When NETGEAR launched the excellent XR500, we were told it was just the beginning of a whole range of gaming-focused routers, and a high-end version was due. Well, it’s finally here. Called the Nighthawk XR700, the new Pro Gaming Router combines the software goodness of the XR500 with a more meaty hardware specification.
It would be mostly true to claim that the XR700 was like the XR500 software running on the Nighthawk X10 R9000 hardware. The XR700 has the same huge antennas sticking out the rear and sides, there to serve its tri-band radios. Like the R9000, the three radios offer 2.4GHz 802.11n, 5GHz 802.11ac, and 60GHz 802.11ad. We tested the latter when we first looked at the R9000, and it’s undeniably quick, but you won’t find many client devices that support it.
Due to the 60GHz WiFi, the XR700 is rated at AD7200, but this is because the 802.11ad has a theoretical maximum of 4,600Mbits/sec. The other two radios run at what you would expect for a router in this class. You get 1,733Mbits/sec for 802.11ac and 800Mbits/sec for 802.11n. But the underlying hardware uses a 1.7GHz quad-core processor with 1GB DDR3 RAM, so you should get a decent amount of this throughput in the real world.
Of more value to most users than 802.11ad will be the significant range of wired Ethernet ports available. There are in fact eight of these, and one of them is very special. It’s a 10Gbit SFP+ port that you can use with an adapter to attach different flavours of 10Gbit Ethernet connection to.
The remaining seven ports include one Gigabit port for the WAN and six for the client systems, which is a healthy complement if you’re setting up a gaming LAN. There are two USB 3.0 ports for storage and printer attachment.
All of this is basically the same as the R9000, but what the latter didn’t have was the DumaOS software built in. As we explained in our XR500 review, this is a class-leading platform for ensuring your gaming experience is completely optimised. It’s packed with features to manage your gaming, multimedia and other traffic. But combining the top-end hardware with this software does come at a price.
There aren’t many routers more expensive than £450, and this is £100 more than the R9000. So let’s find out if this premium tag will fetch you the king of gaming routers.
- Wireless protocols: MU-MIMO with 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz, 802.11a/n/ac 5GHz, 802.11ad 60GHz
- Performance: AD7200 (4600 + 1733 + 800 Mbits/sec)
- Antenna Configuration: 4×4 Internal and External Antennas for 2.4/5GHz, 32x for 60GHz
- Ports: 7 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x SFP+, 2 x USB 3.0
- Modem Support: VDSL/ADSL 2+ or cable