Netgear Nighthawk X8 R8500 AC5300 WiFi Router Review: Amplified AC

Netgear Nighthawk X8 R8500 Setup Menus

Diving deeper into the interface, we see it’s is divided into two areas; Basic and Advanced. Looking at the main window and its six boxes, you’ll notice that each is just a link that is replicated on the left, meaning every sub-menu is simply linked to twice. We get that some people like a GUI and others like things spelled out, so it offers both, but it seems like Netgear could find a way to make this either one or the other. As it stands now, it just seems odd to have the boxes linking to the items on the left-side. Here’s what we saw when we clicked each of them. First up are some of the basic menu options...

r8500 internet

The basic interface for the “Internet” displays your IP address, DNS settings and Mac Address.

r8500 wireless

The Wireless menu lets you change SSIDs, channels, and wireless modes for each band. You can also alter security options, change passwords, and enable Smart Connect.

r8500 qos

The Dynamic QoS menu is either on or off. However, from there you can drill down and prioritize devices in terms of bandwidth allocation. Note: this review was updated at the time of publication to reflect updates in Netgear's firmware in this section. Device QoS prioritization was previously unavailable until a recent firmware update from Netgear was rolled out. 

NighthawkX8 Attached Devices

NightHawk X8 Edit Devices

The Attached Devices menu lets you see, well, attached devices. You can then edit a device's name, set its priority for bandwidth in QoS and also designate a device type listing. 

r8500 blocked

The Access Control is a sub-menu under the Attached Devices and lets you block or allow individual clients, or ban everything all at once.

r8500 readyshare

Arguably one of the cooler features of Netgear’s networking devices is the ability to connect to an attached device, including a NAS drive, from any Internet connection.

Parental Controls

This is a weird one. In the Basic menu for the R8500 is an item labeled Parental Control, which we’ve seen on every other router we’ve reviewed. But clicking this menu item opens a new browser window that loads this page on Netgear’s website. This prompts you to download an application named Netgear Genie that is basically the exact same controls you see in the web browser, except in a smaller, application-sized form. Apparently the only way to access Parental Controls are from within this application.

r8500 genie

Once you have a look at this application, which we think is the same one it bundles with its USB wireless adapters, you will understand what we mean when we say it looks dated and is in need of modernization, in our opinion anyway.

Regardless, if you click on Parental Controls you’ve presented with this screen:

r8500 parentalcontrol

It says the service uses OpenDNS, so this is where our testing ceased as we didn’t want to sign up for another service we would never use, but here’s the screen it showed us.

r8500 opendns

When you begin clicking around the Advanced menus you can really dive deep into the router’s settings and options. Here’s a guided tour:

r8500 advancedhome

The home screen shows the status of all wireless networks, the internet connection, and the router itself.  Under Advanced sharing, you see connected devices and the address to access them via the local network, HTTP/S, FTP, and FTP over the internet. You can also configure the ReadyCLOUD service to access it from any connection via the mobile app as well.

Under Security you can access the Parental Control link from the Basic menu, the Access Control link that lets you block or allow devices, and a menu that lets you block sites by domain or keyword.

r8500 blocking

You can also block services such as "Quake III," which is on the list of included apps, schedule restrictions, and also enable email notifications. You have to know how to set this up on your own as Netgear provides no assistance. Also the only setting for “alerts” is for when someone tries to visit a blocked site.

r8500 advancedsetup

Finally, we come to the last menu, which is labeled Advanced Setup. We could go through each sub-menu, but there’s a myriad of data to deal with, so we’ll just provide a screencap of the Wireless Settings and the navigation tree on the left. As you can see the options are extensive.

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