2012 Best Wireless Router Rating and Reviews
A good wireless router is an essential item for almost every home these days. Wireless connectivity is the future of home networking, and nowadays many home entertainment systems such as games consoles, music systems and televisions are designed to connect wirelessly to the internet. It would be impossible and inconvenient to attempt to attach all of these various devices to your modem by an Ethernet cable, so it really is important these days that you have a good wireless router.
A good wireless router reviews site can help you sort through the various options available and choose the best router for your particular home network. If you have several devices that connect to the internet, the best wireless router for you may be one with a dual band frequency, for example. If you have a large home, you’ll need to look for one that can give you a good frequency range.
How to buy the best wireless router
It can be extremely difficult and time-consuming to sort through the various technical capacities of different wireless routers, so it makes sense to find a best wireless router reviews site that can make comparisons for you and provide information on performance from real customers. Amazon is always a good place to start as they provide lots of very honest customer reviews to help you choose the correct wireless router for you.
Some routers are notoriously difficult to set up, but you’ll find information on this on the Amazon reviews page. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that every router behaves differently depending on its exact location, its distance from the wireless device, and the speed and type of broadband connection that is being used.
Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the best router for your particular needs.
Do You Need A Wi-Fi Router?
In order to choose the best wireless router for your home network, you’ll need to think carefully about your needs. But before you do that, it’s a good idea to understand a little bit about how routers actually work and why you need one. What a router does is direct the traffic from the network. It splits the information that’s being transmitted down into little chunks that are known as ‘packets.’
The efficiency and speed with which your router is able to do this is what makes the difference to the speed of your internet connection. Bear in mind, however, that the speed of your connection also depends on what type of line you have and who your provider is. There will be a maximum download speed that you won’t be able to improve no matter what wireless router you use.
However, a goot and besr wireless router will be able to make the most of your internet connection, and will also be able to effectively transmit the data it receives wirelessly to all the devices in your home network. If you only have one or two wireless devices in your house that aren’t ever really used at the same time you won’t need a particularly complicated router. If you have several devices; a PC, laptop, games console, and internet TV for example; then you’ll need to choose a very good quality wireless router to be able to deal with everything that is downloaded simultaneously on your network. The only situation where you wouldn’t need a wireless router at all would be if you only have perhaps one device and it happens to be right next to the phone line. The chances are, therefore, that you need a wireless router.
What Type of Network User Are You?
The next thing you need to consider is what type of network user you are. Someone who generally just browses the internet for information or social networking has far less needs than someone who likes to take part in online games, someone who likes to download a lot of large files like films, or someone who has to have a reliable and fast connection for business needs. If your needs are quite simple, a basic yet sturdy single-router like the Cisco Linksys E1200 Wireless N Router would be a good choice.
If your needs are more demanding, then your best wireless router will have to be able to keep up! Better choices for you might be Netgear’s N750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (WNDR4000) or the Cisco Linksys E4200 v2 router. These routers are known for being particularly good at maximising bandwidth, which makes them perfect for real-time streaming whether that’s for games, films or internet TV channels like BBC iPlayer. Of course, if you want a router that really maximises bandwidth you’ll need to pay a little more for it. The N750 comes in at around £150. Generally the more expensive routers tend to have more features, but that doesn’t always mean that they’re the best choice for you or that they actually always perform better. Through our tests we’ve discovered, for example, that the cheaper E1200 performs just as well as some of the more expensive routers on the market.
Single Band or Dual Band?
You may have noticed me using the term ‘frequency band.’ Basically, a wireless router is a little like a radio. When it sends data from the internet to your wireless device, it does this by transmitting the data through a certain ‘frequency.’ Wireless devices normally operate between the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency bands. When we speak of a single band router, such as the Asus RT-N11 Wireless-N Router, we mean a router that operates on just one of these frequencies. In this router’s case, it operates on the 2.4 GHz band. Because so many wireless devices operate on this band, however, the frequency can become crowded which makes for slower download speeds. This is why devices which require high download speeds tend to operate on the 5GHz band instead. The Cisco Linksys E3200 Advanced Wireless-N is a dual band router, which means that it’s able to operate on both the 2.4 and 5GHZ frequencies.
The only problem with the freer 5 GHz band is that it tends not to give much signal distance compared to the more crowded 2.4 GHz band. You’ll need to take that factor into account when deciding where in your home to place your router.
300 Mbps, 450 Mbps, 900 Mbps… All Those Numbers!
Another important technical term you’ll come across in your search for a wireless router is the numbers 300mps, 450mps and 900mps. You’ve probably already realised that they’re there to give you an indication of the speed of the router. 300mps used to be the standard speed of all wireless routers, but nowadays routers can achieve download speeds of up to 900mps making them far more efficient. Bear in mind when choosing a dual band router, like Netgear’s N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router, for example, that this 900mps speed will be split between the two bands, meaning you’ll achieve 450mps on each.
Always remember that even if your router is incredibly speedy and you’re running a 900mps router with only one internet device, this doesn’t actually mean your internet connection can be any faster than its maximum download speed. If you have a slow internet connection then it will still be slow. What the wireless speed will improve, however, is the communication between the different devices in your home.
Do I Need 802.11N?
You may have also noticed that most new and best wireless routers are 802.11N routers. Because technology moves so quickly these days, this will soon be the standard for all wireless routers and due to that, I’d advice that you don’t purchase a router that’s any less than 802.11n rather than 802.11n draft which is older. 802.11n devices can connect to non-802.11n devices too so compatibility wouldn’t be a problem.
What Type of Security?
The highest level of security in the best wireless router these days is denoted by the term WPA2. Security is really an essential feature these days as internet threats become more and more sophisticated, so you should make sure that any new router you purchase supports WPA2 security. Another good security feature is to be able to use parental control on your router. This is supported by routers such as the D-Link Amplifi HD Media Router 2000 (DIR-827).
What’s My Comfort Level with Router Setup and Management?
Strangely enough, the latest, more feature-packed and expensive routers like the Netgear N900 or Linksys E4200 always tend to be the easiest to set up. Another router with a particularly easy setup is the Cisco Linksys E4200 v2, which can be ready to go with the click of a few simple on-screen buttons.
Of course if you feel quite confident about your technical abilities you won’t need to worry about being confused by the set up process. You could then save money by choosing a slightly cheaper router that doesn’t offer automated setup such as Asante’s SmartHub Smart Dual Band Wireless-N Router (AWRT-600N). You do need a little bit more knowledge about how routers work in order to set these up, but because they don’t come with software to do this for you they are able to keep prices lower.
If you want a router that’s going to last many years then you should think about choosing one that supports IPv6. At the moment, IPv4 networking is the more common version, but IPv6 is predicted to emerge quite soon. This means that when your ISP switches over to IPv6 you won’t need a new router.
There are quite a few extras you can also choose for your router. Some have SD card slots, like the D-Link DIR-827, while others have USB ports so printers and external drives can be attached (very convenient for a home network). Think carefully about what you’re looking for and where in your home you want your various wireless devices to go, and you’ll be ready to choose your Best Wireless Router.
Best Wireless Router Reviews.Tags: Cisco Linksys E4200, wireless routers, online games, Cisco Linksys, wireless router, broadband connection, download speed <BR/>