We all take our home Wi-Fi network for granted, but many are faced with a task that no one (or almost no one) likes: replacing the wireless router.
With high-performance online gaming, 4K video streaming, an explosion of mobile devices trying to connect and a growing wave of technology for the smart home, older routers are increasingly being pushed beyond their capabilities, and overwhelmed.
Too many devices are connecting at the same time and trying to move huge amounts of data. Routers using outdated Wi-Fi standards inevitably offer poor performance, and it’s not hard to notice: broken connections, slow online gaming , infinite loading web pages and streaming video that skips, and pauses constantly for buffering.
Wireless routers can be confusing to purchase and set up. That’s why when Wi-Fi works, even if it’s no longer working great, no one wants to get their hands on it.
However, eventually, you’ll need to upgrade. And when you do, here are three simple tips that will help you when it comes to buying that router that will solve your problems.
Choose at least the 802.11ac standard
Make sure your next wireless router at least offers support for the 802.11ac standard (aka Gigabit Wi-Fi/Wi-Fi 5). Even at its entry level, 802.11ac offers 1300 Mbps of throughput. It’s more than double the maximum that the previous 802.11n Wi-Fi standard could handle, and it’s also backwards compatible with older devices (although they can’t benefit from that increase of speed, of course).
You may not have any device right now that can take advantage of that speed, but you will. It’s hard to find a smartphone, tablet, PC, or video streamer sold today that doesn’t support 802.11ac, and you don’t want this upgrade boredom to be repeated in a year, do you?
802.11ac routers can also handle multiple simultaneous connections, which is increasingly important now that so many devices want to use your Wi-Fi network.
Stores still sell cheap 802.11n wireless routers, but this is a case where it is not worth saving a few bucks.
Every network is different: buy from a store that allows returns
Even with the latest generation of routers, the results may vary by the model. The operating environment of each router is different, and the specifics of your home, the devices using your network, and even your ISP (Internet provider) can affect performance.
The reviews of the various products will certainly help you locate a new wireless router that suits your needs, but they do not guarantee that you will have a similar experience to that of another buyer.
Buy from a dealer who will allow you to return the router if necessary and exchange it for another. The first one you choose might be perfect, but if it isn’t, this will allow you to swap it out with another model, until you find the one that gets your Wi-Fi network going to the max.
Positioning is a big problem
Finally, a tip on positioning a wireless router.
If you’re in a studio apartment, positioning is probably not a big deal. But for most homes, where you install the router can have a huge impact on the performance of your Wi-Fi network.
In general, choose the center of your house (middle floor, and as close to the center of the floor plan as possible) to maximize Wi-Fi coverage and performance, and that goes for whichever wireless router you choose. And leave it in sight, instead of hiding it. Again, optimal placement can have a huge impact on your Wi-Fi network, keep that in mind.
Below the ten best router models currently available, some also particularly convenient for those who do not want to spend a lot: in any case try to keep in mind the 3 tips you have just read, and have a good purchase.