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NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 vs AX12 (2020): Smart WiFi Router Comparison

A high quality WiFi router is a necessity when you have multiple devices competing for bandwidth in your home. Your home network should be able to provide the necessary speed and connections to these devices so that they can function without any issues.

NETGEAR is a household name when it comes to routers and both of their offerings, the Nighthawk X10 and AX12, are worthwhile routers that can definitely improve your home network speed and connectivity. The Nighthawk AX12 is more expensive than the X10 because it uses the 802.11ax standard and it is overall a more powerful and feature-heavy device. Do you need the Nighthawk AX12 or will the less expensive X10 be enough for you? Let’s find out which one of the two is better for your home network.

Nighthawk X10 vs AX12 Comparison Chart

ModelNighthawk X10Nighthawk AX12
 NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex...NETGEAR Nighthawk 12-Stream AX12 Wifi 6 Router (RAX120) – AX6000 Wireless Speed (Up to 6 Gbps) |...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Processor1.7 GHz Quad-Core2.2 GHz Quad-Core 64-bit
Memory256MB Flash, 512MB RAM1GB Flash, 512MB RAM
Wireless Frequency Bands2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 60 GHz2.4 GHz, 5 GHz
Wired Ports6 x 1G, Supports Port Aggregation4 x 1G, 1 x 1G/2.5G/5G (WAN or LAN), Supports Port Aggregation
USB Ports2 USB 3.02 USB 3.0
Network SecurityWPA/WPA2-PSK, DoS, Double FirewallNETGEAR Armor, WPA2/WPA3, DoS, Double Firewall
Wireless Coverageup to 2,500 sq. ft.up to 3,500 sq. ft.
Wireless Communication Standard802.11ac, 802.11ad802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 802.11ax
Dimensions8.81 x 6.61 x 2.91 inches12.20 x 7.48 x 1.77 inches
Weight4.11lbs3lbs

Design

The Nighthawk AX12’s “spaceship” design is very eye-catching.

The Nighthawk X10 (left) has 4 amplified antennas while the Nighthawk AX12 (right) has two massive “wings” that house 8 high-performance antennas.

When you look at the two routers, you will definitely notice the unusual design of the Nighthawk AX12. It’s very eye catching and it looks very nice. In comparison, the Nighthawk X10 looks like your typical router.

The Nighthawk X10 has a dimension of 8.81″ x 6.61″ x 2.91″ and weighs 4.11 lbs. It has 4 visible antennas that can be rotated to enhance weak signals and it comes with a 1.7Ghz quad-core CPU, 512MB RAM and 250MB internal flash memory.

On the other hand, the AX12 has a dimension of 12.20″ x 7.48″ x 1.77″ and weighs 3 lbs. It sports a 2.2Ghz 64-bit quad-core CPU, 512MB RAM, and 1GB internal flash memory. The wings house 8 internal antennas.

The Nighthawk AX12 looks nicer than the X10 and its internal components are also better. The 2.2Ghz 64-bit quad-core CPU can greatly improve your 4K streaming and gaming experience.

Performance and Features

The AX12 wins when it comes to performance, but that is to be expected as it is significantly more expensive.

The “wings” of the Nighthawk AX12 that house 8 antennas are collapsible.

The Nighthawk X10 is a quad stream tri-band router that has a WiFi coverage of up to 2,500 sq. ft. and delivers speeds of 800Mbps, 1733Mbps and 4600Mbps on the 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 60GHz frequency bands. Its main selling feature is that it comes with the 802.11ad standard, which utilizes the 60GHz frequency band. Other features include: MU-MIMO, Beamforming+, Amazon Cloud Storage, Dynamic QoS, Amazon Alexa Voice Controls and PLEX server feature.

The 802.11ad standard is nice to have, but you won’t be able to take advantage of it if you don’t have the devices that support it. Its range is also very limited and the WiFi signal from the 60GHz band will not effectively penetrate walls or other obstacles in your home, resulting in slow or dropped connections. You need to be next to the router or at least within a few feet in order to take advantage of its insane speed.

The Nighthawk AX12 is a dual-band router that can cover an area of around 3,500 sq. ft. and delivers speeds of 1.2Gbps and 4.6Gbps on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. It supports up to 12 simultaneous streams. The main selling point of the AX12 is its support for the 802.11ax standard (WiFi 6). This standard improves upon the the older one as it operates on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency, instead of just 5GHz, to create more available channels. Other features include: MU-MIMO, OFDMA, Dynamic QoS, 1024-QAM, Smart Connect, Beamforming technologies and Amazon Alexa Voice Controls.

When it comes to overall performance and features, the Nighthawk AX12 is ahead of the X10. It can cover a wider area and provide you with more speed. It also comes with the WiFi 6 standard, so you are more future-proofed as more and more devices support the said standard releases.

Security

The Nighthawk AX12 comes with NETGEAR Armor but not parental controls, while the Nighthawk X10 has parental controls via the Nighthawk app, but doesn’t include the NETGEAR Armor.

NETGEAR Armor is a network-wide anti-virus, anti-malware, ransomware/fraud/phishing security.

With the Nighthawk X10, you will get access to parental controls via the Nighthawk App. You can monitor and supervise your children’s online activities and limit how much access they can have. This is great if you have children and you don’t want them to access the more “dark” side of the internet.

The Nighthawk AX12, on the other hand, does not have any type of parental control, but it has access to the NETGEAR Armor. It’s an extra layer of security that prevents threats such as malware, hacking, ransomware, and other security issues.

Both routers offer different levels of security. The Nighthawk X10, being the older model, supports WPA2-PSK while the Nighthawk AX12 supports the newer WPA3 wireless security protocol. Both of these protocols are secure, but WPA3 offers a more advanced level of security.

Connectivity

The Nighthawk AX12 comes with a 5G multi-gig ethernet port.

A look at the available ports for both the Nighthawk X10 (left) and AX12 (right).

The Nighthawk X10 has six Ethernet ports and one 10Gbps SFP+ LAN port while the AX12 has five ports, one of which is a multi-gig port that can support speeds of up to 5Gbps. The SFP+ port and the multi-gig port are great features if you have a NAS (Network Attached Storage) for media or backup purposes as both can send and receive data very fast. Both routers support 2-port aggregation and they also have two USB 3.0 ports.

Support for MU-MIMO is available for both routers. With MU-MIMO, multiple devices can be connected to the router simultaneously and they can receive and send traffic at the same time. Homes with multiple heavy internet users will greatly benefit from this feature as it allows the router to connect to all devices using separate streams to provide constant and stable speeds.

You can connect 40+ devices to the Nighthawk X10 and 50+ devices to the Nighthawk AX12.

Verdict

Both the Nighthawk X10 and AX12 are powerhouses and will serve homes with multiple WiFi devices very well. However, the Nighthawk AX12 is the better choice if you want to future-proof your network.

The Nighthawk AX12 is the clear winner when it comes to speed, coverage area, and additional features. One of its drawbacks is the lack of parental controls so if you have children in the house and you want their online activities to be monitored and supervised, this router is not for you. For child-free households, this router is the best for your network as it comes with the 802.11ax standard that provides high-speed connections for all your devices, simultaneously.

As for the Nighthawk X10, it is still a good option if you want a powerful router at a cheaper price. If you are not yet concerned with WiFi 6 (802.11ax), you can go with the X10 as it is still a very good router that provides high-speed connections to your devices. It’s also the better choice for homes with children due to parental controls via the Nighthawk app.

FAQs

📌 Which is the better router, the Nighthawk X10 or the AX12?

If you want the latest in router technology for future-proofing, the better choice is the Nighthawk AX12. Both of these routers offer good speed and connections and they both have a lot of nifty features as well.

📌 Does the X10 have parental controls?

Yes, it can be accessed and customized through the Nighthawk app.

📌 What’s the WiFi coverage of the Nighthawk AX12?

It can cover an area up to 3,500 sq. ft.

📌 What’s the WiFi coverage of the Nighthawk X10?

The Nighthawk X10 has a WiFi coverage area of up to 2,500 sq. ft.

Last update on 2020-10-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Carlo Salvador
Carlo Salvador

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about fitness, gaming and music.