We decided to test the Home Hub 4 with both our regular test laptop and the provided BT dual-band dongle across 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. This was done in the same residential environment we test all routers with measurements taken at identical spots: two metres and 10 metres away from the router with line of sight; and 13m away behind two standing walls.
Using our laptop at 5GHz wireless n the Hub 4 achieved speeds of 13.5 megabytes (108 megabits per second), 13.1MBps (104.8Mbit) and 4.92MBps (39.4Mbit) at 2m, 10m and 13m respectively.
The dongle achieved 12.9MBps (103.2Mbit), 11.1MBps (88.8Mbit) and 3.16MBps (25.3Mbit) - a small but unsurprising drop-off since USB antennas tend to lack the range and power of an integrated wireless chip.
Compared to the Virgin new Super Hub’s 17.5MBps (140Mbit) and 11.5MBps (92Mbit) at 2m and 10m the Home Hub 4’s peak performance struggles, though it's noticeably faster than the Super Hub’s 4.3MBps (34.4Mbit) at 13m.
At 2.4GHz the Home Hub 4 managed speeds of 7.61MBps (60.88Mbit), 7.45MBps (59.6Mbit) and 2.79MBps (22.3Mbit), which are behind the new Super Hub’s 10.1MBps (80.8Mbit), 8.5MBps (68Mbit) and 3.2MBit (25.6Mbit), but far better than the Sky Hub’s 5.8MBps (46.4Mbit), 5.1MBps (40.8Mbit) and 1.3MBps (10.4).
That said all these figures only reinforce that 2.4GHz wireless n is not up to the task of delivering fibre broadband speeds widely around the home, and 5GHz should be a prerequisite on any ISP-supplied router for fibre optic broadband.
Meanwhile USB network transfer speeds remain disappointing on most routers due to a lack of horsepower. The Home Hub 4 stuck to this theme hitting 2.74MBps (22.3Mbit), which means USB storage, while convenient, is merely a back-up to wired Ethernet. (Graphs for all tests are in the photo gallery tab at the top of the page)
It all depends on circumstance. New BT Fibre customers get the Home Hub 4 free while existing customers can get it for a £35 upgrade free, making it a welcome and reasonable update. That said, buying the Home Hub 4 at its exorbitant full price (£109) from the BT Shop is too much for the features and performance on offer.
It is also worth noting that BT, Virgin and Sky’s routers are all substantially slower than the routers from the best third-party manufacturers. By comparison the fastest dual-band wireless n router we've tested, the D-Link DIR-845L, is up to 30% faster on the 5GHz band (top speed 152.8Mbit) and up to 28% faster (84.8Mbit vs 60.88Mbit) on the 2.4GHz band. It retails for roughly £100.
Meanwhile 802.11ac routers (circa £150) push these 5GHz and 2.4GHz speeds even faster and their next generation wireless ac standard can reach speeds of nearly 30MBps (240Mbit) at 13m. So unless you’re getting a cheap upgrade there is little point in paying full price for the Home Hub 4.
For more alternatives, read our best routers round-up.
The BT Home Hub 4 is undoubtedly BT’s best yet and it is both stylish and simple to setup. It's essential if you're on one of BT's fastest fibre packages, and over its 5GHz band it's fast enough to deliver these speeds over a wireless connection.