Since we moved into our new house, we’ve had a few wifi issues, so I was pleased to be contacted by Netgear to review their Nighthawk EX7000 wifi range extender.
Our house was built over 100 years ago, with thick stone and brick walls. Whilst our router (a BT Home Hub 4) is in the centre of the house, the signal is very weak in places – especially the kitchen at the far end of the house. So a repeater, like this one, will allow us to extend the range of the wifi signal.
In the box, there’s the extender itself, a stand (so that the router stands up vertically), three detachable aerials, an AC adaptor and a quick-start guide.
The Nighthawk EX7000 supports Wifi Protected Setup (WPS). Fortunately, so does my router, so I just had to press a button on each device to configure the connection. Once set up, two new wifi networks appeared – a 2.4 GHz one, and a 5 GHz one – each following the same naming convention as my existing router. They even used the same wifi password.
Once I’d configured my iPhone to connect to the extender, rather than directly to the router, I found the signal much improved. At the extremities of the house, it dropped to two out of three bars, but this is significantly better than before where it’d lose connection altogether. It now means that everywhere in the house has a reasonable signal, which is a big improvement.
The Nighthawk EX7000 isn’t just a wifi extender, however. On the back of the extender are five gigabit ethernet sockets, so you can attach any devices without their own wireless connection using a cable. This will be great for my Raspberry Pi, for which I haven’t bought a wifi adaptor, but I’ve also plugged my Mac in as well. So far, the connection seems more stable than before although I’ve yet to play World of Warcraft on it – that will be its biggest test.
At the front, there’s a USB 3.0 port (type A). This can be used for sharing either a printer, or a USB storage device. As my printer is a multi-function device, I’ve kept it connected to my computer (although it is shared with Christine’s laptop using Bonjour anyway). Instead, I’ve plugged in a USB hard drive, and its contents are shared across the network using DLNA so that smart TVs and similar devices can access it.
By default, the EX7000 uses both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands simultaneously, but you can enable ‘FastLane’ mode to increase speed. I turned this on, so that it uses a 5 GHz connection to the router but a 2.4 GHz to my connected devices. As only my iPad and iPhone support 5 GHz, I decided that it would be best to use 2.4 GHz.
All in all, the Netgear Nighthawk EX7000 is a very powerful device that fills several roles. It can extend your wireless signal, but it can also share a printer, files on an external device, and connect devices without a wireless capability of their own. This explains the £130 recommended retail price, as it’s a premium product, although Amazon sell it for around £100 at present. There are cheaper devices out there that can do one or two of these things, but if you want a powerful, fast wifi extender that combines several features in one box, then I can recommend the Nighthawk EX7000.