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


Everyone needs dependable and quick web, and a good router can assist. The trick is to work out how the difficult 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 will be higher geared up 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 fundamental when it comes to efficiency and options. The excellent news is that ISPs are by legislation not allowed to pressure 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 costs.

We’re largely utilizing your personal router on this information and utilizing your ISP’s modem. By utilizing your personal, you’ll be able to doubtlessly lower your expenses in the long run, however you may also take pleasure in sooner 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 resolve to go along with, test compatibility along with your ISP earlier than shopping for. You may search your ISP’s boards to discover posts the place individuals talk about utilizing completely different routers and modems. Some research earlier than you store can prevent a large headache down the road.

What Kind of Router Do You Need?

Photograph: Netgear

There are numerous ways to make your Wi-Fi faster, and shopping for a new router is likely one of the most evident. To allow you to resolve 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 could have to plug into your current socket or modem through Ethernet cable, which restricts the place you’ll be able to place it. The Wi-Fi sign might be strongest close to the router and will regularly drop off and decelerate the additional away you get.

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

Mesh Systems

If you might have a giant house and need stable protection in your backyard, or you might have thick partitions and particular useless spots along with your present setup, then mesh Wi-Fi might be the reply. Mesh systems include a central hub, which connects similar to a single router, in addition to further satellites or nodes you’ll be able to place across the house.

Devices join to the web by way of the closest node, so you’ll be able to obtain wider Wi-Fi protection and a extra dependable connection in several areas by including a node. Just keep in mind that every node will want a energy outlet. Mesh techniques are sometimes dearer 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 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 to perceive which units 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’ll be able to’t hyperlink routers collectively.

Alternatives to a New Router

Photograph: Eskay Lim/Getty Images

If your subject is extra about protection and you might have a single drawback room the place you need to enhance Wi-Fi, or a specific gadget that wants a sooner connection, you won’t want to purchase a new router. Try one in every of these alternate 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 increase the sign in a useless spot. These units are a good resolution for some individuals, however they are often inefficient, inclined to interference, and usually create a secondary community with a completely different identify out of your common Wi-Fi.

Power Line Adapters

Sold in pairs, energy line adapters cross 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 sooner web. They could be a good resolution in case you have a console or sensible 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 utilize them to create a dependable wired community that provides 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 good 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 outdated router mendacity round, you’ll be able to look into configuring it as an entry level or utilizing it as a Wi-Fi extender. This could be notably efficient in case you’re ready to join it to your predominant router through cabling, however configuration can show tough.

Photograph: Getty Images

There’s a lot to contemplate while you’re making an attempt to resolve how briskly your router ought to be. The most pace of your web is set by your ISP. Internet speeds are said 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 offer you a vary—like 300 Mbps obtain and 30 Mbps add—however what you really get is commonly decrease than the utmost (particularly add speeds), and it have to be shared between your whole related units. 



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