Today we’ll be looking at the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 (R7000) Router. It’s by far my favorite VPN router with DD-WRT support.
|WiFi Performance||1900Mbps Dual Band (600 + 1300)|
|Processor Speeds||1GHz Dual Core|
|Quality of Service||Advanced (downstream / upstream)|
|# of Antennas||3 external|
|Storage Ports||1 USB 2.0 + 1 USB 3.0|
|Data Transfer Rate||1,900 MB per second|
|Item Dimensions||10.08 x13.7 x 3.11 in|
|Item Weight||3.45 lbs|
|Wireless Compability||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac|
|Flash Memory Size||128|
As you can tell, this router is quite the powerhouse. The 1 GHz dual core processor technology means you can have dozens of devices running through it across the house without compromising speed. It also features Beamforming technology, which focuses Wi-Fi signals to moving devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops. I can attest to the power of this, as I’ve faced absolutely no connection problems bringing my laptop with me to all corners of the home and even outside to the garden.
If you have a wireless G or N MIPS processor-based router, or are looking to switch to wireless AC, this is a great option. It should be noted that this router performs best for 100 Mbit – 300 Mbit connections (which is usually the case). If you’re using <50 Mbit or >500 Mbit connections, you may see drop-offs in performance.
Performance on DD-WRT
The Nighthawk AC1900 (R7000) is one of the best and fastest DD-WRT compatible routers, topping out at 360 Mbit on DD-WRT without any overclocking and 425 Mbit with a 20% overclock. Flashing the firmware strongly boosts the router’s CPU-performance and overall functionality, with a number of features over the standard DD-WRT offering on older/slower hardware. The dual core CPU is also great for running additional services on the router.
There are a ton of other features when DD-WRT is flashed, including NAS storage, Samba filesharing system, FTP, torrenting, establishing a USB print server…all that good stuff. My favorite feature though is that it has an integrated FreeRadius server, which allows you to install WPA2 AES Enterprise and makes your system almost impossible to hack remotely.
Once you’ve flashed the firmware with DD-WRT, installing OpenVPN is a piece of cake. I recommend doing this to establish a secure connection any time you’re on Wi-Fi at home or away from home. I’ve experienced zero reboots or lockups from years of heavy use. I also no longer drop when connecting to my work VPN remotely since using the Nighthawk.
- Excellent speeds. This is a gaming router, after all, and in the gaming world every millisecond counts. You can tell Netgear produced the Nighthawk with this in mind. Expect to see a 4-5x increase in speed if you switch from a standard router to this, even if you triple the number of devices running through it.
- Very friendly installation & user interface. After recommending my parents buy the Nighthawk, I literally coached them over the phone how to install it. If they can do it, I’m confident you or anyone else should have no issue.
- Strong CPU. Some of the services I’m currently running right now are OpenVPN, a guest network, DDNS client, QoS for 5 netmasked ranges, several WAN access restriction policies, Yamon2 network traffic monitor, USB support, DHCP servers…the list goes on. My router’s CPU load average is 15%, and memory utilization 45%.
- Decent warranty. Customers receive 90 days of complimentary phone support + 1 year of hardware warranty. If you have any issues with the installation process or somehow receive a product with faulty hardware, the Netgear customer support team is there to assist you. You can reach them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Strong community support. The Nighthawk is a favorite among the DD-WRT community. If you ever need custom firmware support or help installing the VPN service, someone over at dd-wrt.com will likely be there to help you. It also means that you can juice this router to run as optimally as possible for as long as possible if you are tech-savvy enough.
- Aesthetic. I mean, just look at the thing. It looks super badass. Fits into any home decor.
- Defective units get produced. There are some reviews on Amazon from people who claimed the router stopped working after several months. The crux of the issue seems to be that they received defective units with hardware issues. It’s unfortunate they experienced this because I’ve had absolutely no problems after several years of use with the Nighthawk. If you do receive a unit with poor hardware, definitely reach out to Netgear and make good use of the 1-year warranty.
- Shaky default firmware. The default firmware the Nighthawk comes equipped with leaves much to be desired. We’ve heard that firmware updates can sometimes mess with the router’s performance and will require you to reset the router. We’ve seen other users on the Netgear forums experience random drops and weird connection issues. However, these problems all seem to go away once you flash the router to DD-WRT.
The Nighthawk AC1900 (R7000) is the router to buy if you live in a large house with lots of devices or simply want to upgrade your browsing/gaming/streaming experience. Many call this the best router you can get for your money. At just under $200, it’s pricier than your traditional router but you’re paying for quality here. If you’re sick of replacing your $30-40 router every year and want greater range + speed to connect the multiple devices in your home, the Nighthawk R7000 is well worth the investment.