Alex Kaloostian

Apple Certified Master Trainer | Systems Integrator | Video Editor | Motion Graphics Artist

How I learned to stop worrying and love wifi [UPDATE]

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I’ve been happy with my Apple Airport Extreme for a few years. I have an old house with plaster walls and metal mesh, so basically I live in a faraday cage. The Apple wasn’t strong enough to reach all corners, but it WAS stronger than the other leading reviewed routers- I tested the Google OnHub and the Netgear Nighthawk last year, and the Apple was strongest. AND I can boost the signal with two Airport Expresses, which have the added benefit of streaming music, so I don’t have to pay for Sonos’ expensive offerings.

But I want more control, I want to play with routing tables and VPN and QoS, and I want to see if the new generation are stronger, so I just picked up a NetGear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 R8000 (because you’re not a quality product unless you have three nonsensical names), and I am both looking forward to, and dreading, setting it up and connecting my whole house again from scratch. Good thing I have the day off.



Well, I need more time to work on a detailed review, and I am shipping up to Canada tomorrow for a race, so I’ll be reporting back next week. But in the meantime, here are my first impressions:

  • Very easy to set up, after just a tiny bit of confusion. It kept telling me to disable my old router, even though I did. I clicked “I have no access to the old gateway” and all was good.
  • The router had a unique wifi SSID and password printed on the bottom, which was nice- no chance of neighbors or wardrivers detecting it and hopping on my wifi.
  • However, the web page to configure the router still uses, yup, “admin” and “password”.
  • With one 2.4GHz channel and TWO 5GHz, my houseguests were bound to get confused. I followed a tip from an Apple engineer, and made all three the same name, and I’ll let my computers figure out which antenna is strongest. I don’t know why I never did this on my Airport- perhaps it didn’t let me? I forget.
  • VPN is problematic, I’m still working on it. I can connect, but I’m not getting a different public IP.
  • Port forwarding was very easy to set up.
  • Static IP reservations were very easy to set up, but they don’t seem to be working over wifi
  • It was very easy to set up something I’d always wanted to get around to- a dynamic DNS thanks to no-IP. I don’t know if its normally free, but an account is free and can be set up right in the Netgear interface.
  • Connecting a USB drive worked fine, and I could shave via a web page: port 8443, read only. I haven’t tried two-way file sharing yet, and it doesn’t seem like it will work with Time Machine.
  • It has an iTunes streaming music server built in. Thats weird.

So all in all, its a mixed bag, mostly good. But here’s the most important points:

  • The wifi signal strength is very, VERY strong. I have a really clear signal and fast speeds in every nook and cranny of my house. MUCH better than any base station I’ve ever tried in my house.
  • The Netgear Genie app is a garbage fire. DONT install it. Use the web interface instead, its pretty good.

Author: alexkaloostian

I'm a video editor, motion graphics designer and Mac IT consultant in the Boston area.

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