A High Quality Wireless Router: Netgear Nighthawk X4 Review

As an ambassador for Netgear, I recently was sent the Netgear Nighthawk X4 wireless router to review. It was perfect timing as Laurence and I had just moved into our new apartment in Scotland and just had the previous owners’ very basic wireless router that was not designed for multiple devices or working for home on a daily basis as we do as travel bloggers. The Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350 WiFi Router is a 1.4GHz dual core processor router designed for people who want to use their wireless connections for high-speed gaming, streaming videos and music, and/or connecting multiple devices, as well as those who want to maximize their Wi-Fi signal in large homes. It is also well-designed for those who want simple access to their network storage. This high-end wireless router also comes with features such as security protection, Dynamic QoS, and USB ports. Also, the device has a sleek design that looks a bit like a spaceship with its 4 detachable antennas which Laurence finds very cool. We’ll share all the tech specs, our own experiences using this wireless Internet router, and who we think might be a good candidate for the Netgear Nighthawk X4. 

Netgear Nighthawk X4 router review best wireless Internet route

Basic Information for the Netgear Nighthawk X4 Router

Netgear has a reputation for producing some of the world’s fastest wireless routers and has a full line of wireless routers available designed to serve a variety of home and business needs. We also regularly use their Netgear Trek Travel Router while traveling which we’ve reviewed in a prior post. This is specifically a review for their Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350 WiFi Router.

Cost? 

Depending on where you buy the Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350, we found it online ranging from about USD $197.00 to USD $279, so do shop around!

Where Can I Buy It? 

It can be bought both in some electronics stores (e.g., Fry’s, Staples, Curry’s, PC World) as well as many online stores (e.g. New Egg, Fry’s, Amazon, Tiger Direct, Curry’s, PC World etc.) with the most options based in the United States. We found the best prices on Amazon for USD $216.00 with free shipping and at Fry’s for USD $196.00 with in-store pick-up only.

What if I need Additional Information?

You can read more information about the specifications and uses of the Netgear Nighthawk X4 router, ask questions, and get support for the device from Netgear here. You can also explore the full range of routers, adapters, wireless hotspots, and other products on the Netgear website.

A Review of the Netgear Nighthawk X4 Features

Given that Laurence is the one with the computer science degree and the one more qualified to understand all the tech specs, he will take over the rest of this review and provide you everything you need to know about the specs, uses, technical qualities, etc. as well as how it actually performed for us in our own apartment. Over to Laurence….

As a content creator and computer geek, high quality WiFi is a subject that’s very close to my heart. This is just as much the case at home as it is on the road – having a solid wireless connection that works throughout the house means we can get all our work done – from wherever we want to in the house – as well as enjoy a bit of downtime, with streaming movies and TV shows. Good WiFi means we can do all that across multiple devices without worrying about network drop outs in the middle of a video upload (or download!). So when Netgear offered to send Jess their latest home router, the Netgear Nighthawk X4, to review, naturally we said yes.

Netgear Nighthawk X4 router review best wireless Internet route

Obviously, it’s worth mentioning that fast in-house WiFi is no good without a decent internet connection in the first place – having a fast internet connection to the house means that you’re going to have the upload and download speeds you need to get all the content from the internet to your home network. However, having a fast internet connection won’t do you much good if your home network hardware isn’t capable of sharing it efficiently with all the devices in your house. And I don’t know about you, but even with two of us that can be a lot of devices – even my cameras can connect to the WiFi these days, and that’s on top of the Kindles, smartphones, laptops… it all adds up.

A few years back, I remember that consumer grade hardware really wasn’t up to the task of a multi-device household. Speeds would slow to a crawl, web sites would stop loading, and the only solution was to turn the device off and on again. And then repeat that process a few days later. Basically, these routers are little computers, and they can get overloaded if they don’t have powerful enough internals to handle the demands you put on them.

The Netgear Nighthawk  X4 router has a number of tricks up its sleeve to help ensure you get the fastest wireless performance possible in your house, with as many devices as you can connect to it. Let’s look at some of the features:

Netgear Nighthawk X4  Features

Wireless technology: 802.11ac, supporting up to 1733Mbps connection speeds on the 5GHz network. Also supports older 2.4GHz connections including 802.11b/g/n at speeds up to 600Mbps. Whilst the 5GHz channel offers much higher throughput, and comes with beamforming technology to maximise that throughput directly to your device, as a rule of thumb it has less range than the 2.4GHz channel, so sometimes you’ll have to fall back to the older technology if you’re a few rooms away from the router.

Wired Technology: 4x Gigabit ethernet ports. Of course, life isn’t always about wireless technology. Netgear haven’t skimped in this department – fitting this router with four gigabit speed wired ports. So if you prefer your network to be of the hard-wired variety, you’re going to have a good selection of ports to choose from. Great for those who want to wire in their desktops but also use phones, tablets, etc. on a wireless network.

Netgear Nighthawk X4 router review best wireless Internet route

USB & eSATA support: 2x USB 3.0, 1x eSATA. A lot of routers nowadays come with the option to add a USB drive, allowing you to have a single place on your network for sharing files, which can be a shared photo, movie, or music collection, for example. Fitting two USB 3.0 and one eSATA port on the Netgear X4 means you can use this router as a NAS (network attached storage) device, just by plugging any USB drive in, and you’re going to get excellent speeds by doing so, thanks to that USB 3.0 support. You can also plug in a USB printer, to share that wirelessly with your household.

Netgear Nighthawk X4 router review best wireless Internet route

Security Features: These days, keeping our computers safe from online threats is more important than ever. The Netgear X4 has a variety of security features, including two types of firewall and denial of service protection. On top of that, there are a variety of parental control features, the ability to set up a guest wireless network so visitors to your home can browse the web without accessing your network, and of course, the wireless networks themselves can be secured with WPA2.

Powerful CPU: Remember how I said that in the old days routers just weren’t powerful enough to handle situations with lots of devices, and would inevitably fall over? That definitely isn’t the case with the Netgear Nighthawk X4. It packs a dual core 1.4Ghz processor, capable of handling whatever demands you put on it.

Easy set up interface: If all of the above sounds complicated, don’t worry. This router is really simple to set up. First, you have to screw in the four antennas, then you just plug it in to your broadband connection. Once it’s powered up, you can connect to the wireless network using the code printed on the base of the router, and you’re away. There’s an app for Android and iPhone that lets you configure the router, or you can use any web browser and connect to the web interface. Whilst this isn’t quite as modern looking as you might hope, it’s logically laid out and easy to use, allowing you to see connected devices, change wireless settings, and so on.

Additional features: There are a few notable features worth mentioning that I’ve left out of the above. First, those four antennas are adjustable, and you can change their positioning easily, allowing for optimal wireless throughout. In addition, the router supports what’s known as QoS, or quality of service, meaning you can prioritize different types of network traffic. Say for example you have a tablet you always like to watch Netflix on – well, you can ensure that gets the most of your available bandwidth, rather than say, your kids gaming console. You can also set it up as a FTP server, meaning you can transfer files back to your home network when you’re traveling abroad using FTP software.

Netgear Nighthawk X4 router review best wireless Internet route

Our Experience with the Netgear Nighthawk X4

Of course, all the above is very nice, but what did we think of the actual router, and how was our experience? Well, in terms of physical impressions, it certainly has a striking look! Those four antennas give it an almost menacing look, with the angular lines reminding me of a stealth fighter plane. It’s also fairly large, requiring a decent footprint of space.

It’s very clearly labelled and easy to set up, and has a lot of lights along the front that can report status. In a nice touch, you can turn these lights off (apart from the power light, oddly), so as not to disturb you if you have to put the router in a bedroom or similar.

Netgear Nighthawk X4 router review best wireless Internet routeNetgear Nighthawk X4 router review best wireless Internet route

I found setting it up to be a cinch. There are four antenna, each of which has to be attached to a specific point. These are clearly labelled, and they just screw in, no tools required. Then I just had to connect it to my broadband modem, using the provided LAN cable (this is all clearly explained with diagrams), before powering it up. Then, I was able to connect to the router from my laptop using the supplied network ID and password, which is printed on the base of the router. Once I was connected through a web browser, I was taken to the router homepage, which has links to the main features. The first thing I did was to update the firmware which is the software that the router runs on.

We have a variety of devices that we connect to our wireless network. We currently have three Wi-Fi enabled cameras, 2 laptops 2 cell phones, and a Kindle. Let’s go through my experience with each of our 4 primary devices:

To start with, I have a Dell XPS 12 Windows 10 laptop which has a very fast Intel wireless card inside it. This supports the 5GHz channel, so can connect at those higher speeds. With the router in one room, and the laptop in the next room, it connects at 533Mbps. Depending on the distance from the router, that speed varies from 300Mbps up to 860Mbps.

Jess has a 13.3″ Macbook Pro with retina display, which also supports the 802.11ac standard, however it seems to have more trouble with the 5GHz network in our experience, with the connection often dropping. This has happened in other locations too, so I’m putting this down to an issue with the Macbook rather than the Netgear router. Connecting via the 2.4GHz network gives a speed of 156Mbps, whilst the 5GHz network connects at close to 800Mbs, both of which far exceed our actual internet bandwidth!

Netgear Nighthawk X4 router review best wireless Internet route

We also have a pair of smartphones. One supports the 5GHz bands (Jess’s Oppo N3), and happily connects at 390Mbps. The other one (my Oppo R7) is a bit older and unfortunately only supports slower networks speeds, but does connect happily with a very strong 54Mbps throughout the apartment.

As I mentioned, 5GHz technology is relatively new (2012 and onwards), so not everything supports it. For those devices that do support it though, you’ll generally get much better speeds which are less prone to interference – the 2.4GHz channel is shared with all sorts of other networking technologies, including wireless phone handsets and bluetooth devices, meaning interference can be a real problem.

We also compared it to our prior router. With the original router that we were using, it was tough to get reception in the kitchen. We are currently living in an old stone built terrace house apartment in Scotland, and the kitchen is an extension, which means the wireless signal has to pass through an exterior stone wall which is around 2 – 3 feet thick in order to reach the kitchen. That was too much for our little router before, but the Netgear has no problem at all cutting through the wall and providing excellent coverage. If we had a larger house, I have no doubt it would be able to get to all the nooks and crannies easily!

Netgear Nighthawk X4 router review best wireless Internet route

Is the Netgear Nighthawk X4 for you?

First, it’s worth being aware that to get the maximum speed from the Netgear Nighthawk X4 router, your devices need to support the newer 5GHz 802.11ac networking standard. Most newer laptops (2013 and onwards) and smartphones do support this standard, but it’s worth checking the specs first. As I mentioned, we do have a smartphone that doesn’t support 5GHz, so it just connects using the 2.4Ghz channels, which support 802.11b/g/n networks. This isn’t really a problem though – as I mentioned before, the 2.4GHz network offers better range, and if you have a large house across multiple floors and with many internal walls, you might find the 2.4Ghz network is more reliable. With connections of up to 600Mbps available, you’ll not be disappointed in the performance. We’ve thrown everything we can at it, with multiple devices connected, transferring files to and from the attached USB ports, and it’s handled everything without a hiccup. The only down point of this router is the price. It’s fairly expensive, and it doesn’t replace your existing internet connection – it’s just designed to power the network inside your home, rather than connect to the internet. But if you are on the market for a high-end wireless router for your home, this may be a good fit!

Netgear Nighthawk X4 router review

Our Overall Thoughts on the Netgear Nighthawk X4

Overall, we think the Netgear Nighthawk X4 has a cool design and provides excellent wireless reception throughout our apartment. We’ve also used the router as a USB hub, connecting an external 2TB USB drive to it, from which we can stream movies, music and photos to our different devices. This was really simple to do – we just plugged it in, and then it appeared on our network as a network drive. It was also really fast, copying files across the wireless networks at speeds in excess of 200Mbps, which is more than fast enough for streaming HD movies, even to multiple devices simultaneously. We also like that the Netgear Nighthawk X4 provides some additional security protection to our devices on the network.

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How important is your home Internet connection? Do you have any issues with your home wireless Internet connection? Have you used or would you consider using the Netgear Nighthawk X4? As always, we’d love to hear any advice, tips, or questions you may have!

**Disclosure: We were provided a complimentary Netgear Nighthawk X4 as travel writers in order to write this review; however, this article contains only our own honest thoughts and opinions.**