Selecting a suitable router may be difficult since there are so many different brands and types to select from. To help you narrow down your options, we’ve put together a list of things to think about before purchasing your own router. These are the parameters we examined when creating router suggestions, beginning with compatibility and ensuring sure the router matches your internet speeds, plus a few extras that might enhance your online experience. Here’s what to look for in a router before buying.
The wireless router is the heart of any home network, whether you’re building one from scratch or updating an existing one. It can be the difference between having a practically faultless network and having one that is always giving you problems.
What To Look For In A Router
Can you use the router that your ISP provides?
You’ll be offered an item rental for about $5 to $7 per month when you join up with a fresh internet service provider (ISP) in the United States. ISPs in other countries usually include the equipment as part of your internet subscription.
Most of the time, the equipment they provide you is a modem/router combo that you’ll find to be mostly functional. If you’re in the United States and want to retain the same network equipment for more than a year, it’s usually more cost-effective to buy your own. Your ISP will most likely give you a list of suitable equipment that you can purchase online for $50 or more. You’ll either need a combo device or a separate router with a modem, so keep that in mind.
Even though you were given a free router, you may want to purchase one of your own to improve quality and efficiency.
Purchasing your own equipment does not necessarily imply greater performance, but it can save you money in the long run and provide you with more flexibility and alternatives than a standard router. Take, for example, network storage
Evolving Wireless Standards
Wireless technology standards have evolved significantly during the previous decade. Most modern computers, cellphones, and tablets, for example, use the 802.11ac standard. This means they’re capable of higher Wi-Fi speeds. If your internet plan offers speeds of more than 100Mbps but you’re still utilizing a Wireless N router, the wireless abilities of the router may create a bottleneck for your network.
However, if you don’t have any Wireless AC devices at home, the router isn’t as big of an issue as the individual client devices. When you next replace your computer or mobile device, though, it’s likely that they’ll support 802.11ac.
If your ISP provides higher speeds, switching to an AC router may be worthwhile for future-proofing considerations. Otherwise, keep in mind that upgrading to a faster internet service may necessitate the purchase of a new router.
The Router’s Lifespan (What To Look For In A Router)
It’s important to remember that networking gear isn’t indestructible. Not only do standards change often, but networking gear is also subjected to a great deal of abuse on a regular basis. Your computer, game console, smartphone, tablet, and streaming gadgets are all connected to your Wi-Fi network. And when more devices, such as smart lights or thermostats, are added to the mix, the load grows, and a router’s performance might deteriorate with time.
It may be time to replace your router if you’ve owned it for a few years and can’t think of a reason for a decline in network reliability.
Routers are available for as low as $15 (£16 or around AU$30) to as much as $400 (£390 or AU$699). Where you land on that range will ultimately be determined by your requirements and money.
For at least two reasons, recommending an extremely high-end router to a typical consumer is problematic. To begin with, the rate of technological progress is quite rapid. So, while a top-of-the-line router could keep you future-proof for a few years, it’s just as prone to obsolescence as a router that costs half as much. Second, networking gear advances faster than ISPs, thus mid-tier routers are generally sufficient for the ordinary user and even some heavy users.
Unless you really need a top-tier router with the highest potential performance, a router in the region of $100 or $200 would serve. If you only need something to give wireless access and your home internet speeds are as low as 20Mbps or 30Mbps, a less expensive router can save you a lot of money.
Is Gigabit still required?-What To Look For In A Router
Fiber is becoming more widely available across the country, but it is still far from ubiquitous. Gigabit (1,000Mbps) speeds are even more uncommon. However, this does not negate the necessity for a router capable of Gigabit speeds. Gigabit Ethernet is already standard on most modestly priced devices, but even a router like the TP-LINK Archer C7 can theoretically deliver 1,300Mbps over its 5GHz wireless channel.
To put it another way, if you want to be future-proof, purchase a Gigabit router. It’s possible that you’ll require it before your next upgrade.
Is It Better To Have A Single-Band Or Dual-Band?
The frequency ranges used by wireless routers are 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Because a high number of devices use the 2.4GHz band, it is more subject to interference and congestion. The newer 5GHz frequency is usually less crowded and allows for quicker connections. A dual-band router supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, and it frequently uses both bands at the same time.
It’s easy to choose between a single-band and dual-band router. If you reside in a congested neighborhood or a heavily populated region, a dual-band router is a better option. A single-band router will do if you don’t want higher wireless speeds and don’t have any nearby neighbors whose wireless network could interfere with yours.
Range-What To Look For In A Router
The exact location of your router is critical. It should be in the center of the room, away from other gadgets and obstacles, and ideally high up on a shelf.
Even with an excellent location, you’re likely to encounter dead zones within your house, areas where the wireless signal just cannot penetrate. Using heat map software and purchasing a more costly router can help you enhance your wifi coverage, but it doesn’t ensure the signal will reach the distant corner of your basement.
Buying a more inexpensive router (or two) and a pair of power-line adapters will usually do the task better than anything else. Power-line adapters expand your network by using the existing electrical wire in the walls. They’re quite inexpensive and do a great job of expanding your network to hard-to-reach areas in your home. Just be aware of the speed limits of the power-line adapters, since they aren’t all created equal.
Don’t Get Rid Of Your Old Router Just Yet
When it comes to expanding your network, just because it’s time to replace your existing router doesn’t mean it’s time to retire it. With the aforementioned power-line adapters, you can transform it into a wireless bridge (to expand your network with roughly half the original throughput) or an access point if it’s still functional.
USB Ports-What To Look For In A Router
A USB connection on a router was necessary for networking your printer until printers with built-in wireless capabilities became widespread. Routers with USB ports are increasingly being utilized for low-cost networked storage. An HDD or flash storage drive may be plugged into the rear of your router and shared with any device on the network. It may also be used to build a networked media hub for streaming locally owned movies, music, or television shows.
You don’t require USB capability on a router if you don’t need to link a printer that doesn’t have wireless capabilities or if you don’t need networked storage.
Routers are becoming not only faster and more powerful but also smarter. Setting up and managing your home network is considerably easier with Google’s OnHub routers or Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers. They’ll let you use a companion smartphone app to prioritize bandwidth for things like streaming movies and video games, and upgrades will happen automatically.
With IFTTT integration, OnHub routers now have better smart home compatibility. This means you can develop a recipe that, when your phone connects to the OnHub router’s network, unlocks an August Smart Lock. The options are practically limitless.
Consider the size of the area you’ll be covering and make your plans appropriately. Some of the higher-end routers can cover a significant area, but you may need to invest in a mesh Wi-Fi system to reach the basement’s furthest reaches.
If you’re in a large place, there may be a lot of individuals trying to connect their devices at the same time. If this is the case, getting a router with two 5GHz bands is a good option, and getting something with a high speed could come in useful if you decide to improve your ISP internet plan later.
Finally, select a router with sufficient customization capabilities. If you wish to change a lot of settings, check sure it allows you to do so. You’ll probably have an easier time shopping if you’d rather just plug it in and forget about it.
Hello, I am Zayn, a tech enthusiast, and have been writing on this topic for the past 10 years. I have had my hands on hundreds of tech gadgets over the years and know what it takes to make a quality product that stands out from the crowd. That’s why; I only focus on providing test results, reviews, and buying guides for technology devices. Thank you very much for taking the time to look at my bio; it really means a lot!