How Do I Know Which Router to Buy?

How Do I Know Which Router to Buy?

Purchasing a wireless router that delivers good WiFi, in a dependable way, and which is easy to set up and use, is not a simple job. Especially not if you are a beginner. To make things harder, manufacturers describe their wireless routers using lots of acronyms and marketing terms that have little connection to the real-life experience you get. They extol Air Conditioner, bandwidth, weird things like MU-MIMO, QoS, Beamforming, Smart Connect and more. Here’s what matters when selecting your next wireless router:

Top 10 Routers on the Market in 2019

The Best Home Routers

We recommend you the best routers for your home network.

How to Choose a Right Router for You?

1. AC naming conventions don’t matter. Nevertheless, don’t go listed below AC1200!

Wireless routers extol their overall maximum bandwidth in their name. You have AC1200, AC1900 and even AC5400 routers. This naming convention is useless in real-life, and it does not tell you the real speed you obtain from a wireless router. We have explained why, in this article: What does AC1200, AC1900, AC3200 or more, indicate and what’s the difference?

However, DO NOT BUY A ROUTER BELOW AC1200. If you see a router with AC750, AC900 or anything lower than AC1200, it means that you are handling an old router, with dated technology and you need to not purchase it. That router is not an excellent option for a modern-day smart home where you require speed, stability, and security, for an increasing number of linked devices.

2. Your wireless router needs to be dual-band or more

You need to buy a wireless router that it is at least dual-band. What does this indicate? It indicates that the router broadcasts the wireless signal on two frequencies (if it is dual-band) or more (if it is tri-band or more). As an outcome, you will see two or more wireless networks in your home or office space, with various names and, if you desire, various passwords.

Among these frequencies is constantly the 2.4 GHz frequency which works just with old wireless standards like 802.11 n. The advantage of this band is that it is compatible with old networking devices and that it has a large protection area. Nevertheless, it is also slow, and congestion is constantly a problem, especially in blocks of flats and office buildings, where everyone has WiFi on the 2.4 GHz band.

How Do I Know Which Router to Buy?

Dual-band or tri-band routers also produce their wireless signal on the 5GHz frequency, which is a lot faster and benefits from using modern requirements like 802.11 air conditioner or 802.11 air conditioner Wave 2 (an improved version of the preliminary 802.11 ac requirement). Congestion tends to be less of a problem since this frequency is used less than the 2.4 GHz frequency and the protection area is a bit much shorter. If you desire a modern smart home with a fast wireless network for Full HD or 4K streaming, you must get a dual-band or tri-band wireless router. Single-band routers are stuck in the past and can not use fast and steady WiFi for numerous wireless clients.

3. Assistance for MU-MIMO or 802.11 a/c Wave 2 is a need to

MU-MIMO, Multi-User MIMO or Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output is the ability to transfer to several wireless clients simultaneously or to transfer data to a network customer using several information streams simultaneously. With this transfer technique, a wireless router can “talk” to more than one customer at a time on a single wireless radio channel or to one client utilizing multiple information streams on the same channel.

MU-MIMO belongs to the 802.11 air conditioner Wave 2 requirement, which was released by the Wi-Fi Alliance in the summer season of 2015. When you buy your next wireless router, you should ensure that it provides MU-MIMO or support for 802.11 a/c Wave 2, depending on what the producer chooses to brag about.

This choice guarantees that your router can supply faster WiFi to your existing devices and that it can deal with more wireless customers at the very same time. Choosing a wireless router with MU-MIMO is among the best options you can make.

4. Quick processor and a lot of RAM

Manufacturers of wireless routers do not inform you this, but the hardware inside your router matters a lot, especially the processor and the amount of RAM. Smart homes have many devices that require wireless connectivity. Now we do a great deal of video streaming, online gaming and other activities during which great deals of data is transferred through the network. To handle whatever, wireless routers need a lot more processing power than they used to.

How Do I Know Which Router to Buy?

When choosing a wireless router, you need to understand whether it has a single-core, dual-core, or quad-core processor and its operating frequency. Naturally, a dual-core processor can handle more data and more customers than a single-core processor. Likewise, a processor performing at 900 MHz is less effective than one at 1.2 GHz. The exact same rules apply as holds true with computer systems, smartphones, and other computing devices.

When buying a wireless router, the processor ought to not be lower than a single-core running at 800MHz. For modern requirements, this is the minimum required to deal with the load you get in a small smart-home. If you could manage to buy a router with a dual-core or quad-core (generally booked for costly routers) processor, the much better.

Likewise, your router must not have less than 128MB of RAM. This is to make certain that it can process everything as fast as possible. If loan is not a big issue, you must seek for a wireless router with 256MB of RAM or more.

5. USB (preferably USB 3.0)

Having at least one USB port available is a should in modern-day houses. We have all sort of USB devices that we need to link to our wireless router: external hard disks, printers, USB modems, etc. Your freshly acquired router ought to have at least one USB port, preferably one that it is USB 3.0.

6. Your router needs to have a smartphone app (ideally one that you can use when you are not near the router)

Convenience is more crucial than ever. A number of years ago, individuals could handle their wireless routers just by accessing their firmware through a web internet browser, on a computer that was linked to the router. Lots of people are daunted by such user interfaces, and they want something that is much easier to use. As a result, lots of producers have actually just recently established smartphone apps that people can use to set their wireless routers.

If you desire benefit, you should examine that the router you are buying has a smartphone app. You ought to have the ability to use it to view the working state of the router and handle the main features, when you require to.

Sadly, router makers have various methods when it concerns mobile apps: some deal fundamental apps where you can set only easy things like the WiFi password, while others use sophisticated apps where you can set up most functions. You must confirm the approach used by the manufacturer of the model that intrigues you.

Another essential element is that the majority of mobile apps for wireless routers work just when the smartphone is linked to the WiFi that is broadcast by the router. This means that you can use the mobile app only when you are not near the router. If remote management from anywhere on the internet is very important to you, you ought to check whether it exists for the router you are considering buying. As a rule of thumb, remote management from the web is used on mid-range and exceptional routers. Low-end routers do not usually get this feature.

7. Real-life speed

When reading the specifications of a wireless router, you are not told the real-life speed you get when using it. You are revealed theoretical numbers that are determined in specialized laboratories that are very different from your office or home. That’s why you need to check out evaluations: user evaluations and evaluations made by experts, like our team at Digital Citizen. Try to find evaluations where individuals use real-life computers and devices to make measurements, not “lab-like” equipment. For instance, some publications use other routers to determine the speed provided by the routers that they are checking. They do this since producers desire this, to look excellent in item evaluations. You wish to check out publications that use daily computer systems and gizmos, like those you will have in your network. This is the only method to understand what you get when buying a wireless router or another, concerning real-life speed.

8. Debunking “innovative” features like QoS, Smart Connect, and Beamforming

When explaining their wireless routers, manufacturers use great deals of acronyms for “innovative” features. In some cases they don’t even use the exact same terms as the remainder of the market and they invent their own version of a term. However, a few of them do not matter since they are worthless. For example, all modern routers feature QoS or Quality of Service. However, on most routers, this feature is pointless, due to the fact that it is a manual tool to set guidelines regarding how much bandwidth you give to each device in your network. Average users will never configure this function. It’s excessive work; they do not understand the principles included and the results they get are poor. It’s just a method to frustrate yourself.

However, some wireless routers have Adaptive QoS, or Intelligent QoS or Dynamic QoS. The method manufacturers call it does not matter much. What is necessary is that it is not plain QoS. These more advanced forms of QoS work since they manage how the bandwidth is split automatically, based upon smart algorithms, with little to no user participation. Likewise, the outcomes you get from them are great, specifically when dealing with lots of large network transfers at once. Advanced QoS services are a positive function that you desire on your router.

Smart Connect is another feature that, in theory, can be useful to you. It allows you to use the same network name on all bands. Instead of having a different network name for the 2.4 GHz frequency and the 5 GHz frequency, you have the very same network name for both. What Smart Connect does is to immediately assign each device to “the best band” that it can working with. Typically, Smart Connect depends on an algorithm that automatically figures out which frequency is best for each device, and also continuously keeps track of the total status of each device to determine if and when a particular device would gain from being automatically reassigned to a various frequency. The theory sounds perfect for this feature. However, many users complain that Smart Connect does a bad job at spotting the abilities of each device and tends to link fast devices to the slower 2.4 GHz frequency, rather of the fast 5GHz one. For that reason, the majority of users end up disabling Smart Connect and by hand select the best wireless frequency for each of their devices.

Beamforming is consisted of on all contemporary dual-band (or more) wireless routers. It is part of the 802.11 a/c standard, and it allows the router to focus the wireless signal to the area( s) where devices are, rather of relaying it in all instructions. Focusing the wireless signal where your devices are positioned, tends to improve the stability and the speed you get on your wireless devices. Beamforming is something that you desire on your wireless router.

What matters to you, when buying a wireless router?

Now that you know the requirements that we believe are the most essential when buying a wireless router share your opinion with us. How do you choose a wireless router? What is very important to you, when purchasing one? Use the comments form below and let’s start a conversation.

Last updated on September 16th, 2019

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  1. Nicole Suise

    Best Wi-Fi Routers 2019

    – Best Overall. TP-Link Archer C2300.
    – Best Value. Netgear R6220.
    – Best for Gaming. TP-Link Archer C5400X.
    – Best Mesh Router System. Netgear Orbi.
    – Best for Power Users. Linksys EA8300 Max Stream.
    – Best for a Large Home. AmpliFi HD.