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Netduma R3 Gaming Router Review: A Cool-Looking but Underwhelming Wi-Fi 6 Router

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It's mid-2024, and the latest piece of Netduma hardware, the Netduma R3, is a mid-tier Wi-Fi 6 Gigabit router. That's to set the bar low, considering we've had Wi-Fi 7 for almost a year, and Multi-Gig ports have been commonplace.

To be fair, the router was first announced in late 2023, and even then, its specs were far behind those of other networking devices. However, since then, other Wi-Fi 6 routers have been introduced, such as Asus's ExpertWiFi series or the D-Link M60.

That said, like all routers or any gadget, the hardware specs are not necessarily the end-all-be-all. The firmware, on the inside, plays a significant role in making them relevant. On this front, running DumaOS 4.0, the Netduma R3 is meant to be a special gaming router.

Still, I'm not sure the new OS is unique enough to justify the Netduma R3's current street price of around $200 or even its existence at all today. In any case, only gamers of certain types of games should apply.

Netduma R3 has four detachable antennas
The Netduma R3 has four detachable antennas and comes with a network cable.

Netduma R3: The new DumaOS 4.0 has to carry too much weight

In a way, the Netduma R3 is an upgraded version of the Netgear Nighthawk XR1000, which runs DumaOS 3.0. In others, it's a significant downgrade. That's because the new router features the mid-tier specs of the now-dated Wi-Fi 6 standard. It's an AX3000 router, as opposed to Netgear's AX5400.

The table below shows the two routers' hardware specs.

Netduma R3 vs. Netgear Nighthawk XR1000: Hardware specifications

Netduma R3Netgear XR1000 Router
Netduma R3 Wi-Fi 6 Gaming RouterNetgear XR1000 
Nighthawk Wi-Fi 6 
Pro Gaming Router
ModelNetduma R3XR1000
Wi-Fi BandwidthDual-band AX3000Dual-band AX5400
2.4GHz Specs
(channel width)
2x2 AX: Up to 574 Mbps
(20/40MHz)
5GHz Specs
(channel width)
2x2 AX: Up to 2402Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
4X4 AX: Up to 4804Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
Backward Compatibility802.11a/b/g/n/ac
AP ModeNoYes
Mesh-readyNo
Gigabit LAN Ports4x Gigabit LAN, 
1x Gigabit WAN
Multi-Gig PortsNone
Link AggregationNo
Dual-WANNo
Parental ControlNoYes 
AdblockerYesNo
Built-in Online ProtectionNoneOptional (Netgear subscription-based Armor Protection)
USB1 x USB-A USB 3.0 
(not used)
1 x USB-A USB 3.0 
(storage or printing applications)
Mobile AppDumaOSNetgear Nighthawk
QoSYes
(application- and device-based)
Processing Power1.5GHz Quad-core CPU,
256MB Flash, 256MB RAM
1.5 GHz Tri-core CPU, 
256 MB Flash, 512 MB RAM
Dimensions
(without antennas)
11.81 x 3.15 x 2.36 in
(30 x 8 x 6 cm)
11.61 x 7.87 x 2.51 in 
(29.5 x 20 x 6.4 cm)
Weight1.43 lbs (650 g)1.32 lbs (600 g)
Power210-240V
Power Consumption
(over 24 hours)
≈155 Whnot tested
Antennas4x external
(detachable)
Specifical Game FeaturesGame-oriented DumaOS 4.0,
RGB programmable lighting
Game-oriented DumaOS 3.0
Firmware Version
(at review)
4.0.2091.0.0.44_1.0.22
Suggested Price (U.S.)
(at launch)
$199.99$349.99
Netgear Nighthawk XR1000's hardware specifications.

A DumaOS 4.0-based barebone router

As shown in the table, the R3 has lower Wi-Fi specs than the Netgear. However, since both routers only have Gigabit ports, their Wi-Fi performances are likely similar—they're limited by the ports that cap at 1000Mbps.

Both routers have a USB 3.0 port, but interestingly, the Netduma R3 does not use this port. There's no mention of it in the firmware, and Netduma told me that it had "some potential use cases for it in mind, but no immediate plans." Considering the route was released more than six months ago, chances are the port is useless.

Netduma R3 portsNetduma R3 front
The Netduma R3's port and front ends. Note the router's fancy tri-stick RGB light and its USB port, which is only a placeholder.

Design-wise, the R3 looks cool out of the box. It resembles a stingray without the tail, with three LED lines on top that meet in the middle to form a tri-stick RGB programmable lighting pattern. The router has four detachable antennas on the sides and ports on the back. On the underside, there are mounting holes. Overall, the Netduma R3 is a simple and practically designed router with a plastic chassis that feels solid, albeit a bit flimsy.

The Netduma R3 is standard in terms of setup and management, which is a good thing. Its robust web user interface is available at its default IP address, 192.168.77.1. Navigate a browser on a connected computer to this address, and the rest is self-explanatory, just like the way you handle any standard router.

Other than the interface, there's the DumaOS app. I tried it briefly and found it too sluggish to be helpful. Generally, I'd prefer the web interface to a mobile app anyway.

So, again, the only thing worth noting is the DumaOS 4.0. Per Netduma, the new OS has the following highlights:

  1. Geofilter 2.0: A whole new Geofilter solution that works more effectively for virtually any online game.
  2. SmartBOOST: The brand new evolution of QoS that automatically adjusts to give everything the optimal amount of bandwidth at any given moment.
  3. Steady Ping: Heralds the arrival of our long-awaited anti-Jitter technology (that's right, it's finally here). By sacrificing a tiny ping buffer, you 'lock in' a ping that doesn't fluctuate. Now, every game feels as smooth as the last.
  4. A completely overhauled UI.

Of all the items above, #4 is a sure thing. The router's user interface is much more robust and responsible than that of the Netgear Nighthawk XR1000. The rest of the items and the router's other game-related features vary in usefulness, and none was as impressed as their names are cracked up to be in my experience.

Netduma R3 topNetduma R3 underside
The top and underside of the Netduma R3. Note its mounting holes in the latter.

Fancy game-related features

SmartBOOST, for example, is just a standard QoS feature that allows users to prioritize traffic based on applications or devices. It's similar to the Active QoS available in all Asus routers. This feature works and is applicable to specific situations, but despite the fancy name, it's not unique or special.

The Steady Ping is somewhat like a voodoo. There's no way to know whether or not it has any effect. To be fair, I tested the router with my 10Gbps Fiber-optic Internet, which has very little lag and might work well even with the worst router. So, this feature might be beneficial to those with sub-par broadband.

Netduma R3 DashboardNetduma R3 SmartBOOST

The Netduma R3 has a feature called Ping Optimizer, which I found a little odd. First, ping is generally specific to the remote server and can't be "optimized" since users typically have no control over that server. Secondly, I tried the R3 against a few other routers, and the feature didn't have any real-world effect. In fact, My Asus RT-BE96U often has ping at zero during multiple tests, while the R3, with the same broadband connection, has 3.8 milliseconds as its "optimized" value.

The final ping-related feature, Ping Heatmap, was helpful. You pick one from a long list of supported games, and the router shows a world map displaying available servers and their pings so you can choose the one with the lowest latency to connect to.

Clearly, Ping Heatmap is only applicable when the game allows for picking different servers. For games with a fixed server, the feature is like the traffic layer on Google Maps, which doesn't help if you have only one way to get a particular address.

The same thing can be said about the Geo-Filter feature that limits the geolocation within a certain distance, such that a game would pick a server to connect to to ensure the best performance.

Netduma R3 Ping HeatmapNetduma R3 Geo Filter

Overall, despite being designed heavily geared toward gaming, the Netduma R3's gaming features have more hype and real-world impact. That's especially true for those with Gigabit-class or faster broadband who shouldn't use the router in the first place due to its limited bandwidth. However, those with a mediocre Internet connection might find the router helpful. In short, the gaming notion of the R3 depends on the situation and will vary from slightly functional to purely gimmicky.

Lacking in general features

On the other hand, if you look at the router from a general usage point of view, it will be lacking.

There is no setting for backup and restoration, parental control, Dynamic DNS, or web-based remote management (the remote access, if turned on, is available only for Netduma's troubleshooting).

The router's Hybrid VPN, which is an odd name, is not a VPN server but only a VPN client supporting an OpenVPN or WireGuard connection.

There's also no AP or bridge mode and no mesh support; the router can only work as a standalone broadcaster. And, again, despite the port's existence, there are no USB-related features.

Netduma R3 RGB ControlNetduma R3 RGB Wi Fi Settings
The only item the Netduma R3 has in-depth customization is its RGB lighting. Even the Wi-Fi settings (right) are relatively shallow.

Clearly, all of these are just a matter of firmware, but considering this is a 6-month-old router, chances are this is the state for the rest of the hardware's life.

OK performance

I tested the Netduma R3 for a week and wasn't impressed. The router had a relatively short range, comparable to those of its specs, such as the Asus RT-AX58U. Wi-Fi coverage is hard to quantify, but you can count around 1500 ft2 (139 m2) out of it if placed at the center.

Netduma R3 Long Range PerformanceNetduma R3 Close Range Performance
The Netduma R3's Wi-Fi performance.

The router performed to specs in terms of throughput. As mentioned, without a Multi-Gig port, its Wi-Fi (and wired) performance maxed out at sub-Gigabit, and that was the case in my testing.

The router passed my 1.5-day stress test without any disconnection, but then it had some hiccups. When I tried accessing its web user interface to investigate, I ran into a perpetual spinning circle with the message shown in the screenshot below. It seems this happens once in a while and requires a manual reboot before things get back to normal.

Netduma R3 Buggy
At times, the Netduma R3's interface gets stuck at this message and requires a manual restart to be accessible again.

Other than that, the R3 remained relatively cool despite having no internal fan. It only became slightly warm to the touch, even during heavy operations.

Netduma R3's Rating

7.3 out of 10
PXL 20240525 192251591.PORTRAIT
Performance
7 out of 10
Features
8 out of 10
Ease of Use
8 out of 10
Value
6 out of 10

Pros

DumaOS 4.0 with a responsive web user interface and sleek gaming features effective for a particular class of games

Practical design with RGB programmable lighting

Useful mobile app, wall-mountable

Cons

Dated hardware specs, no 6GHz or Multi-Gig port, the USB port is a placeholder

Limited Wi-Fi settings and general features

At times, Beta-like buggy firmware

Conclusion

Despite all its fancy, esoterically named features, the Netduma R3 is a disappointing router overall. Its lack of Multi-Gig support alone means it's only suitable for those with mediocre broadband. Then, they have to be gamers of specific games that allow users to pick different servers to appreciate some of the features. Outside of that, any user will find it lacking in general features and settings.

A few years ago, when slow internet was commonplace, the R3 might have been considered a niche device. These days, many might consider it borderline obsolete hardware. If you need an affordable gaming router, pick the Asus RT-AX82U, the TUF-AX5400, or any of the alternatives in the best list below, and you'll be a much happier user overall.

Best gaming routers: The no-more-excuse list

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