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What to Consider When Buying a Wireless Router


What to Consider When Buying a Wireless Router

What to Consider When Buying a Wireless Router

If you’re looking for faster Wi-Fi performance, you want 802.11ac — it’s that simple.

IEEE 802.11ac is a wireless networking standard in the 802.11 family, providing high-throughput wireless local area networks (WLANs) on the 5 GHz band.

The specification has multi-station throughput of at least 1 gigabit per second and single-link throughput of at least 500 megabits per second (500 Mbit/s).

802.11ac can be considered the next step after 802.11n, along  the path running from 11b, to 11a/g, then 11n, and now 802.11ac.

Wireless LAN networks will see significant improvements in the number of clients supported by an Access Point (AP), a better experience for each client, and more available bandwidth for a higher number of parallel video streams. Even when the network is not fully loaded, users see a benefit: their file downloads and email sync happen at low lag gigabit speeds.

  • The 802.11a standard operates in the 5 GHz band with a maximum net data rate of 54 Mbit/s, plus error correction code, which yields realistic net achievable throughput in the mid-20 Mbit/s. Since the 2.4 GHz band is heavily used to the point of being crowded, using the relatively unused 5 GHz band gives 802.11a a significant advantage. However, this high carrier frequency also brings a disadvantage: the effective overall range of 802.11a is less than that of 802.11b/g. In theory, 802.11a signals are absorbed more readily by walls and other solid objects in their path due to their smaller wavelength, and, as a result, cannot penetrate as far as those of 802.11 standards utilizing 2.4 GHz band.

  • The 802.11b standard has a maximum raw data rate of 11 Mbit/s, devices using 802.11b experience interference from other products operating in the 2.4 GHz band. Devices operating in the 2.4 GHz range include microwave ovens, Bluetooth devices, baby monitors, cordless telephones.

  • The 802.11g standard works in the 2.4 GHz band (like 802.11b), it operates at a maximum physical layer bit rate of 54 Mbit/s exclusive of forward error correction codes, or about 22 Mbit/s average throughput. Like 802.11b, 802.11g devices suffer interference from other products operating in the 2.4 GHz band, for example wireless keyboards.

  • 802.11n is an amendment that improves upon the previous 802.11 standards by adding multiple-input multiple-output antennas (MIMO). 802.11n operates on both the 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz bands. Support for 5 GHz bands is optional. It operates at a maximum net data rate from 54 Mbit/s to 600 Mbit/s. In radio, multiple-input and multiple-output, or MIMO , is a method for multiplying the capacity of a radio link using multiple transmit and receive antennas to exploit multipath propagation. At one time, in wireless the term "MIMO" referred to the use of multiple antennas at the transmitter and the receiver. In modern usage, "MIMO" specifically refers to a practical technique for sending and receiving more than one data signal simultaneously over the same radio channel by exploiting multipath propagation.

  • The IEEE 802.11ac include wider channels (80 or 160 MHz versus 40 MHz) in the 5 GHz band, offering link speeds ranging from 433 megabits-per-second (Mbps), all the way through to several gigabits per second. The IEEE 802.11ac has a addition of Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO), is a set of multiple-input and multiple-output technologies for wireless communication, in which a set of users or wireless terminals, each with one or more antennas, communicate with each other. In contrast, single-user MIMO considers a single multi-antenna transmitter communicating with a single multi-antenna receiver.

Wireless routers manufacturers brag about their total maximum bandwidth in their name. You have AC1200, AC1900 or even AC5400 routers. This naming convention is meaningless in real-life, and it doesn’t tell you the real speed you get from a wireless router.

The main idea to remember is that the AC naming convention doesn’t tell you the real-life speed of the wireless network that you get when buying one WiFi router or another.

However, DO NOT BUY A ROUTER BELOW AC1200, it means that you are dealing with an old router, with dated technology and you should not buy it.

You must buy a wireless router that it is at least dual-band. The dual-band router broadcasts the wireless signal on two frequencies or more (if it is tri-band or more). As a result, you will see two or more wireless networks in your home or office space, with different names and, if you want, different passwords.

In wireless networking, dual-band equipment is capable of transmitting in either of two different standard frequency ranges. Modern Wi-Fi home networks feature dual-band broadband routers that support both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels.

By supplying separate wireless interfaces for each band, dual-band 802.11n and 802.11ac routers provide maximum flexibility in setting up a home network. Some home devices require the legacy compatibility and greater signal reach that 2.4 GHz offers while others may require the additional network bandwidth that 5 GHz offers.

Dual-band or tri-band routers also emit their wireless signal on the 5GHz frequency, which is a lot faster and benefits from the use of modern standards like 802.11ac or 802.11ac Wave 2 (an improved version of the initial 802.11ac standard).

Router must support MU-MIMO, Multi-User MIMO or Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output is the ability to transmit to several wireless clients simultaneously or to transfer data to a network client using multiple data streams at once. With this transfer method, a wireless router can “talk” to more than one client at a time on a single wireless radio channel or to one client using multiple data streams on the same channel. MU-MIMO is part of the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard.

This choice ensures that your router can provide faster WiFi to your existing devices and that it can deal with more wireless clients at the same time.

Making sure that the router have fast processor and plenty of RAM. When choosing a wireless router, you must know whether it has a single-core, dual-core, or quad-core processor and its operating frequency. Naturally, a dual-core processor can deal with more data and more clients than a single-core processor. Also, a processor running at 900 MHz is less powerful than one at 1.2 GHz.

When buying a wireless router, the processor should not be lower than a single-core running at 800MHz.

Also, your router should not have less than 128MB of RAM. This is to make sure that it can process everything as fast as possible. If money is not a big issue, you should seek for a wireless router with 256MB of RAM or more.

Your newly purchased router should have at least one USB port, preferably one that it is USB 3.0. That is if you want to connect wireless router: external hard disks, printers, USB modems, etc.

When reading the specifications of a wireless router, you are not told the real-life speed you get when using it. You are shown theoretical numbers that are measured in specialized labs that are very different from your home or office. That’s why you should read reviews: user reviews and reviews made by specialists.

The advanced features like QoS, Smart Connect, and Beam forming is optional features.

All modern routers feature QoS or Quality of Service. However, on most routers, this feature is pointless, because it is a manual tool to set rules regarding how much bandwidth you give to each device in your network. Average users will never configure this feature. It’s too much work; they don’t understand the principles involved and the results they get are poor. It’s just a way to frustrate yourself.

Smart Connect is another feature that, in theory, allows you to use the same network name on all bands. Instead of having a different network name for the 2.4 GHz frequency and the 5 GHz frequency, you have the same network name for both.

Beam forming is included on all modern dual-band (or more) wireless routers. It is part of the 802.11ac standard, and it allows the router to focus the wireless signal to the area(s) where devices are, instead of broadcasting it in all directions. Focusing the wireless signal where your devices are placed, tends to improve the stability and the speed you get on your wireless devices. Beam forming is something that you want on your wireless router.

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