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Netgear R9000 Nighthawk X10 AD7200 Smart Wi-Fi Router review

Netgear’s R9000 Nighthawk X10 is a needy Wi-Fi router.

In order to experience its superfast local Wi-Fi speed, you first need an 802.11ad-enabled laptop and a high-end 10Gbps server. Chances are good you have neither. But even if you do, you will then need to place the laptop right next to the X10 at all times for the fast connection to work. As soon as you move it a few feet away, its speed will reduce to no better than that of a regular quad-stream (4×4) 802.11ac router, such as the Netgear R7500 or the Asus RT-AC87U.

In short, the X10 is like a race car. It’s powerful and exciting but ultimately its performance won’t necessarily fit in with your daily habits. And at $500, it’s hella expensive, too.

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Apart from the six regular Gigabit LAN ports, the R9000 also has one 10Gbps LAN port, the first in home routers.


Dong Ngo/CNET

The 802.11ad conundrum

The X10 is the second 802.11ad router I’ve worked with, following the TP-Link Talon that came out last October.

Not to be confused with 802.11ax, the 802.11ad standard, which operates on the 60GHz frequency band, is a supplement to regular Wi-Fi rather than a replacement for it for two reasons. First, it doesn’t function with existing Wi-Fi clients; rather, only those that support 802.11ad are compatible. And second, it has an extremely short range, around 15 to 20 feet and even shorter in case of the X10 (more on this below). Since its signal can’t penetrate obstacles like walls, the standard is used only for clients that stay close to and within line of sight of the router. This makes 802.11ad more of a replacement for wireless USB 3.0 than a fully functional Wi-Fi standard. (For more on the 802.11ad and other Wi-Fi standards, check out this post.)

To make up for that, 802.11ad has ultrafast Wi-Fi speed. The X10, for example, can support up to 4,600 megabits per second (or 4.6 gigabits per second) in a single 802.11ad Wi-Fi connection compared to the 1,733Mbps top speed of of 802.11ac.

Multiple Wi-Fi standards, multi-gigabit wired connections

The X10 also incorporates a quad-stream (4×4) 802.11ac access point to support all existing Wi-Fi devices. In other words, this is a router that can simultaneously deliver up to 4,600Mbps, 1,733Mbps, and 800Mbps Wi-Fi speeds on 60GHz, 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequency bands, respectively.

In order for the superfast 802.11ad Wi-Fi speed to make sense, you need another device that connects to the router at the same or faster speed, and the X10 has that covered. The router has six Gigabit LAN ports for wired clients. Two of these ports can work together to create single 2Gbps connection. Additionally, the X10 is the first among home routers with a 10Gbps SFP+ LAN port. So if you’re willing to invest in a 802.11ad laptop and a high-end NAS server that can connect to its 10Gbps LAN port, you will definitely be able to experience the full speed of 802.11ad.

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