In today’s interconnected world, a reliable and high-performing home router is an essential part of any household. It serves as the gateway to the internet, connecting your devices, enabling seamless online activities, and ensuring a smooth streaming experience. However, with a plethora of options available, selecting the right router can be a daunting task. This comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and insights to make an informed decision, ensuring you choose the optimal router for your home and usage patterns.
It’s important to assess your specific needs and prioritize the features that are most important to you while considering a home WiFi router. The capabilities that are important in home routers compared to other routers include:
Apart from these, It is suggested that you consider the following technical points to buy a suitable Wi-Fi router.
The size of your home plays a crucial role in determining the router’s coverage and performance. For smaller apartments or condos, a single-band router with a decent range should suffice. However, for larger homes, particularly those with multiple floors or thick walls, a dual-band router or mesh WiFi system may be necessary to ensure adequate coverage throughout the entire house. In general, the size of the house is divided into these categories:
The differences between these routers are : Transmit power, Number of antennas, Mesh technology support and RF capabilities.
Consider the number of devices you expect to connect to the router simultaneously. If you have a large family or host frequent gatherings, a router with a higher number of LAN ports and a more robust processor will be able to handle the increased network traffic effectively.
it’s important to note that the actual number of users that can be connected at the same time may vary based on factors like network congestion, bandwidth usage, and the activities performed by each user.
Most modern routers operate on three radio bands: the 2.4 GHz ,5 GHz and 6 GHz bands. The 2.4 GHz band offers wider coverage but is more susceptible to interference from other devices and walls. The 6 Ghz and 5 GHz bands provides faster speeds but with shorter range. For optimal performance, consider a router that supports both bands and allows you to easily switch between them based on your needs.
Consider in mind that the 2.4GHz is more crowd than the 5GHz band. Because your home Microwave Oven , Bluetooth devices and the wireless DECT phone are working in 2.GHz band ,therefore it may offers less bandwidth than you need. But, it is perfectly adequate for daily tasks like Web surfing email checking.
Wireless protocols determine the maximum speed your router can handle. The latest protocols, such as Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, offer significantly faster speeds compared to older standards. However, it’s important to ensure that your devices also support these newer protocols to reap the full benefits. Up to now , the WiFi alliance has introduced 7 standards :
The most widely used WiFi protocol (802.11ac) allows for maximum (Theorical) data rates of up to 3,600Mbps raw data (up to 2Gbps throughput) and operates on 5Ghz band only. WiFi5 and WiFi6 standards utilize two amazing technology for best connection speed and overall performance: Beamforming and MU-MIMO.
A technology sends WiFi signals directly to a client rather than broadcasting in all directions. Read More : What is Beamforming ?
MU-MIMO is designed to provide bandwidth to multiple devices simultaneously rather than sequentially. It means up to four clients can have their own data streams instead of waiting in turn to receive data from the router.
You may see WiFi6 or WiFi5 routers with labels like AC1750, AC3200, AX5400, and so on. This means the overall maximum speed of all router bands. Technically, this speed is nominal and depends on various technical and environmental factors.
For example AC3200 label on a Dual-band router means: 600Mbps(2.4Ghz band)+2600Mbps(5Ghz Band).
As a futuristic perspective , look for a router that supports the latest WiFi standards (802.11ax) in addition to supporting the Beamforming technology. and offers fast speeds.
Mesh WiFi systems consist of multiple routers that work together to create a seamless wireless network, eliminating dead zones and providing consistent coverage throughout your home. If you have a large or multi-floor house, a mesh WiFi system is an ideal solution to ensure stable and reliable connectivity. Read More: What is Mesh Technology?
Some of the benefits of mesh WiFi are:
Check the number of LAN ports available on the router to connect wired devices like gaming consoles, smart TVs, or NAS drives. If you have a limited number of ports, consider a router with a USB port that allows you to connect an external adapter with additional LAN ports.
New routers, equipped with a SFP (Fiber) or Multi-Gig LAN/WAN ports for higher than 1Gbps speeds. Keep in mind that to benefit from such speeds , you should connect them to a compliant port at your side.
Routers with USB ports offer additional flexibility for connecting external devices and expanding network capabilities. These USB ports can be used for various purposes, including:
Parental control features allow you to restrict access to certain websites, set time limits for internet usage, and block specific apps, ensuring a safe and controlled online experience for your children or family members. It can also control the following :
If you have children, consider routers that offer advanced parental control features, allowing you to manage internet access, restrict websites, and set time limits for certain devices. Check the list of the Best Parental Control WiFi routers.
Quality of Service (QoS) features prioritize certain types of traffic, such as gaming or video streaming, ensuring that critical applications receive the bandwidth they need to operate smoothly, even when other devices are using the network.
Choose a router that offers a user-friendly interface and easy setup process. Ideally, the router should have a web-based configuration page or smartphone app that allows you to manage settings and troubleshoot issues conveniently.
Ensure that the router is backed by reliable customer support in case you encounter any technical problems or need assistance with setup or configuration. Look for routers from reputable brands with a good reputation for customer service.
Navigating the world of home routers can be overwhelming, but by considering factors such as the size of your house, the number of simultaneous users, radio bands, speed, mesh technology, ports, parental controls, QOS, ease of use, and customer support, you can make an informed decision and choose the router that best suits your needs and provides a seamless and enjoyable online experience for your entire household.