At a glance
NETGEAR once again shows why they are one of the premier names when it comes to powerful and fast routers with the Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700.
As the name implies, this NETGEAR router is designed to optimize one's gaming experience to its full potential.
Of course, your ISP will be a huge factor here – but if you have lightning-fast internet, expect the Pro Gaming XR700 to push it to its utmost limits.
The Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 is a tri-band wireless router and features aesthetic beats that are geared towards the 'gamer' crowd with its modern and sleek build.
How does the Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 stack up and compare against its competition?
Does the steep price tag a worthwhile investment? Continue reading our review to know the answer and more about this impressive NETGEAR gaming router.
Features 802.11b/g/n/ac/ad wireless standard.
Tri-band technology – 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 60GHz
Equipped with up to 6 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports and 1 WAN port.
Packed with advanced router features such as MU-MIMO and Beamforming.
Comes with dual aggregation features.
4 x 4 internal and external antennas.
AD7200 tri-band standard means users can attain (theoretically) speeds of 800Mbps + 1,733Mbps + 4,600Mbps.
x2 USB 3.0 ports
Designed for Gamers
The Pro Gaming XR700 router takes a pretty similar approach with most of NETGEAR's top-tier routers. It features a sleek and angular design and a color tone of matte black and red accents.
There is also a cool mesh upper cover that features the Nighthawk logo. This is not only there as an additional visual flair, but also for improving the unit's overall ventilation.
Throughout our test, the XR700 barely got hot enough that we were worried about overheating issues. In terms of size, the XR700 has quite a substantial girth at 2.5 x 9.6 x 12.7 inches (HWD) which means it will take up considerable space on your countertop, shelf, or wherever else you plan on placing it.
If you are familiar with other NETGEAR Nighthawk routers, then you will notice some similarities between the XR700 and the R9000.
However, while the R9000 router seems to exude a more professional tone, the XR700 takes a more experimental route with its design.
Gone is the red 'cross' shaped theme of the R9000 in favor of the sleeker V-shaped red accent that the XR700 uses.
Built for Gamers
The Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 is packed with multiple ports making it highly ideal if you prefer a wired internet connection.
The XR700 is equipped with up to 6 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, two of which you can combine via link aggregation to boost overall speeds further.
There is also a 10Gb SPF + LAN port for those who have access to a 10Gb network. Additionally, there are two USB 3.0 ports that you can find over on the right side of the router.
The XR700 features four built-in antennas that are equipped with beamforming+ technology, which significantly improves the wireless signal. Another notable aspect of the XR700's design is the 15 LED status indicators that dot the front of the router.
If you prefer a more discreet router that does not look like blinking Christmas lights, then you will be glad to know that the XR700 has an LED on/off switch as well.
Due to the plentiful LED indicators, users can quickly distinguish the status of the router with just a glance. Also, besides the LED switch are the WPS button and the Wi-Fi on and off switch as well.
With how many LAN ports are available, the XR700 is without question designed for not only gaming but also as your primary entertainment and multimedia network hub.
Fast Router with a Quick Setup
You can expect the NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 to provide a user-friendly experience when it comes to the setup process.
Once you have the router in place and plugged in, you can finish the setup within 10 minutes tops. You can also use the Nighthawk app, which you can install in your Android or iOS smartphone to configure the basic router settings.
I prefer using the official NETGEAR router web portal during the initial installation process as it does provide broader options and optimization.
The installation and setup procedure for the Nighthawk XR700 is as straightforward as they come. Once you have the router plugged and booted, you will need to log in to the default web portal for the NETGEAR router. You will then be asked to input the login credentials.
Since this is your first time booting up the router, it will have a factory default username and password. Don't have an idea what the default login credentials are? Easy - you can find the login information underneath the device.
If this is your first NETGEAR router, then you will be required to create a NETGEAR account. This is a simple two-step process that you can complete in an instant.
It is important to note that you are given the option to connect your Facebook account to the NETGEAR system which allows for a quicker login – this is not mandatory. You can skip this if you are worried about your data privacy.
You are then given a choice to use the Setup Wizard or the Advanced Setup option; I recommend you go with the former.
The whole process will take around a couple of minutes. Once completed, you are then required to change the SSID and password of your Wi-Fi.
Make sure to jot down your login credentials. Afterward, you can check/tweak the router configuration via the web portal or by using the Nighthawk app.
Nighthawk App Router Configuration
What I genuinely enjoy about Nighthawk routers is the wealth of configuration options that this system comes with.
However, if you genuinely wish to maximize overall optimization, you will need to utilize two different interfaces: the default Nighthawk firmware and the DumaOS program.
The drawback here for those who prefer tweaking their network for optimization regularly is that the two interfaces are separate, which means you will need to switch between the two manually.
This makes fully configuring the XR700 a bit clunky as the DumaOS is not streamlined to work in tandem with the NETGEAR web portal. This is a little oversight on NETGEAR's part that I do hope they rectify in the future.
Functionalities and Features
Enhanced Configuration but Rough Execution
One of the most prominent features that the Nighthawk XR700 has going for it is its two integrated interfaces.
As we have noted earlier, this has been a double-edged sword for the XR700 as while it offers top-notch optimization for users, the fact that it is not streamlined with each other makes switching between the two clunky and awkward at times.
If you can get over the cumbersome nature of the two interfaces, then you have a highly versatile gaming router in your hands.
Going to the Nighthawk app, you will find up to six tabs on its main menu: Wi-Fi Setting, Device Manager, Internet Speed, Guest Wi-Fi, Traffic Meter, and Support. The overall design of the Nighthawk interface is nice and tidy with each important icon on a clear display.
I did get some notes that the app is not optimized for smaller screens so you might need to do some scrolling if you are using the Nighthawk app via smartphone.
Versatile Mobile App
What I like about the Nighthawk app is that compared to other router mobile apps, this one provides more flexibility when it comes to tweaking your network.
You will be able to access vital information and adjust specific router settings on the fly. The app utilizes the Smart Connect feature, which allows users to change the SSID and password for all networks and also consolidate it into one single system.
Another vital feature here is the Quality of Service (QoS) setting, which allows users to prioritize which connected device or client will get the top spot for bandwidth allocation.
To further help you keep track of your network, the Traffic Meter displays the amount of data that is going through the router. There is also a Speedtest feature to keep track of the router's throughput speed.
In-Depth DumaOS for Gaming Optimization
For those who wish to optimize the XR700 for gaming fully, the DumaOS will do the job nicely. One of the most significant gaming features that the DumaOS provides is its Geo-Filter capability.
This feature allows users to select the best location for optimum network latency. What this means is that you will be able to play with and against other players in servers that will offer the best experience (significantly less lag and lower latency).
The Geo-Filter also comes with a list of supported games that are already pre-config for optimum performance.
One of the nitpicks that I've encountered with using the DumaOS is how cluttered the interface can appear at times.
This is due to the stacked information and settings that are available at your fingertips. Additional notable features found in the DumaOS include the ability to create your VPN.
Overall, the DumaOS is a welcome addition for those who require a powerful gaming-centric router in their arsenal.
Top-Marks Across the Board
In terms of throughput speeds, the XR700 managed to hold its own against the top routers in the business. Within 15-feet, connected devices managed to maintain 850Mbps speeds.
The speed also dropped out slower the further we got from the router. At 150-feet away, our speed test still clocked in at an impressive 550Mbps.
Please take note that we organized this test in an optimized setting, meaning an open area with barely any obstructions between the device and the router.
Putting the XR700 in a real-world setting, we noticed that the beamforming+ technology slightly falls short compared to other routers with the same feature.
For example, the Wi-Fi signal of the XR700 was affected considerably more, and we saw a steady dip the more rooms we placed in between the device and the router.
Overall, we reckon users will see a 20% more drop in throughput speeds compared to other high-end routers in the market.
You can expect the XR700 to deliver within the middle ground when it comes to signal strength.
That said, the wireless range is not precisely the selling point of the Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700.
The XR700 is best suited for close-range use, as is the case for power gamers whose PC or gaming rig is usually in the same room as the router.
If this is the case, then the XR700 will perform above and beyond your expectations with throughput blasting over 800Mbps.
Again, the XR700 router is specifically designed to accommodate and maximize your online gaming experience.
This is where its strength lies. If you compare it to other routers that provide all-around performance, you will notice that the XR700 will somewhat fall short on certain aspects.
However, when it comes to improving your online gaming experience – it is on a whole other level.
Since the Pro Gaming XR700 is packed with helpful gaming features and a tri-band wireless standard with advanced router features, it is not surprising to know that this gaming router comes with quite a high price tag as well.
It utilizes the latest wireless technology (802.11ad) and is equipped with MU-MIMO technology as well as a dedicated 10GB SPF + LAN port.
This router was built for gaming, and it offers the best performance for this particular use. Add the DumaOS, and that price seems to be pretty reasonable.
The Nighthawk XR700 is a worthwhile investment for dedicated gamers due to its features that cater to that audience.
While it does fall short when it comes to its Wi-Fi range, and it mostly focuses on the 802.11ad wireless standard – which is not that common yet, it still manages to deliver impressive results in overall throughput speeds.
Just keep in mind that the Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 will mostly be appreciated by power gamers and internet users that demand fast internet speeds.