How to Choose a Router (2022): Tips, Technical Terms, and Advice

Everyone needs dependable and quick web, and a good router may help. The trick is to work out how the sophisticated mess of requirements, complicated acronyms, and sci-fi-sounding options translate to higher Wi-Fi in your house. Join us as we tear again the curtain to reveal the pertinent details about Wi-Fi, routers, mesh techniques, and different jargon. Hopefully, you may be higher outfitted to purchase a router by the top. 

Updated June 2022: We added to the mesh techniques part, linked to our router information and Wi-Fi 7 explainer, and up to date the newest broadband speeds.

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Who Is Your Internet Service Provider?

Internet service suppliers (ISPs) join your house to the web, and they often ship you a modem and router (generally in a single gadget). The modem connects your house to the broader web; the router hooks up to the modem, and you join all of your devices—with wires or wirelessly—to the router to entry that connectivity. ISPs typically cost you a rental charge for this gear, and their routers are often primary by way of efficiency and options. The excellent news is that ISPs are by regulation now not allowed to drive you to use their gear or cost you to use your own hardware, although you should still have to return their stuff to keep away from expenses.

We’re largely taking a look at utilizing your individual router on this information and utilizing your ISP’s modem. By utilizing your individual, you may doubtlessly get monetary savings in the long run, however you may as well get pleasure from sooner Wi-Fi, higher protection, simpler configuration, and additional options like parental controls and visitor Wi-Fi networks. We will run via your router choices, however no matter system you determine to go along with, verify compatibility along with your ISP earlier than shopping for. You may also search your ISP’s boards to discover posts the place individuals focus on utilizing totally different routers and modems. Some research earlier than you store can prevent a massive headache down the road.

What Kind of Router Do You Need?

Photograph: Netgear

There are varied ways to make your Wi-Fi faster, and shopping for a new router is without doubt one of the most evident. To assist you to determine on the kind of router to go for, calculate the tough sq. footage of your house earlier than you start.

Single Router

The easiest answer for most individuals is to select a single router or a router and modem combo. Bear in thoughts that this gadget could have to plug into your current socket or modem through Ethernet cable, which restricts the place you may place it. The Wi-Fi sign will probably be strongest close to the router and will regularly drop off and decelerate the additional away you get.

Routers ought to at all times state sq. footage for protection, however sure forms of development—thick partitions, insulation, and different units—can intrude with Wi-Fi alerts, so don’t count on to get pleasure from full-speed Wi-Fi at longer distances. Powerful routers with large protection are sometimes massive units with a number of exterior antennas, however they’re often very costly.

Mesh Systems

If you could have a massive dwelling and need strong protection in your backyard, or you could have thick partitions and particular lifeless spots along with your present setup, then mesh Wi-Fi may very well be the reply. Mesh systems encompass a central hub, which connects similar to a single router, in addition to further satellites or nodes you may place across the dwelling.

Devices join to the web via the closest node, so you may obtain wider Wi-Fi protection and a extra dependable connection in numerous areas by including a node. Just keep in mind that every node will want a energy outlet. Mesh techniques are sometimes costlier than single-router setups (though not always), however they improve protection and reliability, and they typically boast further options and management choices. They additionally have a tendency to be smaller than common routers and are sometimes designed to mix in along with your decor.

Most mesh techniques are expandable, and some producers permit you to hyperlink particular person routers to create a mesh, so you can begin with a single router and add extra as required. Just be sure you perceive which units are suitable. For instance, any Asus router that helps AiMesh can work as a part of a mesh system, however TP-Link’s OneMesh know-how solely permits you to add suitable Wi-Fi extenders—you may’t hyperlink routers collectively.

Alternatives to a New Router

Photograph: Eskay Lim/Getty Images

If your difficulty is extra about protection and you could have a single drawback room the place you need to enhance Wi-Fi, or a explicit gadget that wants a sooner connection, you may not want to purchase a new router. Try one in all these options. They every have their very own technical challenges and potential points. Even when efficiently deployed, they received’t come shut to matching the comfort of a good mesh system, however they’re all less expensive.

Wi-Fi Repeaters

You can use Wi-Fi repeaters to unfold the Wi-Fi from a single router a bit additional and doubtlessly enhance the sign in a lifeless spot. These units are a good answer for some individuals, however they are often inefficient, susceptible to interference, and typically create a secondary community with a totally different title out of your common Wi-Fi.

Power Line Adapters

Sold in pairs, energy line adapters cross an web sign via your electrical wiring. You plug one into a energy outlet close to your router and join it with an Ethernet cable, whereas the opposite energy line adapter plugs into a energy outlet within the room the place you need sooner web. They might be a good answer when you’ve got a console or sensible TV in your front room behind the home, however your router is within the entrance corridor, for instance. Unfortunately, effectiveness relies upon closely in your electrical wiring.

MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance)

If your house already has coaxial cables put in (maybe for cable TV), you should utilize them to create a dependable wired community that gives excessive speeds and low latency in contrast to Wi-Fi. You should buy routers, community adapters, or Wi-Fi extenders that assist the MoCA standard. Much like energy line adapters, this may be a smart way to cross an web sign to a sensible TV, recreation console, or desktop that does not get a sturdy Wi-Fi sign.

Access Points

If you don’t thoughts a problem and have a spare previous router mendacity round, you may look into configuring it as an entry level or utilizing it as a Wi-Fi extender. This might be significantly efficient when you’re in a position to join it to your principal router through cabling, however configuration can show tough.

Photograph: Getty Images

There’s loads to contemplate once you’re attempting to determine how briskly your router ought to be. The most pace of your web is set by your ISP. Internet speeds are acknowledged in Mbps (megabits per second). The median world fastened broadband pace is 64 Mbps for downloads and 27 Mbps for uploads, in accordance to Ookla’s Speedtest. Most ISPs will state up to a sure pace or provide you with a vary—like 300 Mbps obtain and 30 Mbps add—however what you really get is usually decrease than the utmost (particularly add speeds), and it should be shared between all your related units. 

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