Router Netgear R7000 Nighthawk: And instead of a heart fiery Cortex-A9!

    It seems that more recently, routers were trained only to distribute the Internet by air and wires. The best of them did it so well and stably that some owners forgot - where does this box with antennas generally stand? But gradually the functionality expanded, and as a result, the current flagship models will give odds to an inexpensive NAS. On the one hand, this is good: you can buy a router, connect an external drive to it and get two devices for the price of one and a half. On the other hand, a wealth of opportunities required the development of not just firmware, but a fully-fledged operating system with a convenient interface and a set of drivers.

    And then the problems started. Manufacturers of network equipment initially focused on people who simply adore the command line and remember by heart hundreds of challenging teams. It turned out to be difficult to get rid of this orientation. Still in quite consumer models the interface design in the style of "Engineers for Engineers" is found. Relapses also happen: for example, ZyXEL, deservedly proud of the simple and convenient interface in the first generation of Keenetic routers, released firmware version 2.0, where everything was so complicated that thousands of users wanted to run around the ceiling. Until now, even acquiring new Keenetic models, many find the not quite official firmware version 1.0 and replace it with the progressive creation of ZyXEL developers.

    The extension of functionality combined with the complication / acceleration of iron played another cruel joke. I responsibly declare: now there is not a single router that does not have a couple of serious bugs that interfere with its daily operation. Another question is that in decent models of self-respecting manufacturers these bugs are so deep that it is quite difficult to deal with them. And, of course, when updating firmware, some of them are destroyed, and new ones still need to be found.

    Over the past year, about a dozen models have passed through me, and sooner or later a “surprise” was discovered in each of them. For example, one of the routers, pleasing in all respects, suddenly turned out to be incompatible with the Wi-Fi adapter of the TV. The adapter connected, it worked perfectly, but when I turned on the zombopanel again, I required to do the pairing procedure again, because I forgot the settings. With a good dozen other routers, the TV works flawlessly, as if hinting.

    Another device that demonstrates the wonders of stability and speed at an affordable price (I’ll even call it by its name is TP-LINK TL-WDR4300) suddenly did not make friends with one of Sony's smartphones. The connection breaks - and that’s it, it’s impossible to watch a DLNA movie. Needless to say, with other routers (including those not friends with the TV), the smartphone has excellent relations.

    And so they are all like that. Do not stumble upon incompatibility - you will live happily ever after. Stumble - you will study the forums, experiment with firmware and generally waste time. And today we’ll talk about the latest Netgear Nighthawk R7000 router, surprisingly combining advanced features, wide functionality and just amazing stability for such a monster. At least in a week of rather severe exploitation, I could not catch a single flaw. Unless, of course, except for some ... design features, which we will talk about separately.

    Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk is a famous single-seat attack aircraft, designed to bypass air defense systems and attack airfields, headquarters and other important objects. In the arsenal of the American army, he stood for nearly 20 years and managed to gain popularity no less than our MiG-29. True, Nighthawk was withdrawn from service in 2008, but since Netgear used its name and design elements in the flagship router, then the glory still lives on.

    There is a resemblance!

    And more predatory antennas!

    Nighthawk really has a certain personality, so it’s not a shame to put it in a prominent place. The absence of ribs and other embellishments makes dusting easier. Three antennas look stylish and are screwed through a standard interface. This, if necessary, will replace them with more powerful ones. Unless, of course, you believe that size in this case matters. The Chinese believe.

    The stated characteristics of the router are impressive: up to 600 Mbit / s when connected in the 2.4 GHz band and up to 1300 Mbit / s at 5 GHz in 802.11ac mode. Well, what can I say ... This is not even a reserve for the future, but a storehouse. Of course, I’m talking primarily about the 5 GHz range, because it’s almost impossible to find a device that supports 600 megabits at 2.4 GHz. And if there is such a thing, accelerating to such a level in the extremely littered 2.4 GHz range is unrealistic. No, of course, on the outskirts of a small cozy town, among private houses where all the neighbors sweetly drink bitter and consider the Internet an abusive word, you can try. Yes, only it is unlikely that residents of such towns will be able to afford Nighthawk ...

    The 802.11ac standard supports more and more devices, not only laptops with tablets, but also the most advanced smartphones (for example, the new Samsung Galaxy). That's just the trouble: no one knows how to accelerate to 1300 Mbit / s. And if he can, then he doesn’t want to. For example, MacBook Air, if not shamanized with it, connects via ac at speeds up to 400 Mbps, and MacBook Pro - up to 600 Mbps. More, according to Apple, you just do not need. Tablet Dell Venue 11 Pro connected as much as 866 Mbit / s, pumping through the air real 65 megabytes per second. But this is an exception to the rule achieved in the line of sight of the router. It was worth moving a little further, as the speed dropped to 450 Mbps and lower.

    So 1300 Mbps is sometime later. In a year or two. The main thing is that by that time the 5 GHz range should not be too littered. In the meantime, let's focus on honest 400-600 Mbit / s over ac, 300-400 over 802.11n at 5 GHz and 250-300 at 2.4 GHz. In real life, this is more than enough, I assure you.

    With wired interfaces, everything is usually: 4 gigabit Ethernet ports. Personally, it seems that five pieces would not hurt me, but it is unlikely that at least some significant number of users have such a need today.

    You can write a short story about the various Nighthawk features and gadgets. It is a pity that now it’s not customary to put near-literary works about them in boxes with routers, as ZyXEL did in its time. And so you read the description on the site - and your eyes run up.

    Firstly, the router has a dual-core Broadcom BCM4709 processor with Cortex-A9 cores operating at a frequency of up to 1 GHz. This, of course, is very cool. In addition to Netgear, this SoC was used only by Asus (model RT-AC68U). In combination with 256 MB of RAM, we get something comparable in power to a good personal computer at the beginning of the 2000s. Is it good? Not so bad. I connected 18 devices to the router at the same time, started data transfer by air three hundred gigabytes at once, and he did not even frown. But you have to pay for such power, not only when buying a router, but also afterwards. Nighthawk requires a current of up to 3.5 amperes, and this is how much a power supply can provide. Other routers with 802.11ac support are enough for 2.5 and even 2A. Of course, the router does not always work at maximum, however, its average power consumption is noticeably higher than that of its counterparts. And it warms up under load quite noticeably.

    All chips are covered by screens. I didn’t tear it off - it’s an expensive and official thing. Pay attention to the thick layer of thermal tape. In routers, I have not seen anything like this before.

    But this is generally great. Under the motherboard there is a large, all-bottom, metal plate playing the role of a radiator. Will we survive to routers with coolers? (Sorry for the dust layer, I was clearly not the first one at this router)

    Another mega-chip Nighthawk on the official website is recommended to consider Beamforming support. Say, the router monitors the movement of each device and directs a powerful data stream to it, calculating the optimal trajectory. In fact, the technology of beam forming is a rather ancient thing, and we experimented with it back in the days of 802.11g. It was required mainly for corporate needs in organizing video conferences. The wireless channels of the time were too sickly. Beam formation technology can be implemented both at the SoC level and at the antenna level. The first option in ancient times did not take root due to the low power of the "iron", therefore, a lot of (up to a dozen) multidirectional antennas were used, which should create an ideal beam to a specific device. These experiments did not go to the masses.

    Beamforming is now a standard feature of the 802.11ac standard, and calculations are carried out at the SoC level. True, there is a nuance: all this works exclusively in ac mode, and only if beamforming support is also on the device side. In my case, that means the MacBook Pro and ... that's it. Of course, over time, the fleet of devices that can assist the router in determining its location will expand, but so far this is more of a cool feature than something useful. At the same time, Netgear Nighthawk is one of the most “long-range” routers that visited my home. It not only perfectly covers the entire apartment, despite the solid concrete walls, but also allows you to use the home Internet under the windows. This is also the first router in my memory whose range in the 5 GHz band is only slightly worse than in 2.4. At least, according to the Wifi Analyzer installed on the LG G2 smartphone, at the farthest point in the apartment, the signal remains in the green zone, while on the predecessors it steadily fell into yellow. Do not forget that the router, again, unlike analogues, supports QoS not only on outgoing traffic, but also on incoming traffic. So it’s possible to make appropriate settings for devices that require increased speed and channel stability.

    Of course, you can connect an external hard drive to Nighthawk using the USB 3.0 interface. Thanks to the powerful hardware, the real write speed is as much as 30 MB / s. For comparison, colleagues in the shop do not accelerate above 18 MB / s (for example, ZyXEL Keenetic Ultra), but this level was previously considered a record. The read speed is about 40 MB / s at all, so in conjunction with an external drive, the router can be considered a replacement for a simple NAS. Of course, he doesn’t know how to download torrents (Netgear doesn’t encourage this), but he transmits video using DLNA perfectly, works in Time Machine mode, and a print server too. By and large, NAS in this situation is not really needed. Yes, not to forget - there are two USB ports, not one. The second, slower one, is just better used to connect the printer.

    You can control the router either through the web interface or through the Netgear Genie application, available for Android and iOS. The main interface is quite convenient, and does not cause a desire to jog along the ceiling with jokes, like a couple of years ago. Although, maybe I'm just used to it. I was very pleased with the opportunity to turn off the blinking, or even completely cut down the diodes on the case. The bow of the earth, slept for a week without color music under the ceiling.

    In general, I liked the router very much. It is not only fast and withstands an impressive load, but also works very stably. In my motley zoo of devices, there was not a single one that came into conflict with Nighthawk. Even the standard "chip" of the flagship Netgear, when they take turns starting to disappear in Internet access in one of the ranges, in this case is missing. Reinforced concrete stability. This is worth a lot.

    And at Netgear they really understand it! In the States, the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 (aka R7000) costs about $ 200 (including sales tax). We sell it for 9,200 rubles. Severely, I do not argue. It's funny that the hardware-like Asus RT-AC68U in the United States costs $ 20 more, and in Russia, on the contrary, it’s a thousand rubles cheaper (8,200 rubles). Yes, and the firmware, they say, Asus is more sophisticated, although it does not support QoS on incoming traffic. And the hull design is not airplane.

    In general, decide for yourself. The router is excellent, and if financial capabilities allow it - you can safely take it. Do not allow - pick more affordable options. By the way, soon the updated TP-Link Archer C7 V2.0 should go on sale for about 6,000 rubles. But I didn’t tell you that.

    PS Why doesn’t someone from Skolkovo make the MiG-29 router? This is not very difficult (if you call one of the grandees into partners), and it can be sold well.

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