The XR500 NightHawk is Netgear’s first official Gaming router as the company wants to take some share of the juicy PC Gaming market. Netgear has taken notice that a large share of PC gamers play first-person-shooter (FPS) games that can be extremely sensitive to network conditions. As you have guessed, this is not something that the average router will excel at, hence this XR500 NightHawk design.
There are several ways of managing latency, and Netgear is providing many forms and layers of management. First, you can define a geo-filter which won’t allow low-latency IPs to join your game. When it comes to latency, “distance” is one of the most important factors because despite going at the speed of light, data packets may have to go through many network hops before arriving at their destination. The shorter the distance, the higher the odds of low latency.
Of course, this work with games where you are the server, and there are plenty of them. For games in which a centralized server matches players based on different criteria (experience…), it won’t really work.
Secondly, there’s Quality of Service (QoS) within your own network. This means that gaming network packets should have priority over things such as video or file transfers which are not urgent and can be buffered for many seconds. At 60FPS or more, the game’s latency requirement is orders of magnitude higher, and it makes sense to use QoS.
The QoS also lets you set bandwidth limits for each time of applications, so that there is always a little bit of overhead to avoid packet queuing to the ISP. If there’s a peak of traffic, all packets might start getting placed in a queue, including the gaming packets. By leaving some headroom, the whole queuing situation might be avoided.
The Netgear router supports VPN in case you want to securely stream games from outside your home (or just watch Netflix from abroad). It also has excellent specifications for WiFi, including Multi-Mimo which ensures that internal traffic can flow quickly, even if there are many devices connected to the router.
This is a very competitive market, and Netgear makes a late entry into it, but since the company is a major player in the router space, this is a move worth noticing.