Today we’re looking at one of Netgear’s most expensive – if not most expensive – routers. No, it’s neither a souped-up top-of-the-line gaming router nor a ridiculously complex, amazingly simple enterprise router. Instead, it’s a puck-sized portable handheld router (which doubles as a portable hotspot), the Nighthawk MR5200 (or M5, depending on how you’re looking for it), a device that promises wireless freedom that comes with WiFi 6 and a large amount is equipped 5G size.
Availability and pricing
As we hinted at in the first paragraph, the MR5200 isn’t exactly what you would call cheap. At the £ 799 on Amazon In the UK, it costs MORE than buying a Huawei-based 5G hub from Three (the network) AND the one that goes with it 24 month unlimited 5G plan (approx £ 100 extra). In the USA it can be bought directly from Netgear for under $ 700 excluding sales tax. Note that there is an exclusive AT&T version, the MR5100, called the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot Pro that sells for just $ 510. Easy to get confused!
The MR5200 is similar in shape and size to its predecessor, the Nighthawk M1 (AKA MR1100). It’s a square device with rounded corners, with a fair amount of glossy plastic on top, ridged sides, and a soft rubber sheet on the bottom that can be removed. When you do, you will find a 5.04 Ah battery, credentials, and a single SIM slot.
A small 2.5-inch color touchscreen display provides a neat way to interact with the MR5200 with three buttons (power, home and back) to ensure that navigating the various options is as intuitive as possible.
There are two flaps on one of the sides through which the end user can connect an optional external antenna, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Type-C port with USB 3.2 Gen 2 speeds (i.e. a maximum of 10 Gbps). The latter can be used for both data and loading. Speaking of which, Netgear bundles a rather chunky charger that delivers either 10 W (5V2A) or 16.2 W (9V1.8A).
The power supply weighs about a third of the actual MR5200 (83 g compared to 243 g). The device provided to us came with a 2-pin adapter for European countries, but without an Ethernet cable, which is a bit disappointing given the price of the product and its universal range.
The Nighthawk M5 is the first (and only) mobile router to feature Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon X55 mobile platform. In short, it supports (according to marketing literature) 5G NR Sub 6 GHz (NSA), LTE CAT 22, LTE Advanced, 4×4 MIMO, 256QAM as well as the latest 802.11ax technology (AKA WiFi 6).
We tested the device with one unlimited 5G data SIM of three. As always, your mileage will vary and the results may not apply to you as there are many variables involved – including the number of devices you plug into it (up to 32).
With the popular – and usually reliable – Fast.com website for speed testing, we got speeds up to 570Mbps Blackview BL6000 Pro which uses a Mediatek Dimensity 800 chipset – as a basis. The slowest of the 20 or so rapid fire readings that we measured next to a window on the first floor of our apartment was 240 Mbit / s.
Next we connected our test laptop, a Dell Latitude with an Intel Wireless-AC 8265 radio chipset, to the MR5200 loaded with the 5G SIM card. With the hotspot next to it, we achieved speeds between 360 and 510 Mbit / s.We achieved similar results with the LAN port and the USB port. In both cases we used decent cables as we saw very significant drops in speed (LAN) or no connection at all (USB) when using the wrong type.
The fastest speed we got was plugging the device into a Thunderbolt 3 port, which is essentially a charged USB Type-C port. We saw speeds up to 670Mbps with the slowest number recorded being higher than 500Mbps. Note that these speeds were achieved on a weekend before noon in an area where Three said 5G speeds should be average (i.e., outside coverage rather than inside and outside).
The on-device offers a subset of the functions of the web backend. The latter offers additional security features such as a SIM PIN, port forwarding and filtering, website filtering or parental controls (see figure below). There’s also a nifty mobile app that lets you control the essential functions of the MR5200, but there aren’t any advanced features like dynamic DNS or VPN.
Note that a quick look online reveals that the M5 may not have had issues with its firmware upgrade until February 2021. We managed to update the firmware to the latest version from the end of November 2020 without affecting the Wi-Fi connectivity.
The Netgear Nighthawk has no known competition at the time of writing. Feel free to prove us wrong and we’ll be happy to change this paragraph. One could argue that a smartphone with WiFi 6 and USB Type C 3.2 Gen 2 (e.g. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE) could be a much cheaper and far more versatile alternative. We haven’t tried this route yet, but USB Type-C seems like the best way to get the most out of the MR5200 while it is charging.
It is important to understand that the audience it wants to serve are primarily mobile professionals or very niche use cases that acknowledge the need for ultra-high speed wireless.
Where is that for us? If you need ultra-fast broadband speed on the go, you know you can get great 5G coverage and price is not an issue then by all means buy it. The MR5200 is expensive, but it’s also the best 5G hotspot you can buy right now. However, you need to do your homework first; Check the 5G coverage in the areas where the hotspot will be deployed.
Improvements? We’d love additional features, a drop in price, support for multiple SIM cards (or at least the ability to easily swap SIMs without removing the battery), and support microSD cards to turn it into a mini NAS, a smaller power supply and a LAN cable.
Source link : https://www.techradar.com/reviews/netgear-nighthawk-mr5200-5g-wifi-6-portable-mobile-hotspot-router/