So many of our gadgets these days require an internet connection, so it is important to have a quality router to manage all your devices. However, it is often the case that many internet service providers only basic provide equipment to connect to the internet, which does not allow us the ability to efficiently take advantage of the high speeds they offer.
To make matters worse, these devices often fail more frequently than we would like. Therefore, it is a good idea to purchase better quality equipment. In general, however, most average users are unaware of what to look for when buying a router. That’s why we have prepared this comprehensive guide, to tell you everything that you need to know about this important piece of equipment.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best routers available on the US market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about routers
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- Routers are essential devices that are required in order to take advantage of the faster internet speeds on offer today. The faster speed that a quality router provides is indispensable for streaming movies and TV shows in high definition and also for seamless online gaming without latency issues.
- Routers provided by internet service providers are usually very basic models, without any extra features. If you want to take advantage of extra functions, or a more stable and faster connection, you should consider purchasing a higher quality device.
- These days it is increasingly common for routers be dual band, allowing connections at frequencies of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. This permits the device to take advantage of both frequencies, resulting in a higher quantity of fast speed connections.
Ranking: The best routers available on the US market
In this section, we have chosen the five best routers available on the market right now. We have chosen a wide-range of products to give you a good indication of what is currently available. All the selected products offer great value for money, reliability and will be a big upgrade from the basic router supplied by your internet service provider (ISP).
No. 1: NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R7000)
Accelerate your WiFi with NETGEAR Nighthawk! Enjoy the fastest WiFi currently available, with speeds up to 1900 Mbps and a powerful dual Core 1GHz processor for extreme performance. High-powered amplifiers, external antennas and beamforming+ improve range and reliability for up to 100% more wireless coverage. Features like Dynamic QoS prioritize streaming and gaming, creating a blazing-fast, lag-free WiFi experience.
This is one of the most popular routers on the market, and it has fantastic reviews from happy users. It provides a stable connection, and will allow much faster internet speeds than a router provided by your ISP.
No. 2: TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router
With more devices in homes today, you need a solid router to keep up with WiFi demands. The AC1750 router packs the speed and range most families need at an affordable price. The Archer A7 provides the best value for your dollar, delivering the perfect mix of performance and features for most homes.
This is a great option for people who don’t want to spend too much, but still want a reliable, dual band router with great WiFi coverage. It is a very popular device and has great reviews from users – who say it works just as well as more expensive models.
No. 3: Linksys Tri-Band WiFi Router
Upgrade your home Wi-Fi and enjoy exceptional wireless speeds with the Linksys Max-Stream AC2200 MU-MIMO WiFi Tri-Band Router. Ideal for households with heavy WiFi use, this triple band router delivers combined speeds of up to 2.2 Gbps for lag-free entertainment and productivity. The router features MU-MIMO technology, so your whole family can stream, game, and perform other high-bandwidth tasks.
This is serious router and is perfect for households with many gadgets that connect to the internet. Users love this product from Linksys, especially as the triple band technology allows the simultaneous connection of multiple devices – so your whole family can enjoy fast internet at the same time.
No. 4: ASUS Dual-Band 2×2 AC1300
Upgrade to AC Wi-Fi for your bandwidth-hungry devices with the Dual-Band ASUS RT-ACRH13. Phones and tablets are free to roam throughout the home thanks to four external antennas that enhance coverage and stability. Easy, intuitive setup and network management are at your fingertips with ASUSWRT and the ASUS router app.
This router is popular with people looking for great performance, but for a cheaper price. Although it is only dual band, users report no issues connecting multiple devices. It also has great range, and is perfect if you need WiFi coverage over a large area.
No. 5: ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 AX11000
Here we have an option for people who want the best possible connection, and are happy to pay for it. This is by far the most expensive router on our list, but if you are a serious gamer this is the one for you. When it comes to online ranking and tournaments, a great connection to your game server is critical. Game Radar lets you check ping times to different servers before you play.
If you’re fed up with virtual private networks dragging down game performance, ROG has the answer. ROG Rapture lets you run a VPN and an ordinary internet connection simultaneously! This is a very popular product and has positive reviews from buyers, who are most often serious gamers or I.T. professionals.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about routers
If you are thinking about upgrading your router, it’s only normal that you probably have a few questions about these devices. Don’t forget that there are lots of different routers available on the market, that offer different functions. In this section we answer the most frequently asked questions people often have, when they are considering purchasing a router.
What is a router exactly?
A router is an electronic device used to connect various devices to a computer network. It ensures the proper routing of information packets within the network. It allows you to connect multiple devices to the same network. The router is also responsible for managing the traffic of data.
What is a router used for?
The primary function of a router is to distribute an internet connection. This is done either wirelessly or via an Ethernet cable. However, the latest models currently available offer many additional features.
Is it worth buying a new router?
If you want to enjoy more advanced features than offered by a basic router supplied by your ISP, then the answer is definitely yes. This way, you can have more connections, more advanced functions, an improved signal range, faster speeds and even mount a server or share discs on the network.
Additionally, a basic router supplied by your ISP will usually only support WiFi N and use the 2.4 Ghz band. This means that the maximum speed they can offer is around 300 to 450 Mbps. Conversely, with a more powerful router it is possible to enjoy the benefits of connectivity in dual band WiFi N and WiFi AC at 5 GHz, with speeds up to 1,750 Mbps.
What are the reasons for buying a new router?
One of the main reasons for buying a new router is so that you can take full advantage of the connection speed offered by your ISP. Other possible reasons are if you need to increase your WiFi coverage over a large area, or if you frequently have many different devices connected to your network.
You might also be interested in buying a higher quality router than the one supplied by your ISP, if you are a serious online gamer and want to ensure a faster and more stable connection. As we all know, there is nothing more frustrating than losing a game, just because your connection dropped out – exactly when you needed it most.
What are the advantages of upgrading my router?
Having a quality router offers a number of advantages that make the extra investment worthwhile. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of this, and just simply use the equipment provided by their ISP. This means that they are missing out on many of the features networks are able to provide these days.
The main advantages include higher connection speeds, more stable connections and the ability to simultaneously connect a greater number of devices. In recent years, the prices of routers have dropped considerably, and their installation is much less complicated.
|You can take full advantage of the connection speed offered by your operator.||They require an extra financial outlay, especially in the case of high-end equipment.|
|You can enjoy advanced features.||You will need to install the new router yourself or hire a specialized technician. However, these days the installation of most devices is very easy.|
|You can connect more devices and have better control over a greater number of connections.|
|A higher quality router will save you having to buy a signal booster.|
|High quality routers use beamforming technology to strengthen the signal and connection speed.|
|Some manufacturers have free mobile applications, which allow you to manage your home or office network from your smartphone.|
|You can enjoy a much higher level of network customization.|
What WiFi standards are supported by the latest routers?
At the moment, there are several different WiFi standards, each of them with different features. The different WiFi standards that are supported by routers, offer different maximum connection speeds, and allow more or less devices to be connected simultaneously.
|802.11n or WiFi 4||800 Mbps|
|802.11ac or WiFi 5||1300 Mbps or 1733 Mbps using 5 Ghz|
|802.11ad||800 Mbps using 2,4 GHz, 1.733 Mbps using 5 GHz y 4.600 Mbps on a band of 60 GHz|
|802.11ax or WiFi 6||11.000 Mbps|
A router or a mesh network?
In some circumstances, it may be a better idea to opt for a mesh network than for a single device. A mesh network, or meshnet, is comprised of a router and its corresponding satellites. This system allows the entire meshnet to function in an advanced way, offering a WiFi signal of the highest quality in any situation.
This solution is especially designed to cover large areas, in which the signal emitted from a single router is insufficient. It offers a much more stable and secure WiFi signal, providing coverage in WiFi “dead zones” and eliminating those connection dropouts we all hate. Obviously, as this type of solution is more complex and requires more equipment, it is considerably more expensive than a network managed by a single router.
The moment has arrived to purchase a new router, so it’s important that you keep a few things in mind. In order to make your choice as easy as possible, we take a detailed look at the most important factors you need to know – so you can get the device that is perfect for you. We hope that this guide helps you to get the best value for money, when you are buying your new router.
- Quantity and type of connections required
- WiFi standard
- Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO)
- Hardware of the router
- Software and user interface
Quantity and type of connections required
One of the first things you should be asking yourself, is the number of Ethernet and wireless connections you require. Whenever possible it is always better to connect your devices using an Ethernet cable, since this is a more stable connection. As a result, most current routers usually provide between two and four Ethernet LAN plugs.
However, some routers have more than four Ethernet plugs. The most important thing to check is that they are Gigabit LAN connections. On the other hand, if you are going to connect lots of devices via WiFi over a large area, it is important that the router has several external antennas which can be orientated in different directions. If the antennas are internal, you definitively want to make sure that there is more than one.
A key aspect to consider when choosing a router is the WiFi standard it supports. This will determine its speed and ability to manage multiple connections. The newest standard is called WiFi 6 or WiFi 802.11ax. This standard permits connections that are 55% faster, and many additional connections at the same time.
One of the most important features of routers is the band on which they operate. Single band devices operate at a frequency of 2.4 GHz, dual band devices operate on both 2.4 GHz and a 5 GHz frequencies and triple band devices use a single 2.4 GHz band and two 5 GHz bands.
The main advantage provided by double and triple band routers is due to the fact that the 5 GHz band is less congested and also has less interference. This is because this frequency is not utilized by other devices that connect using different types of systems, such as Bluetooth connections.
Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO)
This technology is increasingly more present in the latest routers to hit the market. It is designed to tackle the single biggest issue associated with WiFi – having multiple simultaneous connections. When several computers are connected to a traditional router, it will often decide to only send data to the devices one at a time.
However, with MIMO technology the router can simultaneously send information to multiple devices, resulting in considerably faster connection speeds. So if you often have many devices connected to your network at the same time, it is vital that you make sure that you are buying a router that has this technology integrated.
Hardware of the router
Routers use their own microprocessor and RAM. In particular, the latest models integrate Qualcomm dual-core processors, and some can even have more than 1 GB of RAM. However, in reality most current routers are integrated with less RAM of around 250-500 MB.
Software and user interface
If you don’t need to access the user interface regularly, or whether this is something you will be doing often, it is equally important that it is simple and straightforward process. Luckily, most routers have fairly simple interfaces, and it is easy to configure the basic settings.
However, these same interfaces also allow you to manage more advanced options. Desktop applications are highly recommended, because they are much faster than browser applications. Additionally, you may also be interested in extra functions offered, that allow you to create FTP servers or VPN networks.
When it is time to choose the router you are going to buy, it is advisable to opt for a recognized brand. However, it is possible that you may not know who are the most trusted manufacturers of these products. In any case, you should know that some of the most respected brands are D-Link, TP-Link, Asus and Netgear.
A standard router provided by your ISP will only offer the most basic functions. It usually won’t allow you to take full advantage of the faster connection speeds currently available. This is the reason why so many users choose to replace them with equipment that offers much better performance.
However, it is not always easy to choose the router that is best for you. Often an average user does not possess the technical knowledge needed to properly understand the specifications of these devices. This is why we compiled this clear and concise guide, explaining the fundamental criteria you need to keep in mind when choosing one of these products.
If you have found this guide to be useful in your selection process, please leave us a comment and be sure share it on your social networks.
(Source of featured image: Adamowiz: 63086877/ 123rf.com)