHz instead of 5.2GHz, which had a greater vacancy in my area, and the results speak for themselves. The Nighthawk RAX120 officially supports up to 6Gbps wireless speeds with 4.8Gbps of that on the 5GHz band and a further 1.2Gbps on the 2.4GHz band. The 5GHz band can be configured either as 80MHz wide or 160MHz though the top speed remains the same. Since I don’t have any 160MHz devices to test, I kept it at the default 80MHz setting.

The Nighthawk RAX120 is labeled as the AX12 for the 12 data streams available. This 12-stream capacity is what sets the Nighthawk RAX120 apart from many cheaper AX6000 routers. A single stream on Wi-Fi 6 at 5GHz maxes out at 600Mbps compared to 433.3 on Wi-Fi 5. The RAX120 dedicates four of its streams to 2.4GHz for a total of 1.2Gbps capacity. The remaining eight are on 5GHz enabling four 2×2 devices to stream data at 1.2Gbps simultaneously.

Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 review: Massive capacity

Most of your Wi-Fi 6 devices you’ll use only access two streams like the Galaxy S20 and S21, M1 MacBook Pro, and even the Playstation 5. At 1.2Gbps, this is more than adequate for my internet connection, but if you need more speed, you can add faster Wi-Fi 6 cards to desktops with a PCI-E interface. Some older Wi-Fi 5 devices, like my Intel MacBook Pro, also connect at higher speeds with three streams enabling 1,300Mbps link speeds, but most stick with two at 866.7Mbps.

Starting right next to the router in the living room, I got the full 500Mbps of my connection and then some. This is right in line with what a wired device connected directly to the router would get and lined up with the speed test results from within the Nighthawk app. Moving a couple of rooms away to the TV room, speeds were still very high though relative to the initial tests, it’s clear some speed has been lost. Finally, moving to the corner of the bathroom, as far as I can get from the router, speeds were still solid though they were slower than the first results.

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