Are you looking for trusted wireless router reviews? We think that to find a user who does not use and has never heard of the wireless router (another name for this class of equipment – Router), today will not be easy. This device, if we talk about the main features allows you to create a home or office LAN, combining several customers and providing them with access to the Internet through a single connection. In may make computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, cameras, network storage devices, printers, receivers, televisions and other equipment as customers. Recently, there are more exotic options, such as lamps, sockets and kettles. For a direct connection can be used wire or wireless networks Wi-Fi.
On the market today are a lot of models of wireless routers, the cost of which differ by tens of times, so that the question of choosing the optimal variant is common. In this article we will talk about what kind of characteristics have this type of equipment, what you should look for when choosing and how to make their own demands.
First, we note that today, almost any equipment is a combination of hardware and software platforms. From a user perspective the two elements are essential, and only their effective interaction allows to get a good result.
Also note that in this article we will talk about the most mass segment of devices with an Internet connection via Ethernet technology – a standard network cable (twisted pair). But some of the information will be useful for those who use a variety of options for DSL and optics.
Let’s start with the first group, which is relatively easy to estimate, since these parameters are often given in the product description.
The vast number of router has ports for connecting a wired network – both for the operator of the cable, and for their own customers. An exception may be, perhaps, the only mobile models supporting only cellular networks and Wi-Fi. This is one of the most basic characteristics – you need to know only the number of ports and their speed. Become a standard scheme is denoted 1 × WAN + 4 × LAN, ie one port to connect to your ISP (WAN) and four ports for your devices (LAN). Some routers have a scheme 1 × WAN + 2 × LAN or 1 × WAN + 8 × LAN, which correspondingly changes the number of connected clients without any additional equipment.
Wired router ports
If you do not have enough LAN ports, it will help increase the number of network switches. This is a relatively simple and inexpensive device allows, roughly, from one port to make four or seven or more. Recall only that the wire has a rule: each client a port. The length of the standard cable from the router to the customer can not exceed 100 meters.
With the speed, too, everything is simple: current options for the mass market – a 100 Mbit / s or 1000 Mbit / s (1 Gbit / s). Accordingly, this number determines how much can quickly share data cables connected devices. Most of the suggestions of providers on the market today are limited to the value of 100 Mbit / s, and if you have any of the clients are planned only a couple of laptops and smartphones, have gigabit ports on the router may not be necessary. However, if you plan to use a network drive, and powerful desktop computers, work at 1 Gbit / s will be much more comfortable. In addition, it is important to match the speed of wireless connections.
Wired has one significant advantage over wireless: its speed is constant and maximum. It does not depend on the activity of the neighbors, the distances and other unpredictable factors. But, of course, this option is not suitable for mobile devices, and require cabling. According to the maximum number of wired clients for the vast number of home configurations restrictions exist. It is necessary to pay attention to the overall all-speed Internet channel. For example, if you want to watch two simultaneous online broadcast high definition for 15-20 Mbit / s each, it is desirable to have a data plan of at least 50 Mbit / s.
Wireless access points
The second, perhaps even more important today, characteristic of the wireless router settings are installed in it an access point. Main features here – the number of bands supported standards and maximum connection speed.
Banding Wi-Fi, two in use today: the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. In urban areas in the 2.4 GHz you can watch dozens of neighboring networks, which affects the speed and stability of your connection. So we recommend you to look at dual-band device (2.4 + 5 GHz), since 5 GHz today is still relatively free. Of course, this makes sense only if there is support for 5 GHz band from your customers. From a technical standpoint, a dual-band router has two independent radio unit and creates two separate access points. Customers thus can be connected to any of them, but only one at a time.
Wi-Fi Basic standards of today’s market are two: the most massive 802.11n and 802.11ac gaining popularity. The first works in the 2.4 and 5 GHz, but may use only 802.11ac 5 GHz. At the same time, all other things being equal 802.11ac provides a higher speed connection. As is the case with a range of customers must support these standards.
As for speed, we notice that the characteristics of the router indicates the so-called connection speed. The real performance data exchange tasks typically about two times lower. In addition, wireless access point divides all his speed among all connected clients, so that more of them at the same time exchange data, the less each speed. In addition, there is a dependence of the rate of distance and obstructions.
The easiest way to estimate the connection speed on the number of antennas. For 802.11n, one antenna may provide a maximum of 150 Mbit / s (in both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz). The presence of two antennas allows to speak about 300 Mbit / s. And if the three of them – it is possible to connect up to 450 Mbit / s. And here again we must not forget about the consistency with customer specifications. For example, smartphone most only one antenna so that the router 450 Mbit / s which may be useful only in terms of improved coating, but not a formal connection speed.
Also worth noting is the presence of specific types of clients and routers restrictions in the 2.4 GHz band. The above 150 Mbit / s is provided on only when the “wide channel” (may be referred to as “40 MHz” or «HT40», in fact, in this mode the equipment uses two channels at once, rather than one with increased bandwidth). But part of the device in the presence of neighboring networks capable of providing only a 20 MHz channel, which leads to the connection speed to 72 or 65 Mbit / s on a single antenna.
Using 802.11ac is interesting and the fact that the current implementation of this standard supports the work simultaneously with four channels ( “80 MHz», «HT80»). This allows for 433 Mbit / s on one antenna (867 Mbit / s on two antennas, 1300 Mbit / s for three antennas). So on smartphones it is quite possible to get the numbers of the order of 200 Mbit / s for real communication speeds.
Note there is still two points. Do not forget about the characteristics of coherence with wired ports. If you have a 100 Mbit / s on the WAN and LAN ports, no 802.11ac will be unable to “open up” on your mobile device when accessing the Internet or the local network computers. In addition, the top segment meet today device not very well known “tri-band”. In this case it is that a router is set to one access point and two 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz. In this recent work on different sets of channels and do not interfere with each other, which could provide a formal increase in overall performance for the correct distribution of customers for a variety of access points.
Another characteristic associated with wireless communications is antenna design. Most routers models have external antennas, and only a small number of different internal use. In our tests in a city apartment, we did not see any clear advantages from the first, and is likely to focus on this issue in the design of the case. The second point is related to the possibility of replacing the antenna. In some situations, it may be helpful to set better, or to delete from the router housing. However, the real effect will have to assess yourself. Given that the developers agree on all the radio settings, guarantees that will be better, no one will.
An essential characteristic for many users is the quality of wireless coverage. Unfortunately, adequately evaluate it in the test is almost impossible, because all the apartments and the conditions are different ether, and the open space of testing will not give useful information urban users. So here we have to focus on the characteristics specified by the manufacturer and user reviews. As for the solution of the problem with insufficient coverage, the most effective and correct option (after selecting placements main router) – is extra access points or repeaters.
In general, to assess the router by “range” is only yourself at the installation site and specific clients, because the quality of wireless communication greatly depends on their features and characteristics. At the same time today mobile devices, especially when talking about smartphones and tablets are not the most famous brands, rarely boast high-quality and efficient implementation of the radio module antenna.
The formal restrictions on the maximum number of clients domestic models do not usually have. In practice, in many cases, they “pull” a dozen other devices. But much in this case will depend on the customers and their requirements for speed and traffic volumes. It is one thing to connect the smartphone to view the five sites, and quite another – five IP-based cameras with high resolution and bit rate.