Given the large number of devices that can connect to the Internet today, it is essential to have a good router to manage these connections. Often, however, the devices offered by telephone operators are too simple and do not allow you to efficiently take advantage of the high speed offered by your line.
In addition, it often happens that lower-end devices don’t last as long as you want, which does not happen with better quality ones. However, in general, most average users don’t know what to consider when buying a router. To fill these gaps, we have prepared this comprehensive guide.
Here we had listed down some of the great models of routers.
What to Look for Before Buying Routers?
Before choosing a router, before purchasing, some technical factors must be considered, this to make the right purchase and to have the desired characteristics.
Both based on your internet line and based on the size of the area you want. cover with WiFi and last but not least, also based on the budget you have available.
When choosing a modem router, with its functionality (i.e. that allows you to connect to the internet) it is important to choose a router with support for the connection protocol of our telephone operator, which can be ADSL2, ADSL2 +, VDSL, VDSL2.
With these 4 different protocols, the only parameter to change is the speed, starting from the 12 Mbit / s of the ADSL 2, up to the 300 Mbit / s of the VDSL2. The only thing to pay attention to is the presence of VOIP on the router that has been given to you by your operator.
If it is present, in order not to lose the possibility of making calls via VOIP, you will have to keep the old router keeping it active and use a second router connected via LAN to manage the connections. Typically this configuration is referred to in computer jargon as cascading routers.
Cascade Router Connection
In the case of ADSL2 and VDSL2 with VoIP, the operator router can also be replaced with one of the rare models with VoIP support on the market, below we have indicated a few.
Wi-Fi Classes, Data Transfer Rate and Definition of Ac
Each Wireless router is marked with an abbreviation indicating the WiFi class (e.g. IEEE 802.11 class a / b / g / n / ac / ad/ax), corresponding to a certain frequency band, (which can be 2.4 and 5 GHz the most common or the recent 60 GHz) and transfer speed. Let’s see exactly these values:
- class a at 54 Mb / s (5 GHz)
- class b at 11 Mb / s (2.4 GHz)
- g class at 54 Mb / s (2.4 GHz)
- 450 Mb / s class n (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)
- ac class at 3 Gb / s (5 GHz)
- theoretical class 7 Gb / s in a very limited area (60 GHz)
- ax class also called WiFi 6 at 11Gb / s theoretical (from 1 to 6 GHz)
The term Dual-Band defines the routers that have both the classic 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz radio band. It is important to know that each brand has its advantages and disadvantages, in fact, the 5 GHz band has as an advantage the greater speed but a smaller range of action.
Which will lead you to have an excellent fast and powerful signal only at short distances and with few walls as an obstacle? Conversely, the 2.4 GHz radio band is less fast, but has a wider range of activities and will allow you to receive the WiFi signal even at a distance with various obstacles in between. Synonymous with Dual Band is the Wireless AC protocol.
When we purchase a router, we often find the “AC” code followed by a number (eg AC1300, AC3200, AC5400, etc). As you saw in the previous paragraph of the classes, this means that the router supports the WiFi AC class.
While the number indicates the maximum theoretical band of the available bands, for example, AC1300 will have a maximum theoretical band of 1300 Mbps. If a router is Dual-band, it will be the sum of the two bands, if it is Tri-band of three bands and Quad-band of four bands.
The recent AX, 802.11ax standard, wants to improve and take the place of the widespread 802.11ac. Investing now in this type of router means preparing for evolution with the devices that will come and will support this class (and presumably also the new wpa3 security protocol ).
Wi-Fi Technologies Supported
If you have a large apartment to be covered with the need to make the WiFi signal reach with sufficient intensity even at the ends of the house. You should opt for models with high transmission power and preferably with a good number of antennas.
- In more recent routers there may be a technology called Beamforming +, which increases the performance of 5GHz networks, as it precisely directs the signal to the connected device, this through the modulation of the waves emitted by the antennas, allowing the wireless signal to reach better the most hidden points of your home. To cover very large environments, there are also other solutions, such as support for Mesh networks, which you will find just below in this article, or the purchase of a WiFi repeater, which creates a new network by amplifying the signal received from the main router. The difference between these two solutions lies in the fact that with the support of Mesh networks, a unique network with the same name (ideal solution) unlike WiFi repeaters, in this way it is not necessary to access different networks if you move in a very large environment.
- In addition to this technology, we can find the MU-MIMO (an acronym for Multiple User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output) which improves the management of multiple devices connected simultaneously, without affecting the performance regarding the data transfer speed.
- On the best routers, it is possible to find the word tri-band, which means the simultaneous use of three different signals, one on the 2.4 GHz band and two separate 5 GHz signals to ensure the maximum possible connection speed. It is useful in the case of multiple devices connected to the same network because the router itself will assign the free channel to a new device that enters the network (with a sort of balancing of the band available at a certain time).
- Support for MESH networks is another recent technology that allows you to extend the WiFi signal is very large environments. This technology was created to solve the problems of a traditional Wifi network, where there is a single Wireless router, which manages to cover only a limited area of the house, especially if the latter is very large and there are many pillars or very large walls. that reduce the signal. In routers with support for mesh networks, however, there are multiple nodes organized dynamically and not hierarchically on the network, which can cooperate with each other, providing data more efficiently. A classic example of a mesh network consists of the main router connected to the internet that supports this technology and many mesh routers connected to it, called nodes.
Processor, Ram, Chipset, and Antennas
If in economic routers the performance roughly equals, in high-end models, the real difference is made by these components. The processor and the ram depending on the computing power that develops, they can better manage the data traffic and a large number of connected devices, optimizing quickly and efficiently workloads and connectivity for each device connected.
The Chipset, on the other hand, is of fundamental importance in connection stability and speed, where routers with Broadcom chipsets are the master, where it is possible to analyze the parameters of SNR Margin and line attenuation.
Finally, the Antennas are of fundamental importance for the WiFi signal, which can be internal, in cheap routers, or in large numbers and external, in routers that tend to offer higher performance, with transfer rates even 10 times higher (7.2 Gbps) than the less expensive models.
Connections and Ports Available
On the back of each router or at most on the side, we can find different input ports where to connect Ethernet cables and electronic devices via USB inputs ( such as printers, pen drives, and external hard drives ).
As far as Ethernet ports are concerned, we can find Fast Ethernet with a maximum transfer rate of 100 Megabit / s and Gigabits that reach 1 Gigabit / s or if you want 1000 Megabit / s.
The USB ports, on the other hand, can be USB 2.0 or 3.0, which differ in the different data processing speeds, respectively 280 Mbps and 3.2 Gbps.
Through the USB ports you can connect many types of USB peripherals and in some cases even the keys where you can insert a 3G / 4G data SIM, which the router can use as a backup connection in case of malfunctions on the fixed-line.