Review: Netgear Nighthawk X4S
4.0Overall Score

Price (RRP): $549
Manufacturer: Netgear

Modem routers need not be chunky things, and Netgear intends to prove it, letting us play with its Nighthawk X4S, a network device designed to keep the speeds up with the size down. Does it pull it off?

Features

Now that our households have so many wireless devices, we can’t just rely on the same basic modem router anymore, and basically, the more device you have in your home, the more strength you’ll need.

And it’s not just a battle of devices either. No, this is more about concurrent connections.

If you have kids downloading or playing video games, you watching TV, and someone else listening to music, modern network devices need to work out how to balance all of this activity to provide a solid and comfortable network life.

Unfortunately, generic routers aren’t designed with this in mind, at least not yet, and so if you have quite a few occupants all struggling to get online and make the most of the bandwidth in your home, you need something with just a touch more grunt.

Fortunately, that’s what Netgear’s Nighthawk range has been about in the past few years, with this range of devices all about the speed and often slightly more top-tiered tech you can find in this category.

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Inside Netgear’s Nighthawk X4S, you’ll find specs deserving of that high-speed sounding “Nighthawk” name, with a dual-core 1.4GHz processor to handle the activity passing through it and a chipset capable of working in the 802.11ac network technology, which is also backwards compatible with the 802.11a/b/g/n networks.

The chipset and the way this has been put together are super important, too, because while other router companies are delivering more than the two expected bands that high-end routers often feature, the X4S keeps to the two and tries to improve on the technology, utilising what it calls “Quad Stream” technology to separate its two bands over the 800Mbps maximum on its 2.4GHz and 1733Mbps maximum on its 5GHz bands.

This works in tandem with a second-generation Multi-User Multiple-In, Multiple Out technology more succinctly shortened to MU-MIMO. Specifically, the Wave 2 MU-MIMO Netgear relies on works with the quad-stream component to allow up to three devices to talk to the router at once.

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In theory, this could allow for better and more stable quality of service (QoS) control, meaning the multitude of devices in your home may function better when they’re all trying to connect as the router is deciding who gets the priority as and when they need it by balancing the streams.

Beamforming also plays into this, a technology that allows the modem router to communicate with antennas to localise on their specific needs and strength.

Regardless, as mentioned before, you get two sets of bands, with the 800Mbps and 1733Mbps coming together to equal 2533Mbps, or 2.53Gbps of wireless output for the home.

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