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Netgear Nighthawk R7000 AC1900 Smart Wi-Fi Router Review

Netgear Nighthawk R7000 AC1900 Smart Wi-Fi Router Review

Netgear launches their top-tier wireless solution called the Nighthawk R7000 AC1900 Smart Wi-Fi router, but is the world ready for it? Let's see.

@TylerBernath
Tyler Bernath
Published Fri, Mar 21 2014 11:54 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Netgear

Introduction

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VIEW GALLERY - 37 IMAGES

When it comes to wireless routers, most of us just want something with ample performance that we don't have to constantly reset when network traffic gets a little heavy. For myself, I have been through many routers that have had this problem and--for the first few times at least--you think it's just a bug in the firmware that may go away and the router will live a happy life on your desk, shelf, or wherever. After a short while, the router may act up again leaving you looking for another solution that just works.

For the last few weeks, I have had the chance to use, and admittedly abuse, the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 wireless router. When I say abuse, I'm talking massive amounts of streaming to multiple devices at the same time, along with moving files back and forth between NAS appliances daily.

More onto the Nighthawk. It has the highest tier of wireless networking technology, including dual band capabilities of 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band via 256QAM modulation and 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band. Being that this is the very first AC1900 router to make its way through the lab here at TweakTown, there was slightly more anticipation for this unit to make its way through testing.

Features of the Netgear Nighthawk include a 1GHz dual-core processor with 256MB of RAM and 128MB of flash for the firmware. Open source firmware is supported with the router, so that should include DD-WRT, OpenWRT, and maybe even Tomato if development gets that far. For those that want an out of the box be-all-end-all solution, the Netgear may very well be that router.

It has two onboard USB ports for connecting printers or storage solutions. The Netgear Genie app for Android and iOS allows you to control the router configuration from your device. Netgear has also packed in one of the most well rounded QoS solutions I have seen in any router.

Pricing, Availability, and Specifications

MSRP of the Netgear Nighthawk R7000 AC1900 wireless router is listed at $199.99 with a one-year warranty. Availability of the router is very high at this point with several retailers having it ready to ship at this point. Current market pricing for the Netgear R7000 can be found below.

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PRICING: You can find the Netgear Nighthawk R7000 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Netgear Nighthawk R7000 retails for $195.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The Netgear Nighthawk R7000 retails for CDN$222.99 at Amazon Canada.

Netgear Nighthawk R7000 Wireless Router

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The product packaging carries the standard vibrant Netgear coloring scheme with an image of the router centered. To the right, Netgear has outlined the inclusion of a 1GHz dual-core processor.

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Internally, all the materials were packed in egg crate.

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Scope of delivery includes an Ethernet cable, three antennas, power adapter, and reading materials.

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Looking over the router, the first noticeable feature is the overall size of the router and, of course, the stunning edgy design mimicking the USAF F-117 Nighthawk. The top of the router houses all of the LED indicators, which light up white when everything is normal and orange when something requires your attention.

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Down below the front edge, Netgear has tucked away the USB 3.0 port.

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The back of the router houses the three antenna ports, 4 LAN, and a single WAN port along with the power switch and USB 2.0 connection.

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Internally, there isn't much to really get a look at. Everything is shielded and tucked away.

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The backside of the PCB houses a large thermal pad covering what I assume to be the processor area. The base of the plastic housing has a metal plate acting as a heat sink.

Management GUI

Before we hit the images of the management GUI, I have some images of the Netgear Genie App for iOS.

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The first of the two landing screens for the Netgear Genie app includes features allowing you to manage wireless settings, parental controls, and even a network map and traffic meter.

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The second screen has the router reboot button and turbo transfer app.

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Along with the Traffic Meter, the Network Map is one of the more useful features of the Genie App. Here you can see a list of currently connected devices that are further categorized by the connection type.

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The landing menu for the Nighthawk includes the option for easy setup, what Netgear calls Genie.

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Basic setup landing shows you a quick view of what's going on in your network. As you can see, the wireless password scrolls across the top while we have parental control readily available as well.

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The Basic wireless menu allows you to change the SSID of your networks along with passwords and connection speeds.

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The attached devices tab shows you currently connected devices.

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Next we have the ReadyShare menu tab where you can configure printers connected via USB for sharing along with storage.

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Of course, no modern day router is complete without a guest network.

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The advanced landing menu gives you slightly more information at a glance.

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Here we have one of the more unique features of the R7000, the traffic meter. Within this menu, you can setup your router to monitor the outgoing or incoming traffic, and, for those that have data caps imposed, you can have the router change the LED color on the top when you near or hit your limit. You can also setup the router to kill Internet access if you happen to hit your limit.

Test System Setup

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As wireless networking has proliferated in homes and offices around the world, and network vendors keep releasing new devices on a regular basis, you now have so many options that it's hard to make a choice. The truth of the matter is, regardless of how many features a wireless router or access point has, the two most important things about it are its speed and its range.

We test throughput in a dual-node network environment consisting of a Custom PC with a GIGABYTE Z77UP5 TH, Intel Core i5 3570K Processor operating at 3.3GHz with 16GB of DDR3, and the Startech.com ST1000SPEX42 quad port gigabit network adapter. The second system features a GIGABYTE x58 OC Mainboard with an Intel Xeon L5639 Six Core CPU, 48GB of DDR3 from ADATA, and the StarTech.com ST1000SPEX42 NIC.

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Wireless throughput is tested using the ASUS PCE-AC68 PCI Express Network Adapter. Range is tested with a ProBook by HP installed with an ASUS USB-AC56 adapter via USB 3.0.

We perform all tests in a real-world environment. You may get better range and throughput results in a spacious facility with few internal walls or outdoors. Our tests provide a benchmark for estimating the range and throughput of wireless networking devices in an indoor setting with some obstacles.

Benchmarks - Wired Throughput

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LAN to LAN throughput of the Nighthawk peaks at 952.3Mbps, edging out the RTA15 slightly.

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WAN to LAN came in at 919.5Mbps, which is just behind the 868L from D-Link.

Benchmarks - Wireless Throughput

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In our 2.4GHz testing, the Nighthawk was right inline with the 1750DHP from Buffalo. One thing of note here is if you want to make use of the 600Mbps 2.4GHz speeds, then you need an adapter with TurboQAM available. Unfortunately, our adapter does not yet support this but should with a future update.

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5GHz throughput really picked up for the R7000; here you can see it carries much more bandwidth across each signal rate topping the charts with an 80MHz real-world throughput of 451Mbps.

Benchmarks - Wireless Range

For wireless range, we need to refer back to the Network Infrastructure chart on page four of this review. Each chart herein is based on the locations on the table. To make it simple, Location 1 is the closest and within Line of Sight, while Location 4 is the furthest away with many walls in between. Location 5 tests the router's ability to generate enough signal strength to penetrate to the second floor of a home.

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Right off the bat, we could tell the Nighthawk had much better range than we were used to seeing. As you can see in our chart above, location four was the only place all routers came together.

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The 40MHz band showed similar results as we saw in initial testing. Here the Nighthawk started at -30dBm and fell off to -50dBm at location four.

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5GHz allowed everything to settle down, and the Netgear was closer to what we expected.

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5GHz 40MHz showed similar results to the previous 20MHz test in that we started with a good connection at -40dBm and fell off to -68dBm at location four.

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Lastly, we have the 80MHz, or AC band. Here the Nighthawk did quite well and fell within our expectations based on previous routers we have tested. As you see within this same range, the router is much more powerful at getting data to your device.

Benchmarks - File Transfer Test

In our file transfer test, we use a single 4GB ISO file and transfer it from test system one to our second test system via the network. To eliminate any bottlenecks, each system is utilizing a Corsair Neutron 256GB SSD.

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Here we have the results from our file transfer testing with the R7000. As you can see, it was leaps and bounds better than every router we have tested previously in terms of getting real-world throughput to your device. The best part I found was getting near gigabit transfer speeds wirelessly.

Final Thoughts

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Well... where to start on my final thoughts? I know! Build quality. Here I found no issues with the R7000; the plastics are durable, all the solder joints look really good on the PCB, and everything is shielded and heatsinked appropriately. The overall size of the router could be an issue where you don't have much space on your desktop or wherever you install your routers, but this is a router I would make room for.

Performance of the Netgear Nighthawk was stunning to say the least; the Ethernet ports all ran at gigabit speeds, including the WAN port where we typically see a slight drop-off. The 2.4GHz throughput was on par with previously tested solution, but it may actually be better than our testing if you have a 256QAM capable device. 5GHz operation was the most stunning to me and, as you can see in our charts, lead by quite a bit in real-world file transfers, almost touching the mystical 100 MB/s.

There are also quite a few value added features to this router, including the traffic monitor, where you can set your monthly limits and have the router LED change color when you encroach those. You can also have the router shutdown internet access after you reach that limit. Moreover, the QoS features of this router are truly superb; Netgear has setup a database of frequent streaming sites and can optimize your connection based on what you use. The database for QoS also includes an auto update function to keep the list always up to date.

One thing I can say is there is a huge difference having QoS enabled with the Netgear over other solutions. Where my previous router had issues when I would stream YouTube and have magnets downloading on the NAS, the Netgear has been running for three straight days now streaming and downloading without a single hiccup, something that truly impresses me.

PRICING: You can find the Netgear Nighthawk R7000 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Netgear Nighthawk R7000 retails for $195.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The Netgear Nighthawk R7000 retails for CDN$222.99 at Amazon Canada.

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Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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