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Netgear Nighthawk X8 D8500 modem router review

Netgear Nighthawk X8 modem router

£360
8.8

Build quality

9.0/10

Design

8.5/10

Ease of use

9.0/10

Performance

9.0/10

Value

8.6/10

Pros

  • DSL modem
  • Tri-band performance
  • Port aggregation
  • Stability
  • Wi-Fi range

Cons

  • It's quite large but is 2-in-1

netgear r8500 nighthawk x8 reviewNetgear’s R8500, aka Nighthawk X8, was impressive when we had it to review. In fact, parting with it wasn’t easy. But, was there room for improvement? We didn’t think so until we found out about the D8500.

The Netgear Nighthawk X8 D8500 brings an extra function to the already awesome router. That power is DSL connectivity.

I live in London and do not have the option of fibre broadband. I don’t live in the outskirts either, I am firmly in Zone 3 and have an E17 postcode. There was a time I had a highspeed connection when I lived on the main road. The thing is that I moved literally a 5 minute’s walk away and now only have ADSL.

Not only does this mean that my speeds took a nose-dive, but it also has an effect on the hardware. Like most people with this set-up, I started with the modem/router bundled in by my service provider. It does alright but, as you can imagine, I generally utilise a different Wi-Fi router. This means two boxes, as well as a switch feeding my AV and other bits.

Can the X8 D8500 change all of this?

Netgear Nighthawk X8

I have already reviewed the Nighthawk X8 router but I will still cover the basics here.

If you want a more in-depth look, just bounce over to the R8500 review.

Netgear Nighthawk X8 D8500 design

The Nighthawk X8 isn’t small.

It actually measures 12.44- x 10.39- x 2.44-inches and weighs 3.7 pounds (1.7kg). This might be something you need to take in to consideration.

These dimensions allows its black body with blue highlights to be packed with tech.

Up front you’ll find push-button controls for Wi-Fi, the LEDs, and WPS.

nighthawk x8 side portsMoving along down the side you get a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 port hidden behind a little door.

However, it’s around the back that all the important stuff is.

Here you have six Gigabit LAN ports (most routers only have four) in addition to the Gigabit WAN (or Internet) port.

Check out our Netgear Nighthawk X10 router review – it’s an awesome bit of kit!

Two of those LAN ports can work together in a aggregation mode to create a 2Gbps connection to a wired client. These are currently employed by my NAS drive.

Joining those ports there’s a power on/off switch, and a reset pinhole. Additionally there is most important difference between this and the R8500 – the ADSL/VDSL port.

nighthawk x8 vdsl portNo more need for the free bundled modem!

We cannot ignore the antennas – especially as they are fitted with blue LEDs. The D8500 has four external ariels and another four internal ones.

Netgear Nighthawk X8 D8500 performance

With the X8 you get ReadySHARE as well as DLNA. There is also a bunch of security features. You can even set up your own FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server with a free customised URL.

Antennas

Those four internal and four external antennas allows the router to amplify the antennas reducing signal loss and crosstalk with modern PCB’s.

nighthawk x8 dsl modem router antennaEach radio is given a 5 GHz channel at 2.1 Gbps compared to the last gen 1.3 Gbps. The 2.4 Ghz channel is increased from 600 Mbps to 1Gbps.

For even better performance, these channels go through a feature called smart connect. This essentially chooses the best channel for your devices automagically.

MU-MIMO

Furthermore, there’s the Nighthawk x8’s MU-MIMO tech support.

This stands for Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output. When multiple devices are connected to the router, each device needs to take it’s turn and then wait before receiving more data. This leads to slower network and Internet speeds.

MU-MIMO technology delivers high-speed data streams to up to three devices simultaneously, so there’s less waiting, and so boosting overall network speeds for all Wi-Fi devices.

Speeds

We already discovered that the X8 was pretty speedy. With the addition of the VDSL/ADSL modem makes this quite a special device. The modem plays nice with VDSL, VDSL2, ADSL, ADSL2, and ADSL2+.

netgear nighthawk x8 vdsl frontThat means that the Nighthawk X8 not only delivers the fastest total WiFi, tri-band, speeds of up to 5.3Gbps, but saves space thanks to its two-in-one design—DSL modem plus AC5300 router.

In use

Set up is exactly as easy as it was with the R8500.

Netgear Genie is friendly enough. The main difference, of course, is that you have to set up your DSL connection. For this you will need your log in and password that was given to you by your provider. It is also handy if you take a note of your current DSL settings before swapping your current modem for the D8500.

All-in-all, I had the Nighthawk X8 in situ and running within 10 minutes (some of that time was due to me running up and down stairs).

nighthawk x8 dsl router modemnighthawk x8 dsl router modemI didn’t gain any extra speed when compared with the X8 R8500 and seperate modem. What I did gain was more space due to having one less box and an extra free power point. There is also the added bonus of fewer cables.

The range is great and so is stability. In the fortnight or so I have had the D8500 running I have not experienced any drop out or undue buffering.

Port aggregation with my NAS makes Plex and FLAC streaming buttery smooth.

Netgear Nighthawk X8 D8500 review conclusion

I very much doubt that there is a DSL modem router out there that is able to out-perform the Nighthawk X8 D8500.

Its six Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, including the pair of aggregated ports means that this is the only box most households will need. 4K streaming, multiple wireless devices, speedy back-ups and NAS connectivity are all covered.

In my home we run a pair of PCs, two tablets, two laptops, two smartphones and that’s just for starters. Add to that IP cameras, and Echo Dot, a networked disc player, a large telly, and the list goes on.

Talking about the Echo Dot, the X8 can also be controlled by Alexa!

The D8500 has been faultless, not to mention speedy. I hate to use “strong and stable” at this point but, that’s exactly what the X8 modem router is.

Netgear Nighthawk X8 D8500 price and availability

You can get your own X8 D8500 from Amazon right now for £360. This is £20 less than the X8 we reviewed previously.

Netgear Nighthawk X8 D8500 modem router review

by Jay Garrett time to read: 4 min
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