Hardware manufacturers will use marketing and tricks to claim speeds that might not be achievable at all.
Here at Networks Hardware, we have bought and tested the Netgear C7800 ourselves in order to give you a truthful review of how it will perform in real-world scenarios.
Let’s dive into the details so you can decide if this device is worth the investment for you.
The Netgear Nighthawk C7800 is a cable modem and router combo, also known as a gateway.
To use it, you must subscribe to a compatible cable internet service. You can see the list of compatible ISP’s here by expanding the C7800 tab.
We usually recommend having a separate modem and router, but we must admit the Netgear C7800 is a good option if you are looking for good performance while saving some shelf space.
Let’s take a look at its detailed specs.
Netgear CA7800 Specs
|Max Tested Wi-Fi Speed||513.64 Mbps|
|Approximate Range||80-90 feet (inside)|
|Supported ISP’s||Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, Optimum, WOW, Mediacom, Suddenlink, Sparklight, Grande|
|Wireless Standard||Wi-Fi 5|
|Bands||Dual Band (2.4 GHz & 5 GHz)|
|LAN Ports||Four 1-Gigabit ports|
|USB Ports||Two USB 3.0 ports|
|Parental Controls||Yes, but basic|
|Dimensions||12.4 x 10.4 x 7.5 in|
You can find the full spec sheet for the Netgear C7800 in their official website.
Now, let’s explore its different features and how it performed during our tests.
Performance – 4.6
Let’s start this section by alluding to the fact that the Netgear C7800 is a Wi-Fi 5 router.
And despite what Netgear might say, you will not be able to get download speeds of 1 Gbps via Wi-Fi with it.
But taking it for what it is, the C7800 is a high-performing beast. It supports DOCSIS 3.1, after all.
The Nighthawk C7800 clocked download speeds of 513.64 Mbps at 5 feet in the 5 GHz band. Farther away at 25 feet, it’s still very good, measuring 309.15 Mbps.
For context, other Netgear gateways like the C7000 can’t even reach 400 Mbps at the same distance.
While the Motorola MG8702 scored slightly better at shorter distances but feel of more as you moved away from the device.
This performance will ensure you and your family will have no problem streaming HD content, playing online games, and doing some heavy browsing. That is if your internet plan can also support it, of course.
A big part of any gateway or router’s performance is range. Which measures how the connection speed is affected by distance or objects.
In general, the Netgear C7800 has a good range. Not great, not terrible, just good.
The maximum distance where we could still get a signal during our tests was around 80 to 90 feet.
To use the same example as above, it has approximately 10% better range than the C7000 and about 20% more than the C6250.
It has about the same range as the Motorola MG8702.
Features – 3.0
The C7800 features are, for lack of a better word, underwhelming. But this is common with modem-router combos in our experience.
For example, Quality of Service (QoS) is non-existing. So you won’t be able to prioritize or save bandwidth for any devices or activities. You could say that its performance is good enough not to need it.
Parental controls are present, but just with basic standard options. The more advanced Circle app appears in the C7800’s menu, but is unsupported. A somewhat annoying “bug”.
However, you can expect basic features like guest networks to create a separate network for guests to connect to, significantly improving security.
It also supports FTP server capability, where you can connect a storage device directly to the router and access it from any connected device.
And a basic firewall with DoS prevention, which is not bullet-proof. But will help you keep your network protected from simple threats.
Design – 3.8
To be honest, you would expect a Nighthawk-labeled device to look better. But the C7800’s design is just fine.
This gateway is a chunky pal, a tad bulky at almost 13 x 10 x 8 inches and weighing more than 3 pounds.
However, the design is sleek, modern, and subtle. It clearly denotes performance, and its huge four physical antennas are there to let you know that’s just what you’ll get.
At the back, you’ll find a fairly minimal design.
A coax cable WAN port for your ISPs signal. 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports to connect devices via cable (which is always faster!). Add to that a reset button, and that’s all you get.
But, to be fair, it’s also all you need.
Additionally, there are 2 USB 3.0 ports at the side of the device. A bit of an odd placement, but very handy for fast updates and setting up network storage.
Not much else to say, which means not much to criticize either. All-in-all, the design works, and we found it well executed.
Compatibility – 4.5
It’s difficult for us to guarantee compatibility since we cannot test every ISP ourselves. But Netgear claims this gateway will work with the following ISPs:
- Optimum (although known for having issues in some areas)
Keep in mind that the C7800 might still work with your cable internet provider even if it’s not listed. But we invite you to confirm this part before purchasing it.
Setup – 4.8
When reading reviews online, you’ll notice that its easy and simple setup is one of the most commented aspects of the C7800. And we definitely agree.
Just keep in mind that since the Netgear C7800 is both a modem and a router, you need to set up each separately.
To activate the connection, you’ll need to call your ISP for them to activate the modem once connected. That should be fairly quick. Once active, no further action is needed on the modem side.
To set up the wireless router part, you can either log in to your router by connecting to its open Wi-Fi signal or using an Ethernet cable.
Alternatively, you can use the Netgear Nighthawk app for a quick and easy mobile setup.
We found them all pretty straightforward, no matter what method you use.
Value – 3.5
As long as your internet plan is 500 Mbps or less, we would consider the C7800 to be a fair value.
It’s a top-of-the-line Wi-Fi 5 gateway. However, given how Wi-Fi 6 hardware is becoming more accessible, the C7800’s price vs. performance ratio becomes harder to justify as time passes.
Still, if you appreciate reliability, good performance, and nice design, the C7800 is worth it for many users.
Reviews for the C7800’s performance are overwhelmingly positive. And if you’re buying it knowing the limitations of Wi-Fi 5, we have to agree. The Nighthawk C7800 is just what it says it is.
The issues start (at least as reviews are concerned) with Netgear’s technical support. While some claim it’s good, most users report that dealing with them is difficult and tedious.
The quality of this device, plus the ease of its setup, should be enough to never have to call Netgear’s customer service.
But it’s an important aspect to keep in mind in case something goes wrong with the hardware or if you’re someone who likes easy and stress-free support regularly.
Here are some alternatives to the Netgear C7800.