The PlayStation 5 will support WiFi 6 upon its release this November, but it won’t mean much if gamers don’t have a router that also supports the standard. There are some good models on the market from companies like D-Link and Linksys, with great general-purpose configuration software and security features. But if you were looking for something specifically made for gaming the pickings are still slim. Today it gets a bit less sparse thanks to today’s release of Netgear’s Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR1000, its first WiFi 6 gaming router.
The biggest selling points for WiFi 6 are increased throughput and lower latency, two features that are key to maintaining a smooth online gaming experience. So the XR1000 should be better thanks to its hardware alone, with speeds four times faster than older Nighthawk gaming routers and a 1.5 GHz processor keeping everything humming underneath its angular black shell. But the real appeal of the company first WiFi 6 gaming router is the software running the whole show, DUMAOS 3.0.
DUMAOS has been a mainstay of Netgear routers for a while now, allowing gamers access to Quality of Service (QoS) features like allocating bandwidth by device so that their PC or console can take priority when traffic is heavy or their connection experiences hiccups. DUMAOS 3.0 takes the level of control further by allowing users to not just choose devices, but the type of traffic that’s allowed. Web, messaging and file sharing can be de-prioritized while a player is busy live streaming on Twitch, or a parent can choose to allocate the router’s bandwidth to VoIP and VPN during work hours to prevent freezing and drop-outs because their kids decided to fire up YouTube or Netflix.
That’s useful to more than just gamers, but there are also a lot of features specifically aimed at those who compete online. Players can now pull up a “heat map” of the servers from games like Call of Duty, FIFA and Fortnite and see which ones offer the lowest ping rate. DUMAOS can also keep ping rate records over time, letting you view each server’s average and make a list of the best ones. Geofencing, a feature that allows players to only connect to servers nearby, has been improved as well. Previously the system would create a circle around their physical location and only connect within that radius, but now DUMAOS 3.0 lets users draw non-circular boundaries themselves, so they can include servers that offer a faster ping despite being further away. (Servers in less populated areas tend to go under-used and may offer a better connection than one located down the street in a major city.)
Other new features are focused more on the user’s connection, with speed, ping and bufferbloat tests being added. The last one, bufferbloat, allows you to test your connection when it’s under stress — uploads and downloads — versus when it’s idle. And parents will appreciate the addition of a timed traffic controller, which lets them block off applications or devices at specific times. So no Netflix during dinner or games after bedtime. You can also block off certain hardware permanently; this comes in handy with commonly-attacked devices like home automation tools, which can be locked down when you don’t need to make changes.
The PS5 may not be out until November but players can get their WiFi 6 connection set up starting now, with the NPG XR1000 hitting store shelves today for a pricey $350. Sure, that’s almost as much as buying a game console, but the peace of mind where you don’t have to worry about lag might be worth it during your next match.