Before I start though, I am a NETGEAR Ambassador and I received this product for free in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. You guys know my reviews already, and you know they are already honest and unbiased, but they wanted me to mention it.
Now on to the review.
As our ISP’s slowly release more and more bandwidth and more and more devices around the house become WIFI enabled we need a router that can support them all at full speeds, but maybe not all the devices need to be as fast as others. As you will learn, the routers ISP’s like Verizon, Comcast, AT&T (and more of course) will provide don’t always provide you with Ethernet ports or Wi-Fi that can support the speeds the bandwidth hungry devices require without paying a little extra and even then, the features the router they provide are lack lustering at best. Don’t settle for standard.
Today I will be providing you a review of the Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Smart WiFi Router R7500. This router looks be anything but standard.
This looks to be like a pretty mean, ultra-powerful router… but looks can at times be deceiving. So, let’s take a look at some of the features and specs.
Features and Specifications
- Quad-Stream AC2350 WiFi
- Data transfer rate up to 2.33Gbps (600+1733Mbps)
- IEEE® 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz
- IEEE® 802.11 a/n/ac 5GHz
- Next generation Wave 2 WiFi
- 4 x 10 / 100/ 1000M Ethernet Ports
- 1 x WAN Port
- Qualcomm 1.4GHz dual core processor
- Dynamic QoS bandwidth prioritization by application
- External Ports for External Storage
- Ready SHARE USB
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports
- 1 x eSATA port
- Four high-performance detachable external antennas
- Beamforming+ for maximum Wi-Fi range
- Manage your home network with NETGEAR genie
- Open source router for customizations
- Support for IPv6
- On/Off LED Light switch
- 128MB flash
- 256MB RAM
- 1 Year Hardware Warranty
Lot’s to talk about here, but let’s start with an unboxing
Ok, so now that it unboxed, rather than talking about the router and what it can do, I figured maybe you want to know how to setup it up first, so let’s start with that. Throughout the review, as I mentioned I show you how to set it up and use various features this router offers. I try to go over everything to give you a better understanding of what this can and cannot do.
So when you plug the router in, aside from connecting it to both power and the ISP’s router, you have to go to netgear.com/genie. You can download it to your PC, Mac, iPhone, Android tablet, and you can also download it from the Apple Appstore, Google Play and the Amazon Appstore. It’s only a 40.8Meg install, at least for the PC.
You go through the prompt asking you where you want to install the software; I chose the default layout and clicked Next.
When the download is done, as usual with any program, just double click on the program you just downloaded and go through the prompts.
When that’s done, click Continue and you are prompted with the final prompt, since I am going to run the software immediately I leave the “Run NETGEAR Genie” selected and click “Finish”
When the software first starts up, even if you have UAC disabled you will get a Windows Security Alert, just click “Allow Access”.
Then you are prompted with the simple looking interface, Networking is not the easiest and I think with this interface it makes it a little friendlier, nice touch I think, but let’s see how it really works.
If you noticed the WiFi Connection reading “Not Enabled”, that is because the device using the NETGEAR genie desktop software does not having a wireless connection, only an Ethernet one.
Wait, it shows there are 8 devices connected to the machine?
Oh yeah, I have this router connected to another router that has connections into it that is connected to another switch… I have a lot of connected devices and that’s only over Ethernet (wired networking), nice interface.
So moving on to the Router Settings, we are greeted with the Login; it’s listed in the manual.
This might work for a few, but you might have a modem/router provided by my ISP as well, I have to place a check where it reads “Enter router’s IP address manually”, but it still didn’t work for me so I jumped back into the manual.
The manual reads that you have to connect a computer to it first,… I had it connected to the modem/router provided by my ISP, I needed to connect it directly to my computer, whoops, I fixed that and then it reads you have to go to www.routerlogin.net,… Now I am seeing a section telling me that there is an important update to avoid a conflict with my ISP and it changed the IP of this router to 10.0.0.1, it has some intelligence, after all it is a Smart Router.
So I clicked continue and it started connecting, then completes.
I will blur out the SSID’s and password, as mine will be different than yours plus for my own security then I click Next.
Once it connected after clicking Next, I was brought to a Registration page but behind that you can see the “R7500 Success Page” so sweet, I am on. Now we can go back to the NETGEAR genie.
I entered that IP that was just updated to 10.0.0.1 under “Enter router’s IP address manually”, and click OK, and then magically I am met with this new screen. As I mentioned before, I blurred out the password, it also presents a QR code with your password, I had to blur that out as well.
So, I also connected to it on my Tablet Express X10 tablet, no problem. I then put the tablet to sleep then woke it back up and I got back on but when I checked Network map it is not there, it was there when I first connected though with my tablet. This does concern me a bit because of network security, so I start looking through “Router Settings” and find “Router Update” when clicking the right arrow on the tabs and I click “Next” then it begins scanning for a newer version.
Seconds later it reports that there is a newer version going from 220.127.116.11 to 18.104.22.168, so lets start the update.
OK, well the process will take anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes, just click OK and go grab a cup of water.
After the flash, I was brought back to the Home Page and saw that the Internet Status showed in red, that it needed to be fixed, so I clicked fix it.
Now that everything is updated, I decided to go outside with my tablet, towards the side of my house that normally gets no signal, but a bit further away and as you can see in the picture, my tablet now instead of getting below 10% signal strength, it get 90% signal strength, truly amazing.
Now I will say, while outside I downloaded the Netgear Genie software and entered the basic password, which most people would have guessed and it worked, so make sure you change your routers password
To change the password, go to http://www.routerlogin.net and enter your default login and password.
From here, make sure you are on the advanced tab, and then click “Administration” and “Set Password”.
You will be prompted for your current login and password, enter that here.
Then enter you original password, then your new password and the new password again to make sure you got it right before and finally, click “Apply”. As a side note, you don’t need to but I would recommend clicking “Enable Password Recovery” in case you do forget your password to ask you some security questions, just to make sure it’s you, and then click “Apply”
After you click “Apply” it will as you for your new User Name and Password. This will be the Username and Password you will use from now on to enter and make changes to your routers settings.
When that’s done, click on the “Basic” tab, and just when you thought you had changed your password, there’s one more. Click on the “Wireless” button.
Here under “Security Options (WPA2-PSK), you will find “Password (Network Key):, enter your new password there.
Then you will be informed about Wi-Fi Alliance guidelines, click OK.
This will now be the password to connect to your wireless network. For security purposes, it is best to have 2 different passwords for your Router settings and entering your Wi-Fi.
I currently have a 25/25 Up/Down connection with Verizon and here is how my wireless setup scored.
Now mind you, it’s not the fastest, but not because of this router, but because of my ISP, I can’t afford better right now but this little change has already sped up my wireless by so much. Below you can see my speed using Verizon’s wireless router and above, the Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Smart WiFi Router R7500’s. For both tests, I was 2 feet away from each router… amazing difference. One other thing to note, I tested each 3 times, the results were within a few kilobytes on each. So far, it is looking impressive, but wait,…. there’s more.
This router houses 2 x USB3.0 ports and 1 x eSATA port to connect external devices to.
While I don’t have an eSATA device, I do have a USB3.0 device, the WD Elements 2TB WDBU6Y0020BBK-NESN.
It’s been a great device so far, but let’s see what it can do here. So I first plugged in the hard drive to the USB 1 port, I expected to see something pop up, but no such luck there, so I opened the Netgear Genie software and clicked on the “ReadySHARE” tab.
From within the “ReadySHARE” tab, I left the default radio button selection “Basic” and clicked “Continue”.
When I clicked “Continue” it brought me to this screen where it just plainly shows an IP, but it’s in blue so I clicked on it, thanking it was a hyperlink.
Thankfully I was right and it opened up a Windows Explorer window showing me a folder named “USB_Storage”
When I clicked this folder, I found the entire contents of my drive, all through the router, so it was a network share of sorts; I was able to reach this drive from all the computers in my house.
I was able to access it even on my Android Device, namely my Tablet Express X10 using ES File Explorer, that’s pretty cool.
Well, so now I am curious (as I am sure you are as well, how fast is it), I decided to transfer an ISO from my USB hard drive, connected to this router, connected to my PC. Let’s check out how fast it is.
Ok, so now we know its fast, that speed also works with media devices using DLNA. DLNA, is a way that multimedia devices, such as the Xbox One, PS4, Android and Apple iPad, iPhone, Laptops, Desktops, PC, Windows Media Player and interact with each other on a local network, powered by this router. DLNA compliant devices can stream locally stored videos, audio and pictures over your network through UPnP, or Universal Plug and Play. You can stream them from your PC, the External hard drive or anything connected to this router.
The instructions are not too clear on how to start it up, so I will give you a little hands on with it. First off, start Netgear Genie and click on “My Media”
From here, click on the “Start Service” play button to start services.
That will instantly start searching your network for DLNA compatible devices. Here you can see it found my PC and BubbleUPnP Media Server on my Dragon Touch X10, I had to install that to be able to play DLNA media from it. Afterwards, all devices I connected with BubbleUPnP started showing up in MyMedia, though my PS4 didn’t show up, but it worked perfectly, let me show you.
So there you saw it, 4 wireless devices playing 4 different movies off of my PC that is connected to the Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Smart Wi-Fi Router R7500, of course you can use many more devices as well.
As I mentioned in the specs above, this is a dual band router, so it can support 2.4GHz at B/G/N and 5GHz at A/N/AC, so you have some very nice options there to cover anything and everything WIFI. With that, it has 4 Antenna’s to make sure the signal gets everywhere. If you have watched my other reviews where I have had to use WIFI, you know the signal around my house was weak, so weak I had to buy a repeater, and while it works, it’s only a G and it still has a bit of an issue getting all over my house… will I still have the same issue without all of that, only using the Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Smart Wi-Fi Router R7500, not sure, let’s find out?
Pretty strong signal huh.
Well, there are a few more features on this router, there is ReadySHARE Vault Utility. ReadySHARE Vault Utility is included in this bundle as a free backup and recovery software developed by Netgear, save you a few bucks and avoids you needing to buy a separate backup utility. Let’s see what it can do.
To start, open up the Netgear Genie again, if it’s not already opened. On the top of Genie, you will see a little advert to click her to download the ReadySHARE vault utility, in case you don’t see it there; you can click the “ReadySHARE” tab along the side of Genie.
On the “ReadySHARE” tab, click on the ReadySHARE Vault radio button and click Continue. Clicking continue, will start downloading the 19.8Meg file.
When it’s done downloading, you would click on it to start installing. Basically, click continue, I agree to the License agreement and then select the location where you would like the software installed and then next again.
Once it’s done installing, it will open up.
So as you know, I have the 2TB WD drive already plugged into the router and it selects that. From this mention, you can select to “Use Fast Backup Option”. A nice feature, it allows you to use system resources to speed up the backup, the default options will use the resources on the router, which are still powerfull, but of course the PC will usually be faster and you can start the backup from here as well.
The “Restore” section allows you to restore backups and the “Settings” section allows you to edit already setup options, let’s go into options.
Let’s see what the “Backup” tab shows.
When you click the Backup tab, I click on Show More drop down under “Step 1: Select Backup Drive” we can see any additional drives plugged into the router. I plugged in a smaller drive just to show you the fact that you can select drives, not just the one it picks for you.
Further down, under “Step 2: Select Files and Folders”, you can chose what and where you would like to backup files from. Please note, this means it will not do a full back up where you can recover a failed system, but you can do a backup where you are able to recover files, not as useful as a full recovery in the likes of a failed drive, but still incredibly valuable because you can recover files.
The above screenshot also shows you that you can password protect your backup.
Click on the “Settings” tab long the top,
I have expanded all of the options. From top to bottom, we can see that it gives you the option of selecting backup limit so you don’t fill up the drive you are backing up to, another nice option in the “Backup Options” section is the “Enable Presentation Mode” that allows you to pause your backups when you are using your PC for something like watching a movie, presentations or playing games.
Below that, we can see it also allows you to set date and times to schedule your backups, a nice feature there and then below that, you can have it email you if errors occur.
Enough with the options there, let’s go back to the Dashboard. Here I will click “Start Smart Backup Now” and then thing start appearing
It flashed by a bit quickly telling me my backup started but then the dashboard changed and it started showing me the backup process.
Again, it will not do a full drive backup for a failed drive recovery process, but when you get that new drive to replace a failed drive at least you are able to recover your data.
Once the backup is complete, you would click on the “Restore” tab.
From here you can see everything you have backed up and you can select individual files to restore or just restore the entire lot of files and click “Next”. From the Restore options, you can select where you would like the files restore to and if the file is already there, how you would like to handle the restore. After you have selected all the files you would like to restore and where you would like to restore to, just click “Restore Now” and after sometime, all your files are back… a life saver.
ReadySHARE also has another nice option named ReadySHARE Priting. ReadySHARE Printing allows you to plug your printer into 1 of 2 USB ports on the router so that you can print wirelessly. You will need to download and install the printer drivers to each device but it will work. Aside from Windows devices, it also allows you to print from your Apple Mac computers as well as iPad’s or iPhones, so it is Airprint compatible as well using the Mac genie app, it has great options and features for everyone. Though ReadySHARE Printing does not seem possible with Android devices, would have been nice, but oh well, not a deal breaker for me.
Some of us sleep in the same room where we have our routers, so the blinking lights can be a bit annoying.
But Netgear thinks of everything, they included a switch to turn off the lights, without having to turn off the entire router of put tap over the lights,… yeah I have done that before.
If you turn the router around you can see how I turned it off.
Notice on the left of the picture, there is an LED switch? If you turn it to the “Off” position it will turn off all of the lights on the router except the power light, if you switch it on, it will turn them all on, blinkers and all.
The back of the router also gives me the opportunity to show you the 4 x Ethernet ports and the “Internet” port, or WAN port where you would connect the cable from your ISP’s router to connect to the internet. In taking these photo’s I mistakenly hit the power button on the right of this picture and turned off the internet for my family, they got a little mad, but its ok, haha.
If you want to check out more on it, maybe that I have not covered, check it out on Netgear’s site by clicking this link: Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Smart WiFi Router R7500
So what are the pros and cons?
- 2 x USB 3.0 Ports and 1 eSATA port
- 4 x Gigabit Ethernet ports
- Genie software to allow you to manage and configure the router and its features
- Compatible with
- Apple Mac’s
- Android Tablets
- Apple iPad’s
- Ability to stream movies, pictures, music and data from devices connected to the external ports with DLNA
- Amazingly strong signal with BeamForming+
- Includes backup software
- Provides visual representation of everything connected to the router
- Ability of Update the firmware of the router
- Ability to print wirelessly from the PC within Windows and Apple products
- Compatible with
- Backup software only backs up files and folders, does not do a complete backup in the event of a drive failing then ability to restore it without having to reinstall the entire OS and recover files individually. Should have included some sort of PXE restoration option to allow you to boot your PC through your network card to do a complete restore if the board/NIC support it.
- Does not include ability to print from Android Devices
- Instructions are not always 100%, I did google a few things. For example, how to get DLNA to work properly.
Well there you have it folks, in this review, I have shown you tons of the features the Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Smart WiFi Router R7500 has in store for you, surely I have missed something. It is feature rich and for everything it includes and does, the price is actually pretty decent. While I found 3 things wrong with it, they are not huge things and they never said they could do those things, it does everything it says it can and for that, the Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Smart WiFi Router R7500 gets 4.5 out of 5. I can get passed the backup part and maybe the instructions because we can figure things out, but if it can print off of an Apple device and a PC, why not Android?
4.5 is great, maybe not the best but they do offer better models too, though of course they come with a price tag, so its a 4.5 Recommended to buy.
Check it out on Amazon by clicking this link: amzn.to/1XRcPI7