What is the current (2017) best choice router for 4k streaming?

I've done a lot of research the past week or two but can't seem to find a definitive answer so I'm coming to all you experts!

My situation might be somewhat unique so I'm going to explain that first.

About a year ago I separated and moved into an apartment. I've never lived in an apartment before so I was not aware of the wifi signal loss issues going from room to room. Not sure why but I think it's all the wireless signals maybe causing interference or the metal studs in the walls.

3 months after I moved in I purchased a new 65" Samsung 4k SUHD 3D TV with built-in wifi. I brought my current router with me which is a Netgear N750. I know, it's kind of old now but I'll get to that in a minute.

After getting network connection errors too many times on my TV, I checked my wifi signal using my cell phone and noticed I was only getting 3 bars. This was one room over with only 1 wall in between. So I went searching and ended up buying a Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 Range Extender to put in the living room connected to the TV. That solved the network drops.

Then, while in Best Buy one day, I had this long discussion with a guy who was surprisingly knowledgeable. I told him how I wasn't very impressed with 4k video as I couldn't really see much difference or any at all from 1080p. He said I should be able to see a big difference on my TV and asked me what router I was using. Then he explained how my old router (about 3.5 years old now) wasn't really rated for or designed for the bandwidth needed for 4k video streaming.

So, that's how I go to searching for a new router. I was going to go with the Netgear Nighthawk x8 (AC5300) tri-band router but just in the past 60 days there have been so many negative reviews on Newegg and Amazon for 2 mega issues. Too many people saying the router died on them in a year or less. Some in just one week. And that Netgear support is horrendous. I thought it was always best to pair equipment from the same manufacturer but Netgear is looking like a sore choice for any router now.

The next best solution looked like it might be the ASUS RT-AC5300 with a similar (high) price point. But that one also gets terrible recent reviews. Again, the router too often dies early. Poor quality control I guess. Support is better than Netgear but not exactly great.

Now I'm looking at the TP-Link AC5400 (Archer C5400) which gets much better reviews and the price is about $100 less than the other two.

I'm not a big gamer but I am into movies and entertainment. More and more services are offering 4k and 3D movies for streaming now. Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu Plus, etc. And I think DirecTV is now streaming 4k for NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers.

Should I go with the TP-Link? Is having this Netgear Range Extender going to cause problems with setup or connectivity? The Range Extender is working great so far and made a huge difference but I have a nasty bottleneck with this old Dual Band router. Hoping someone out there has actually tested one more more of the newest Tri-Band or Quad Stream routers specifically for streaming 4k video and maybe, if I'm lucky, in an environment like an apartment complex.

By the way, my Internet connection is with Cox cable and is 50Mb UP and 10-15Mb DOWN.

-Clay M.
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  1. Don't get baited into the bigger number is better trap. I could put 100 wireless radios in a unit and your end device can still only use 1. This is also true about antenna. Having 4 overlapping feeds on the router does no good if your end device does not also have 4.

    This pretty much limits most end devices to the 802.11ac using 2 feeds or about 900m. Using the 2.4g band (which has better coverage) you run 802.11n at 300m.

    Still in most cases the so called 300m can run 40-50m which is more than enough for 4k.

    I would first run a ethernet cable over the floor between your router and your TV. The router itself should have no trouble running traffic at the full 50m your internet provides. This would mean any issues are related to software. There is a lot of material on the internet that claims it 4k but it is really just 1080 programs they upscaled. This is no different than tv that claim 4k but are really just uninstalling the 1080 signal.

    Using a repeater/range extender will greatly reduce your wireless throughput. You lose at a minimum 1/2 the bandwidth but many times it is much more.

    I would try to use a actual ethernet cable as your final solution if there is any way to accomplish that. I would then consider the better powerline network devices. Your largest issue in apartments is not only the signal levels but all the other people close by you also using wireless. You can get massive interference from all the devices.

    Bottom line is I don't think your router is the problem.
  2. bill001g said:
    Don't get baited into the bigger number is better trap. I could put 100 wireless radios in a unit and your end device can still only use 1. This is also true about antenna. Having 4 overlapping feeds on the router does no good if your end device does not also have 4.

    This pretty much limits most end devices to the 802.11ac using 2 feeds or about 900m. Using the 2.4g band (which has better coverage) you run 802.11n at 300m.

    Still in most cases the so called 300m can run 40-50m which is more than enough for 4k.

    I would first run a ethernet cable over the floor between your router and your TV. The router itself should have no trouble running traffic at the full 50m your internet provides. This would mean any issues are related to software. There is a lot of material on the internet that claims it 4k but it is really just 1080 programs they upscaled. This is no different than tv that claim 4k but are really just uninstalling the 1080 signal.

    Using a repeater/range extender will greatly reduce your wireless throughput. You lose at a minimum 1/2 the bandwidth but many times it is much more.

    I would try to use a actual ethernet cable as your final solution if there is any way to accomplish that. I would then consider the better powerline network devices. Your largest issue in apartments is not only the signal levels but all the other people close by you also using wireless. You can get massive interference from all the devices.

    Bottom line is I don't think your router is the problem.


    Well, that turned out to be a waste of time and about $105. I thought your explanation was sound so I ordered a pair of TP-Link Powerline Adapters with 2 gigabit ports on them.

    I have a HTPC next to my TV that's connected to the same range extender so I ran a bandwidth test and a throughput test before, with the range extender, and after, with the powerline adapters. I also ran a bandwidth test from my PC that's connected to my Nighthawk router via gigabit port with the cable modem connected to that.

    Using SpeedTest.net
    Bandwidth test from PC: 56-61 Mbps Down / 11 Up
    Bandwidth test from HTPC: 55-60 Mbps / 10.8 Up (Range Extender)
    Bandwidth test from HTPC: 55-60 Mbps / 10.8 Up (Powerline Adapter)

    Since I don't have the Chariot utility (kind of expensive) I simply copied a large video file from my PC to my HTPC. The file was about 2.1 GB.

    Throughput test with Range Extender: File copy averaged 29 MB/sec
    Throughput test with Powerline Adapters: File copy averaged 14.9 MB/sec

    So, bandwidth is about the same but throughput is half the speed using the Powerline Adapters.
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