Netgear is known for the high quality of its products. When it comes to routers, the Nighthawk is considered by many as the leading brand from this manufacturer. The Nighthawk R7800 X4S is one of the best models from these series and it is ideal for homes or small businesses using multiple wireless clients that require a lot of bandwidth. This is a Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) router that is capable of supporting fast performing devices. Since it offers MU-MIMO data streaming, this router can transfer data to multiple devices simultaneously, as long as each device supports Mu-MIMO technology. The R7800 X4S supports high-speed 5GHz rates and it can be plugged into several HDDS. It also offers good 5GHz range and in this review, we will find out more about its additional features.
The Nighthawk X4S has a stylish design, it is a relatively large unit and it is fully black. There are two versions available: the R7800 and the D7800. The first one is only a router, while the latter includes a modem. Since AC2600 is supported, the routers are impressively fast. We will focus on the R7800 model. It has four removable external antennas and the front sports LED indicators that blink while the router is in use, showing you the status of the four LAN ports and the WAN port, USB and eSATA activity, as well as 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio-band activity. If you want to disable the LED indicators, you can switch them off using the button located at the back of the router. At the back of the router, you will also find four Gigabit LAN ports, a WAN (Internet) port, a reset button and a Power button. The two USB 3.0 ports are located at the left side of the router and the eSATA port can be found on the right side of the device.
Apart from the MU-MIMO, the R7800 (which is an 802.11ac device) also offers 4X4 data streaming, meaning that it can offer four data streams to every band to boost throughput speeds. In addition, the R7800 comes with a Wi-Fi protected Setup (WPS) and a button that can be used to disable one or both radio bands. The router uses a 1.7GHz dual-core processor and in theory, it can reach maximum throughput speeds of up to 2.53Gbps. It promises to deliver 800Mbps from the 2.4GHz band and 1,733Mbps on the 5GHz one. Since it supports additional connections, the Nighthawk X4S works well as a NAS.
Thanks to the Netgear Genie web-based management console, you can easily adjust basic and advanced network settings. In the Home Page, you will find options like Parental Controls, Internet, Wireless and Guest Network. In addition, you can find out how many peripheral devices are connected and will also be able to see the status of ReadySHARE, a feature that allows you to share and back up files that use a connected USB drive. Other basic settings available are Internet, Wireless, Quality of Service (QoS), Parental Controls and Guest Network settings. The advanced settings give you the possibility of enabling site blocking, creating network-access schedules, view status and access. You will also be able to enable remote management and configure port forwarding. It is also possible to see Internet traffic statistics and configure the router to work as a wireless bridge or a wireless access point.
Setting up the Nighthawk X4S R7800 is quite easy. Once the router is connected to your computer and to the internet, you get access to the setup wizard, which guides you through the steps that you need to follow to get started. You also have the option to install Netgear Genie desktop management software. The genie will help you to gain Internet connectivity and it gives you the chance to use DHCP or static IP addressing and automatic or manual DNS addressing. After connecting, you will be able to move on to the wireless=settings page that assign SSID names and security settings to every band. The Netgear Genie is also available as a mobile app for iOS and Android. It should be noted that to manage QoS, you will need to take additional steps such as entering the router’s IP address into the browser address bar. Once you get to this interface, things can get a bit confusing. The standard router interface is not exactly fast or user-friendly. However, the advantage of QoS is that it enables the router to manage bandwidth and prioritizing apps that require reliable and continuous stream.
As mentioned before, the Netgear Nighthawk X4S is set to deliver incredibly high throughput. Its promised bandwidth of AC2600 indicated that you can get 800Mbps from the 2.4GHz band and 1,733Mbps from the 5GHz one. In order to confirm this, the best option would be to link the Nighthawk X4S to another X4S, or other router capable of supporting this level of performance. While testing the R7800 using laptops and devices that you are likely to be using at home, we confirmed that the performance is quite good on the 5GHz band. The speed can reach around 70MB/sec at close range, but the best thing about the Netgear Nighthawk X4S is that it also delivers good results at longer range.
In the past, the speeds at 2.4GHz were not as impressive, even at close-range. There were reports about devices being disconnected on a regular basis when using 2.4GHz, particularly when the signal was not particularly strong. However, Netgear has addressed this in recent firmware updates and while there are still some issues when the signal is weak, you can get high 2.4GHz throughput with strong signals. The USB networking speed is a highlight of the Netgear Nighthawk X4S. Thanks to the 1.4GHz processor, the router is capable of handling several connections at the same time. The file transfer speeds are not above some similar routers like the Linksys WRT 1200AC, but they are still good enough to ensure a speedy transfer of your media files and documents.
Easy to install and full of handy features, the Netgear Nighthawk X4S R7800 is a powerful device with a comprehensive selection of management settings. The USB and eSATA connections, along with the great USB 3.0 data speeds make it a good option to handle some NAS related tasks. This router is an ideal choice for anyone who wants to enjoy the benefits of MU-MIMO data streaming. The wireless coverage is fantastic and in general, the speeds are satisfactory. The downside is that the price of the router is more expensive than other similar options available in the market. Still, it is an excellent device that shows why Netgear is one of the best manufacturers in the industry.