Getting a wireless signal to cover your entire house or small-business is not an easy close, so if WiFi is important to you then you are almost required to pick up a Wi-Fi extender.
There are a lot of options to get this job done, however, if WiFi performance is important to you then there’s only a few options, and the Netgear Nighthawk EX7000 is definitely one of the best out of all those.
Boosting a top speed of 600Mbps at the 2.4GHz band and 1,300Mbps at the 5GHz band, and both can even be run simultanusely, however, these speeds can only be achieved when paired with a AC1900 router, like the Nighthawk routers, with a range of other professional features that make it an awesome option for anyone looking for pure WiFi performance.
Not only does the EX700 carry the Nighthawk name, but it also features a similar design to the Nighthawk router, featuring its own external antennas and a design that looks very sci-fi, but also quite a bit tower block like when stood up.
And you probably do want to stand it up, or mount it as it is an extremly large device, sized at 252 x 174 z 31mm it’s very far from your average all-in-one plug unit, it also weighs 635g, so it’s not heavy but it also isn’t light, that said if you are carring the EX700 around with you then you are doing something wrong.
The extender itself has been built using plastic, with a glossy black and grey finish.
What makes this product really useful, is actually around the back, with a total of five Ethernet ports, it means you can connect a range of devices on an entire other floor, with faster speeds and without needing WiFi capabilities on those machines, or overkill cables, and nobody likes cables trailing around the house.
Also on the back, you will find the reset button, WPS button, power switch and the power connection.
One other important feature is the USB 3.0 around the front, which can be used to share files from a USB hard drive, or used to connect a printer to your network that doesn’t already have that capability.
We would prefer if it had two USB ports, but if your router already has USB ports than that’s probably not a huge problem.
Much like Netgear’s other networking products, the EX700 is extremly easy to set-up, plug it in, tap the WPS button on your router and then on the extender, and you are done. If you don’t have WPS on your router then you can also simply connect to the extender over WiFi or Ethernet and the Netgear Genie software will start up, and take you through the setup steps.
Once finished the new extended network will show as the same name as your pre-existing WiFi, but with an “_2.5GEXT/ _5GEXT” at the end of it, it can also use the same password to make things easier.
You are then also able to access the settings, to access a range of other settings, which can also be done from the Netgear Genie app on iOS or Android.
One other clever thing that the Nighthawk EX700 does is something called FastLane, which can be settup within the settings and allows you to speed up your connection by using both bands to create on connection.
There are three options for this, basic which enables both 2.4GHz and 5GHz for compatibility, and FastLane 2.4GHz – 5GHz/ FastLane 5GHz – 5GHz, which cuts the 2.4GHz to provide only a 5GHz connection.
In use this creates an awesomely fast experience for any compatible device, however, it does mean that the extender will not work with any 2.4GHz devices.
During our tests, I used the extender with two different routers and configurations, the first with my original router and the 2.4GHz – 5GHz configuration, and the second with the Nightgear router that I also tested recently with a 5GHz – 5Ghz connection.
Although both where awesomely fast, the 5GHz-5GHz does take the edge over possible speed, so if you have a 5GHz router (and you probably should if you are looking to pay this much for an extender) then you should definitely use the 5GHz – 5GHz connection, although it will work extremly well if you only have a 2.4GHz compatible router.
We found that the EX700 would deliver around 34-38Mbps on the 2.4GHz connection at 2m, and around 20-24Mbps at a 10m distance on this same band, so that should mean extermly decent speeds at a distance that could be the upstairs of your house, or even down the bottom of the garden. But if you place the extender right where you need the best extended connection, you will get the best results.
At the 5GHz connection things get a lot faster, with around 45-47Mbps speeds at 2m, and 25-29Mbps at 10m, meaning you definitely want the 5GHz connection enabled.
These are simply not speeds that you will find in your average extender, so if you want something truely fast then there aren’t many other options than this extender.
In conlusion, if you want to extend you network around you home, or even further, across two buildings, then the EX7000 is an ideal option, t is fast at a variety of ranges, has a range of features that make it great for the performance-focused, and it looks fantasic.
However, to get that kind of performance you are going to have to pay a hefty price, costing around £120, it’s quite a bit higher than an average extender, so you need to be serious about speed.
That said it is probably a little overkill for most people.
Disclsoure: Netgear sent us the EX7000 for review purposes, it was sent back upon conclusion.