The demands placed on our home networks are higher than ever, especially when it comes to gaming. Netgear was arguably one of the first router manufacturers to maximize the networking needed for gaming with its Nighthawk line of routers. Now it is trying the same with its new line of 6E compatible Orbi mesh routers. The Game Booster service looks a lot like the Nighthawk Pro Gaming app used to configure their XR gaming router line, with one glaring difference – it requires a subscription.
The Game Booster service for Orbi devices will cost $ 50 per year, and while it’s not a huge amount of money, it certainly raises questions about why Netgear is charging for a service that was previously offered free on other devices. This decision is all the more confusing when you consider the cost of an Orbi system, with some larger systems costing up to $ 1,500.
Netgear states that Game Booster offers more than just a Quality of Service (QoS) optimizer. Besides making QoS easier to use, Game Booster software, just like the Nighthawk Pro Gaming app, provides you with easy-to-read metrics to help you fine-tune your home network.
Game Booster should allow you to prioritize server connectivity based on ping or location, and allow you to allocate and reserve bandwidth for downloads and downloads per device. However, Netgear has stated that this service is not a VPN or intended to replace your VPN.
While many of these features are also present in other services, Game Booster will also include a built-in ad blocker with a regularly updated block list. The blocker will also allow you to specify which devices and domains are blocked, in addition to providing you with updated metrics on its effectiveness.
Having more granular control over your home network is certainly a good thing, but many of the features this paid service offers ultimately hinge on the assumption of an ideal network environment, among other factors. These are also largely tools that other routers provide for free or, as in the case of the ad blocker, can be built for a fairly low initial cost for an informed user. All of this raises questions as to whether this paid service will be good enough to merit the subscription on top of the above-average cost of hardware.
The Game Booster app is expected to be available for Orbi 750 and 850 series devices from Q1 2022.