A router is a device for forming a local network. Most often used to have Wi-Fi in the apartment or office.
How to choose a router: basic criteria
It is worth starting with the fact that the vast majority of users do not need the technical characteristics of the router or are important. If the device is necessary only in order to distribute Wi-Fi, and no exotic requirements are made, then absolutely any one will do.
However, to ensure the perfect user experience, you should pay attention to the following characteristics of the router:
Wireless network standard;
The presence of a USB connector and its functionality;
Data transfer rate;
Type of internet connection;
The Wi-Fi wireless network itself exists in several standards that do not have cross-compatibility. Their list is quite impressive:
To ensure broad compatibility, wireless manufacturers are adding support for several standards. For example, the Nexus 5 smartphone is equipped with a Qualcomm module, which allows you to connect to almost all types of networks - 802.11a / ac / b / g / n. But the Realtek RTL8188CE notebook network card supports only one Wi-Fi standard - 802.11n. Thus, if you try to connect a laptop equipped with it to Wi-Fi broadcasting in the 802.11a / b / g standard, nothing will work.
But the most common standards are b, g and n. Therefore, it is advisable to purchase a wireless WiFi router for a house or apartment, which broadcasts in this range. Better yet, see what network standards are used in current devices.
There are two frequencies in which a wireless network can broadcast - 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The first option is most widely distributed, and almost all devices that only support Wi-Fi are compatible with it.
But if it comes to buying a device for an apartment in a big house, then everything becomes not so clear. Many routers installed on the same area can "overlap" each other and "clog" the frequency of 2.4 GHz. Therefore, a router that broadcasts at a frequency of 5 GHz will provide a more dense and high-quality coverage.
However, not all devices support 5 GHz. Therefore, it is necessary to make a compromise.
The 5 GHz network, by the way, has another important advantage. It is less sensitive to physical obstacles (walls, partitions, etc.).
The presence of the USB connector and its functionality
Many router models come with a USB port. It is quite practical, because it has wide functionality. So, you can connect to it:
3G / 4G modem and use it as a primary or backup line for connecting to the Internet. It is important if you plan to use the router in the country (where there is no "cable" or "optics") or the constancy of the connection to the network is critical;
A flash drive or external hard drive. Then the router can be used as a DLNA or FTP server, just a file server (there is a slight difference between it and FTP) or even a torrent client;
Smartphone for recharging;
A printer. Then the router can be used as a print server.
It is worth remembering that not every router equipped with a USB connector has all these functions. For example, the TP-Link TL-MR3220 budget router has this connector, but can only use it to connect to the Internet via a 3G / 4G modem.
In addition, routers have a limited list of compatible devices. They do not support all USB-modems, printers and hard drives. Specific compatibility information is most often listed on the router manufacturer’s website.
It is necessary to distinguish between "external" and "internal" data transfer rates. The first determines the maximum speed of data exchange between the router and the Internet. The vast majority of models are gigabit, that is, they have a value of this parameter equal to 1000 Mbps. Some old routers connect to the Internet at a speed of 100 Mbps, but buying them in 2017 is not practical.
The "internal" speed determines the maximum data transfer speed from the end device to the router (and also between devices and in general terms - from the device to the Internet and vice versa). Obviously, the higher it is, the better. However, it makes sense to overpay for the maximum values of the "internal" speed only if they are really needed. For the vast majority of users, 300 Mbps is enough.
Type of internet connection
Routers are carried out in three versions, differing in the type of Internet connection - WAN, ADSL and Wi-Fi.
If the Internet or PPPoE is connected to your home or office, with a static or dynamic IP, or if the router enters the existing local area network, then you will need a model that implies access to the Internet via WAN.
ADSL routers are needed only if an ADSL connection is used and the corresponding modem is not installed on the network.
Some routers can connect to an existing Wi-Fi network and either use it as an access point to the Internet, or repeat it. They are rare, as they are rarely needed.
The lion's share of the router market is occupied by the products of D-Link, TP-Link and Zyxel. The first are not recommended for purchase in any case. TP-Link in the budget price range is an excellent workhorse for undemanding users.
Zyxel and TP-Link in the middle and top price range offer the broadest possibilities like file, print and DLNA servers, broadcasting several SSIDs, etc.
In the following articles, our experts tell you how to choose an uninterruptible power supply for your home and office, and the secrets of choosing a reliable router.
Attention! This material is the subjective opinion of the authors of the project and is not a guide to the purchase.