Netgear today put DumaOS 3.0 on the XR500 Nighthawk Pro Gaming router that came out more than three years ago. It did so via the release of the latest firmware for the Wi-Fi, version 126.96.36.199.
Despite the mundane version number, this firmware update is the router's most significant to date. With it, the XR500 now shares the same gaming operating system as Netgear's Wi-Fi 6 version, the XR1000.
In other words, once upgraded to the latest firmware, the XR500 will be the Wi-Fi 5 version of the XR1000, which adds a lot of modern values to the old router.
DumaOS 3.0 on the XR500: A game changer
DumaOS 3.0 comes with a host of gaming-related features and improvements over those in DumaOS 2.0. Examples include:
- Ping Heatmap: When you pick a particular game on a long supported list, the router will automatically ping the game's server around the world and show them on a map. You can see each server with its ping value as a color dot that shows the quality of the connection.
- A better QoS engine: You now can prioritize the traffic based on application type instead of clients, which is the case with DumaOS 2.0. For example, if you pick "gaming", then online gaming will be prioritized no matter what client (PCs, consoles, etc.) within the network you use.
- Improved Geo-Filter: You now can make your home network be part of different group "pockets" around the world, and not just within a circle of a certain distance radius from your home.
In other words, if you don't care about Wi-Fi 6 -- most of the time, you should wire your gaming rig to the network anyway via a network cable -- the new firmware will make the XR500 as good as any new and more expensive Wi-Fi 6 hardware.
And it might be even better.
Indeed, I tried the new firmware on my XR500 -- the same one I used for the review three years ago --, and the process took just about five minutes. After that, it seems the new OS on the XR500 has better responsiveness than on the XR1000.
Updating can be a bit of work
You can download the latest firmware right now via this link and update the router manually. The firmware is free.
Altnatetively, you can wait for a few days and perform the update via the Firmware Update Assistant section of the XR500's web interface.
While the update takes just a few minutes, making the new OS work well on the old router can be a bit of work. That's because, after the update, you should reset the router to the factory default and set it up from scratch -- or you can do that before the update.
DumaOS 3.0 has significant differences from the previous version -- it's a new OS entirely. As a result, many settings of the DumaOS 2.0 will not stick and can even cause issues.
On top of that, the functionalities and names of many settings and features have changed, too, and you'll run into different errors when browsing the new OS' interface using the old settings.
Resetting a router also takes only a few minutes, but programming it from scratch can be a pain if you have a lot of settings and customization -- I did.
But in this case, the improvements of the new OS are worth the effort. Just make sure you set aside some time for the task.
It's excellent on Netgear's part to put the latest DumaOS on the dated XR500.
For one, it's an excellent (looking) piece of hardware, and the new software will extend its life significantly. Most importantly, supporting a product years after its release shows that the vendor means business.
And last but not least, this development also means you can still hold on to your Wi-Fi 5 devices. Clearly, even Netgear believes they are still relevant today.
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