• Netgear Nighthawk X10 by Kyle "Rumble" Bousquet

    Netgear Nighthawk X10
    By Kyle "Rumble" Bousquet

    After spending a better part of this year using the Netgear X4S as my primary router Netgear was nice enough to send me an X10 to try out. Does the X10 follow in the footsteps of the X4S? Netgear always skates the fine line between form and function. The X4S was a brilliant piece of network hardware and I was excited to find out if the X10 kept it going or was a disappointment.

    Appearance and Setup

    Once again Netgear really excels in the design department. The X10, much like the X4S, is very substantial feeling. It's heavier than your average router, and just looks beefier. It isn't all that different looking from the X4S. Bigger antenna and more lights. You can see a fan inside the top which consists in part of a mesh grill.

    Everything is easy to set up. The antenna screw on as any other router but I was impressed that the adjustable hinges on the antenna were a little tighter and not as loose as on many of the routers I have tried. Once I had the antenna on and plugged it into power and my cable modem I was on to configuring.
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    I tried both manual setup and using the Netgear app to set up the X10. I was surprised at how much easier it was to use the app on my iPhone. While both are easy I was online much quicker with the mobile device setup. If you aren't going to do a lot of customization in your configuration then the app may be the setup method for you.

    Let's be honest... If you are a hardcore gaming nerd or advanced user then you will indeed be making changes, so its nice to know the manual setup is painless. I did my initial configuration to get online and look for a firmware update via the Basic configuration screen. Once that was done I was into the advanced menu and configuring all the access control and IP reservations I use on my network. Over all it only took me about 20 minutes to get all that set up and I didn't need to do anything else to be gaming and streaming to my hearts content.

    Functionality and Performance

    So in the big picture of things I could find hardly a flaw in the was Netgear has setup the X10 or in its performance. The only things that really bothered me were the lack of a rich QoS setup, which for me was negated by the fact I use an S8000 switch to handle all my Qos. For the end user who doesn't have an S8000 though this is a little short sighted of Netgear. The QoS setup of the S8000 QoS would make a welcome addition to the X10, but I do understand that Netgear wants you to buy both.

    One feature I did not use was the ability to aggregate two ports for faster file transfers. I can see where it would be useful but I just didn't need that speed increase. I did set it up for use with a 4TB external drive connected to one of the two usb ports on the router but in my tests while it was faster I don't generally move large files across the network that way. So its a neat feature that just used an extra port for me and I wouldn't have seen a real time savings in. If you do need to move lots of files or large files frequently this would be a definite selling point.

    The other thing I really think Netgear missed the boat on is a better menu experience. When I boot up into the BIOS of my new ASUS ROG Maximus X Hero I am met with a menu that is slick, intuitive and uses a color scheme that is just so much more "gamer-like". The menus on the X10 are very vanilla and all in white and blue-ish purple. I would argue the router is for gamers, since Netgear is marketing it that way, so why not some black backgrounds, blue or red accents. I mean its a simple change but would be a welcome addition.
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    Network performance was nearly identical to the X4S except when using the 5G band of the wireless networking. I found that my ASUS gaming laptop, iPad and iPhone 6S+ all connected to the 5G network quicker than the X4S and my previous ASUS router. So I would give the X10 an A+ in the speed it handles the network.

    I don't get into the nuts and bolts of hardware reviews because for the most part my concerns are gaming. The X10 performs as well as the X4S and exceeds it in some instances. Not in any quantifiable way,other than to say I found far fewer instances where I was waiting for the gateway to respond for instance.
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    I also found the use of the access control from the iPhone app to be very nice. I was able to stop my kids internet access when I needed to by touching their icon on the network map and suspending their network access. Just two taps on the screen and goodbye internet. I guess they should have cleaned the bathroom like I asked. Returning network access was just as simple, two taps all restored.

    Other considerations?

    So I liked the Plex server that comes with the X10. I loved how easy it was to setup a 4TB external hard drive via USB to be used as my network backup for all the computers in the house. My printers seemed to stay connected to this network where I had previously had intermittent issues with other routers.

    Again, I really think the team who built this router did a great job on everything but the menu. Why stop with the design at the housing. The antenna are cool looking. The shape of the housing and the grill on top all look awesome. However, once I was in the menu of the router you could not have convinced me this was a top of the line, most expensive gaming router in my companies line from the look of it.

    All in all this is the best router I have used to date. While I don't agree with the aesthetics of the menu, it is easy to use, the router was easy to set up and the whole thing outwardly looks bad ass.

    Scores:

    Performance: X10 10
    Appearance: X10 10
    Quality of Construction: X10 10
    Tech and Features: X10 9
    Overall: X10 9.75

    So yes the X10 is a definite improvement over the X4S, and light years above my old ASUS router. The only real dings on this score are the menu and the QoS. Take the menu design of almost any ASUS RoG motherboard BIOS and the QoS menu and design of the Netgear S8000 and you'd have the perfect router. This one comes close and I applaud Netgear's effort here.

    If your read my reviews with any regularity you know that I don't get into the MHz or GB/s of things. Not generally. This router has some impressive specs but what I care about is how it performs. I don't care if the router has a quad core 1.7GHz processor. I don't care if it's powered by plutonium. I care if it works. And this one does. Whatever is under the hood is working here, and I for one am a fan.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Netgear Nighthawk X10 by Kyle "Rumble" Bousquet started by Rumble View original post