Shopping for a Wi-Fi router can be overwhelming. There are dozens of different models to choose from, and each one has different features. How do you know which router is right for you? And how do you avoid paying too much? In this article, we will teach you how to buy the best Wi-Fi router for your needs.
When it comes to choosing the best Wi-Fi router, one of the first considerations is to look for the wireless standard being used. Routers that use IEEE802.11a or 802.11b standards are very early models and may be difficult to find today. Generally, they are not compatible with the latest versions of Wi-Fi, but if the router is being used for only a short period of time, it may be okay to choose one of these models. The latest wireless standard is 802.11ac, which you see on all the newest routers. This standard supports up to Gigabit speeds, much faster than the previous 600Mbps limit.
Wi-Fi speed specifications
When you go to buy a Wi-Fi router, the salesperson is likely to reel of a list of impressive specifications for you. In reality, most of these numbers are not what you will see in your own home. As might be expected all manufacturers will quote the top speed provided by the latest 802.11 standard supported by the router. In reality these speeds are rarely seen. Multiple users, interference, signal attenuation caused by walls and other objects and a host of other real-life issues will cause the speed to be reduced. Even though manufacturers quote the very top speeds attainable, most routers still support the streaming of high definition video, unless the signal is very low
Check the router wired interfaces
When looking to buy a Wi-Fi router, there are several factors you need to take into account. One of the most important is deciding which type of router you need. There are several forms of Wi-Fi routers. Some are designed to be connected to broadband, whereas others are only designed for Ethernet, or possibly other connections. Often domestic orientated routers will have a connection for a broadband service as well as Ethernet, and possibly USB. This gives users the flexibility to connect devices directly via Ethernet, or use the USB port to share files or connect a printer. When selection a router to buy, ensure it meets the connectivity requirements in terms of broadband and Ethernet only.
Broadband provider compatibility
If you're looking for a new Wi-Fi router, one important thing to check is whether it's compatible with your broadband service provider. Most routers are, but it's worth double checking. ISPs will often quote the maximum speed you're likely to achieve with the router, but it's worth bearing in mind that this is not always the case - many people don't get anywhere near those speeds. Another thing to consider is that if you have a fiber connection, you may need to use an additional modem to link the router to the fiber.
Hackers are hitting the news headlines with regularity these days. Accordingly security is an important issue to consider when selecting the best router to buy. Wi-Fi networks can be very insecure - it has been said they are as insecure as they are convenient. When selecting the best router to buy, make sure it at least uses WPA2, the latest and most secure standard. You may also want to consider a router that offers VPN support, which will help keep your data safe even when you're using an unsecured network.
When you're shopping for a Wi-Fi router, the first thing you need to decide is which Wi-Fi band to use. The main Wi-Fi bands are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. These bands have different characteristics, so it's important to choose the one that will work best for your needs. The 2.4 GHz band is slower but more widely available, because it uses unlicensed spectrum. The 5 GHz band is faster but can be more congested and has shorter range than the 2.4 GHz band. Most routers these days have the option to use either of the bands, so they are called dual band Wi-Fi routers.
Wi-Fi 2.4GHz vs 5 GHz bands
Most Wi-Fi routers these days come with two radios inside them. This essentially means that the router can set up two separate wireless networks. The 2.4GHz band is more commonly used in domestic settings as the signal travels further and isn't as prone to interference from other devices. If you're having trouble with a slow or patchy Wi-Fi signal, it might be worth considering a router that broadcasts over the 5GHz band instead. However, bear in mind that not all devices are able to connect to the 5GHz band – so check whether your gadgets are compatible before you go out and buy a tri-band router!
Routers with MU-MIMO
If you're in the market for a new router, you may have come across one with a new acronym: MU-MIMO. This is short for Multi-User, Multi-Input and Multi-Output, and it's a facility that can deliver faster speeds to multiple devices simultaneously. Routers that contain this facility will be able to deliver higher speed data to devices that are physically near them, as well as devices that are connected wirelessly from farther away. If a large number of people may be connecting to video services (like Netflix or Hulu), then MU-MIMO is definitely an advantage.
When you're shopping for a Wi-Fi router, the antenna is an important factor to consider. The antenna is what receives and transmits the Wi-Fi signal, so you want to make sure you get one with a strong antenna. There are two types of antennas: internal and protruding. Internal antennas are hidden inside the router's case, while protruding antennas stick out from the case. Typically, routers with internal antennas look more elegant, while routers with protruding antennas tend to be more ruggedized. Another thing to note is that routers with protruding antennas have no position adjustment, which can be beneficial if you're trying to get the best coverage in your home.
When you're shopping for a Wi-Fi router, you may come across a term called "beam-forming." Some advanced routers contain this capability, and it's an excellent feature to look for if you want the best possible performance from your wireless network. Beam-forming or spatial filtering is a method that enables the router to focus the signal towards specific devices instead of blanketing the entire area with the same signal strength. This can be extremely beneficial if you have multiple devices trying to use the Wi-Fi connection, as it will help to ensure that each device gets an adequate signal. Buying a router with a beam-forming capability is likely to provide better performance than one without it, so be sure to keep that in mind when making your purchase.
Use as access point and repeater
A router is a device that sends and receives data packets between computers or networks. Routers are, in effect, the traffic directors of the internet. When you purchase a new router, there are two key things to consider: how the router will be used and how many walls or floors it will need to traverse to get to the devices it's serving. Many of today's routers can also be set up to perform as an access point or a repeater. This is an added bonus, as it significantly extends the reach of your wireless network. If the router is required to perform as a repeater, this too is configured in the set-up procedure. Buying a router that has these capabilities probably costs little more, but provides significant additional capability that can be used immediately.
A good Wi-Fi router is an essential part of any home network. Not only do they provide better Wi-Fi coverage, but they also offer more security and better performance over a wider area. With so many routers on the market, it can be difficult to know which one to buy. That's why we've put together this guide on how to buy the best Wi-Fi router for your needs.
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