Wireless router networking can be an intimidating business for the average joe or jane. Most of us are not computer networking experts, and all we want for our home wireless internet network is probably a cheap wireless router that does the job and gets us a reliable signal across the house, without needing us to go through a lot of hassle to set up the wireless network.
Terms like 802.11n, dual-band and Powerline are probably gibberish to most of us when we walk into the wireless networking section of an electronics store like Best Buy. At such a point, many of us might just cave in and decide to buy a cheap wireless router to save money, or decide to go to the other extreme and buy a very expensive one, thinking it is the best. So, how to make sense of all the variety and do a wireless routers comparison to figure out which is the best wireless router for you?
What is the best home wireless router for you?
Which wireless router to buy really depends on what you will use it for. If all you need it for is to play video games online or to watch streaming video and movies on sites like Netflix and Hulu, you probably don’t need some thing top of the line. Before even getting to this point, you might be asking yourself if you even need a home wireless internet router.
In general, it is a good idea to buy a wireless router even if you have only one computer because a router has its own firewall, providing an extra layer of security against potential hackers.
What wireless router should I buy? The common router standards are called 802.11g and 802.11n. The N varieties allow for farther transmission of the wireless signal from the router, and at a higher speed. It may well be worth buying a wireless N router as it is not usually much more expensive than an N router. For example, Netgear has the WNR2000 N router that retails for about $50, but is only about $15 more than its WGR614 router of the 802.11g variety. There are also the N+ routers, but N+ is mostly a marketing gimmick for extra features that are added on by the manufacturer. It is not a real standard.
How much should you spend to buy a home wireless router?
Wireless network routers can vary widely in price from just over $20 to over $400. On the low end of the range are Wireless N routers such as TRENDnet TEW which goes for about $23, and D-Link’s DIR-601 for just under $30. It turns out that the chip sets that form the hardware of wireless routers are the same, and that the difference lies in the firmware or software. In general, it makes sense to buy the cheapest wireless router that has the basic features you need. That way, you can easily upgrade if needed, rather than being stuck with an expensive piece of equipment that you don’t really need.
What wireless router speed is adequate for your home wireless internet network?
Wireless N routers can transmit at up to 300 Mbps (megabits per second). However, your home internet signal is likely to be much slower. So you really don’t need that all extra speed. But since you lose on some of that transmission rate by the time the wireless signal has traveled through your home, it is good to have some cushion. A wireless signal that has to move across several rooms across multiple walls or floors could lose up to 70 percent of the original speed. Where high speed can be more critical is of you do a lot of file transfer around the house (such as movie files) or upload or download bulky files from the internet. Speed can also become crucial if several people in the household share the same internet connection, and they also transmit a lot of data. For most people, any wireless N router will suffice in terms of speed.