• Netgear Nighthawk X4S & Netgear Nighthawk S8000

    Netgear Nighthawk X4S & Netgear Nighthawk S8000
    By Kyle ďRumbleĒ Bousquet

    This is going to be a departure from my normal single item/game review. Netgear was nice enough to provide a Nighthawk X4S router and a Nighthawk S8000 gaming switch for review. Will a dedicated intelligent switch help your gaming? Does the Nighthawk X4S switch help gaming? Good questions, I think Iíll answer themÖ

    Appearance & Setup

    One thing you canít help but notice when taking this switch and router out of their boxes is their visual aesthetics. My standard router and switch solution were an ASUS AC66U router with a Linksys 8 port gigabit switch. They were very vanilla in appearance, but got the job done.

    The Nighthawk X4S looks far beefier and sleek. It has more lights giving me more information than my ASUS, and the antenna look far larger and ďimpressiveĒ. Setup was a breeze. You can use a computer hooked up to the switch or their app but it was simple to get online and I didnít have any trouble with the wired or wireless devices in my house.

    update the server quickly-x4s-front-png

    The Nighthawk S8000 switch is on a whole other plane of existence compared to the Linksys switch. I didnít even know I wanted a cool looking switch until this one came out of the box. Itís made of a zync alloy. Itís at least twice as heavy as the generic Linksys switch and looks mean. The angles and the lighting make it look like it belongs in a gamers network. Setup was easier than I thought it would be. I just found the IP of the switch on the network and went to its webpage. Default settings will most likely be enough for most but there is a depth there that really does play into the gamer who wants to control all traffic on their network to optimize for gaming.

    update the server quickly-s8000-front-png

    Functionality & Performance

    The Nighthawk X4S has 4 wired ports like most standard routers as well as your standard 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless networks. Netgear says the X4S has ďAC2600 Smart WiFi Router with 160MHz, MU-MIMO and Quad Stream technology delivers WiFi to multiple devices simultaneously for faster speedsĒ, and it does in fact deliver. I was able to get great gaming experiences on multiple computers while accessing a movie from my NAS and having someone stream Netflix. My old ASUS router was capable of some of that load, but the network speeds were not able to keep up with the X4S. This is a definite upgrade to my old gear. The router is helped in accomplishing this by way of its Dual core 1.7GHz processor. Seems these days everything has multiple cores doesnít it? I also own an Amazon Echo and I was able to control the router with my voice. It takes a little getting used to but its there if you have an Echo. QoS features worked well but not like the S8000.

    update the server quickly-x4s-png

    The Nighthawk S8000 was amazing. I plugged my main gaming rig and test bench into port one on the S8000 and then the NAS, Printers and other computers in the house on the remaining ports. The S8000 let me set port one to gaming priority and then all other ports to a lower priority. You can actually set different ports to different levels but I used the preset port 1 high, ports 2-7 low setting. My games never hitched, hiccupped or got a bad ping no matter what else was going on with my network. The S8000 will give gaming traffic top priority like many QoS services but it also gives you an enormous amount of control over that other traffic. Streaming can be a hog but the S8000 tames the beast and makes sure I get to frag people in Call of Duty or Battlefield while my daughter is catching up on episodes of Dr. Who on her Roku. I tested both the X4S QoS and the S8000 and clearly the S8000 is doing a better job of managing my traffic. Setting up just the right balance for your traffic takes time though.

    update the server quickly-s8000-png

    Other Considerations?

    Couple things I was disappointed with on both the X4S and the S8000. I didnít like that I could only set up one guest network on the 2.4GHz and one on the 5GHz wireless bands. On my ASUS I could set up to 4 guest networks up and use them for my kids so I could control traffic and shut them off when disciplining the kids. When I only have one guest network thatís not as effective. Itís a small thing to be sure, but I would love to see the X4S expanded to allow for multiple guest networks. This would let me set up a network for each kid and my parents who visit from time to time. Yes I am weird and donít give my wifi password to my main network out to anyone, not even my parents. In my defense, I do work for companies with sensitive data and I ensure tight network security in my working with their data.

    update the server quickly-x4s-jpg

    My son games also, so I wanted to set his port up for gaming, and if any of your devices are wireless like the iPhones in our house you have to deal with setting up rules both on the switch and the router. I would like to see Netgear just take the S8000 technology and add it to a router like the X4S. Make it a 4 or 8 or 12 port routers with all the QoS features and menus of the S8000. This would let me set up one set of rules for all the devices on the network. I didnít like how much tinkering I had to do to bring the wifi devices in the house in line with the devices on the S8000. This just seems like the natural next step for Netgear. Here is hoping they are listening.

    update the server quickly-s8000-jpg

    Bottom Line

    So, the Nighthawk X4S is a fantastic router and surely beats out my ASUS router in many of the areas I tested and in many of the features I use. It did fall short in the guest wifi network area. It bested my existing ASUS router in QoS setup and features, but certainly fell short of the S8000, but thatís not apples to apples so Iíll give it a pass.
    The Nighthawk S8000 switch made my Linksys switch look very Plain Jane. Incredibly easy to set up, amazing feature set, simple UI and does exactly what is promises. The only drawback is the lack of wifi so I would only have to set up one set of rules for my entire network. If you are looking for a very feature rich gaming switch, and want it to look positively bad-ass, this is the switch for you. Pricey? Yes, but as a tried and true gamer, Iíll spend the money on this cool looking switch.


    Performance: X4S 8 / S8000 10
    Appearance: X4S 8 / S8000 10
    Quality of Construction: X4S 9 / S8000 10
    Tech and Features: X4S 8 / S8000 10
    Overall: X4S 8.25 / S8000 10

    So there you have it. I finally found a 10. I didnít ding the S8000 for my wifi gripe because what switch has wifi generally? The build, the weight, features, look, everything about the S8000 screams ďGamers Must Own!Ē
    The X4S is a fine higher end gaming router to be sure. I like it a lot and it would replace my ASUS router if I was buying today. It has all the features I want for the most part. Itís worth a look if you want a new router.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Netgear Nighthawk X4S & Netgear Nighthawk S8000 started by Rumble View original post