Netgear RAXE300 Review: A Better RAXE500
If you’re looking for a Netgear Wi-Fi 6E router and feel the RAXE500 is not worth the cost — and you’re probably right — the Nighthawk RAXE300 8-Stream AXE7800 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6E router is welcome news.
Wi-Fi 6E: The pros, cons, and its novelty
As the name suggests, specs-wise, the RAXE300 is a lesser version of the RAXE500 with a total bandwidth of 7800Mbps compared to the 11000Mbps. In return, it costs $200 less.
In reality, in my opinion, the RAXE300 is a much better router in terms of hardware design — despite the similar look — and performance. But at the core, it has a lot in common with its older cousin.
This brief review, written mainly as a RAXE300 vs RAXE500 matchup, will focus on the differences between the two. Before continuing, you might want to check out my in-depth review of the RAXE500. But the RAXE300 is a better alternative to the previous model to cut to the chase.
Dong’s note: I first published this post on January 3, 2022, as a news piece when Netgear first announced the router and updated it on July 12, 2022, as a review after thorough hands-on testing. The router became available for purchase on July 1.
Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 vs RAXE500: Half of the 6GHz goodness, but (almost) double the value
As part of the Nighthawk family, the Netgear RAXE300 and RAXE500 have a lot in common. If you have used a Netgear router or any router with a web user interface, you’ll be able to work with either without issues.
The Netgear RAXE300 has a generic QoS feature and limited Wi-Fi settings where you can only pick a band to perform at a certain speed grade.
Let’s go quickly over their similarities.
Nighthawk RAXE300 vs RAXE500: Similarities
Both are massive Wi-Fi broadcasters with a cool-looking futuristic design with two large collapsible wings that house the antennas. On the inside, they are both Wi-Fi 6E routers, among a few from Netgear that support this new standard.
Since early 2021, disappointingly, Netgear has been removing features from the web interface to coerce users into the mobile app. Still, you can do a lot with these two in building a local network. Here are some bullet points of what you’ll find in both routers
- Standard setup process: You can set up the router the way you do any other with a standard web interface by visiting its default IP, which is 192.168.1.1, from a connected computer, and the rest is self-explanatory. (Alternatively, you can also use the mobile app for this.)
- Common network settings: There’s a standard set of network settings and features, including DHCP, Dynamic DNS, port forwarding, VPN, and so on.
- Limited Wi-Fi settings: You can only set each band to work at “up to” a specific speed grade, which is somewhat redundant since there’s no reason why you don’t want to pick the highest number. And in any case, the router would still pick compatibility over Wi-Fi performance.
- Generic QoS: There’s a QoS feature that you can turn on or off. Once turned on, it works based on a database. There’s no way to know what it does and how well.
- ReadyShare-ready: You can use the router’s USB port to host a storage device. In this case, there are different ways to share the storage across the local network or the Internet. Or you can turn the router into a DLNA Media Server for local streamers.
- Minimal Multi-Gig support: The router has just a single 2.5Gbps port that can work as a LAN (default) or a WAN (*). Consequently, there’s no way to get an actual Multi-Gig connection speed out of the router. But you can use this post to host a fast NAS server for a super-fast Internet connection to divide the bandwidth between connected clients.
- Nighthawk mobile app: Apart from the web interface, you can opt for the Netgear Nighthawk mobile app, which is convenient to use but will require a login account — it can be a privacy concern.
- Add-on subscriptions: There’s no built-in online protection or Parental Controls, but mobile app users can opt for Netgear Armor and other add-ons via yearly subscriptions.
Netgear RAXE300’s advanced security features: The router no longer has Remote Management among its Advanced features and while Parental Controls require the mobile app, its Security features can handle some effective web-filtering.
And that brings us to the differences between these two. But first, let’s check out their hardware specs.
Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 vs RAXE500: Hardware specifications
|Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300
Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6E Router
|Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500
Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6E Router
|Wi-Fi Technology||Tri-Band AXE7800||Tri-Band AXE11000|
|First Band||2.4GHz 2×2 Wi-Fi 6
Up to 574Mbps
|2.4GHz 4×4 Wi-Fi 6
Up to 1148Mbps
|Second Band||5GHz 4×4 Wi-Fi 6
Up to 4804Mbps
|5GHz 4×4 Wi-Fi 6
Up to 4804Mbps
|Third Band||6GHz 2×2 Wi-Fi 6E
Up to 2402Mbps
|6GHz 4×4 Wi-Fi 6E
Up to 4804Mbps
|Number of 160MHz
|7x on one 6GHz band
2x on one 5GHz band
|7x on one 6GHz band
2x on one 5GHz band
|Gigabit Network Port||4x LAN, 1x WAN/WAN||4x LAN, 1x WAN/LAN|
|Multi-Gig Network Port||1x 2.5Gbps LAN/WAN||1x 2.5Gbps LAN/WAN|
|LAN Link Aggregation|| Yes
(LAN3 and LAN4)
(LAN3 and LAN4)
|WAN Link Aggregation||No||Yes (WAN + LAN1)|
|USB||1x USB 3.0
|2x USB 3.0
|Mobile App||Netgear Nighthawk||Netgear Nighthawk|
|Processing Power||1.7GHz quad-core CPU,
256MB Flash, 512MB RAM
|1.8GHz 64-bit CPU
512MB Flash, 1GB RAM
|Dimensions||11.86 x 8.16 x 3.23 in
(30.13 x 20.79 x 8.2 cm)
|11.7 x 8.3 x 3.07 in
(29.8 x 21.1 x 7.8 cm)
|Weight||2.23 lb (1.01kg)||3.2 lb (1.45 kg)|
(per 24 hours)
|≈ 200Wh||Not tested|
|Release Date||January 2022||January 2021|
Nighthawk RAXE300 vs RAXE500: The differences
The most significant difference between the RAXE300 vs the RAXE500 is the fact the new router features 2×2 hardware specs on the latest 6GHz band and therefore has only half the capacity — 2400Mbps (2.4Gbps) instead of 4800Mbps (4.8Gbps).
However, in real-world usage, we only have 2×2 clients, such as the Intel AX210 chip, so you might not see huge differences since the client can only connect at 2.4Gbps. But in real-world testing, this spec put the new router at some disadvantages — more in the performance section below.
Other than that, here are a few noticeable differences between these two:
- Fanless vs fan: The RAXE300, with lesser hardware specs, is slightly larger yet lighter than its older cousin. That’s because it now has a more airy chassis with better ventilation. With that, Netgear manages to do away with the internal fan, which is always good.
- The new Wi-Fi on/off and WPS hardware buttons: The RAXE300 comes with two hardware buttons on its front. One is a Wi-Fi on/off switch, and the other is for WPS. Both are toggle buttons and are not a good idea since you accidentally press on them. While you need to hold the Wi-Fi button for two seconds to turn the router’s wireless bands on or off, it’s very easy to turn off Wi-Fi by accident in my trial.
- USB-C vs USB-A: The RAXE300 comes with a single USB 3.0 port using the now-standard USB-C form. The RAX500, on the other hand, has two USB 3.0 ports using the old USB-A.
- Remote Management: Since late 2020, Netgear has been quietly removing Remote Management (and some other features), even retrospectively, from its routers to force users into the mobile app. (The RAXE500 originally came with this feature, and if you’ve been using it, you’ll still have it.) The RAXE300, on the other hand, is the first Nighthawk router I know that comes without this feature, and you can never manage it remotely via Dynamic DNS.
Netgear quietly kills Remote Management in favor of the mobile app
Netgear RAXE300 (vs RAXE500): Detail photos
Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300: Mostly excellent performance
Unlike the RAXE500, one of the first Wi-Fi 6E routers, the RAXE300 is the 10th router of the new standard I’ve tested. That said, it no longer enjoys the “wow” factor.
Still, the route did very well in my week-long testing. Despite the lesser hardware specs, it felt like it was a better performance than its predecessor. Note though that I tested it with the latest firmware which likely included improvements likely weren’t available to the RAXE500 when I reviewed it.
Fast Wi-Fi performance, excellent range, and reliability
The Nighthawk RAXE300’s Wi-Fi throughputs were among the fastest I’ve seen, especially on the 5GHz, where it has top specs.
The router did well on the 6GHz band, too, though, as expected, it was noticeably slower than higher-tier peers.
The Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 had an excellent range during my trial. It’s always hard to gauge this, but its coverage proved to be as good as any high-end router. If you have a home of some 2000 ft2 (186 m2), it can reach every corner when placed in the middle.
It’s important to note that this is the router’s collective range. Its 6GHz has the same range as any other Wi-Fi 6E router: short. Don’t expect to get a meaningful 6GHz connection out of it from farther than 60 feet away within a line of sight. If there’s a wall, this range will be even much shorter.
The router passed my 3-day stress test with no issue. We experienced no disconnection from it.
In terms of Internet speed via Wi-Fi, I generally could get around 1.2Gbps from the router when it hosted a 10Gbps Fiber-optic line using its 2.5Gbps port.
So overall, considering the cost, the RAXE300 was impressive in Wi-Fi performance compared to the more expensive RAXE500. It’s a much better deal on this front.
USB 2.0-like NAS performance (when hosting a portable SSD)
The new router proved to be clearly behind the older model in its network-attached storage performance when hosting a storage device via its USB-C port.
I tried it with several external drives (from this best portable SSDs list) and generally didn’t experience USB 3.0 speeds. It stuck at the max sustained rates of USB 2.0.
And that was the case whether I used a 1Gbps or 2.5Gbs wired connection for the testing. Sometimes, the router did peak at USB 3.0-like speeds, but its performance fluctuated so much during my standard test, which involves a large copy job, that in the end, the number ended up terrible.
Hopefully, a new firmware update will improve this but, for now, while using the RAXE300 for light network storage needs is OK, a real NAS server is in order if you want more.
Wi-Fi 6E-ready with excellent performance
Flexible 2.5Gbps LAN/WAN port, USB-C
Robust web interface, helpful (optional) mobile app
Cool fanless, wall-mountable design
Middling 6GHz specs; No standard Remote Management via Dynamic DNS
No 10Gbps port, only one 2.5Gbps port; not-well-thought-out Wi-Fi on/off button
Limited Wi-Fi settings and online protection/Parental Controls require a mobile app and subscription
Mediocre NAS performance when hosting a portable SSD
The Nighthawk RAXE300 is a sensible Tri-band Wi-Fi 6E router from Netgear.
Considering the neutered firmware that no longer has Remote Management, I’d unlikely ever use it for myself. But overall this new outer is a much better deal compared to the RAXE500 which costs 50 percent more.
That said, if you want to remain within Netgear’s ecosystem, it’s safe to get the Nighthawk RAXE300 today. For possibly even better deals that might fit your needs better, check out other Wi-Fi 6E options.
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