Note – AmpliFi provided us with a review copy of the AmpliFi HD Gamer’s Edition in exchange for our honest review.
AmpliFi has been making mesh networks for the masses for the last few years, and now it’s bringing its expertise to the gaming market. Its AmpliFi HD Gamer’s Edition is a collaboration between AmpliFi and NVIDIA. It’s designed to let gamers get the most out of their GeForce NOW experience while retaining the option to go wireless.
However, before we get to the meat and potatoes of this review it’s important to make something clear. This router isn’t a magic bullet that will make GeForce NOW work on a slow connection. If your internet service provider sucks, then this won’t be able to fix that. A HUGE, necessary asterisk is that GeForce NOW is still very much in beta and introduces its own problems.
Understated, Modern Design
The AmpliFi HD Gamer’s Edition mesh kit looks good. Really good. It consists of the router and two accompanying mesh points. They all have a nice matte black finish that won’t look out of place in most homes and can become seamless parts of your décor.
The router has a customizable LCD that lets you choose what information you want it to display. Being able to see various aspects of your network at a glance is incredibly convenient. Although if you want this to be a stealthy addition to your home you can just have it display the time. The only downside is not being able to change the color, as it sticks with the NVIDIA green motif.
An LED ring at the bottom of the router is another nice design touch. The LED ring is white, and you can change its brightness. Anyone looking to go all out with the RGB vomit will be disappointed, though. It’s surprising to see the omission of RGB considering they’re going after the gamer market. Maybe for version 2.0.
It’s Got Range for Days
The range on this mesh kit is impressive, and easily provides the best range of any router I’ve used. A pain point in my family’s home is the Nest security camera at the front door. Constant dropouts and subpar performance are the norm but, after setting up this router all these problems are gone.
It also delivers in its claims to let you game with wireless freedom. There isn’t any perceivable difference between a wired connection and Wi-Fi while using GeForce NOW; so long as you’re on the 5Ghz band. It’s a big deal because NVIDIA goes out of its way to recommend a wired connection while using their cloud gaming service. This flexibility is something that will be appreciated by anyone who can’t get a wired connection to their computer.
It doesn’t stop there, though. During testing of this unit, I was able to connect to my Wi-Fi network from my neighbor’s backyard. It’s a nice change of pace from having to ask my neighbor for the username and password of their network. This probably isn’t representative of how most people will use it but, it does give you an idea of how great the range is with proper placement of the mesh points.
Made for GeForce NOW
The biggest selling point of this router is that it’s specifically designed to optimize GeForce NOW performance. It does this by handling the setup of the QoS (Quality of Service) rules. You can enable this at the tap of a button, without having to worry about how and what settings you need to modify to get it working.
As for the performance, it delivers, albeit only when the GeForce NOW service cooperates. I’m able to game comfortably with the GeForce NOW service even while there are other things happening on the network, such as YouTube streams or live TV through DirectTV NOW. Just keep in mind that how much you can have going on at once is still dependent on your available bandwidth. Again, it’s not a cure-all for low bandwidth or that you’re using a service still in beta.
The only QoS hiccup I came across while gaming on GeForce NOW is that there can be a bit of hitching when a new video stream starts up. It usually smooths itself out after about 10 seconds, though. This isn’t something that will happen all the time but, it’s worth mentioning.
App Based Management
When interacting with the router you’ll spend most of your time in the companion app, which is available on both Android and iOS (I used the iOS version). It’s a simple and well-designed app that’s easy to use. It also provides you with helpful instructions when you first setup the router.
Not everything is in the app, though. There’s still a web interface that you can use to access a few more settings. I’m not sure why these specific options didn’t make it into the app. My only guess is that they don’t want most users tinkering with these settings unless absolutely necessary.
This router gets so many small things right. When I first setup a wireless network I normally go about setting up dedicated 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, because it’s a necessary step. However, with the AmpliFi there is one network that will have both bands available, and devices just connect to whatever band they need. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but, it’s much appreciated.
Moreover, there is the ability to control what devices can get data with a quick tap. The app displays everything currently connected to the network, and they all have a pause button that can be pressed to cut them off from the internet. It’s nice to be able to just pause something rather than having to physically disconnect it, or target mac addresses; and I can imagine parents will love this feature.
Likewise, the mesh points were also designed with users in mind. They each have small LED indicators that let you know how strong the signal they’re receiving is. This makes it a lot easier to know where to best place them to get the most range possible. It’s a nice experience compared to random trial and error.
Coming from a world of custom router firmware (dd-wrt, tomato, Asuswrt-Merlin) I didn’t think I’d like the app companion method of the AmpliFi HD Gamer’s Edition. However, after using this router for some time I’ve come to really like having simple network management as opposed to constant tinkering.
AmpliFi really has an outstanding router here. The MSRP is high ($379.00), although well within reason when you compare it to offerings from their competitors. With the price tag, though, you’re getting a great performer with dead simple setup. The GeForce NOW collaboration pays dividends in some ways but, it’s hobbled by the fact that the service itself can be so hit or miss.