Hardware Netgear Nighthawk: What on Earth Makes a $500 Router Worth It?

Netgear Nighthawk: What on Earth Makes a $500 Router Worth It?

Netgear Nighthawk new router

The Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 Smart WiFi Router (R9000) is Designed for large homes, this gargantuan router is chock-full of networking goodness, including Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) data streaming, circuitry for 60GHz 802.11ad networking, and 160MHz Wi-Fi technology.

While its MU-MIMO performance was middling in testing, it turned in the fastest 5GHz range performance scores we’ve seen to date. It also offers plenty of LAN and USB ports, but at $499.99, it’s not a small investment. But if you’re willing to pay up front to future-proof your router, it’s worth it.

Design and features

Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 Smart WiFi Router

At 2.9 by 8.8 by 6.6 inches (HWD), the R9000$449.99 at Amazon is huge, It has four adjustable antennas, which contain blue LEDs that light up when the Wi-Fi radios are active, and there’s a long line of LED indicators positioned along the front edge of the router for power, internet, 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 60GHz radio bands, guest networks, six Gigabit LAN ports, a 10G SPF+ LAN port, and two USB ports. Here, you’ll also find a WPS button and a Wi-Fi On/Off button.

Equipped with a 1.7GHz quad-core CPU, the R9000 is a quad-stream, dual-band 802.11ac router that can hit 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1,733Mbps on the 5GHz band. As with the TP-Link Talon, it supports 802.11ad networking, which operates on the 60GHz band and is capable of (theoretical) throughput speeds of up to 4,600Mbps.

However, in order to take advantage of 802.11ad speeds, all clients must have Wi-Fi circuitry that supports 802.11ad networking, and as of this writing, they are few and far between. This technology is ideal for transferring big chunks of data and for streaming 4K video, but it can’t penetrate walls, and is limited to same-room communications.

Installation and performance

Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 Smart WiFi Router review

Like the Netgear Nighthawk X4S Smart Wi-Fi Router (R7800)$198.99 at Amazon, the R9000 is easy to install. Once it’s connected to your PC and internet service, you open a browser and type www.routerlogin.net to access the Setup Wizard, which walks you through the basic internet and wireless network settings.

The R9000 turned in very impressive scores in throughput performance tests.

Performance on the 2.4GHz band was also good. The R9000 managed 99.1Mbps in the close-proximity test.  In the 30-foot test, the R9000’s scores 73.3Mbps.

File-transfer speeds were excellent. The R9000 scored 89.1MBps in the hard drive read test and 77.1MBps in the write test.


Netgear Nighthawk router

You’ll pay big bucks for the Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 Smart WiFi Router (R9000), but you get a high-end, feature-packed router that delivers some of the fastest throughput performance we’ve seen.

While there are other routers that have MU-MIMO, 160MHz, or 802.11ad Wi-Fi capabilities, the R9000 is the only one we’ve seen so far with all three. It’s loaded with six Gigabit LAN ports, an SPF+ LAN port for 10-gigabit connectivity via fiber (a feature we haven’t seen in a consumer-level router until now), and automatic Amazon Drive backup and Plex Media Server capabilities.

Granted, there aren’t many clients around to take advantage of the 802.11.ad and 160MHz Wi-Fi features, but if you want to get ahead of the curve with a router that is ready for the future, the Netgear Nighthawk X10 R9000 is the latest in high-end routers.

If you live in an apartment or smaller home, you’re going to see a lot more benefit from one very powerful router rather than just a smaller mesh setup. The former is all about maximizing connection speed whereas the latter is intended to kill dead spots hiding in remote nooks and crannies.