Picking a router can be intimidating, especially when you start looking at all the complex specifications associated with them. A lot of people make the mistake of assuming all routers are the same, however; even if you have a top of the line Internet connection the speeds you get will depend on your router.
This article will help you select a router by looking at the key factors that need to go into your decision. Choosing a router doesn’t have to be complex but you’ll still need to do some research so you can make an informed decision. This article will cover how to assess your needs, what to look for in a router as well as make some suggestions on routers you can buy.
Start by finding out what you’re working with
What’s your connection speed?
Your Internet speed will depend on your ISP (internet service provider). Speeds from ISP’s are measured in Mbps, which stands for megabit per second. The faster the speed from your ISP, the faster your router will have to be. Slower routers can still work with fast ISP’s, however, you’ll be limited to the max speed of your router
When it comes to WiFi, signals can be transferred over two different bands; 2.4 GHz or 5GHz. Each router has a different speed for each band. Running your connection on the 2.3 GHz band allows for pretty good speeds over large areas, the 5GHz bands allows for faster connections but over a smaller area.
All router have designations that give you an idea about the speeds they offer. When looking for a router, you’re sure to see AC1200, N900, AC1600 N750 etc. These numbers represent classifications of the routers combined speed on both 2.4 GHz & 5Ghz bands. For example, a router with the designation AC1600 would have a speed of 300Mbps on the 2.4Ghz band and a speed over 1300 on the 5Ghz band. These are approximate speeds as the actual numbers are rounded off to the nearest 100.
What type of connections do your devices support?
This is pretty simple. All you need to do is take note of the speeds that your computers, tablets or phones are capable of support. Keep these speeds in mind so you can buy a router that can give you a consistent Internet connection
So what does this mean for you? If your ISP or any of your devices offer speeds higher than what your router can do, you’ll be stuck with the highest speed your router can offer. At this point you should know the speeds your devices support and the speeds that you can get from your ISP. Keep this information in mind as you move on to the next step.
How many devices will you need to connect to your router?
Deciding on how many devices you’ll be using on your router will help you narrow down your selection even more. Most routers have 4 Ethernet ports but you’ll need to asses if that’s enough for your needs.
Most printers can be connected to your router via USB, but not all routers have USB ports. Make a list of all the devices that you want on your network and make sure your router is able to support them.
What type of range will you need?
The range you’ll need for your router will depend on the area where you’ll be using it. If you’re buying a router for your home, you’ll need to consider how many floors and walls the signal needs to travel through in order to get to your devices.
If you decide to run your devices on the 5GHz band, you’ll need to either bring your devices closer or choose a router with wide range. Remember that 2.4GHz band offers more range and 5GHz offers more speed but less range.
One feature to look for in routers is Beamforming. Instead of attempting to spread the signal over as wide of an areas a possible, Beam forming directs the signal coming from your router right to your devices. This is an especially useful feature to extend the range available to you when using the 5GHz band.
Protect yourself from unnecessary upgrades
Internet standards and speeds are always evolving. The speed you’re able to get is limited to what your devices and router can support. If you have older devices it makes no sense to buy a top of the line router, when you can get one for between $60-$100 that would suffice.
However, if you plan on upgrading your devices soon you should also upgrade your router to one that can support your new devices. Try not to tie your own hands and buy a router or devices that will need upgrading within a year. If possible you should upgrade your router and devices at the same time to make sure you get the best out of both of them.
Taking the time to properly research on your router will save you a lot of time, headaches and even money. The most important step is for you to consider your needs and plan appropriately. Keep in mind that wireless technology updates extremely fast. It may be tempting to buy a cheap router but you’ll be forced to upgrade sooner, which may cost you the same or more money.
Need some suggestions on routers? Here are 3 routers for great performance in 2016
D-Link Systems AC1750 (DIR-859)
With an AC3200 classification, this router provides top of the line speeds for 2016. You won’t have to updating your router any time soon with this one.
The Nighthawk X6 has simultaneous tri-band WiFi, beamforming technology and 5 Ethernet ports to accommodate all your devices. This is a great option if you need top speeds and wireless coverage over large areas.
D-Link Systems AC1750 (DIR-859)
This is a high-powered router at a reasonable price. With an AC1750 designation, this router is able to boast speeds up to 1300Mbps on 5Ghz connections.
It also comes with detachable antennae to help increase your coverage range.
Linksys MAX STREAM AC1900
This is a great option if you do a lot of online gaming or if you have a lot of wireless devices.
The Linksys Max-Stream supports up to 12 devices and uses 3×3 Wireless-AC technology to offer 3 simultaneous data streams. With 4 Ethernet ports and 2 USB ports, this router is able to cover any task you have for it.