In the past few months, we have seen quite a few high-end routers from the 802.11ac market come through the lab. For myself, it all started with the Linksys WRT, which was quickly followed up by the launch of the R7000 Nighthawk from Netgear. At this point in time, we are seeing an emergence of Wave 2 products with the recent launch of the ASUS RT-87U , and the Linksys E8350, both of which we had the chance to review in recent articles.
The Netgear Nighthawk R7500 we are looking at today is the second AC2350 class solution we have tested to utilize the Quantenna 5GHz platform paired with the Qualcomm Atheros IPQ8064 SoC. Diving a little deeper, the Qualcomm Atheros solution offers a distinctive setup as far as external I/O is concerned. Instead of the RGMII interface found in the Broadcom 4709A platform, used in the RT87U from ASUS, a PCI express interface is deployed. Netgear has used this interface to support the link between the 5GHz and 2.4GHz radios, and the SoC.
Additionally, the R7500 employs offload processors for both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz radios operating at 500MHz, freeing up cycles for storage, and other software functions. The differences between the Qualcomm Atheros and Broadcom platforms don't stop there; while the Broadcom solution deploys a dual-core Cortex A9 at 1GHz, the Qualcomm Atheros setup used in the R7500 has two Krait cores at 1.4GHz.
In the large scheme of things, the latest addition to the Nighthawk family rounds out Netgear's high-end product family with a Wave 2 solution capable of 1.73Gbps on the 5GHz band, and 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. In addition to the four gigabit LAN, this solution also boasts a plethora of external I/O, including dual USB 3.0 ports, and eSATA connectivity.
PRICING: You can find the Netgear Nighthawk X4 Smart Wi-Fi Router 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 Nighthawk X4 retails for $279.99 at Amazon.