NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1750 (R6700v2) Review
Pros: Very easy to use, more affordable, solid set of features
Cons: Unimpressive throughput and range
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Nighthawk AC1750 tied with the standard NETGEAR R6400 for the same score. The Nighthawk has a better set of features, while the R6400 has a better range. These products also both have the same list price, though we found the Nighthawk usually retails for about $10 less. However, we gave the award to the Nighthawk because of its better performance in our Features metric and the higher weight on it. The Nighthawk just barely edged out the Linksys WRT1900ACS, beating it by a single point — again, by having a better suite of features.
First, we looked at an enormous number of routers, then after careful evaluations, we selected the top products currently available today and bought them to test head-to-head. We split our testing process into five different rating metrics — Features, 2.4 GHz. Throughput, 5 GHz. Throughput, Range, and Ease of Use — each weighted based on their importance. The sections below describe how the Nighthawk performed and how it stacks up against its peers.
The most important out of all of our rating metrics, Features accounted for 25% of the total score for each wireless router. To score each router, we first looked at whether or not it supported MU-MIMO and beamforming — two crucial things that greatly improve the speed of the network in your home. Next, we checked to see if the router had the ability to cycle the power remotely and if you can turn off the indicator LEDs. Last, we tallied the number of LAN and USB ports available for use. Additionally, we also noted any additional features that each router had. The Nighthawk did quite well, earning a 6 out of 10.
This dual-band router supports both MU-MIMO and beamforming — a bit of a surprise for a router that is sold at a relatively bargain price. The Nighthawk supports IPv6 as well as a VPN network. You can manage and adjust the settings of each router through either the web interface or the mobile app.
This router does give you an option to turn off the LED indicator lights from the web interface and is conveniently wall mountable, allowing you to tuck the router out of sight in a discreet location.
The Nighthawk can also be remotely reset from the mobile or web interface, allowing for easy troubleshooting if the router is physically hard to access. This router also has 4 LAN ports and a single USB 3.0 connection.
This product also has the option of enabling a guest WiFi network for when you have company over.
Ease of Use
For the next metric, accounting for 20% of the overall score, we evaluated and judged how much effort it took to set up and use each product. We especially looked for intuitive and easy to understand interfaces and a setup process that was free of problems. The Nighthawk again did quite well, earning a 7 out of 10 for its performance.
The Nighthawk is a breeze to set up, giving us absolutely no problems as we configured the network name and password. This router automatically starts up a wizard to configure the settings, which was very easy to use. However, this router does require you to update the firmware out of the box.
We found the user interface to be mediocre at best. It wasn't terribly confusing to use, though its design felt very outdated. There were some handy widgets on the main page to easily navigate between options, but we did perpetually run into issues when using Chrome, forcing us to switch browsers.
The parental controls available on the Nighthawk are some of the best we have seen, offering the finest level of control. However, they do take a little longer to set up correctly than some of the other products we reviewed. It takes a little time to get the mobile app installed and connected, but then it is very easy to set different levels of control or customize based on the recommendation list. You can also whitelist or blacklist specific domains, as well as create bypass accounts for devices that you want to be free of restrictions.
Finally, this product does offer Quality of Service, or QoS, but it does feel a little outdated.
The list they provide feels like it doesn't really match with how most people would like to prioritize their network, but you can set preference by devices, allowing you to maximize bandwidth for a work computer or media streaming device.
2.4 GHz. Throughput
Comprising 20% of the total, our 2.4 GHz. Throughput metric is based on the results of each router in five different tests. We ran the iPerf3 test on a test computer in five different locations, varying the distance and level of obstruction to the router, then compiled the results. To account for any variations, we averaged the results of three trials in each location. The Nighthawk delivered a solid performance, meriting a 5 out of 10 for its showing.
The Nighthawk started off with a strong showing in our short distance tests. This test was conducted with about 10' between the router and the computer, with one test being a clear line-of-sight between computer and router and another test having a wall obstructing the signal. This product delivered a middle-of-the-road performance in the line with an average speed of 48 Mbits/s, but was relatively above average in the obstructed version with its average speed of 47 Mbit/s.
After short-range testing we moved on to the medium distance tests. This time, there was about 35' separating the router and test laptop, again with a single wall providing the obstacle for the obstructed test. The Nighthawk again delivered a solid performance, delivering an average speed of 43 Mbits/s in the line-of-sight test and 37 Mbit/s in the obstructed test. The charts below show how it stacked up in the line-of-sight version of the test.
For the final test in this metric, we spaced out the router and computer by about 70', with the Nighthawk AC1750 hitting an average transmission speed of 25 Mbit/s.
We only performed an obstructed version of this test, as having a computer 70' away from your router that is completely line-of-sight is unrealistic for most homes.
5 GHz. Throughput
This metric is identical in weight and testing procedures to the previous one, with the exception of the swapping the 5 GHz. band for the 2.4 GHz. band on each router. The NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1750 again delivered a decent performance, earning a 5 out of 10 and finishing in the top of the pack.
This router started off with a strong showing in our short distance tests, hitting speeds of 211 Mbits/s and 201 Mbit/s for the unobstructed and obstructed versions. This actually put it in fourth place overall for the obstructed test.
This router maintained its performance in the medium distance set of tests, again achieving an average speed of 211 Mbits/s in the line-of-sight test. Performance dropped a little in the obstructed version, but the Nighthawk still logged a respectable average speed of 194 Mbits/s in the obstructed version. This compares quite favorably to the rest of the pack.
Performance did plummet to a meager 11 Mbits/s in the long distance test, putting the Nighthawk towards the back of the pack — much slower than the 46 Mbit/s of the top performer, the Nighthawk X10.
Our final metric consisted of evaluating the maximum range of each router. To test this, we selected a 5-minute video and streamed it in 720p, noting at what distance the video no longer played uninterrupted. This was the only test in this metric, which is responsible for the remaining 15% of the total score. The Nighthawk did decently well, earning a 5 out of 10 for its efforts, putting it in the middle of the pack.
The video stream began to cut out with about 155' separating the router and computer — about 50' less than the top scoring model.
The Nighthawk is an excellent value, delivering a great performance for its price.
All in all, this is the router that will be the best bet for the majority of people. It delivers solid performance at a reasonable price and is the perfect option for those shopping on a budget but are willing to pay a bit more to upgrade and get better performance.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer