Netgear Nighthawk X4S (R7800) AC2600 MU-MIMO 160MHz Router Review
Introduction & Pricing, Availability and Specifications
VIEW GALLERY - 24 IMAGES
The router market is pushing forward at an increasing pace with competing technologies battling it out along the way. On one hand, we have some of the quickest routers on the market including the recently reviewed ASUS RT AC88U and the Nighthawk X8 using the stable and fast Broadcom platform, while many in the AC2400 and 2600 range that once started with Quantenna are being relaunched based on the Qualcomm Atheros platform.
With the launch of the Nighthawk X4s or R7800, Netgear is launching its latest AC2600 platform, this time around with MU-MIMO support out of the box, along with being the first to support 160MHz on the 5GHz band. The X4S is a 4x4 platform that allows 800 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band while the 5GHz band is capable of 1733 Mbps, and each deployed with support for beamforming. This solution is another one from Netgear aimed at large homes and should take over where the original and V2 of the R7500 left off.
Specifications of the Nighthawk X4S start with a dual-band gigabit platform featuring 800 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1733 Mbps on the 5GHz band. At the heart of this router, we have a 1.7GHz dual-core processor sitting next to 512MB of DRAM and 128MB of flash.
Connectivity of this solution includes two USB port both supporting the USB 3.0 standard along with five Gigabit Ethernet ports (four for LAN and one for WAN). As mentioned above, this is the first consumer platform to deploy 160MHz support although we currently have no client devices capable of testing it.
MSRP of the Netgear Nighthawk X4S sits at $269.99 with a one-year warranty.
Netgear Nighthawk X4S Wireless Router
The product packaging carries the standard vibrant Netgear coloring scheme with an image of the router centered. To the right, we have the model number at the top along with performance indicators.
The scope of delivery includes four antennas, Ethernet cable, and power adapter.
The front edge of the X4S router supplies a full range of LEDs. These denote everything from power to wireless activity and even USB and eSATA connectivity.
The left side of the router houses both of the two USB 3.0 ports.
Switching over to the right side, we have the single eSATA port.
The back of the router houses two antenna ports, four LAN, and a single WAN port along with the power input. To the left, you have the option of turning the LEDs on or off with a switch.
Internally, the X4S uses the IPQ8065 while the radios are QCA9984. In between each of these is a QCA8337 Gbe switch.
Test System Setup and Management GUI
Tyler's Router Test System Specifications
Setup hasn't changed much since our last encounter with a Netgear router. We still have the Genie platform that allows both manual and guided setup.
The basic landing menu gives a broad overview of the router itself while to the left we have a full range of higher level options to choose from
Starting with the Internet menu, we have access to WAN settings, and based on your ISP, you may need to log in here.
The wireless menu gives you access to both bands for configuring.
The attached devices menu is more of a network map, allowing you to see what devices are currently connected.
QoS hasn't changed much as Netgear still deploys one of the better solutions backed by a database of applications.
ReadyShare allows you to setup additional storage or printer sharing via the router.
Benchmarks – Throughput
Starting off with LAN to LAN throughput, the X4S / R7800 produced 831 Mbps, slightly under what the R7500 produced previously.
WAN to LAN topped 754 Mbps, quite a bit under the usual ~900 we usually see.
Switching to wireless throughput, the X4S was capable of 121 Mbps on the 20MHz band and 157 Mbps on the 40MHz band. Each of these results exceeded the performance of the original Nighthawk X4.
5GHz produced some rather impressive results as the X4S allowed 170 MBps on the 20MHz band, 291 Mbps on the 40MHz band, and 406 Mbps on the 80MHz band.
Multiple User Throughput
MU-MIMO performance for the 2.4GHz band showed the X4S working as intended with all devices getting the same 21 Mbps.
The 5GHz band looks quite aggressive, but as you can see, the performance is even tighter on this band with each device getting 98-100 Mbps.
Benchmarks – Storage Performance & Final Thoughts
In our Storage Performance test, I use a SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB USB 3.0 Flash drive formatted with the EXT4 filesystem. I mount the volume as a network drive and test with NAS Performance Test 1.7.
The performance of the X4S was almost the exact opposite of the R8000, reviewed just last month.
In read testing, this solution came in at 74 MB/s with the 100M file size while moving to 1000M performance dropped only slightly to 69 MB/s. Write performance, however, stayed at the same 38 MB/s, no matter the file size.
It amazes me at every new launch of a wireless router, the level of technology vendors seems to be pushing these days. Just three years ago, we were talking AC1900 as the wave of the future, and now we have AC2600, AC3100, and even AC5300 pushing wireless tech to new heights. The X4S too has opened the consumer market to new technology. While it has been known for a while now that the 160MHz band would be the next wave in Wi-Fi, Netgear is futureproofing this solution with this technology.
Performance, while not top notch in the first three test scenarios, stepped up when we moved to 5GHz wireless testing. Here, I was able to dial in 406 Mbps peak while the lower two bands came in at 291 Mbps and 170 Mbps, respectively. With MU-MIMO testing, both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands performed as expected, with the 2.4GHz band producing 21 Mbps across all three devices, while the 5GHz band allowed 100 Mbps across all three.
In closing, the Netgear Nighthawk X4S is ahead of the curve, and while we can't fully take advantage of everything this router brings to the table right now, as fast as the market is moving, you never know what the next innovation will bring to the consumer market.
|Quality including Design and Build||90%|
|Bundle and Packaging||89%|
|Value for Money||89%|
The Bottom Line: Netgear's X4S is as far ahead of the curve as a router can get at this point. With 160MHz technology being the next full step ahead for large performance increases, this router is ready to handle whatever you throw at it.
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Tyler joined the TweakTown team in 2013 and has since reviewed 100s of new techy items. Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.
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Netgear R7800 -100NAS (v2)
1.7 GHz ( 2 cores )
128 MiB134,217,728 B <br />1,048,576 Kib <br />131,072 KiB <br />1,024 Mib <br />0.125 GiB <br />
512 MiB536,870,912 B <br />4,194,304 Kib <br />524,288 KiB <br />4,096 Mib <br />0.5 GiB <br />
NanyaNT5CC128M16IP-DI x 2
Qualcomm Atheros QCA8337
USB 3.0, eSATA
12 VDC, 3.5 A
Wave2, MU-MIMO, VHT160, DFS
2.4GHz Power Amplifier Module;Skyworks;SE2623L;;4;
5GHz Power Amplifier Module;RFMD;RFPA5542;;4;
DD-WRT(Kong-AC) • (List), OpenWrt • (List | Dev | DLs), Voxel
Qualcomm Atheros QCA9984
Qualcomm Atheros QCA9984
R7800-100PES specification sheet
R7800-100PES specification sheet
R7800 specs netgear
NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S AC2600 4x4 Dual Band Smart Wi-Fi Router, Gigabit Ethernet, MU-MIMO, Compatible with Amazon Echo / Alexa (R7800)
Pros: Wave 2 Mu-Mimo 4x4 Quad Stream router 160mhz mode (5.0Ghz) 2600mbps ac router (1733mbps on 5.0ghz and 800mbps on 2.4ghz) 2 x USB 3.0 and 1 X ESATA ports. 1.7ghz Dual Core CPU, 128mb flash memory and 512mb DRAM Dynamic QOS 4 x high gain external antennas Netgear Genie software for Windows, Android and iOS Beamforming DNLA, Guest Network, VPN, Parental Controls 4 x gigabit ports Easy setup LED on/off switch Easy to navigate gui with Ookla speedtest built in Excellent range and throughput on both 5.0ghz and 2.4ghz
Cons: 1 year warranty only Large router No 160mhz mode clients available yet Router Gui slow to respond and update QOS not enabled by default Was not able to run in 5.0ghz ac mode only No wall mounting option Other Thoughts (Needed additional space)..... Netgear have brought to market the finest router I have had the pleasure of owning, the R7800 Nighthawk X4S. This is a 4 x 4 AC 2600 router that uses a Qualcomm QCA 9984 chipset with a maximum theoretical throughput of 1733mbps on 5.0ghz and 800mbps on 2.4ghz. The stand out features of this router, in my opinion, are Wave 2 Mu-Mimo, that is supported out of the box, Dynamic QOS, and 160mhz bandwidth mode on 5.0ghz (although there are no 160mhz mode clients available to buy currently). Traditional non-Mu-Mimo routers transmit and receive data from one device/client at a time, while other devices in the network need to wait in line. This process will impact network performance due to wait times and bandwidth sharing. Mu-Mimo allows the router to send and receive data packets simultaneously to three Mu-Mimo enabled clients without the need for each to wait its turn. This improves network speeds and reduces wait times by as much as three times in comparison to non-Mu-Mimo routers. Be aware that Mu-Mimo improves 5.0ghz downlink only by letting three Mu-Mimo enabled clients share the same airtime. Two or more Mu-Mimo enabled devices are needed in order to maximize the benefits of a Mu-Mimo enabled router. A traditional 3 stream router may ideally support up to 910mbps of total bandwidth but single stream clients will only be able to access a third of that. And this bandwidth will need to be shared between clients as each client needs to wait for its turn to access the router. Ultimately each device will have a maximum of 120mbps out of the original 910mbps! A Mu-Mimo 4 stream router can send and receive data from three Mu-Mimo devices simultaneously, so each device can now receive 3 times the data in the same time span! Dynamic QOS is amazing and worth the price of entry on its own. Previously QOS was difficult to setup and often just linked to a specific application in the router gui like Netflix, Skype or Pandora and applied across the entire network, rather than to a specific pc or networked device. QOS was also static and did not reflect real use scenarios where device and application needs change constantly. Netgear’s Dynamic QOS is unique and automatically allocates bandwidth based on application and device type. It is easily enabled in the QOS tab in the router GUI where an Ookla speedtest can also be run. Netgear’s QOS handles priority both at device level and application level and can be set manually or automatically. Devices can be renamed and a bandwidth breakdown can be seen either by device or application. Dynamic QOS is provided with an automatically updatable database of streaming services and hundreds of applications are supported out of the box. Dynamic QOS can tell when applications are active and will change bandwidth requirements to meet real time needs and then reallocate bandwidth elsewhere when it determines that these applications have become idle. Genius. Getting the router up and running was pretty easy. The cable modem was powered down and my current router was swapped out with this Netgear N7800. The modem was powered on and after a few minutes the router was powered on too. Going back to one of my wired pc’s to complete the setup using a browser was straight forward and simple. I usually set up my 2.4ghz network on Channel 1 with bandwidth mode at 20/40mhz (up to 347mbps) along with WPA2-AES encryption. The 5.0ghz network is set at channel 153 with 80mhz mode to fully enable AC (up to 1733mbps). The router was easy to adjust and supports AP and bridge modes although it was a little slow when saving changes. I was given the option to install Netgear Genie during setup after bringing up a browser, which I declined, as I prefer to adjust the settings manually. Netgear Genie is available for Windows, Android and iOS. I use a few software applications to test my network speed, Totusofts Lan Speed (laptop/pc) and Wifi Speed Test (cellphone). These work by uploading and downloading 100mb files from one networked pc or cellphone to another either by Ethernet, wifi, or a combination of both. I also use a Netflix test clip to display real time resolution and bitrate in order to test Dynamic QOS by prioritizing the Netflix application on one PC and enabling and disabling Dynamic QOS in the router. Currently Netflix can only be played at 1080 in Microsoft Edge browser.
Overall Review: My office laptop sits 45ft away from the router location and the wifi signal needs to pass through 3 walls. The laptop is an Acer Aspire and has a Mu-Mimo enabled Atheros AC wifi chipset that is good for 300mbps on 2.4ghz and 867mbps on 5.0ghz. I also own a Nexus 6P and a Nexus 5X both of which are Mu-Mimo enabled. This gives me the chance to test throughput with Mu-Mimo enabled and disabled (laptop wifi client, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P were all connected to the 5.0ghz band to test Mu Mimo). Before testing the Netgear R7800 Router I ran a few tests with my TP Link Archer C2600 router using the same parameters outlined above. 2.4ghz speeds recorded were 77.50mbps up and 65.37mbps down with -60db signal strength. 5.0ghz speeds recorded with Mu-Mimo were 123.08mbps up and 144.96mbps down with -77db signal strength. 5.0ghz speeds recorded with Mu-Mimo disabled in router were 116.05mbps up and 119.49mbps down with -77db signal strength. After swapping the router to the Netgear R7800 I re-tested. 2.4ghz speeds recorded were 75.83mbps up and 76.25mbps down with -60db signal strength. 5.0ghz speeds recorded with Mu-Mimo were 127.68mbps up and 151.34mbps down with -75db signal strength. 5.0ghz speeds recorded with Mu-Mimo disabled in router were 119.70mbps up and 121.05mbps down with -75db signal strength. Testing Dynamic QOS was quite easy, I connected to Netflix on one of my networked PC’s and looped the test clip, recording maximum bitrate and resolution with Dynamic QOS enabled and disabled, while streaming Youtube videos and Pandora on other networked PC’s (Netflix was given priority in the router GUI). Without Dynamic QOS enabled; max bitrate 1050kbps and max resolution 640x480 With Dynamic QOS enabled and Netflix priority given to test PC; max bitrate 1050kbps and max resolution 960x720 I quickly tested file storage using a 64gb USB 3.0 Flash drive that I connected to one of the USB 3.0 ports on the router. I mounted it as a network drive and tested speed with Intel NAS Performance Toolkit. Read speeds measured an excellent 68mbps and write speeds measured 42mbps. I streamed a HD movie from the attached flash drive and noticed no stutters or hitches during playback. While this router is not cheap, it is categorically the fastest router that I have tested and used to date. It has a terrific range and throughput and completely covers my 2600 sqft office space. My Mu-Mimo testing was limited, but it appears that Mu-Mimo is working out of the box. Dynamic QOS is a game changer (IMO), providing terrific functionality and allowing anyone to easily prioritize traffic across their network. Router sales rely heavily on ‘marketing’ to take advantage of gullible buyers who want to believe that the new generation of router will solve all of their network issues, providing the ultimate range and throughput and functionality. This is the first router that almost delivers on its promises (no 160mhz clients) and has finally pushed me to permanently swapping out my Asus AC1750 router. There are some caveats to be aware of here, it is extremely unlikely that anyone will be able to take advantage of the 1733mbps available on the 5.0ghz band and the 800mbps available on the 2.4ghz band, even my Mu-Mimo enabled laptop chipset can only take advantage of a maximum of 300mbps on 2.4 and 867mbps on 5.0ghz. Few devices have Mu-Mimo and no clients can currently take advantage of 160mhz bandwidth mode. Dynamic QDS works and everyone can take advantage of this router functionality, it just needs to be enabled in the router first. If you have a large house/office, have Mu-Mimo clients, or a lot of network traffic then I recommend this router without reservation, if you have a small house/apartment and less than 4 connected devices or just want to surf the internet and send and receive email then AC 1200 (300mbps on 2.4ghz and 867mbps on 5.0ghz) will suffice, after all, your internet speed is based on the level of service that you subscribe to via your ISP, and even a speedy 65mbps down and 25mbps up can be handled by a cheaper router. Bottom line, for me this router provides the best range and signal strength of any router I have used/tested to date and the best throughput (with or without Mu-Mimo). It comes with some future proofing, if you believe that 160mhz bandwidth mode will be the next best thing for routers. My only complaint is the relatively paltry 12 month warranty period. For a router of this price I would expect 24 months at the very least. I am impressed; RIP AC 1750.
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