Netgear’s Nighthawk M5 5G puts gigabit Wi-Fi 6 internet in the palm of your hand

Take your wireless network on the road or tap 5G for your internet connection at home.

Credit: Netgear

Netgear has officially finally released the unlocked version of its Netgear Nighthawk M5 5G Wi-Fi 6 Mobile Router (model MR5200), which the company first announced at CES in January 2020.

The Nighthawk M5 represents a new class of mobile hotspot—er, mobile router—that challenges the notion that you need a hardwired connection to get low-latency, high-throughput internet. What’s more, its mobile nature lends it a versatility that typical routers cannot match—after all, what other router can you just throw in a laptop bag and take with you to a coffee shop?

The device itself is a small black rounded square, ever-so-slightly larger than second-generation AirPort Express. A small touchscreen on top displays status information and configuration options. Port selection includes a single gigabit ethernet port and one USB-C port.

nightgear nighthawk m5 ethernet port Netgear

The Nighthawk M5 has a small, but welcome, selection of ports.

Netgear pitches the Nighthawk M5 as a boon for those working outside the home. Its connection to 5G networks, Wi-Fi 6 capability and up to 13 hours of battery life equals immensely usable internet access while traveling on vacation or even hosting in-person, out-of-office work sessions: Imagine co-working in a park instead of using spotty coffeeshop Wi-Fi.

The Nighthawk M5 is also presented as a replacement or backup to your home Wi-Fi network, thanks to its gigabit ethernet port that allows you to connect your existing wireless network to it instead of your modem or ISP gateway device. As a permanent solution, however, it might be a pricey gambit, considering most people use vastly more data in a month at home than they do on the go. You’ll want to be dead certain you have a non-throttling, truly unlimited plan to attach it to (which, handily, both AT&T and T-Mobile now offer).

Per the product data sheet on Netgear’s website, the Nighthawk M5 is rated for up to 1.2Gbps Wi-Fi transmits, and up to 3Gbps when connected via the unit’s USB-C port; although it’s important to note that, because of the normal wireless constraints of proximity and physical barrier interference (as well as the density of connected devices), it’s very unlikely you’ll see this kind of throughput from the internet.

netgear nighthawk m5 with laptop Netgear

The Netgear Nighthawk M5: a portable 5G WiFi 6 router.

While the Nighthawk M5 was promised for release in May 2020, what was ultimately delivered was an AT&T-only version—the MR5100—which was available in limited quantities. As far as we can tell, that router was identical to the MR5200 and was simply locked to that provider. The unlocked Nighthawk M5 is currently compatible with T-Mobile and AT&T and is available for a not-cheap $699.99 from Netgear.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Wes Davis

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?