Saturday, May 7, 2016

Netgear R6400 WiFi Router

12.16.2016: Note that Netgear has had a serious security issue that has impacted many of their routers including the R6400.  If you have a Netgear router, you should take action IMMEDIATELYUpdate your firmware now, updates are available in the link.  Additionally, even if you don't have a Netgear router, you should check the date of your router's newest available firmware update.  If there hasn't been an update in 6-12 months, your router is probably unsupported or on the verge of being unsupported.  That's not acceptable for the thing keeping your network safe -- it's time to upgrade.

I occasionally get asked for a recommendation for a WiFi router.  I don't personally recommend integrating these functions, but I know a lot of people do.  In this case, I revert to recommendations from sources I respect, and I go with the Netgear R6400, which is currently recommended by The Wirecutter.

So many antennas.  Because MIMO is a good thing.

I've set up several of these for other people, but it's been a while.  My recollection is that the wizard was pretty simplistic but that you could turn it off and get to detailed features, but that I wasn't a huge fan of their interface.  I'll take some notes and update this post the next time I touch one of these, maybe do a few screen captures, and come back and update this post.

What's important is that this is a pretty full featured 802.11ac device.  It's a "1750 Mbit" 802.11ac device, which means 1300Mbit on the 5GHz band and 450Mbit on the 2.4GHz band, which is potentially more speed than most home networks can handle.  It supports "Beamforming" which is to say that those multiple antennas let it do things to achieve higher data rates with multiple simultaneous devices.  The technique is called MIMO (Multiple Input/Multiple Output), and it basically lets the radio do different things on each antenna.  A very simplistic view would be that if you had a device on each side, each device could talk to the router through its own individual antenna.  It's more complicated than that, but the key point is that improves 802.11ac throughput when there are multiple devices.

You can spend more money, but this is a pretty good option.  You can also spend a little less, and go with a TP-Link Archer C7, which Wirecutter also recommends.  I haven't played with these, but you'd probably be OK based on their recommendation.  Apparently their interface isn't as nice as the Netgear's and you give up a little performance, some features like QoS and VPN, and some hardware features like high speed USB ports.

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