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What Is The Best Wireless Router – The Ultimate Guide

What Is A Router?

This article is all about what to look for in a router before you buy. In the modern age of digitization I’m sure we cannot do without high speed internet at home or office. This means we all have routers at home but most of us don’t know what a router really is or what is the difference between a router and a modem. Modem can still work if you just have a one pc household. Meaning you have only one device to be connected to the internet but I’m sure that isn’t the case with most households now. Hence a wireless router comes into picture, Also for enhanced security features

How Does A Router Work?

Wireless models are the most common types of internet routers which are currently being used in most of the houses or offices. The internet data comes through the line provided by your ISP into the router which again converts it into a radio signal. These signals are then picked up by the network card of the respective devices which are connected to the network like your home computer, laptop, smartphone, TV etc and translated again into internet data. Another use case of wireless routers is to make VOIP calls.

There are different types of routers available in the market depending on special use cases or your personal preference. Many times a certain model works best with a specific ISP provider for maximum performance. Some of the routers available in the market are mentioned below which we will cover in detail in future articles.

Wireless Routers Under $100

Wireless Routers Under $200

Long Range Wireless Routers

Secure Routers

Budget Routers

Parental Control Wireless Routers

Wireless Routers For Gaming

VPN Routers

DD-WRT Routers

Should You Choose The Router Provided By Your ISP?

In the United States, when you’re setting up a new home network or upgrading the existing one, then your internet service provider (ISP) will provide a router for $5 to $7 monthly rental. In other nations, the router equipment is clubbed with your internet package. The device which your ISP provides is generally a modem/router combination which suffices the most basic requirement. If you’re looking for speed and performance over a long period of time then it is always good to buy your own wireless router which you can get for around $50 or up. Your ISP generally provides a list of best compatible routers with their service. We will be publishing our list of compatible devices for FIOS Verizon, Spectrum etc in the weeks to come. So stay tuned….

Most of the ISPs either use DSL or fiber for their service which requires signal conversion through a modem. In the current world, all wireless routers have modems built in so you only need one single device.

Price – Getting The Best For Your Buck

Before getting lured into the most expensive or the most fancy device, ask this question to yourself. “Why do I need a router & what is my exact requirement?” This will help you alot to buy the best device t the most affordable cost.

Your need and budget will eventually decide what is the best wireless router for you. If you’re an average consumer when it comes to internet data then you don’t need a wireless router which promises all the technology advancements. You may jys need wirless router worth $50 or so. Such routers are good for 20 to 30 mbps speeds for daily internet access for mails and stuff.

On the other side if you have lots of devices to connect within your smart home or you’re a gamer or work from home quite often then you may end up buying a top tier router which can cost upward of $300.

Difference Between A Wired and Wireless Router – Which Is Better?

In simple words, the biggest differentiating factor between a wired and wireless router is the type connection allowed to connect to the internet. Which one should you buy? That’s the question here!

Wired routers use Ethernet cables to connect to the internet via LAN ports whereas a wireless router connects to the internet via network card with an access point.

In term’s of speed offered they isn’t much of a difference but Ethernet can boost your speed in wired routers. Wired routers are also more secured when compared to their wireless counterparts as signals from wireless routers are prone to be hacked.

How To Pick The Best Wireless Router In 2020

 

Speed Ratings or Router Standards Explained

Wireless routers advertise their speed in Mbps ( mega bits per seconds). With the increasing demand of WiFi connectivity, it becomes imperative to equip your home with the best wireless router. Alot of people ask me the most common question.”What is the best wireless router?” for my home!. The is no one size fit’s all approach here. With the increasing demand of smart home technology, online video gaming, 4k video streaming, your wireless router should be able to handle all of these tasks simultaneously.

Before we get into details on what is the best router to buy, from a common man’s perspective this is what you should look at: –

The Global WiFi Speed Rating Standard 802.11 and It’s Version a/b/g/n/ac/ax

The different versions of 802.11 WiFi standards denote the maximum speed which you can expect. After the release of ax version, the representation of standards have also been revised. Just looking at the max speed rating of the router as a deciding factor may be misleading as most consumer WiFi routers operate below their maximum advertised speed under practical environment. Still for your reference mentioned below are the max speed

802.11b – Now is WiFi1 – Speed Upto 11mbps

802.11a – Now is WiFi2 – Speed Upto 11 mbps

802.11g – Now is WiFi3 – Speed Upto 54 mbps

802.11n – Now is WiFi4 – Speed Upto 600mbps

802.11ac – Now is WiFi5 – Speed Upto 1 gbps (This is the standard we’re looking at to be minimum threshold minimum)

802.11ax – Now is Wifi6 – Base speed of upto 1.2gbps. A dual stream connection will have upto 2.4 gbps and a quad stream connection will have 4.8gbps

To me it simple, your next wireless router should support a minimum of 802.11 AC or gigabit WiFi support.

Another major benefit of 802.11 AC supported routers is that they can handle multiple device connections easily which in today’s world is a must for all smart homes.

To understand more about the latest WiFi6 you can watch the video below.

PRO TIP: – The actual speed of your wireless router would depend on the total number of devices connected on the network. The distance between the router and the device and also the interference in between like a wall.

The Level Of Extendability Needed

Do you need a wireless router to function for just a single room or one floor? Some need a router for their entire premises which can be a multistory house comprising of many floors. This aspect will determine the strength of thee wireless router you need.

Usability

Different routers have different interface to access settings if you wish to make any changes to the network. In some cases, some level of technical know how is needed and you may feel overwhelmed if you’re not a tech savvy individual.

Old model routers require you to enter the router IP address into the browser to access the settings area. This requires you to remember the password and all. Newer model wireless routers can be controlled from the app installed in smartphones and are much more user friendly.

Processing Power

When choosing the best wireless router for your home, ensure that it is at least a dual core processor and a minimum of 128 GB of RAM.

Alot of data is processed simultaneously now a days like video calls, online gaming etc so processor has to be strong. A quadcore is ideal. Higher the RAM better it is. If cost is not an issue then go for a minimum 256 MB or 512 MB of RAM.

Dual Band

Single band routers are no longer considered when it comes to the requirement of wireless routers. You should buy atleast dual band routers. You may ask, how does it help? Well, dual band means that your wireless router will broadcast signals at two different frequencies. One is the default frequency is 2.4 GHz band and its main usage is to connect old networking devices and has a broader coverage. It works with older WiFi bands like (802.11n) etc…..

The other frequency in the dual or tri band router is much faster and reliable for speed. Like 802.11ax OR WiFi6 standards

Don’t Fall Into The Trap Of Fancy Names – Understanding Nomenclature

When you ask yourself,“What kind of wireless router do I need?” its easy to fall into the trap of these fancy names. Big brands have the tendency of denoting max speed which the router supports. Example: AC1100, AC5400 etc. Routers which support the latest WiFi6 (ax) speed have AX in their names. So practically AC1700 can easily outperform AC2250 when it comes to real speed. Just the number doesn’t make a difference. Actual performance also depends on the hardware configuration of the router. The place where you will use it, manufacturer etc…

Always Test The Actual Speed Of The Router Before You Buy

The speed which the company claims for their respective models is what they test under ideal conditions and without any obstructions. This may be far off the actual speed which you should test before buying.

Read the actual user reviews about max speed supported by the specific model you wish to purchase.

USB 3.0 Compatibility

All modern day routers generally come with a USB port. The most common USB devices which may be connected are external hard drives, printers and modems. More expensive wireless routers have USB Type C compatibility too to connected modern mobile devices. Connecting an external HDD to your router allows you to share the data with any other device connected on your home network.

Advanced Quality Of Service Explained (QoS) – Why Quality Of Service Is Important In Home Networks

Now we know that we generally have multiple devices connected to our router and each utilizes bandwidth. As per plain and simple quality of service the bandwidth allocated to each device on network is manual and quite cumbersome. A router with awesome QoS can better utilize the resources by allocating bandwidth automatically to the most used devices more compared to others. Advanced QoS routers get adapted to your usage over time

Old routers work on traditional QoS where you just assign the priority from High, Medium and Low as per your requirement to various devices which will connect to the internet. Even specific ports can be assigned to specific devices too.

Modern wireless routers have the capability to split the bandwidth based on smart algorithms. So no manual configuration needed.

Smart Home Integration – Best Wireless Routers For Smart Home Automation

In today’s world of modern technology, we use alot of of smart devices at home like smart sensors. It’s always a good idea to have wireless routers having capability to integrate with Alexa’s smart assistant by Amazon or task automation services life IFTT. This helps in perfect synchronised working of all your devices. So, if your router can integrate with through Alexa, you can control lighting, allcating bandwidth through voice commands.

Having a Mesh Supported WiFi Router Is Ideal

What Are Mesh Routers?

Mesh routers are the latest upgrade to networking technology. If you have large homes or places with awkward layouts then mesh routers are the way to go. Mesh router systems help in avoiding dead WiFi zones in your multi storey houses or large place around 3000 square feet or more. Mesh routers though expensive come with higher security features and better network management. If you constantly encounter dead WiFi places in your household and constant antenna adjustment then probably its time to switch from a traditional router to a mesh device.

Advanced Features Capability Like Firewalls, VPN’s & Antiviruses

First things first. Your wireless router should be a dual core with minimum supported RAM of 256 MB or 512 MB preferred if you have the budget.

Advanced capability routers protect your home network from malicious malware attacks. You may find such features in low end hardware routers too but that performance wont be at its optimum requirement.

So now you know how to chose the best wireless router for your home. Let me summarize the most important aspects for you.

  • Your choice should be between single or dual band.
  • Check your Internet’s top speed. This can be gathered from your ISP provider.
  • Check how much area you need to cover in your premises
  • Count how many devices you need to connect with the wireless routers
  • Do you need a MU – (MIME) multi user-multi input multi output routers.
  • Take into account software and security features

Always Buy From A Retailer Who Has A Flexible Returns Policy

No matter how meticulous you are while buying the best wireless router for your home, it is highly likely that you encounter a situation where the performance of your router is not optimum or as per your expectations. Your home specifics, operating environment and even your ISP play a major role to see practical results.

So always buy from a retailer who will let you return the router and exchange it. End of the day the router me be either for home use or business use, it should be compatible to the max speed of your ISP and also be able to handle multiple connections in your home..

Best Location For Wireless Router Upstairs or downstairs

If you live in an apartment or area which is around 1000 square feet then the placement of your router isn’t that much important.

Having said that, if you live in a multistory house or have a sprawling bungalow then it becomes imperative to ensure that your wireless router is place at a place which does not hamper the performance of your WiFi network.

Best place for your WiFi router ideally is the middle or central location of your house.

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