Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) Review

Netgear XR1000 Review

Shoeb Shaikh

The Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) is the world’s first WiFi 6 gaming router and it packs features that are usually unheard of on its price segment. Powered by DumaOS, the router brings a lot of features which will let you take advantage of the best possible connection out of your ISP subscription.
Design
WiFi Range
Gaming Features
Value for money

Summary

The Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) is the best gaming router we have reviewed this year. The addition of WiFi 6 on the Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) will be able to set a new trend in the router industry. DumaOS is also a very powerful operating system designed specifically for gaming router. It brought forward some useful features like Geo Fencing, Application QoS, and Ping Heatmap.

4.8

To have the best experience during gaming, you should always make sure that you have the best PC setup — from CPU, GPU, display, and storage type. However, while most of the games remains playable offline, most high rated games can now only be played with an internet connection. In this case, you also need, not just the good, but the best gaming router there is right now.

A gaming specific router has a lot of improvements over the typical routers. First of all, the overall performance of a gaming-specific routers are way better than the non-gaming specific routers, and the additional features it offers can have a huge impact during the gameplays.

One of the most widely recognizable brands in the gaming-specific routers category is Netgear. The American brand has been around since the 90s, producing some of the best routers all throughout the Wi-Fi generations.

In this article, we will be reviewing the world’s first WiFi 6 gaming router by Netgear — the Netgear XR1000 (AX5400). Spoiler alert, not only does we think the XR1000 as the best WiFi router for gaming, but is also one of the best, if not the best WiFi 6 gaming router in the world right now. Until we hear a new WiFi 6 gaming router, we think the Netgear XR1000 (AX5400), will remain on top.

And here’s why.

Netgear XR1000 Review

Specifications

Netgear XR1000 Review
Wi-Fi TechnologyWi-Fi 6 802.11ax
Number of BandsDual Band (2.4GHz 2×2 and 5GHz 4×4)
Processor1.5GHz Triple-Core processor
Speed5400 Mbps (600Mbps @2.4GHz & 4800Mbps @5GHz)
CoverageUp to 2000 sq.ft
USB Ports1 x USB-A USB 3.0
Ethernet Ports4 x LAN ports + 1 x WAN port

PROS —

  1. Beautiful hardware design
  2. Features DumaOS, a gaming-specific operating system for a more stable and reliable online gaming performance
  3. Triple-core processor, with 256MB flash storage and 512MB RAM
  4. World’s first WiFi 6 gaming router for faster speeds
  5. Includes a mobile app for easy monitoring

CONS —

  1. The initial firmware lacks some WiFi settings
  2. Mobile app doesn’t have controls over gaming features
  3. Lacks multi-gig port, Dual-WAN or Link aggregation
  4. Subscription-based online protection and VPN

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Features

1. WiFi 6

As mentioned earlier, the Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) is the world’s first gaming router to feature WiFi 6. In 2019, WiFi announced it’s new generation wireless connectivity standards called the WiFi 6. But the WiFi 6 isn’t just about speed as it also opened up some features and improvements we lack from the previous generation.

The WiFi 6 has a theoretical speed reaching up to 9.6Gbps — that’s about 3.5Gbps faster than the WiFi 5. However, the official specification sheet for the Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) only reaches at 5.4Gbps which is still an impressive speed.

Theoretical speed means you won’t likely be able to reach that speed. In the US, for example, the typical download speed only reaches up to 72Mbps. That is less than the total theoretical speed of the WiFi 6.

However, it is still important as the total theoretical speed doesn’t just have to go to a single computer but it can also be split up across multiple devices. When WiFi 5 came out, there is an average of five devices in every household connected to the router.

With the advent of internet of things (IoT), most devices are now connected to the internet (smartphone, laptop, TV, speaker, refrigerator, and etc) with the average devices in every household reaching about nine devices per one router. Developers of WiFi 6 have this in mind, and made sure that any WiFi 6 devices doesn’t bog down even if multiple devices were connected all at once.

2. 1.5Ghz Triple Core Processor

Same as ASUS RT-AX82U, Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) features a triple core processor paired with 256MB of flash storage, and 512MB of RAM. Not many people knows this, but the processor and storage is also important when considering to purchase a new router. Of course, it doesn’t have that same power demands as that of the computer and smartphones, but it has to be good enough to avoid bandwidth bottlenecking.

Basically, if many different devices were connected all at once, your router will have to serve them all equally. If your router doesn’t have a raw power to do this, you will experience slow down. Any wired connection will also affect the performance of your router, as it also adds up to the list of things the router’s processor has to deal with. If you think you are not getting that premium speed you are paying from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), the problem does not necessarily be their fault. It can also mean, your router doesn’t handle that speed very well.

The Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) features a fast 1.5GHz triple core processor, with 256MB of flash storage, and 512MB of RAM. This means, the router will be more than capable of handling multiple tasks all at once compared to routers with single core and dual core processor. Gaming on multiple devices, or streaming 4K videos will be breeze.

3. Speed & Coverage

The Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) is a dual band WiFi which supports both 2.4Ghz, and 5Ghz WiFi connection. The 2.4Ghz peaks at 600Mbps theoretical speed, while the 5Ghz peaks at about a whopping 4.8Gbps. You can set which one to use on the settings.

As we all know, the 2.4Ghz is slower than 5Ghz because it can support wider coverage than 5Ghz WiFi. This is because, the 5Ghz connection focuses more on speed rather than coverage. In a close proximity test, the 2.4Ghz were able to score 122Mbps, while it only scored a decent 38Mbps in a 30-foot test. The 5Ghz on the other hand were able to score 865Mbps in close proximity test, while scoring an impressive 328Mbps is a 30-foot test.

As for file transfer, the Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) scored 73Mbps for write speed, and 76Mbps for read speed when transferring a 1.5GB folder containing photos, video, music, and documents, back and forth between USB 3.0 and a desktop PC.

4. DumaOS 3.0

Netgear XR1000 DumaOS 3

The Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) is one of the first routers to feature DumaOS 3.0 — a gaming-specific router operating system. DumaOS has a lot of features dedicated to gaming.

Paired with a triple core processor, 256MB of flash storage, and 512MB of RAM, the Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) will surely give the best performance for every gamers. The all-new DumaOS 3.0 includes features like Geo Fencing, Application QoS, Connection Benchmark, Traffic controller, and many more features coming in the next firmware updates.

> Geo Fencing

Geo Fencing is one of the many perks of DumaOS. It allows you to customize and filter which game servers you play on. Alongside with Ping Heatmap, Geo Fencing allows you to reduce the lag and latency issues with your WiFi connection when playing a specific game.

Also called Geo Filter, Geo Fencing let’s you designate specific areas and ranges of online gaming servers to connect to. It allows the Netgear  XR1000 (AX5400) to map out the best servers in specific areas so that your router will only connect on this server once you launch the game that is set to use Geo Fencing. As mentioned, the Ping Heatmap will also be able to help you determine which areas has the best servers to further improve the overall connection quality. You can also control to whitelist devices, or block any laggy opponents using Geo Fencing.

> Application QoS

Application QoS is also one of the features of DumaOS. In a nutshell, Application QoS allows you to prioritize which applications and devices matters you the most by allocating bandwidth per device and applications. This is similar to Adaptive QoS in Asus Routers like ASUS RT-AX89X and ASUS RT-AC86U. To further improve the connection quality, Quality of Service (QoS) has the following measurements of concern:

  • Bandwidth for throughput
  • Latency for delay (important if playing high-stake games)
  • Jitter for variance in latency
  • Error rate
> Ping Heatmap

As mentioned earlier, Ping Heatmap works with the Geo Fencing to give you the best possible WiFi performance possible. While Geo Fencing customize, and filters which locations has the best servers, the Ping Heatmap will be able to test which servers is the best for your gaming needs. It displays your connection quality, and allows you to choose the best servers for that specific application.

On the Netgear XR1000 (AX5400), the green represents the best servers, while the color also progresses to yellow and red as the connection worsens — as the latter one signals critical ping. You also schedule the Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) to ping servers of your favorite games, and save all the ping history. The Ping Heatmap is a helpful feature to see how consistent a server’s ping is, or change to another server if the ping of the chosen server gets critical.

> Traffic Controller

Traffic controller allows you to block traffics by device or applications to further improve your router’s performance during gaming. While the Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) has WiFi 6, which supports multiple devices all at once, and a triple core processor, the connection can still lag as it gets critical on the Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) side — especially during the peak hours when many people are using the internet in one area all at once.

Think of this as an alternative to Parent Control. You can easily block, and rename devices, and any sites or applications that can take a hit in your internet speed — things like social media, livestream, download, video and file upload, and etc.

This reduced speed can then be split up with different devices connected on the router, which causes an even more reduced speed. By using Netgear’s Traffic Controller, you can block and schedule which device to block and prioritize first during that scenario. The Traffic Controller feature works best with the Application QoS.

5. Wired & Wireless Connectivity

The Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) supports both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz WiFi. The 2.4Ghz peaks at about 600Mbps theoretical speed, while the 5Ghz peaks at impressive speed of 4.8Gbps. When multiple devices are connected, the router can support up to 5.4Gbps (total speed split up for each devices).

Wired and Wireless Connectivity in Netgear XR1000

As for wired connectivity, the Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) supports 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports — 1 WAN port, and 4 LAN ports. Unfortunately, there is no 2.5 Gig LAN ports. The Gigabit Ethernet ports only supports 10Mbps up to 1Gbps (1000Mbps).

6. Advanced Security

Call it a feature or a disadvantage for the Netgear XR1000 (AX5400). Just like many other routers, the Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) supports advanced security features. That if you are willing to pay $69.99 for Netgear Armor security package — that’s 35% off, by the way. Given the price of the router, it would have been nice to have its own free security features.

Well, at least you can enjoy a 30-day free trial, which you can always cancel before the trial ends to make sure your card isn’t billed for the next month. There’s also an Open VPN which offers up to 200MB daily encryption traffic per device, or you can upgrade to an unlimited encryption traffic for $39.99 (yearly cost).

Conclusion

The Netgear XR1000 (AX5400) is definitely one, if not the best, gaming routers we have reviewed this year. While it is also one of the most expensive, we think the overall features it offers is often unheard for its price (at least for now). Being the world’s first WiFi 6 gaming router, you can expect the best performance from the Netgear XR1000 (AX5400). The triple core processor, the 256MB of flash storage, and the 512MB of RAM will allow you to play games or stream 4K videos across multiple devices simultaneously.

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