Over the past months we have reviewed the latest crop of AC5300/5400 routers in search of the perfect device for your network. We have seen that, despite running similar Broadcom based chipsets, there can be significant differences in price, performance and features. The NETGEAR R8500 Nighthawk X8 is the fourth of these latest-gen routers that we’ve reviewed, having previously covered the ASUS RT-AC5300, TP-LINK Archer C5400 and Linksys EA9500.
The NETGEAR R8500 Nighthawk X8 is currently priced at £299.99/$339.99 which makes it second the least expensive, with the Archer C5400 slightly undercutting the price. It is also one of the more traditional looking devices, featuring (only!) four antennas on the back of the rectangular box. This is a distinct turnaround for the Nighthawk series of routers that have featured angular and aggressive styling.
The NETGEAR R8500 Nighthawk X8 is a 4×4 router with four externally connected active antennas with integrated amplifiers. It’s powered by the Broadcom BCM4366 chipset, with a dual-core 1.4 GHz Broadcom BCM4709C0 processor, supported by 512 MB RAM. The three wireless bands available promise connection speeds up to 2167 Mbps on the twin 5 GHz bands (courtesy of Broadcom’s 1024-QAM technology), with up to 1000 Mbps available at 2.4 GHz. Of course, you’ll need capable wireless clients to reach the upper limits of the router’s performance curve.
You get six Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN port as well as a USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0 port available for peripheral sharing. Two of the Gigabit LAN ports support Link Aggregation to double the link speeds to supported devices, such as your NAS.