Time For Another Upgrade? NETGEAR Debuts AC3200 Nighthawk

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Tim Higgins

NETGEAR logoNETGEAR has announced the first AC3200 router.

The R8000 Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band WiFi Router is no longer a rumor. It’s the first router based on Broadcom’s XStream platform announced only in two months ago, beating ASUS’ RT-AC3200 announced a few weeks ago at Computex.

The "Tri-Band" branding refers to the three radios in the XStream architecture; one covers the 2.4 GHz band, while the second radio covers the low 5 GHz band (Channels 36 – 48) and the third radio covers the high band (Channels 149 – 165).

NETGEAR R8000 Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band WiFi Router

NETGEAR R8000 Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band WiFi Router

A total of six non-upgradeable antennas are configured as three dual-band for the 2.4 and 5 GHz low band radios and three single-band for the high-band 5 GHz. The router comes configured with a single 5 GHz SSID with the router automatically assigning devices to one of the two radios based on actual connect rate. (For more on XStream see MU-MIMO vs. XStream: The Coming Battle For Wi-Fi Airtime.)

NETGEAR R8000 feature callouts

NETGEAR R8000 feature callouts

NETGEAR’s specs say the R8000 supports alternative distros that will be available from MyOpenRouter.com. Other features include:

  • Dual-core 1 GHz Broadcom BCM4709 CPU
  • Beamforming support
  • IPv6 support
  • Open VPN server
  • Gigabit WAN (1) and switched LAN (4) ports
  • One each USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports for storage and printer sharing

Not among the R8000’s features is Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) support. That requires a "Wave 2" 802.11ac chipset, which Broadcom’s XStream architecture doesn’t have. The first MU-MIMO capable routers will be based on either Quantenna or Qualcomm Atheros silicon and require client devices also supporting MU-MIMO.

ASUS announced its Quantenna-based RT-AC87U at CES and recent Forum posts indicate that engineering samples are in the field. But no firm ship date has been announced. It is unclear whether the RT-AC87U will support MU-MIMO when it starts shipping. NETGEAR’s outed R7500 X4 Nighthawk presentation material clearly states that it will be "MU-MIMO Ready".

The R8000 is available for pre-order today at an MSRP of $299.99, with shipments starting July 11.

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