Netgear Nighthawk MK83 review

Netgear Nighthawk MK83 review

Fast, reliable mesh system with support for the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology Epblogs goal is to be the tech side of trust. We are proud of our independence and of our Netgear Nighthawk MK83 review thorough testing methods, in which we take our time with a product. We regularly check our test reports for changes and thus keep them up-to-date over a longer period of time – regardless of when a device was released.guaranteed reviews . Trust our Epblogs comprehensive reviews. We tested the products over a longer period of time and were able to see how they cope with everyday tasks. This is how we help you to find the best product for your read our guaranteed reviews .

Epblogs verdict

Netgear really needs to work on its Nighthawk app – and stop using it to sell subscriptions – but we can’t fault the performance and reliability of this high-end mesh Wi-Fi system.

The launch of the Netgear MK83 has been very low key, and it’s currently only available in the US for $399.99 (£299 or AU$553.23 plus taxes, when ordered via Amazon US). However, the MK63 had a similar US-only launch last year, and that’s now widely available online, so we’d expect the MK83 to reach other regions in due course.

Netgear’s Orbi range of mesh Wi-Fi systems has proven popular with both home and business users over the last couple of years, but the company has quietly developed a second range of mesh systems using the Nighthawk brand name and sombre black designs that it traditionally uses for its more conventional routers. 

We liked the Nighthawk MK63 that it launched last summer, but the new MK83 is a significant upgrade that that steps up from dual-band to tri-band Wi-Fi 6 (aka 802.11ax) and doubles its top speed to an imposing 3600Mbps.

Netgear Nighthawk MK83 Specs
Wireless ConnectivityWi-Fi 6 (IEEE 802.11ax), tri-band 2.4GHz + 5GHz + 5GHz
Processor1.5GHz, quad-core
Memory512MB
Storage245MB Flash
BeamformingExplicit for 2.4GHz and 5GHz
PortsRouter – 4x Gigabit Ethernet; Satellites – 2x Gigabit Ethernet
Dimensions (HxWxD)92 x 140 x 140mm, 0.63kg

Design and features

The MK83 has a similar design to its predecessor, consisting of three black pods with a glossy finish and tessellated patterns on the top panel. However, its higher speed requires additional internal antennae, and it sports some additional Ethernet ports too, which means that the MK83 is considerably larger and stands 92mm high and 140mm wide and deep.

Most mesh Wi-Fi systems simply consist of two or three identical routers, but the MK83 follows Netgear’s more individual approach, which is to provide a primary router and two ‘satellite’ units. 

The three units do look almost identical, but it’s easy to tell them apart as the primary router has four Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back. One of these ports is used to connect it to your existing modem or router in order to use your Internet connection, while the other three provide a wired network connection for a laptop, gaming console or other devices. The two satellites just have two Ethernet ports on the back for wired connections, but it’s nice to have the option of multiple wired connections on all three devices.

But, as we’ve seen in the past, the Nighthawk app is a little more basic. By default, the app creates a single network that merges the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz bands, but it doesn’t provide an option to split those into two separate networks so that you can choose the frequency band you prefer. 

The MK83 does provide an alternative web browser interface that allows you to create separate networks, and to adjust other settings as well, but that’s really only suitable for advanced users who have a fair amount of experience with routers and networking technology.

Parental controls have always been a weakness with Netgear routers too, and although the company recently announced a new Smart Parental Controls service, this does require a subscription fee of $7.99 per month, or $69.99 annually. And, at the time of this review, the service was only available for a limited number of Orbi and Nighthawk models, and didn’t seem to be available for the MK83.

The app makes other attempts at getting you to spend money too. There’s a 30-day trial for Netgear’s Armor security service provided with the MK83, but after the trial period you’ll need to pay £59.99/$69.9 to keep using it. 

The app also plugs Netgear’s extended warranty and technical support options too. We don’t expect Netgear to give all these features away for free, but some of its rivals provide better parental controls at no extra cost.

Performance and getting started

  • Ookla Speed Test – 2.4GHz (download/upload) : Within 5ft, no obstructions: 100Mbps/11Mbps Within 30ft, three partition walls: 80Mbps/11Mbps 
  • Ookla Speed Test – 5.0GHz : Within 5ft, no obstructions: 100Mbps/11Mbps Within 30ft, three partition walls: 100Mbps/11Mbps 
  • 20GB Steam Download – 2.4GHz : Within 5ft, no obstructions:  12.5MB/s Within 30ft, three partition walls: 6.4MB/s
  • 20GB Steam Download – 5.0GHz : Within 5ft, no obstructions:  12.5MB/s Within 30ft, three partition walls: 12.5MB/s

Last year’s Nighthawk MK63 was easy to set up and use, but the new MK83 did seem a little more temperamental during the initial set-up process. The app for iOS and Android devices does allow you to scan a QR code in order to set up the primary router and connect to its new Wi-Fi network. 

However, it failed to automatically connect the primary router to the two additional satellites as well. The app does suggest bringing the satellites closer to the primary router during the initial set-up, but the sync process still failed even when all three devices were sitting together on the same shelf. 

In the end, we unplugged the two satellites and set up the primary router on its own. Once that was working we were able to manually connect the satellites one at a time and then move them further away into the locations where we needed them.

Thankfully, the MK83 fared better when it came to boosting our Wi-Fi performance. Devices in the same room as the primary router didn’t gain any major benefit – that’s not to be expected – but the real improvement came in the back office where the weak Wi-Fi signal means that our iMac normally relies on a PowerLine adaptor to provide a wired network connection.

The slower 2.4GHz band managed a steady 80Mbps on the Ookla speed test, which is a big improvement on the erratic and unreliable 45Mbps that we get from our normal router. 

Steam downloads did well too, with the MK83 boosting the 2.4GHz band from its normal 4.9MB/s to 6.4MB/s. Meanwhile, the 5.0GHz band on the MK83 cruised along at 100Mbps on the Ookla speed test, and 12.5MB/s for Steam downloads – easily hitting the highest speeds that are supported by our office broadband.

If you simply want a fast, reliable mesh Wi-Fi system that is suitable for larger homes then the Nighthawk MK83 will do the job very well indeed. However, the Nighthawk app is rather basic, and relies a little too heavily on selling you additional subscription services.

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