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 understanding 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 down the curtain to reveal the pertinent information about Wi-Fi, routers, mesh techniques, and different jargon. Hopefully, you will be higher outfitted to purchase a router by the tip. 

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 usually 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 legislation 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 fees.

We’re largely taking a look at utilizing your personal router on this information and utilizing your ISP’s modem. By utilizing your personal, you may doubtlessly lower your expenses in the long run, however you can even take pleasure in quicker Wi-Fi, higher protection, simpler configuration, and further options like parental controls and visitor Wi-Fi networks. We will run by way of your router choices, however no matter system you determine to go along with, examine compatibility together with your ISP earlier than shopping for. You also can search your ISP’s boards to discover posts the place folks talk about utilizing totally different routers and modems. Some research earlier than you store can prevent a huge 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 blatant. To assist you 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 resolution for most individuals is to select a single router or a router and modem combo. Bear in thoughts that this gadget may have to plug into your present socket or modem by way of Ethernet cable, which restricts the place you may place it. The Wi-Fi sign will likely be strongest close to the router and will progressively drop off and decelerate the additional away you get.

Routers ought to all the time state sq. footage for protection, however sure kinds of development—thick partitions, insulation, and different gadgets—can intrude with Wi-Fi alerts, so don’t count on to take pleasure in full-speed Wi-Fi at longer distances. Powerful routers with extensive protection are sometimes giant gadgets with a number of exterior antennas, however they’re often very costly.

Mesh Systems

If you have got a bigger house and need strong protection in your backyard, or you have got thick partitions and particular useless spots together with your present setup, then mesh Wi-Fi might be the reply. Mesh systems encompass a central hub, which connects identical to a single router, in addition to further satellites or nodes you may place across the house.

Devices join to the web by way of 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 usually boast further options and management choices. They additionally have a tendency to be smaller than common routers and are sometimes designed to mix in together with your decor harmoniously.

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

Alternatives to a New Router

Photograph: Eskay Lim/Getty Images

If your problem is extra about protection and you have got a single downside room the place you need to enhance Wi-Fi, or a explicit gadget that wants a quicker connection, you won’t want to purchase a new router. Try certainly one of these options. They every have their very own technical challenges and potential points. Even when efficiently deployed, they gained’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 useless spot. These gadgets are a good resolution for some folks, however they are often inefficient, inclined to interference, and usually create a secondary community with a totally different title out of your common Wi-Fi.

Power Line Adapters

Sold in pairs, energy line adapters go an web sign by way of 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 quicker web. They could be a good resolution if in case you have a console or good TV in your front room in the back of 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 use 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 help the MoCA standard. Much like energy line adapters, this may be a smart way to go an web sign to a good TV, sport console, or desktop that does not get a robust Wi-Fi sign.

Access Points

If you don’t thoughts a problem and have a spare outdated router mendacity round, you may look into configuring it as an entry level or utilizing it as a Wi-Fi extender. This could be notably efficient if you happen to’re ready to join it to your major router by way of cabling, however configuration can show tough.

Photograph: Getty Images

There’s a lot to think about whenever you’re making an attempt to determine how briskly your router must be. The most velocity of your web is set by your ISP. Internet speeds are acknowledged in Mbps (megabits per second). The median international fastened broadband velocity is 64 Mbps for downloads and 27 Mbps for uploads, in accordance to Ookla’s Speedtest. Most ISPs will state up to a sure velocity or offer you a vary—like 300 Mbps obtain and 30 Mbps add—however what you truly get is usually decrease than the utmost (particularly add speeds), and it have to be shared between your whole linked gadgets. 


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