Tuesday, 22 September 2015 15:08

Netgear Nighthawk X4S, AC2600 router (review)

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Netgear’s new X4S router is like comparing a V8 Supercar with a Holden Commodore – they may look similar, but the former is very, very, very, fast.

iTWire’s Alex Zaharov-Reutt and I attended the product launch (video here) earlier in September. After my detailed testing I have to agree with him – it is “The World’s best broadband router” at least until someone releases the new AD standard and the need for speed starts all over again.

The X4S router (Model D7800) is big (285 x 185 x 50 mm), has futuristic angled lines, four antenna, and under certain circumstances is capable of delivering 2.53 Gigabits per second (about 316 MBs - megabytes per second) over a combined 2.4GHz (800Mbs) and 5GHz (1733 Mbps) using Wave 2, MU-MIMO – multi-user, multiple-input and multiple-output technology.

What that simply means is more devices can each get more speed from this router.

Setup

The router has a WAN Ethernet port to connect to a fibre or cable modem and an integrated ADSL/2/+/VDSL/2 telephone jack. You can easily attach this to an existing router and leave it in place as well.

 

 

 

 

 

It has 2x USB 3.0 ports (for NAS storage and charging), an eSATA port for external storage, and four Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Once set up you access the Genie app – iOS, OS X, Android or PC to set up the modem. It finds the modem and advises the internet status, provides a network map (with device names if given), basic router setup (SSID, password etc.), AirPrint, My Media (for connected DLNA devices), and general information. Compared to the older Netgear router software this is a breeze and requires no technical expertise to set up.

It also supports VPN (IPSec, L2TP, PPTP), has SPI and NAT firewalls, and Denial of Service attack prevention. You can set up a guest network as well to keep them off your primary network. That is handy for Internet of Things devices.

It has dynamic quality of service (QoS) to allocate bandwidth to hungry apps like games, video streaming or voice. It can support four devices per data stream and beamforming technology via four antennas.

Tests

All tests were conducted using Speedtest.net to Telstra Sydney. The X4S was connected to a Netgear Telstra N cable router that has 135Mbps connectivity to the internet. A Surface Pro 3 with Marvel AVASTAR AC series controller was used to test. Figures in brackets are the older N600 Router speeds.

In the same room as the router (about 3 metres away), it achieved 130 Mbps (65) – 2x as fast as the N connection on the Surface Pro 3.

In my home office (about 15 metres away upstairs through a cement floor), it achieved 120 Mbps (20) – 6x times faster

In another room (about 20 metres away upstairs through a cement wall and floor) it achieved 110 Mbps (2) = 50x times faster.

It proves two things. First, that it is fast and second, it wall and d t floor)   20 metres away upsairs second its much better over longer distances - compared s 135Mbps connectivity to is much better over longer distances and through reinforced concrete walls and floors – compared to a Wi-Fi N router.

ReadySHARE

I did not test the ReadySHARE software offered with this router. These include USB storage you can wirelessly access, free software to backup PC or Mac, wireless printing from any PC or Mac, and the ability to play, view, listen to, and share your videos, photos, and music on DNLA connected TVs, game consoles, or media players.

  • SHARE - Store, secure, and share your family’s files
  • STREAM - Easily play media on TVs, consoles, and media players
  • ACCESS - Enjoy personal and secure cloud access to USB storage anytime, anywhere
  • PRINT - Learn how you can print wirelessly from many devices

Opinion

I was not prepared for the difference it makes to a home network over Wi-Fi N600 – amazing. It is particularly good in extending the range – probably because of the 5GHz channels.

The router is able to achieve much more when compatible Wi-Fi equipped devices like laptop, tablet and smartphones are released with MU-MIMO capability.

Price A$549 – it is worth it. 10 out of 10 for performance – until AD standard comes along.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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