This one took us a little time to get our hands on. Netgear’s prized Nighthawk X10 router, one of the fastest consumer routers one can get their hands on, has been in our “lab” being tested by the evil geniuses of our benchmark guys. It took a little time to get our hands on one because we never hear back from Netgear when we reach out to them (pfft), so I had to buy it myself. This is actually my own personal router I recently bought and then brought in so that the team could have a field day with it before I steal it back and hiss at anyone who gets near it.
This new router supports the latest 802.11ad standard, which allows for some amazing throughput running around your house (up to 7.2Gbps), blowing wireless AC right out the door. It is just one of two AD routers that are available currently on the market. Although we haven’t tested the other one (TP-Link), this one makes a perfect attempt at taking the throne.
Installation of the router is painless. Just like most routers, you start off by plugging it into the wall for power and your modem for of course internet, and then wait for it to boot. Once it’s online and the WiFi LEDs are lit, you can connect to its WiFi network which can be found on the bottom of the router (SSID and password). You can of course also connect to it via ethernet to get started as well. Once you are connected to the router, you would open your web browser to www.routerlogin.net which actually redirects (DNS) to the router itself (or, usually you can manually visit 192.168.1.1 for Netgear routers). You login with the default admin info (user: admin, password: password) which is real simple, and then start off by changing the admin password of course. From here, you are ready to begin setting up your network like you would any other router.
It allows you to broadcast a number of networks across your house, including 2.4GHz b/g/n (delivering up to 800Mbps) , 5GHz 802.11a/n/ac (delivering up to 1,733Mbps) and the now 60GHz (the new 802.11ad standard, that can deliver up to 4,600Mbps). Given, nothing really supports AD just yet. So for now, your devices will be limited to riding the crazy fast AC highway. You of course have the option of additional guest networks for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz (no 60GHz).
As long as you know your way around a router, it shouldn’t take you too long to get it all setup. Sadly there isn’t a way to roll your settings over between routers, so if you like to dig deep with port forwarding and static IP addresses for most of your devices like we do, it might take a little longer.
The web interface for all of the settings is a little weird for tech veterans, broken down between two tabs: Basic and Advanced. Which means some features can be found in both but deeper options will be within the advanced tab. We find ourselves going straight to the advanced tab so you don’t miss anything. However, if you are a noob (beginner) at this, it is best to stay within “Basic”, and make use of the “Help Center” bar near the bottom to help explain each setting. Where it gets weird is that it isn’t that intuitive and it is missing some features we would have preferred to see.
You can also control the router via Netgear’s Genie app that can be found for both iOS and Android devices.
The design of the router is pretty cool. It offers a mean look to it when all of the lights are doing their thing and the antennas are lit up. Fits it quite well when you start to run speed tests on all of your devices. It feels like it will hold up to years of torture and you can see heatsinks and fans inside (through the top grills) that help keep heat in check. This isn’t the average consumer’s router.
All of your status LEDs are running across the face of the router in one line. It really shows how many options it has to offer. You have your power, internet status, your three main networks, guest networks (in one LED), two LEDs for connected storage using the USB 3.0 ports on the side, 10G for the SFP+ connection on the back (for faster storage solutions, which is one of the first times this has been seen on a consumer router), and then finally your your 6 wired ports on the back. Next to those LEDs are two buttons that allow you to turn all WiFi networks on and off with a single button, and then the WPS button for quickly connecting new devices to it (as long as they also support WPS).
The front left side of the router has two USB 3.0 ports for network attached storage. Both of which perform just as you’d expect 3.0 to do, offering solid read/write speeds for everyone on your network. We’ve had an external 3TB WD (HDD) drive plugged into it during tests and have seen average speeds of around 150+MBps.
The back of the router has everything else. Starting with a power on/off switch for the LED lights and a reset hole for completely resetting it back to factory settings with. The mid sections contains your 6 wired connections (ethernet 1Gbps) as well as your WAN input (from your modem). To the right of those is the SFP+ (Small Form-factor Pluggable) input for connecting external storage solutions to that support the same. SFP+ supports up to a 10Gbps throughput–of course the external solutions that support this are just expensive as the router itself and that doesn’t include the drives to go in them. Finally, you have your main on/off button to the router and the input for your power adapter.
Despite the web interface not striving to be being the best that it can be, the router does deliver something none of the other ones have to offer. An amazing coverage that reaches nearly as far as some of the mesh solutions we have tested, and with greater speeds.
Inside this router is a 1.7GHz quad-core CPU that allows it to effectively manage over 20 devices across your network, which is important since you are now surrounded by so many devices with internet connectivity. The 2.4GHz network stretches incredibly far as well as the 5GHz (just not as much). 5GHz offers greater speeds than 2.4GHz at the sacrifice of distance slightly. We haven’t been able to test the 60GHz network just yet as we don’t have any devices that support this standard just yet, however it is important to point out that the reach of a 60GHz network is quite limited (which means it won’t go through too many walls at all), forcing you to keep any devices that do support this as close to the router as physically possible.
We have been clocking internet speeds of over 300-350Mbps on mobile devices alone (ie, Samsung Galaxy 8/8+ devices function fantastically on this router) and we are maxing out the external WAN speed on wired devices as well as laptops that support 802.11ac, allowing us to go further than that.
The router has been perfectly stable for some time now, despite connecting over a dozen devices to it that have been actively abusing its throughput. There have been no dropouts and any troubles that result in having to reboot the router. Both internal and external access to the router has proven to be flawless.
It supports MU-MIMO (Multiple-user, multiple-input, multiple-output) streaming which allows for simultaneous streaming to devices using beamforming to connect directly to them (think of invisible lines that act as tethers as the device moves around the house).
It also features Plex Media Server support built right into the router, allowing you to control all of your media sharing from the router directly, vs a computer that would have to run 24/7 to accomplish the same. You can add any of the network attached (via the USB 3.0 ports) content you would like, so that you can access it from nearly any device (that support Plex), anywhere around the world.
We found that streaming 4K-level content across the network was flawless. We tested our various VR options as well as general gaming latency and couldn’t find a single thing to complain about. This router truly is a solid work of art.
The only thing we couldn’t get over is the price. You really do get what you pay for, but you really will be paying for it to get it as the router runs on average $399 to sometimes as high as $499, although you can typically find it on Amazon between $399-$449. It isn’t an affordable router by any means, so it will be limited to a smaller niche of power users and heavy gamers. However, you won’t be disappointed once everything is setup.
Now we just have to see how it performs with Netgear’s mesh extension solutions for their Nighthawk routers. They don’t have a Nighthawk mesh extender that supports 802.11ad just yet, but their EX8000 will more than likely do a lot of damage (in a good way) on it’s own with its AC3000 speeds of up to 3Gbps throughput. That however will be another story for another day and only if we find ourselves holding one in our hands.
This is a powerful router. One of our favorites without a doubt. It offers the speed and stability that a power user would be looking for and then some. It also offers a fantastic range for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. It is so bloody fast and can manage a large number of devices throughout your home while showing no weaknesses or lag. The web interface could be better, so hopefully they will work on that through firmware updates, but beyond that the only other thing to gawk at in shock is the price tag. Until we have devices laying around that will allow us to benchmark the 60GHz network, we have nothing to point out just yet, but you can be sure that 2018 will help fill this gap in.
|Buy from Amazon|
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
Product datasheet: here
- WIFI SPEED: 7.2 Gbps
- TECHNOLOGY: 802.11ac + 802.11ad
- NUMBER OF PORTS:
- Seven (7) 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet ports
- Two (2) USB 3.0 ports
- PROCESSOR SPEEDS: 1.7GHz Quad Core
- NUMBER OF DEVICES: 20+ Devices
- KEY FEATURES
- Plex Media Server
- Amazon Drive Cloud Backup
- High-Performance Active Antennas
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.