Are you ready to replace your old wireless router with an updated version? New routers can offer updated security, faster Internet data speeds, enhance management opportunities, and the latest technology for today’s and tomorrow’s devices. The best router for you depends on your Internet usage, the size of your space, and what features you would actually use.
When it comes to choosing the most exciting new features of a wireless router and the latest advances, here is a quick list to help you find a top-of-the-line device for your new wireless network.
Wireless Router Features
1. Gigabit Ethernet and Multiple Ports
Ethernet ports help connect the router to your Internet network through a physical line, specifically through a broadband modem. The uplink or primary port is the most important connection, but modern routers should also include several other Ethernet ports for potential wired connections. These ports should also be of Gigabit Ethernet quality, essentially the highest Ethernet standard that allows for the fastest speeds.
This physical line connection is a key determinant when calculating your average wireless Internet speeds, so make sure your new router has Gigabit Ethernet and multiple ports for the fastest, most flexible setup.
2. Enough Bandwidth For Modern Surfing
Bandwidth — the Internet speeds of your wireless router — can vary based on many factors. However, here is a simple rule for you to use when you are actually looking at the figures on the box: 50 to 100 Mbps (megabits per second) was a very reasonable speed range for older routers, but if you want the latest and greatest, then look for top speeds that reach up to 450 Mbps. Speeds at this range indicate you are looking at top products.
Of course, your average speeds are more likely to be around 200 to 300 Mbps, but it is still a good indicator of quality.
3. Wireless-N and AC Capabilities
Wireless a, b, and g standards are generally old news by now. Modern devices tend to support the Wi-Fi N standard with perhaps a concession to G, but G is growing less common. At the forefront of wireless technology is the AC standard, a standard that runs on the more recent 5Ghz wireless frequency and offers the highest Internet speeds possible (like the previously mentioned 450 Mbps, but even more reliably). You may not need 802.11ac right now, but if you want a top-shelf product with plenty of future potential, find technology that offers this latest standard.
4. Simultaneous Dual-Band Functionality
Dual-band functionality is the ability of a wireless router to operate on both the common 2.4 Ghz frequency traditionally used in household devices and the less common 5 GHz band, which can offer higher speeds at better quality. The simultaneous function means that the router can handle both bands at once, which is often necessary in a household with many wireless devices of varying ages. Brands are typically eager to boast about their dual-band qualities, but remember to take a look at the details behind the dual-band service before you buy.
5. Flexible Installation Options
On an aesthetic note, modern wireless routers often have the ability to be mounted on walls or even under tables to save space and maximize broadcast quality. Look for these screw-on options if you have a tricky entertainment/Internet space and want some more installation flexibility. High-quality routers tend to have compact designs and reliable base support, too.
6. Network Management Software
Wireless network management is a more customer-friendly maintenance process in the modern digital age. If your old router is several years old, looking for network management software when the time comes to find a new version. NetGear’s Genie software is one of the most notable among the major brands, with options for both desktop and mobile control.
Not only can you use this software to help set up a router, but you can also check in on router speeds, manage new connections, and troubleshoot problems. It is a particularly great tool for small businesses or homes that see a lot of varying wireless traffic. Even if you are not hands-on with your router, look for automatic management that prioritizes bandwidth for the busiest devices.
7. Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is not a necessary new feature, but more router companies are offering the ability to store data through free online storage. This gives you the ability to share documents or store backup data more easily. Other cloud features include cloud-based network management tools and set-up procedures. This makes router management more flexible and may be an attractive option if you do not want to download permanent software on your devices when installing your wireless network.
Your new wireless router might not have all seven of these features, but if you work toward finding one that has many of them, you should be better off in the long run.
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