Netgear XR300 Review: The best budget gaming router?

The Netgear XR300 is a fairly new router in Netgear’s gaming division. With the XR300, Netgear has tried to bring a somewhat cheaper Wi-Fi router for us gamers onto the market and still pack it full of valuable features. Find out the router is capable of and whether it is worth the money in our Netgear XR300 review.

The Netgear XR300 Nighthawk Pro Gaming convinces with an easy setup and solid performance. A stable connection, a good throughput, and a very good WLAN range speak for themselves. There are still some small bugs in the dumaOS software, which affect the use a bit. Due to the high price for an AC1750 router, we have to deduct two points from the price performance. Nevertheless, the XR300 offers a lot of useful features, not only for gamers, and gets a clear buy recommendation in the mid-range price segment from us.

What We Like

  • Chic design
  • Good range
  • Extensive functions
  • Stable throughput
  • Easy setup
  • QoS, beamforming and MU-MIMO

We Don’t Like

  • Not very cheap
  • Software partly with bugs 
  • Not enough security settings for “network professionals”

Features & Price Performance

Before we even get started here, let’s take a quick look at the features:

  • Dimensions: 18.3×28.5×6.2cm
  • Weight: 720g
  • WLAN standard: 3×3 AC1750 (450mbps @ 2.4 GHz, 802.11n with 64 QAM support + 1300 Mbps @ 5 GHz 802.11acc)
  • Hardware: Dual-Core 1 GHz processor, 512MB RAM, 128MB Flash
  • Connections: 4x Gigabit LAN, 1x Gigabit WAN, 1x USB 3.0
Netgear XR300 Features-min

Special features: geo-filtering for ping optimization, quality of service, network monitoring, MU-MIMO, band steering/beamforming

We think this router’s features are more than sufficient for home networks. 4 LAN ports and a USB port for media devices or printers provide enough connectivity.

Sure, there are competing routers with more LAN ports, but most gamers only have one PC with a direct connection and run the rest of all devices over WLAN. Of course, in an office environment, only 4 LAN ports could become a problem.

There is definitely some of the magic of the XR300 in the 3-receive antennas. Netgear claims this router capable of covering even large homes with sufficient WLAN. We weren’t able to test it in a large house but can confirm the extensive range.

But that’s not all. This router has a fast 1.0 GHz dual-core processor to run DumaOS with it and enable a network that transmits a lot of data with maximum efficiency.

Sure, the AC1750 speed doesn’t really convince us with the rather steep price, but the excellent range, the many features, and the excellent software make up for it.

Netgear XR300 box

Besides, few of us have the ultimate fiber-optic line to get even more bandwidth. We think the Netgear XR300 is definitely worth the money.

Finishing & Design

Similar to most Nighthawk routers, the shape of the XR300 is very distinctive. The number of antennas is also a bit unique. This is because usually, most routers have either one, two antennas, four or more antennas. The Netgear XR300 comes with three antennas.

Netgear XR300 new

What’s more, all three antennas are located on the back. With routers like the XR300, having antennas on at least three sides of the device is increasingly common. This can lead to minor problems if the placement and installation are suboptimal. However, the antennas are already mounted here, and you only have to align them like in the picture below.

Along the front, there are a total of twelve LED indicators that give you information about power status, bands, connection status, and the individual connectivity of each cable connection.

Netgear XR300 indicators

There is also a USB port here. Similar to the reset button, the USB slot is recessed into the case. This placement is highly convenient, even though it may not have been the best aesthetic decision.

Netgear XR300 usb port

The four LAN ports, the power button, the power connector, and the WAN connector for the Internet cable are on the back.

Netgear XR300 ports-min

The XR300 also has nice ventilation slots on the side – and it needs them since it gets quite warm during operation. 

Netgear XR300 back

The casing’s workmanship is very solid despite the pure hard plastic construction. Nothing wobbles or creaks, the case withstands pressure, and all in all, we are satisfied with it. Nevertheless, the router is quite light and fragile, so you shouldn’t drop it too often.

By the way, this router cannot be attached to the wall. Too bad.

Netgear XR300 router setup: The setup

In this test category, the Netgear XR300 convinces us directly. After a few minutes of configuration, you can easily optimize practically every aspect of your connection. Extremely useful, for example, to stabilize your ping.

Since Sascha already has a modem from his provider hanging in the boiler room, he didn’t need a new one here. The Netgear XR300 only acts as a router and does not have an integrated modem like the Fritzboxes.

Accordingly, the old junk router from the Internet provider was simply replaced with the Nighthawk XR300, and the included WAN cable was connected to the modem. The power cable was plugged in, and off we went – the lights on the Nighthawk started flashing.

Note: Unfortunately, Netgear does NOT include an Ethernet cable! So if you want to connect your gaming PC to the router via cable, you’ll have to buy the network cable separately.

After that, sit down in front of the PC. Enter the WLAN name and password (which can be found on the sticker on the router). When you open your browser of choice and try to navigate to a website, you are automatically guided through the WLAN setup process:

  • Detecting the connection
  • Checking the Internet speed
  • Naming your new WLAN network (at this step, we would have liked to add a guest network)
  • Changing the password

Update firmware

If this doesn’t work for you automatically, type www.routerlogin.net into your address bar. After that, the setup should start directly.

At the end, you will be redirected to the DumaOS dashboard. All in all a very easy setup, even for router noobs like Sascha!

Tip for the setup of the Netgear XR300
Unfortunately, his internet provider BT in London had some trouble because the router doesn’t automatically log into the internet. That means: The internet did not work directly after the setup. If this is the case for you, you just have to ask your internet provider for the login data. You can enter them in the dumaOS web interface under “Internet Setup.”

Normally, you don’t have to do anything else for the setup and can start playing right away.

Software DumaOS

The DumaOS is an impressive, powerful operating system. We still sometimes got annoying error messages in the current version, which meant we had to log in again. Hopefully, this will be resolved soon, but otherwise, things are running smoothly.

When you log in to www.routerlogin.net, you’ll find a dashboard and several other tabs to navigate to. Among them, for example:

  1. Geofilter
  2. QoS settings
  3. Device Manager
  4. Network Manager
  5. and more

R-Apps and R-App-Store

These modules get the name “R-Apps,” and you can define for them which ones you want to run at startup or disable or enable them.

In addition, there will probably be an R-App Store in the future, where you can download more R-Apps. This will be integrated with future firmware updates.

DumaOS automatically starts a tour that guides you through the individual functions and gives some quick tips on how to get started. Additionally, each R app has a help button in the top right corner. If you click on it, you’ll get more information and, if necessary, setup instructions. Actually, everything is very intuitive anyway, but the tour and help buttons are nice touches.

We also like the device monitoring R-App. This gives you an overview of all the devices that are currently connected to the network and devices that are offline. You can rename each device and classify it as a smartphone, PC, laptop, PS4, etc. This allows you to see directly which devices are connected to the network. This allows you to see directly which devices are overloading your bandwidth. Especially handy in larger apartments with multiple users.

Band Steering & Beamforming

One really cool thing about the Nighthawk XR300 is that both bands (5 GHz and 2.4 GHz) are merged. All you have to do is connect the router to the WLAN network. For this, we have already created a name and password during setup.

Once the connection is established, the router takes care of the rest. There is no annoying choice between the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands, which saves you a lot of trouble.

Thanks to the so-called “band steering,” the router manage all your devices completely automatically and thus always chooses the best frequency band to optimize the bandwidth.

You can also selectively allocate bandwidth to the devices you choose. This means that our game consoles get the most juice or even the desktop PC for us gamers. That’s a really well-rounded solution!

With this, the Netgear XR300 Gaming Router is able to automatically switch each device between three states: Offline, 2.4 GHz, and 5 GHz operation. This optimizes bandwidth requirements and allows the router to maximize the efficiency of your network.

QoS app

If you don’t like the automatic allocation, you can easily do it yourself. To do this, use the QoS R (Quality of Service) app, which allows you to manually set the bandwidth allocation for each device.

Just remember to rename all end devices accordingly. Especially in family apartments, offices, or large shared apartments with a large number of devices, this can sometimes be quite chaotic.

Wide range of functions for router freaks

In terms of DumaOS, we have really only scratched the surface. There are a few options for those with a bit more affinity for networking and router setup. In the Settings R app, there are six tabs:

  • Setup
  • Monitoring
  • Content filtering
  • Management
  • USB storage
  • advanced settings

Clicking on one of these cards expands it into a list of customizable options. In addition, under the advanced settings, there are several extras such as port forwarding, VPN services, VPN client, dynamic DNS, remote management, and LED control settings, just to name a few.

That should definitely be enough to satisfy most networking experts and performance junkies among you. Sure, there are routers with more security settings or VPN options, but the available settings should be enough for gamers.

Netgear XR300 Review: Performance & Range

This wouldn’t be Only4gamers if we didn’t put the Netgear XR300 through some speed tests. We also tested the range.

Download/upload speeds

To test the performance of the XR300, Sascha first tested the “old” internet speed at his home with his old standard router (from internet provider BT) via a direct connection on his desktop PC.

The test setup looks like this:

Sascha’s aging MSI H97 Gaming 3 motherboard with the Killer E2205 Gigabit LAN Ethernet controller.

Sascha’s Sony Xperia smartphone

An internet line that unfortunately locks up at 50Mbps

So, keep in mind that Sascha’s setup definitely does NOT properly utilize the speed of the Netgear XR300. He then connected the Netgear XR300 and performed a second measurement under the same conditions to make a direct comparison. You can see the results for his desktop PC here:

On the left, the google speed test results with the old router, and on the right, those of the XR300. We can see that nothing has changed in terms of performance. However, this is because Sascha’s line is locked at 50Mbps by his provider. Therefore, the XR300 can’t take advantage of its speed. Also, note that the bandwidth your provider allocates to you depends on the day and can even fluctuate hourly. At least the upload has improved slightly.

Of course, we do not perform laboratory measurements under perfect conditions. Nevertheless, these numbers should give you a good estimate of the XR300’s potential (depending on the Internet line – there would certainly be more!). Here are the values from the Speedtest.net tool:

Finally, here are the readings from Sascha’s Android smartphone to test the WLAN. The measurements were taken on the 5Ghz band:

The same result here as well. Still, it feels like the Netgear XR300 uses the bandwidth better than Sascha’s old modem/router combination.

Also, everything seems to flow a bit faster and better now, whether it’s web browsing, streaming quality on Netflix, updating apps, downloading larger files, or in-game pinging. Sure, that might be a bit subjective now, but it should be said anyway.

Note: Could the XR300 squeeze out MORE performance with a thicker cable? Probably yes. Still, just like in Sascha’s case, your internet provider will give you exactly the bandwidth you pay for and no more (unless you upgrade your line). Also, cable Internet is supposed to be shared among all users in an area, which can also affect your speed. Therefore, it may be that there was simply more bandwidth available during the initial speed test.

Range & signal strength

One very clear thing in our Netgear XR300 test was the improved signal range and signal strength. Testing was done on Sascha’s Sony Xperia Android smartphone.

On the balcony, we permanently have 4 full bars with the XR300; with the old BTHub, we only had 2-3.

In the hallway outside the apartment, the XR300 easily added 10-15 meters of range even through two walls. So this should definitely bring quite a bit in larger apartments.

The three beamforming antennas of the XR300 do a great job.

Ping optimization via geo-filter

The geo-filter is one of the highlights of the XR300 for us. As most of you know, the distance between your PC (or console) and the game’s host (the server) is one of the main causes of lag in online gaming.

However, with the help of the Geo-Filter app in DumaOS, this problem can be combated. The app guarantees you a nearby host/server that will significantly reduce your ping. This, of course, gives you a smoother gaming experience.

Potential hosts are filtered, and you can choose to connect only to those within a certain radius that you define.

We don’t need to explain that a low ping is a big advantage, especially in competitive games like CS, Overwatch, or other fast shooters (where milliseconds matter!).

Games like Call of Duty, Overwatch, Halo 5, or Destiny 2 support geo-filters and let you test this feature excellently (especially because there are so many servers).

We tested out the feature in World of Warcraft and were able to do a good 5-10ms of ping well. Really handy!

Conclusion of our Netgear Nighthawk XR300 review

Is excellent network performance worth it for just under $200? That’s about how much you have to pay for the Netgear XR300.

We say yes, especially if you’re a semi-professional gamer who only plays online. In terms of connection performance, there are only two things you can control: your Internet package and your router. You definitely want to get the most out of both of those parts.

But there’s another convincing argument: Not only benefit from an optimized connection at home but your whole family (and visitors). We, therefore, give it a clear buy recommendation for the good overall package that the XR300 delivers. If it were a bit cheaper, we would have awarded even more points.

 It is of course a different story for casual gamers or people who already have a decent router. Hope you like this Netgear XR300 Netgear XR300 Review article, also help you to decide.

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