Wireless internet is still one of those things that amazes me. Think about it for a minute. You are sending bits of information through the air from your laptop and it is connecting with what is essentially another radio receiver, then transmitting that data at astonishing speeds over wires and cables across the world. And it all happens at the click on a mouse button or a keyboard.
However, the wrong wireless router can make this a very frustrating experience. For the most part, you get what you pay for when it comes to technology wireless router speeds.
I recently started using the Asus N56 wireless router. It is not a new model. It first appeared in 2011 but is has been a solid performer for years and since I was in the market for a newer router for my rental property in Brazil, I decided to test it out.
When it first appeared, it was a top of the line model and well over $100, but now you can get it for around $85.
If you are someone that works from home and does a lot of work online, a cheap wireless router with varying wireless router speeds can seriously affect your productivity. This is particular true the further you are away from the router. A cheap wireless router has half the range as one of the top of the line models. Often times, many of the reported issues to internet providers are router related issues and have nothing to do with the provider.
But choosing a wireless router can be a headache if you do not understand the technology. Let’s start with the basics.
What is a Wireless Router?
In simple terms, a wireless router is a device that provides a wireless access point to the internet or a computer network. The data is transmitted wirelessly using radio waves from your mobile device or laptop, to the router access point, then sent over cables to its destination.
Best N Router - Asus RT-56U
This router has a unique look featuring sports a peculiar but intriguing “diamond black” aesthetic in a very slim body. I like the fact that it is a stand-up model. Typically, the best place to put a wireless router in your home is as high as you can reasonably get it on a shelf without it looking weird or standing out too much. I have found that the taller versions provide better coverage just from having that extra 6 inches or so of height. However, it really depends on the manufacturer.
Wireless Router Setup
Installing and setting up a wireless network router is easy. A network cable goes into the cable or DSL modem and you simply plug it into the wall. It also has two external USB ports for connecting those types of drives. For instance, if you need to update your firmware on the router, simply plug in a thumb drive after downloading the update from the manufacturer’s website. This router operates on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands. What is the difference? The 5GHz band is faster and less crowded, but has less range. The 2.4GHz band is slower and less reliable, but has wider range.
The RT-N56U features omni-directional transmission, which is technical jargon for saying this router will scan your network for available devices and lock a signal with them.
Wireless Speed Technology
When wireless routers first came on the market, the standard was a B speed. Over the years it advanced to a Wireless G speed and now the most common type of network adapters in notebooks and mobile devices work off a Wireless N speed which is much faster and more reliable than the B and G speeds.
However, if you are still getting by on older laptops or devices that have a B or G network interface card, the wireless n dual band routers are backward compatible with 802.11b/g.
The device will work with smartphones or any Wi-Fi enabled device. The manufacturer’s website adds that it will work with most DSL and Cable modems, and actually provides a list so be sure to check that out first before purchasing.
This particular dual band wireless model operates on both the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies. If you watch a lot of Netflix, you probably need a dual band model to limit the dreaded rebuffering pauses when watching the streaming content.
Asus RT-N56U Technical Specifications
- Simultaneous dual-band Ralink-based 802.11n Gigabit port router with HTTP / FTP / BitTorrent download and USB drive sharing.
- 2 USB 2.0 ports for sharing storage and printer
- WDS bridging and repeating
- No guest WLAN / multiple SSID
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Whenever you buy any top wireless router, be sure to update the firmware immediately, particularly with a model like this that first appeared several years ago. Chances are, it has been sitting in a warehouse for years and needs a software update.
Normally you can get these updates via the manufacturer’s website. Typically you have to load the update on a thumb drive and insert it in an USB port on the router. Be sure to follow the instructions on the website.
This is one of the best home wireless routers I have owned. The wireless router speeds will always vary no matter which model you use because there are other variables involved when sending data through the airwaves and over the internet.
After using the router for several months, I can say it has been a solid performer with no drops or resetting required. If you are a normal internet user that typically does things like email, internet browsing, and occasional music or video streaming, this router will be more than adequate for your needs. It also does great when streaming content online from sources like Netflix, however, I have it hardwired into my television so the wireless aspect does not come into play.
Overall, if you are looking for a solid performer and a good looking wireless router, this Asus model is hard to beat especially since it has come down in price in recent years.