The Netgear R6400 is Netgear’s replacement for the R6300, which was one of the first routers to support IEEE 802.11ac. The R6400 is good for crowded Wi-Fi networks, and has a theoretical max speed of 1750Mbps. If you want an incredibly fast Wi-Fi network without breaking the bank, the Netgear R6400 is a strong choice.
The R6400 has 3 external antennae and supports three spacial streams, and has beamforming for directional transmission, which decreases interference. This means that unlike cheaper routers, it will maintain good performance even when a dozen or more devices are connected to your network. The R6400 has a maximum throughput of 1300Mbps on 5GHz and 450Mbps on 2.4GHz, though note that most clients support a maximum of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz bands. With simultaneous transmission, this adds up to a theoretical 1750Mbps. It has has a gigabit WAN port for input, four gigabit LAN ports, and a USB 2.0 port explicitly labelled “printer”, with a USB 3.0 port in the front, allowing you to simultaneously connect a printer and a USB storage device to your network. Performance with a drive connected over USB is strong. Internally, the R6400 contains an 800MHz dual core Broadcom BCM4708 processor, the same that was in the R6300v2, and the ram 256MB of memory and 128MB of flash storage. In terms of aesthetics, it is a matte black color, and with its sharp angles and straight lines, it shows clear resemblances to Netgear’s Nighthawk line of premium routers.
With more and more households having multiple Wi-Fi connected devices, sometimes over a dozen, all of them slowing down wireless speed has become a real issue. The R6400 has a feature called Airtime Fairness, which is designed to help mitigate this. Traditionally, it would take longer to transmit a packet over a wireless network using older 802.11 standards, meaning that newer devices which support a faster standard would have to wait while the router first served older, slower devices. Rather than waiting for older, slower devices to respond, Airtime Fairness changes how time is allotted to devices, allowing faster devices to download data at optimal speeds without having to wait for older devices to finish transmitting. By changing the order and amount of time the router spends communicating with each device, it can optimize connections to maximize the transmission capacity of each individual device.
Testing shows that the R6400 has decent real world wireless performance, and a combination of stronger transmission power amplifiers, and beamforming technology mean that several devices can connect with no degradation to speed. It is also very reliable. It has a large range that is significantly larger than the typical range for a wireless router; Netgear claims a range increase of 80% over the R6300, which is useful if you have a large multistory or wanted to use your devices outside in the yard.
Netgear has also made a number of improvements to its built in Netgear Genie router management software. It has a user friendly GUI, and you can log in and manage the router either locally or remotely from the internet. There is also a Genie app available for smartphone and tablet for managing your router on the go. Netgear Genie also allows you to monitor data usage. Parental controls have been upgraded, and can now be set per device, instead of for the entire network. The R6400 also supports AirPrint for printers. Unlike some routers, there is also support for OS X Time Machine backups, and ReadySHARE Vault for backing up Windows computers is also supported.
The Netgear 6400 is also incredibly easy to set up, taking only 5 minutes with the Netgear Genie program. Compared to other routers, it is fairly large, so it can be easily set on the floor or wall mounted, but you might have trouble fitting it on a shelf in the space occupied by a previous router. It also has very bright status lights, which may become an issue if you wanted to keep it in your bedroom.
Overall, the Netgear R6400 is a solid choice if you're looking for a good dual-band wireless AC router, especially considering its large range. At $150, it faces some stiff competition, but you won't be disappointed by its performance.