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Xfinity XB7 gateway review

Today I had the delivery of the new XB7 gateway router from Xfinity. I’ve heard a good deal about it, and recently contacted Xfinity asking them to send it out to me.

I was interested to get my hands on one as it’s the next gen DOCSIS 3.1 gateway, supports up to 2.5 Gbit/s (which is a significant change on the current 1 Gbit/s XB6), but my main reason was it supports dual band 802.11ax (aka WiFi 6.) I don’t have much in my house compatible with this right now, apart from my iPhone 11 Pro and iPad Pro, but wanted to give it a whirl anyway. This gateway is manufactured by Technicolor.

I spoke to Xfinity over customer online chat and I had no issues at all with the request, but have heard many others having an issue depending on the market. I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area, and have gigabit service. Within a few moments the Xfinity agent had dispatched my new gateway.

I’ve been using the XB6, or the xFI Advanced Gateway for many months now without any issue. A disclaimer here, I have been using it in bridge mode with my Google WiFi throughout my house. However, I was interested to see how the XB7 would perform on its own, compared to the XB6, in terms of speed and range.

An unboxed Xfinity XB7 / CGM4331COM

Specifications

  • Model number CGM4331COM
  • Xfinity name XB7
  • 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Dual band WiFi
  • Throughput 2.5 Gbps
  • Supports two telephone ports if needed
  • Supports Zigbee and Bluetooth LE (low energy)
  • Grey/white – less noticeable LED light than previous XB6

Delivery, unboxing and install

The router was delivered fast, even with the COVID situation. The box it came in was sparse with no fancy enclosure or additional information. Xfinity had placed a packing slip in the box to say at the present time they’d rather minimize high-touch packing and would rather get the hardware out quickly – so hats off for them for that.

The install, was very straight forward for me via the self-install and using the iOS Xfinity Xfi app. Probably took 10 minutes end-to-end, and also took all the previous settings from my XB6 and transferred it to the XB7 which was cool. (Firewall, WiFi, passwords, etc)

Observations

Before I put my my XB7 into bridge mode, I wanted to compare the wireless connectivity with my XB6. Another disclaimer, this is not scientific, but will give a rough idea. Obviously I was getting near 1Gbps via ethernet direct from the previous XB6 to my iMac.

I first had held my iPhone about a couple of meters from the XB6, ran a speed test a few times, and the best I could get was 343 Mbps down.

Wireless speed XB6 to iPhone 11 Pro at around two meters

After I had the XB7 setup and running for a while, I did the same test. Again, not very scientific, but the best speed I could get was 785 Mbps wirelessly. Pretty good.

Wireless speed XB7 to iPhone 11 Pro at around two meters

So, as you can see, quite the difference. These speeds are amazing for sure. However, where things don’t go so well for me is speed over a distance. Admittedly, I place my XB7 in the garage, so it has a few walls and doors to contend with, but if I travel through my house around 50-60 from the XB7 on the same level, the speed drops down to around 2-3 Mbps. Not great for a gigabit service – but I know, in my home, I probably have various things not great for WiFi. So, it was soon back to using the gateway as a bridge modem and linking it through to my Google mesh WiFi throughout my house.

I have read that there are some issues with service speed reduction over time when in bridge mode. I have not experienced that yet, but will be on the look out.

In conclusion, in my opinion only, if you had a gigabit service, you had the gateway somewhere centrally in your home with a useable radius range around 30 feet or so, with WiFi 6 equipment, you might be OK to make the most out of the gateway. It’s no good using the Xfinity Xfi Pods either as you are not going to get the most out of the speeds you sign up for.

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