Netgear Nighthawk X4 Review
The Netgear Nighthawk X4 provides features that have thus far been lacking in other high-end routers, so it's a worthwhile option for anyone who wants superior range, fast speeds and, in particular, to enjoy the best of the best when hosting external hard drives.
Hardware and Features
The Nighthawk X4 is a quad-stream, or 4X4, 802.11ac router. Its 2.4 GHz frequency band, which is capable of Wi-Fi speeds of up to 600Mbps, is powered by a Qualcomm 1.4 GHz dual-core main processor, which is currently the fastest available on the market. Its 5 GHz frequency band, on the other hand, is powered by the Quantenna QT3840BC, a dedicated, dual-core, 500 MHz chip. This band is capable of Wi-Fi speeds of up to 1,733Mbps. Therefore, the total bandwidth of the Nighthawk X4 is 2,333Mbps.
In addition to boasting the first quad-stream 802.11ac chip on the market, the Nighthawk X4 is the first router to have two USB 3.0 ports. There are also the standard four Gigabit LAN ports, a Gigabit WAN port, a power port, an on/off button and a recessed reset button that restores the router's default settings. Near the front and top of the device, there's the usual array of LED lights, a Wi-Fi Protected Setup, or WPS, button and a Wi-Fi on/off button. The four detachable antennas must be plugged into the corresponding slots to work properly.
Interface and Speed
Conveniently, the Netgear Nighthawk X4 works right out of the box with its default settings. Advanced users who want to customize the router, however, may find it difficult. To customize this router's settings, you must use the web interface, which is decidedly clunky and overcrowded with options and features. To make matters worse, the web interface is often slow to react. After making changes, it's usually necessary to restart the router, which takes a minute or two as well. In terms of convenience, then, this router doesn't quite make the grade. The Netgear Genie app can be used in some instances, but it's not terribly intuitive, either.
This router has a slick Quality of Control, or QoS, feature called Dynamic QoS, which automatically prioritizes the use of the bandwidth based on the types of devices that are involved. This feature can cleverly distinguish between gaming, streaming, file sharing and other processes, and it allocates bandwidth accordingly.
Despite its impressive hardware and Dynamic QoS, the Nighthawk X4 fails to deliver the kind of speed one would expect. In 4X4 tests, it registered at 205Mbps at a close range and 147Mbps at a long range. In 3X3 tests, it registered at 382Mbps at a close range and 242Mbps at a long range, which is slightly better.
The Bottom Line
Although the speed tests for the Nighthawk X4 had somewhat disappointing results, the fact of the matter is that this is one of the fastest, most powerful routers around, and it's a great choice for anyone with demanding home networking needs.
Submitted By: T. Chadwick
This is by far the best router on the market right now. The signal strength is far better than any other router I tested, it doesn’t just cover the house, it covers the whole street. I especially like the QoS feature. The feature will not be very useful if you have a super-fast internet connection from your ISP but if your speed isn’t too fast, the feature might be beneficial. It allows you to assign priority to certain types of traffic. For example, you can set it up so that video streaming gets priority. I don’t see buffering of Netflix movies anymore even on my slow 5Mbps connection.
Submitted By: Daniel
This router is great and I like the coverage from the wireless. I got an Asus before, but there wasn’t the coverage even in the bedroom, but with the R7500 I have coverage even in the yard. The speed of the wireless is good, maybe not the fastest, but I believe that this will be better after couple of FW upgrades. Good choice to buy this router, as it is working brilliant even when there are lots of devices connected.
Submitted By: advo
The new Nighthawk looks awesome and I was really excited about putting it in my network. It was supposed to replace Apple Airport Extreme AC. Well, it didn’t replace because the speeds I was getting on the Nighthawk were much lower than the Airport (120 Mbps vs 50 Mbps download and 20 Mbps vs 10 Mbps upload). Also, the Open NAT was really a nightmare to configure on the Nighthawk. I’m going to stick with Apple for now.
Submitted By: Bret Ross
As a parent who was fed up with having to do separate parental controls setup for each device in our house, this was a more than welcome addition to our home network. I have to say that the built-in parental controls work great, are very easy to set up, and allow us to easily control what the house has access to from one central point. I can’t say much of the other qualities as I’m not very technically inclined, but the router is definitely very fast, stable and hasn’t given us any problems with its coverage so far. I did have to restart it once but then a few days later I got a firmware update and there have been no problems since.
Submitted By: JW1076
I’m so so happy with the Nighthawk X4! It essentially does the job of three devices combined, at least for my home where I used to have a a router and 2 extenders. Now I just plopped Nighthawk X4 in my office and I don’t extenders anymore. I realize part of its price is based on the complex software features that it offers, but I don’t really care much about those, I don’t need parental controls or any servers – and I still don’t feel like I’ve wasted my money with this device, it was definitely worth every penny.
Submitted By: AS
Being the true networking geek that I am, I’m always on the lookout for sweet potential upgrades to my home setup, and I bought Netgear Nighthawk X4 as soon as it was available. And now that I’ve been using it for a while, I can safely say that this is my favorite router so far.
Where do I start? First, no matter how heavy of a load I throw at it, it always takes it without any issues. I connected every wireless device I could find in my home (and that’s… a lot) and they all worked without a flaw. I guess that second Wi-Fi-dedicated processor really make a difference. Also, the file server capabilities of this router are far better than the old setup I had before.
I shouldn’t even have to mention the network performance and overall speed, they’re exactly what you would expect from a device of this class. You will be able to reach the full potential of your Internet provider.
Submitted By: Blips
I bought this router because my old one had the major issue of being very slow to connect devices, plus I needed good reception all over my house – so this seemed like a good solution for its price. And while the reception and connection setup speeds are indeed great now, I could ask more in the way of intuitiveness in the menus. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I had to spend a lot of time searching for even some basic features, such as customizing the QOS list. On that note, that’s a feature I particularly enjoyed, it seemed to really improve my overall connection performance.
Submitted By: Mark
When it works it works well, but frequent reboots and locks up really prevent it from being great. If I have more than 2 devices streaming Netflix or amazon at the same time it reports it as a DDOS attack and locks up which necessitates a 30 second power off to resolve.