NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Smart WiFi Router Review
Today we will be taking a look at the Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router from NETGEAR. This is the top of the range WiFi router that NETGEAR offer, providing dual band gigabit 802.11ac wireless with a 1GHz dual core processor.
Packaging and Bundle
The Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router, or Nighthawk as we shall call it from this point on, is supplied in a medium sized box with a large picture of the router displayed on the front cover. Unlike a lot of the products from NETGEAR the Nighthawk forgoes the traditional matt white background, instead opting for a more colourful black, purple and blue scheme which mixes up the styling just like the router found within.
Turning to the rear of the package we find another difference from the standard NETGEAR boxes. Normally we would expect to find a considerable amount of information regarding the products features and specifications. Instead the Nighthawk package offers us three key lifestyle sections, highlighting where it would help us in our modern connected world. These include the benefits the Nighthawk would bring to our online gaming and media streaming experiences.
In addition to the Nighthawk itself NETGEAR have also provided a full installation guide and a pamphlet on how the product can impact our connected life.
Finally we have the power unit and a single CAT5 network cable. The power unit, while not as small as some we have seen recently from NETGEAR is still a slimmer model and does not rely on the old style brick design that we have come to detest over the years.
A Closer Look
Taking the Nighthawk out of the packaging we can immediately see that it differs in design from most of the current routers available from NETGEAR. Instead of the vertical design that we see in other NETGEAR products the Nighthawk is designed to lay flat on our desk or shelf. Along the front top edge we have the LEDs that indicate connectivity and usage, we also have a USB 3.0 port.
Turning the Nighthawk over we find four pads that are used for stability while raising the router a touch, along with plenty of holes to promote airflow. The Nighthawk is an AC1900 WiFi router, offering 600+1300 Mbps speeds over dual band operating at 2.4 and 5GHz. It also has a 1GHz dual core processor with 128MB flash and 256MB RAM and is 285mm x 184.5mm x 50mm (L x W X H) weighing in at 750g.
At the rear of the Nighthawk we have all the ports and connections. Starting from the left we firstly have four gigabit LAN ports, then one gigabit WAN port. We then have a second USB port, though this is only a 2.0 port. Finally we have the power on/off button and the power socket.
Unlike the other WiFi routers in the NETGEAR range the Nighthawk features external antennas. These are simply screwed into the rear of the main body of the router and can then be adjusted to suit our personal preference.
Additionally, the Nighthawk has Beamforming+ functionality which boosts speed and increases the range of the WiFi connections while also improving reliability.
To set up the Nighthawk we firstly connect the router to our PC and then navigate to URL www.routerlogin.net in our web browser. Entering the default administration user name and password get us to the, now familiar, overview page for NETGEAR products.
Running the smart set up wizard the Nighthawk will identify the type of internet connection we are using and provide the correct next step. For example we were using a PPPoE connection so it request our internet service provider user name and password.
Once these have been provided the Nighthawk goes about the job of applying the correct internet connection settings to allow us to access the internet. This normally takes a couple of minutes on previous NETGEAR products however with the Nighthawk we found it was much quicker.
Once the Nighthawk has completed its set up process we are provided with a confirmation screen, which lets us know that we are successfully connected to the internet. It also provides us with confirmation of the default wireless passwords.
After initial setup the router software allows us to control all aspects of the Nighthawk. This familiar software is used across the NETGEAR range so we are quickly able to get to the settings we wish to change. If we had been unfamiliar with the software it is well laid out in sensible sections with lots of helpful information provided.
User Experience and Conclusion
Let’s start with the design of the Nighthawk, which is quite different from the other routers and ADSL modems that we see from the current NETGEAR product range. Opting for a lay flat design, the Nighthawk has a very sleek and slender profile. With angular surfaces and sharp edges it certainly looks very striking sitting on our desk. The external antennas fit in well with the overall design, as well as being very easy to screw into place.
Installing the Nighthawk, as we can see from the previous section, is very simple. Either using the web interface or the NETGEAR Genie. For those who have used NETGEAR products in the past, configuring the router is a familiar experience. Novice users will find it a straight forward process. The software leads us through the stages step by step, with helpful information provided along way, in case we run into difficulty.
Turning to performance, and here the Nighthawk cannot be faulted. The top end router really delivers on its promises of speed, reliability and range. We found that streaming HD content across our network was flawless, with no buffering or loss of quality. The external antennas certainly help with boosting range, we had solid WiFi connection throughout our home, and even well into the garden.
The Nighthawk has advance quality of service (QoS) features for both upstream and downstream traffic. The router automatically prioritises gaming connections from platforms like the XBOX One or downstream traffic from streaming providers like Netflix or YouTube. Should the default prioritisation not be to our liking we can amend the settings in the web based software configuration tool.
With a price point of around £180 / $200 the Nighthawk is certainly at the high end of WiFi routers but that said the features and performance certainly mean we are getting what we pay for. With more and more HD content being streamed and on more and more devices at a time it can be seen as a wise investment now to protect us against future demands on our home network.
The Nighthawk provides a stylish package, combining top end performance with excellent reliability and range for a modern WiFi router.
|Where to buy…|
|Ebuyer.com – £187.00|