Best Wireless Router 2017 Reviews & Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
The vast majority of the smart gadgets depend on the internet nowadays. With all of its’ rapid development, protocol exchanges, and speed enhancements, we can freely say that the internet is taking over our lives in a great matter. Slowly, the wires are being replaced with the steady wireless signal, and we can’t help but ask what is the best wireless router?
So we had stepped out the best wireless routers suitable for their essential need. This list makes 9 best routers from each category. Also, there are featured four routers with the specter of features corresponding to the desired budget $50, $100, $150, and $200.
Reviews of the Best Wireless Routers
We have made a list of the 9 best wireless routers suitable for different need. Knowing how the internet is a versatile thing, we knew that there are routers that serve a different purpose.
In this roundup section, we will focus on the best router for the home and larger home use, the famous AC routers, business routers, routers for streaming, routers for MAC, routers with the best range, routers for the gaming, and of course for the multiple devices.
1. ASUS RT-AC88U Wireless-AC3100 Dual Band Gigabit Router - Best Wireless Router for Home
Asus’ products never cease to amaze us. The routers are no exception. Asus RT-AC88U is a dual band router with everything necessary for a home which depends on the internet. Overall, it is not only the best router for home but the best router overall. Let’s talk about what it has.
When it comes to the design, you will see that the ergonomics of the RT-AC88U are a bit bulky. Don’t let that worry you. When you see all the antennas peeking out of this beast, it won’t take you long to figure out that this monster is out of this world.
These antennas are detachable, meaning you can take them off if you like. Something that took away our attention is definitely 8 Gigabit LAN ports. We mentioned above that the utmost standard is four, and now Asus decided to step up their game. Of course, this is useful only if you have more than four computers in your home that could use the wired connectivity.
There are also two USB ports for you to connect an HDD or a printer. The USB 2.0 is located on the rear of the router while the USB 3.0 took its’ place on the front. This is not too impressive, as faster USB port means a more reliable device attached to it.
The RT-AC88U allows you to merge the first two ports to deliver a swifter and a more reliable connection. It supports the 2Gbps connection. This means that the users with top-end NAS server can sacrifice the four ports in order to add a new internet connection.
Features of ASUS RT-AC88U
The 1024-QAM technology results in a much faster performance than one would expect. Given this is a dual band router, it results in the 5 GHz spectrum reaching up to 2100 Mbps. Additionally, the 2.4 GHz spectrum reaches up to 1000 Mbps for the older devices. It won’t take long till you figure out how fast this router actually is.
The ASUS RT-AC88U works under the 1.4 GHz dual-core processor. It enables the super-fast USB data transferring, at the incredible 100 MB/s speed. Also with a little luck, the download and upload speed can reach up to 1.8 Gbps.
The most beneficial feature clearly belongs to 8 Gigabit ports which enable up to 8 devices that connect to the wires. Additionally aggregating two ports and opening a new spot for another broadband connection is a big plus.
MicroTM powers the ASUS AiProtection which serve as an antivirus in the world of malicious internet. It includes various protection benefits such as virus and malware protection, parental protection and much more.
It also powers the QoS technology which allows you to control the priority of certain users. Like mentioned in the guide, you can set the priority to downloading, video streaming, gaming, or just web research.
Just like the most of the top-notch wireless routers, the RT-AC88U has the powerful MU-MIMO technology which treats all the Wi-Fi clients equally. The vast majority of the 802.11ac routers are sporting this technology already, and this router is no exception.
Even though it is backed up with the great variety of bells and whistles, the RT-AC88U contains some moderate drawbacks. One of these drawbacks is that it is very expensive. But, that shouldn’t be the matter given all of its high-end features and advantages.
2. ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 Tri-band 4x4 AC5300 Gaming WIFI Router - Best Wireless Router for Gaming
When it comes to games, the most popular ones are the online games. With the development of the mobile gaming, the vast majority of gamers want to use the wireless connections for their gaming endeavor. This being said, there is the need for the best wireless router for gaming.
The GT-5300 has the regular ROG ‘look at me’ appearance, just like the vast majority of other ROG products. However, it still resembles of various other routers such as RT-AC5300.
It features the square-like design, accompanied with 8 detachable antennas for a more badass look. As a tri-band router, GT-5300 features two 5 GHz bands and one 2.4 GHz band for the old-fashioned devices. The 5 GHz bands reach up to 2,167 Mbps. On the other side, the 2.4 GHz reaches the speed of 1,000 Mbps, making it very agile.
Additionally, the MU-MIMO supported on this device allows the even connect to multiple devices. As a result of this, you can stream Netflix on TV while playing your favorite online game.
Features of GT-AC5300
The Dual-WAN feature is a new technology which allows you to make one LAN port a second WAN port. This results in the ability to host two connections at the same time. For example a cable and DSL.
Link aggregation is something the vast majority of Asus routers have. Thanks to the combination of two LAN ports you can get a 2 Gbps connection.
Lifetime built-in protection protects your devices from the unwanted viruses such as Trojans, dangerous spyware, and malware. The TrendMicro powers this protection, which works on smart devices as well. It is important to note that this protection is free.
The QoS, which is included in the router allows you to prioritize the demands of your internet connection.
GT-5300 includes a USB port which makes connecting the storage devices or printers much easier. The USB port will work just well with other peripheral devices.
The GT-5300 has an amazing gaming feature. This feature enables the system memory to jump from the standard 512 GB, including the flash memory to 1 GB.
Just like the model we described above, this router comes with 8 LAN ports. More ports in a gaming router are handier than in the one for home use. Not just your network is safer, but the wired network is more useful to the gamers because of the steady connection.
Probably the most important feature for the world of gaming is support for online gamers. You can prioritize the home network to focus on your favorite game in an online game. This means that there won’t be lag outrages because the network will be focused on what you are doing.
There is also a WTFast client, which connects you to the gamers private network. The best feature of the GPN is that it selects the most reliable and fastest server for you.
3. TP-Link AC1900 Long Range Wireless Wi-Fi Router - Best Wireless Router for Larger Home
It is extremely hard to find the router that will blanket your entire home. The AC1900 not only looks elegantly stunning but is also able to live up to its’ purpose.
The white, brushed wireless router with the long-range capabilities possesses the three antennas for broadcasting the signal. Unfortunately, its’ stands allow it to stand only firmly, unable to lay it flat.
Despite these handles that keep it straight, the router can effortlessly tip down, making it extremely difficult, and also annoying to fix in one position. Eventually, after you get tired of straightening it, you will find yourself leaving it in whatever the position it ended up in.
Despite these minor issues it looks perfect and works so as well. There are the LED lights, which indicate power, Wi-Fi signal, and so on. On the rear of the router the USB 2.0 port, WPS and reset catch compliment it. There is also the Ethernet port which later connects to your modem.
The router also has the USB 3.0 for sharing the external HDD or other types of memory holders. On the other side, the USB 2.0 is perfect for the printers.
Features of TP-Link AC1900
The AC1900 supports the newest 802.11ac followed with the MU-MIMO technology. The fastest and the most reliable network standard there is for the wireless routers.
The router is a dual-band. It contains two bands, one of 2.4 GHz which reaches 600 Mbps. The other band has 5 GHz frequency spectrum, which reaches 1300 Mbps.
The router is equipped with 3 separable radio wires. This allows the efficient remote scope with the lasting quality.
1 GHz center processor allows the internet connectivity without the interference, in both terms of wired and wireless connectivity.
Like mentioned above, the router is a definite catch. Basically, thanks to the router’s USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, it is more than easy to attach removable devices such as storage devices and even the router.
The budget also seems to be a catchy factor to consider. The AC1900 reaches a little more than $100, making it super-affordable for the larger spaces. It is no secret that the router with richer range can cover greater spaces. This is exactly why AC1900 is perfect for larger homes.
4. NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Gigabit WiFi Router (R8000) - Best Wireless Router for Streaming
The Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Wi-Fi Router is better known to the users as the Netgear R8000. This is another router to include the popularizing Tri-band technology.
For a reminder, it contains one 2.4 GHz frequency spectrum compatible with the 802.11b/g/n standard. Other two bands have the 5 GHz spectrum followed with 802.11ac standard.
The future proofed and futuristic appearance is backed up with the 6 radio wires, making the entire router resemble of a time traveling space ship. This router also contains 5 Gigabit Ethernet Ports, followed with one additional Gigabit WAN port. Thanks to the USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, you can use the routers for utilizing the external hard drives and printers.
As the manufacturer knew that the router should secure the top-end performance, range, and bandwidth, they included the double center processor with 1 GHz performance frequency. To back it up, there are 3 offload processors accompanied with 256 MB RAM each, together with 128 MB blaze memory.
The Netgear R8000 is efficient with its’ Readyushare USB. This is where its’ streaming compatibility comes forth. The Readyshare USB allows you to save the media directly to the USB. The Netgear R8000 is used mainly for the amusement purposes. If you are a local Netflix follower, the Nighthawk X6 will provide you with everything necessary to stream a quality 4K video. It works great for PCs, laptops, tablets, cell phones, and much more.
If you can afford to have it, the Netgear R8000 is a perfect addition to a home which regularly streams videos online.
5. Google WiFi - Best Wireless Router for MAC
If you are not fond of the Apple’s alternatives for the wireless internet, Google WiFi will deliver a superb standard in the wireless router replacements for only $99. However, if you are living in a larger apartment, we recommend getting at least two to three of these devices, just in case.
If you want to ensure the steady and frequent connection, Google offers the router plus two more nodes which enhance the signal, thus cover your entire home with strong Wi-Fi signal.
As the vast majority of high-end wireless routers, Google Wifi sports the dual band technology. It operates with both 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency spectrum, for either newer and older devices which are utilized. Being an “AC1200 2x2 Wave 2” device, it delivers the maximum speed of 300 Mbps for the 2.4 GHz spectrum and 867 Mbps on 5 GHz band.
The biggest downfall of the Google Wifi is that it doesn’t support the MU-MIMO, the main feature of 802.11ac standard. The Google announced improvements in this standard and adding the MU-MIMO. We would really like to see this happening, as the MU-MIMO is becoming the leading technology every Wifi router yearns to have. However, that will not be happening yet.
The Google WiFi works smart. It offers a single SSD, which allows the router to find the necessary Wi-Fi channels that it will take over. Basically, this system works with the next pattern; The router sends the statistics to the cloud server, where the Google will determine the state of the system and each channel in it. If Cloud finds that the current channel is ineffective and that there could be enhancements, it will offer the better channel for use, and thereby, send the command back to the router. This pattern was already introduced with on hub router and it is nice to see the technology emerging again.
Google Wifi also comes with the high-end connect application which sets up easily as long as there is an Android or iOS device installed. Additionally, it can pause the children’s Wi-Fi if necessary.
Another amazing feature is certainly that it covers the quite large range, of up to 1,500 square feet. However, if you decide to spring for the three, you can ensure up to 4,500 square feet Wi-Fi coverage.
6. Linksys AC5400 Tri Band Wireless Router - Best Wireless Router for the Long Range
Thanks to the great numbers of antennas complimenting it, Linksys AC5400 is a great addition to the home with the tendency for extending the available range. The AC5400 sports the new Tri-Band technology which consists of one 2.4 GHz frequency spectrum and two of 5 GHz frequency spectrums.
It sports the powerful 1.4 GHz dual core processor and provides eight Ethernet ports, perfect for the multiple wired connections, making it ideal for the gaming and video streaming. However, it is perfect mainly for the extended range, thanks to the larger size.
Of course, this future proofed router is backed up with the 802.11ac standard which comes together with the high-end MU-MIMO technology.
7. Linksys AC1900 Dual-Band Smart WiFi Router (EA6900) - Best Wireless Router for Business
Even though it is fairly versatile, Linksys AC1900 wireless router (EA6900) is a perfect addition to the smaller businesses which are looking to enhance the quality of protection, but also improve the range, speed and much more. The dual band router reaches 600 Mbps with 2.4 GHz band with the 802.11n standard. On the other side, the 5 GHz spectrum band contains up to 1300 Mbps in the 802.11ac standard.
As a business router, it is compatible with all the possible platforms and operating systems, including all Windows starting from Windows XP, and all the MAC operating systems for the Apple’s devices.
Another great thing about this router is that it is fairly easy to set up. Thanks to the CD set-up tutorial, you are sure to set up your wireless network in the office in minutes. In case you decide to use the router for your own amusement at home, it comes with remote network management, app enabled networking, and more importantly, the parental control.
In terms of ports, the Linksys AC1900 (EA6900) comes with one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0, ideal for sharing content, attaching external hard drives, and printer units.
To improve the overall range, Linksys AC1900 (EA6900) uses 3 adjustable external antennas, hence you won’t have to worry about the range.
The high-end performance is achieved through the powerful dual core processor. The only downfall is definitely only four-gigabit ports, resulting in the necessity of using the switch in order to establish the greater number of wired connections.
8. Synology RT2600AC Wi-Fi AC 2600 Gigabit Router - Best Wireless AC Router
Synology RT2600 is everything a tech savvy internet user needs to keep his network fast, reliable and secure. It is fairly expensive. However its’ set of features is definitely worth the money.
The RT2600AC is a 4x4 router, supporting the latest standards and technologies making it stand out and extend its’ reliability. It supports the speed of 1,733 Mbps when the 5 GHz frequency spectrum band is in use. However, the 800 Mbps for the 802.11b/g/n standards don’t seem little on a 2.4 GHz spectrum, meaning, you won’t have to give up on your old, favorite devices.
Actually, the proficient AC router is equipped with the newest firmware. The SRM (Synology Router Management) operating system is being managed with the latest technology and modernly invents. It has its’ own web interface which works similarly to the Windows or MacOS.
Features of RT2600AC
The RT2600 is known mainly for these high-end features which compliment its’ performance.
The router is equipped with the top-notch processor of 1.7 GHz. The dual core processor offers swift and reliable performance and fast internet in the process.
Given that this is the AC router, the enormous speeds are merely expected. The 4x4 802.11ac is included with two radios which support the late MU-MIMO technology, which we in-depth of explained in the previous sections.
Let’s not forget the memorable Package Center. This is one of the router’s most important features. If you know about the Play Store on Android smartphones, Package center is the same. It allows you to add more plugins/features in the router. For example, you can install the VPN package which will turn your router into the high-end VPN server. There is everything for everyone.
The RT2600 supports the Dual WAN. This means that you can connect up to two broadband networks to the router, either cable and DSL. Unfortunately only four Gigabit ports kind of cut the fun in this one.
Overall, the Synology RT2600 is an amazing router. The four antennas and the sleek and elegant design make it excel in the outside looks. The stress tests and performance tests ended all successfully. We are overall satisfied with what this router offers and how reliable it is. It is of the utmost importance for the AC routers to keep up with its’ standards.
The only drawback aside from the lack of more Gigabit ports definitely lays in its’ price. Of course, if you want to use the best of the wireless network and internet, spending $240 is totally worth the hassle.
9. NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (R7000) - Best Wireless Router for Multiple Devices
The development of the MU-MIMO technology allowed the multiple devices to have the same priority on a wireless network. This made multiple things easy. The Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 (R7000) is known for the high-end performance, aside from the stylish, futuristic design.
The dual band router supports two frequency spectrum. The 2.4 GHz spectrum is familiar with the older devices dedicated to the 802.11b/g/n, while the 5 GHz frequency spectrum delivers the amazing bandwidth, and gets rid of the interference with other frequency-friendly devices in your home.
The range also plays a great role in the larger homes. So, if you are not satisfied with the overview of the Google Wifi we already reviewed, the AC1900 is greatly handy for the larger homes thanks to its’ amazing range coverage.
It also has two ports. One USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 port which smoothly accesses the external storage devices you attach to them. They can work with the routers as well.
Budget For Your Wireless Router
You can find a good router for as low as $50. On the other hand, the most expensive devices contain the largest amount of features, and thereby the price range tightens around the high numbers.
If your wallet feels light, consider these four price ranges on finding the best wireless router.
NETGEAR N600 Dual Band Wi-Fi Router (WNDR3400) - Best Wireless Router Under $50
The Netgear N600 (WNDR3400) is the best wireless router available for less than $50.
Other types of routers with the richer specter of features usually sport the price which is too high to bear with the needs of one normal household. Despite that, the Netgear managed to pack the dual band technology in its’ router, sporting 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency.
The dual band Wifi delivers 300 + 300 Mbps, which is ideal for the entry-level of a router. Additionally, it has the range sufficient for covering either apartment and medium to large households, giving the necessary mobility every Wi-Fi user demands from a router.
The 5 GHz band disallows the device interference issues, thanks to the newer standards of 802.11ac in the 5 GHz frequency.
Securifi Almond Touchscreen WiFi Wireless Router - Best Wireless Router Under $100
The Securifi Almond is as cute as the button, and it is a great deal of a wireless router. Perhaps, it is the single band router. However, it can be proficiently used in a form of the signal extender in larger homes. Being the single band router, it is limited to the 802.11b/g/n standard with the maximum frequency spectrum of 2.4 GHz. It comes with three Ethernet ports for streaming the wired devices.
Despite being so compact, it sports some remarkable features:
The touchscreen is implemented for an easier access and more intuition when being used. The 3.5-inch touchscreen has a lot to offer, allowing the user to find what they are looking for with ease. The touchscreen erases the limitations to set up, meaning that you can set up the network without the use of the computer. SSID and password crafting has never been easier, eligible for not too tech savvy users.
NETGEAR AC1750 Dual Band WiFi Gigabit Router (R6400) - Best Wireless Router Under $150
Netgear AC1750 (R6400) is a dual-band router with 450 Mbps speed for the 2.4 GHz range, and the 1300 Mbps speeds for the 5 GHz spectrum. The connection and speed are highly reliable and independent. The dual band technology reduces the interference between the nearby devices at the close frequency range.
The range is extended with the set of amplifiers and antennas put to extend the coverage of the network. The coverage easily overcomes the firm barriers such as walls and other objects, securing you with the steady and reliable connection.
ASUS RT-AC87U Wireless-AC2400 Dual Band Gigabit Router - Best Wireless Router Under $200
Nearly flawless wireless router introduced by Asus can be yours if you are not as tight on budget as with the models we mentioned above. The dual band wireless router enhances the overall Wi Fi performance.
Thanks to the powerful hardware and impeccable firmware it outperforms the vast majority of routers. Sporting this router (ASUS RT-AC87U), make sure that you have enough space in your apartment or household in order to ensure that space can cover its’ demanding and bulky design.
It is extremely easy to use. The dual band ensures the high-end performance and speed for either 2.4 GHz devices and the 5 GHz devices. The speed of the lower frequency spectrum reaches up to a sufficient level, while the 5 GHz spectrum boosts the amazing 1733 Mbps.
As a 4x4 802.11ac wireless router, it lives up to its’ potential. Additionally, it has a NAS server and 2 USB ports. The 4 Gigabit LAN ports enable you to connect up to four wired devices, and of course one WAN Gigabit port for the modem it connects to.
Wireless Router Buyer's Guide
Finding the right router which meets certain requirements is not as easy as it sounds. This buyer’s guide will support your journey in finding the best wireless router for your home and needs and answer all the questions a regular buyer has.
This buying guide unveils the main features necessary to consider when purchasing the best wireless router. Additionally, it also gives the detailed information about different protocols, standards, and technologies which make the wireless routers as perfect as they are today.
What is a Wireless Router?
As you may know, there are two types of routers. The wired router is vastly outdated, hence, we can freely say that the wireless router collects the data from the internet cable, and then ‘routes’ it to the device that is connected to it.
It contains one or more access points, which enable this data to travel via the radio signal to the devices that are connected to it. In short, these devices transform the data into the signal which is shared to the devices covered by the range.
These devices are laptops, smart phones, smart TVs, audio equipment, tablets, and pretty much, every device that supports wireless signal.
Features to Consider When Buying The Best Wireless Router
In the following paragraphs, we are going to discuss the most important features the best wireless router should have. These include the following things to consider:
Single Band vs Dual Band vs Triple Band Router
- Single Band ROuter
- Dual Band Router
- Triple band router
Single Band Router are known to cover a small range, which means that they shouldn’t be used in large rooms and houses. This is mainly because they can pick up to 2.4 GHz of the wireless signal.
The single band router can’t support the great variety of devices. So, if you don’t own more than two laptops and a smart device, you are probably going to be fine. If not, take the following types into consideration.
Dual Band Router is significantly stronger than the outdated single band router. In short, it is everything the modern world that uses the internet needs. However, we will focus on details, to visualize the benefits of the dual band router compared to the single band.
The dual band technology is not something new or unknown to the world. In fact, it is the most commonly used technology in regular homes and even for gaming. It is equipped with the up to date 802.11ac protocol, used on the routers of the more modern technology.
The 802.11ac routers use a richer frequency Specter compared to the 802.11n single band routers. Like mentioned above, these routers can reach up to 2.4 GHz frequency, while the 802.11ac routers cover a frequency range of up to 5 GHz.
How does this improve the experience of the wireless internet? The dual-band technology covers both a 5 GHz signal and the 2.4 GHz frequency. The concept of technology is in a never ending growth, and as such, the 5 GHz signal is supposed to supply the devices and gadgets of the latest generation. This includes the newest laptops, tablets, and phones.
On the other side, if you don’t want to sacrifice the compatibility with the older devices you are simply not ready to give up on, the additionally hosted 2.4 GHz single band signal will allow you to use the older devices without the interruption or risking the essential speed of the internet.
This means, that the dual band router can support either older and newer technology, which is great. Also, a dual-band router is a great money saver. Instead of choosing between a 2.4 GHz single band router or 5 GHz single band router, you are allowed to get both, at a reasonable price.
How about the triple band router?
Like its’ name suggests, one would think that the tri band router broadcasts three different frequency spectrums. Close enough, but still wrong.
Instead of allowing you to use the completely new network, with a new and a better frequency spectrum, a tri band router will offer one 2.4 GHz signal and two of 5 GHz frequency ranges. Before you make your conclusion, let us give you the explanation of how this system works.
While the dual band router solves all the compatibility issues between the older and newer gadgets, the tri band router directs the devices into the two separate networks. This is a result of the congestion that is not a rare find on Wi-Fi networks.
It is not a secret that the number of smart devices increases each and every day. Moreover, these devices are more than easily available to us. The tri-band router will equally broadcast the Wi-Fi connection between these devices, connecting them on separate 5 GHz spectrums.
This means that you can play an online game on your laptop while surfing the internet on the tablet, and watching your Smart TV with the equal, steady, and swift connection to each. When it comes to the dual-band router, after the 5 GHz spectrum would be overcrowded by the different devices, the connection would slow down and be hard to bear.
It is important to note that this router won’t speed up a single device from you. Instead, it will provide more speed that can be shared among your devices. In short, the speed of the internet connected to a tri-band router won’t increase. However, if you decide to add your smart phone to the connection, the speed of the internet in your primary device won’t decrease.
Whether you should opt for the dual band or tri-band router is completely up to you. However, keep in mind that the tri-band routers are more expensive. If you are willing to spend more money for a router, remember that the tri-band router will come in use only if your internet connection is extremely fast.
Aside from this, the tri-band router allows you to use a large selection of devices that connect to a wireless network without having them interfere with each other. However, this is where the benefits of the tri-band router end.
On the other hand, a good dual band router will solve all of your compatibility issues, and provide the reasonable speed which is exactly what you need, and it is exactly the entry level router that you can get an affordable price.
LAN ports, also known as the Local Area Network ports are designed in order to connect your desktop computer or another device that doesn’t support the wireless network. When it comes to the regular, home routers, they usually come with around four LAN ports. Basically, four computers can share the wired network from the LAN ports they connect to.
As wired networks still rule, even after the rapid development of the 4G wireless network, and the upcoming 5G network, inside the enterprise. However, the next question emerges, and that is how are the computers connected if there are only four LAN ports per router.
The wired network can be extended, thanks to the devices such as switch or hub. When you connect your router to the switch or a hub, you extend the number of devices that can be connected to the internet. Thanks to the switch, a router can provide the internet for up to 200-250 devices, which is more even than the small businesses would suggest.
The speed of the network shared via the wires depends on various things. The more devices are connected to the same network, the slower will the connection be. Also, the quality of the cable in great matter decides the speed of the network. For instance, you can choose between the coaxial cable, optical cable, and many others.
There are two speed standards to be considered. LAN ports currently sport Ethernet, with the speed of 100 megabits per seconds. Also, there is the Gigabit Ethernet, which, as its’ name suggests runs at 1 gigabit per second. If you are not familiar with this terminology, the Gigabit Ethernet is faster than the Fast Ethernet, taking it much less to transfer a lot worth of data, than it would normally take the Ethernet.
Even though the Gigabit standard is becoming fairly popular and used around the globe, especially in the USA, it is still not considered a commonplace. The Gigabit routers are not overly-priced, at least not all of them. While the upgrade is not essentially necessary, it is recommended as the computer networks always develop and tend to stay future proofed.
USB ports on a router provided by your ISP is a rare find. However, when you are springing for a new wireless router, you will often be greeted with two to three USB ports.
Before the wireless printers were introduced to us, the USB ports allowed us to connect our already existing printer to the network, which allowed all the devices connected to the network to print what they need to print.
Now that there are wireless printers available to us at every corner, the router with USB ports has a different purpose. You can use them for a great variety of things. If you own an external HDD, you can plug it as an additional network storage. Same works with the general USB flash memory drive.
If you want to own a wireless router with USB ports, make sure to have a need for at least one of the things that were mentioned above. If you don’t use and don’t plan to own these devices for such purposes, there is no need to spend additional money on USB ports that will do nothing, but collect the dust.
Naturally, you don’t want the router which takes ages to connect to the wireless network. Also, you don’t want the router that will never be able to stream the video to your screen. Speed is an important factor to consider. The fastest routers have the independent connections. They are based on the latest 802.11ac standard which includes the Multi-User MIMO analytically described below.
When you are purchasing the router, the speed will depend on the purpose you need. However, it is more than essential that the primary speed of your router needs to be reliable.
MU-MIMO (Multiuser, multiple inputs, multiple output) is a standard every newer router and computer should have. The Older generation of routers has a hard time streaming the equal signal to the different users of the same networks.
This standard makes multiple uses a lot easier. Mu-MIMO is a descendant of the SU-MIMO and SDMA (Space Division Multiple Access). Thanks to this newly developed technology, one wireless router can flawlessly maintain the connection with multiple devices separately.
Each device is virtually connected to the separate router, preventing the interruptions and errors in streaming the signal. In short, one router is able to conversate with multiple devices at the same time.
There are quite a lot benefits of the Multi User MIMO. The SU-MIMO made communication with the other devices possible at the same time thanks to the multiple antennas implemented in the main router station. As a result of the newest technology, you will no longer need these antennas. Moreover, the connection between the router and devices connected is much more stable and steadier.
For instance, if you are a gamer fond of LAN parties, and additionally, you own a gaming router, your friends will feel comfortable to stay over for a good party of LoL, or your other favorite games. The connection to each laptop will be superiorly stable and the speed much more reliable.
Considering that the MU-MIMO is a new technology, it doesn’t hurt to mention the little drawbacks it has. Adding more than four devices to the network results in stream sharing, which can be really bad, and resemble of the times when we had to use the antennas in our routers to stream more devices.
Routers with the MU-MIMO are a commonplace. When purchasing the new router for your home, make sure to get in contact with the retail worker, or the manufacturer itself (If you are shopping online) to make sure that the offered router has the MU-MIMO. It is also important to note that only newer computers and other devices support this standard.
Eventually, the MU-MIMO will be available to all of us. However, if you want to keep up with the rapid growths in technology, we advise getting a router that sports MU-MIMO.
Quality of Service (QoS)
Sharing is caring, but not when it comes to the wireless networks. It is quite complicated to divide the bandwidth between the applications that are being used when you are connected to the network. The good news is that you can prioritize this, thanks to the good QoS rules.
While some older routers have a manual prioritization via MAC and IP address, the routers of the newer generations have the option for automated QoS. The WMM standard divides the network traffic into 4 parts. These include voice, video, best effort, and background. The only downside of this standard is that it is efficient only for the wireless networks, not for wired.
Also, there are other ways to set up a QoS. One of these ways includes determining the type of the traffic. Once this is done, all you need to do is to assign it a priority. It can be high, medium, or low.
Security of the Wireless Network
We live in the age prone to the regular hacker attacks, and the fair network security is more than essential. Sometimes, changing the username and password of your network won’t solve the problem.
There are other methods that need to be put into consideration, such as encryption. The two most famous encryptions used are WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access).
- WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy)
- WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access)
WEP represents a standard for the wireless network security. It is an entry-level security key that is found in every wireless router, of newer and older generation. It consists of a security code which is prompted to the devices supporting Wi-Fi when they want to connect to a network.
Thanks to the WEP keys, the devices connected to a local network can exchange the encrypted messages among each other. Of course, the content is hidden from the outside of the network.
WEP keys are assigned by the network administrators. They choose the keys that will be used on a network. After that, they have to make sure that the keys set on routers will be the same as the ones set on a laptop, tablet or another wireless device.
WEP keys consist of the hexadecimal numbers, starting from 0 to 9 and letters A to F. It is a well-known fact that the devices connected to the wired network are safer compared to the ones connected to the wireless network. When the wireless internet was the first time introduced there was a need to ensure the same level of protection as the Ethernet networks had.
The spyware programs were introduced soon after the wireless network, which allowed people to easily spy on other networks and steal the data shared on them. Not just that, people were connecting on other’s networks and used them as their own.
WEP came out to solve this problem. The sniffers were blocked from seeing the password that could allow them to use the network that doesn’t belong to them. Nowadays, WEP is only the entry level of protection, thanks to the growth in technology and in hackers too. Aside from WEP, the WPA is also a useful encryption code.
Over the years of development in computer networks and hacking, the WEP became ineffective. The solution to this came out in 2003 and spread its’ popularity over the world. WPA improves the WEP encryption.
It uses the special methods to keep the network safe. One of these methods is a Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP). The mixing function per-packet proved itself highly effective in protecting the network’s password, and more importantly, privacy.
While the WEP’s user authentication was quite insufficient, the WPA introduces a better data encryption. User authentication is based on the sophisticated 802.1x protocol, followed by the Extensible Authentication Protocol.
It doesn’t hurt to mention the WPA’s reliability, based on a central authentication server. The WPA encryption brought the wanted security and reliability the Wi-Fi users expected. However, there is always enough room for improvement. The network administrators still couldn’t make the wireless network as secure as the Ethernet networks, which means that enhancement to the system was more than necessary.
The stronger encryption methods were in demand. This also required improvement in the WPA method. The improvement resulted in the WPA2. WPA2 not only improves the security of the network but makes it more reliable. Using the method for encryption also known as AES, it makes the security levels higher and more convenient for the user.
There are different forms of security keys for WPA2. If you are looking for the protection for the home networks, you should refer to the WPA2 Pre-Shared Key (PSK). It consists of 64 hexadecimal digits as the keys.
There are two main modes for the wireless routers “WPA2 PSK” and “WPA2 Personal”. Despite the different names, they represent the same technology.
Single WAN or Dual-WAN
As the name suggests, a single WAN is a router with only one internet port, which allows it to connect to only one internet network at the time. For the home routers and internet connections, a single WAN wireless router is more than sufficient for the basic, day-to-day, needs on the web.
On the other side, the routers with the possibility of Dual-WAN connection allow you to connect on two WAN(s) at once. This means that you can have two internet connections at the same time. People usually tend to do this and set one connection as the main one, and the other one as the backup.
As the internet connection is extremely important to the enterprises, the dual WAN routers are mainly implemented there. To be frank, the internet providers are never completely reliable, and it often happens that our ISP lets us down when we need it the most.
If your tolerance for this kind of occurring is low, you can provide yourself with the more reliable and swifter internet connection and service itself.
Although this method is used in the enterprises most of the time, as mentioned above, it doesn’t mean that the home edition is limited. Gamers fond of online games complain about the internet malfunctions all the time. This makes it an essential need for the primary and backup connection to be added.
Benefits to Consider When Buying a Wireless Router
There are various benefits of a wireless connection from the wireless router. These are just some that you get from buying the best wireless router.
Yes, the wireless connection is convenient. It allows the user to be online anywhere, as long as he is covered by the range. While the wired connection will always be safer and agiler, the wireless offers all the comfort the wired can’t.
We are pretty sure that you would rather enjoy browsing the internet, watching your favorite movies, and even playing games from your very bed than chained to the desktop computer all day. The convenience also comes from the lack of annoying wires which spread all over the place.
Like mentioned above, the sniffers and hackers keep finding the ways to easily penetrate through the networks. Breaking through the wireless network is easier than breaking into the wired network. This is why there is always a tendency towards the development of new network systems.
The newest, and currently most common technology is an 802.11ac protocol which offers more reliability and an enhanced MU-MIMO, which offers larger bandwidth for the multiple devices like mentioned above. You will find this protocol even in the routers designed to fit the budget, which means that everyone can have it.
Easy Access to the Internet
The connecting to the wired internet can often be a drag. On the other side, the aim of a good wireless router is to provide the decent speed of the internet access. What does this mean for the user?
In the past, it would take up to 1 minute for the device to connect to the internet. The aim of a good-quality wireless router is to establish the decent connection as soon as possible.
If you are impatient about the connecting anticipation, it is the best to check the description of the router to see how much does it approximately take it to connect to the internet.
It doesn’t hurt to mention that the development of the newer network operating system has allowed a faster access to the internet, without too many settings and other things which take away the time.
As a result of the wireless routers, wireless networks are extremely portable for either home users and the enterprises.
While the wireless router is not going to replace the wires in the companies, the wireless facilities offer a great deal of portability to its’ users. Additionally, they are able to bring their devices from home and use them to enhance the quality of their work ethics.
Also, it is important to remember that owning a wireless network allows us to use the internet from the other parts of our house and in different positions. This is beneficial to everyone who works while being on the internet.
While we are here, we shouldn’t forget to mention the concept of the portable wireless routers. These include the SIM card inside of it, instead of the cable. However, as much as this level of portability sounds encouraging, not all countries and devices support the 4G technology it broadcasts.
Multiple connections depend on the number of access points from one router, or more of them, of course. Either smaller and larger homes usually have only one access point, which is enough to handle multiple devices thanks to the MU-MIMO.
Inside the smaller and larger businesses, it is practical to install multiple access points, in order to ensure that every device will uninterruptedly be connected to the internet. The benefit from MU-MIMO, like mentioned already is having multiple devices connected without losing on speed and the steadiness on the connectivity.
How We Selected the Best Wireless Router?
Even when you know what you are looking for, finding the best wireless router is not easy. Furthermore, you have to decide for what intention you will be using this router.
Usually, you will look for as many features as possible, but then again you have to consider the price and highly-opinionated reviews which are crucial for your decision.
This being said, our goal was to present our readers with the complete knowledge and awareness in what they are searching. Our vast experience and involvement in the Computer networks for a lot of years allowed us to analytically research the capabilities the best wireless router should possess.
We were doing the thorough research, along with performing the thorough testing. Our goal is to provide the accurate info for our readers, presenting them with the best router that they can find. Our research also reached to contacting the popular brands that are manufacturing wireless routers and asking them questions about the product.
Lastly, we also visited popular stores that sell the wireless routers and listened to the advice the selling professionals gave us. Our ideal router should have four LAN ports, at least two to three USB ports, and the futuristic new features such as MU-MIMO, QoS, and other features we already mentioned above.
Others Types of the Routers
The history of routers is rich, which means that not only wireless routers made their appearance over the years. We have made this section for you to get to know the other types of routers and that wired routers and broadband routers. Here is what each one of them does.
Routers that are mainly located in the residential places and provided by the ISP are the broadband routers. Aside from broadband routers they are also called residential or home gateways.
The benefit of the broadband routers is that they are extremely easy and comfortable to use. Additionally, they are not hard to set up, thereby, a person with little to no technical knowledge can set them up without a problem.
Broadband routers are eligible for the high volume of internet traffic, as they provide a superb service. Sharing the network is easy. Additionally, broadband routers are perfect for sharing printers, files and other devices that can connect to it.
As wired devices are mostly normal, there are the ethernet ports for the connections which use wires. The vast majority of the older broadband routers utilize only the Ethernet ports with the wireless connection excluded. The newer generations utilize the wireless connection with the great selection of devices aside from the regular Ethernet ports.
The broadband routers utilize many protocols. The most popular ones are certainly 802.11ac, 802.11n, and 802.11g routers.
It is a well-known fact that the routers fall into two groups. While the wireless routers are extremely versatile in their use, wired routers have a great purpose in medium to larger businesses. The wired routers are less expensive as they support a smaller selection of features.
As mentioned above, the wired routers are used in businesses, where every office possesses the separate wiring system. Wired routers provide a greater safeguard and security for the interchanged data.
These wired routers replace the DSL modems and hubs. Additionally, they act as the firewall in both terms of hardware and software. Firewall is designed to filter only the secure information and disallow any kind of fraud or theft. This leaves the hackers nearly powerless.
Every IT company, or company that handles large amounts of sensitive and strict data need a secure wired router that can protect the data and information from leaking out into the hands of hackers. This is achieved through the high-end wired equipment and a proficient network administrator who maintains the system on a regular basis.
Otherwise, the network will be prone to the hacker attacks which threaten to destroy the businesses’ identity and reputation. The viruses, spyware, and malware can flow in much easier through the unprotected wireless networks than these that are protected with the ethernet cables and safe password.
It doesn’t hurt to mention that wired network is much simpler to install than the wireless networks. Additionally, the speed of the wireless network can’t be compared to the speed of a wired network. In combination with the agile broadband internet connection, you can achieve indeed high speeds.
Different Type of the Wireless Signal
The wireless signal system is not as simple as the wired one. In this section, we will explain the meanings of the different standards seen on wireless routers upon purchasing.
First of all, we find it essential to introduce the basic WLAN standard, called 802.11 to represent the group which participated in its development. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) figured out that the bandwidth of 2 Mbps is too slow to run some stronger application.
This is where the manufacturers decided to enhance the quality of these standards to fit the growth of systems and applications. They engineered the following.
The 802.11a is an extension to the original standard mentioned above. This standard lays mainly in the business networks. It has a rich frequency range at around 5 GHz, while it supports the bandwidth of 54 Mbps. Unfortunately, this is not enough to overpass the walls and other firm obstacles in the rooms.
It has a regulated frequency which, in the great matter, prevents the interruptions in signal between other devices. Also, it easily reaches the fast maximum speed.
The signal is easily shortened thanks to the wall and other firm obstacles in the room. Also, routers with this standard are usually more expensive since they are designed for the business.
The 802.11b standard was released at the same time as the 802.11a, in the summer of 1999. Unlike the A standard, the 802.11b is designed for the regular home use, mainly because it has a reduced cost compared to its’ A standard companion.
The 802.11b resembles of the original Ethernet, thanks to the bandwidth of up to 11 Mbps. Just like the original standard, this one uses the same radio signaling frequency of 2.4 GHz.
Unfortunately, this frequency spectrum is unregulated. That leads to certain troubles. One of these troubles is regular interferences resulting from the cordless phones, microwaves, and other appliances found at home. In particular, this standard had interruptions by every appliance which corresponded on the same frequency spectrum.
Luckily for the users at that time, this problem is easily solved. The users easily installed the gear and equipment at a distance from these devices, thus avoiding the possible interference.
Despite the global popularity and use of the A and B standards, the technology growth demanded new standards. In 2002 and 2003 a new standard got introduced. Additionally, it swiftly appeared on various WLAN products.
The 802.11gemerged, better known as the 802.11g is supposed to stand as a replacement which combines the benefits and features of the previous two standards mentioned. It supports the bandwidth up to 54 Mbps. Additionally, it uses the 2.4 GHz frequency.
It doesn’t hurt to mention that the N standard is backward compatible with the B standard. This is important because devices compatible with the 802.11g standard will also be compatible with the 802.11b network adapters. This applies to the both sides.
Also known as the “Wireless N”, is the major improvement on 802.11g. It uses more than one wireless signals and antennas. This is where the MIMO technology was the first time introduced.
The standard started its’ use back in 2009. It provides up to 300 Mbps bandwidth. Additionally, the new standard offers a more powerful range compared to the past standards introduced in the networking.
Also, just like the previous standard, this one is compatible with the 802.11n/b and vice versa. This means that you don’t have to buy the new device in order to solve these problems. The previous problems caused by the standards were solved with more intensified signal.
The newest standard, already discussed before, supports the dual-band wireless technology which supports either 2.4 GHz frequency spectrum and 5 GHz frequency spectrum, ideal for either older and newer devices. The bandwidth reaches up to 1300 Mbps on the 5 GHz spectrum and an additional 450 Mbps on 2.4 GHz frequency range.
Just like the previous models, it is compatible with its’ predecessors and vice versa.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the difference between a router and a modem?
We are quite sure that you have heard the terms of router and modem at least once during your ‘online life’. In fact, there is the difference between these two and we are going to explain it in this section.
The router is what connects the computers in your home. Your router has the Ethernet ports which connect different computers on a network. Additionally, the devices that support the wireless signal connect to the router’s Wi-Fi network.
On the other side, the router connects to a modem, which connects all the computers in the network provided by your ISP. In short, router and modem together control the traffic and serve as the bridge between your devices and the internet.
But, how come that you only own one piece of equipment (router or a modem) and can connect to either wired and wireless network. This is because some internet providers offer two in one. Basically, both modem and router are placed inside one box. These are mainly the broadband routers and they efficiently provide both functions at the same time.
Our guide comes to an end. We have made sure to present the best routers suitable to every need and budget. The best wireless router doesn’t exist, especially to fit the perfect price range. Then again, if you can live with the minor drawbacks of the each wireless router, each and every is the best.
Knowing it is very hard, which router do you use? Let us know in the comments.