The IoT (Internet of Things) age is here and it demands better & faster connectivity to power a huge selection of electronics that have now gone “smart”. Everything from TVs, watches, phones, refrigerators, entire homes, cars and even hair brushes are now online. Most home users do however get stuck when it comes to choosing a powerful router to connect their various smart electronics with experiencing severe connectivity problems.
In the article that follows we have a look at the top 3 NetGear routers that are essential for homes that have a multitude of smart devices that require constant connectivity. While there are numerous other respectable brands that offer excellent routers, we will specifically look at NetGear due to the variety & price ranges that the brand offers.
I have intentionally avoided device specifications that will make no sense to non-tech savvy users. I have summarized important aspects that are required, this is not a router review article rather a simplified guide to help home users choose the best wireless NetGear router.
The Best NetGear Routers VPN in 2017
So, which is the best NetGear Router? This analysis depends on a number of factors that we will discuss later on. Based on popular reviews and analysis across the internet the following NetGear routers should be considered when you have different underlying needs like gaming, high definition streaming, torrent downloading, and connecting a large number of smart devices.
- NetGear NightHawk X4S (D7800)
The NightHawk X4S D7800 is the upgrade to the X4 R7500 model and boasts super speed transfers among other brilliant features. The X4S D7800 was designed for larger settings, for instance a home with a number of users who stream video, download media, connect smart-wearables, communicate over VoIP and game online.
Embedded with what is known as MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) technology the X4S R7800 is faster and offers an extended connectivity range compared to NetGear’s cheaper routers. This is especially good when you have different devices that use varying radio bands. Devices can work without interfering with each other’s connection receiving maximum available bandwidth.
Being a higher end router the X4S includes a VDSL2 modem so you can use it instead of your provider’s modem/router. The X4S also includes two USB 3.0 ports with eSATA (External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) built-in so you can easily backup data using the router or make it a network drive.
Gamers and streaming users will love the fact they can configure the QoS (Quality of Service) scheduler to ensure that there is a steady bandwidth stream for their various activities like Netflix, CounterStrike, DOTA 2, HBO Now etc. When used over 5GHz radio band the X4S has been tested to offer majestic speeds close to 71Mbps, 2.4GHz radio band speeds are very poor though close to 15Mbps.
Now, by no means is the X4S the pinnacle of router design. It is bulky and comes with a really old UI complicated for beginners and too outdated for expert users. Priced between a lavish $270 and $300 (depending where you buy from), the NetGear X4S is ideal for gamers, streaming fans, and households with more than 15 smart devices.
- AC-1900 NightHawk Smart WIFI Router (Model R7000)
Termed an ideal home router by CNET and PC Mag, the R7000 is powered by its superb 1GHz processor making it one of the fastest NetGear routers operating on the 802.11ac radio band. For VPN users the R7000 is good news since it offers both an OpenVPN server and support for 3rd party firmware like DDWRT. The router is also a brilliant lower end choice for online gaming and HD video streaming plus it’s an excellent choice for torrent downloaders.
The AC-1900 can also be connected with external storage to backup data from your devices and is a great choice for Apple’s Time Machine backup tech. A test by ixChariot concluded that the router can transfer 444.8 Mbps over 2.4GHz and 315.2 Mbps over 5GHz band, not the best in the industry but good enough.
The R7000 offers a USB 2.0 slot on the front and a USB 3.0 jack in the back allowing you to connect external HDDs to it and use them over the network. The NetGear Genie UI just makes everything from configuring the router to configuring your hard disks and network sharing easier. The inclusion of the Genie UI is just what the doctor ordered as beginners will find it most useful.
The R7000 is priced at a posh $190-$200 (depending where you buy from) and considering the performance & stability it offers it is a very attractive bargain for home users. There is however the problem with its range, and connectivity over a large area may suffer due to obstacles.
- AC1750-Smart WIFI Router (Model R6400)
Rated number 1 by SmallNetBuilder in router performance, the R6400 is a brilliant dual band solution for homes that have multiple gaming and streaming users. Using its BeamForming+ technology, allows the router to magnify its signal as you get farther away from it. Yes, it is an ideal connectivity solution for large areas and crowded settings with more than 5 users.
Courtesy of its 3 antennas and BeamForming+ the R6400 can support three directional streams, projecting them to its maximum limits. The R6400 also offers a USB 2.0 & USB 3.0 slot so you can connect a printer for your network in addition to a HDD in 3.0 slot to use as a network media hard drive.
The R6400 also offers you the AirTime Faireness technology to ensure that your high speed devices receive a constant flow of data while older slower devices are also prioritized to receive data in accordance to their capabilities. Numerous reviews on Tom’s Guide, CNET and PCMag have established the R6400 to be the best NetGear router for long range connectivity too.
NetGear has also embedded its Genie Router Management UI in the device to ensure beginners, intermediate and advanced users can all easily configure or tweak the router as they wish. The Genie UI makes it easy to configure the first time and configure VPN services on the R6400 router. NetGear Genie also offer detailed network statistics including incoming & outgoing data, devices & apps using the device, and passwords & usernames being used over the network.
In my opinion, given the features the NetGear R6400 is one of the most affordable and one of the best cheap NetGear routers around. Currently, you can get the R6400 for $140-$150 depending where you buy the router.
What Are NetGear Routers With VPN Pass-through?
It’s a common question that most new router owners and VPN users ask when reading through the specifications for their devices. Let’s take this concept step by step to make it really easy to understand.
The main task of a VPN is to create a secure “point to point” connection across a public or private network to securely access devices, servers or databases in a remote location. A good example is when you use VPN to access your work computer while travelling or on holiday. Remember that to access your work computer with VPN, your router must allow VPN connections to pass through it to communicate with otherdevices through the internet.
Most routers are embedded with a technology known as NAPT or Network Address Protocol Translation, which allows several devices to share an internet connection through the router. One aspect of NAPT is that it completely blocks VPN traffic.The following diagram demonstrates a router without and one with VPN pass-through.
Demonstrating the Importance of VPN Pass-through. Image courtesy of LinkSys
For this express purpose, manufacturers also include what is called the ‘VPN Pass-through’feature in their routers. VPN pass-through allows the encrypted VPN traffic to conveniently go through the router and connect to the remote network. NetGear provides a proper guide to configure VPN Pass-through on compatible routers with detailed information on models that don’t support the feature.
NetGear Router VPN Not Working Error/Issues
To make sure you get the best product and service quality from the brand, NetGear offers a comprehensive website support section to get your router working in case it experiences various issues. You can check out the Official Support Page, the Official NetGear Community or Contact Support. Do remember that the online support service is only for customers will valid warranties and business customers.
NetGear Router VPN App for Android
NetGear offers a brilliant official app on the Google Play Store for Android users:
NetGear Genie UI is the new interface now offered for all routers& modems manufactured by the brand. The NetGear Genie Android app gives device owners an easy way to manage, monitor or repair the home networkdirectly fromyour smartphone. You can access all of your NetGear router’s features while moving around the house or office. Equipped with an Android smartphone or tabletyou can access
- Wireless Settings,
- Network Map,
- Live Parental Controls,
- Guest Access,
- Traffic Metering,
- My Media, and
- Many other features.
You also get control over the home network, media streaming from a network drive, printers, connecting mobile devices using QR codes. Remember that the app only works with selected NetGear router models that can be found in the NetGear Genie app description on the Google Play Store.
In a Nutshell
I hope you will find the above best NetGear router summaries useful when looking for a new router/modem for your home. Although I have summarized the device reviews, I have also added relevant review links so in case you are an advanced user you can get a better idea looking at the specs for the routers too.
In case I missed something or you would like for me to review another router brand do let me know in the comments section below. Do leave feedback and comments so I can improve the next top 3 blog. Remember to share and subscribe using the social buttons.