Rating: 9/10 ?
  • 1 - Does not work
  • 2 - Barely functional
  • 3 - Severely lacking in most areas
  • 4 - Functions, but has numerous issues
  • 5 - Fine yet leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 - Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 - Great and worth purchasing
  • 8 - Fantastic, approaching best-in-class
  • 9 - Best-in-class
  • 10 - Borderline perfection
Price: $360
The Netgear Nighthawk RAX300 router on a bookshelf.
Jordan Gloor / How-To Geek

The Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 router joined the Nighthawk family as one of the first to feature the Wi-Fi 6E standard. Its tri-band signal really packs a punch, though to truly take advantage of the RAXE300, you’ll need cutting-edge wireless devices and a hearty gigabit Internet plan.

I spent about three weeks using this router with a 1-gigabit connection streaming and moving files on top of regular work-from-home activities. It was mostly a seamless and problem-free experience, though I found the new 6Ghz band specifically couldn’t reach every corner of my relatively small house. The number of LAN ports may disappoint if you plan to wire up, and the maximum WAN connection, 2.5Gbps, isn’t the highest on the market.

That said, as long as you don’t expect to get an Internet plan exceeding 2.5 gigabits in the router’s lifetime, the RAXE300 certainly justifies its price point. Let’s dig into why Netgear went home with How-To Geek’s best router at CES 2022 award.

Here's What We Like

  • Reliable, cutting-edge connection
  • Impressive maximum speeds
  • Fool-proof setup

And What We Don't

  • Limited 6Ghz range
  • WAN ports could be better

How-To Geek's expert reviewers go hands-on with each product we review. We put every piece of hardware through hours of testing in the real world and run them through benchmarks in our lab. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product and never aggregate other people’s reviews. Read more >>

Set Up: Generally a Cinch

The wall plug, Ethernet cabke, and router included in the box when you buy a Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300.
What you get in the box. Jordan Gloor / How-To Geek

Getting the RAXE300 up and running was virtually plug-and-play using the Nighthawk app (available on Android and iPhone). I did find it annoying though that it tries to make you create a Netgear account before beginning setup. If you already have an account, that obviously won’t be a problem. If you don’t, here’s a quick tip: I found I was able to bypass that requirement by disconnecting from Wi-Fi and mobile data before opening the app. (After completing the initial setup, though, you’ll have to register to keep using the app.)

After walking through the setup, the router needed to update before I could use it. A couple of minutes later, though, that glorious set of three frequency options was on my network lists.

As an aside, the dual-band mesh routers I was using before placed both 2.5Ghz and 5Ghz channels under a single SSID, and I opted during the RAXE300’s setup to use the same SSID and password. This conveniently allowed my devices to auto-connect to the new network, but it ended up less helpful than I expected. Since the RAXE300 by default differentiates the SSIDs of the two upper bands by appending “-5G” and “-6G,” I was auto-connecting to the 2.5Ghz band and had to manually move the devices that could up to the 5Ghz and 6Ghz bands. It was a minor inconvenience, though, that wasn’t really the router’s fault.

Hardware: Sleek Body, Sparse Ports

Ports on the back of the Nighthawk RAXE300 router.
Jordan Gloor / How-To Geek

  • 1 x 2.5-gig Internet/Ethernet port
  • 1 x 1-gig Internet/Ethernet port
  • 4 x 1-gig Ethernet ports (2 LAN aggregate-capable)
  • 1 x Type-C USB 3.0 port

The RAXE300 embodies the Nighthawk name with its two signature fins encasing its six preotimized antennas. While the fins fold down for storage, the user manual says to stand them upright when in use. Those fins could have proved a problem by getting in the way if I’d wanted to wall-mount or hide my router. But let’s face it: a cutting-edge router like this deserves to be shown off.

On the front of the router are LED-lit WPS and Wi-Fi power buttons, and the rear panel hides the power and reset buttons. There are also LED indicator lights on the top panel for power, internet, USB, each wireless band, and each Ethernet port.

There are four dedicated 1-gig Ethernet ports, two of which can be aggregated to create a 2-gig connection. There are also two Internet ports, one for 1-gig and lower plans and the other for plans up to 2.5 gigabits, and each can double as a LAN port. So in total, you have five LAN ports available, or four if you want to aggregate, which is about on par for the current Wi-Fi 6E router market. If you value wired over wireless connections, though, you might rather step down to Wi-Fi 6 with the Asus RT-AX88U—our current pick for the best all-around Wi-Fi router—which gives you eight LAN ports while being at the time of writing $100 cheaper than the RAXE300.

Also, while the 2.5-gig WAN connection was sufficient for me, and will almost certainly cover whatever your current plan offers, it really isn’t the most impressive out there. Our budget pick among the best Wi-Fi 6E routers, the Linksys MR7500, still offers you four LAN ports while also supporting a 5-gigabit Internet connection, and for $50 less than the RAXE300. So by spending less you might actually manage to future-proof your network for bulkier internet packages.

To take advantage of the router’s USB port, I wanted to set up some local network storage, and it was mostly a breeze with the RAXE300. The only storage devices I had on hand, though, used traditional USB-A connections, and the RAXE300’s only USB port is Type-C, forcing me to rustle up an adapter. So if you like using the USB port on the back of your router for anything, make sure you’re ready with a USB-C cable or adapter.

The Best Wi-Fi 6E Routers of 2022

Best Wi-Fi 6E Router Overall
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000
Best Budget Wi-Fi 6E Router
Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E
Best Wi-Fi 6E Router for Gaming
Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500
Best Mesh Wi-Fi 6E Router
Netgear Orbi RBKE963
Best Budget Mesh Wi-Fi 6E Router
ASUS ZenWiFi ET8

Speed: Multi-Gigabit Goodness

  • Maximum Wired Speed: 2Gbps
  • Maximum 2.5Ghz Band Speed: 600Mbps
  • Maximum 5Ghz Band Speed: 4.8Gbps
  • Maximum 6Ghz Band Speed: 2.4Gbps

The RAXE300’s box advertises a maximum speed of 7.8Gbps, but you have to remember that number is the sum of all its wireless bands’ (theoretical) maximum speeds added together. You’re only ever going to be using one band at a time with any device. That said, my current 1-gig plan is still far less than the upper ceiling of the 5Ghz and 6Ghz bands.

That 6Ghz band you get in addition to the 2.4 and 5Ghz bands is one of the RAXE300’s most exciting features, thanks to the Wi-Fi 6E standard. The additional channels mean less congestion, and thus, potentially, more speed. You do need a Wi-Fi 6E-capable device to connect to the 6Ghz band, though, and relatively few of those exist on the market at the time of writing. The only 6E device I own is the Google Pixel 6.

When I used my Pixel in the best conditions I could create, standing in the same room as the router while other connected devices were few and not in use, my tests showed download and upload speeds at around 900Mbps on the 6Ghz band. (For context, streaming 4K video only uses about 15Mbps.)

The 5Ghz band was not far behind at around 850Mbps. In most other rooms, the 6Ghz band was still holding between 500Mbps and 800Mbps. The 5Ghz band, in contrast, held much closer to the maximum speed at greater distances than the 6Ghz.

In fact, the 5Ghz band was sufficient for my needs most of the time. I was able to transfer tens of 12.2MP photos from my phone to my PC in seconds. I never had problems cloud gaming or streaming my PC’s screen to my Quest 2 headset. I tried stress-testing the RAXE300 by watching YouTube on two different phones, watching 4K content on a smart TV, and uploading large files at the same time. I wasn’t able to create a negative experience on any one of them, except that the file upload time was slightly increased.

Coverage: Plenty for the Average Home

  • Maximum Range: 2,500 square feet
  • Maximum Connected Devices: 40

Having just a few years ago tolerated a router that had trouble maintaining connection even in the next room, the RAXE300 blew me away with its coverage. Netgear claims the RAXE300 can cover up to a 2,500 square feet home, just over the average size of a single-family house in the US. The 1,400-square-foot house I live in has two neighboring houses just a couple of yards away, so I encounter a decent amount of network interference, but the RAXE300 seemed mostly unphased.

While the 6Ghz band is the main attraction here, you have to temper your expectations with it. As you might already know from using the 5Ghz band before, higher bands use shorter radio waves, giving them more limited coverage.

I placed the RAXE300 in the office where I work and game, which is also conveniently in the center of the house. I could step out onto my porch and stay connected to the 6Ghz frequency, but not any farther. Whenever I walked down to the farthest corner of my basement, the 6Ghz signal would completely drop out, which was unfortunate since that’s the location of my treadmill.

In those cases, my Pixel would automatically fall back on the 5Ghz band, which picked up the slack with its better coverage. Even walking to the end of my driveway, around 45 feet from my porch, I was still getting 92Mbps download and 40Mbps upload.

But keep in mind that my house is about half the average US size, and the RAXE300’s 6Ghz band was just short of covering it in full. So any 6E devices you do have will need to stay near the router to take full advantage.

The App

If you already have a Nighthawk router, you’re probably familiar with the app. As stated earlier, you do need a Netgear account to use it. I felt the registration was worth it, though, because the app’s UI is significantly easier to navigate than the router login page. The app doesn’t have any ads (unless you count its promotions for Netgear’s Armor software).

While you’ll still need the router page for more advanced controls like QoS and port forwarding, the app can do other things the router page can’t. In particular, I found it handy for testing signal strength while optimizing the RAXE300’s placement.

Should You Buy the RAXE300?

If you have or plan to get a gigabit Internet plan and your home is an average or smaller building, the RAXE300 should definitely be on your list. If your home is larger than that, you might have better luck upgrading to the RAXE500‘s 3,500 square-foot coverage. Or go big with a deadzone-killing mesh router system like Netgear’s Orbi Wi-Fi 6E system.

With some router’s WAN ports these days reaching as high as 10 gigabits, the RAXE300’s 1 and 2.5-gig Internet ports aren’t the most future-proof options. You also might look elsewhere if you have serious wired networking needs (or look into ways you can add Ethernet ports). However, if you have an average-sized home and typical Internet demands, the RAXE300 will treat you well. While taking full advantage of the Wi-Fi 6E standard is difficult at the moment with so few 6E-enabled devices on the market, that problem can only diminish with time.

Rating: 9/10
Price: $360

Here’s What We Like

  • Reliable, cutting-edge connection
  • Impressive maximum speeds
  • Fool-proof setup

And What We Don't

  • Limited 6Ghz range
  • WAN ports could be better
Profile Photo for Jordan Gloor Jordan Gloor
Jordan Gloor is Technical Editor at How-To Geek. He's been tinkering with computers and other technology since childhood when his rural Arkansas home got dial-up internet. Jordan combines his skills in written communication with his penchant for tech to help create our informative how-to guides.
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