Netgear is claiming the “world’s fastest” title with the introduction of its new router, the Nighthawk X10. That is because it is based on Wireless AD technology, which is seemingly only supported by a handful of devices at this time. Heck, we are still getting caught up with Wireless AC connectivity, so do not expect a truckload of devices supporting the Wireless AD aspect of this router anytime soon. Still, it is worth a look for current devices and setting up the home or office for the next generation of wireless connectivity.
The Nighthawk X10 is an AD7200 class router, meaning its combined speeds total up to 7,200 megabits per second (Mbps). To break that down, it supports speeds up to 4,600Mbps on the new 60GHz band, up to 1,733Mbps on the 5GHz band, and up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. These latter two numbers are made possible because the router broadcasts four streams each.
As an example, the 5GHz band is broken down into four streams zipping along at 433Mbps each. The 2.4GHz band consists of four streams at 200Mbps each while the 60GHz band appears to provide one large stream at 4,600Mbps. That said, the whole combined maximum speed advertised by any router, such as the 7.2Gbps with this model, is somewhat misleading given that you will never have a device using all of those connections at once.
On a more technical level, the router is powered by a quad-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz that can support more than 20 simultaneous devices. The router adds a 160MHz channel to the 20MHz and 40MHz lineup for a larger transmission pipeline. In other words, the higher the number, the more data the router can cram in its connection to a device. Right now there is no indication that Netgear has simply crammed together two 80MHz channels.
The router also includes a 10-gigabit port that supports a fiber connection and two USB 3.0 ports for adding external-storage devices or a network-capable printer. There are also six-gigabit Ethernet ports as well, two of which support line aggregation mode that essentially combine to make one super-fast 2Gbps wired connection. The transmissions are delivered through four patent-pending external active antennas that amplify the Wi-Fi signal.
With all the technical stuff aside, the new Nighthawk X10 includes a built-in Plex Media Server. If you are not familiar with this, it is a popular solution for serving up stored media to the free Plex apps found on the gaming consoles, smartphones, tablets, Apple TV, and so on. The server portion scans for local media, throws it all in a library, and then provides access to the content through the Plex app from anywhere. These libraries can be shared with friends who also use the Plex app.
With that in mind, users could essentially store all the media they want to view wherever they go on a dedicated external storage device connected directly to the router. That way, there is no dependent PC or network-attached storage device involved. The drawback to using Plex is that customers will need to pay a subscription for premium features like Plex DVR, offline viewing, parental controls, and more. The router comes with a free three-month Plex Pass to check out the full service.
The Nighthawk X10 is not the only Wireless AD router in town. Customers can also purchase the TP-LINK Talon AD7200 ($350) and the Acelink BR-6774AD (price unknown). The market is not exactly crowded right now, but get ready for more Wireless AD units throughout 2017. Netgear’s Wireless AD solution is available for a meaty price of $500 at local retail and online shops nationwide.