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Netgear R7000 Nighthawk AC1900 Router Review and Comments Thread

post #1 of 618
Thread Starter 
Netgear just introduced the latest in its line of AC based routers, the model R7000. The R7000 is the 5th in the line of AC based routers from Netgear following on the previous top of the line R6300, the R6250, R6200 and the budget R6100. I was at Netgear a month ago speaking with the product manager who took me through the deign goals of the R7000 also known as NightHawk.

The R7000 differs in that while it replaces the R6300 as the top of the AC product line it has been designed and built for 3 main use cases, gaming, mobile and media streaming. Clearly the focus in these areas is obviously where the action is and has been a focus for Netgear but I was curious how the R7000 would be different and ultimately better then the excellent R6xxx family that already exists. Well that turned out to be a long conversation.
To start the R7000 has a significant upgrade in its processor with a 1 gig Hz dual core cpu. When we discussed this I was curious as to why it was needed. Clearly the existing routers are performing fine with 600mbs-800mbs single/dual core chips. Well the reasons are many and they all have to do with the improved performance this router provides.

The R7000 Overview

In addition to the processor the R7000 is an entirely new form factor from all the other Netgear routers. They call it a stealth form factor as it does have resemblance to the stealth bombers. But more importantly the R7000 is built for the highest possible performance. It has 3 external high gain antennas and a horizontal design that can lie flat on a desk or be mounted vertically on a wall which with its antenna design will provide the highest level performance. Aside for the stealth design, new antenna designs and horizontal form factor everything else is pretty straight forward. There are 4 gigabit network ports, 2 usb ports - 1 usb 2.0 on the back and 1 usb 3.0 on the front. The power supply is a medium to large size wall wart.

The R7000 uses the now familiar Netgear UI which I happen to like a lot. Comparing it to my existing R6300 or WNDR4700 it looks the same. Although I am told there is a final firmware coming in mid October that will add the key performance features I am about to get into so I suspect it will change some.

In addition to the UI the R7000 leverages all of the software features that we have seen across a multitude of Netgear routers. Aside from the WNDR4700 the R7000 is the first AC based router to utilize Netgear’s l Genie Vault backup software (this will also be rolled out among the other R6xxx routers soon). The Vault is the best back up software I have used as it backs up in real time. Add a file it is backed up in seconds. I never have to worry about a drive failure anymore. It is really great. On top of Netgear Genie Vault there is Netgear Ready Share Cloud, AirPrint for IOS, Printer sharing, DLNA Server Apple Time Machine backups and a new iTunes Server.

The iTunes Server is an interesting addition. I run a copy of iTunes on a PC server I use so I have access to my my music library with my IOS and Airplay devices. It is OK but requires me remembering to launch it and the maintenance iTunes requires. This may be a much easier way to achieve this. I am looking forward to trying it out. This function will be on the October release.

The Performance Difference – What makes the R7000 different

As I stated the market focus is on gaming, mobile and media streaming. Mobile and Media Streaming often go hand in hand. There are different challenges streaming to an iphone then streaming Netflix to a Roku. Netgear has worked to solve them all. Here is what is new.
Explicit and more importantly Implicit Beam Forming and Smart Connect Technologies
Most AC based routers incorporate a standard called Explicit Beam Forming. Explicit Beam Forming is a technology that can help AC routers identify the best path to reach a particular client through interoperable technologies built into the various chips in the AC clients and routers. This will result in greater range and overall performance with AC based devices. Unfortunately for most of us this won’t help as it requires a compatible AC client device. As of today the Mac book Air, HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 are what is available. While these are top products they still make up a small part of the client universe.

To help the majority of us in the mobile space Netgear developed a unique technology that builds on Beam Forming called Implicit Beam Forming. The big difference here is that this technology works with standard N based clients like phones, iPads, and most laptops. It also helps with devices like Roku’s and ATV too.
In speaking with the product manager he explained to me that the R7000 regularly pings the attached wireless clients and looks for latency. There are 3 radios in each of the 2.4 GHz and 5g Hz bands (total of 6 radios in the r7000) and the radio and antenna that has the best response is the one that will connect with your mobile device. As a note here non AC based devices like phones have single radio clients. This is typical in most phones, laptops and other wireless client devices. As you move about the R7000 is analyzing this data and determining the best path and will automatically connect your device in the most efficient manner.

In addition to the Implicit Beam Forming technology the R7000 has another new technology called Smart Connect. Smart Connect works with the Implicit Beam Forming to not only determine which radio and antenna to use it also determines which band to use! This will cause your dual band (2.4g hz/5.0 g hz) devices to automatically switch from one band to another for the most effective wireless connection!

This constant analysis is one of the many reason the R7000 needs a hefty dual core processor.
In addition to the Implicit beam forming the R7000 employs two other new technologies that help the mobile experience. These are Smart Connect and AirTime fairness. Smart Connect works in conjunction with Implicit Beam Forming. As I mentioned the Implicit Beam Forming determines the best radio and antenna to use to connect to your device. If you have a dual band device it also determines the best band and will cause your device to connect to that band automatically.

XBOX One Gaming QOS Enhancements

For gaming Netgear has worked with Microsoft to create a technology that will allow the router to know what traffic is coming from the XBOX One. This awareness will allow the router to prioritize this traffic to provide the fastest throughput which will result in the lowest latency results thus providing gamers an edge in online gaming.
Online Media Streaming QOS Enhancements
Similar to the gaming approach Netgear has worked with the major streaming services like Netflix and Amazon to make the R7000 aware of when those services are being used. When detected the router prioritizes this wireless traffic and ensures the best possible wireless throughput for those devices.

Airtime Fairness

Airtime Fairness is another new technology that Netgear built in that allows the R7000 to detect when slower legacy wireless clients join the network. This is an area where in the past wifi networks generally adapt to support slower devices thus lowering overall wireless network speeds. Airtime Fairness works in a way where when it detects slower devices it is able to route that wireless traffic in a way that does not negatively impact the faster devices on the network.

OpenVPN and new DNS options

Netgear is also adding OpenVPN to the R7000 which will allow secure access to remote into your home network. It is also adding new free DNS options since DYNDNS is no longer a free option for dynamic redirects to your home address.

My Experience as of Oct 3

I have been using an R7000 for a week now. Netgear will have a major software update in mid October that enables the key performance features like Implicit Beam Forming, Smart Connect, Airtime Fairness, iTunes server and the several other key features. So I will wait for this software update and post my experiences later.
But in the meantime I have been able to compare the R7000 range against a WNDR4500 N routers which had some of the best range I had experienced from Netgear. What I found that in the far end of my house which is about 100 feet from my office where the router sits I am seeing about a 20% or greater improvement in wifi signal strength. In particular I am seeing almost equal range from the 5 ghz band to that of the 2.4 ghz band. That was my biggest surprise. Admittedly this improved range most likely comes from the antennas. Whatever the reason it certainly has the best range of any of the routers I have used from Netgear.

Other Press

In checking the web today there are a lot of articles about the R7000 already. PC World quotes it sets LAN Speed Records http://www.pcworld.com/article/2050761/netgear-nighthawk-review-this-802-11ac-router-sets-lan-speed-records.html . Another good review is found on CNET http://reviews.cnet.com/hubs/netgear-nighthawk-ac1900-smart/4505-3335_7-35828277.html?part=rss&subj=latestreviews&tag=title
The R7000 Nighthawk is a unique product that is a new benchmark for home routers. I am looking forward to the release of the new software so I can experience the new capabilities this router has. Look for an update later in October.

Bob Silver
Netgear AV Consultant
post #2 of 618
Deja vu. Does the unit support connecting a USB 3 hub to the USB 3 port so additional hard drives can be connected?
post #3 of 618
Thank you for sharing. I was looking for some technical information about this particular router. I am on the market for a new router. Was thinking about the new AirPort Extreme but now I will wait a little longer. Will read reviews here and there and then I will decide.
post #4 of 618
Thread Starter 
I am not certain about adding a hub for multiple drives. I wouldn't suggest it because the way the software works you need to point to the ReadyShare drive which is inferred to be just one drive. If you are looking for a multidrive nas then I would just buy a standalone driveless NAS.
post #5 of 618
Bob - great review!

I recently bought a WNDR3700v4. Most of my house is wired with cat 6. We use wireless for the tablets and phones, and one computer that mostly collects dust.

But, the other day I tried use a WD box to stream a full .ISO bluray rip off of my NAS server. It won't work, yet the specs say it should be capable of 300 Mbps.

The WD box is in the next room and gets 100% signal. Would upgrading to an AC router help? I'd love to hear your input.
post #6 of 618
Thread Starter 
Your issue is that the wireless client in the WD isn't fast enough to pass a blue ray rip. this is true of all N based devices. The R7000 by itself won't fix that. A solution is to use a R7000 as the router and get an Netgear R6100 which is also an AC router ($99) and use it in bridge mode with the WD. That will give you AC. Wireless speed of about 900mbs. This is like running a wire to your WD.

I wrote a piece on AVS about using the 6100 in this manner. Check it out. http://www.avsforum.com/t/1484545/netgear-r6100-budget-ac1200-router-is-a-great-ac-extender-solution-and-bridge

Bob
post #7 of 618
I know it says the R7000 supports Time Machine, but the manual says this:

HFS+ Journal is read-only because this router does not support Time Machine. For more information about Time Machine, visit www.netgear.com/readyshare or see your Mac’s documentation.

So how is it possible?
post #8 of 618
Thread Starter 
I was told by the PM that it does support Time Machine. I'll confirm though.

Bob Silver
post #9 of 618
Bob- I'm kind of sick of the Broadcom-based 802.11ac based products in Netgear's "Ultimate Performance" line. Any word of any Qualcomm-Atheros based routers in the works? The R6100 is a joke to be the only QCA solution offered with 10/100 and old AR9344 SoC. I'm looking to update to 802.11ac and move on from my WNDR4700 Qualcomm-Atheros chipped unit.
post #10 of 618
I stumbled upon this review by mistake, thanks for the in depth look bobsilver. I had recently purchased the R6300, and am still within the return window. Seeing as my wife has been complaining about the quality of the signal (in comparison to the crappy cable company assigned one) ever since I got it I think I'll go ahead and make the move. As you pointed out only a few devices can really take advantage of the AC at this point so I'm excited to see the Implicit Beam Forming in action. Any opinion on the Asus RT-ac68u or Linksys new latest attempt the EA6900?
post #11 of 618
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whsbuss View Post

I know it says the R7000 supports Time Machine, but the manual says this:

HFS+ Journal is read-only because this router does not support Time Machine. For more information about Time Machine, visit www.netgear.com/readyshare or see your Mac’s documentation.

So how is it possible?

Checked with the Product Manager and he said the manual is wrong. It definitely supports Time Machine.

Bob Silver
post #12 of 618
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mediatrek View Post

Bob- I'm kind of sick of the Broadcom-based 802.11ac based products in Netgear's "Ultimate Performance" line. Any word of any Qualcomm-Atheros based routers in the works? The R6100 is a joke to be the only QCA solution offered with 10/100 and old AR9344 SoC. I'm looking to update to 802.11ac and move on from my WNDR4700 Qualcomm-Atheros chipped unit.

I have forwarded your comments to the PM. Can you elaborate about what it is you dont like about those chips?

Bob
post #13 of 618
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hypnotiqdmg View Post

I stumbled upon this review by mistake, thanks for the in depth look bobsilver. I had recently purchased the R6300, and am still within the return window. Seeing as my wife has been complaining about the quality of the signal (in comparison to the crappy cable company assigned one) ever since I got it I think I'll go ahead and make the move. As you pointed out only a few devices can really take advantage of the AC at this point so I'm excited to see the Implicit Beam Forming in action. Any opinion on the Asus RT-ac68u or Linksys new latest attempt the EA6900?

I have no experience with the other routers you mention. But since you are in the return window. I would make the swap.

Bob
post #14 of 618
i bought a Netgear R6250 a little over a week ago from Best Buy and went and returned it for the R7000 yesterday. Definitely worth the extra $30. The wireless range is definitely better and the Upstream QoS actually does work well with Xbox Live from what i could tell from an hour of gaming last night. The router's uPnP also self detected all the ports that are needed for all the devices i have connected. the R6250 did not do that. R6250 also did not detect upstream bandwidth properly even if you entered it manually. Yes the thing is absolutely HUGE but its wall mountable which is a huge plus in my book. The LEDs on the front are big bright. That's a con. I was using a D-Link DGL-4500 for over the last 5 years and never bothered to upgrade until i needed better wireless range and performance. I refrained from getting the new D-Link DGL-5500 after it came out because the reviews were simply just not that good. plus it has lackluster wireless range for a top shelf product. The Netgear Nighthawk R7000 is a top shelf product that could easily give me another 5 years considering i dont own a single wireless ac device right now.
post #15 of 618
post #16 of 618
"I wrote a piece on AVS about using the 6100 in this manner. Check it out. http://www.avsforum.com/t/1484545/netgear-r6100-budget-ac1200-router-is-a-great-ac-extender-solution-and-bridge"

Does the 6100 offer any other advantages beyond simply "converting" non AC devices over to AC? I guess what I'm curious about is if I have a zone in my house where WiFi signal has always been a little weaker would the 6100 offer any advantages over the internal WiFi adapter in the device itself? My general assumption is if a WiFi signal is weak it is weak and even in bridge mode a weak signal is still just as useless. However then I had to wonder if the 6100 has a stronger antenna / power perhaps the WiFi signal wouldn't be as weak for it? I suppose I could just do some testing myself but curious if you knew.
post #17 of 618
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobsilver View Post

Your issue is that the wireless client in the WD isn't fast enough to pass a blue ray rip. this is true of all N based devices. The R7000 by itself won't fix that. A solution is to use a R7000 as the router and get an Netgear R6100 which is also an AC router ($99) and use it in bridge mode with the WD. That will give you AC. Wireless speed of about 900mbs. This is like running a wire to your WD.

This is NOT accurate. I use my Surface Pro as a HTPC all the time and stream unmodified Blu Ray MKV rips from my 4 bay NAS connected to my Asus RT-N66 router. The router is 15 foot and 4 interior walls away from my media room where my Surface Pro connects wirelessly via it's Wireless N card. I can sustain average writes of 65.04Mbps and reads of 129.20Mbps over wireless N, and I'd be more than happy to show you any file size configuration within Lan Speed Test to prove it. The above #'s are based on a single 5GB file read / write. The R6100 only has a 100Mbps switch so you cannot get nearly 1000Mbps as your article suggests. Sure the AC band could sustain that, but wired devices are going to be a max 400Mbps (4 ports @ 100Mbps each). In my situation I'd gain roughly 35Mbps of write performance, but I'd lose 29Mbps read performance if the device was hard wired into an R6100.

I'd recommend to the poster trying to test straight Blu Ray rips to ensure the following:

1) Use LAN Speed Test on a laptop with a wireless N adapter and test your performance around your media center. My network performance takes a much bigger hit on the left side of my media center than the right side even though it's just a few feet of difference. Find your sweet spot.

2) Ensure your NAS/storage can even handle this. I don't have a drive plugged into my Asus Router to test, but I did awhile ago. If memory serves me correct the router could only sustain 40-50Mbps read rates to a USB drive connected directly to the router. This is why the Netgear R7000 or Asus RT-A68 may fix your problem without having to also buy an R6100. They can sustain much faster read rates from direct attached media.

A good way to figure this out would be to take your laptop, hopefully with a 1000Mbps (aka gigabit) network adapter, and plug it directly into the router and run your LAN speed tests again. A 100Mbps adapter will still be good enough to see if your direct attached media can at least sustain this, but of course it can only handle 100Mbps.

3) Ensure it isn't a transcoding induced problem with your media. I don't have the experience with the WD device, but it could be that whatever is transcoding is the bottleneck. In my situation I take an MKV into my Surface Pro, which has the CCCP installed. This works just fine over Wireless N.
Edited by hypokondriak - 10/9/13 at 6:44pm
post #18 of 618
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobsilver View Post

Checked with the Product Manager and he said the manual is wrong. It definitely supports Time Machine.

Bob Silver

Great. Has anyone tried it yet? Wondering how fast it works. Do you have to leave the readyshare USB always mounted?
Edited by whsbuss - 10/10/13 at 9:45am
post #19 of 618
Blu-Ray ISO rip playback requirements should not be confused with Blu-Ray MKV. ISO more easily stutters, particularly over SAMBA, as opposed to NFS. I don't know why. It's just always more problematic with ISO.
post #20 of 618
Hi Guys,

Can someone be so kind and confirm for me if this router can share 3G internet via USB port (3g usb modem connected to one of its USB ports) - like ASUS RT-AC66u can and many others in this price range?

Thanks,
seb
post #21 of 618
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sebna View Post

Hi Guys,

Can someone be so kind and confirm for me if this router can share 3G internet via USB port (3g usb modem connected to one of its USB ports) - like ASUS RT-AC66u can and many others in this price range?

Thanks,
seb

I do not think that will work. The usb ports are designed for printers and hard drives.

Bob Silver
post #22 of 618
After some trial and error, I have managed to use time machine with a usb drive connected to the router.

My issues were caused by partition size too big - if you have a drive bigger than 2tb, make sure that each partition is 2tb or less.
post #23 of 618
Thanks Bob for nice review. My NAS has two Ethernet connections. Does this router supports link aggregation? Router has to support 802.3ad Dynamic Link Aggregation standard. It is not a big deal. Just curious to know. Also, is there any testing on blue-ray ISO streaming performance using USB 3.0 port? How does DDNS works with the device? Is it supported by Netgear itself? I want to access my NAS from outside. I am assuming that it allows SSL data to connect home through VPN or ftp.


I am excited to buy this device. I am waiting for any promotions in near future. Not sure when it is going to be available from Costco.I also bought two Netgear GS108 switches. Both are doing excellent.
Edited by sukumar - 10/15/13 at 12:06pm
post #24 of 618
I bought this router but I am returning it. It keeps booting some of my devices off the network and Netgear's support stinks. It looks like others are having wireless instability problems too exactly like mine. I would hold out for a firmware update, but their support is too bad. Oh well, I tried... Meanwhile I reinstalled my RT-N66U and things are working fine again....just not getting AC speeds out of my few AC devices.
post #25 of 618
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sukumar View Post

Thanks Bob for nice review. My NAS has two Ethernet connections. Does this router supports link aggregation? Router has to support 802.3ad Dynamic Link Aggregation standard. It is not a big deal. Just curious to know. Also, is there any testing on blue-ray ISO streaming performance using USB 3.0 port? How does DDNS works with the device? Is it supported by Netgear itself? I want to access my NAS from outside. I am assuming that it allows SSL data to connect home through VPN or ftp.


I am excited to buy this device. I am waiting for any promotions in near future. Not sure when it is going to be available from Costco.I also bought two Netgear GS108 switches. Both are doing excellent.

Not sure about the link aggregation. New one for me. What is the goal of doing that?

Regarding BluRay ISO with USB 3.0 and the dual core 1gig processor it should be fine. In the past the older slower routers kind of choked on high bit rate streaming. The R7000 should be fine but I have not tested that myself yet. DYNDNS is no longer supported since they no longer offer free accounts. Netgear is moving toward NO-IP for dynamic DNS and that will be available on the R7000.

The R7000 has a unique VPN solution now as well. Not only will you have secure access to your home network your network can also act as a proxy so that for example if you are traveling outside the US and want to watch Netflix you will be able to VPN into your home and stream Netflix through the home network thus avoiding the geo restrictions placed on these paid services.

Regarding where to buy I have seen one seller advertising it for $179 already. But that was the only one. Frankly I am surprised Netgear held the price at $199. It is a lot of router for the money!

Bob Silver
post #26 of 618
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobsilver View Post

Not sure about the link aggregation. New one for me. What is the goal of doing that?

Regarding BluRay ISO with USB 3.0 and the dual core 1gig processor it should be fine. In the past the older slower routers kind of choked on high bit rate streaming. The R7000 should be fine but I have not tested that myself yet. DYNDNS is no longer supported since they no longer offer free accounts. Netgear is moving toward NO-IP for dynamic DNS and that will be available on the R7000.

The R7000 has a unique VPN solution now as well. Not only will you have secure access to your home network your network can also act as a proxy so that for example if you are traveling outside the US and want to watch Netflix you will be able to VPN into your home and stream Netflix through the home network thus avoiding the geo restrictions placed on these paid services.

Regarding where to buy I have seen one seller advertising it for $179 already. But that was the only one. Frankly I am surprised Netgear held the price at $199. It is a lot of router for the money!

Bob Silver

Thanks Bob for all the details. What is NO-IP for dynamic DNS? Do you mean I need to take paid service from the following.

http://www.noip.com/managed-dns

I will check for promotions in next few weeks to buy this.
post #27 of 618
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sukumar View Post

Thanks Bob for all the details. What is NO-IP for dynamic DNS? Do you mean I need to take paid service from the following.

http://www.noip.com/managed-dns

I will check for promotions in next few weeks to buy this.

No-IP is a free dynamic DNS service like DYNDNS. It allows you to have an web address like myhome.no-ip.info. DYNDNS used to be included but they no longer offer a free account. No-IP does.

I have used no-ip for years. They offer a free and paid version. The free version needs validation every couple months. The paid doesnt.

Bob
post #28 of 618
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hypokondriak View Post

I bought this router but I am returning it. It keeps booting some of my devices off the network and Netgear's support stinks. It looks like others are having wireless instability problems too exactly like mine. I would hold out for a firmware update, but their support is too bad. Oh well, I tried... Meanwhile I reinstalled my RT-N66U and things are working fine again....just not getting AC speeds out of my few AC devices.

If you PM me with your contact info I will have a Netgear engineer contact you about this issue. It is not a problem that Netgear has heard. So you may have a bad unit or something funky in your installation. But again I can have you speak with engineering not their general tech support.

Bob Silver
post #29 of 618
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobsilver View Post

No-IP is a free dynamic DNS service like DYNDNS. It allows you to have an web address like myhome.no-ip.info. DYNDNS used to be included but they no longer offer a free account. No-IP does.

I have used no-ip for years. They offer a free and paid version. The free version needs validation every couple months. The paid doesnt.

Bob
Thanks Bob. I will use it after buying Netgear 7000
post #30 of 618
Didn't know about the R7000 when I bought my Asus RT-AC68U. My Verizon FIoS is 75mbps and with it's Actiontec M1424WR rev. I (802.11n) would get 15-25 mbps in my office at about 80ft/3walls with a Netgear A6200 802.11AC USB adapter. With the RT-AC68U I now get as high as 85MBPS!!! I've kept a log on SPEEDTEST.net. At 100 ft away my wife had choppy performance on two n devices. Now everything is smooth. Same room my Samsung GS3 went from about 20mbps to 50 on a cell phone. The improvement on the n devices was as good if not better than they touted.

My HTPC with a short RG45 connection went from highs of 85mbps to 95. Both routers are rated at gig speeds on eithernet. In my dial up days I never got the speed I was paying for. Now it's about 20% faster.

Asus has a USB adapter that takes advantage of the speed difference over the AC66U. But the Netgear A6200 made me forget about using my WNDR3400 for bridging or repeating.

BTW the n performance in my office prior to using the A6200 with the Actiontec was abysmal.

With USB 3.0 in the RT-AC68U I'm looking forward to trying out my NAS with HD movies and high res music.
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