I was investigating lately my slow Time Machine backups which were having an ill effect on my life. this drove me to look at NAS solutions as a replacement to old faithful 2008 Macbook. But i was a bit more through to verify my real pain point as the specs on most NAS are around the same if not lower than the Macbook dual core 4GB.
Even with its USB 2 drives it was still relatively speedy compared to the network throughput. when working with internal drive speed test.
So what was the real issue? i was wondering long and deep whilst trying many options in the configuration of the Billion BiPac 7404VNOX.
First i was looking at my current wired speed vs the wireless, it gave me the most grim reality, my router was slow! so slow that i was at best writing to the shared drive at 6MB/s and reading at 7MB/s. I was not sure what drove this slowness and in what areas the real culprit lied. I tried to get it to a proper 802.11n speeds to no avail. Wireless 2.4 Ghz channel was clear from competition, signal was strong, SNR was great. what was it?
Long nights and changes in the properties or the reading of many painful other experiences i came to the conclusion that it must be the router itself and that it probably has reached the end of the road for wireless speeds.
I was looking at the top of the market AC5300 and AC3200 dual bands and decided that i agree, there is no real need for more than AC1750 at this point and the AC1900 is quite good for my needs. this is quite counter intuitive to my nature to not buy the latest and greatest and didnt feel initially right. but once i figured out that all my devices just don’t have the latest and greatest network chips in them i was convinced this would be a good choice.
I have had 2 options to choose from in reality.
Asus RT-AC68U and the NETGEAR R7000 Nighthawk AC1900 and even went through a review comparing both, well many reviews comparing them and got to the point that i believe the Netgear was about to supply me better usability due to its features. This review which was giving the indication the Asus is better i was convinced the Netgear was my best option.
Thus i went out to purchase the Netgear Nighthawk R7000 from the local shop.
Once i got it home and dedicated my time to adapt it to my network i figured out how good the system was.
The first steps in the setup including starting the router up and logging in were quite simple and straight from the initial guide supplied. Type the domain name in and you get into the router setup wizard, but it is not that easy as it might be if you don’t use the internal DHCP and have another DHCP at home. What i had to go through is to neutralise my DHCP and finish the setup wizard as there is no way to go into the admin any other way. so 20 minutes after and i got my Router finished and all the nodes connected.
This was a bit of a surprise that the system was stuck in trying to get me to the URL when using the IP and that the setup locked the admin interface until i got through the last submit of the setup wizard.
Most of the things are quite easy and the UI, though not pretty is straightforward, is quite self-explanatory. only thing i had to dig around the web for was how to set the timezone. The trick was to navigate to the advanced tab -> security accordion -> schedule -> time zone and set your timezone and automatically set the daylight savings. job done.
At the end it was not that painful and i got everything, including the power down on timer of the wireless quite quickly setup. This allowed me to resume with my tests to see how did this affect the internet and wireless connection in the house
The biggest surprise was the speed. it was impressive! my internet speed, wired or wireless is amazingly fast, i use to get 40MB/s and i always wondered how is the 100MB/s cable network i pay for can degrade so dramatically to this. But in this test i was at 103MB/s mark which is way nicer and really is the full strength of the cable modem. This was a very nice warm fuzzy feeling.
The file transfer rate which was already maxed out when wired down showed similar write speed of 43 MB/s but the read speed is a bit better at ~80MB/s which is nice but not overly impressive compared with the 73MB/s prior router delivered. The interesting tidbit came to light whilst i was testing the wireless 5Ghz, Now I get 20+ MB/s write and 40MB/s read which is about 3.5 times better than the Billion 7404VNOX router i had before. and even the 2.4Ghz is almost double the speed of the Billion. this was nice.
I have yet to connect a USB 3.0 drive to the router to use as Time Machine backup yet and have not tested other edge features in the space of time that the router is in my possession and i most likely add to this review more information in later stages.
To conclude my thoughts i have to say i feel i have done the right choice, though the interface is not as slick and nicely looking it is very very intuitive and is very robust. some simple things need getting used to such as the DHCP DNS entries that are actually in the WAN settings, or the location of the time settings under security. but once this is done the VPN, File Sharing including time machine and the application for the mobile phone is quite nice. and with the great performance in both wireless and internet gave me the feeling that i made the right purchase decision.