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What Is The Best Home Router? Here Are 3 Things To Consider
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What Is The Best Home Router? Here Are 3 Things to Consider

If you're thinking about upgrading your home wireless router, or if you're simply looking for a home router that will perform well enough to play your favorite games and stream NetFlix movies, then you need to go with a router that is 802.11n and N900 compliant that supports dual band radios.

What 802.11n and the N900 standard does is allows for multiple data streams to occur wirelessly between you laptop or tablet and your wireless router. This allows for more bandwidth. Think of it like multiple lanes of traffic on a road. More lanes, more traffic. The same theory is true for wireless networks.

Support for dual band radios means that the router can send traffic of both the 2.4Ghz band and the 5.0GHz band.

Now all of these letters and numbers may be a little confusing, but don't worry. Just look for routers that say they are N900 dual band routers.

On the market today are several leaders in the industry that support N900. Belkin, Netgear, Dlink, Cisco, and ASUS all have great routers that support the N900 standard.

But what are the differences in these routers? What Should you look for?

There are three basic things you need to consider when shopping around for a wireless home router.

  1. Throughput (sometimes called data rate)
  2. Distance (how far away from the radio you can be while still getting high throughput)
  3. Features (how easy is it to manage and configure the router)

Throughput

If every router uses the same technology for sending and receiving data (802.11n - N900) then they should all have the same speeds right? Wrong.

Different manufacturers use different micro-processors, memory, radios, and network chips to make their router work. Some manufacturers will skimp on the silicon to bring the price down. This means a slower router and slower data speeds.

Distance

Every wireless router uses radio signals to send and receive the data. These radio signals use power to do the sending and receiving of the information over the air. If the router uses less power, or doesn't have the chips inside to be able to handle higher amounts of power than the radios won't perform as well. Less power means the further you are away from the router the less throughput you have.

Features

Features can make a huge difference in the performance of a router. The addition of built-in firewalls, ethernet switches, vpn servers, parental controls, etc. can be the deciding factor in which router you choose. Many manufacturers will also do things like restrict radio power or restrict the wireless functionality (ethernet bridge, etc) in order to sell additional higher end devices. Look for routers that have the features you can use to ensure you have a fast and secure network.

Replacement firmware such as DD-WRT or Tomato allow for tech savvy users to bypass many of these restrictions by unlocking the routers full potential. This comes at a price however, as many times this also voids any warranties on the hardware.

N900 Wireless Routers

Several wireless home routers on the market today meet the above criteria and have modern features and functionality for most home networking needs. The Linksys E4500 for example is an amazing home router from Cisco that perfroms very well. Another good pick is the Netgear WNDR4500 router.

The new ASUS RT-N66U "Dark Knight" Dual Band N900 Router also impressed me with its overall performance, incredibly high throughput, extended range and list of features.

This router is the latest product from ASUS and their first N900 router. ASUS has even given it a cool name, the "Dark Knight" which is part of the Black Diamond series of ASUS home wireless routers.

Summary

When comparing home routers look for throughput, distance and features to ensure you are getting the most router for your money. You might also consider a router where the firmware can be replaced with something like DD-WRT or Tomato to unlock the routers greatest potential.

If you're not into getting your hands dirty with firmware replacement and techy things like that, then look for a home router whose features are abundant like the "Dark Knight".


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