Netgear’s quad-stream 802.11ac router lifts off

There's a new quad-stream 802.11ac router out, and this one may be the most powerful yet. Known as the Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350, this lethal-looking device has a 1.4GHz dual-core Qualcomm Internet Processor under the hood, and it boasts dynamic QoS capability as well as dual USB 3.0 ports and eSATA for external storage.

Thanks to its Quantenna 802.11ac Wave 2 4×4 MU-MIMO chipset, the Nighthawk can hit top speeds of 1.733 Gbps over the 5GHz band and 600Mbps over the 2.4GHz, for a combined peak of 2.33 Gbps. According to Netgear, the dynamic QoS tech can detect and prioritize individual apps, including "gaming, streaming, file transfers, web browsing, etc." The company is aiming the router at "gamers and people who do a lot of video streaming."

The Nighthawk is expected to hit stores "immediately" in the U.S. with a suggested retail price of $279.99.

CNet News has posted a helpful comparison of the Nighthawk with Asus' RT-AC87, which was the first router with quad-stream goodness when it arrived back in July. The RT-AC87 is slightly more affordable, at $269.99, but it apparently has a slower CPU and a less impressive combination of storage ports. From what I can tell, there's just a single USB 3.0 port on there. I know. Terrible, right?

Comments closed
    • deruberhanyok
    • 5 years ago

    I can’t be alone in thinking that nearly $300 for a home router is getting a bit excessive, can I?

      • Deanjo
      • 5 years ago

      I can see if you’re the thrifty type or don’t understand what is being offered where it might appear as “excessive”.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 5 years ago

    Who the hell uses eSATA?

      • tanker27
      • 5 years ago

      I do

      • albundy
      • 5 years ago

      i certainly do. all my enclosures have usb 2.0, esata, and some have firewire 800. take a gander on which one is fastest. no way in hell am i shelling out on replacement enclosures for usb 3.0 at this point.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 5 years ago

    AC is going to have become a LOT more common before buying anything above N is going to be remotely worthwhile. Especially when these companies are moving the pricing metric UP from existing products instead of squeezing them down into lower pricing brackets.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 5 years ago

      Devices with MIMO will also need to be more common. Between 5GHz short range and needing MIMO antenna setup to see a large benefit, AC seems a bit overhyped. Then there’s the fact that it only makes a difference for local network stuff and not anything from the internet for people with the usual broadband speeds.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 5 years ago

    Disclosure: I have the ASUS RT-AC87.

    The Netgear looks like a nice router, but my key question would be what kind of features are available in the firmware. Having a dual-core 1.4GHz processor is great (the ASUS has a dual-core 1GHz, then an additional separate processor for the 5GHz radio), but routing throughput is already as high as it really needs to be on high-end home routers –assuming you don’t wish to use VPN features..

    The key reason for having CPUs like these is for handling OpenVPN client or server duties, as the encryption takes horsepower (which can hurt WAN speed on slower routers that support it), and for doing a few other things. ASUS has a couple of third-party firmwares (Merlin, Shibby’s version of Tomato, etc.) which expand on its capabilities or fix bugs, and even the stock firmware has quite a lot of features. Knowing more about the Netgear’s options would be a plus; I’m sure it has OpenVPN, but I’d also be interested to know how its dynamic QoS compares to ASUS’ similar auto-QoS feature.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 5 years ago

      You would need someone to do a specific benchmark to really know. SoC frequency alone means little as far as processing power unless they are the same exact chip otherwise.

        • LoneWolf15
        • 5 years ago

        Point taken. I will say that the RT-AC87 (Broadcom dual-core 1GHz, ARM-based CPU) can handle OpenVPN client without a loss in speed. My ASUS RT-AC66 that came before it (Broadcom single-core 600MHz MIPS-based CPU) would drop WAN speed by 30-50% with OpenVPN on; the encryption was just too much for it.

        25Mbps down/6Mbps up connection, if that makes a difference.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 5 years ago

    So how much focus was put on security? There are a couple of articles about severe vulnerabilities found in numerous popular models, and the router manufacturers did not comment on them (aka they’re ignoring the problems).

      • hbarnwheeler
      • 5 years ago

      Security seems to be low priority for consumer router manufacturers. I wouldn’t hang my data off my gateway.

      • Krogoth
      • 5 years ago

      Wireless ethernet and security are almost mutually exclusive.

    • nanoflower
    • 5 years ago

    I’m confused as to why a router needs either USB 3.0 or ESATA storage capability. Is the idea that you would do streaming directly from this router instead of from a separate computer?

      • The Egg
      • 5 years ago

      Plug in an external hard drive and you have shared network storage. Or use the USB port for a print server.

      • Krogoth
      • 5 years ago

      To make a poor man’s NAS.

      • UberGerbil
      • 5 years ago

      I have an HDHomeRun and I have it set to record to an HD that is hanging off the same router it’s plugged into. Thus that traffic stays internal to the router, but the recorded stream is always available to any device on my network.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 5 years ago

    USB 3.0 on my (older) RT-N65U router seems to be capped at around 10MB/sec. I get much better performance by plugging it into my desktop and sharing it that way. Am I alone here, or has USB storage sharing been kind of slow?

      • scobywhru
      • 5 years ago

      USB 3 has a 2.4ghz switching frequency, this is important because so does the router. If either of the devices doesn’t have proper shielding they can not operate correctly that close to a wireless access point. Last time I looked there was very little shielding around the board of an Asus router, and cheap USB 3 devices have almost no shielding as well.

      Asus keeps a whitelist of devices that should operate at USB3 speeds and keeps all other devices at USB2 speeds if they aren’t there to eliminate the interruption of the 2.4ghz Wireless Signal.

        • swaaye
        • 5 years ago

        USB 2.0 is good for 30MB/s. derfunk isn’t even getting that. What I’ve seen is Samba and the USB interface max out a router CPU before even USB 2.0 would be saturated.

        The most expensive routers with dual cores @ 1+ GHz are a different story. I’ve read 60-90MB/s off of their USB 3.0 port.

      • swaaye
      • 5 years ago

      It’s probably the router CPU that’s the bottleneck.

      • continuum
      • 5 years ago

      Head over to SmallNetBuilder (or any other site that does through reviews of routers, including their storage interfaces)– quite a few modern routers do much, much better than 10MB/sec.

        • hbarnwheeler
        • 5 years ago

        Which other sites do reviews on par with those of SmallNetBuilder?

          • continuum
          • 5 years ago

          For routers, I honestly have no idea.

          Most other sites I know are pretty crude, SNB is the only one with sufficiently sophisticated methodology and equipment to do proper attenuation testing and whatnot…

      • Kharnellius
      • 5 years ago

      Very slow on my end. Even plugging directly into my laptop is disappointing but I know a fair amount of that has to do with my slow 5400 rpm HD.

        • Milo Burke
        • 5 years ago

        Probably not as much as you think. Most 5400 rpm drives can still hit 100 MB/s or more, some of them closer to 150 MB/s.

        Whereas most people plugging USB HDD’s into their routers seem capped at 10 MB/s, or 20 MB/s if they’re lucky.

        I have a good router and a USB 3 HDD. I set it up as network storage to wireless watch movies from my external drive. I get 70+ MB/s with the drive plugged into my computer, but with it plugged into the router, I can’t even stream 720p video without constant hiccups. Standard def streams fine, but who wants to watch that?

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