Q:

How do you determine the best wi-fi router for your needs?

A:

Quick Answer

Price, coverage, signal strength, bandwidth and complimentary features such as cloud storage are all worth assessing when choosing a wireless router, and the purchaser must choose which of these to prioritize. Unbiased evaluations of router performance metrics are available on professional review sites such as CNET and PC Magazine.

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Full Answer

Choose a high signal strength router if there are numerous obstructions, such as walls, floors and furniture between the router and network devices. Higher signal strength often translates to higher coverage, although antenna directionality and choice of channel can also affect signal coverage.

As of April 2015, residential routers offer theoretical speeds of up to 1900 Mbps, although such speeds are rarely achievable with typical home usage due to channel overlap and interference with other wireless devices in proximity. According to PC Magazine, speeds of half the vendor's specified claim are considered excellent if consistently achievable. Choosing a faster router will enable faster data transfer between devices within a home network, but it will not speed up the Internet connection speed, which is specified by the ISP.

Dual-Band routers support older devices on the existing 2.4 GHz wireless frequency band and newer devices on the 5 GHz band. The 5 GHz band is not inherently faster, although it does offer consistently higher data transfer speeds, due to the saturation of the 2.4 GHz band with existing wireless technology and other home appliances such as cordless phones and microwaves.

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