After the review of the Orbi Wi-Fi system went live, I was initially considering covering other company products before getting back to NETGEAR. But it just so happened that products announced at CES were coming to market in various regions, and I was asked if I could cover another NETGEAR product right after. This one happens to be different enough in intended application from the Orbi that I agreed, partly also because I had personally seen it at CES. NETGEAR is a massive brand in the networking field to where they are able to create new divisions to address the needs of the market. As such, 2018 saw their new Nighthawk PRO Gaming division which has a specific, new set of networking products introduced. Perhaps, it is good research from their part, seeing how a "gaming" branded product can be seen as more lucrative if the past few years of PC DIY products have shown us anything, but NETGEAR tells us there is more to the eye than the name suggests, and that the Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 router more than merits the moniker. Time to put it through the paces then, and thanks again to NETGEAR for providing a review sample to TechPowerUp.
At first glance, the Nighthawk XR500—as will be referred to henceforth to save on time—looks no different than most other routers that make up the Nighthawk family of Wi-Fi routers. Indeed, we have a more traditional form factor as opposed to what we saw with the Orbi and other such Wi-Fi systems that are designed with aesthetics in mind to fit in the living room just as much as in a dark corner, with a rectangular base and external antennas that can be oriented to suit your needs. There are LEDs on the front with legends associated with them for, presumably, function over form, but this thankfully does not make it a gaming router by itself. No, what makes this special is what is ticking inside and the software support for it, which we will get to in due time. So let us get on with the review as we take a look at the specifications below.