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How To Choose The Right Router For Your Home

We all know how confusing it can be shopping for new devices, especially when you are unfamiliar with the products. Wireless routers are a common household device, but with so many options, what things do you need to look for in a router when it is time for a new one? We have taken the guesswork out for you by providing 16 tips to help you choose the product that is right for you!

Should you use the router provided by your ISP?

Many internet service providers make wireless routers available for a monthly fee. With so many options available, you might find yourself asking: should I just use the router provided by my ISP? Depending on your needs, it may make more sense for you to choose your own router. That’s why we have compiled the following steps to answer your questions before buying a router.

Top 16 Things to Consider When Choosing a New Router

1. Plan your Budget

With so many routers on the market, one of the easiest ways to narrow down your options is to choose a budget and focus on options available in your budget. The market for routers is vast, meaning you can find a quality product no matter your budget. Try narrowing down routers within your budget by prioritizing the features that matter most to you.

2. Check the new Router Compatibility with your ISP

One of the most important things to look for in a router is compatibility with your internet service provider. Most routers work with most ISP’s, but it doesn’t hurt to check with your provider anyway.

choose the right router

If your router and ISP aren’t compatible, you will not be able to connect your devices to the internet. If you are worried about compatibility, maybe you should use the router provided by your ISP.

3. Check the Supported Internet Speed

One of the most important features to consider when picking a router is whether or not it will support your internet speed. The router you pick must support a speed greater than the speed you receive from your ISP. If you aren’t utilizing the full speed you are paying for, you aren’t getting your money’s worth!

This can be a little tricky. Routers are often advertised with their 2.4GHz and 5 GHz frequencies combined, even though your typical Wi-Fi devices won’t use a combination of frequencies. Instead, look at the strength of these frequencies individually.

4. Newest 802.11 IEEE Standard Wireless Protocol

To know the range of a device when shopping for a new router, look for the number 802.11 followed by a combination of letters. This is the newest internet protocol.

It’s hard to know what to look for in a router, but as long as your new device supports one the following, 11ax, 11ac, or 11c, you will likely have a large enough range for your needs.

5. Mesh Wi-Fi System

One of the things to answer before getting a router is what range you will need for your home. Different sized homes need different amounts of range to assure that every corner is connected.

When shopping for a new router, it should tell you how many square feet can be covered. Don’t fret — if the router you choose doesn’t fit the size of your home, you can use extenders or a mesh Wi-Fi system to expand your range.

6. Quality of Service (QoS)

Quality of Service allows you to prioritize which of your Wi-Fi connected devices gets the strongest connection. If you are hosting a movie night, you may choose to give your Smart TV a stronger connection than your PC to avoid any lag during the screening. This customization allows you to make the most of your internet connection.

7. 802.11ac Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO)

MU-MIMO is a feature that you’ll want to be sure to look for when choosing a router. Without this feature, your router will only be able to send bandwidth to one Wi-Fi connected device at a time. Most of us have multiple devices connected to the internet at any given moment, so MU-MIMO is likely a necessity for a router to suit your needs and keep all your devices connected simultaneously.

8. Beamforming

Beamforming is a feature that allows your router to send a direct connection to your devices. Some routers use what is called a blast signal, meaning it sends Wi-Fi in all directions and assumes that your device will be in range. Beamforming is more targeted, and assures that your Wi-Fi is sent directly to your device in order to prioritize efficiency.

choose the right router

9. Dual Band and Tri-Band Wireless Routers

Most routers you will encounter while looking for a new device will connect to your devices through two different frequencies. These are typically 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. This connection will be enough for the average user, but one of the things to consider when shopping for a router is how much bandwidth you will need. If you have a surplus of connected devices and want to assure that they all function smoothly, choosing a tri-band router, which provides an additional 5 GHz, might be the right option for you!

10. N-series and MIMO Technology

N series routers provide the maximum data transmission rates. It increases the data transfer rate from 54 MBps to 900MBps. MIMO, or Multi-In Multi-Out, technology increases the amount of antennas a wireless router has that can be used for connection. These features should be considered when choosing a router that suits your needs.

11. Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax Bi-Directional MU-MIMO

If you regularly use multiple Wi-Fi connected devices at the same time, you may want to consider a Wi-Fi 6 router. This increases download speeds up to 40%. However, your home Wi-Fi speed is likely not fast enough to take full advantage of this type of router, it is the most current technology. You will still notice increased connection when multiple devices are connected.

12. Router Ports

Although most devices can connect wirelessly to a wireless router, you may run into certain devices, usually PCs, that do not have a wireless card. In this case, you can get a port to connect your device with an Ethernet cable. This is one thing you will need to look for in a router if your device can not be connected wirelessly.

13. Support for WPA2 encryption

One important thing to consider when purchasing a new wireless router is how secure your connection will be. Security is a very important feature for a router to have, since wireless connections can often be vulnerable. At minimum, the router you purchase should support a WPA2 encryption. To optimize safety, you can even find some routers that support WPA3 encryption.

14. The Life Span of a Router

The lifespan of a router usually is not that much, only 4-5 years. However, if you know that your router has been acting unusual or you have been having connectivity issues, it may be time to replace your router.

If possible, check to see if the router you are looking to buy has a predicted lifespan. This could help you narrow down your selection and even affect how much you are willing to spend.

15. Is Gigabit Necessary yet?

Although most people do not yet have Gigabit connection, it still doesn’t hurt to consider routers that have Gigabit compatibility. One important question to answer is whether or not you may have a Gig connection in the future. Going ahead and purchasing a router that supports this connection could extend the time before you need to buy a new router.

hidden wifi router

16. Range of Router

One of the answers you’ll need when shopping for a router is how much range you need. If you live in a larger house, you will need to find a router that accommodates the square footage of your home.

If you are having a hard time finding a router that is within your budget and fulfills your range requirements, it may be easier to instead opt for two more budget-friendly routers placed strategically to optimize range.

Some Extra Things to Consider

The abovementioned things are enough to consider while buying any router. However, these extra questions and steps can make your decision more accurate. These are additional things to answer before you buy a new router.

What Brand Should You Choose?

There are several quality brands available for every budget. Some of the most popular include: NETGEAR, TP-Link, ASUS, D-Link, and Synology. However, it is important that no matter which brand you choose, the router suits your needs.

Do you need a Smart Router?

Smart routers are easy to navigate through an app. If you are looking for cheap solutions, go with the traditional router. However, if you want friendly control, go with a smart router. One option is EPB’s Smart Net Plus using the HomePass app. Find out more about Smart Net Plus here: Smart Net Plus | EPB

Don't throw out your old router.

Instead, try using your old router as an access point. This provides a Wi-Fi boost to a part of your home that needs extra connectivity.

Routers and gaming

Are you an avid gamer concerned about connectivity? You aren’t alone! If your primary use is gaming, there are dedicated routers for gaming that provide better performance. Do your research and try to get one of these gaming specific routers.

FAQs

Q: How long will a router last?

A: The average lifespan of a quality router is 4-5 years, however if you notice consistently slow speeds, it may be time to replace your router.

Q: What's the proper placement for my router?

A: To choose the best placement in your home to optimize range, check out our tips here:

https://epb.com/get-connected/gig-internet/the-best-place-to-put-your-router/

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