Netgear XR700 Gaming Router Review

Hop To

The very best Router you can buy? But £449.....

by Greg Hook Apr 26, 2019 at 7:41 AM

  • Tech review

    21

    Netgear XR700 Gaming Router Review
    SRP: £449.00

    What is the Netgear XR700 Gaming Router?

    Back in November 2018, we reviewed Netgear’s XR500 Pro Gaming Router. Priced then at £240, and available for a little less now, it offered a huge range of features, performed well across the board but ultimately was no better as far as connection, ping and Wi-Fi performance were concerned than our humble BT HomeHub, although it clearly offered significantly more control and features. When most people are perfectly happy with their free ISP provided router, it is quite a stretch to spend £240 on a replacement.

    But, if you are looking for the ultimate control with features such as Geo-Filter, QoS and a kick-ass gaming design, then the Nighthawk XR range is probably for you. Our next review takes the already feature rich XR500 and blows it out of the water with Netgear’s Tri-Band XR700 Pro Gaming Router. Priced at, wait for it, £449, this router most likely has everything you would ever want from a router and more.

    The XR700 has a Quad Core 1.7Ghz processor, Netgear’s easy to use and gaming focused DumaOS operating system to allow competitive gamers to stay ahead of the pack, 4.6Gbps 802.11ad Wi-Fi, more Gigabit Ethernet ports than you can shake a stick at, a Plex Media Server and Netgear’s usual suite of ReadySHARE features. Read on to see if it is really worth spending £449 on a router…..

    What about the Design and Specification?

    Taking the design of the XR500 and ramping it up a few levels, the XR700 is quite easily the largest, heaviest and flashiest router we have ever seen. The first thing you will notice is four, frankly ludicrously large, black antennas protruding from the rear and side of the unit. It features a black mesh grille to the top of the unit, presumably to help dissipate the heat from the quad core CPU and everything else going on inside this beast, an attractive red swoosh on the top and the Nighthawk logo. Along with more LED lights along the front than you will know what to do with. It is clearly gaming focused and proud of it.
    Netgear XR700 What about the Design and Specification?
    Did we mention it was huge? It weighs 1.9kg and with the antennas measures 360mm wide x 280mm deep and 212mm high. The router itself is 330mm wide x 240mm deep x 63mm high. It towers over our BT HomeHub like some crazed predator.

    To the rear we have 7 Gigabit Ethernet Ports (6 LAN, 1 WAN), of which two of these feature link aggregation, power connection, power button, factory reset, LED light switch and a 10Gigabit LAN SFP+ port connection for low-latency LAN gaming parties (when used with the Netgear SX10 switch).
    Netgear XR700 What about the Design and Specification?
    Then to the left side we have two USB 3.0 ports for the Netgear ReadySHARE feature which is used to share a USB hard drive or printer to any connected devices. Netgear also include their free ReadySHARE Vault software for automatic PC backup to a USB hard drive connected to the router and Cloud Backup for backing up a hard drive to Amazon Drive Cloud.

    Specification

    • 2.4Ghz 4x4 256 QAM, up to 800Mbps
    • 5Ghz 4x4 256 QAM up to 1733Mbps
    • 60Ghz SC up to 4600Mbps
    • 4 high performance external antenna
    • Additional DFS channels (15 more channels) in 5Ghz for interference free gaming experience
    • Powerful Quad-Core 1.7Ghz processor
    • Seven Gigabit Ethernet Ports (1 WAN, 6 LAN)
    • 10Gigabit SFP+ Port
    • Two USB 3.0 Ports
    • DumaOS customisable gaming dashboard
    • ReadySHARE USB
    • ReadySHARE Vault for automatic PC backup
    • Amazon Cloud Drive Backup
    • Quad Stream
    • MU-MIMO
    • Beamforming
    You will have noticed the 60Ghz mentioned above. This is the first router we have seen that includes 802.11ad 60Ghz Wi-Fi. You could say this ensures the router is future proofed, but as it stands you will struggle to find any devices that are compatible with 60Ghz and it doesn’t appear to have taken off at all. It is only very short range, which doesn’t make it ideal for most homes.

    Setup and Features

    When spending £449 on anything, you would expect it to be easy to setup and here, with the XR700, that was thankfully the case. As with the XR500, this is a router only as it does not include a modem, so for BT Infinity users with a Homehub that has an integrated modem, you will still have to use the BT Modem/Router and then connect the XR700 via the WAN port.

    To install, you simply power up the XR700, connect to your modem and once the initialisation process has finished, you launch a browser window on your PC (or MAC) and the installation assistant will automatically run. Then follow the simple setup instructions and in just a few minutes it will all be ready to go.

    Following the setup, you will see the key part of the Nighthawk Pro Gaming range, the DumaOS interface. This has a very simple to use and clear GUI that gives you easy access to all of the router’s settings, configurations and the Pro Gaming features such as the Gaming Dashboard, Geo-Filter, Quality of Service, Gaming VPN client and Network monitor.
    Netgear XR700 Setup and Features
    The main screen on the DumaOS interface is the Gaming Dashboard. This features a fully customisable layout of all the router’s information such as Internet Status, Wireless Status, CPU usage, Network Overview and much more. These all come in individual windows which can be re-sized, moved and turned off, to leave you with just the information you want to see on the dashboard.

    The first of the main Pro Gaming features is the Geo-Filter. If your device is a console it is simply added and will cover all games, if it’s a PC you then get presented with a list of game types such as Battlefield, Unreal Engine (Fortnite, PUBG), Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and many more. You can add just one or keep adding until you have all the games you want. You then set your home location and the distance radius.
    Netgear XR700 Setup and Features
    There are two main modes to this, Spectating and Filtering. In Filtering mode, any attempted connections outside of this distance will be blocked. This is only of use to console gamers to reduce ping and find closer servers as most PC games do not require filtering. If you enable it, a lot of them will simply refuse to find a server anyway. The Spectating mode is primarily for information purposes, and when enabled, if you join a game server, you will see details in the Auto Ping section of where the server is located, your ping, tick rate and other information.

    The next feature is the Quality of Service. This allows you to configure the bandwidth allocation across all of your connected devices. It includes an Anti-BufferBloat setting (who makes up these names?) that gives you control of the total bandwidth that the connected devices can consume to prevent a single device from using all of the network’s bandwidth.
    Netgear XR700 Setup and Features
    Other features include the Device Manager, which is a simple graphical network map showing connected devices, but with the option to change the device names, device type and even block a device from the network completely. Network Monitor shows all the connected devices and the bandwidth they are using, and the Hybrid VPN feature now has two VPN services available, either purevpn or hidemyass, though you will need to buy a licence to use these. The VPN can be set up on a per device basis, with game types added similarly to the Geo-Filter, and can then be enabled or disabled for each device too.

    On top of these features, the XR700 probably has every setting you could ever wish for on a router and many that you haven’t even thought of or will ever use. To roll off a few of these you have Port Fowarding, Port Triggering, Dynamic DNS, Remote Management, Static Routes, UPnP, IPv6, VLAN/Bridge Settings, LED control settings and the Ethernet Port Aggregation. Then a whole host of monitoring and filtering features such as website blocking, traffic meter, logs and statistics galore.
    Netgear XR700 Setup and Features
    Finally, according to Netgear, the XR700 is the Industry’s first gaming router with a Plex Media Server. Via a connected USB hard drive (or Network Drive connection), the Plex Media Service manages all of your music, videos and photos and streams them to your devices, whether connected remotely or locally. With the purchase of this router, you get a free three-month Plex pass.

    How well does it perform?

    The testing is carried out in a standard 4 bed detached house. As we have BT Infinity and a HomeHub which has an integrated modem, the XR700 Router automatically configured the IP address to avoid conflicts. We tested using a PC connected via Gigabit Ethernet to our existing BT HomeHub Modem/Router and with an 802.11ac capable laptop. We then repeated the tests using the XR700 Router. During our testing we turned off all other Wireless transmitters to avoid any interference.

    We use a program called LANSpeedTest (ver 4.4) by Totusoft which is a simple but powerful tool for measuring Local Area Network (LAN) speeds. It does this by building a file in memory, which it then transfers both ways (without the effects of windows file caching) while keeping track of the elapsed time, and then does the calculations for you. This gives us the results of transferring files between our PC and the laptop.
    Test: 2 x 100MB packets.

    Location 1 is on the same floor, 3 metres from the router and through one wall.
    Location 2 is on the same floor, 5 metres from the router and through two walls.
    Location 3 is in a room directly above the router, 2-3 metres away.
    Location 4 is in a room above the router, 7 metres away.

    BT Infinity HomeHub Write Read
    Location 1 128.17 Mbps 206.13 Mbps
    Location 2 114.13 Mbps 224.14 Mbps
    Location 3 144.88 Mbps 269.40 Mbps
    Location 4 45.37 Mbps 40.86 Mbps

    Netgear XR700 Router Write Read
    Location 1 128.40 Mbps 223.27 Mbps
    Location 2 116.88 Mbps 218.71 Mbps
    Location 3 135.45 Mbps 222.29 Mbps
    Location 4 80.59 Mbps 114.12 Mbps

    Our test location always gives a very tough test for Wireless devices and during our review of the XR500 it didn’t really impress. Here with the XR700 most of the results showed very similar or slightly better scores compared to our BT HomeHub with the exception of Location 4. This is the furthest from our router and here the XR700 excelled, showing that it does indeed have a much better Wi-Fi range and signal, which is an area where the cheaper XR500 failed.

    In addition to the above tests, we carried out an internet speedtest on our PC connected via Gigabit Ethernet to both routers. With our existing BT HomeHub we received an average 28.88Mbps down and 8.60Mbps up with a ping of 7ms. Using the Netgear XR700 our results were very similar with 29.67Mbps download, 8.56Mbps upload and a ping very slightly higher at 8ms.

    Very little difference in the internet speed test results which are as we would have expected. However much you spend on a router, and the XR700 at £449 is a pricey beast, the speed provided by your ISP won’t magically increase.

    Conclusion

    8
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • Very easy to install and setup
    • DumaOS gaming dashboard
    • Every feature, setting and configuration you could ever want
    • Excellent Wi-Fi range

    Cons

    • Very expensive
    • Massive beast of a thing
    You own this Total 0
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

    Netgear XR700 Gaming Router Review

    Is the Netgear XR700 Gaming Router worth buying?

    If you want the very best gaming focused router you can find, with a high specification and crammed full of the latest features, including some you can’t even use yet, then the XR700 could be the one for you. But all that comes at a price, namely £449. For a router, regardless of how good it is and how well it performs, this is a very hefty price to pay especially when most people are happy to use the free ISP provided router, but then the XR700 is not aimed at those people.

    For £449 you get a Tri-Band router with 2.4Ghz, 5Ghz and even 60Ghz wireless (not that you will find anything to use it with), 4 high performance antennas, 7 Gigabit Ethernet ports, the Netgear ReadySHARE features and the jewel of the XR700, the DumaOS. This offers a whole host of gaming focused features such as Geo-Location filters, Quality of service and more. Along with more settings and configurations than you would ever need or want.

    What is the competition?

    At £449 we are at the very top end of routers, so much so in fact that there are very few we could find as alternatives that are priced this high. The Asus GT-AX11000 at £380 could be a likely option or TP-LINK’s AC5400X at around £350 which both offer similar specifications, but perhaps not offering the all-round top end spec of the XR700.

    If you want the very best router that money can buy, then the XR700 is definitely one to consider, but unless you have money to burn and really do need all the features it provides, does it really offer enough over the multitude of high spec routers costing around £200 or even your own free ISP provided router?


    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £449.00

    The Rundown

    Build Quality

    9

    Connectivity

    9

    Ease of Use

    9

    Connection Speed

    9

    Value for Money

    7

    Verdict

    8

    Our Review Ethos

    Read about our review ethos and the meaning of our review badges.

    To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.

    Write your Netgear XR700 Home Distribution Product review.