Netgear is a multinational company that makes networking hardware for consumers, businesses, and service providers. It has been in business since 1996 and has proved its reliance over time. Its product line includes routers, DSL, switches, wireless access points, network-attached storage, and security IP cameras.
This article will focus on two of the latest Nighthawk series routers, which are the R7900 and R8000. The Nighthawk series is the major line of routers from Netgear, which is aimed at gamers and high-speed internet users.
Our Top Pick
What Do I Need to Know Before Buying?
Some important things you should know before buying a Netgear or any other router are.
Gaming is one of the more in-demand activities these days. You need not only high-speed GPU and motherboards but also a fast internet connection. This is why there are many routers made, keeping in mind this demand for a stable and fast connection.
There are many things that determine the actual speed of your internet. The number that is given on the box is not always what you get. The theoretical speed that is advertised with routers is the best-case scenario, but you might notice a difference when you actually use it. This is because there are multiple devices connected to a single router, and each device probably has multiple apps opened at the same time. The router has to divide its bandwidth among all these users, and no one gets the complete bandwidth. Gaming routers have features to counteract these problems like multiple frequencies and dynamic QoS, which we will get to in just a bit.
The other thing that helps is good hardware like processors and RAM. Gaming routers have dual-core processors and at least 256MB RAM. You can also get 512MB RAM for more money. The more the RAM, the more applications you will be able to run at a time without delays.
Just like radio signals, Wi-Fi signals work on a specific frequency or channel. These channels follow the international IEEE 802.11 standards. The latest standard includes the 802.11ac, which has compatibility with 5GHz frequency.
The two most common frequencies in Wi-Fi routers are 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The higher the frequency, the better the speed. So, of course, the newer, 5GHz is better. And because it is new, there is less traffic on this channel, which means less latency and congestion. The 2.4GHz frequency follows the 802.11n standard. This is an older and more common standard, which means it usually has more traffic, especially if you are in a crowded building. But this channel has more range than 5GHz. For normal use, the 2.4GHz is more than enough. You only ever need 5GHz for video streaming and gaming. This is why many routers have both frequencies. You can use either one. These are called dual-band.
There are also the newer tri-band routers that have one 2.4 GHz connection and two 5GHz connections. This comes in handy when more than one user wants to use the high-speed connection.
Quality of Service is the feature that determines which traffic is more important and which connections need more bandwidth. A router with a good QoS can make all the difference. It will ensure that every user has a smooth and stable connection. The most primitive type of QoS is where the router is pre-set to give priority to things like games and HD videos, and it does not take into consideration peer-to-peer applications.
Then there is the Adaptive QoS, which is used by companies like ASUS. This lets the user manually determine the priorities and bandwidths of different applications. The user can change both inbound and outbound bandwidth. The QoS technique used by NetGear is Dynamic QoS. This is a ‘smart’ or automated QoS service. It has the ability to identify different types of applications and determine which one needs more bandwidth without user involvement. The added bonus of Netgear is that you can run speed tests and set priorities yourself as well.
R7900 VS. R8000 Comparison
The R7900 (AC3200) and R8000 are both from the same series of routers and hence have many similar features with some performance differences. Here are some of their main specifications.
Just like putting a password on your phones, laptops, and accounts, you password protect your internet as well. A strong password with strong encryption is important to ensure that no hacker gets access to your network. If any unauthorized person gets access to your router, they can see all your internet history, spy on important conversations, and maybe even turn on your webcam. The strongest encryption used by routers is WPA2 with AES. Some routers also have options for enterprise use. This involves different passwords for different users, which lets the administrator monitor and restrict certain users.
The R8000 uses WPA2 encryption. Other than password protection, it also has features like a double firewall, DoS prevention, VPN, and guest access. The R7900 also has similar standards because all of Netgear’s routers use the same encryption methods and security applications, i.e., NetgearArmor. So, in this case, both the routers are a tie.
Wireless Speed Rating
The wireless speed rating is the speed in Mbps that is given with each router. The routers are categorized as AC or N, according to their speed. The N refers to the IEEE standard 802.11n, which is compatible with 2.4GHz frequency and is generally slower. The AC routers follow 802.11ac and can connect to the 5GHz channel, which can go as fast as 1Gbps or more.
The R8000 covers an area of 3500 square feet and has three separate channels. Two channels are 5GHz and have speeds of 1300Mbps each. The third channel is 2.4GHz with 600Mbps speed. This means the overall speed of this router is 3200Mbps hence the name AC3200.
The R7900 is also a tri-band router, but its overall speed is 3000Mbps. It has 450Mbps speed for the 2.4GHz channel and 1300Mbps for each 5GHz channels. So, in this case, our winner is the R8000.
A lot of our internet usage goes into video streaming. It is one of the more demanding processes, especially for HD and 4K streaming. This is why a router’s Quality of Service always gives priority to HD videos. This is also something users look for in their internet connection. The speed and frequency bands determine how good your experience will be.
The R8000 has a speed of 3.2Gbps, and it can connect to 50 devices at a time. The tri-band capability reduces lag and congestion on any one channel. There are also four wired Gigabit Ethernet ports for a dedicated connection with no interference. Meanwhile, the R7900 also has tri-band with four Ethernet ports, but the overall speed is 3Gbps. The performance difference is unnoticeable if there are fewer users. But the R8000 wins in this category, again.
The RAM of a router matter just as much as the RAM of a computer or mobile device. Because of the increasing internet usage, the number of bandwidth-demanding apps that run at a time is also increasing exponentially. If the router does not have enough RAM and good hardware, users will experience unstable connections and increased buffering.
The R7900 has a dual-core 1 GHz processor with 256 MB RAM and 128 MB flash. Similarly, the R8000 also has a 1 GHz dual-core processor and 256 MB RAM with 128 MB flash. Thus, when it comes to the RAM, it is a tie between the two units.
Multi-User Multiple Input and Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) is a wireless communication technology. This feature lets the router connect to or ‘speak’ to multiple users at one time. If the router does not have this feature, then devices have to wait for their turn to send and receive data. This increases latency and can affect overall performance. This feature is not always explicitly stated, but many of the newer AC version routers have this.
The R7900 does not seem to have an MU-MIMO feature, but the R8000 promises fast, uninterrupted connections for up to 50 devices.
R7900 and R8000 Differences
Both the R8000 and R7900 are from the same company and within that company, from the same series of routers. This means that most of their features are similar, and they follow similar standards, so there are only two differences we could find.
Routers need USB ports to connect to devices like printers. A USB port is also used to connect to hard drives to upload data on the internet. Some router manufacturers provide cloud services to store the data as well, like Netgear. The R8000 has one fast USB 3.0 and one older USB 2.0 port. The R7900, on the other hand, does not have the 2.0 port, but it does have a 3.0 one. This should not be a huge problem, though.
The Netgear R8000 was released with promises of exceptional speed and reliability, and that all came with a price. The R7900 was offered as a low-cost alternative to the R8000. After reading the review, you will have seen that these two routers have very similar properties, so if you are working on a budget and don’t have too many clients that will connect to the router, then buying R7900 is the better option. But if you have some extra money to spend, then go for the R8000.
Overview of Our Winner
Our pick of the best router, in this case, is the R8000. It has tri-band 3.2Gbps capability with 6 Beamforming + antennas to increase the range and stability of the connection. It has a dual-core processor for improved performance. For gamers, there are four dedicated wired Ethernet ports as well.
Other than the basic features, there are many additional technologies incorporated in this router. It is compatible with Alexa, and it covers a good range of 3,500 square feet. Up to 50 users can connect to it at a time without experiencing any major delays. The Dynamic QoS minimizes any congestion in one channel and automatically allocates bandwidth to each user and app, depending on their type.
This router uses Netgear Armor technology for security purposes. This feature includes firewalls, virus and malware protection, DoS prevention, and WPA2 password encryption. This is a paid feature with a 1-month free trial. It saves you the hassle of paying to different vendors for security. You get an all-in-one protection package. It is also compatible with the Circle app that lets you monitor and access your router remotely. It also acts as a parental control app as it includes time limit options and website filtering for different derives.
Netgear also has a personal cloud for data backup. You also get a secure surfing option with its VPN and Guest Wi-Fi connection to ensure that your data remains safe from unauthorized access. For set-up, you don’t need to call a technician. You can just use the Nighthawk App that has a simple interface that everybody can understand. It includes complete set-up instructions that help you start your router within 5 minutes.
The complete Nighthawk series is aimed at providing the best gaming experience. As each router is released, newer technologies and faster speed are incorporated in them. Some options are given as budget-friendly and some as professional high-grade. There are, of course, some performance differences in the low-priced products, but they don’t matter too much, especially if you don’t plan on using the router with data and bandwidth-intensive apps. So for the purpose of this article, the R8000 is the better performing and more reliable router. And the R7900 is the low priced alternative for users that don’t need extra performance.