Now that you made it here you are probably sure that you need a new (maybe your first?) wireless router. Since you clicked on this site you’re probably not sure what’s important when buying and choosing the best wireless router for you, right? Let me introduce you to some basics so you don’t have to rely only on other people’s reviews to make your final choice. Of course you will be able to understand every review on this site and you will be able to make your choice based on them but it doesn’t hurt to know a thing or two about wireless routers before buying them.
Why Wifi? (skip if you already have had a wireless network)
Why should you even bother to install a wireless network? While it’s true that wired connections are mostly more reliable and faster than wireless connections you can only connect one device per cable, obviously. This might be okay if you have just one computer or notebook that happens to be right next to your DSL modem but as soon as you want to connect more devices or move away from you’re current position you get into trouble. Try to lay cables in multiple rooms and make them look good. Wouldn’t it be better to go without them? Besides a wireless network is the easiest way to connect your smartphone or tablet to the Internet and who doesn’t want to do that?
Wait, are routers and modems one and the same?
No but don’t worry it’s very easy to understand. In a way the router is the middleman (more like middle-device) between your modem and your computer/tablet/device. The modem grants you access to the Internet and is often provided by your Internet Service Provider. You need a modem to browse online – there’s no way around it.
Once you got your modem installed you can connect a device directly to it if you want to. But to extend its reach and enable more devices to access the Internet you will sooner or later need a wireless router that you then connect to your modem. This way each device gets its own IP address assigned by the home router and can use your modem (with the help of your router) to access the Internet.
Single-band, dual-band and tri-band?
This is actually pretty easy to understand.
There are various types of devices which use different wireless standards. Those are always named after the same system: starting with the number 802.11 and ending with one or two letters. The number has its origins way back in 1997 and is named after the group that helped with the development. The letters are additional specifications to distinguish between the different (and new) types.
Single-band routers only work on the 2.4GHz frequency which is assigned to 802.11b, 802.11n and 802.11g devices. With a single-band router you have yourself a simple and stable connection that’s slower than a network based on 5GHz.
Dual-band routers work on both frequencies (2.4 and 5GHz) and therefore support every device the single-band router supports as well as 802.11ac. Generally you can say that the 5GHz frequency is faster and not as crowded with devices as the 2.4GHz frequency but at the same time it is not as reliable over long distances and has a harder time with walls.
Tri-band routers have an additional band for 5GHz making them even faster and more suited for more complex networks.
2400Mbps per second?
Let me crush your dreams: you will probably not reach a download speed of 2400Mbps. The speed of your Internet is mostly determined by your Internet service provider and can never exceed the given limits even if you have a much more powerful new home router. The speed of your wireless router helps you with your internal network though. Transferring files from one device to another one or streaming something for your network, stuff like this.
So is there really a reason to get a new and powerful router?
Of course. Some things change over time (like IPv4 and IPv6 networking or USB slots on newer routers) and are only supported by newer routers. The same goes for some devices. If you only have a single-band router you will not be able to use devices wireless via your network that require a 5GHz frequency (see above). While newer is not necessarily better most of the newer home routers are much more stable and have a much better coverage than their older counterparts. Add new features (like a download manager or parental controls) and security upgrades and you have the main reasons to go for a new wireless router from time to time.
But the single most important thing…
Every environment is unique! What works for me, what works for you and what works for 1000 other people are completely different things. In my reviews I tell you what you can expect based on my (and other people’s) experiences and what the maximum possibilities of the routers are. I cannot surely say that the wireless router will work for you. Nobody can predict that for sure.