Choosing the best internet router for your home is an intimidating task. Hundreds of router brands and manufacturers proudly advertise their wares in the market, confusing an average consumer such as yourself even further. How can you pick the perfect router, then? Let us walk you through the steps to choose the best wireless router for your household. Stay tuned.
Evaluate Your Needs
A router is responsible for distributing internet signals and monitoring the ongoing rush of traffic between your connected devices and web servers. It essentially enables wireless connectivity across your premises. Now, before you head out on a shopping spree, make sure to evaluate your router requirements. What kind of a router are you looking for? Does it have to be top-range to empower your intensive web activities? Or, will a standard router serve the purpose? Also, do you absolutely have to buy a new router? Or, will a leased one from Spectrum or any other ISP will be sufficient? Answering such questions will give you a head start and frame your market research, accordingly.
Consider the Cost
Next comes the cost. The average price of a router ranges from $50 to $150 in the market. The lowest rate gives you only sub-par features, while the priciest one provides an advanced variety of tools and programs that ensure seamless wireless connectivity. Consider your budget and tally it with your needs before you pick an internet router for your home. For instance, if you require wireless internet for basic web surfing, then sticking to a $50 router would be a wise choice for the moment. On the other hand, if you want to invest in future-proof equipment, then feel free to pay $300 for a Wi-Fi 6 router. It is totally up to you.
Check ISP Compatibility
Suppose you buy a wireless router and your internet service provider does not approve of it. Are you ready to see all that money go down the drain? No? Then, be smart about your purchases and verify a router with your ISP before you pay for it. Most internet service providers specify a detailed list of approved modems and routers on their websites. Pull those up online and see if your chosen router model falls into the approved category. You can also call your ISP’s customer service number and ask them directly about the compatibility of your internet router.
Match Router Speeds with Your Plan
Different routers are capable of handling different internet speeds, depending on the type of wireless protocol they carry. Some of the traditional routers with Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) standard can support a speed throughput of up to 600 Mbps, while the latest routers with Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) may even distribute Wi-Fi signals at the theoretical speed of 10 Gbps, etc. So, double-check your selected router’s speed against the download speed you’ve subscribed to in your internet plan.
Ideally, your router should offer more speed than your plan, if you are to experience stable connectivity. Going with a Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) router seems like the right call, nowadays, for an average household. Wi-Fi 6 routers may be next-gen but selecting them would be going a little overboard since 10 Gbps speeds are not available in the market at present.
Confirm Frequency Bands
Frequency bands have a direct impact on the functionality of an internet router. Single-band routers transmit Wi-Fi on a single 2.4 GHz band, which is super-crowded and results in network lags. Whereas, dual-band routers disperse internet signals by switching between 2.4 GHz and the less congested 5 GHz bands, preventing clash with other wireless devices in the area. There are also tri-band routers in the market, which offer one 2.4 GHz and two 5 GHz bands, opening up new avenues and pathways for wireless signals to traverse. Decide on the count of frequency bands that satisfy your internet needs to the max, and pick a router that broadcasts signals on them, respectively.
Inspect the Hardware Features
Time to head into the hardware specifications of your router. See what kind of a processor and internal memory it possesses, as this will show you how efficiently the router performs in real-time and how long it will stay with you. The general rule of thumb is that a router should have a dual-core processor and 128 MB of RAM to push out wireless internet signals in a powerful manner. It should also have several Gigabit Ethernet ports for establishing a link with the modem or your PC, and at least one USB 3.0 port for connecting peripheral devices easily.
Furthermore, look for a pinhole reset button and a WPS button, without which no good router can be complete. When comparing the range of your router with its competitors, keep an eye out for powerful beamforming antennas, which can be external or internet, adjustable or fixed. Also, examine the router’s capability of adding on mesh Wi-Fi pods, so if, in the future, you want to extend your wireless network, your router will flexibly bend to your will.
Take Software Features into Account
Beyond the sturdy exterior, a router consists of several programs, tools, and software that set it apart from other varieties in the market. These features are:
- Firewall – A router with a built-in firewall can guard your web traffic at the source and prevent malicious entities from contaminating your network.
- Encryption & Authentication Keys – A router with WEP, WPA2-PSK, or even WPS3 protocols can add an extra shield of security to your online communication, keeping Wi-Fi hackers and piggybacking users at bay.
- Advanced QoS – A router with advanced Quality of Service can effectively prioritize bandwidth dispensation to the devices and systems that need it to most.
- Alexa-Integration – A router that is Alexa-compatible can seamlessly connect with your smart home devices or IoT network and let you control everything using voice command only.
- MU-MIMO – A router with “Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output” technology can accept loads of connection requests from several devices in your home at the same time and divide bandwidth between them, so every device can get its fair share of data efficiently.
- App Support – A router with a signature smartphone app makes network management super-easy for you, allowing you to control your Wi-Fi from your phone in just a matter of taps.
Indeed, choosing the best internet router for your home is nothing short of daunting, and you can easily feel overwhelmed by the sheer diversity of wireless network hardware in the market. But, no more! Use the pointers mentioned above to streamline your market search and pick the perfect router for your household connectivity needs.