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Netgear Nighthawk X4S review: A worthy understudy

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
100
inc VAT

If you don't need top-of-the-class speeds and features, the X4S is worth a look

Pros 
Respectable performance
Excellent management interface
Compact design
Cons 
A touch expensive
No Ethernet port
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The Netgear Nighthawk X4S wireless repeater uses a tri-band radio array to maximise your throughput, but this model comes in a compact, wall-mounted form.

However, it entails compromises. For one, the X4S’s internals aren’t as powerful as its big brother’s, with a theoretical maximum data rate of 867Mbits/sec on the 5GHz band, versus the 1,733Mbits/sec of the X6S.

READ NEXT: Our full review of the X4S's big brother, the Netgear Nighthawk X6S

Netgear Nighthawk X4S review: Performance

Still, such figures can be misleading. A performance gap was clearly visible in our tests, but the X4S averaged a respectable 68% of the overall speed of the X6S – and in the kitchen, bathroom and utility room, it was still faster than most of its main rivals.

It only faltered when we stepped out onto the rear terrace: evidently its smaller aerials struggled to punch through the exterior wall, causing download speeds to drop to 5.6MB/ sec. This is absolutely fine for working and browsing the web, and should even support 4K video streaming as long as you’re not doing much else at the same time. Even so, powerline kits from Devolo and TP-Link gave us much faster al fresco connections.

Netgear Nighthawk X4S review: Features and interface

The physical feature set has been cut down, too. Where the X6S has four Ethernet ports, the X4S has none. The all-in-one design is handy, but it’s big enough to cause potential problems with neighbouring plugs – and there’s no passthrough mains socket.

On the upside, when you log into the web portal, you get the same rich management interface, which is loaded with technical information and settings. You can configure band steering and other Wi-Fi settings, set up an access schedule and block individual clients. As there’s no USB connector, you don’t get the sharing and streaming capabilities of the X6S, but that’s a niche feature anyway.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the very best Wi-Fi extenders

Netgear Nighthawk X4S review: Verdict

Clearly, the Netgear X4S extender is a lesser sibling of the X6S in every regard. That shouldn’t rule it out of contention, though, because it’s still one of the top performers within the genre, and not everyone needs best-in-class speeds and capabilities.

Even so, it would have been nice to get at least one Ethernet port, and perhaps a less bulky design. A lower price would make a big difference, too.

Key specifications
TypeWireless repeater
External antennae0
Power consumption (idle, measured)5.3W
Configuration interfaceWeb portal
Quoted maximum 2.4GHz wireless speed400Mbits/sec
Quoted maximum 5GHz wireless speed867Mbits/sec
EthernetNo
Dimensions84 x 76 x 161mm (WDH)
Price£100 (inc VAT)