Introduction & Pricing, Availability, and Specifications
A few months ago, I had the TP-Link Talon AD7200 in the lab. When I tested that router, they had sent along a notebook that had the Qualcomm Sparrow 802.11 chipset, so I was able to test for myself what 802.11ad performance was like. I admit the performance from this standard is quite impressive, so when NETGEAR launched their latest top-tier offering, there was no doubt in my mind it would include 60GHz technology.
I took a little extra time with the Nighthawk X10, to go through and use all the features this router has. From the top, it shares a lot of "firsts" for the consumer router market starting with its 10Gbe SFP+ connectivity. There is a single port set aside to receive this higher throughput for storage devices like ReadyNAS, or for you to uplink to a secondary switch if you need more wired connections.
This solution is marketed for very large homes, as such it carries seven Gigabit Ethernet ports, two support link aggregation. You will find two USB 3.0 ports for storage, and that takes us to software which includes the ever popular Plex Media Server.
To power such an expansive package, NETGEAR has supplied the X10 with a quad-core processor from Annapurna Labs, the AL314. This processor operates at 1.7GHz and is paired with 1GB of DDR3 and 512MB flash. The 2.4GHz radio which is capable of 800 Mbps via 256QAM is powered by the QCA9984 radio backed by Skyworks power amps. The 5GHz band is setup with the same quad-stream radio with RFMD power amps, and the 60GHz radio is part of the QCA9500 package.
The MSRP of the NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 comes in at $499.99 with a one-year warranty.
NETGEAR Nighthawk R9000 Wireless Router
Packaging is rather extravagant for the X10. We have a two-part design, similar to Orbi, the outside housing information a bit of marketing information.
The spine houses a full specification sheet for the router.
With this being a fixed antenna router, the scope of delivery includes the power adapter and reading materials.
Looking at the top of the router, we have a large mesh area to allow heat to escape the large heat sink on the left. Along the bottom edge, we have a full lineup of LEDs for power to Wi-Fi and even wired connections.
The side of the router houses both USB 3.0 ports.
On the backside, we have six Gigabit LAN ports with a single WAN to the right in yellow.
On the right edge, you will find the SFP+ port next to the power input.
Management GUI Details
The X10 uses the Genie setup method as do most NETGEAR solutions. This wizard guides you through setup first detecting your current setup.
We move on by inputting desired username and password.
Ready to go, NETGEAR has a few apps to help with your experience.
The landing menu for the X10 is no different from any other Nighthawk router. The genie platform gives us a dashboard look on the main page with quick glance access to wireless, attached devices, and ReadyShare control.
Moving through the menu system, we stop at wireless settings. Here you can configure wireless modes and channels for all three bands.
Parental control work by selecting a device and setting up a rule for it with access controls.
The ReadyShare menu is all about storage. With this solution, you have two USB 3.0 ports on the left side and here is where you manage them.
Cloud backup allows you to setup an Amazon Cloud account with the router.
NETGEAR downloader allows you to setup BT downloads along with FTP and HTTP via links. To my knowledge, it does not support magnet files.
Plex is perhaps the most popular streaming media server on the planet. Using a USB device, you can stream to all of your devices directly from the router.
Traffic meter watches the amount of data being pushed through the router and if you so choose can stop you from going over if you have data caps.
Another selling feature of the X10 is the link aggregation capabilities on LAN ports one and two.
Test System Setup & Benchmark Throughput Tests
Tyler's Router Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Maximus IX Hero (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: Intel Core i7 7700K (buy from Amazon) / (Read our Review)
- Memory: G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 3200 (buy from Amazon)
- Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Hybrid (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Intel 730 480GB SSD (buy from Amazon) / (Read our Review)
- Secondary Storage: MyDigitalSSD BP5 512GB SSD (buy from Amazon)
- Case: EVGA DG-86 (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 750 P2 (buy from Amazon)
- Networking: ASUS PCE-AC88 AC3100 (buy from Amazon)
- Networking: ASUS ROG 10G Express
- I/O: ASUS Thunderbolt EX3 (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
The Tenda AC9 was the last router I tested with the old Z170 platform. With our new test system, we re-ran it through testing to have it on our new charts.
Starting our new charts, the X10 had solid throughput at 942 Mbps.
WAN throughput came in at 941 Mbps.
2.4GHz performance topped out at 264 Mbps on the 40MHz band and 146 Mbps on the 20MHz band.
5GHz throughput reached a new high with this new test system, reaching 558 Mbps on the 80MHz band followed by 313 Mbps and 186 Mbps.
Benchmarks - Wireless Range, Mobile Throughput and File Performance
With mobile throughput, I run testing through an iPhone 7 Plus and Mi Note Pro to see performance with mobile devices. Throughput is tested with the router in is default state from the factory.
The iPhone 7 has the latest wireless chipset so it no surprise we are getting higher throughput with it. However, the MiNote Pro is basically a clone of the Galaxy S7, so it's no slouch either.
5GHz mobile throughput reached 488 Mbps with the iPhone 7 Plus, while the Note Pro touched 332 Mbps.
Our next test for this new setup sees how range affects performance. With this, we start at 10 feet and move out to 30 feet, after we reach the end we move to a location again at 30 feet but with two walls between us and the router. Routers are tested in their default configuration for this part; the client device is the iPhone 7 Plus.
Starting off this test, the X10 gives us 99 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. As we move away, performance drops only slightly out to 30 feet. Two walls net us 82 Mbps.
Moving over to 5GHz, we started at 544 Mbps. The X10 held onto this through 20 feet and dropped off to 505 Mbps at 30 feet. The two walls hit the 5GHz performance, dropping it to 341 Mbps.
Storage testing on the X10 was done using its SFP+ 10Gbe connection to an Intel X520 NIC in our test system. I wanted to see if there was performance left past the 1Gbe barrier, and judging by the results, the X10 is quite capable.
As you can see with our SanDisk Extreme Pro USB flash drive, I reached 186 MB/s read with the 100M file and 185 MB/s with the 1G file.
Write performance was even better reaching 205 MB/s with the 1G file and 146 MB/s with the 100M file.
Benchmarks – Sessions & Final Thoughts
Basically, with this test, I'm looking to see if the router will lock up if enough sessions are pushed through the hardware. We start at 32 sessions and 924 Mbps as we increase the number of sessions throughput decreases all the way down to 377 Mbps at 1024 connections.
At this point, you can see the Tenda router crashed and had to be reset, but the X10 kept going fine, albeit slower.
The Nighthawk X10 is one beast of a router. NETGEAR has pulled out everything they had and put it into one device that can download, stream, and store your data. They gathered up and support some of the richest features I have seen in a router including Plex and Amazon cloud backup. ReadyShare keeps to the tradition of solid performance in onboard USB 3.0 storage. Build quality is that of a tank, like the R7000, this router keeps the traditional dark fighter jet appearance with its full set of LEDs and mesh to allow heat to pass through.
On the performance side, we have a little bit of information to go through. 2.4GHz and 5GHz performance was solid; the highest I have seen on the 5GHz side. Wired throughput met all expectations hovering around 940 Mbps. I wasn't able to test the 60GHz band without the appropriate equipment, but I do assume similar performance to the Talon AD7200.
Plex worked well without issue, although some high-resolution files, when transcoded, can warm the X10 up. The Genie platform as a whole is one of my personal favorites as the layout and ease of navigation makes the experience that much better.
In closing, with its MSRP coming in at $499.99, this router isn't for everyone, that is obvious. It will be up to you to decide if WiGig / 802.11ad is for you or not.
The Bottom Line: There's no denying the NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 its glory. It is easily the highest performing single base solution for today's wireless networks and it just so happens to have a tons of extra features that just top the whole package off.
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