Netgear’s new XR500 gaming router is the s–t. I wish I had a more eloquent and articulate way to describe it but I don’t. That’s how I feel about it and if anyone asks it’s what I’d say. Normally, I don’t get excited about having a router. As long as I can get online, watch Netflix and access the PSN network, I’m good. It’s mostly because routers are boring devices to deal with. Essentially, you take it out of the box, setup your SSID and password and you’re online. Sometimes, it takes a unique device to change your mind about things.
In terms of routers, the XR500 was that device I. I’ve had the Netgear XR500 in my house for a little more than a week and I’m already convinced that it’s the best router that I’ve ever used in my life. It’s a bold claim for me to make when it comes to routers let alone a Netgear router. Routers that I’ve used in the past from Netgear have always been reliable, really good routers but for me there always felt like there was something missing. Not this time. Netgear nailed everything about what a router’s function should be and it finally gives gamers what they have been asking for in their routers. The Netgear XR500 IS the router for the gamer and the novice as well. Is the XR500 the only gaming router out there? No, but it’s best one on the market right now and I challenge you to find another one better, if you can.
Design and ports
The XR500’s design takes cues from its predecessors like the Nighthawk X4S but its way sexier and the big differences aren’t just with the design but with the internal hardware and now the software with DumaOS. Overall it’s light, sleek, cosmetically futuristic looking and black. There are LED indicator lights on the front that show you which ethernet ports you’re connected to as well as the WiFi bands. In the rear, you have your standard four ethernet ports, LED toggle switch, and power button. On the side you have two USB 3.0 ports for data transfer which makes the XR500 an unconventional but useful data hub. Everything is here that a router should have, especially a $300 router. The only issue I have with the design is the lack of mount cutouts for wall mounting. If you are trying to maximize your space then you’ll have to find a space for it as opposed to simply mounting and centralizing it (which I personally prefer). It’s not a dealbreaker at all and it’s minor but it is something we have to point out.
Router Setup and NetDuma OS
Routers can get pretty technical and sometimes they can lose you when you dealing with the initial setup, as well setting up security features and different SSID’s and whatever else you need to maintain a sustainable and speedy network. Even if you’re knowledge exceeds that of a novice. I personally don’t understand every element of router configuration but I know enough to set up my network in a specific way and even more so as a gamer. The XR500 makes this all pretty easy and eliminates any difficulty with the NetDuma OS software that comes built into the XR500. It is easily what makes the XR500 stand out above all other routers within its price point. Truthfully, the XR500 stands above all other routers just for DumaOS alone.
I’ve never actually used DumaOS prior to getting the XR500 but in just a few minutes of using it I felt like I was using the best router interface ever. Although, there was a bit of a learning curve and I haven’t learned it all, it wasn’t a steep curve. Functions are laid out in detail on the left. It’s got that nice red and black background and everything you need to properly setup your network is there. Once you get into setting up a particular function is when you see what DumaOS is really about. While I didn’t get to play with every function, I did mess around with the functions that would make my home network and gaming experience much easier to deal with.
There is so much detail provided in DumaOS. I’ve never used a router that has so much information available within its OS. It makes an otherwise mundane experience somewhat enjoyable. I never felt as if I couldn’t understand what I was looking at. Years ago, people wanting to know how their network was functioning had to go through a series of complex steps, whether you did it through the command prompts on your Mac or PC or you had to download software that could provide you with the information you needed. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. Even after you did that you had to have some knowledge above a novice user to understand it all. The XR500 makes it so easy to secure your network and provide proper bandwidth to your devices all while maximizing all of the internet speed that you’re paying for.
One of the features that most people wouldn’t bother with is QoS (Quality of Service). It can be such a hassle to set it all up but it’s quite easy to handle with the XR500. DumaOS shows you each and every device on the network and by default it allocates the bandwidth equally. But if you’re like me and you want device priority because you game and stream at the same time or you want to do both at the same time, the XR500 makes it as simple as clicking and dragging the device within the color coded circle graph in DumaOS. You give your most used or most bandwidth reliant devices high priority and the router divides what’s left of the bandwidth equally to the others. Yes, QoS is that easy. In my home, my network is a lot more balanced and my devices are getting the speeds that I need them to have because QoS is so much easier to deal with now and I can set it up with no problem.
This is the feature that to me separates the XR500 from all of the other gaming routers out there. Geo-Filtering. What is Geo-Filtering? In a nutshell it guarantees you the ability to connect to local gaming servers to ensure fast connection to your favorite games’ server. It helps to ensure that network lag or just getting dropped from the server in the middle of a game due to high user bottlenecking and distance is less likely. It’s a little more complexed as a process but basically, the closer you are able to connect to a gaming server relative to your area the more stable your online experience will be and you won’t end up with annoying messages like “checking for servers” in a pivotal point of a game that you’ve been grinding for hours. High frame rate games and fast action games like PUBG and CSGO that require steady and consistent bandwidth will be a much better experience and will hopefully lead to more kills instead of getting killed because your connection to your server is bad. Localizing your connections is an important element to reliable and fast online gaming. Game compatibility is better with certain games and geo-filtering does support all the big titles, the XR500 handles this with relative ease.
If you’re going to spend $300 on a high-end gaming router then you want to ensure that the router is going to be giving you the most speed for the level of internet service that you have. The XR500 was impressive in my speedtests on my network. At the 2.4 Ghz band I was averaging speeds of about 219 – 228Mbps and on the 5.0 Ghz band I was getting speeds closer to 330 Mbps. The XR500 is an AC2600 (802.11ac WiFi compatible) dual band router so max speeds on this router are at 800Mbps on 2.4GHz and 1,733Mbps on 5GHz. If you’re going to be using multiple devices at once then the XR500 has MU-MIMO for fast simultaneous connections with a 1.7GHz dual-core processor and again it has two USB 3.0 ports for printers and any other network attached devices like a storage device.
The XR500 is a must have router
Netgear’s XR500 is a must have router. Yes, it’s a little expensive at $299 but that pricing is competitive when you consider similar options such as the DLink DIR985-L which is priced at $299 and the Asus RT-AC88U AC3100 which is now priced at $249 on sale from the original $299 price point or the Linksys WRT 32X which is also on sale now at $248 or even the ASUS ROG AC5300 which is currently priced online at $348. You’ll pay a little more for the newest technology but isn’t it worth it sometimes? We do it with our cell phones so why not for this? Why not spend the money to have a fast and customizable network with arguably the best router on the market. If you’re a gamer and you have a custom PC, high-end pre-built, or a console then you already know that this router is going to be worth every penny when you bring it home and set it up. No router is perfect although I couldn’t find many cons here. My only gripe with this router is mainly that it isn’t mountable but it’s something that you can easily overlook if you consider everything else. Netduma OS is the biggest thing to consider if you’re going to buy this router. Netduma OS makes this router incredibly user friendly when router configuration typically isn’t. This router in my opinion is the best router not just gaming router there is, your opinion may differ but when you consider the ease of use, fast speeds, DumaOS, gaming specific settings and good looking then you have the XR500. I strongly recommend this router and if you pick it up, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Get your game on.
– Easy to use and customize
– Great speeds at 2.4 and 5 GHZ bands
– Futuristic looks
– Great specs
– Not wall mountable
– May be pricey for some