These days Wireless Routers are usually packed with a lot of functions and also this actually confuses anyone. Customers is obviously tempted towards costliest solution pondering it is the best. However to be honest they doesn’t fully grasp their need.
In this article I will try to help you choose the right Wifi Router. So first thing that you need to know is the Frequency Band. Frequency Band is the frequency at which your WiFi Router operates. It is 2.4GHz and 5GHz. These are unlicensed Frequency Bands, which basically means that you don’t have to pay a single penny to obtain this particular Frequency Band. It is free for every single human being on this Earth.
Now the difference is that 2.4GHz Frequency Band provides much better Network Coverage than the 5GHz Frequency Band. And the second difference is more understandable why we have the 5GHz Frequency Band.
Generally it is basically because most of the electronic devices at our house operate on the 2.4GHz Frequency Band.
And if you have many electronic devices like these, then you will have lot of interference on the 2.4GHz Frequency Band because of which you will have lot of drops in your Internet Connection and you will have slow speeds and you will have a very bad experience while browsing the Internet. So that’s where the 5GHz Frequency Band comes in. It is a cleaner band because less electronic devices work on this particular band.
So lesser interference and much better transmit rates, much better downloads and much better Internet Surfing. That’s basically the difference between the two.
Let’s talk about the Wireless LAN Protocols, because these protocols will be one of the key factors in deciding which Wi-fi Router you should buy.
I will talk about the “n”, “ac” and “ad” protocol. The “a”, “b” and “g” protocols are old and are rarely used. The most common Wi-fi Protocol is the “n” protocol. Now the striking difference between the n, ac and the ad protocol is their transmit rates.
The n protocol can support a maximum transmit rate of 450 Megabits per second. And the ac protocol i.e. first generation ac protocol supports a transmit rate of 1.3 Gigabits per second of transmit rate while the ad protocol can support up to 7 Gigabits of transmit rate. And again these are the maximum transmit rates.
Higher the transmit rate, the easier it is for you to stream content wirelessly over your wireless network and it is also awesome for the LAN Gamers for playing their games on the LAN much smoothly. So we see that the “ac” protocol supports 1.3 Gigabits and the ad protocol supports 7 Gigabits. So both these protocols will help you stream Ultra High Definition content. But again it will be super simple to stream Ultra High Definition content on the ad protocol than on the ac protocol and that’s pretty much because of the transmit rate.
And why I’m saying this is because Ultra High Definition content requires real high Bit Rates. Bit Rates in terms of Video and Audio. So better the transmit rate better it is to stream that kind of content. But again streaming HD content on the “n” protocol, “ac” protocol and the “ad” protocol is a piece of cake.
On the “n” protocol, you have got various versions. So you have got the 150 Megabit version, you have got the 300 Megabit version and the 450 Megabit version. If you are on the 450 Megabit version, you can stream HD content on like three devices at least without any lags. If you are on “n” protocol which is like 150 Megabits or 300 Megabits then you may face some issues on streaming HD content on multiple devices. However it is still capable of streaming HD content.
Now looking at the bandwidth, the “n” protocol supports 20MHz and 40MHz. So that’s pretty less but if you look at “ac”, it supports large number of bandwidths and “ad” supports wider bandwidth which basically means huge amount of bandwidth, which will basically lead to providing a much better network coverage.
Now though “ac” protocol supports so many bandwidths, it does not necessarily mean that it isgoing to be providing much better network coverage.
It will get an edge to its network coverage but it will still not be as greater in network coverage as the “n” protocol, because it supports the 5GHz Frequency Band and the n protocol supports the 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
As I’ve already told you earlier the 5GHz is not that great at providing a good network coverage. So the “ac” protocol, the only striking feature is the transmit rate and the bandwidth.
So the transmit rate is awesome and if you are in a closed room or you could say a smaller room, then the “ac” protocol is gonna help you out because you may be able to connect all your devices in that particular small area.
Now a good thing about the “ac” protocol is that it is backward compatible with the “n” protocol and “ac” protocol Wi-fi Routers are always Dual Band because it have to support the 5GHz to support the “ac” protocol. So again it will be supporting the 2.4GHz, so you don’t have to take that much amount of tension about your network coverage because you can any day shift to the “n” protocol if you are not getting the “ac” protocol network coverage.
So that’s basically some of the information that I wanted to provide you about these WiFi protocols.
Next thing to keep in mind is the budget.
Now Budget is really important. If you are going to go for a low end WiFi Router then keep a budget of $50.
Beyond that keep budgets around $100, $150, $200, $250 or $300. Usually the $250 to $300 budget will give you a good WiFi Router with “ac” protocol support. At the $50 you will get a good Router with ADSL support and N150 protocol support. N150 basically means it will support the N protocol and it will give you a maximum transmit rate of 150 Megabits.
Now beyond that you will get N300 and N450. Now N450 is the high end WiFi Router and N300 will be the intermediate WiFi Router. And again N300 will be like a maximum of 300 Megabits of transmit rate. N450 will be maximum of 450 Megabits of transmit rate.
Now what’s the difference between these high end Routers and low end WiFi Routers?
- First is the Network Coverage. Low end WiFi Routers will always provide lesser network coverage than what high end WiFi Routers are capable of. And that’s pretty much because high end WiFi Routers have more antennas especially, you can pick an example of ASUS RT-AC66U. It’s got 3 antennas. So, much better network coverage than other WiFi Routers because its a high end WiFi Router.
- Second you will get extra internal storage in many Routers that will allow you to back up your devices like Mac, Windows or PC. So you can backup your devices right? And that’s something which will be done wirelessly, so you can have regular backups. That’s again awesome feature for certain users.
- Third you might get Parental Control settings. If you want that kind of feature then again high end routers is the option for you.
- Fourth you will get NAT feature that is Network Address Translation. Now this particular feature is not required by everyone. It is required by some certain cream of users. And only those users who want this particular feature should go for the high end routers. And the lower end users or the intermediate users might not ever require this feature and they might not even know what it is. So if you don’t know then you can go ahead and Google it or Bing it up, whatever you want to do.
- Fifth feature that I would say that is additional in high end routers is extra amount of RAM which basically helps in processing your data. Usually these routers also support USB ports, so you can connect the printer and make it wirelessly available. Connect a USB and share that particular USB data wirelessly. And these WiFi Routers also support DLNA or UPnP. So basically it will allow you to stream content on your Television. Again that kind of feature comes in high end routers, not in low end routers.
So these are some of the features that come in high end routers. Apart from this you will also get some extra tweaks and utilities like Traffic Monitor, How much bandwidth you have used, etc. All these are high end router features and these features may not even bring a huge difference to you.
So again choose your budget and choose the right WiFi Router and just don’t think about like this WiFi Router is so awesome, this is so awesome because its got so much. It’s more costly that’s why it’s awesome. It’s not like that. It’s according to your budget choose the right WiFi Router. That’s what I would say.
Apart from that, whether you should buy the ac protocol WiFi Router or not? I would say if you have got lot of money definitely go for the ac protocol router. If you don’t have don’t go for it. As simple as that. However if you’re planning to switch and upgrade to a good WiFi Router which will last long and you want to secure your future with latest technology, go for the “ac” protocol.
Photo credit: Cloned Milkmen