Netgear Wi-Fi 6 Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR1000 Review

Netgear Wi-Fi 6 Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR1000 Review

Any online gamer knows that network lag, or latency, can mean the difference between success and failure while in the heat of battle. With the Netgear Wi-Fi 6 Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR1000 router ($349.99), you can optimize your network for gaming using the well-designed DumaOS management console, and enjoy the benefits of the latest Wi-Fi 6 technologies. But while the XR1000 turned in solid scores on our throughput and file transfer tests, it couldn’t match the performance (or feature set) of our Editors’ Choice winner for gaming routers, the $399.99 TP-Link Archer AX11000 Next-Gen Tri-Band Gaming Router.

XR1000 Design and Features

One look at the XR1000’s sculpted black cabinet with red grillwork tells you that this router is designed for gaming. At 2.5 by 11.6 by 7.8 inches (HWD), it’s not nearly as massive as the TP-Link AX11000 (7.2 by 11.3 by 11.3 inches) and it only uses four antennas compared with the AX11000’s eight.

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In addition to Wi-Fi and WPS buttons, the top of the router holds LED indicators for internet activity, 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi activity, LAN activity, and USB activity. A power LED glows white when the router is up and running, and turns amber during firmware updates. The back panel contains four gigabit LAN ports and a gigabit WAN port, a USB 3.0 port, a reset button, a power jack, and a power button. The XR1000 lacks the multi-gig (2.5Gb) LAN port and support for link aggregation that you get with the TP-Link AX11000 and the Asus RT-AX86U gaming routers.

The XR1000 is powered by a 1.5GHz tri-core processor, 256MB of flash memory, and 512MB of RAM. It’s a dual-band AX5400 router capable of speeds of up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz (2x2) band, and up to 4.8Gbps on the 5GHz (4x4) band. It supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) technologies including 1024 QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation), 160MHz channel bandwidth, WPA3 encryption, OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple-Access), MU-MIMO simultaneous data streaming, and direct-to-client signal transmissions (beamforming).

4.5Outstanding$254.99See Itat AmazonRead Our TP-Link Archer AX11000 Next-Gen Tri-Band Gaming Router Review4.0Excellent$327.99See Itat AmazonRead Our Asus RT-AX88U Review 3.5Good$320.23See Itat AmazonRead Our Netgear Nighthawk AX12 12-Stream Wi-Fi 6 Router (RAX120) Review 3.5Good$353.89See Itat AmazonRead Our Netgear Nighthawk AX8 8-Stream Wi-Fi 6 Router (RAX80) Review 3.5Good$279.99See Itat AmazonRead Our TP-Link Archer AX6000 Review 4.0Excellent$237.69Check Stockat AmazonRead Our D-Link EXO AC3000 Smart Mesh Tri-Band Router (DIR-3060) Review 3.5Good$299.99See Itat Best BuyRead Our Linksys Dual-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router (MR9600) Review

You can manage the XR1000 from your phone using the Netgear Nighthawk mobile app for Android and iOS devices, but the web console gives you more control over your network. As with the Nighthawk XR700 we reviewed back in 2018, the XR1000 uses Netduma’s DumaOS, a slick interactive operating system designed for gamers who want to optimize online gaming performance, control which game servers they connect to, and monitor hardware usage. It opens to a Dashboard that contains graphs of CPU and bandwidth usage, Wi-Fi and internet status, installed apps (called RAPPs), and the status of your guest network.

A menu on the left side of the screen contains numerous settings options. The Geo-Filter setting can help you get the best online connection for your games by filtering out high-ping game servers, and the Ping Heatmap lets you ping game servers from all over the world and build a ping history that helps you choose the server with the best connection.

QoS settings provide a Congestion Control slider that limits bandwidth allocation to devices that tend to hog bandwidth, and a Bandwidth Allocation tool that lets you assign bandwidth priorities to specific application types. The Traffic Controller lets you control which clients can connect and when, and the Network Monitor displays bandwidth usage in real time.

Netgear Wi-Fi 6 Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR1000 Review

The Connection Benchmark utility lets you run network speed and ping tests and saves the results for historical purposes, and the System Information setting displays all system status data including CPU and RAM usage, wireless and guest network status, log files, and Internet status. Use the Settings option to configure content filtering, check traffic statistics, update firmware, and access advanced settings including port forwarding and port triggering, advanced wireless settings, and VPN service and VLAN settings.

The XR1000 doesn't come with the free anti-malware and age-based parental controls tools that you get with the above-mentioned TP-Link and Asus routers. However, you can pay $69.99 per year for a Netgear Armor subscription, powered by Bitdefender, that gives you unlimited device protection from internet threats, viruses, and other malware.

Installing and Using the XR1000

You can install the XR1000 using the Nighthawk mobile app or via the web console—both methods are quick and easy. I chose the latter and started by plugging in the router and connecting it to my modem. I connected a desktop PC to the router, opened a web browser, and typed in the address bar to launch the setup wizard. I confirmed that the router was connected to the internet, tapped Next, and the wizard ran SpeedTest to check my internet upload and download speeds. I tapped Next again, configured my Admin Account settings, and then configured my Wi-Fi SSID and password settings. After a two-minute firmware update, the installation was complete.

The XR1000 turned in some respectable scores on our throughput performance tests. Its score of 865Mbps on the 5GHz close-proximity (same room) test topped the chart, beating the TP-Link AX11000, the Linksys MR9600, and the Asus RT-AX86U, as you can see in the chart above. On the 5GHz 30-foot test, the XR1000 managed to edge out the MR9600, but came up a bit short against the RT-AX86U. The AX11000 led them all with an impressive score of 328Mbps.

The XR1000’s score of 122Mbps on the 2.4GHz close-proximity test was faster than what we saw with the MR9600, but slightly slower than the RT-AX86U and the AX11000. On the 30-foot test, the XR1000, RT-AX86U, and MR9600 all scored 38Mbps. The AX11000 led the pack with a score 67Mbps.

To measure file transfer performance, we move a 1.5GB folder containing photos, video, music, and office document files back and forth between an external USB 3.0 drive and a desktop PC (both connected to the router) in order to measure write and read speeds. The XR1000 garnered a speedy write score of 73MBps, tying the MR9600 for top honors, while the AX11000 and RT-AX86U delivered scores of 68MBps and 52MBps, respectively. Read scores were also impressive: The XR1000 managed 76MBps, beating the MR9600 by 6MBps and the RT-AX86U by 10MBps. The AX11000 led with a score of 85MBps.

Right heatmap shows 2.4GHz, left heatmap shows 5GHz

To test router signal strength, we use an Ekahau Sidekick Wi-Fi diagnostic device and Ekahau’s Survey mobile app to generate heat maps that show the router’s 2.4GHz and 5GHz signal strength throughout our test home. (Note: Ekahau is owned by j2 Global, the parent company of Ziff Media Group, the publisher of The white circle on the map above represents the location of the router and the colors represent signal strength. Dark green indicates the strongest signal, yellow is weaker, and gray indicates no measurable signal reception. As indicated on the map, the XR1000 did a fairly good job of broadcasting a strong 2.4GHz signal throughout most of the house, but the signal became slightly weaker in the garage and in the farthest corner of the house. Signal strength from the 5GHz band was nearly identical.

A Solid Gaming Router

With the Netgear Wi-Fi 6 Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR1000 router, you get the latest Wi-Fi 6 hardware and a slick interactive management console that makes it easy to choose the best game servers to connect to and tweak your network settings for optimal gaming performance. It delivered relatively strong performance in most of our throughput tests and provided speedy file transfers, but the TP-Link Archer AX11000 Next-Gen Tri-Band Gaming Router delivered better all-around performance, and offers lots of extras including 8 LAN ports, multi-gig WAN, link aggregation, and lifetime malware protection. For these reasons it remains our Editors’ Choice winner for high-end Wi-Fi 6 routers.

3.5See It$249.99 at AmazonMSRP $349.99View MoreView More

The Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 is a Wi-Fi 6 router designed for gaming. It delivers solid throughput and file transfer performance, but it's missing a few features you’ll find on similarly priced models.

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