Netgear Nighthawk S8000 network switch review
Network switches are never the sexiest or most exiting of things. Can the Netgear Nighthawk S8000 change this?
The Netgear Nighthawk router range is the company’s flagship consumer router series. These are designed primarily for high performance streaming and gaming.
These tend to be loaded with powerful radios, fast processors and top flight QoS (Quality of Service) tech to prioritise the hungriest devices. They also tend to look like something straight from Area 51.
Well, Netgear has taken this philosophy and implemented it on their new Nighthawk switch, the S8000.
I first spotted it at CES earlier in the year. Now, I’ve been allowed to spend some quality time with it.
Nighthawk S8000 design
Before I even opened the box, I knew that this is no ordinary switch.
The packaging is pretty swish and the internal carton has a holographic shimmery print. Nice.
Included in the packaging is some documentation, a power adapter, and the main event. The Nighthawk S8000 switch.
Netgear Nighthawk S8000 switch
Netgear continues to up the ante. The S8000 is constructed entirely of metal.
To be precise, it’s a “cool-touch” premium zinc-alloy housing. This has been selected for both durability and looks.
Continuing with the looks, you can instantly tell it’s a Nighthawk design. Just look at those angles.
As much as I love my Linkys WRT SE4008, I will admit that it lives behind my tape deck. The S8000 definitely wants to be looked at – even though its dressed like a stealth fighter.
At the rear, the switch features eight Gigabit Ethernet ports, a LED on/off button, and a DC in power port.
It looks even better when its switched on and the room is dark. It’s the switch that a Cylon Centurion, or K.I.T.T. would choose 😉
The light at the front basically says that it’s on.
You then have a row of lights at the back, one per port, to show activity.
Nighthawk S8000 performance
Like much of the Nighthawk range, the S8000 could be considered overkill for some households.
I am still hanging on to the D8500 (I think I will buy it) and this has six ethernet ports. That would be enough for most people. So, why would you need another eight Gigabit Ethernet ports in a switch?
Well, firstly, most routers will only pack four ports. Again, it’s enough for most people. But, if you’re using the free one bundled in with your provider’s package, I would very much doubt that the router has port aggregation.
The S8000 does, and then some.
It also supports QoS functionality, rate limiting, and latencies down to a microsecond.
I tried my best at taxing the switch with streaming 4K video and hi-res audio whilst transferring 4K files from my PC down to my NAS through the switch.
At no point did the S8000 have any issues in delivering Gigabit performance to each port simultaneously.
Pinging devices through the switch generally resulted in sub-1ms response times.
The Netgear Nighthawk S8000 is a smart switch. This means you would expect some control over settings and monitoring.
Just as well that it does exactly that.
To access the aforementioned settings you will need to head over to your network devices in Windows Explorer – if you’re running a Windows machine.
Click on the Nighthawk S8000 and enter the default password which is, errrr, password.
Yes, I call my NAS Wuffles.
Once that’s all done you’ll get the home page.
Here you’ll find a quick status report of the switch.
As you can see, this shows if those sexy blue lights are on or not, information about the profiles on the ports, and the switch’s IP configuration.
This is a handy bit of loveliness.
Being able to set profiles for each port allows users to give priority to certain devices.
So, if you want your gaming console to get most juice you can. Just as you can limit your sibling’s constant downloading fest, for example.
Netgear recommends you use port No. 1 for your main gaming device and port No. 2 for your main streaming device. Both of these have presets already applied in the software, so you can use it as is.
The Nighthawk S8000 includes QoS functionality that can either use a port-based method or 802.1P/DSCP for those with networks that support it.
Basically, you are able to easily limit certain ports to certain amounts of bandwidth. As I mentioned before, your online tournament should not slow down just because someone else in the home is watching Netflix.
Simply choose the port and the priority level or choose a port and the maximum bandwidth allocated and everything is sorted.
For those with devices that support link aggregation it gets even better.
My NAS takes two ports in aggregation. Well, the Nighthawk S8000 is capable of aggregating up to four ports for better performance – up to 4 Gigabits!
Netgear has also built in various switch discovery protocols such as uPnP or Bonjour to easily detect the switch.
It will even tell you if you have a dodgy Ethernet cable!
Nighthawk S8000 review conclusion
The Netgear Nighthawk S8000 looks great and feels like a quality device.
Furthermore it’s feature-rich and easy to setup.
More importantly, the S8000 maintains full Gigabit bandwidth even under heavy loads and keeps speedy, low latencies.
The Netgear Nighthawk S8000 looks and performs like a high-end consumer switch, and is priced accordingly.
Nighthawk S8000 price and availability
You can buy the S8000 now from Amazon. If you hurry, you can snatch one for £72 instead of its £99 RRP!