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Netgear RAX20 (AX1800) Review

A middle-ground affordable router that we recommend for those on a tight budget
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Netgear RAX20 (AX1800) Review (You can expect good performance for a modest price with this model.)
You can expect good performance for a modest price with this model.
Credit: Abriah Wofford
Price:  $150 List
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Manufacturer:   Netgear
By Matt Spencer and Benjamin Hickok  ⋅  Dec 9, 2022
59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 10
  • 2.4 GHz Throughput - 35% 5.4
  • 5 GHz Throughput - 35% 7.2
  • Range - 20% 5.5
  • Ease of Use - 10% 4.3

Our Verdict

The Netgear RAX20 is a good WiFi Router for those on a tight budget, but an ad hoc, paid, subscription-based parental control service may be a deal breaker. So if parental controls are not a concern, you won't find better performance at this starting price. While its performance is generally average, it does an above-average job with 5 GHz throughput out to 35 feet, which should support the majority of today's modern household devices and bandwidth needs. But, it lacks the user-friendliness we expect from using other brands of routers, and we desired just a little more when it came to options within the quality of service settings to prioritize bandwidth for important devices. Get the skinny on how it stacks up against other top products in our article on the best WiFi routers.
REASONS TO BUY
Good 5 GHz throughput
Good flash and RAM memory
Good value
REASONS TO AVOID
Poor QoS options
Less than straightforward setup
Parental control add on fee

Compare to Similar Products

 
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Price $150 List
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$120 List
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$100 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
59
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58
57
Star Rating
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Bottom Line This middling router is great for those who don't want to break the bankWe highly recommend this router for its excellent overall performanceA good router overall, and it isn't too expensiveThis average router is meant for those in small householdsThis middling router doesn't offer a good enough performance to justify its high price
Rating Categories Netgear RAX20 (AX1800) ASUS RT-AX86S (AX5700) TP-Link Archer AX55... Netgear Nighthawk R... TP-Link Archer AX21...
2.4 GHz Throughput (35%)
5.4
6.0
7.2
4.8
6.2
5 GHz Throughput (35%)
7.2
9.4
7.4
6.8
5.4
Range (20%)
5.5
9.0
5.0
6.5
4.5
Ease of Use (10%)
4.3
7.5
7.3
4.3
7.3
Specs Netgear RAX20 (AX1800) ASUS RT-AX86S (AX5700) TP-Link Archer AX55... Netgear Nighthawk R... TP-Link Archer AX21...
WiFi Version WiFi 6 WiFi 6 WiFi 6 WiFi 6 WiFi 6
Wireless Specification Dual Band Dual Band Dual Band Dual Band Dual Band
Frequency 5 GHz
2.4 GHz
5 GHz
2.4 GHz
5 GHz
2.4 GHz
5 GHz
2.4 GHz
5 GHz
2.4 GHz
Processor 1.5GHz Quad-core 1.8GHz Dual-core Dual-Core 1.5GHz Quad-core 1.5GHz Quad-core
Memory 256 MB flash
512 MB RAM
256 MB flash
512 MB RAM
512 MB RAM 256 MB flash
512 MB RAM
16 MB flash
256 MB RAM
MU-MIMO Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
OFDMA Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Beamforming Implicit
Explicit
Implicit
Explicit
Explicit only Implicit
Explicit
Explicit only
Security WPA/WPA2/WPA3 - Personal
WPA/WPA2 - Enterprise
WPA/WPA2/WPA3 - Personal
WPA/WPA2 - Enterprise
WPA/WPA2/WPA3 - Personal
WPA/WPA2 - Enterprise
WPA/WPA2/WPA3 - Personal
WPA/WPA2 - Enterprise
WPA/WPA2/WPA3 - Personal
WPA/WPA2 - Enterprise
LAN Ports Available 4 4 4 4 4
USB Ports 1
USB-A 3.0
2
USB-A 2.0
USB-A 3.0
1
USB-A 3.0
None 1
USB-A 2.0
Antenna 2 3 4 3 4
Wall Mountable Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Wireless On/off button No No Yes No Yes
Led on/off No Yes No No Yes
2.4 GHz 9 ft Unobstructed 100 Mbps 91 Mbps 94 Mbps 100 Mbps 110 Mbps
2.4 GHz 9 ft Obstructed 90 Mbps 92 Mbps 107 Mbps 83 Mbps 101 Mbps
2.4 GHz 35 ft Unobstructed 82 Mbps 89 Mbps 115 Mbps 66 Mbps 84 Mbps
2.4 GHz 35 ft Obstructed 70 Mbps 85 Mbps 96 Mbps 72 Mbps 72 Mbps
2.4 GHz 70 ft Obstructed 21 Mbps 26 Mbps 23 Mbps 21 Mbps 27 Mbps
5.0 GHz 9 ft Unobstructed 364 Mbps 405 Mbps 345 Mbps 343 Mbps 317 Mbps
5.0 GHz 9 ft Obstructed 363 Mbps 416 Mbps 342 Mbps 354 Mbps 323 Mbps
5.0 GHz 35 ft Unobstructed 328 Mbps 399 Mbps 332 Mbps 342 Mbps 325 Mbps
5.0 GHz 35 ft Obstructed 310 Mbps 369 Mbps 325 Mbps 328 Mbps 319 Mbps
5.0 GHz 70 ft Obstructed 71 Mbps 77 Mbps 90 Mbps 56 Mbps 83 Mbps

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Netgear RAX20 is a good router with an approachable price tag, but it can't compete with the top WiFi routers we tested. To see how it stacks up against the competition and what you can expect from its modest price, read about its performance in the individual test metrics below.

Performance Comparison


netgear rax20 (ax1800) - netgear's rax20 router is a very economical option if you don't need...
Netgear's RAX20 router is a very economical option if you don't need parental controls.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

2.4 GHz Throughput


With many devices relying on the 2.4 GHz bandwidth, we tested every model's 2.4 GHz Throughput and used averages to create a benchmark. The Netgear RAX20 (AX1800) was consistently average throughout the throughput testing.


In our 9-foot range test (both unobstructed and obstructed), the Netgear RAX20 was very average. It provided data rates of 100 megabits (MBits) and 90 MBits per second — both rates within 2 MBits per second of the test group average.

At 35 feet, whether unobstructed or obstructed, this router was slightly slower than the average of the entire test group. Our team recorded data rates of 82 MBits and 70 MBits, with unobstructed performance being exactly average and obstructed performance underperforming by only 3 MBits per second.

In our 70-foot obstructed distance challenge, the very budget-friendly RAX20 offered average performance, with 21 MBits data transferring speeds.

While nothing stands out about this model's 2.4 GHz throughput performance, it is still reasonable to think that the Netgear RAX20 WiFi router would suffice for 90 percent of people in need of a router for most typical household scenarios.

5 GHz Throughput


The Netgear RAX20 gave our team a minor surprise in our 5 GHz throughput tests. Its performance did taper with distance and obstructions (objects blocking the signal), but we didn't expect it to exhibit the above-average performance that it did.


In our 9-foot unobstructed and 9-foot obstructed tests, this model came in strong by handling data at a rate of 364 MBits and 363 MBits per second, respectively. It also exhibited above-average performance at 35 feet, handling data at a rate of 328 MBits per second when unobstructed and 310 MBits per second when obstructed.

At 70 feet, the performance continued to taper, doing an average job in our obstructed test, measuring 71 MBits per second speeds.

Range


The Netgear RAX20 did an average job in our 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz range tests. This unit landed right in the middle of the test lineup when it came to our range tests.


In the 2.4 GHz range, we were able to stream our 1080p test video up to 110 feet before encountering any buffering issues. In the 5 GHz test, we repeated the procedure, streaming the test video and moving in 10-foot increments. This model will stream a 1080p video on the 5 GHz channel up to 110 feet before buffering. The performances were neither impressive nor underwhelming.

Ease of Use


Across all of our testing, Netgear products failed to impress our team in our ease of use tests, and the Netgear RAX20 (AX1800) model in the Netgear lineup is no exception.


Netgear is not going to win any special accolades for its app setup. Getting started with a Netgear router is nowhere near as easy or intuitive as with other WiFi Router brands we tested that offer a superior setup experience.

What was most frustrating, and another reason the Nighthawk earned a low score in this sub-metric was that the app occasionally crashes and is also easy to tab out of accidentally. When either occurs, you'll have to restart the setup process completely. Unfortunately, issues don't end there — the app likes to disconnect and reconnect during setup. If you already have a router in your house, you will have to disconnect your phone, so it doesn't try to reconnect (this would boot you out of the new router setup). Lastly, getting things working may require manually connecting to the new router during setup, as it doesn't always auto-connect, forcing you to restart the setup process.

Mobile friendliness is the singular sub-metric, where Netgear products are consistently above average but barely so. The mobile interface is fairly easy to navigate, but the options are somewhat advanced, and it wouldn't be our top recommendation for people who need to set up the router and have a limited technical skill set.

When we evaluated the *Netgear RAX20 for PC interface friendliness, we found the experience was below average. While it may be easy enough to navigate the interface, there are rather advanced options, which we wouldn't recommend to the less tech-savvy person who is simply trying to make minor adjustments to their router.

The Parental Controls for this model are non-existent unless you subscribe to a paid subscription service from Netgear. That subscription will set you back about 60 bucks annually, whereas other router manufacturers include this in their product offerings as part of the base cost of their products. Additionally, the app itself has a less amazing rating and user reviews, many of which claim an alleged lack of robust features and app crashes.

Quality of service, or QoS, on the RAX20 is also underwhelming compared to the much more robust nature of other WiFi routers we tested. QoS setup can only be accessed by webpage login, which is an annoyance when you want to manage it from a mobile device. Unfortunately, when you access it from a webpage login, it only offers very simple QoS with no real customizability.

netgear rax20 (ax1800) - once set up, the rax20 offers good performance at a very...
Once set up, the RAX20 offers good performance at a very budget-friendly price.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Should You Buy the Netgear RAX20 (AX1800)?


The Netgear RAX20 is a good WiFi router for those on a tight budget, with a significant caveat. If you require parental controls, you can expect to pay for Netgear's subscription-based parental control service for $7.99 per month or a flat cost of $69.99 per year. That cost significantly offsets the budget-friendly nature of the RAX20 and needs to be considered before purchasing.

netgear rax20 (ax1800) - this model offers good performance on the tightest budgets.
This model offers good performance on the tightest budgets.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

What Other WiFi Routers Should You Consider?


We found the TP-Link Archer AX21 performed very similarly to the RAX20, and while it does cost a bit more, it includes excellent parental controls and is easy to set up. So if parental controls and budget are your two primary concerns, the Archer AX21 should get serious consideration over the RAX20.

You may need to re-evaluate what you are willing to spend on a router, especially if you are interested in quality parental controls and quality of service. That said, it's worth holding out for the TP-Link Archer AX55. It offers much more than the RAX20 and costs about the same after you factor in a year of subscription-based parental controls.

Matt Spencer and Benjamin Hickok