It's hard to believe that routers based on the IEEE 802.11ac standard have been with us for three years already. Netgear was one of the first with a router in this class, announcing its R6300 way back in May 2012. Netgear finally retires that model with today's announcement of its replacement, the R6400.
The R6400 takes its design cues from Netgear's Nighthawk line of routers, although it doesn't carry that brand name. Netgear describes it as an AC1750 router, since it delivers up to 450Mbps of theoretical throughput on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1300Mbps of throughput on the 5GHz band. It's outfitted with three external antennas and supports three spatial streams simultaneously with explicit beamforming.
"The R6400 delivers better range and better performance than the R6300 it replaces," Netgear Senior Director of Product Marketing Sandeep Harpalani told me in an interview last week. "It includes many of the same features and the same streamlined installation routine that comes with the R7000. It will also automatically recognize the presence of an existing gateway, making it easier to integrate with the customer's existing networking hardware."
That should be a welcome feature, since most ISPs now provide their customers with gateway/router combos. It can be a pain configuring a new router to operate in conjunction with that gear, which typically has fewer features and delivers less in the way of Wi-Fi performance. Harpalani also told me the R6300's Genie setup software can be accessed remotely, which will simplify situations where you're configuring the router for a friend or family member.
The R6400 includes one USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 port, so you can share both a printer and a storage device on your network, and its DLNA compatible to make it easier to stream media to smart TVs and other media players. The new router is also compatible with Apple's Time Machine, so you can perform automatic backups of both PCs and Macs.
Netgear says the R6400 should be available now, at a suggested retail price of $150.00. We'll have a hands-on review of the new router soon.