Netgear’s new Nighthawk X4S is smarter than the average router

Netgear last night announced the Nighthawk X4S, the world's first modem router to utilise both MU-MIMO and Quad-Stream wireless technologies.

MU-MIMO (Multiple-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output) technology, theoretically speaking, allows multiple devices to reach the router's maximum wireless speeds, rather than sharing the bandwidth between them. Netgear says this can increase network performance by a factor of two when at least three devices are on the network. 

Quad-Stream Wi-Fi allows the router to deliver cumulative wireless speeds of up to 2.53Gbps across the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. Theoretically speaking, the Nighthawk X4S can reach speeds of up to 1733Mbps on the 2GHz band, and speeds of up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band.  For comparison, Netgear's Nighthawk D7000 non-Quad-Stream Modem Router has combined theoretical speeds of up to 1.9Gbps across its two bands.

Quad-Stream also refers to the fact that each Wi-Fi band has four data streams embedded within in it. Netgear says this should result in smoother wireless performance.

While the new wireless technologies utilised by the Nighthawk X4S sound impressive, the router's "Dynamic Quality of Service" engine steals the show. Powered by a 1.4GHz dual-core processor, the Nighthawk X4S is able to prioritise traffic on a granular level.

According to Netgear, the router can tell the difference between video being streamed from Netflix and video being streamed from YouTube. While Netflix uses adaptive streaming, YouTube will often try and gobble up as much bandwidth as is available. As such, the Nighthawk X4S would restrict how much bandwidth the device watching YouTube would have access to, to prevent it affecting Netflix’s performance.

The Nighthawk X4S is also device aware. If two different devices – a TV and a smartphone for example – are streaming the same video from the same source, the router will allocate more bandwidth to the TV, providing a better quality picture to the bigger screen.

Thanks to the new Quality of Service engine, the Nighthawk X4S should be able to help out Australians who don't have a much internet in the first place. Users who already have a fast internet connection are also catered for by Netgear's latest, which supports the standards used by the NBN's Fibre-to-the-Node network. 

The Netgear Nighthawk X4S has two USB 3.0 ports and a single eSata port for connecting external drives. In terms of wired connections, it boasts four gigabit Ethernet ports.

The Netgear Nighthawk X4S is available to pre-order now, and should be in stores from mid-September. It retails for AUD$549.

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