Netgear Nighthawk X6S Tri-Band Wifi Range Extender REVIEW
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Not too long ago, I started adding smart devices to my home network. I discovered very quickly that the router I had in place was not enough to handle the device load that I had produced from adding smart home items. So, I upgraded my wireless router to an Orbi system by Netgear. The Orbi is by design a mesh network with a base and satellite units included in the system. The satellite is meant to act as an extender for the base unit but sometimes it’s not enough. Even though the Orbi has made our network more stable — especially with the smart devices — there have still been some problem areas inside our house. So we recently decided to add a network extender and turned back to Netgear to try out their Nighthawk X6S Tri-Band Wifi Range Extender (EX8000).
The Nighthawk X6S is the first Nighthawk tri-band range extender with patented FastLane3 technology. The device is designed to boost your WiFi to extreme speeds up to 3Gbps. The extender should eliminate WiFi dead zones and connect those hard-to-reach areas of your home to your network. The extender includes a dedicated 5GHz band with up to 1.7Gbps for providing internet speeds to your devices.
One of the features I really like about this extender is that it is designed to be seamless with your current network. The Nighthawk X6S doesn’t create a separate WiFi network name, it uses the same SSID as your current router. This prevents your devices from having to disconnect/reconnect to the extended network. Many other extenders cause this to happen.
You can choose to have the Nighthawk X6S become a wireless access point if you wish. This is helpful for those who have prewired homes (or businesses). In addition to creating a more solid network by boosting its signal, the EX8000 also features an option called ‘Smart Roaming,’ which connects your mobile devices to the most robust WiFi signal possible. The extender supports WiFi Protected Access (WPA/WPA2-PSK) and WEP standards for security. The system requires Microsoft Internet Explorer 8.0, Firefox 20, Safari 5.1, or Google Chrome 25.0 (or higher) along with 2.4 and/or 5GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi router or gateway.
WiFi Technology 802.11ac WiFi Performance AC3000 WiFi Band
- Band 1: 400Mbps @2.4GHz — 256QAM
- Band 2: 866Mbps @5GHz — 256QAM
- Band 3: 1733Mbps @5GHz — 256QAM
Number of Ethernet Ports Four (4) 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports with auto-sensing technology Number of USB Ports One (1) USB 2.0 Standards
- IEEE® 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz
- IEEE 802.11 a/n/ac 5GHz
- IEEE 802.11 k
The extender is VERY easy to work with. I have tried to set up other extenders that just refuse to connect to my existing network and I end up with nothing but frustration. The Nighthawk X6S is a blessing in disguise if you are looking for an easy way to enhance your home WiFi network. The hardware setup is pretty self-explanatory. Out of the box, there is no assembly required and all you really have to do is plug it into a power source. Since the X6S ties into your existing wireless network (or wired if you choose to make it an access point), you connect it in the same manner that you would a smart device. There are two methods — WPS or the Netgear Installation Assistant (requires a computer or mobile device). I prefer to use the Netgear Installation Assistant because I’ve had better luck with it being more consistent with setup and I just feel like I have more control throughout the process. NOTE: You cannot use the WPS method if your network is hidden or uses WEP.
When you first power up the extender, it will show up as a separate network on your network list. You will need to connect to it and then visit http://mywifiext.local in your internet browser (for iOS and Mac devices — the address is slightly different if you are using a Windows computer or Android device). Once you type that in, you will be taken to the Installation Assistant page and you can set up your new extender. You will have the option to select WiFi Range Extender or Access Point. I selected the range extender option and then had to select the existing network that I wanted to extend. Our Orbi actually puts out a 2.4GHz and 5Ghz signal so I selected both. You will then have to enter the password for that network and the Nighthawk X6S will connect. At the end of the process, you will see a page that shows your network is up and running with a graphic that depicts how each of the bands are performing through the extender.
That’s pretty much it. The Nighthawk X6S has a very easy setup and interface to work with. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles to wade through, but you can easily customize settings how you would like to. After the network is up an running, you can log into the extender to change settings. I have not worked with this much as I have been happy with the way the extender is performing with its native settings, but I did notice that the menu was easy to navigate and I didn’t have trouble finding different options within the settings menu. The entire process with the Nighthawk X6S has been very user-friendly in my opinion.
I have noticed that my WiFi signal has been stronger all the way through my house and I have had fewer dropoff issues since installing the Nighthawk X6S. Having the extender as a part of our network structure has simply solidified our Internet signal. Even though we have a mesh system set-up, we were still having a few issues with a slower signal in our bedroom, but by placing the extender in that room, we have a much more solid signal and the speed is maintained throughout the back of our house. I can recommend this device based on its easy setup and proven performance with Wifi networks.
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Originally published at macsources.com on April 4, 2018.