7 Router Features You Need for a Fast Home Network
If you aren’t using a Wi-Fi router, then you should get one ASAP, even if you only have one connected device! Today’s routers offer useful features that you need to be taking advantage of.
They’re so useful, in fact, that if you have one but it’s old, that qualifies as a major reason to think about upgrading your router.
In this article, we’ll explore the extremely important features to look for in a Wi-Fi router, the unnecessary features you may or may not need, and three recommendations for all budgets
For us, an extremely important router feature is one that benefits everyone no matter who you are or what you use internet for. Not only are these standard features widely available, but you’ll sorely miss them if you buy a cheap or outdated router that doesn’t have any of these.
Our Top Wireless Router Picks
Essential Router Features
- Dual-band: A dual-band router can transmit data on two frequencies: 2.4GHz (older) and 5.0GHz (newer). The 2.4GHz band is compatible with older devices, has longer range, uses less power, but is slower and likely to experience/likely to get wireless crowding and blockage. Not all devices support the 5.0GHz band, and it has shorter range but is faster and more reliable.
- 802.11ac: This is the latest part of the regular majority of people Wi-Fi standard (compared to 802.11n, 802.11g, and 802.11b), which brings faster Wi-Fi speed, longer Wi-Fi range, and backward compatibility. That means an 802.11ac router will work fine with older devices that don’t support 802.11ac!.
3. MU-MIMO: A router without MU-MIMO can get bottlenecked because it has to serve data to connected devices one at a time (like a dealer who deals cards to a table). With MU-MIMO, the router can serve connected devices; at the same time, which improves data transfer speeds.
4. Quality of service: Sometimes called Bandwidth Control, quality of service is a feature that allows the router to put in order of importance certain devices (e.g. your PC) or certain kinds of traffic (e.g. Netflix streams) over other internet traffic. This is very useful when someone on the network is hogging bandwidth.
5. Guest networks: Don’t want to give out your Wi-Fi password to one-time guests? Modern routers can create a separate “guest” network with a separate name and password, and it won’t interfere with the router’s “main” network.
6. Gigabit Ethernet ports: For maximum performance, switch from Wi-Fi to Ethernet. But don’t settle for a router with Fast Ethernet ports, which caps out at 100Mbps. Choose Gigabit Ethernet ports, which support speeds up to 1,000Mbps.
7. External antennas: Generally speaking, external antennas provide a more reliable Wi-Fi connection than internal antennas, which means farther range and stronger signals.
With all of that said, we recommend sticking to a select number of respectable router brands when shopping for a Wi-Fi router.