** I received this router for free as part of the NETGEAR review program in exchange for my honest evaluation of the product which is below **
Overall, when compared to the other routers I've owned and used, this router is as performant as any. It can easily serve my entire 2 story home, which is great as I've never been a fan of splitting access across multiple access points. Even when using the same setup on both to allow auto-switching, many of our devices tend to hang on to the poor connections. All that to say, this thing is a beast as a home router.
That said, this device is not priced in the range of a typical home router. If it didn't perform better, the price would be impossible to justify. As it is, it is a great router, but it still may not be worth the premium to everybody. I would definitely recommend it to a small business owner who was looking for a stronger setup without wanting to go into a more full blown enterprise setup.
When the package first arrives, you can tell that a ton of time and effort was put into the packaging. From the outer box to the way the items are packed, it feels like a premium device. The weight of the device itself is impressive and you can certainly tell that it has more to it than a typical router. This is certainly not an item that you can just throw in to an existing setup without any consideration of the footprint, so keep that in mind.
One HUGE plus to this model versus some of Netgear's previous models is the bulid quality and attachment mechanism for their antenna. In the past, no matter how much I tried to tighten down the antenna bars, they would inevitably become loose and fall down. These antenna are much more rigid and much more substantial in size. They adjust easily, but there is enough pressured required that you can tell they are secure when you let go of them and they stay put.
While the device is substantial, as I mentioned, I love the fact that it has a shorter front which houses all of the indicator lights. This works well for our home as we can stowe it behind our television, which is a couple inches off of the table on legs, and slide the front of the router under the bottom of the teleivsion. This keeps the bulk of the device hidden away, but makes it easy to glance at and tell if anything is going on (i.e. has somebody accidentally turned off WIFI).
The setup app is very nice and makes it much easier than it otherwise would be. That said, I wish you could administer the device from the app. Once the device is setup, the app is still useful, but only to see what devices are connected along with the SSID/PW setup for the 3 WIFI bands.
One note on the Plex Media Server - I was very excited about this router in part because our family heavily uses a local Plex setup. Unfortunately, this router can only be used for this purpose if you attach a HD. Our current digital library is already housed in a rack mounted RAID and I have no interest in changing that physical setup. The router does not allow you to point to a network location as the source for the material Plex serves, as far as I can tell and from what I've read online, which means that we're sticking with our current setup which offloads the PLEX handling to a NAS. It would have nice to be able to benefit from the transcoding power of the router, as our NAS cannot handle that load, but we only use PLEX locally so it isn't a game changer for us - certainly not worth purchasing additional drives and an additional housing to attach them to the device, which - as mentioned previously - already takes up a nice chunk of real estate itself.
I do NOT have any devices that take advantage of the 802.11ad standard, which, in my opinion, WOULD be a potential game changer if making a decision for or against this device. I think that is important to note because much of the price on this device is going to be in things like AD and the PLEX server, neither of which served to benefit me personally at this time.
I've never loved the software interface NETGEAR uses and that is still the case. I find that it is overly cumbersome, and in many cases it is hard to pin down exactly what I'm looking for. I LOVE the ASUS interface, by comparison. That said, there are plenty of solutions to this problem if somebody is interested in running separate software on top of their router.
As for my recommendation - If you are looking for a router at home and don't need all the power or bells and whistles this device offers, the price point is probably not worth it - at that point, you're buying a very expensive router and not using it to its full power.
I would say if you have the money to spend, want to make use of AD or PLEX or just want to make sure you have one of the most powerful consumer level routers around, this item is definitely the one to buy. It would also likely be a good choice for somebody that wants/needs a bit more power out of their router, but isn't ready to jump into a more robust infrastructure setup.
** I received this router for free as part of the NETGEAR review program in exchange for my honest evaluation of the product which is above **