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Lifewire / Claire Cohen
Good performance and range
Will save money over time
Expensive initial purchase
Doesn’t have many extra features
The Netgear Nighthawk C7000 might have a high initial price, but this modem will pay for itself over time. Combine that with the excellent performance and modern style, and it’s hard to find any reason not to love the Netgear Nighthawk C7000.
These days, when ISPs charge all kinds of exorbitant fees for hardware rentals, wireless modems like the Netgear Nighthawk C7000 are critically important. A modem can be an expensive initial purchase, but the money you save means it can pay for itself over time.
If you’re considering purchasing your own modem, you may have some questions. How much—if anything—are you going to have to give up to own your own modem? Will you get the same speeds? Will the wireless performance be up to snuff? And how will it look in your home?
We recently got the Netgear Nighthawk C7000 in for testing, so we can answer all of these questions and more. Let’s find out if this modem is worth the price of admission.
For such a high-end modem, the Netgear Nighthawk C7000 is surprisingly thin and light. Compared to the Xfinity modem that we have lying around, it’s a huge improvement.
The Nighthawk C7000 is a black plastic device with an attractive modern aesthetic. There’s an array of LED lights on the front of the modem that inform you of its performance. Around the back, you’ll find a USB 2.0 port, four Gigabit Ethernet ports, a coax cable port, and the port for the power cord.
While this modem does have wireless capabilities, the antennae are inside the device, which makes for a more streamlined look.
Right out of the gate, it’s important to note that modems aren’t quite as straightforward to set up as your average router. We had to gather all of our ISP data—account number, username, etc.—before we could get started. Then we connected the Netgear Nighthawk to power and a coax cable (if you were doing this at home, you’d need to disconnect your old modem first).
To set it up, we connected one of our computers to the modem via Ethernet, launched a web browser, logged into the modem’s backend, and activated it through our Xfinity service. The Nighthawk C7000 comes with instructions for how to complete this setup.
For such a high-end modem, the Netgear Nighthawk C7000 is surprisingly thin and light.
While the Netgear Nighthawk C7000 doesn’t have the richest software, it’s enough to effectively manage your network with little to no fuss.
After you log in and get the setup out of the way, you’ll be greeted by six tiles on the home page. Here you can click through to manage your cable connection and attached devices, set parental controls, and adjust your wireless settings. Netgear makes this easy to navigate and understand—even less tech-literate users should be able to handle everything from setup to security without getting too lost.
If you’re more of a power user and like to have precise control over your network, there’s also an “Advanced” tab where you can find in-depth information about your connection or set up dynamic DNS settings. These features likely won’t be relevant for most people using the Nighthawk C7000, but the options are there if you need or want them.
As far as physical ports are concerned, you get four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a USB 2.0 port. This isn’t the richest array of ports we’ve ever seen, but it should be fine for most people— we were able to connect a few different game consoles and a desktop.
The Netgear Nighthawk C7000 has three antennae built in, too. This means it has dual-band connectivity and a rated speed of AC1900, which can deliver up to 600 Mbps and 1,3000 Mbps on the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz bands, respectively. So, even with our extreme 250Mbps internet connection, the modem was able to keep up during even the busiest times.
This is thanks to the 24x8 DOCSIS 3.0 channel bonding. This means that it has 24 channels available for downstream data and eight for upstream data. That might sound like a lot of jargon, but it means that this modem is going to be overkill for the average user’s internet needs. Netgear claims that this modem can handle up to a 960Mbps connection, and we believe it. But if you don’t need this much bandwidth, you can pick up the 16x8 or 8x4 DOCSIS 3.0 modem and save some cash.
Even less tech-literate users should be able to handle everything from setup to security without getting too lost.
Because this modem has a built-in router, we kind of expected the wireless performance to suffer. All-in-one devices, generally speaking, tend to perform worse than specialized equipment. That’s definitely true for the Netgear Nighthawk C7000, but we were pleasantly surprised by how well it performed considering it’s an all-in-one.
We tested this modem in a 2,500 square foot home, and we got reliable performance in every corner, only running into slowdowns on the farthest side of the house. Even then, network performance went down from about 230 Mbps to 130 Mbps. That isn’t super fast, but it’s still serviceable.
The wired performance, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as good. We were able to get a consistent 210 Mbps in most scenarios—which is more than enough for our typical usage—but even with a Cat7 Ethernet cable, we weren’t able to get our rated speeds.
We should also note that the Netgear Nighthawk C7000 doesn’t support MU-MIMO or QoS capabilities, which is a disappointing omission in a device this expensive. However, we set up 6 different devices in our living room, all streaming HD video on YouTube. We then ran a speed test to see how it affected the network. We still got about 152 Mbps, even under all that stress. You won’t get full speed when everyone’s hitting the network hard, but it’ll still be serviceable.
The Netgear Nighthawk C7000 is going to set you back $209, which might sound like a lot if you already have a modem set up. But take a look at your cable and internet bill and see how much you’re paying each month to rent a modem from your ISP. You won’t have to pay that anymore with the Nighthawk C7000. Over time, this device can actually pay for itself.
The Netgear Nighthawk C7000 has plenty of competition—most notably the Motorola MT7711, which retails for $199. Not only does this Motorola modem have similar specs (24x8 DOCSIS 3.0 channels and AC1900 wireless capabilities), it also includes two phone ports. These ports are compatible with Xfinity’s phone service, so if you have a landline, you can use this modem for that, too. It’s a bit cheaper than Netgear’s modem, and it looks a little cheaper, too.
Recommended for anyone with a fast broadband connection. The fact that this modem can pay for itself in time is really the main appeal. But with fantastic performance and good looks thrown in, the Nighthawk C7000 is a no brainer.