Nighthawk XR500 Review: The Best Gaming Router?

When it comes to competitive gaming, having a good router should be the foremost priority. Today, I have the Netgear Nighthawk XR500 Pro Gaming Router for review. This Gaming Router will take care of all your network related issues so that you can dominate the game and worry less about the ping.

When it comes to online gaming, there are three network-related aspects that affect the gaming experience:

  1. Your Distance from the Game’s Server
  2. The Internet Connection
  3. Your Router 

All it takes is one of the above to bottleneck the rest of the factors. The distance to the game’s server plays the biggest role in the ping but for optimal performance, you have to ensure that all three of them are top-notch. And today, we take care of the third aspect.

The Nighthawk XR500 is a top-tier gaming router which not only looks great but delivers exceptional performance and stabilizes the network latency. This makes you always stay ahead of your opponents in competitive games like League of Legends, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite: Battle Royale, Rocket League, etc.

Before moving any further,  Here’s the Introduction Video of this Router by Netgear.

 

I’ve been testing for around a month and I’m seriously impressed by its performance and the features it has to offer. Whether you game on a PC or a Console, the Nighthawk XR500 supports every gaming device out there. If you’re also a Twitch Streamer (or maybe a Youtube Streamer), the Nighthawk XR500 is made just for you.

Before I explain the features in detail or give my review of this product, here’s a list of pros. and cons. of this router.

Pros
  • Superior Performance
  • Easy to Setup
  • Made for Professional Gaming
  • Great for Streaming
  • Feature Rich
  • Stunning Design
  • Stabilizes the Ping
  • Customizable User Interface
Cons
  • A bit Expensive
  • Performance on 5 GHz Band is Average

The performance is top-notch and it does stabilize the ping and gets rid of the lag. The DumaOS is user-friendly and offers plenty of features.

Not just for professional gaming, this router is made for every gamer out there and my gameplay improved considerably after switching to this one.

Even though it is a bit expensive, all the features that it offers make it worth it.

    Unboxing

Here’s what the box looks like from the front.

NightHawk XR500 Box Front

On the back-side of the box, there’s a brief introduction to the features it offers.

NightHawk XR500 Box Back

Here’s what you can find after opening the box.

Box Contents

  • Netgear XR500 Pro Gaming Router
  • 4 detachable antennas
  • Ethernet Cable
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Power Adapter

Now let’s open up the box and have a look at the router itself. The antennas come separately inside the box and I’ve already connected them.

It has got a unique design and that looks wicked.

Netgear NightHawk XR500 Pro Gaming Router

Here’s a look at the router from some other angles. At the back, there’s a button to switch LED Lights and that’s nice to see. There are 5 Gigabit Ethernet Ports at the back with 4 being the LAN ports while the one a WAN port. There is a switch to turn on/off the router and one to reset it.

Like most other routers, if you press the reset button for some time, the router will return back to its factory settings.

Closer look at Nighthawk XR500

CLOSER LOOK

Ports of Netgear XR500

BACK PORTS

On one of the sides, there are two USB 3.0 Ports.

Side USB Ports of Router

SIDE USB PORTS

Netgear XR500 Top View

TOP VIEW

Here are some other components that you will find inside the box. There’s one Ethernet Cable which is of great quality, 4 Antennas and these antennas are numbered. You are only supposed to attach the antenna in the slot corresponding to its number.

I actually got two different power adapters in the box with different plug types (so that it can support different types of power sockets). There’s also one user manual to get you started.

Ethernet Cable

ETHERNET CABLE

NightHawk XR500 Antenna

ANTENNAS

Power Adapter

POWER ADAPTER

User Manual

USER MANUAL & CD

    Specification

NameNetgear NightHawk XR500 Pro Gaming Router
ProcessorDual-Core 1.7 GHz
BandsDual-Band (2.4GHz up to 800 Mbps and 5 GHz up to 1733 Mbps)
Antennas4
Wi-Fi2.6 Gbps Multi-User MIMO WiFi for simultaneous Streaming
Ethernet Ports4 Gigabit Ethernet Ports
Additional Channels15 Additional Channels in 5 GHz Band
USB Ports2 USB 3.0 Ports
Operating SystemDuma OS
Dimensions321.9 mm x 243.7 mm x 55 mm
Weight801g
Compatible WithPC, Xbox, PlayStation and every other device with WiFi/LAN Support

The Netgear NightHawk XR500 has a powerful Dual-Core 1.7 GHz Processor and this router supports both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, bands. It has four powerful antennas and it can deliver a WiFi speed up to 2.6 Gbps over a long range.

The Wi-Fi uses the Multi-user MIMO or MU-MIMO technology that allows it to communicate with multiple devices efficiently and it drastically improves the speed. If you prefer Wired connection over the Wireless one, it has got 4 Gigabit Ethernet Ports so that you get the maximum speeds.

There are also 2 USB 3.0 ports available at the side that can be used to create a Media Server or for ReadyShare Storage or Vault.

This router is powered by the powerful Duma OS by NetDuma. After using so many routers with different types of user interfaces, I instantly fell in love with the DumaOS.

    NightHawk XR500 Features

Here’s a brief showcase and explanation of all the major features this router offers.

Gaming Dashboard

When you open up the router’s web interface, you’ll arrive at the DumaOS Dashboard. It shows real-time data of your Internet and CPU Usage.

It also shows the current status of your Internet connection and Wi-Fi.

Duma OS Gaming Dashboard

The best part about this dashboard that it is customizable and you can rearrange and pin your favorite panels.

Geo-Filter

The Geo-Filter can limit your distance to the game servers so that you only get connected to the closest servers having the lowest ping. It also allows you to blacklist or whitelist different servers.

Netgear XR500 Geo Filter

There are also two different modes for Geo Filtering: 1) Filtering Mode 2) Spectating Mode.

The Filtering mode blocks any connection outside of the selected radius and according to the instruction manual, filtering mode is recommended for consoles. While the Spectating Mode is recommended for PC and it does not block any connections outside of the radius.

Quality of Service

The QoS feature automatically detects gaming devices and gives them priority over other devices. This ensures uninterrupted gaming experience. Here’s a video by Netgear to demonstrate the QoS feature.

That’s impressive, right?

VPN Client 

If you are subscribed to HideMyA** VPN Service, you can use the VPN Client to connect to the VPN Server. Having a VPN can be useful to prevent DDOS attacks and stay anonymous.

Duma OS VPN Client

Network Monitor

The Network Monitor can display the real-time Bandwidth usage of all your devices.

With this tool, you can easily figure out if a particular device is consuming a lot of bandwidth.

Duma OS Network Monitor

MU-MIMO

With Multi-User MIMO, your router can act as a “separate” router for each of your devices and communicate with them simultaneously via separate streams. This allows multiple users to game and stream flawlessly and the Internet Speed is great on every device.

ReadyShare Storage & Vault

The ReadyShare storage allows you to share data with different users on the same network. Simply insert a USB Drive or an External Drive on the router’s USB Port and then you can access it via browser or through an FTP Connection. This makes data sharing fast and efficient. You can also share a USB Printer.

The ReadyShare Vault helps you backup your Windows PC on an external drive connected via Router’s USB Port. To use this feature, you’ll have to install the ReadyShare Vault and the Netgear Genie app on your PC.

NightHawk App

The NightHawk Mobile App is available on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. If you prefer using an app on your Smartphone instead of the Web Interface, this app will make your job easy.

It lets you configure some of the basic router features such as the WiFi Settings and managing the device list. You can also keep an eye on the traffic stats.

NightHawk Mobile App

NightHawk Mobile App Traffic Meter

    Performance in Games

 

Here’s the most important part of this review. So, how well does the router perform in actual games?

For someone like me who neither has the best Internet connection nor has game servers closer to where I live, the NightHawk XR500 is a lifesaver. Even though the impact on the actual ping is not too significant, the ping has become stable and I am able to play games with no lag.

Here are the following games that I tested. I also compared the same with a budget router to see how much difference can a “Gaming Router” actually make . And the results clearly show that it can certainly make some difference.

Earlier in Fortnite, building & quick editing seemed difficult due to the high ping as there is no SEA Server currently and the Korean/Japan Server is too far away from my location. But the building experience significantly improved once I begin using this router.

Even while playing PUBG and CS: GO, I instantly felt a change and the lag was considerably reduced in the most intensive in-game situations.

If you already have a low ping, this router can stabilize the network performance and further reduce the latency. The XR500 is the perfect online gaming companion you could wish for.

    Internet Speed Test

I wasn’t expecting much difference here because my Internet plan is capped at 24 Mbps. But to my surprise, the XR500 did a better job than my previous router. Here are the test results and I used SpeedTest.net and Fast.com for this test.

Note: The Download Speed of this Internet Plan is 24 Mbps but the speed often fluctuates between 23 and 27 Mbps. With XR500, I was able to squeeze the highest speed possible for my Internet plan.

But these Internet speeds should not distract you from the fact that this router is capable of a maximum Internet Speed of 2.60 Gigabits Per Second. So, if your ISP has faster Internet Plans, don’t forget to upgrade it once you buy this router!

    Netgear Nighthawk XR500 Review

 

So, looks like we have already discussed most of the features and benchmarks. Well it’s finally the time to review this beast.

Design

The design of XR500 is astounding and no matter where you decide to keep it, this router looks incredible. Literally, anyone that enters my room ends up asking about this router.

The LED Lights are quite bright and in dark, the router looks even better. So, it can be a really cool addition to your gaming setup.

Build Quality

It is made up of good quality plastic and it is quite sturdy. At the front, there are air vents for heat to escape.

The router feels solid in the hand and I find the build quality to be pretty decent.

Ease of Use

This was one of the easiest routers I ever had to set up. The Duma OS is user-friendly and there’s explanation for every feature provided. You just need to press the question mark button in the settings for the option you’re planning to configure.

After setting up the router, you should also start the DumaOS Tour to understand it better.

Unfortunately, just a few days after the setting it up, I ran into an issue. Whenever I tried to log in to the web interface, I was getting this error: DumaOS Not loaded yet.

After looking up in the forums, I decided to restore the router to its factory settings by holding the reset button on the back. Once I did the setup again, I was greeted with a new firmware update. After the new update, I never faced this issue again. I’m still not sure that whether a factory reset fixed this issue or the new update, but if you ever run into the same problem, make sure to do the same what I did.

Ping and Latency

On average, I observed a drop in ping by 5 to 8% in most of the games. Even though the number is not as huge as you might have expected, but the router has only a minor role when it comes to the ping. The more important factor is the distance and the type of the connection you’re on.

But more importantly, now the ping has gotten more stable and it feels more easy to play the game even when the servers are way too far from your location.

Features

This router is packed with features that are specifically targeted towards a better gaming experience. The Anti-Bufferbloat is one of my favorite features that can prevent a particular device from eating up all the bandwidth. Also, the ability to automatically detect gaming devices and allocate bandwidth to them is pretty impressive.

Gaming Performance

Let’s keep all the technical aspects aside for a second and focus on the actual gaming experience. No matter how high or the low the ping was, the gaming experience with XR500 was completely different when compared to a basic router. In fact, I got my best high-kill Fortnite and PUBG game while I was testing this router’s performance.

I don’t know why I had a very unstable ping with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with my earlier router, but the problem reduced to a great extent after I started to use the NightHawk XR500. At this point, I’m running out of words to describe how amazing the gaming performance with this router is. Just try it yourself and feel the difference!

User Interface

The Duma OS offers a unique experience that you will not find in any other router out there. The ability to select various features and bring them up front in the Gaming Dashboard really makes things easy.

Also, the design of Duma OS is brilliant and it suits the gaming style. The developers behind Duma OS (Netduma) have seriously done a great job and I’m pretty sure anyone that will be using the router’s interface will appreciate the effort by their team. I’m looking forward to seeing more upcoming routers with the Duma OS.

Ratings

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    How to Setup Netgear Nighthawk XR500

1) After unboxing the router, the first thing you need to do is connect the antennas. The reason why I’m mentioning this because each antenna is numbered and there is a corresponding slot for each antenna. Two of the antennas are numbered 1 and these go in the slots at the back. While the Antenna 2 & 3 go in the slots at the sides.

2) Now connect the Ethernet Cable provided with your Modem from one side and the Yellow (WAN) port of the XR500 Router on the other side. Lastly, connect the Power Adapter and turn it on. Additionally, you can connect your PC via the LAN port on the router if you prefer a wired connection over WiFi.

3) On your Web Browser, visit routerlogin.net, and if there is a login window, enter admin as username and password as the password. If you’re setting up using WiFi, the default password is mentioned on a small card present at the top of the router.

Agree to Terms in the Setup

4) Let the Netgear Installation Assistant configure the router automatically and press next.

Set up Netgear NightHawk XR500

5) Just follow the on-screen instructions. Next set up the new WiFi Password and that’s it. Wasn’t it easy?

6) You can manage the settings either from this Web Interface at routerlogin.net or you can also install the NightHawk Mobile App for the same. But on the mobile app, only the basic features are present. Stick with the Web Interface to unleash the full potential of this router.

    Final Advice

I’ve already said most of the things that you need to know. If we compare it to some other high-end routers, you’ll find that some of them actually come with a better specification.

Even though the Netgear Nighthawk XR500 is not the best router out there, it is definitely the best gaming router with specific features to take your gaming skills to the next level.

Whether you’re a casual gamer, a professional e-sports player, or a Twitch Streamer, this router is highly recommended from my side.

That’s the best gaming router money can buy. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

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