Netduma R2 Gaming Router Review
|Product||Netduma R2 Gaming Router|
|DumaOS Version||DumaOS 3.0|
|Wifi Technology||802.11ac Dual Band Gigabit|
|Wifi Performance||AC1200 WiFi (N300 + AC867 Mbps)|
|Wifi Range||Good coverage for most homes|
|Wifi Band||Simultaneous dual-band 2.4 & 5GHz|
|Antennas||4x external, detachable antennas|
|Ethernet Ports||Five: 1 WAN, 4 LAN Gigabit (10/100/1000Mbps)|
|USB Ports||1x USB 3.0|
|CPU||Multi-threaded Dual Core Processor|
|Memory||256 MB Flash and 128 MB RAM|
|Power Supply||100-240V, 50-60Hz; Output: 12V, 1000mA|
|Dimensions||25 x 17 x 3 cm (9.8 x 6.7 x 1.2 in) w/o antennas|
|Weight||356 g (12.56 oz)|
|Contains||Netduma R2, Cat 6 Ethernet Cable, Power Adapter, User Guide|
Like most online gamers, I’ve experienced that frustrating moment when you see your ping skyrocket. You know that the following multiplayer match will be anything but smooth but there’s nothing you can do about it. Or is there? I’ve spent some time putting the Netduma R2 Gaming Router through its paces to see if it can deliver a smooth online gaming ride. Check out how I got on in my rapid review below.
In my household, we had invested in the Netgear Wifi 6 Orbi and were already enjoying better WiFi coverage around the house and lower ping in general (with spikes at peak gaming times). We live in an old cottage so WiFi coverage with our ISP router had been a bit patchy in the areas furthest from the router. This, and wildly fluctuating ping, had been our motivators in upgrading to the Orbi. Therefore, as I began to set up the Netduma R2 Gaming Router, I wondered whether it would be able to improve the ping situation whilst maintaining coverage for all our devices. For fairness, I also did some performance tests comparing my gaming experience using the Netduma R2 and our original ISP router with no Orbi assistance.
Some final bits of information before we start looking at how I got on. Our internet connection is FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet). City dwellers – try not to laugh at our maximum download and upload speeds, we live in a village. I used an Xbox Series X console to test all games and I tried out three different multiplayer online games: Gears 5; Halo 5; Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege.
Setting Up the Netduma R2
Contained within the box (as listed above in the tech specs) is a user guide that will get you connected and wading through settings in the DumaOS web app in a few simple steps. The guide also gives you an introduction to how things work in the web app. I found that it wasn’t hard to do the initial set-up of the router but I spent quite a while refining my settings. There are loads of optimisation articles to read through on the Netduma website and similarly styled videos on the Netduma YouTube page. The articles were a little confusing as sometimes they referred to settings that I couldn’t see in the DumaOS web app (spectator mode for example). The YouTube videos were clearer and after watching these I felt confident that I was using features as intended.
Not a Solo Piece of Kit
An important point to make early on is that the Netduma R2 does not (and cannot) replace your ISP router entirely, but rather works in tandem with it. You need your ISP router to act as the modem as the Netduma R2 Gaming Router cannot do this. With this in mind, if you can’t put your ISP router into bridge mode, I found that it was best to turn off its WiFi capability (by logging into the router via its IP Address) while the Netduma R2 was connected. For clarity, you’re not turning off the Netduma R2’s Wifi here – only preventing WiFi from broadcasting from your original router.
Why did I find that this was best? When WiFi was broadcasting from both the Netduma R2 and my ISP router, none of my Bluetooth controllers would stay connected, nor would my Bluetooth Headset connect to my Xbox Series X. This is not a problem I normally have. As soon as I disabled the WiFi on my ISP router, everything connected without a problem. Why did this happen? After doing a search in my web browser, it would seem that the issue was the two 2.4GHz WiFi channels (one from the R2 and one from my ISP router) conflicting with Bluetooth, which also uses a 2.4GHz channel.
While playing Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, I experienced some awful lag. While trying to get to the bottom of it, I discovered that one reason might be a Double NAT situation created by the ISP router and Netduma R2 being used together. You can check your NAT in the network settings section on the Xbox Series X. One way to avoid double NAT is to use the ISP router in bridge mode. Another option is to set up port forwarding. Thankfully, I was able to get rid of the lag using the Geo-Filter and Ping Assist. This didn’t get rid of the Double NAT but I welcomed the comparatively easy fix compared to port forwarding. Later tests gave alternate open and Double NAT, so it’s inconclusive as to whether this was causing my lag.
This is the one setting in the DumaOS web app that caused problems when I turned it on. Web browsing speeds on my partner’s Android phone took a hit and I was no longer able to access the Game Pass app on the Xbox Series X. This also coincided with the worst lag I have ever experienced while playing Gears 5 (on ANY router – for context, I don’t really get lag playing this game).
As soon as I turned Adblocker off, the Game Pass app loaded and browsing speed returned to normal on my partner’s phone. Although the next game I played of Gears 5 online was still laggy. According to the Adblocker explained in 60 seconds video on YouTube, you can whitelist things so that they don’t get blocked. However, I decided to simply leave it off as most things had returned to normal. By doing a little fine-tuning with the Geo-Filter, I got rid of the lag completely in Gears 5 – more about that in the next section.
A small note about the support available for users. I reached out twice on the Support Forums and both times received a swift response (minutes to hours). With regards to the Adblocker, the Admin who got in touch also said that they would do some testing following my message. The forums seem active and well monitored to assist users with issues.
Geo-Filter, Ping Assist and QoS
The Geo-Filter and Ping Assist features are designed to be used to help you get on to local or low ping servers with the goal of achieving smooth, lag-free gameplay. QoS (Quality of Service) is another feature created with lag reduction in mind. The idea being that you decide how to distribute your bandwidth between your devices (Bandwidth Allocation) and how much of your download and upload speeds to allow each of them (Congestion Control).
I used the Geo-Filter in manual filtering mode with a distance of around 1500km and set Ping Assist between fifteen and forty milliseconds. These settings seemed to work well for all three games that I tested. In conjunction with this, I used the recommended settings for QoS of 70% (upload and download) for congestion control, and 20% for bandwidth allocation (upload and download). I set up the allocation with ‘applications’ rather than ‘devices’ but it seemed to run smoothly this way. These are the settings that I used to rid all games of lag. I found it a bit weird that without applying any settings I experienced lag in games that didn’t normally have it. However, once applied, the advantage was that these settings seemed to ensure a more stable experience every time I played.
As far as I can tell, the Ping Heatmap is only really useful for those games which have specific profiles within the DumaOS. You can use it to get a good idea of which servers you want or don’t want to connect to for your chosen game. I didn’t use it very much because the settings I put in place above kept everything running smoothly, even when my partner was streaming music and TV programmes or in online video meetings.
Dashboard, Connection Benchmark and Device Manager
You have lots of control over your network with the DumaOS web app and lots of ways to test and observe the impact of network usage and applied settings. In the Dashboard, you can get an overall view of what’s happening. You have a bird’s-eye view of Network Status, Traffic Overview, Bandwidth Allocation and Network Map – giving you instant insight into where you might need to intervene in the case of lag, for example.
In Device Manager, you can quickly block a device from the network, useful for parents of younger children perhaps but we didn’t have any need to use this function. Some of the devices came up with weird names but that’s not a problem since you can rename devices.
Connection Benchmark allows you to test your connection, giving you information on download and upload speeds and ping tests (these are all directly at the router). It tells you what your Netflix speed is and tests your ping under load. It also gives you grades for each of the sections it tests. You put your maximum speeds in and it seems it grades you against these. I found it fascinating watching how my results changed here depending on the time of day, the settings I had applied, and what activities were taking place on the network.
Whilst using the Netduma R2 Gaming Router, my household was able to carry out all our normal tasks without hindrance. The WiFi connection was stable and although the signal looked weaker on our devices, this did not seem to affect functionality. Activities included streaming music and TV series, video conferencing, delivering online lessons, web browsing on various devices, and video phone calls. On one such call to my mum, I ended up in the garden (around 25m from the R2) for around thirty minutes with only the minor issue of a slight drop in image quality.
In general, I didn’t find much difference between online gameplay, lag, and ping when playing Gears 5, Halo 5 or Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege on any of the routers until I added some extra traffic into the mix. Whilst streaming a TV programme and playing Gears 5, I experienced lag with both my ISP router and the Orbi set-up.
The kind of lag I’m talking about is that split-second frustrating lag – when you and an opponent are both approaching a corner, you’re both about to turn and test each other’s reflexes but, suddenly, you’re dead. You’re dead because their connection was better than yours and they had already turned the corner, it’s just that it hadn’t registered on your connection. From your end, it looks like they shot you through the cover. In contrast, whilst streaming and playing Gears 5 on the Netduma R2, there was no lag. In fact, there was no perceivable difference between the previous match when no one had been streaming.
With regards to download and upload speeds, initially, I was disappointed by the results. I found that my ISP router and the Orbi set-up gave a higher maximum for both. However, the more tests I did, I began to see a pattern. Whilst WiFi internet speeds on my ISP router and Orbi set-up fluctuated between quite a large range, the Netduma R2 sat dependably around the same mark. Yes, it didn’t reach the dizzy heights of the other two routers but it also rarely reached those perilous lows. And even when it did, it seemed that we were having poor service on our line. No problems were reported by our ISP but several speed checks on BT Wholesale Broadband Performance Test confirmed it was poor performance on the line.
Is It Worth the Hype?
Does it have any cons? Some minor ones. I didn’t get on with the Adblocker. I would also say that whilst the initial set-up is fairly straightforward, I spent quite a while reading articles and watching YouTube videos before I was sure I was using the settings in the DumaOS web app as intended. So, yes, physically it’s easy to set up but understanding all the features takes a bit longer.
On the other hand, what you get from the Netduma R2 is stability and smooth gameplay. It’s not necessarily about the speed that it guarantees from your router. Even when the speeds on our line dropped way below half of our maximum, by using a combination of the recommended QoS settings, the Geo-Filter on manual filtering combined with Ping Assist, I was able to play Gears 5 online with no perceivable lag and a low ping (nine to twenty milliseconds). In my opinion, with the Netduma R2 Gaming Router, it’s the consistency that you’re paying for. It’s the ability to game safe in the knowledge that whether you win or lose your match online, it won’t be down to lag.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can buy the Netduma R2 Gaming Router from the Netduma website here.
If you enjoyed our review of this router, you can find our other Gaming Tech reviews here.