Netgear’s most powerful Nighthawk router was designed from the ground up for gaming, and delivers the high-speed goods.

One of the best things you can do to improve your online gaming experience – where connection speed and latency matters – is to ditch the router that your ISP gave you and upgrade to something more powerful and capable. There are plenty of options to pick from, too, especially now that Wi-Fi 6 is a thing, delivering blisteringly fast speeds without wires for those who can’t plug in a physical cable between game console and router.

Netgear’s Nighthawk series of routers, designed specifically for gaming, have gained a lot of attention for their laser focus on raw performance, focusing on the low latency needed for fast response times in online games, along with the ability to download and upload large amounts of data reliably – something critical for anyone who wants to stream their gameplay on Twitch or YouTube.

The latest Nighthawk model, the XR1000, may have a name that sounds like a rocket mount from World of Warcraft, but it takes the business of dealing with your data very seriously. It’s equipped with a 1.5 GHz triple-core Broadcom processor, providing ample power to deal with the data demands of both wired and wireless gaming at very fast connection speeds – this is a router that can effortlessly handle gigabit NBN, so if you’re lucky enough to have access to the fastest of the fast, this device has the grunt to deal with it. And with a potential 5.4Gbps Wi-Fi speed and the ability to combine both channels together for wider coverage, it’s perfect for those for whom Wi-Fi is the main game.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000

Physically, it’s a pretty hefty beast – a chiselled black shard with red trim (acting as air vents) that’s designed to sit flat on a desk or table. Its four Wi-Fi antennas (delivering beamforming Wi-Fi 6 coverage for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands) means it takes a little bit of vertical space as well – for best results, try to find a place to put this one where the antennas aren’t obstructed by your monitor, microphone or other devices. Unusually, the antennas are numbered and have to be installed in their correct labelled sockets, otherwise Wi-Fi performance will suffer.

Setup is pretty straightforward – the router even pops up its interface automatically in your web browser once connected – and you’ve got the choice of setting things up using the Netgear Nighthawk mobile app as well, with a handy QR code sticker on the router letting the app know the default login details. You will, however, need to create a Netgear account to access the router’s interface at all.

The best place to tweak the Nighthawk is in the browser interface, which runs version 3.0 of Netgear’s own DumaOS. This gives you a very stylish, very informative set of real-time stats (if you love graphs, you’ll love this) and deep control over the router’s functionality. The basic settings provide more than what most people will need, as well as tools to check your connection speed, ping and more. There’s even a “ping heatmap” that shows how fast the connections are to the servers for popular online games. Dig a bit deeper and you’ll find deep technical configuration options that go beyond what most routers allow, including the ability to restrict access to the internet from specific devices by time of day – which lets you shut down the kids’ internet at bedtime!

“…it’s perfect for those for whom Wi-Fi is the main game.”

Netgear’s Armour security software (with the backend scanning provided by BitDefender) is a feature as well – but you only get one month’s subscription with the router purchase. After that, it’s an annual subscription of about $90. For those who want hands-off protection from malware and other threats, it’s a great solution that’s integrated well with the router’s phone apps and interface. But it’s not necessary to use it if you’d rather use other security products.

If you’re after a blazingly fast router to connect you and your games to the fastest internet you can get, this is one to put on the shopping list. As a general-use router, it’s undoubtedly overpowered, but for those who want the best network performance for gaming, streaming or anything else, this one puts all the control in your hands to tweak your online experience exactly the way you like it.

The Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 Gaming Router is available now at JB Hi-Fi.

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi