The Nighthawk($154.99 at Amazon), is Netgear’s latest router in the business’s premium dual-band 802.11ac router line-up. The router looks as cool as its name suggests, with a trapezoid design and flared sides. The condition is similar to the famed fighter jet of the same name. The Nighthawk (model R7000) is not simply dressed to impress: Excellent speeds on the 5GHz band when paired with Netgear’s latest mini 11ac A6100 USB adapter and increased Quality-of-Service (QoS) that basically shortens enough time to buffer and stream video make the Nighthawk among the top 802.11ac routers currently available for heavy-duty throughput tasks.
It’s not an ideal device, with just okay throughput at 2.4GHz-at least testing in much RF signal environment. In addition, it takes quite a while to use settings changes. However, with 802.11ac, the speed factor is most significant at 5GHz, and the Nighthawk gives the goods not simply in data rate however in range, too. Bonus for router geeks: Nighthawk could be flashed with open-source firmware.
Specs and Design
The R7000 is a sizable router. It measures 1.97″ x 11.22″ x 7.26″ (HWD) and weighs just a little over 1.6 pounds. Netgear revamped the look from its last release of dual-band routers like the Centria($433.99 at Amazon) and the R6300, both which have an upright design with the devices designed to operate vertically in attached bases.
The Nighthawk operates horizontally (though it can be wall-mounted). The look represents Netgear’s slickest router look yet. The wide foot of the R7000 helps it be very sturdy, despite having cables linked to every port. Using its wide base and rubber feet, this big router won’t slip and slide around a surface.
A beefy router certainly deserves beefy specs. In the Nighthawk is a dual-core 1GHz processor-powerful, for a consumer router. The R7000 supports 600Mbps at 2.4GHz or more to 1300Mbps at the 5GHz band. Three external antennas ship with the router and put on the trunk panel. The R7000 also offers 128MB flash memory and 256MB RAM.
There are two USB ports; one on leading of the router and the next on the rear. Leading port is USB 3.0 and the trunk port is USB 2.0. The USB 3.0 port was deliberately located on the front, from the two 2.4GHz radio, to lessen Wi-Fi signal interference. Both ports support USB storage and printers.
On the trunk panel are Gigabit WAN and four Gigabit LAN ports, a reset button, and a power button. LEDs at the top of the router indicate wireless, Internet, USB device connection, and other network activity status.
I wasn’t surprised that using its hardware specs, the R7000 runs a tad warm. Not hot, simply a little warmer than room temperature. I’d place it in a spot with good air circulation.
An added design aspect to notice: The brick on the energy cord is huge. It really is thin, though, which means you shouldn’t are having issues positioning it alongside other power adapters in a strip plug.
As may be the case with almost all of the newer routers, the R7000 is simple to create. An installation guide is in the package and outlines the few steps had a need to set these devices up. The instructions are obvious, concise, and simple to follow.
The last step instructs users to launch a Browser to complete configuration. When I did so, a full page displayed that the router was successfully linked to the web and the pre-configured wireless SSID and passphrase. I had the choice to print this site or click a button “Take me to the web.” Clicking this button redirected the page to Netgear’s external website where I possibly could download management programs for the router, like the Genie desktop or mobile app, the ReadyVault iphone app (for using the router within a backup solution), or access a web link for support and help.
I have reviewed both aforementioned apps, plus they have not changed substantially since those reviews. You can browse the provided connect to the reviews for additional information. The R7000’s setup process is streamlined, done well, and really should not present a problem for some users.
An attribute Netgear is highlighting in the Nighthawk is increased QoS. I tested it, and am pleased to say that, in my own testing, the QoS capacity for this router is not only hype. The QoS feature is great at optimizing video streaming.
Enabling QoS requires configuring a few settings in the interface. You can change on WMM (Wi-Fi MultiMedia) for either the two 2.4 or 5GHz signals (or both). WMM, is an attribute which will give priority to multimedia data, such as for example video or audio tracks streams.
Also, you can set the router to optimize upstream Internet traffic for gaming or downstream traffic for video streaming.
I tested playing a Netflix movie while wirelessly linked to the R7000, initially with these QoS settings disabled. Enough time from when I clicked “play” on my movie choice and from when I saw the beginning of the movie was 21 seconds.
After I fired up these QoS features enough time from clicking play to viewing was reduced to 4 seconds. I was impressed. Typically, performing the same test of other routers’ QoS will yield some performance gains with QoS enabled, but I’ve never seen such a big change.
QoS has pre-set rules within the interface. These rules include kinds that set upstream traffic from trusted services including Xbox applications, popular games, and VPN to “High” priority. Downstream-intensive data from sites such as for example Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube are also set to “High.”
Netgear does an excellent job of covering almost all of the common services the normal home user would access. All the preconfigured settings could be edited. For instance, if your Netflix movie must run despite Junior’s online gaming, you can set gaming traffic to low or medium priority and video streaming as high priority.
Advanced users can set their own custom QoS rules. Doing this is a mixed bag-I found establishing upstream custom rules rather easy and configuring downstream custom rules absolutely confusing. I didn’t visit a way to specify ports or priority level for upstream rules. Buffalo’s most recent 11ac AirStation router, gets the edge so far as customizing QoS.
QoS in the R7000 still impressed me, though. It’s among the highlighted top features of the router.
Beamforming + and Performance
The R7000 isn’t the speediest 802.11ac router we’ve tested, but its throughput at the 5GHz band is among top speeds we’ve seen. Also, the router’s capability to sustain good throughput at further distance is one of the best we’ve tested.
The decent range coverage is thanks to an attribute called Beamforming +. Beamforming is a radio technology that directs a radio signal from a router to wireless clients, bettering throughput and signal strength. Beamforming + can be an improved version of the technology that Netgear has baked in to the R7000 for the 5GHz band.
At a distance around 15 feet testing from the R7000, the bond between my test wireless client the router had the average speed of 174Mbps. This phenomenal data rate (within an environment with plenty of access points) was achieved using Netgear’s latest 11ac USB adapter, the A6100.
That is still not the most effective 802.11ac throughput we’ve tested. Buffalo’s AirStation AC1300/N900 Gigabit Dual Band Wireless Router WZR-D1800H averaged 187 Mbps conducting the same test, and Trendnet’s AC1750 Dual Band Wireless Router (TEW-812DRU)($119.99 at Amazon) averages an unmatched wireless speed (inside our lab) of 283Mbps. However, the Nighthawk sustained throughput at greater range much better than the Trendnet router, and just in addition to the AirStation.
I was surprised at the rather lackluster performance at the two 2.4GHz band. Now, it’s speedy enough to accomplish the tasks you should keep relegated to the two 2.4GHz signal, such as for example web browsing and checking e-mail. I did so expect better throughput, though. The Nighthawk averaged 69Mbps far away of 15 feet with the router’s 2.4GHz band configured in up 600Mbps mode (equal to “Wireless-N only” mode).