The Nighthawk is one of the latest 802.11ac routers available from Netgear. The Nighthawk, which has been given the model name R7000, offers fast data transfer speeds thanks in part to its 5GHz band technology, as well as its built in Quality-of-Service, or QoS, enhancements. Those and other features place the Nighthawk above nearly all the other 802.11ac routers that are now available to consumers on the market.
Size wise, the R7000 is somewhat large. The measurements of the router are 1.97 inches high by 11.22 inches wide and 7.26 inches deep. It also not a lightweight. The router weighs in at 1.6 pounds. The base of the R7000is quite wide, and it features rubber feet to make sure that the router won't be able to slide around no matter where it’s placed.
The size and weight aren't the only things about the router that are on the large end of things. The Nighthawk comes equipped with a quite fast 1GHz dual-core processor. This enables the Nighthawk to be one of the fastest and highest end consumer routers available. Due to the high end specs, the R7000 can offer 600Mbps to 2.4GHz frequency devices and 1300Mbps for those on the higher 5GHz band. Three external antennas that are attached on the back panel of the router to enable a wide area of coverage.
Touted by Netgear, the QoS has been designed to optimize video streaming and other important tasks. QoS is not turned on by default, and anyone wishing to use it will have to open up the routers interface to configure a few settings. The feature works by looking at all the traffic going through the router and giving video, audio or gaming data priority over any other traffic.
When enabled, the QoS several pre-set rules. These rules set traffic going upstream from an Xbox or other gaming platform to a “High” priority. Data coming downstream, such as from any of the video sites would also included in the “High” priority group.
There are routers faster than the R7000 on the market, but its ability to keep up a high throughput over a large distance is impressive to say the least. This ability due to a new feature Netgear calls Beamforming +. Beamforming is a technology that has been around for a while, and it allows routers to send a more direct signal to wireless devices. Netgear’s has labeled their enhancements to the technology Beamforming +. Currently the enhancement is only available on the R7000′s 5GHz band.
Netgear has announced that they are working on and are planning to release an update to the firmware on the router that will enable their enhanced beamforming on the router’s 2.4GHz band as well. However, until it is released, the speeds available over the 2.4 GHz spectrum used by the R7000 will be somewhere in the middle of the road.
The R7000 Nighthawk router from Netgear is an excellent consumer router. While the 2.4 GHz speeds may be nothing to write home about, the stellar performance over the routers 5 GHz band is extremely impressive. Those looking for an excellent router at a decent price need look no further than the R7000.