In this post, we compare the Nighthawk AC1900 vs AC3200 as two of the best routers available on the market...
Are you shopping for a new router? Do you know how to differentiate one from another? Most people who buy routers only have one question in mind – which one will give me the fastest internet connection?
Well, the answer to that is not as straightforward as you think. The fact is that the speed of one’s internet connection depends on numerous factors, and not just the quality of your router.
Two of the best models today are the Nighthawk AC1900 and the AC3200. But what exactly makes these two different? Here’s what you need to find out.
Note that that the 1900 and the 3200 aren’t model names and are therefore are NOT unique to the Nighthawk brand. There’s actually an Asus 1900 and a D-Link 3200 router. This is because the 1900 refers to the fact that this router can handle 1.9Gbps worth of data. Before you even read this article, keep in mind that what we’re comparing here are the 1900 and the 3200 from the Nighthawk brand.
If you do a search in the market, you’ll find that the Nighthawk AC1900 goes by the name of R7000 while the Nighthawk AC3200 actually goes by the name of R8000. Please keep those in mind as we will be using those terms through the writeup.
Now that we have that out of the way, here’s what you should know about the two.
AC1900 and the AC3200 – The Difference
As mentioned, 1900 and 3200 form part of the definition of the router. Once you see it displayed on the box, you’ll know exactly what the router is capable of in terms of data streamed.
Specifically, an AC1900 router offers, in theory, a maximum speed of 1900 mbps. These megabytes are coursed through two bands – one is 2.4GHz and the other is 5GHz. By default, connections run through the 5GHz because it has a faster service. In some cases however, you may switch to the 2.4GHz if there’s a problem with the connection.
The AC3200 therefore means that the service has a maximum speed of 3200 mbps. It has three bands – two of 5GHz and one 2.4GHz.
Similarities between the Two
Coming from the same manufacturer, it’s not surprising that the R7000 and the R8000 have similar features. Here’s what you can expect from both:
- Beamforming + Capability
This refers to the ability of the router to “beam” the WiFi directly onto the direction of the devices. You see, ordinarily, the signal would be splashed all throughout the room, like water being thrown all over the place. The Beamforming feature of the AC1900 and the AC3200 instead creates a more streamlined movement for the signal. Instead of water being splashed around, think of an invisible string coming from the router and moving directly to your device. The router understands the connection of the device and focuses most of the energy on it, creating a more efficient connection to the internet.
- Built with ReadyShare
Devices are getting smarter and both routers have evolved for this change. Users can now plug in a USB printer to the router and wirelessly print or share media with the router as the main connecting point.
- Comes with 1GHz Dual Core CPU Feature
This additional feature makes processing of data easier through the system. The large capacity prevents overloading so that you can stream videos, make downloads, or browse throughout the hours of the day without any problem.
- USB Port
Obviously, since you can connect a USB printer to the router, there’s a slot for other USB connections. Both routers feature a 3.0 and 2.0 port. It’s an old school feature but something that many users will appreciate because not everyone has successfully transferred to a completely wireless set up just yet. This helps expand the options of users when accessing information or executing functions they need.
- Ethernet Ports
Most people who use routers connect wirelessly – but this isn’t always the case. Some still utilize the old school Ethernet connection, especially when it comes to desktops. It’s not surprising since most desktops are set up close to the router, providing more reliability to the internet access. Fortunately, both R7000 and R8000 come with this old-school feature for LAN connectivity.
All products released under the Nighthawk name come with four LAN Ethernet ports which should let you connect several devices including televisions and printers.
- Netgear Genie Feature
It’s an app you can download together with the router to help with setting up your wireless network at home. The app functions primarily for media streaming through different devices – such as your Android, your Apple products, and your laptop.
- Setup Ability
Both are wonderfully easy to set up – especially with the addition of the Netgear Genie feature. In either case, users can just plug and connect the router to their system before connecting all their devices to the common network. It takes as little as 5 minutes to set up before you can start browsing the internet with the new and improved speed. Since the R8000 comes with more features, it may take more to understand the learning curve necessary to setup this installation. Afterwards however, the rest should be fairly easy.
Differences to Note Between the Two
Okay, so once we’ve got the similarities out of the way, it’s time to talk about the differences. Take a careful look at what makes the R7000 distinct from the R8000 as this would be your main reason for choosing one over the other.
- Tri Band Technology with the R8000
This refers to the three bands we talked about in a previous part of this writeup. As mentioned, the R8000 is the one that features Tri-Band technology, which basically means that it is capable of transferring more data wirelessly. Speed-wise, you get better results with the R8000, but keep in mind that the 3200 capacity is limited by your own provider’s availability. Hence, if your provider’s internet speed is consistently below the 3200, then there’s not much you can do about it.
- CPU Offload Ability
Another feature you can’t find with the R7000 but has been added to the R8000 is the offload processor. This router comes with roughly 1000 MHz of processor speed combined with a total of 3 processors to help offload the CPU. What does this mean? Well, in simplest terms – this helps prevent the device from being overworked. The offload processors help strip the pressure off the CPU so that it continues to work efficiently. Think of a little hole where the steam escapes to prevent the pot from over boiling – this is essentially what the offload processor does. Note though that the offload processor is the only distinct thing about the R8000. The R7000 also comes with the 1000MHz but doesn’t come with any offload processor.
- Devices Connected
With the R8000, you can connect more devices without compromising on the quality of the internet connection. If you’re in a home with multiple users at the same time, the R8000 will offer better chances of consistent internet speed.
- Security Protection
Oddly enough, NetGear failed to add advanced security features to the R8000. You can only find this with the R7000 which basically makes it harder for people to use your wireless connection without your permission. The device uses a sophisticated encryption system via WPA or WPA2 to keep hackers or WiFi thefts at bay. This adds a bit more security to your system especially when combined with a fairly strong password. Unfortunately, the R8000 doesn’t come with this feature.
- Amplified Antenna
The R8000 comes with 6 antennas to boost wireless service throughout the house. In contrast, the R7000 comes with just 3 antenna attachments. Will this make a big difference? Well, yes. Much like radio towers, these antennas help spread out the wireless service throughout the house so that you get better reception no matter where you decide to sit when browsing the internet. Hence, if you want better service – the R8000 would be the better option. Of course, you can always add more receivers for the R7000 to spread out the service and help it reach farther places of the house.
- Quality of Service Feature
One of the more amazing additions to this particular product is the Quality of Service or the QoS System. It’s basically a feature that lets you prioritize certain devices so that they get the best internet connection, just in case the service is lagging. This is perfect for family homes where parents want to limit their kid’s use of devices for browsing the internet. As more people switch to working for home, this setup is also a good idea so that moms and dads can focus all the service through their work laptops or phones to ensure that there will be no online meeting lags or problems when sending work files. There’s even a default setting feature that can help refresh the router so that there’s no need to constantly configure the system.
- Comes with Memory
Although it’s unlikely that you will use this often, the R8000 router comes with a bit of memory for storage purposes. There’s a 128MB flash memory and around 256 MB of RAM in the device. It’s fairly small compared to the memory sizes of most devices today. However, it would most likely be used together with the ReadyShare feature of the router. Hence, a big memory isn’t really necessary – especially since there are USB ports available.
- Installation of a 3rd Party App
It’s also possible to install a 3rd party app for utilizing this router. As many homes get “smarter” and homeowners start to rely more on smart devices, it makes perfect sense for the R8000 to allow integration with other products. This way, you have a good sense of control over many features of your home, simply through your mobile phone.
- Lacks MU-MIMO Feature
Here’s the bad part – both R7000 and R8000 do NOT have the MU-MIMO Feature. This is also known as the Multi User Multiple Input Multiple Output which basically refers to how many devices can be served at once by the router. A router with MU-MIMO can send data concurrently or at the same time to different connected devices. Again, the R7000 and the R8000 do NOT have this feature,
But wait – does that mean you can only connect one device at a time to the router? Of course not. It’s possible to connect several devices to the unit and use them all at the same time. The R7000 and R8000 simply works by sending data to each one in rapid succession. The key word here is rapid. This is because the transmission of data is done so quickly that you can barely feel it. Hence, multiple people using multiple devices can still connect on the router at the same time without problems. It’s just that with a MU-MIMO, this concurrent connection would be smoother for everyone concerned.
- Cost of the Product
Price-wise, the R8000 is a bit more expensive. This isn’t surprising since this is the latest Nighthawk model and is marketed to be an improvement over the R7000.
- Overall Design
While the features of these two routers should be the main consideration when making a choice, there’s no question that the design of these models also play a role into how you decide. Fortunately, both the AC1900 and the AC3200 have a sleek look that fits well in the modern home. Sizes are well within the average and should sit well on most flat surfaces. Done in a pure black finish, the routers practically blend into the home furnishings and would be rarely noticed, therefore not disrupting the overall look and feel of your home.
Conclusion – Which Should You Choose?
All in all, the Nighthawk AC1900 R7000 and the AC3200 R8000 are both excellent choices, coming from the Netgear brand which is well-respected as a producer in this particular industry. Your choice really depends on which price range you’re more comfortable with. If you have the money for it – get the latest R8000 and enjoy the added features for a faster internet speed.