NETGEAR Nighthawk MK63S Review

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netgear nighthawk mk63s review
If you’re looking for mesh networking with Wi-Fi 6 for video streaming, gaming or whatever, you’ve landed in the right place: here comes the NETGEAR Nighthawk MK63S review. Currently retailing for less than $250 (shipping not included), the MK63S is not cheap, but it will give you a solid bang for the buck asked.

The “two fiddy” will secure you the AX1800 router plus 2 satellite extenders, which translates into Wi-Fi 6 coverage for up to 4500 square feet and more than 25 devices connected at the same time. It’s already sounding impressive, isn’t it?

Speaking of impressive specs, the MK63S is 1.5 faster than Wi-Fi 5, with speeds up to 1.8 GB/s, which translate into improved gaming, smooth UHD streaming and zero lag/waiting for content on your laptop, smartphone, gaming console, what have you.

Before we proceed with the actual review, we suggest you read our article about Mesh vs Wi-Fi routers, to get up to date with all the details before you go on a shopping spree, just to make sure you don’t spend your money on something that’s not actually required. The same goes for Mesh network vs Wi-Fi extender by the way.

Specs

WiFi Coverage: 4,500 sq.ft
Uplink & Downlink OFDMA: Improved capacity and efficiency
Simultaneous Dual-band: WiFi 6 AX1800 (1200 + 600Mbps)†
Explicit Beamforming: 2.4GHz & 5GHz bands
MU-MIMO capable: for simultaneous data streaming
CPU: Qual-Code 1.5GHz processor
Ports: One (1) WAN 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet port & One (1) LAN 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet port
Memory: 128MB Flash and 256MB RAM
Security:

  • NETGEAR Armor™ – Advanced cyber threat protection for your home and your connected devices*.
  • Standards-based WiFi Security (802.11i, 128-bit AES encryption with PSK).
  • Guest WiFi Network is easy to set up separate & secure Internet access for guests.
  • WPA3-Personal provides more robust password-based authentication even when your password it not very strong.
  • Secure Boot ensures only trusted firmware can be used on the hardware and blocks unauthorized firmware tampering.
  • Push Button WPS/SYNC support.

Design

If you have a big house and you’re shopping for the best router for gaming, the Nighthawk MK63 mesh system will definitely fit the bill, both in terms of design and performance. This 3-piece mesh router system consists of a primary router and two extra satellites for amazing long-range, and the kit is designed to deliver outstanding Wi-Fi 6 coverage and lightning-fast transfer speeds.
netgear nighthawk mk63s
Design-wise, the MK63 looks like that black alien artifact from 2001 A Space Odyssey, i.e. it’s basically three tiny black cubes with some fancy Nighthawk branding and blue LEDs. The compact design of both the router and the satellites makes it easy to “camouflage”, i.e. you can basically drop them anywhere, even on a shelf or a window ledge, and forget about it.

Another cool design feature is that both the Ethernet cable and the power cable are very long, 2 meters each, so you can move them around easily while setting your gear up. We must mention the fact that all three units (the router and the satellites) are well built and feel sturdy, and there are no annoying antennas breaking the reflective black mesas (the plastic body for our millennial readers), as everything is well hidden inside the 122 x 122 x 64mm chassis.

The only visible difference between the satellites and the router itself is that the latter comes with 2 gigabit Ethernet ports, one to connect it to your modem, and the other for other devices. Each mesh unit weighs 287 grams.

What it is

To put it simply, the MK63 mesh system is aimed at hardcore users, which means Nighthawk focused on gaming and UHD streaming. More precisely, this high-tech router features the newest Wi-Fi 6 standard, aka 802.11ax, with dual-band Wi-Fi on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, for a grand total of 1800 megabits per second (Mbps), as well as orthogonal frequency division multiple access or OFDMA, for reliable and fast Wi-Fi on numerous devices (up to 25) at the same time.
netgear nighthawk mk63s back
Be advised that in order to use the OFDMA feature, all the devices connected must support Wi-Fi 6; it’s also worth mentioning that the Wi-Fi 6 protocol is fully compatible with older mobile devices and computers that use 802.11ac Wi-Fi, it’s just you won’t be able to benefit from all the cool features and blazing fast transfer speeds.

The main router comes with 2 Ethernet ports, as we already told you, and that means it’s highly probable you’ll have to invest in a network switch if you own a ton of devices with Ethernet ports.

Set-up, Features, Performance

The good news is that the MK63 system is easy to set up via Nighthawk’s app, which works “out of the box” and detects automatically the primary router/the satellites, then gives you the option to scan a QR code so you can connect to your new network. In terms of ease of use, the MK63 really shines, and the only task for you is to create a secure password plus a couple of security questions, in order to log into the app itself.

The only downside of the app is that it’s, let’s say, very basic; in order to keep things as simple as possible, the app will create automatically a single network that puts together the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz bands, and this “simplicity” may annoy advanced users looking for the option to make separate networks for each band.

If you can get over the simpleton thing, the app has good features, including a built-in speed test, the option to create a guest network, plus a network map if you want to keep a close eye on all of the devices connected to your network. Parental controls are also here, but they’re basically an on/off switch to control network access for individual devices, nothing fancy about it.

Performance-wise, the MK63 is a champ, and if this is your first experience with a high-end Wi-Fi 6 capable router, you’ll be impressed by the router’s speed and connection quality.

Final word

You should definitely buy the MK63 if you’re a gamer looking for the speediest and lowest-latency Wi-Fi connection possible, as this router is everything about long-range coverage and high performance; also buy it if you have a big home with lots of gadgets, as the MK63 is pretty much future-proof and has the ability to provide reliable and smooth Wi-Fi to literally dozens of devices at the same time.

However, this new Wi-Fi 6 technology is basically an overkill for most home broadband devices, even if it’s super-fast and reliable; as in, if you just need a good router to get Wi-Fi into your bedroom upstairs, there are cheaper solutions.

Pros:
  • Stellar performance
  • Cutting edge Wi-Fi 6 technology
  • Easy to set up and to use
  • Fast speeds
  • Stable coverage
Cons:
  • Only one spare Ethernet port
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