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Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 range extender (EX7000) review

Tom Morgan
3 Sep 2015
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
netgear nighthawk ac1900 extender rear ports
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
130
inc VAT

Incredible speeds if you have compatible hardware, but the Nighthawk is overkill for almost everyone else

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Specifications

Modem: N/A, Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ac, Stated speed: 1,900Mbps, USB ports: 1x USB3, Wall mountable: no

Netgear’s EX7000 range extender looks as mean as the Nighthawk routers on which it’s based; the all-black colour scheme, angular design and three chunky antennas protruding from the back give it a seriously futuristic look. The way the silver-finished front tapers to a point even resembles a razor blade. It’s meant to be put on display, rather than hidden away in a cupboard. While you can mount it horizontally, the freestanding base included in the box will let you stand it up vertically too.

The EX7000 should be able to extend or replace your existing wireless network wherever you place it, thanks to its dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi. With the extender placed on a desk, there was nowhere on our office floor where signal dropped below three bars. It’s rated for AC1900 speeds, which means a theoretical maximum of 1,300Mbit/s on the 5GHz band and up to 600Mbit/s on the 2.4GHz band, but only if you have compatible wireless adapters. These are admittedly hard to come by, meaning your devices will most likely be the limiting factor when it comes to connection speed. Your own router’s Wi-Fi network will also create a speed restriction if it can’t match the EX7000’s incredibly high throughput when used in extender mode.

In its default configuration, the EX7000 can be placedanywhere within range of your Wi-Fi router and used to extend its signal. The five Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back let you hook up multiple games consoles, PCs or set-top boxes to the wireless network, even if they lack integrated Wi-Fi, and the readily accessible USB3 port on the front can be used to add a USB flash drive as a network share. Oddly, the WPS button is around the back rather than up front, meaning you have to reach behind the unit whenever you want to pair a new wireless device without typing in a Wi-Fi password.

netgear nighthawk ac1900 extender

Setup isn’t quite as straightforward as other range extenders, with a few extra steps such as adding an email address and password in case you need to recover your admin details, but otherwise the web interface is straightforward and doesn’t bombard you with settings until both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands are set up. It automatically appends suffixes onto your existing Wi-Fi networks to make it easier to tell which is the original broadcast and which is the extended one, but you can change the SSIDs if you prefer.

Once you’re set up, you can unplug the extender and move it further away from your router to wipe out any Wi-Fi blackspots. The web page main menu will then display signal strength for both bands, letting you know when you’ve moved too far away from the original signal. Netgear’s excellent Wi-Fi analytics smartphone app gives you a real time indication of signal strength, and will also let you identify crowded Wi-Fi channels. It’s a shame these features aren’t included in the router firmware though.

There are plenty of other detailed settings to choose from, including broadcast scheduling to restrict access at certain times of the day, and the ability to force the extender to connect to your router on one band while reserving the other band for wireless network traffic. Doing so will restrict your transmission speeds significantly, however.

Netgear range extender genie

As expected, the EX7000 is one of the fastest range extenders around when paired with an 802.11ac router capable of matching its wireless speeds. We paired it with one of Netgear’s own Nighthawk X4 R7500s, and saw 181Mbit/s at a distance of 10m. This only dropped to 167Mbit/s at 25m, although this is far behind the Asus EA-AC87, which managed over 200Mbit/s at the same distance. It’s still a big improvement over a non-extended signal link speed of 68.2MB/s, however.

To get the best out of the EX7000 you’ll need to wire it into your existing router, preferably over Gigabit Ethernet. This means you don’t have to have an 802.11ac modem router, as you can use the Netgear’s Wi-Fi to replace your existing wireless network. Setup is largely identical to extender mode, as you’ll still need to connect to its Wi-Fi network and rename wireless networks through the web interface. We saw a fantastic 326Mbit/s at a 5m distance, which will be typical of working in the same room as your router. 302Mbit/s at 10m is a superb result too, and 149Mbit/s at 25m is still perfectly usable for streaming video.

The Nighthawk EX7000 is easily the fastest Wi-Fi range extender we’ve tested, although only when used in Access Point mode to replace your modem’s weak Wi-Fi. The excellent Asus EA-AC87 has the edge when it comes to extended signal wireless speeds, but the EX7000 is admittedly still very quick here too. However, our results are best-case scenarios; unless you have AC1900 Wi-Fi adapters, dongles and devices, real world speeds will naturally be slower. With that in mind, the only way to justify the expense is if you plan on upgrading to gadgets that can the full advantage of the Netgear’s faster speeds. Otherwise, the slower BT Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender 1200 is half the price.

HARDWARE
ModemN/A
Wi-Fi standard802.11ac
Bands2.4GHz, 5GHz
Stated speed1,900Mbps
SecurityWEP, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK
Upgradable antennaYes
LAN ports5x 10/100/1000Mbit/s
USB ports1x USB3
Wall mountableno
Size242x170x28mm
SOFTWARE
Guest networks0
Media serverYes
USB servicesprint sharing, NAS
DDNS servicesN/A