Netgear’s latest state-of-the-art router has the latest Wi-Fi innovation – adding support for the fastest AC2350 transfer speeds. This raises the ante with compared to last year’s AC1900 models providing a welcome boost of performance and improved performance for multiple users.
Netgear R7500 Nighthawk X4 Review: Specifications
Like other true dual band routers, the AC2350 number does not refer to a single 2350 Mbps signal, it is actually the maximum combined performance of the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. The AC1900 specification has increased the bandwidth in the 2.4 GHz band, raising it from 450 Mbps to 600 Mbps, but with the AC2350 it is the turn of 5GHz to get a boost, going from 1300 Mbps to 1733 Mbps, an increase that offers a theoretical total of 2333 Mbps. However, for marketing purposes, Netgear rounded this figure to AC2350.
It is also classified as a true 802.11ac router «Wave 2» because it has a 4 × 4 antenna array with MU-MIMO (Multi User – Multiple Input Multiple Output) capabilities. This basically means that the router can offer its beam-forming capability and speed-accelerating capabilities to multiple clients (up to four) simultaneously.
Netgear R7500 Nighthawk X4 review: hardware and features
This is what leads to the defining external feature of the R7500: the four external antennas. All are attached to a chassis that is already quite heavy and, combined, form a device that has a huge footprint of 12 x 9 inches, and the respective antennas also make it 8 inches high. It can also be mounted on the wall, where it occupies 36 x 30 cm and comes out around 5 cm.
So it’s not subtle, but at least its style has a certain angular and aggressive appeal – everything looks like a fighter plane and a Lamborghini, with the quality of construction to match.
It also lacks features. The R7500 includes two USB 3.0 ports and an eSATA port for top shared storage options. They are mounted on the left and right edges, where they are a little easier to reach, while the rest of the connectivity is in the back. You also get four Gigabit Ethernet ports; we could expect a few more at this price.
Also at the back is a dedicated switch to turn off all the lights on the front edge. This not only means that you can reduce the disturbance caused by the flickering lights in your living room, but the fact that it is a hardware switch (rather than a software setting) means that you can easily turn on the lights for troubleshooting.
Next to these lights are buttons to turn Wi-Fi on and off and use WPS. These buttons are also backlit, which marks another nice premium touch for this router.
It is a pity, then, that the user interface does not meet the same standards. For the most part, it’s perfectly functional, but it looks pretty tired and, in some ways, a little intuitive. It is also quite slow and does not have some useful features, such as the option to specifically choose the bandwidth and Wi-Fi channel mode.
The same could be said for Netgear Genie. This useful desktop utility for finding and configuring your router and tracking network activity does the job, but we’re not fans of how the router’s settings section uses a side-scrolling interface.
However, the most uncomfortable part of the R7500 interface refers to its biggest general problem: the lack of client devices. There are simply no adapters / receivers currently using a 4 × 4 antenna and so I can take advantage of what the R7500 has to offer. As such, the only way to make the most of its speed and autonomy is to buy two and use one as a Wi-Fi bridge.
Setting up this mode is particularly annoying, as you can’t search and find the SSID of the main router, but you have to enter the SSID and security settings manually; it is a tedious process.
Netgear R7500 Nighthawk X4 review: performance
Once it worked, there are few things to blame – the R7500 works admirably. Operating in bridge mode with routers only 2m away, we obtained a figure of 82.7 MB / s, which compares with 76.8 MB / s obtained by connecting through the Asus PCE-AC68 AC1900 receiver. Using the same Asus receiver, rival Linksys XAC1900 delivered 70.1 MB / s.
Moving the test setting to 5m away and with a brick wall in the way, Netgear struggled with 32.5 MB / s much slower. In contrast, Linksys dropped to just 44.6 MB / s. However, moving further (15m with two brick walls) caused the routers to change location, with Netgear providing 27.8 MB / s, and Linksys more than half at 20.7 MB / s.
Works well when using the 802.11n protocol more frequently than 2.4 GHz, delivering 16.5 MB / s, 14.4 MB / s and 7.31 MB / s in the same test scenarios compared to 19.3 MB / s, 13.1 MB / s and 6.65 MB / s for Linksys. Linksys can take advantage of short-distance transfers, but long-term performance brings Netgear’s advantage to the forefront. Also, the performance of USB NAS is excellent: Netgear offers 60.8 MB / s compared to 37.5 MB / s of Linksys.
Another key feature is enhanced QoS that can track not only the device used, but also the application, to ensure that the most urgent applications receive their data promptly. This is always difficult to test quantitatively, but testing it while watching HD videos while performing considerable file transfers has suggested that it works well.
Netgear R7500 Nighthawk X4 reviews: verdict
Overall, the Netgear Nighthawk X4 R7500 has excellent performance and is a good choice for those who want the best performance and range from their router. I prefer a sleeker user interface and there are certainly still concerns about the number of devices that can be connected to it to take full advantage of its speed, but there are enough additional elements to make it a first place option. . on list A.