[TTT] NetGear R7000 Nighthawk – Wireless and Firmware Issues + Review

Update: NetGear has officially confirmed this to be the case with the issues. Here is their reply: Nifer NetGear Forum Moderator Reply

Welcome to the first Tim’sTechTips article. I figured this would be a good one to start off with since I had issues with this awesome router and was able to fix them.

Just a little background before we get started. Firmware links are at the bottom of the post.

I do not use this router as an actual router and have it operating in Access Point mode so I cannot comment on it’s routing throughput personally. However, I have many friends and co-workers that I have recommended this router to and they have not had any issues with it. My issues started with I upgraded from the 1.0.4.30 firmware to the latest 1.0.6.28 firmware that NetGear released to add support for their Arlo cameras. There are numerous posts showing that they were having issues with the firmware as well, showing that this was not an isolated incident that just myself experienced. Below there is a guide on how to get your R7000 working as intended as well as the correct firmware you need.

As for how much I use the wireless for this router here is what I have running on it:

  • 4 Google ChromeCasts (1 first generation on the 2.4ghz band and 3 2nd generation on the 5.0ghz band)
  • Lenovo Stick 300 HDMI PC (2.4ghz band)
  • 2 Axis IP Cameras (2.4ghz band)
  • Linksys Wireless AC Bridge for a wired 720P IP camera (5.0ghz band)
  • EcoBee Wireless Thermostat (2.4ghz band)
  • Numerous Android Smartphones and tablets (we have a minimum of 7 Android devices connected when we are home)
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (5.0ghz band)
  • Brother MFC-9130CW Printer (2.4ghz band)

As you can see the wireless on this device has a lot running on it. In addition, to that I live in a condo and the competition for the 2.4ghz band is high, luckily my neighbors have yet to discover the 5.0ghz band. Now that all that is out of the way lets get on to the review, issues, and resolution to said issues with this router.

Review

I purchased this router at the end of October 2013 when my old DIR-655 was failing after years of service as an access point. As I stated above I only use this router in access point mode, I run a custom SFF PFsense box for my main router. I will be going over the wireless performance of the router in my environment (3rd-floor condo, Flexi core building). The router is placed in the center of my 1500+Sqft condo for best coverage and performance.

Setup

The setup is OK. By that, I mean that if you are an IT professional you will be a little annoyed with their wizard-style approach to how it sets itself up. I really wish they had the option to bypass the wizard and go directly to the main login page. Basically, just let it time out and click through the wizard and you will get to the main screen.

This router does support acting as a NAS with it’s available USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports. However when I tried a few external drives the router would not see them. This wasn’t a dealbreaker for me as I have ‘servers’ in the house but I was just seeing if it would work with the drives I have, it did not (they were generic, externally powered USB drives). From what I read online, this router is pretty particular about what drives you connect to it and none of the ones I have are compatible with it. It did work with every USB2.0 and USB 3.0 flash drives I installed on it and I got between 20-30MB/s on the flash drives.

Once you are logged in you can configure it like any other router. There is even an access point mode of operation in the advanced settings section. I am using this option for my home setup. When enabling the Access Point operation mode, the WAN port is bound to the LAN ports, effectively making it a 5 port gigabit switch with an access point built in. I have one device connected to the router for LAN access and the throughput is 90-100MB/s.

Wireless Throughput

I used multiple devices that I had on hand to test the wireless throughput. Here are the average results. The tests were done by transferring an ISO file from my local file server to the device. I was about 100feet away from the router with 1 wall in between the devices and the router. All the above devices were connected and in operation at the time of the test. Firmware was the 1.0.4.30 firmware with the wireless channels set to the least crowded in my building. Speeds are in megabytes per second, not megabits per second.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

  • 2.4ghz – 10mb/s
  • 5.0ghz – 60mb/s

Droid Turbo 2

  • 2.4ghz – 5mb/s
  • 5.0ghz – 20mb/s

Linksys AC Wireless Bridge

  • 2.4ghz – 12mb/s
  • 5.0ghz – 70mb/s

Lenovo Stick 300

  • 2.4ghz – 8mb/s

As you can see the speeds are pretty good on the 2.4ghz band given the load on the router and the interference in the building. The 5.0ghz (all 802.11AC devices) is pretty stellar and I can almost max out my gigabit network through the wireless.

Despite all the devices and interference I have in my building I am able to get a reliable connection in my garage that is 4 floors down on the 2.4ghz band. I can even pick up the 2.4ghz band in my parking lot that is a goo 600feet from where the router is.

Comments/Thoughts

As I stated above I am not using this as a router. However my brother, 2 of my friends, and one of my co-workers are using this as their ONLY router/access point and they are able to fully use their internet lines (25mbps-150mbps) with no issues. The router even has OpenVPN built in so you can setup remote access to your network through it, I have tested this and it works as expected. Given that it has a 1.0ghz dual core ARM CPU it has more than enough power for even a heavy home network. Multiple reviews online have stated that they were getting between 400mbps-500mbps for WAN to LAN throughput.

Issue & Resolution

About a month ago I had updated the firmware to the latest one that NetGear released, this is version 1.0.6.28. The firmware installed correctly and there were no issues right away. Fast forward 2-3 days after I installed the firmware all of our 2.4ghz devices started losing connection. The devices would connect for about 1 minute and then drop off the network. I restarted the router and it would start working for about 30-45 minutes and the same issue repeated. I factory reset the router and reconfigured it with the 1.0.6.28 firmware on it but it kept happening.

I called NetGear support and they recommended to do a factory reset again and that seemed to help for about 2-3 days, then the issue came back. Seeing as the router only has a 1-year warranty I started changing settings on the wireless side myself to get a better connection but it did not resolve the issue.

I looked online and started finding many forum posts having the same issue, 2.4ghz dropping out and 5.0ghz working fine. There were multiple people saying that factory resets were working on the new firmware and there were a few that were saying to roll back to an older firmware if you did not need the “Arlo” support that the new firmware added. I did a factory reset again and flashed the 1.0.4.30 firmware that I was on before the update. After reconfiguring the router with my settings, it has been working for over 2 weeks now with no issues.

The funny thing is that I went to the NetGear site before writing this article to get the firmware files to mirror here and they pulled firmware versions that they had released after the 1.0.4.30 version. I think they realized that their firmware was making the routers unstable. See here: What happened to the R7000 firmware 1.0.6.28?

Closing

All that being said I have and will continue to recommend this router for people that want great performance, reliability, and wireless coverage for their homes. Just make sure you are on the 1.0.4.30 firmware version. Anything after that is unreliable. However, SOME people on the NetGear forum have said that they are having no issues with 1.0.6.28 after a factory reset. YMMV.

I attached the 1.0.4.30 and 1.0.6.28 firmware for the R7000 that NetGear released. They have pulled all versions after 1.0.4.30 from their site as of 2/9/2016.

Downloads

 

Relevant Links

R7000 New Firmware 1.0.6.28 released

R7000 1.0.6 – They should call this the Nightmare WiFi Router, are firmware updates always this bad?

R7000 Firmware Version 1.0.6.28 – strange 3rd SSID

R7000 Firmware Version 1.0.6.28 – Arlo SSID Signal Interference with Existing Signals

R7000 2.4ghz not working but 5ghz is fine

What happened to the R7000 firmware 1.0.6.28?

NetGear R7000 Firmware – V1.0.4.30

New Features & Enhancements:

  • [New Feature] Certified for CE DFS Channels: Supports 5G band 2 and 5G band 3 channels for European Countries: Channel 52, 56, 60, 64, 100, 104, 108, and 112.
  • Added a manual database rescan button for DLNA.

Bug Fixes:

  • Fixed some WiFi stability issues.
  • Fixed the MAC 10.10 home route issue for VPN service.
  • Forces the PPPoE connection mode to “Always on” when ReadyCLOUD is enabled. This is to prevent ReadyCLOUD access failure when the PPPoE Internet idle times out.
  • Fixed the issue where ReadyCLOUD registration sometimes fails in areas of China.
  • Fixed the issue where the USB printer can’t be used when access control set to “Block all new devices from connecting”.
  • Fixed the issue where the remote router management fails in some browsers.

Downloaded from NetGear Support Site on 2-9-2016

NetGear R7000 Firmware – V1.0.6.28

New Features:

  • Supports Arlo camera. Set up the R7000 as an Arlo base station and connect an Arlo camera to the R7000 without needing an extra base station..

Bug Fixes:

  • Fixes the issue in which port 1237 cannot be used in port forwarding.
  • Fixes the issue in which the Kwilt binary cannot be downloaded in some cases.
  • Fixes the issue in which MTU is not restored when IPv6 is disabled.

Downloaded from NetGear Support Site for the R7000 on 1/6/2016

Announcing Tim’s Tech Tips [TTT] & Site Changes

I am announcing that I will be regularly doing tech reviews (I am calling it Tim’s Tech Tips or TTT for short) on all kinds of items. This includes but not limited to switches, routers, smartphones, access points, smart watches, computer components, monitors, etc. My goal is to post at least one review a week. I will eventually move to video reviews when I have the time but for now, they will reside here as traditional text reviews.

Being in the IT industry, I tend to work with everything from low-end to high-end equipment and most of the time you cannot find reliable reviews on the equipment. My goal here is to give an honest review on the hardware that my clients and myself personally review. If a company does provide me a sample for review purposes I will be sure to disclose that. However, being a man of integrity and morals I will give them an HONEST review and the fact that I received it for that purpose will not change a thing.

I have a few lower end/SOHO items, Sophos UTM series firewalls, UniFi Access Points, and Droid Turbo 2 that I am working on reviews for right now. Be sure to subscribe to the site via email on the sidebar or just follow my facebook page (located at the bottom of the site).

Along with product reviews, I will be writing articles to resolve issues with hardware and software. I have posted a few fixes for numerous SOHO and enterprise products and even though they are a few years old now they still get about 30-40 hits a day. As an IT professional that learned on the job I know how valuable internet resources can be when you are trying to resolve an odd issue you are having with a piece of hardware or software you have. I have one in the works right now for the NetGear R7000 router that I have at home for my main AP that I am doing a write up on to correct wireless connection issues I was having.

I got this inspiration from Linux tech tips but there are a lot of things he does that are NOT recommended for an actual production environment (like their weird RAID setup on their server that failed). I have years of experience in designing, installing, and maintaining actual corporate networks that range in size from simple single site installations to multi-site and multi-state sites. I have clients that have deep pockets and some that don’t. Having this experience allows me to put together solutions that fit the budget and get the best solution for the client.Don’t get me wrong about Linus though. He is a cool guy and has cool reviews but he is more geared towards the PC enthusiast/gamer versus the enterprise IT person.

Don’t get me wrong about Linus though. He is a cool guy and has cool reviews but he is more geared towards the PC enthusiast/gamer versus the enterprise IT person, this is where I plan to fall into place. I will specify recommended capacities and what kinds of applications I would recommend the item being reviewed for so that you can make sure you are getting something that is going to work for your application.

In addition, to providing more frequent and high-quality reviews and content, I have added Google AdSense ads to the site in places that do not intrude on the experience. I have done this to try and get the site to a point where I can take some time away from my normal duties to work on reviewing, acquiring, and testing equipment that is beneficial for people.

Thank you, everyone, for following my blog for as long as they have. We get about 200-250 unique hits every day already. I plan on growing the site and content. If the Tim’s Tech Tips takes off I will break it off to a separate domain and make it a regular thing. If you have any products that you want to see on here or are having a weird issue with a piece of hardware or software drop me a line via the contact form or email me at [email protected].