wireless routers

Buying The Right Wireless Router

Wifi routers come in so many sizes flavors and feature sets that it can become extremely confusing to choose the right one for your home network, of all the wifi networks that I've set up the one question I get the most is, "what wifi router should I buy? they all look the same". To answer this question I've always answered "it depends". Below is a short list of some the things, that it depends on.

The Basics

All wifi routers do the same thing but some have more features than others. The purpose of a wifi router is to take digital signal from your existing modem and them convert that to a wireless radio signal and send it wirelessly to any device that can receive that wireless signal. These radio signals are often referred to as frequency bands. Standard wifi devices use the 2.4 Ghz band rate while throughput intensive activities such as gaming or file streaming use the 5 Ghz band rate. Wifi routers that support less bands tend to cater towards more simplistic networks where as dual band wifi routers are cater towards a wifi network that has a mix of the two.

802.11 What?

You'll notice that every wifi router has a 802.11 standard with a number associated with it. As I'm writing this article the only two you should be concerned about are 802.11g and 802.11n.

802.11g was an enhancement on the original 802.11b standard which only supported roughly 11mbps transmission rate. 802.11g was a huge advancement on the original standard because it allowed up to 54mbps on a 2.4 band frequency. Most of your home networks use this 802.11g standard and for the most part 802.11g works ok if you don't plan to play video games or file stream heavily on your wifi network.

802.11n is the new standard that is moving forward to replace 802.11g and supports up to 100mbps transmission rates. The only downside I see about this standard is the cost at this time and the fact that the standards have not yet been finalized for this iteration.

What You Should Know

Not all wifi routers are made the same. Some wifi routers state specifically if they will support a particular operating system such as windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7. Make sure you buy a wifi router that supports your particular system. In addition if you are planning to connect your Xbox or Sony Play Station always make sure that it's compatible. Checking the compatibility is as easy as logging on to the Xbox or Play Station site and making sure the wifi router is on the approved list. Trust me it will save you a world of frustration. This information should give you enough firepower to go out there and buy the right wifi router with confidence.