The home networking demand is growing on a daily basis, so at AVForums we decided to put the new 'Nighthawk' Wireless router under the microscope. Will it pass muster?
My Home Network
- My gaming PC – connection via Gigabit cable
- My Synology dual bay NAS box – connection via Gigabit cable
- Wife’s gaming PC – connection via Gigabit cable
- Sons gaming PC – connection via Powerline 200Mbps Adapter
- My work laptop – connection via Wi-Fi
- PS3 – connection via Wi-Fi
- Lounge HTPC – connection via Wi-Fi
- My Samsung Note 3 Phone– connection via Wi-Fi
- Wife’s iPhone 5 – connection via Wi-Fi
- Sons HTC Desire HD – connection via Wi-Fi
- Sons Xbox 360 – connection via Wi-Fi
- Sons PS Vita – connection via Wi-Fi
- Sons Motorola Zoom Tablet – connection via Wi-Fi
- Household printer – connection via USB to the router
Product – The router has a very distinctive design with sharp angular lines and the main unit is wedge shaped, much like a Nighthawk airplane - hence the name - giving it a gamer style which is perfect for the target audience. The Wi-Fi antennas are large and also follow the wedge shaped theme, again, looking very adept for the styling. The front of the router has an array of LED lights which indicate many different functions . There is also a USB3.0 port on the bottom front of the unit allowing easy access for USB storage devices. It is actually semi-hidden at the front of an angled base which is great for a clean look.
The rear of the router has the usual ports that most routers have, 1 x WAN port, 4 x LAN ports, 1 x USB 2.0 port, an on/off switch, a power socket and 3 screw ports for the antenna’s. The base of the router has 4 quite large rubberised feet to ensure it can remain stable and in place on any smooth surface. There are also 2 screw mount points if you wish to wall mount the router. Overall we like the look of the router; it has a nice clean memorable design to it, so a big thumbs up from us.
Setup / Installation
My testing methodology was to use my Samsung Note 3 and an app called Wi-Fi analyser – this shows the signal strength of all Wi-Fi connections on a bar graph. I also tested using speedtest.net, again using the Wi-Fi connection on my phone. In order to get an accurate catchment I decided to test the connection from 5 points within my home- which is a typical 4 bedroom semi-detached house. The router is installed in my home office/gaming room, which is upstairs. I work from home so having a dedicated office is a must for me.
- Test Location 1 – Sat at my desk in my office, approx. 1.5m from the router (front of house)
- Test Location 2 – Bedroom next to my office, approx. 6m from the router (front of house)
- Test Location 3 – Bottom of my staircase. approx. 9m away from the router and 1 floor underneath the router (middle of house)
- Test Location 4 – Dining room. Approx. 14m away from the router and 1 floor underneath the router (rear of the house)
- Test Location 5 – Rear Garden. Approx. 22m away from the router and 1 floor underneath the router (rear of the property outside)
At 5GHz the range was not good enough to keep a constant signal for any type of testing at all whilst outside. In summertime I use my garden for entertaining; parties, BBQs etc, I use my phone to stream to a Bluetooth wireless speaker which is fine, but my phone has a finite storage space so my library of music is limited. However, using the Netgear router on the 2.4GHz connection I can stream my entire music collection from my home NAS storage box to my phone or even stream from one of the many audio sites, so I have much more freedom with the Netgear router. Something I have not been able to do with my old TP-Link router.
Gaming/Streaming and QoS
The Nighthawk does have a very advanced QoS system which did give me better stability for pings for online gaming. Netflix was flawless at the same time. One thing I did notice was that if I tried to download a large file whilst any major streaming activity was running the file transfer speed would drop down a little – this is clear evidence of the QoS kicking in. I have never seen any evidence of QoS being active in the past even on routers with QoS advertised features. So based on my experience, I believe this is one of the best QoS systems on any router. The menu system within the router has a pre-determined QoS priority list with likes for gaming, Skype, MSN, FTP etc all listed so you can customise the priority to suit your own needs, you can also even add new services to the list which are not included by default. Many routers do not offer this level of detailing.
- Wi-Fi Range
- Briiliant QoS
Netgear R7000 Nighthawk Router Review
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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