Netgear R8000

Why did I get the most expensive router on the market? I have an L-shaped house, and my previous Netgear WNDR4500 had trouble reaching my bedroom (Netflix), which is on the other leg of the L. The R8000 raised the bars on my Vizio TV from 3 to 5, and Netflix seems to work again. I also have a generally large house. 

I thought I loved this router. But last night, it started to drop Netflix and even my phone and Kindle would not stay connected. WiFi Analyzer on my phone showed 40-dB drops. But WiFi Explorer on my Mac (near the router) shows few drops. However, my phone in the same place does show 30-dB drops on one n channel.

WiFi Analyzer plot

At other times, one of the three channels drops out completrely:

Dropouts

Even worse, I was listening to my Logitech Transporter (on my living room HiFi system), and it dropped its signal. This is very strange because it never dropped the signal before. The Transporter is connected to my Linksys WRT610n router via WiFi, and the Linksys itself is hard-wired to the R8000. Thus I am thinking that the bridging function in the R8000 may somehow be impaired, and that different device are being cut off. I am investigating...

The R8000 is still a work in progress. Netgear says the final firmware will not be out until October 2014, and that some of the features are not yet working. However, the speed is working. So here are some of the issues I have seem:

  • Do not use the Netgear Genie to set up the router. It made the Web interface inoperable, and I had to do a factory reset.
  • The USB support on a Mac is strange. The "USB Storage (Advanced Settings)" page says that no password is required for network shares, but on my Mac I had to enter my Mac uid/pwd to mount the share. Windows did not require this.
  • Rebooting the router takes minutes, and many settings pages require a reboot. Setup is not quick if you want to adjust many things.
  • There is no support number in the printed manual (408 890-3087).
  • Beaming only works on the 5 GHz band, so use it when possible.
  • Thus far the issue I had with PingPlotter on my WNDR4500 is not present on the latest firmware release.

The investigation continues...

Here is a plot of the "normal" operation of the R8000 in the same room as the router:

R8000 performance

The lan4116 graphs are from the R8000, and the lan24116 graphs are for the Linksys, which is downstairs. No major signal strength fluctuations are visible, but why is the 5G-1 signal strength over 10 dBm lower than the 5G-2 channel?

One things to do is to be sure you are not interfering with your neighbor's system. WiFi Analyzer on my Android phone is handy for this:

Channel graph

I chose the G (and N) channels to be different from my neighbors. I have many more neighboring channels, but they come and go. N channels have a shorter range and those from neighbors do not seem to reach my house.

Channels also seem to have different signal strengths. I changed the 5G-1 channel to channel 48, and the strength increased. Later, I also changed the channels for the Linksys network, which decreased them, it seems):

After chanbel change

 This morning, after I set the R8000 to enable Smart Connect (on the WiFi setting page), I see total drops in one channel:

Dropouts

When I disable Smart Connect, drops disappear on the above Mac plot, but my HTC M8 (4.4.3) phone shows 30-40 dBm drops on one n channel:

Lacunae

I think that the M8 has trouble handling two strong n channels. Before I had the R8000, I only had one n channel.

For the last two days, my Kindle has not been able to connect to my g network. Indeed, it has trouble finding it on a scan. My neighbor's signal is stronger than mine, and it takes 3–5 scans to even see my network. Connection to this weak signal is usually unsuccessful. And WiFi Analyzer on my Nexus 7 sees the seme dropouts that it sees on my M8.

On Nexus 7


New Laptop

Yesterday I got a new Lenovo Carbon X1 laptop with an i7, 8 GB memory, and a 500 GB SSD disk. It would not stay connected to any of the 3 channels. The Windows 8.1 Network status page says "Limited" next to the icon, and there is no internet connectivity. Frustrating. 

I retruned to my old WNDR 4500, and everything worked again.


Too much of a good thing

There were several steps in getting things to work. I got online support from Netgear to figure this out. I had always thought that the MTU should be set at 1500, but if that is too high, the packets fragment (are send as 2 packets) and you lose big time. You can find the right packet size using the following command:

ping -f -l 1500 www.facebook.com

It turned out that the packets were fragmented if the MTU was over 1467, so I changed that setting.

But it also turns out that if the WiFi speed is more than your wireless device can handle, it will exhibit the above behavior. You can of course dial down the bandwidth of the wireless connections. On the R8000, you get these choices:

2.5 GHZ:    54 Mbps, 289 Mbps, 600 Mbps
5 GHZ:       289 Mbps, 600 Mbps, 1300 Mbps

Of course, the whole reason for getting this router is to use the highest bandwith you can. This creates a quandry if you have devices of different bandwidth capabilities. If you use the highest speeds, some things will not connect. If you lower them, you will lose the benefit of the expensive router.

Another thing that might have helped was to do the following procedure after a frimware update on the router:

  • Back up the settings to your computer
  • Reset the router to factory. For me that stopped access via the Router's Web page
  • Pull the power for 2 minutes
  • Reboot and restore the old router settings. Remember to use the default password to get in.

The solution I came up with was to configure my old WNDR4500 as an access point with lower maximum speeds. The most it can do is 450 Mbps on each band. Here is the WiFi Analyzer plot from my phone today:

After fixes

lanw116 are from the WNDR4500. So, I will see if Any of my devices can stay on the higher bandwidth channels. On The new Lenovo X1 Carbon laptop, the signals seem better too, although I am still getting "limited" on occasion. 

On the Lenovo X1

These are both next to the routers.

After more investigation, I found that NONE of m,y devices could connect to the R8000 when it was set to its maximum bandwidths. I looked further at the specs of my new laptop's WiFi chip, the Intel AC 7260:

Intel AC 7260

So, it is nowhere near capable of connecting at the R8000's fastest speed of 1300 Mbps. And the other choices are 600 and 289 Mbps. So I tried lowering the macximum bandwidth on the router to 600 Mbps, and then to 289 Mbps. The R8000 still did not stay connected on the 5 Ghz band. At the 289 setting, I can ping the router 6 times, and then the connection goes dead, even though the Networks status says I am connected. However, the 2.5 GHz channel seems to work at its 600 Mbps maximum setting.

The WNDR 4500 has a maximum speed of 450 Mbps on both the 2.5 GHz and the 5 GHz band, which work and stay connected. So, for my collection of devices, the only advantage that the R8000 offers is the increase in maximum speed on the 2.5 GHz band. This is not worth $300 in my opinion. I may return the R8000 router.


Update

I new set of firmware R8000-V1.0.0.98_1.0.43.chk helped things a lot. The newer version 100 did not work well for me, and I downgraded. This stopped the signal strength fluctuations, and I can now actually log on to all bands. Also, the Netgear first tier support gave me bad advice about channels. It made a big difference when I changed the 2.5 GHz to Channel 10, the the 5GHz bands to 44 and 161. WiFiAnalyzer on my cell phone helped a lot by measuring the signal strengths. Also, things did not work properly until I returned each channel to its maximum bandwidth setting. The router is smart enough to measure the client's maximum bandwidth. It would be nice it Netgear told owners more information about the router to get it set up properly. And they need to educate their level 1 tier of support staff.

There is an approved way of updating the router firmware.

  • Back up your router settings
  • Do a factory reset of the router (you have to do this using the button inside the hole on the back of the router)
  • Power the router off for a whole 2 minutes
  • Load the desired firmware
  • Restore the settings from your backup

I also have been running with SmartConnect disabled to test the bands separately.


Update

Firmware V1.0.0.102 is even better, and a new build will be out soon. I am not seeing any drops. 


Power Outage

Yesterday the power went out for five hours. Although all my computers and the R8000 are on UPSs, they will not last five hours, so I shut down my computers and closed the door to the computer room to avoid the beeps. But when the power returned, the R8000 would not reconnect to the internet. In fact, it would serve its Web page, and it only occasionally answered pings.

Not being able to access the router from my computer is a problem I have seen intermittently since I got the router. Netgear's Genie program leaves the router in this state, for example. And what is most annoying, is that there seems to be no way to avoid going through the Router's genie program if it is not connected to the internet. 

I reset the router and unplugged the power for 2 minutes, but was still unable to contact the R8000. I called Comcast and they reset my Arris TM722 cable modem. Still no go for the R8000. But I connected my laptop directly to the Arris, and the internet worked, so Comcast was not at fault. Nothing worked, so to get Internet back, I reverted to my WNDR4500. This was also a hassle because I had set its address to 192.168.1.3 to use it as a bridge. So I reset the WNDR4500 to factory default and installed several backups (until I found one that had the proper ip address: 192.168.1.1).

This morning, after sitting all night with no power, the R8000 finally started to answer pings, and I was able to access the router's Web page. Alas, the genie popped up. It finally did its thing, and I was then able to restore my backed-up router settings to the R8000.

However, this points out what I think is a fundamental issue: It seems impossible to configure the router without an Internet connection. For example, even if Comcast is down, I need my router to serve my Squeezebox music collection throughout my house. It needs to be possible to set up the router to serve the local LAN in the absence of a WAN connection! If the Genie cannot connect to the internet, it dies, and leaves you unable to connect to the proper router interface to do things manually. Or at least I have not found a way around this.


I gave up!

The dropout frequency if the R8000 has been getting higher and higher, until it got impossible to stream music to my bedroom. I replaced the R8000 with my WNDR4500, and all is back to normal with the same topology. DO NOT BUY THE R8000.

Comments

Submitted by Gennaro on Wed, 08/20/2014 - 20:21

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Hi Jim, i have the exact problem. An X1 Carbon with the R8000 and am unable to use the 5Ghz band unless i set HT Mode to disabled. Very annoying as I can't take full advantage of the speeds.

I also broke down and bought a pair of Linksys range extenders (at Costco). Putting one of them at the corner of the L in the house has greatly improved reception in my bedroom.

Netgear says that new firmware is coming out soon.

Submitted by Michael Simonyi on Tue, 10/07/2014 - 09:46

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Purchased this device (5-Oct-2014) before I ran across this site. Wish I came here before I wasted a day trying to config this puppy. Out of the box I had the default Firmware. This was my issue to overcome. The install genie does not work with the default firmware 0.68. I downloaded the windows genie to my laptop to run the router update. As soon as I updated to 0.102 install went fine, no more issues. Now I'm investigating why the 5G bands don't work in certain areas of the house but the 2.4G does ???

Submitted by Stan on Wed, 01/21/2015 - 22:04

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I know this is old but you're hurting yourself on the MTU. The ICMP header consumes 8 bytes, and the IP header would normally be 20 bytes. The link layer MTU is the maximum-sized ping buffer plus 28, or 1500 bytes. 1500 was correct by your diagnostics.

Submitted by Mitch Cooper on Tue, 09/01/2015 - 11:07

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Hi,

I am hopeful someone can help me. I did a factory restore and when attempting to login to the router and inputting the default username and password, the router will NOT accept the default user and pass (admin/password). How do I proceed? At this point, the router is completely unusable.

PLEASE HELP!

Submitted by bsimon on Sun, 12/04/2016 - 11:58

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I had a Linksys EA6350 that worked fine. I work from home so I need at least a solid 20mbps connection. I have a solid 58-60mbps coming to router. I randomly run speedtest.net and on the wired connection I am getting 1mbps to 15mbps. Sometimes it pulls the full 58-60. Makes no sense. When I speed test the R8000 it still is getting 60mbps. Do NOT understand the issue especially since it is the wired side. This is the 2nd R8000 in 2 weeks. Same issue on both. Think I will return it and put in my old Linksys. Beyond frustrated.

Submitted by jarome on Mon, 12/19/2016 - 07:52

In reply to by bsimon

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It kept dropping wired connections, which is totally frustrating. I replaced it with the best Linksys router, which does not do this. I now have a closet of old routers if anyone wants to buy one.

Submitted by rroyce on Thu, 03/16/2017 - 17:20

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Have an r8000 router with same issues. First I thought it was Netflix, then the TV, then the router. It was the TV. Full rebooted the Android TV, and now everything is normal.You must reboot, not just turn the TV off or unplug it.

Submitted by Maxwilliam on Sun, 08/13/2017 - 18:15

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