The Netgear X4S (View it on Amazon) / (View it on Amazon UK) is a high-end AC2600 router that’s in the upper echelon of the Netgear’s lineup at around $200, and is merely one rung below its extremely serious (and ultra expensive) money-is-no-object 8000 series routers that appears like spacecraft and are suitable for enterprise or tech mogul deployments. Its model name may be the R7800, and it’s what I consider the company’s top grade offering for regular consumers. It’s also marketed as a gaming router, and on the router’s webpage the 1st words in its description are, “Fastest gaming performance.” That’s indeed what I’d like as a gamer, so let’s examine this bad boy and observe how she runs.
Design and Features
The X4S can be an AC2600 router, meaning it’s a dual-band model which offers a combined total maximum throughput on both bands of 2,600Mbps. It’s divvied up into 1,733Mb/s on the 5GHz AC band and 800Mb/s on the two 2.4GHz band. Since each AC stream is with the capacity of 433Mb/s, with four streams on the X4S (via its four antennae) you get 1,733Mb/s. Of course it could never manage to achieve that in real life, but that is marketing copy, not real life measurements. The R7800 sports five Gigabit Ethernet ports (4 LAN and one WAN), and two USB 3.0 ports allowing you to connect storage or a printer for sharing, and in addition comes with an eSATA port for reasons uknown.
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The X4S is what’s referred to as a Wave 2 router (or second generation AC wireless, to the layman), so that it offers a couple of features that were overlooked of the first wave of AC routers. Among these much-touted features is MU-MIMO, which means Multiple User-Multiple Input, Multiple Output meaning it could broadcast to three MU-MIMO clients simultaneously, which can be an improvement over standard AC wireless which sends data one client at the same time. The only catch is those clients should be MU-MIMO capable and far enough apart that the router can recognize them as separate streams. MU-MIMO wireless adapters remain quite uncommon, however, nonetheless it speaks to the future-proof nature of the X4S as it can be more commonplace in a couple of years. The same applies to the router’s support of 160MHz channels, which it accomplishes by bonding two 80MHz channels together. That is similar to MU-MIMO for the reason that although router supports it, your client must support it too, and the ones wireless cards remain rare around this writing.

Beneath the hood is a 1.7GHz dual-core CPU, which is on the potent side for a router. So far as its gaming credentials go Netgear makes all sort of wild claims about how precisely its ready for 4K gaming, but using the feature it promotes is its dynamic Quality of Service, that may intelligently prioritizes packets, hence the term “smart” in its title. For me, this is very the only feature a router can boast to boost gaming, since you’re typically hard-wired to a PC or console. However, when you are gaming wirelessly then obviously overall speed plays an enormous role and really separates one router from another. The problem is nobody will ever achieve the utmost speeds quoted by Netgear, and wireless speed could be impacted by a variety of factors that are unique to your environment, which means you need to take all test outcomes with a grain of salt.

Admin Software
I’ve been reviewing routers for a couple of years now and Netgear’s admin interface has always bothered me, since it looks totally outdated and doesn’t jive at all with the appearance and feel of its routers. Whereas the company’s routers are sleek and sophisticated, its software appears like it was manufactured in the 90s rather than updated. Not merely do I object to the utilization of the colors green, purple and orange however the layout on almost all of the pages appears like it had been imported from a spreadsheet. Irrespective of all that, it works and a huge amount of functionality, which, like the majority of routers, nearly all users will most likely never access. The fundamentals are covered for newbies, and there are always a ton of options for this pros as well.

With regards to gaming, Netgear includes a “dynamic” Quality of Service (QoS) feature that you could either start or off; there’s no customization or prioritization available. This helps it be somewhat of a black box, nonetheless it claims in order to prioritize traffic predicated on a database it keeps updated regarding specific types of traffic. Also, as an anti-virus application it’s updated but I’m uncertain how often, and you could let it download these updates automatically (I did so).

Netgear offers a companion mobile software for iOS and Android named Genie, and it looks just as lame as the browser interface, and just like the browser admin controls isn’t easy and simple to use but gets the work done. It’s much better than nothing, is approximately all I could say.

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Wireless Performance
To test the way the R7800 performs, I setup a server/client scenario with Netperf and two Windows 10 PCs, then measured the speed of the TCP connection between them. I measured at both 15 feet with type of sight, and at 30 feet with two walls between your computers. I ran the TCP test at least 3 x to make certain my results were consistent, and if indeed they weren’t, I re-tested until these were, trying at differing times of your day until I was satisfied. Though everyone’s environment differs, and you wouldn’t manage to specifically replicate my results, they certainly are a good way to obtain a ballpark estimate of the way the router performs. I also performed a “real life” 2GB file transfer test at 30 feet aswell.
5GHz at 15 Feet

5GHz at 30 Feet

I could summarize the Netgear Nighthawk X4S’ 5GHz performance in two words – the very best. It topped the chart in both 5GHz band TCP transmission tests, though by an extremely small margin over the Linksys WRT. Still, it had been incredibly fast in both tests, with nary a fall off in speed as distance doubled and two walls were put into the equation. That is an extremely fast router, without doubt.

2.4GHz at 15 Feet

2.4GHz at 30 Feet

Unfortunately, as can often be the case in this cruel world, the problem was the reverse in my own 2.4GHz tests, as the R7800 languished towards underneath of the pack, but again, barely slowing as distance increased. Still, it wasn’t the strongest showing at 2.4GHz, so that it is among the slower options if you’re still running legacy devices.

2GB File Transfer at 30 Feet

Finally, in my own file transfer test drive it once more topped the Linksys WRT by five seconds, taking just 52 seconds total to transfer 2GB of data wirelessly at 30 feet. This jives using its overall 5GHz test outcomes, because it was indeed the fastest. Its 1.7GHz CPU no doubts helps here aswell.

Verdict
The Nighthawk X4S is an extremely strong package, disappointed only by its slow 2.4GHz performance and antiquated admin software. Still, it gets the goods where it certainly counts, since it was the speediest 5GHz router I tested as well as the most effective for file transfers, which is what almost all of individuals would put it to use for. In addition, it has next-gen features such as for example MU-MIMO and is relatively affordable too, so that it is my top pick for a high-end AC router. Also, Netgear sells a slightly downgraded model named the R7000 {unless