The Netgear Nighthawk X4 wifi repeater plugs into the socket of a home to extend the signal of your router. It offers a theoretical cumulative speed of 2.2 Gb/s and is compatible with the Wi-Fi 5 standard (802.11ac).
The Nighthawk X4 (EX7300) is a block-shaped repeater that plugs directly into an electrical outlet. It measures 16 cm high and 8 cm wide and its depth does not exceed 4.5 cm. It is therefore a rather bulky model, especially in height.
Its weight of 300 g is rather well supported by its two-pin plug (without grounding). It hardly tilts once installed.
All the physical buttons of the repeater are located on the left side: a reset button, a power button, a WPS button and finally a switch to configure the repeater in access point or repeater mode.
The front panel contains all the lights to know the status of the device via an operating light, a WPS light and two indicators of the quality of the network with the router and the connected clients. The Gigabit socket is located under the repeater and therefore allows you to offer a wired connection to a PC, or to use the Nighthawk X4 in access point mode.
Regarding the technical characteristics, the EX7300 is a dual-band repeater with a speed of 450 Mb/s for the 2.4 GHz band and 1733 Mb/s for the 5 GHz band. It is also compatible with the OneName function that allows to name the newly created SSIDs by copying those of the router.
The Netgear EX3110 is installed in a traditional way and reminds the beginnings of wifi. Here, no dedicated application for smartphone, but a simple administration interface in a web browser. And contrary to what the manufacturer's website indicates, the EX7300 is not supported by the Netgear Nighthawk application, either for installation or management of the repeater.
Two solutions are available to the user to configure the repeater: the first via the WPS pairing feature, the second by going to www.mywifiext.net in the web browser after connecting to the temporary wifi created by the repeater.
The first solution is convenient if your box or your router has a WPS button. In this case, you just have to wait for the repeater to start (the Power led turns green), to press the WPS button and to wait for the WPS led to blink. You then have 2 minutes to press the WPS button on the box or router. Once the WPS LED is lit up green, the connection is done and the Router LED should also be lit up green.
If you have a router or box with two frequency bands (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz), you will have to repeat this operation twice; once for each band. Once the Netgear EX7300 is configured, you should see two new wifi network names (SSIDs) in this form: nomdelabox_2GEXT and nomdelabox_5GEXT - the password is the same as the one on your box.
The second method is best used with a computer. It is then necessary to connect to the configuration wifi of the NETGEAR_EXT repeater and access the address mywifiext.net on a web browser. Once in the configuration interface, it will guide you to select the SSIDs to be extended, enter the passwords and finally reboot to apply the configuration.
The configuration interface allows you to make some settings, but very basic. You will be able to change the name of the wifi networks of the repeater, as well as their passwords, update the internal software or choose an operating time slot. The only interesting point is that the FastLane option allows you to dedicate a frequency band for the connection between the router and the repeater, while the second band is allocated to client devices. This option allows - in theory - not to divide the bandwidth of a given frequency band by two, but limits the use in 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz, knowing that often connected objects are not compatible with the 5 GHz band.
To evaluate the performance of the Netgear repeater, we repeated the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz signals from the Netgear RAX200 router to which we connected a laptop via an adapter to the 2.5 Gb/s socket. In order to measure throughputs, we transferred a file (a disk image) of 4.73 GB from the first laptop to a second one equipped with an Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 chip, but also to a fixed desktop PC located upstairs and connected to a Gigabyte GC-WBAX200 PCIe card, also equipped with the Intel AX200 chip, but with an external antenna.
The router is positioned at a corner of the home, the repeater plugged into a socket 15 cm from the floor almost in the middle of the home. We make a measurement at 1 m which gives us the optimal data rates (point 2), another in a room at about 5 m from the repeater with a load bearing wall opposite the router (point 4), a third measurement on the fixed PC upstairs through a concrete floor (point 3), and the last measurement upstairs as well, but above the first room where the router's data rates are the lowest (point 5).
On the 2.4 GHz band, the raw performance is not very high: 110 Mb/s under the best conditions, or 13.75 Mb/s on average during a transfer. Not enough to have fun transferring large archives. However, data rates vary very little. An example is our 5th measurement point, which is usually complicated in terms of throughput and therefore range. Not so for the EX7300, which handles the concrete slab, partitions and bed springs perfectly, finally offering an average throughput of 79 Mb/s, or just under 10 Mb/s. The Nighthawk X4 thus offers an excellent range on the 2.4 GHz band.
On the 5 GHz band, the EX7300 shows its full potential with a maximum average throughput of 396 Mb/s, or a transfer rate of almost 50 Mb/s. This throughput hardly decreases, regardless of the position of the connected customer in the home.
The Nighthawk X4 is relatively economical. Its power consumption at rest oscillates between 3 and 4 watts, and rises to 8 watts when used on its two bands. These figures are in line with the measurements of other repeaters.
As you could notice, the connection is made on a type E plug (phase + neutral) and is deprived of ground plug. Its use will condemn an electrical socket, since the EX7300 has no female socket.
Netgear proposes to download the WiFi Analytics application (Android). It is an application that allows you to know the state and the congestion of the Wi-Fi network. Several data are proposed, such as channel interference or signal strength; not necessarily necessary, but it has the merit of working on all networks, not only with those of the brand.
The Netgear Nighthawk X4 repeater offers everything you'd expect from a wifi repeater: extended coverage with the 2.4 GHz band, especially for connected objects - generally incompatible with 5 GHz -, and excellent performance on the 5 GHz band. The only drawback is its installation, which is a bit dated since it requires the WPS button or a web interface.