Network gaming performance is about a lot more than raw router throughput. With the Nighthawk XR500, however, networking heavyweight NETGEAR is promising gamers the full package – namely, a router that offers not only an excellent connection, but also the necessary features to give gamers the best possible experience.
The key part of this puzzle is not all-powerful (and expensive) hardware, but the deal NETGEAR has done with UK company Netduma. While Netduma does produce its own router – the R1 – it is acclaimed for its DumaOS software rather than any physical features of the router. With the XR500, NETGEAR has licensed DumaOS and embedded it in their own hardware.
On paper, this seems like the best of both worlds, as NETGEAR has some of the best wireless routers on the market, such as the Nighthawk X10 R9000. The XR500 isn't quite as highly specified as the X10 R9000, as it's only dual-band. There's 1,733Mbits/sec of 4×4 5GHz 802.11ac and 800Mbits/sec of 4×4 2.4GHz 802.11n, for an overall AC2600 rating.
There's also a built-in quad-port Gigabit Ethernet switch with a fifth Gigabit Ethernet port for the WAN connection, and two USB 3.0 ports for attaching printers or storage devices. This all runs off a 1.7GHz dual-core processor with 256MB of Flash and 512MB of RAM, which should be enough to keep the data flowing and cope with the complex DumaOS, although the X10 R9000 uses a quad-core CPU operating at the same frequency.
In hardware terms, the XR500 is a decently specified but unexceptional WiFi router, and as a result its £240 price is more mid-range than premium. But that's a sensible move, because this product is all about getting the much-lauded DumaOS to a wider gaming audience. So let's find out how well it sits in its new, more mainstream hardware platform.
- Wireless protocols: MU-MIMO with 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz, 802.11a/n/ac 5GHz
- Performance: AC2600 (1733 + 800 Mbits/sec)
- Antenna Configuration: 4×4 External Antennas for 2.4/5GHz
- Ports: 5 x Gigabit Ethernet, 2 x USB 3.0
- Modem Support: VDSL/ADSL 2+ or cable
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