Third party routers are generally a good idea if you can afford them. They give more performance than the routers you get from your ISP, but the trade-off is that they cost.
Just how much performance you want/need will depend on how much cash you have to shell out on a new router. If you have deep pockets and want performance, then the Netgear Nighthawk X4S is the one to go for.
The router is big (285 x 185 x 50 mm) and looks like a stealth bomber. Under certain circumstances, it is capable of delivering 2.53 Gigabits per second over a combined 2.4GHz (800Mbs) and 5GHz (1733 Mbps) using Wave 2, MU-MIMO – multi-user, multiple input and multiple output technology. If you didn’t understand that last sentence, basically, more devices can each get more speed out of the router.
The router has a WAN Ethernet port to connect to a fibre or cable modem and an integrated ADSL/2/+/VDSL/2 telephone jack so you can plug it directly into the phone line. There are also 2x USB 3.0 ports (for NAS storage and charging), an eSATA port for external storage, and four Gigabit Ethernet ports.
There is a Genie app (available for iOS, OS X, Android or PC) to set up the modem. This discovers the modem and alerts you to its internet status and also provides s a network map (with device names if given), basic router setup (SSID, password etc.), AirPrint, My Media (for connected DLNA devices), and other information. We found setting up very easy.
The router allows you to set up guest networks and supports VPN (IPSec, L2TP, PPTP), has SPI and NAT firewalls, and Denial of Service attack prevention.
Dynamic QoS allocated bandwidth to games, video streaming or voice. It can support four devices per data stream and beamforming technology via four antennas. The router is powered by a 1.4GHz dual-core processor and able to prioritise traffic on a granular level.
Prior to testing, another router we use here in AG towers manages to provide us with a download speed of 46Mbps. The X4S managed to squeeze out a couple more Mbps from the line.
The big difference we noticed was how well signal got through our office. In our Victorian garret, thick walls mean that WI-Fi extenders are needed to ensure connectivity throughout and to the outside. The X4S proved that it was better over longer distances and through old brick walls.
OK, admittedly there are still a few dead spots but definitely fewer than before. We look on this as a plus. We think there is scope for better connectivity when new devices are released with MU-MIMO capability.
The router costs £269.99 from Amazon, so you will be parting with some cash, but if you really need a router that does the job, it is well worth considering.