Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 Gaming Router review: the ultimate gaming router

The Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 is the best gaming router in the world. Read T3's review to find out why

T3 Platinum Award
Netgear Nighthawk AX5400 WiFi Gaming Router (XR1000) review
(Image credit: Netgear)
T3 Verdict

In terms of gaming-focused routers we've got a new king on the throne, with the XR1000 taking the crown from the outgoing XR500. This is a gaming router that leaves little, if anything, to be desired, with a fantastic mix of powerful hardware, empowering software and a stylish new design making it a must-see for any gamer looking for better and faster connectivity in 2021.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Guided, simple setup

  • +

    WiFi 6 speed and latency

  • +

    Powerful triple-core CPU

  • +

    Best in class DumaOS 3.0 software

  • +

    Advanced network control features

  • +

    Far-reaching range

  • +

    Stylish, compact design

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Expensive

  • -

    Largely an iterative update on XR500

  • -

    Security feature requires subscription

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 specs

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 Gaming Router review

(Image credit: Netgear)

Dimensions: 11.61 x 7.87 x 2.51 inches
Weight: 1.32 lb (600 g)
Class: AX5400
CPU:  Triple-core 1.5GHz
RAM: 512MB
Flash memory: 256MB
Speed: 5.4GBPS (600Mbps + 4800Mbps)
Frequency: Dual-band (2.4GH + 5GHz)
Standard: a/b/g/n/ac
Antennas: 4
Connections: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x Gigabit  WAN, 4 x Gigabit LAN
Features: MU-MIMO, OFDMA, Beamforming, Guest Wi-Fi, Parental

Welcome to T3's Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review. Over the last week I've been testing out Netgear's new flagship gaming router and what follows is my considered take on it.

And, simply put, I had very high hopes for the Nighthawk XR1000 as, two years ago, I had been bowled over by the Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500, which this router very much builds on – so the last thing I wanted to see was a disappointing package.

Luckily, as I hope this Nighthawk XR1000 review will show, those fears were misplaced, as this is an excellent WiFi 6 router built from the ground up for gamers, and it offers a premium package that leaves basically nothing to be desired.

To get a flavour for what is delivered by the XR1000 watch the below video, which highlights its key features.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review: Video

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review: Price and release date

The Netgear Nighthawk AX5400 WiFi Gaming Router (XR1000) is available right now. The best XR1000 prices available today can be viewed below.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review: Design and build quality

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review gaming router


(Image credit: Netgear)

Take the XR1000 out of the box and you're greeted with a gaming router that, like its predecessor, looks like a futuristic starfighter from a sci-fi movie. Compared to the XR500, though, the XR1000 is more compact and sleeker in its lines, and stands out more thanks to a top-and-front mounted red grill vents.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review gaming router

(Image credit: Netgear)

As with the XR500, though, you get the same four antenna array, with each antenna numbered and simply scewed in place. The only other things in the box, aside from the router's paperwork, is its power supply and a standard network cable.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review gaming router

(Image credit: Netgear)

The ports on the XR1000 are around the back of the router, and consist of one internet WAN port, four ethernet network cable ports, a USB 3.0 port and a power port. Two antennas connect on the router's backplate, while two others attach on each flank.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review gaming router

(Image credit: Netgear)

On top of the router you get a series of LED light indicators, telling you which network ports are occupied as well as which Wi-Fi bands are being used, as well as WPS pairing and Wi-Fi on-off buttons. You also get the router's SSID name and password printed on a sticker on top, making adding new devices to the network easy (these details are also printed on the bottom).

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review gaming router

(Image credit: Netgear)

Overall the build quality on the Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 is top draw. The router looks and feels great in the hand and thanks to its compact design, it will be easy to slot into many people's homes and offices. Thanks to a pair of recessed hook holes in the base of the router, too, means that it can easily be mounted or divider, too.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review: Setup, software and features

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review gaming router

(Image credit: Netgear)

Setup of the Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 happens primarily through the Netgear Nighthawk app, which requires you to sign up for a Netgear account. Obviously, if you've already got one then this is a step you don't need to bother with, but if you don't prepare to spend a bit of time setting one up.

Once the account is created, though, and the app has connected to the router, you are then guided through its setup with a relatively straightforward setup wizard. This does things like check your internet connection and allow you to set up admin settings and a login for the router itself, as well as check for and update the XR1000's firmware. 

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review gaming router

(Image credit: Netgear)

Once setup is complete the router is then turned on so to speak and you can start to connect your devices to it either via the wired ethernet ports or via its 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz wireless bands, as well as login to it DumaOS.

The DumaOS, as I mentioned before, is one of this router family's strongest features, letting you access, tweak and customise every aspect of the router and your network. And, what's more it does this in an aesthetically pleasing and accessible user interface – those days of spartan screens full of text and numbers are gone.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review gaming router

(Image credit: Netgear)

From the DumaOS's dashboard you can access its various features, such as an in-built Geo-Filter, a Ping Heatmap, Quality of Service menu, device manager, network monitor, connection benchmarking tool and traffic controller, along with detailed reports of the system and its settings (such as RAM / CPU usage and wireless status).

For gamers, the Geo-Filter tool remains one of the most useful, as it allows you to block out high-ping servers and thereby protect the quality of your own connection. Selecting the server distance, creating blacklists or whitelists or notorious or welcome servers, per-game setting profiles and more is all easily achieved.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review

(Image credit: Future)

One of this router's best automatic, features, though is located under its QoS menu in DumaOS, and that is Congestion Control. This, when enabled, allows the XR1000 to analyse data coming through the router and optimise applications, such as game or streaming data, to help ensure a strong and stable connection even when the network is very busy.

There's also manual bandwidth allocation which allows you to select any device or devices on your network and then prioritise them in terms of bandwidth allocation. So, for example, if you were multiplayer gaming on Xbox during a peak period and wanted to ensure that all your available connection goes to service that, then you can do.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review gaming router

(Image credit: Netgear)

Ping heatmaps allow you to ping game servers and then see their quality on a worldwide map in relation to you, thereby allowing you to narrow down which ones you want to (or should) play on, while the traffic controller aspect of the DumaOS means you can block traffic to a device or application on a schedule – this latter feature is great for parents who want to limit the times online games can be played by children.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review gaming router

(Image credit: Netgear)

The benchmarking tool runs three separate tests on your connection, including an out and out speed test. This includes a download, upload and, interestingly, Netflix Speed test (this determines what picture quality you can get out of the streaming service). After the speed test you then get a ping test and ping test under load.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review gaming router

(Image credit: Netgear)

In terms of the XR1000's main performance features, the foremost is that it supports WiFi 6, which translates to up to 4.5x better performance than a standard AC router, with 6-stream WiFi delivering up to 5.4Gbps speeds.

It's range is also large thanks to this, beamforming tech and its four high-power external antennas, which means even very large homes can be covered. I could even access the XR1000's 2.4Ghz network at the bottom of my garden, for example.

Finally, the XR1000 also comes with support for Netgear Armor, which is a security system that operates at the router's level, thereby protecting every device on its network. This feature only comes with a 1-month free trial, though, and then costs extra on a subscription basis to keep. As I run ExpressVPN and a few other security tools I did not make use of this feature.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review: Verdict

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review

If you're a well-heeled gamer then the Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 is a great choice of router.

(Image credit: Netgear)

As I said when reviewing the XR500, the XR1000 is really easy to recommend, and not just to gamers. This is a router that delivers future-proofed hardware, easy setup and still the best router software I've ever used in DumaOS.

The 5,400 MB/s throughput is obviously the main selling point, but for me it is the power and control the DumaOS offers to control your network and connection that is the real star, and a reason why I would recommend this over other similarly-specced routers.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 gaming router review

(Image credit: Netgear)

The price, of course, remains the biggest barrier to entry, though, and when the XR500 retails for over $100 cheaper, you've really got to be sure that you need that extra performance I think in order to justify the XR1000's purchase. Being candid, I still think the XR500 will suit many gamers just as well as this upgraded model, and I would recommend anyone interested to really think which is better suited to your needs.

Overall, though, if you're a gamer and want to get the most out of your WiFi 6-enabled PS5, Xbox Series X or gaming PC, then the Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 is the best dedicated gaming router on the market, offering wireless coverage at AX5400 dual-band speeds. Price aside, it's impossible not to recommend to gamers.