Orbi WiFi 7 RBE973

Re: Nighthawk R7800 vs R8500

bigblueshock
Guide

Nighthawk R7800 vs R8500

I originally had a R7000.  I loved it, but wanted a little more firepower. I had some BestBuy giftcards laying around, enough for the R8500 which I purchased.  But, I have the option to exchange the R8500 with the R7800.

 

 

I have NOT seen a direct thread comparing these two routers with a match up, but I have spent the past few days researching.  Here is what I've gathered...

 

-The X8 R8500 has a 2.4 ghz band, and two 5 ghz bands, where the R7800 has one 2.4, and one 5.  R8500 has a higher total throughput.

 

-The R7800 is slightly newer?  It uses a Qualcomm 1.7 GHz dual core, while the R8500 uses a Broadcomm 1.4 GHz processor

 

-The R7800 has a "easier" time with MU-MIMO.  Is there something we don't know about the R8500 and its ability, or trouble with MU-MIMO?  I'm nervous the R8500 will never have MU-MIMO baked in an officially released firmware.  Maybe the beta testers can shed some light, if there are any issues, or if they feel these issues can be eventually resolved.

 

The reason why I'm comparing the R7800 to R8500 is because I'm looking to futureproof myself.  I'm curious to know which of these two routers is truely the futureproof leader, or firepower leader based on opinion, tests, or however else you'd like to compare them.

Model: R8500|Nighthawk X8 Tri-Band AC5300 WiFi Router
Message 1 of 7

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mediatrek
Virtuoso

Re: Nighthawk R7800 vs R8500

In my option the R8500 is just a slightly beefed up R8000 and not worth the price difference. If you are mostly concerned with “futureproofing” yourself, the Qualcomm-based R7800 is your best bet. Why do I say that?

When looking at MU-MIMO, Broadcom (hardware in R8500) is playing catchup big time. Qualcomm Networking (R7800 hardware) put in 7 years of research with their MU-MIMO product portfolio, plus 4 years of that 7 was hardware prototype development and testing before any of their MU-MIMO products got to market.

There is beta firmware for the R8500 going around. I have not tested it myself with MU-MIMO devices, but I have heard from those that have it and it far from fully baked, but barely “half baked” when it comes to MU-MIMO.

For now, it you have 4 or more non-MU-MIMO (SU-MIMO) devices connecting to the 5GHz radio at once, the R8500 (or R8000) make more sense with the two 5GH radios to balance the traffic.

Another factor you might want to consider is power usage. The Broadcom platform routers use much more power than the Qualcomm alternatives/equivalents. Qualcomm just has better power management.

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Message 2 of 7

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mediatrek
Virtuoso

Re: Nighthawk R7800 vs R8500

In my option the R8500 is just a slightly beefed up R8000 and not worth the price difference. If you are mostly concerned with “futureproofing” yourself, the Qualcomm-based R7800 is your best bet. Why do I say that?

When looking at MU-MIMO, Broadcom (hardware in R8500) is playing catchup big time. Qualcomm Networking (R7800 hardware) put in 7 years of research with their MU-MIMO product portfolio, plus 4 years of that 7 was hardware prototype development and testing before any of their MU-MIMO products got to market.

There is beta firmware for the R8500 going around. I have not tested it myself with MU-MIMO devices, but I have heard from those that have it and it far from fully baked, but barely “half baked” when it comes to MU-MIMO.

For now, it you have 4 or more non-MU-MIMO (SU-MIMO) devices connecting to the 5GHz radio at once, the R8500 (or R8000) make more sense with the two 5GH radios to balance the traffic.

Another factor you might want to consider is power usage. The Broadcom platform routers use much more power than the Qualcomm alternatives/equivalents. Qualcomm just has better power management.

Message 2 of 7
TheEther
Guru

Re: Nighthawk R7800 vs R8500

There are few more differences I could find:

  • The R8500 supports 1024-QAM, but this is non-standard, therefore you will be hard-pressed to find anything now or in the future that will support it, except another R8500.
  • The R7800 supports 160 MHz channels.  The R8500 supports only 80 MHz channels.  There is no device out there that supports a 160 MHz channel but since it is standardized, it is possible that one may become available in the future.  160 MHz is a wide channel, however.  Eating up so much spectrum may be considered greedy, much like using 40 MHz in the 2.4 GHz band.

The R7800 uses Qualcomm Wi-Fi chips, which seem to do a better job at MU-MIMO than the Broadcom chips used in the R8500.  But it's still pretty early for MU-MIMO.

 

So, which one is more future proof?  I would say the R7800, but the R8500 may have more usable throughput with its two 5 GHz radios.  Are you buying for the future or are you buying for now?  Technology advances so quickly that you shouldn't pay top dollar for something that will only be useful very far into the future.  As old as it is, the R7000 is still the best bang-for-the-buck router.  Anything above it I consider halo products that very few will people be able to leverage to their fullest.

Message 3 of 7
bigblueshock
Guide

Re: Nighthawk R7800 vs R8500

These are all interesting points.   Given the R7800 is roughly $100 cheaper.

 

I was trying to get the R7000 to penetrate through a brick wall out to my back patio.  It did the job on 2.4 GHz, but barely.  I got an R8000, and was a hell of a lot worse than the R7000.  I then swapped the R8000 for the R8500.  It's a LOT better now, and I better penetration than the R7000.

 

I can pull my maximum cable connection bandwidth outside (60MBPS) no problem, on 5 GHz.

 

The R7000, the 5 GHz was unusable, the 2.4 netted me around 25 mbps.

The R8000, all bands were useless.

 

Am I buying for futureproofing?  Yes and no.  I suppose your right in terms of technology being obsolete within a year, and paying $350ish is insane for something that isn't even futureproof as you said.

 

More important to me, would be signal range/penetration.  I wonder how the R7800 fares up against the R8500?  I understand all wifi has its theoretical distance limit due to FCC standards, however some routers penetrate better than others.  Do these Active Antennas in R8500 help ever so slightly?

 

The answer to this would probably sway me in to returning the R8500, getting $100 back, and buying a R7800...

 

Edit: When you say Broadcom has a half baked MU-MIMO solution, is that something fixable through firmware upgrade? or is that uncertain at this point

Message 4 of 7
mediatrek
Virtuoso

Re: Nighthawk R7800 vs R8500


@bigblueshock wrote:

Edit: When you say Broadcom has a half baked MU-MIMO solution, is that something fixable through firmware upgrade? or is that uncertain at this point


 

It should be fixable with firmware updates that integrate better drivers once Broadcom gets them out to OEM's like Netgear. However, testing has shown the Broadcom MU-MIMO 5G drivers perform about the same the Quantenna Q1000 solution 5G MU-MIMO enabled drivers do with MU-MIMO clients in the mix. In otherwords; like crap.

 

The R7500(v1) shipped in September 2014 as being marketed as "MU-MIMO Ready/Capable" like the R8500 is being. Yet Netgear put the R7500v1 as their End of Life product list a few months ago before incorporating the MU-MIMO enabled Quantenna 5G drivers on that unit's firmware. If you want a key feature like MU-MIMO, you are best to get a product that has it "baked in" and working out of the box then keeping your fingers crossed that it will work and work acceptably.

Also, keep in mind that MU-MIMO is about network capacity and not network speed.

Message 5 of 7
VE6CGX
Master

Re: Nighthawk R7800 vs R8500

Check at smallnetbuilder router ranker. One is called tri-bander but it is dual band with 5GHz band split in two. One is dual band because 5GHz band is not split in two. R7800 has good MU-MIMO specs. and newer. No brainer for me choosing R7800.

Message 6 of 7
bigblueshock
Guide

Re: Nighthawk R7800 vs R8500

Yeah. I ended up returning the R8500 and purchasing the R7800.

 

Doing some wifi tests at close range with a 2x2 intel 7260 laptop chip (at 866mbps connection speed) on the R7800, I was able to pull files off my server at about 600 MBPS.  My R7000 I was only able to get about 400 MBPS.  And I think the antenna is broked in my laptop too.  Could have probably done better on the R7800.  R8500 was about the same.

 

Also, I can max out cable speed (around 68 mbps) on my back patio on both 5 GHz and 2.4. 

 

I am probably saving a couple bucks a month on power consumption, on top of the ~$130ish I was getting back for the exchange.  The R8500 tests/benchmarks showed 22 watts on idle, which is nuts...  Not sure what the R7800 is, but probably around half the wattage.

 

Looks like Broadcom has some catching up to do on multiple fronts.  They're kinda reminding me of AMD right now, chips running hotter and slower.  Fortunately, AMD chips are cheaper though, unlike broadcom is still getting away with charging an arm and a leg.

 

Thank you all for your help in my decision!

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