Netgear Nighthawk Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System review: Mesh? More like meh
When it comes to powerful and seamless internet connectivity, Wi-Fi mesh systems are all the rage. The Netgear Nighthawk Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System is the latest contender in this highly competitive market. Boasting impressive features like Wi-Fi 6 compatibility and the promise of lightning-fast speeds, it has generated significant buzz. However, after putting the system through its paces, our verdict is that the Nighthawk Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System is somewhat underwhelming and not quite living up to its hype.
Setup and Design
The Netgear Nighthawk Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System comprises a main router unit, paired with one or more satellite nodes (depending on your chosen package). Each unit sports a sleek black design with wing-like antennas that lend to their “Nighthawk” moniker. Though not unattractive, some may find these units a bit too conspicuous.
Setting up the system is straightforward using the Netgear Nighthawk app. Once connected to your modem or gateway, it asks you to position the satellites throughout your home for ideal coverage. While managing settings within the app is simple enough, power users may feel frustrated by some limitations in customization options.
When analyzing a wireless network system like this one, network speed and coverage are essential factors. On paper, the Nighthawk Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System promises impressive throughput for simultaneous data streaming across multiple devices. It also accounts for increasing demand with its support of up to 1.8 Gbps speeds.
In our tests, we found performance to be inconsistent, falling short of expectations. While there were moments where we witnessed satisfactory speeds and connection quality, these periods were interspersed with dips in performance and less-than-optimal coverage throughout our test environment.
Additionally, we expected seamless handover between nodes as we moved between coverage zones. Regrettably, this was not the case, as we occasionally experienced connection hiccups during transitions.
Wi-Fi 6 and Future-Proofing
One of the selling points of the Nighthawk Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System is its support for Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax. Touted as a future-proof solution, Wi-Fi 6 theoretically offers improved speed, bandwidth, and efficiency over its predecessor (Wi-Fi 5 or 802.11ac).
However, to fully benefit from Wi-Fi 6 capabilities, users must own compatible devices—which currently represent a minority of available hardware. For those using devices still running on earlier Wi-Fi standards, the Nighthawk Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System might not be worth the investment.
Though the Netgear Nighthawk Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System may appear promising with its sleek design and Wi-Fi 6 compatibility, it disappointingly falls short in terms of critical aspects like performance and coverage consistency. Until improvements can be made in these areas and with the limited ubiquity of Wi-Fi 6 devices currently available, spending your money on this mesh system might not be worthwhile for all users.