With a number of connected home products, smartphones, smart TVs and other mobile devices, it has become important to outfit your home with a wireless router that is able to handle the increased demand for Wi-Fi connectivity. The things you should consider when choosing the best wireless router include the size of your coverage area, number of clients and the type of devices that will be connected to the router.
Also read: Best Wireless Routers 2017 – Buyer’s Guide
Not everyone wants the same kind of performance but if you have several family members vying for bandwidth then you should consider a router that can make a world of difference and also help keep the peace. Below is given some of the information regarding routers which will help you understand what type of router can get you what you want.
All the routers are not equal as some can communicate over a single radio band while others can use two. Single band routers are typically the least expensive ones and operate on 2.4GHz frequency band. They have to compete with other devices on the same radio band such as wireless phones, microwave ovens and Bluetooth devices. But they are perfectly adequate for things such as connecting to social media services like Twitter and Facebook and Web Surfing.
If one or more of your devices will be connecting to an online gaming service or streaming video from a service, then you should consider a dual-band router. The dual-band radios have two radios; one connects to 2.4GHz and the other to 5GHz band. Normally the 5GHz band is less crowded than 2.4GHz and caters more throughput, with minimal signal interference which makes it ideal for gaming duty and video streaming. Dual-band routers enables you assign a band to specific clients and applications and satiate the load on both bands.
The third type of routers is the tri-band routers. As the name suggests, these have three radios, one operating at 2.4GHz, and two operating at 5GHz. These are a well fit for multi-device households that experience heavy traffic via lots of torrent downloading, file transfers, video streaming and online gaming.
To send and receive data, Wireless Ethernet networks use 802.11 protocols. Devices that use older 802.11g and 802.11b are limited to data transfer rates of 54Mbps and 11Mbps respectively and they operate only on 2.4GHz band. 802.11n, the most widely used protocol operates on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and allows maximum data rates of up to 600Mbps. It utilizes Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology. This technology uses several antennas to send and receive up to four spatial streams which results in enhanced performance. Most smartphones, laptops and connected home devices today use 802.11n, so it is a good fit wireless router for handful of devices sharing internet access.
The newest class of wireless routers uses 802.11ac technology which features several improvements over previous protocols including more MIMO spatial streams, wider channel bandwidth (up to 160Hz) and beamforming technology that send Wi-Fi signals to a client directly, rather than sending in all directions. 802.11ac protocol also provides downstream Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology. It is designed to provide bandwidth to multiple users simultaneously rather than sequentially.
Features Of Wireless Routers:
Wireless routers come with a variety of features and as with probably everything, the more features come with more money. Look for a router with at least four 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet ports with which you can connect to wired devices such as network-attached storage drives (NAS), desktop PCs and home-automation hubs.
If the router has at least one USB port, it will be easy for you to plug in a printer or a USB drive and to share it across the network, whereas, with two ports, you can do both. In addition, choose a router that offers removable antennas. If you intend to manage the use of your router, consider the router having parental controls, a guest-network feature and Quality of Service (QoS) options.
Parental Controls enable you to limit network access for certain users to certain times and days. It would be good for parents who want to check on their child’s social networking and gaming activities.
A guest network allows you offer Wi-Fi connectivity to guests without making your network vulnerable. In short, you create a separate network for guests with Service Set Identifier (SSID) and password. Thus, guests can connect to your network without gaining access to your files printers and other connected devices. You can also assign network priority to applications and clients of your choice.
Almost all wireless routers offer different types of security. A router with Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) allows you to add compatible devices with the push of a button. You have to just push the WPS button on router and WPS button on the client device in order to add it to your network.
You can use Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA or WPA2). This requires entering a network password for each device. For a higher level of security than WPA/WPA2, consider routers with WPA-Enterprise security which requires a Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service to authenticate each client.
Price Of Wireless Routers:
Apart from the features and qualities a wireless router possesses, pricing is an important aspect to notice. Router pricing is based on feature and performance. You can get a basic single-band 802.11n router from $25 to $100.
You can have a dual-band AC1200 model for just $130 but for a dual-band AC2400 router with MIMO streaming capabilities, you will have to pay upwards $250. Similarly, the tri-band AC3200 with its all bells and whistles will cost you about $300. MU-MIMO routers like AC2600 hit the market at around $300 to $400.
Asus 3 in 1 Wireless Router RT-N12:
The name suggests that there is something special about this router. It has 3 extra features which include it fulfills the job of a router, it is an access point for different computers and the last but not the least is the range extender.
This wireless router covers large areas way better than other routers offering high speed network available for users to benefit from. This is because of signal amplifying technology integrated into the device.The router has a high speed of up to 300Mbps which makes the device to be used for most home streaming needs.
By this device, you can create four networks at a time and you can also customize them by restricting them from using specific websites or allowing them a specific amount of bandwidth required to fulfill their surfing needs.
Above all, setting a router up had never been so easy before. You just have to connect the router to a Wi-Fi enabled device which will access the setup page and then you have to put in the ID and password for the router, provided by ISP and your router is up and running.
Its easy switch provides an easy way to toggle between repeater, router and AP (Access Point) modes. Easily access settings are available in interactive and user-friendly interface. The router can switch modes faster than an eye blink.
• Easy to upgrade the firmware
• Huge range
• Easy to setup and affordable price
• User interface is a bit complex
• Lacks vertical stand
TP-Link TL WR94ON V3 Wireless Router:
If you are a video streaming or Netflix lover, then this router is for you. It allows streaming over 2.4GHZ up to 450Mbps which is perfect for watching movies not the ideal one to support heavy online gaming.
It offers four fast Ethernet ports for speedy connection where 15 or above users can connect and share media online. The device also has three antennas attached to offer increased stability and coverage throughout the house.
It allows you to allot bandwidth to each device and control and limit online traffic. It has installed parental controls to stop certain users from accessing certain websites. Its 802.11n technology works faster and shares media, files and photos easily. The Guest Network option allows you access Wi-Fi, separate from your main network.
It addition to these, the router comes with 2-year warranty with 24-hour technical support from operator.
• WPA/WPA2 encryptions
• High speed of 450Mbps
• IP based bandwidth control
• None of the ports are Gigabit
• Doesn’t have USB functionality
Netgear N750 Dual Band Wireless Router:
The Netgear N750 offers an amazing speed of 300 + 450 Mbps making a total of 750Mbps. It features a Gigabit Ethernet port to easily handle all types of HD video streaming and gaming. It provides a quite impressive range and provides consistent coverage even in large rooms. It supports dual bands, eliminating the possibility of network interference or congestion.
The router acts as a DLNA media server by enabling the users to directly attach various USB devices to the routers USB port. It supports Time Machine to let you create backups on Mac devices and also offers Readyshare cloud capabilities to access data stored on USB device remotely.
Netgear has introduced Genie App for most of its devices giving the users flexibility of managing their network from their smartphones. The app allows you to change the SSID and Password, create Guest networks and to conduct speed tests remotely. It also has effective parental controls. The router is very easy to setup and install. You can even setup or change your network remotely form your smartphone.
• Decent wireless performance
• Advanced networking features
• Supports new 450Mbps standard on 5GHz band
• 2.4GHz throughput decreases as range increases
• Network storage feature performance could be improved
Securifi Almond Touchscreen:
The single band router can be used as an extender from another router. This uniquely styled router is good for small homes and can handle light file sharing and light browsing tasks. Its technology is limited to 802.11b/n/g 2.4GHz with three 10/100 Ethernet ports.
Securifi Almond Touchscreen is the first router of the Securifi company dedicated to making routers and smart home products. The router is quite different in terms of design. It comes with a touchscreen that enables users to directly set it up without a computer. It is the only router in its range offering a 3.5 inch touchscreen. After setup, you can access to all router’s status and settings from the same screen.
The router is capable of providing speeds up to 300Mbps which is not much but works very well when teamed up with another router to boost the speed and range. The company claims that it takes 3 minutes to setup and the touchscreen allows users to setup the network with few taps on the touchscreen. It supports all wireless security modes such as WEP, WPA and even WPA2.
• Offers a new and easy way to setup and manage router
• Router is compact
• Offers stable Wi-Fi signal
• Average performance
• Web interface is somewhat buggy
Asus RT N66U N900 Dual Band Wireless Router:
The Asus RT N66U is a superb dual-band wireless router with powerful features and seamless performance. While on 802.11n mode, it is very efficient on the 2.4GHz band. It is compatible with NVIDIA GameStream allowing users to directly stream games from their shield devices to wireless display on the network.
It comes with two multi-functional USB ports which can be used to share media devices like hard drives and to attach wired printers and scanner. You can stream files shared on the network from any connected device.
The router features a fantastic new service Asus AiCloud which helps you stay connected to your data anywhere. This service links your home network directly to their web storage service and let users access the shared data from their smartphones or even through a browser on any computer.
The router offers quick setup through installation wizard and can be easily configured wo work with ISPs gateway. It is updated with WPA and WPA2 encryptions.
• Excellent coverage and stable Wi-Fi signals
• Stellar data rates on 5GHz band
• Feature rich
• Buggy firmware
• Don’t support USB 3.0
It is surely a tricky job to buy a router that best fits your needs. Having a good router around you not only brings ease but also helps in creating a well-managed environment to work and enjoy in. Considering build, features and performance, we have piled up some of the best affordable routers under $100 that will not only satiate your requirements but also your pocket.
For more info, read: Best Router Under $100-Apple 5th Gen Airport Extreme Base Station