Netgear Nighthawk AX12 Review 2023: Your 12-Stream Wi-Fi 6 Router | Netgear RAX120

Today, in my hands, I have Netgear Nighthawk’s one of the widespread Wi-Fi 6 routers called AX12 or RAX120. What makes the router so special? What are its hidden secrets? Is this the best router for Xfinity ISP? Let’s find out. 

authorThomas Parris
Netgear Nighthawk AX12 Review

The Netgear Nighthawk AX12 is a Wi-Fi 6 router, utilizes the latest wireless standard 802.11ax that ensures fast throughput and media-transfer speeds. 

Before we get into its core features, let’s jump on its pros & cons and the verdict. 

Pros & Cons: The Netgear Nighthawk RAX120

What I like

  1. The latest wireless standard 802.11ax
  2. Incredible throughput rate
  3. Fast file-transfer speeds
  4. Its 5GbE port
  5. Its installation; easy and simple

What I don’t

  1. Costly
  2. Parental controls could be improved.

Testing: What did the testing of Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 include? 

Since the Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 is a Wi-Fi 6 compatible router, it requires a client device with the same wireless standard technology (802.11ax) in order to perform at its pace. Therefore, I needed to prepare a laptop (I used Dell XPS 15 equipped with a Killer™ AX1650, 2×2, Intel Wi-Fi 6 network adapter) with the same category’s 802.11ax network adapter. 

Once I finished the setup, I connected the RAX120 to the cable modem and then my laptop. Then, I went through the router login process; it took nothing but a few simple steps, such as opening a browser, typing in the address bar, and finishing the installation wizard. 

Within 12~15 seconds, after creating a solid password during the installation process, the router was up and ready for testing. During these steps, I also checked whether the router’s firmware was up-to-date. 

Design: It’s unique and looks Premium

At first glance, you can’t help thinking of star wars ships. Yes, its design conjures up images of Star Wars B-wing fighter. Besides, the RAX120 shares the same design as the previous Nighthawk model RAX80. Its unique body with fully extended wings measures (6.5Hx13.5Wx8.5D)inches and weighs around 3lb (1364g). Unlike most typical routers, it has an array of LED indicators, including WAN, LANx5, Power, USBx2, Wi-Fix2, WPS, and Wi-Fi On/Off. 

On the router’s back panel, you’ll find four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, a WAN port (internet port), two USB 3.0 ports, and a 5GbE port. Apart from these connectivity ports, it houses some physical buttons, such as power, reset, and WPS button. 

Hardware & Speeds: What does the Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 promise? 

The Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 is equipped with a robust 2.2GHz quad-core processor. It carries 1GB of flash memory and 512MB of RAM. With dual-band frequency (2.4GHz & 5GHz) support, it has 12 streams to serve multiple bandwidth-hungry devices simultaneously. However, its four streams are for the 2.4GHz band and the other eight for the 5GHz band. 

When it comes to speeds, the 2.4GHz band delivers up to 1.2Gbps and the 5GHz band up to 4.8Gbps. Moreover, the RAX120 supports advanced technologies, such as MU-MIMO, Beamforming, 1024-QAM, and OFDMA.

Management: Mobile App & Web   

Like Netgear Nighthawk RAX80, the RAX120 has the same mobile and as well as web console. Moreover, both routers share the same configure and Wi-Fi settings. Plus, I didn’t find advanced internet settings on its mobile app, such as port triggering, VPN, port forwarding, etc. But, Its app had all the basic settings like pause/resume network access, speed test, connected devices status, Guest Network, QoS (Quality of Service), ReadyShare USB devices, etc. 

On the other hand, its web management console has all the advanced settings mentioned above, including link aggregation. It also has an Advanced tab that consists of advanced settings to configure Media Server, check system logs, view network statistics, and the option to update the firmware. 

While testing these settings, I found its parental control settings quite limited. Also, I couldn’t find any anti-malware tools in it that the Tp-Link AX6000 offers. 

Performance: How does the Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 perform? 

As the RAX120 supports the latest wireless standard, its 5GHz throughput performance is awe-inspiring, incredibly fast. Besides, its file transfer rate is also impressive. 

Its 2.4GHz performance was up to the mark, scored 130Mbps, found around 30Mbps faster than TP-Link AX6000, on the same band and in the same room. Then, I moved the client at a distance of 25 feet; the RAX120 scored around 70Mbps, again found faster than Tp-Link AX6000. 

On the other hand, The RAX120 on the 5GHz band was a step ahead compared to the 2.4GHz throughput. The previous speed of 130Mbps turned into 839Mbps for the same close-proximity test. Then, with a distance of 25 feet, the AX12 on the 5GHz band delivered 439Mbps, way faster than Asus RT-AX88U and Tp-Link AX6000.  

Now, It was time to test its file transfer performance. I plugged the USB into the router’s USB 3.0 port. A 2GB folder with mixed content (image, music, video, and document files) had been the testing procedure. However, I didn’t use my Dell XPS 15 laptop; instead, I chose a desktop PC for testing read and write speeds. 

It was pretty impressive to see its performance better than ASUS RT-AX88U for the file transfer test. Yes, the RAX120 scored 73Mbps on the write-test, which was faster than the RT-AX88U. Besides, its read test had been the same; the router delivered 73Mbps. However, Asus RT-AX88U and Tp-Link AX6000 took the medals, as they were a bit faster. 

Security: Is Netgear Nighthawk AX12 secured enough? 

When it comes to security, the Netgear Nighthawk AX12 supports the latest Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) as well as the more secured WPA3 encryption. However, there is no malware protection and strong enough parental controls. 

Wi-Fi 6: Why should getting a Wi-Fi 6 router be your goal?  

The wireless standard 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6 is a next-gen wireless networking technology replacing the older yet popular 802.11ac wireless standard, which has been on the market since 2013. Therefore, for the last couple of years, Wi-Fi 6 compatible routers have become more popular than Wi-Fi 5 routers.

Why Wi-Fi 6 should be your target?

Being the latest version, The Wi-FI 6 has to offer faster throughput performance, increased capacity to handle multiple simultaneous devices, and better battery life performance for connected smartphones. 

What about its Availability? 

It’s been quite common to find 802.11ax wireless standard routers on the market these days. However, finding Wi-Fi 6 clients is not that easy, such as your laptop, smartphone, and other similar client devices. 

Conclusion: What do I think about the Netgear Nighthawk AX12 (RAX120)?

For the price of around $500, the Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 offers many advanced features and technologies. However, there is no doubt that the router’s price might be an issue for some people. 

In my testing with the same category routers, such as Tp-Link AX6000 and Asus RT-AX88U, its performance was excellent on the 5GHz band. Unlike the two, the RAX supports WPA3 security and performs well when it comes to transferring files. 

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