Most people use routers but do not know how they work. We all know that you will connect your devices when you have a router and then begin to enjoy the moments. However, we do not know how the signal moves from the router to the devices and probably where the signal comes from.
Routers come with different designs, potential, and from different brands. They seem complicated, but they are straightforward to understand. Having proper understanding means that you have to know what a router is, how it works, why you need it, and how different it is from other devices.
In our homes, we need our devices to communicate with each other and the outside world. What’s the need of having a smartphone, tablet, computer, or laptop that can’t connect to the internet. For this reason, we all require a router befitting the purpose.
Our homes are a bit different, some have a huge home while others have many devices. Other people want more of privacy when online while others want a router they can customize to suit their needs.
For this reason, we will explore different categories of routers. We have reviewed different routers to ensure that your home and needs are well taken care of.
Let us look at the different reviews:
What is a router
A router is an exceptional device responsible for serving two or more devices by a network that channels from one point to another. It moves data from a network to another using wireless signals, and some have ports that accommodate the wired devices.
Routers come in various brands, which make them stand out. Some of them include Linksys, Netgear, DLink, TP-Link, and others. Each brand has a specific design and makes that it employs in making its models. You will also get different routers covering specific ranges and speeds.
How to choose the best wireless router for your home (Buyer’s guide)
There are several things to consider when choosing or buying a router for your home. This means from all the router brands; you need to know which router to buy to suit your needs and requirements.
The routers are classified using brands, bands, Wi-Fi standard, range, speed, number of devices, privacy, cost, security, among other features. Of all these features, which is the most important?
The important feature in a laptop changes from user to user. What matters the most is your satisfaction and budget.
For some of us, speed is the most critical feature. The Internet speeds have been improving as the times have moved. With the approval of Wi-Fi 6 in 2019, Wi-Fi speeds in our houses and offices are bound to increase even more.
You should always check the internet speeds of your Wi-Fi connection and the Ethernet ports to ensure your devices do not experience lags. The router speeds that you should buy depend on the online activities that you will be conducting.
If you are a fan of gaming or 4K streaming, it is good to get a router with good internet speeds. Also, consider the internet plan that you have subscribed to from your internet service provider.
To know the speeds required for your different online activities, you can check this article.
As times have progressed, people are getting bigger and bigger homes. This means that not every router will be able to cover your home fully with internet.
There are several traditional or Mesh devices that have excellent ranges. Therefore, depending on the size of your home, check the list of the best routers for long-range.
From our tests, ASUS RT-AC88U Router is the router with the broadest coverage. This router can give you a coverage of up to 5,000 square feet.
In addition, you can consider the best mesh systems. Generally, the mesh systems enable you to access fast-internet in every corner of your home.
Number of devices
Over the last 20 years, there has been an explosion of the number of smart devices that are used in our homes. These devices majorly are Wi-Fi or internet-enabled.
These devices include traditional internet-enabled devices like laptops, personal computers, smartphones, televisions, and tablets. However, currently, there are several other devices that are internet enabled.
The newer devices include door locks, sprinklers, LED light bulbs, fridges, alarms, and other devices. All these devices require an internet connection for optimum performance.
You can check the list of the best routers for multiple devices. These routers will enable you to connect all the devices at home with fast internet.
As we were testing the routers, we found that Netgear Nighthawk X6 Smart is the router that can support most devices with high-speed internet. This router can support up to 50 devices.
With this in mind, you can choose the router that will work for your home. The router must be able to cover all these devices with high-speed internet.
All the routers available in the market today are tri-band, dual-band, or single-band. The number of band correlates with the internet speed of your router and other features.
Tri-band routers essentially have more features as compared to single-band or dual-band routers.
Therefore, as you are buying your router, it is great to consider this to get a router capable of the performance you require.
As times have progressed, even the router technology has continued to evolve. Moreover, the wireless standards have changed, which have had a significant influence on bands, safety, and internet speed.
Therefore, the newest standard, which is Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) standards, delivers faster internet speeds and security features.
The table below gives the differences between the different wireless standards.
|Wi-Fi standard||Year of approval||Frequencies||Maximum data rate|
|802.11ax (W-Fi 6)||2019||5 and 2.4GHz||10-12Gbps|
|802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)||2014||5 and 2.4GHz||1.3Gbps|
|802.11n (Wi-Fi 4)||2009||5 and 2.4GHz||600Mbps|
Cost of the router
You should always consider the price of the router that you are buying. One of the things to note is that some great routers cost less than 100 dollars. On the other hand, there are routers in the market which cost more than 500 USD.
As you are shopping, note that a router is a device that will last for a long time. Thus, you should make a substantial investment on the gadget for it to give you excellent performance for a long time.
Consequently, consider the cost relative to the features you want in the router.
Privacy and security
There has been an increase in the number of hackers and malware that is available on the internet. These have increased the need to keep our data and personalities secure and private.
Some of the routers available on the market today have better security and privacy features as compared to others.
DD-WRT routers have been shown to give more room for performance enhancement and the use of VPNs. Besides, other routers have also improved their safety and privacy features to suit today’s environment.
Additionally, being able to set Guest Network enables you to keep your connection private and secure.
This is closely related to the privacy and safety features we have discussed above. Robust parental controls are a common feature in most modern routers.
This is because you are supposed to ensure that your children are safe on the internet. Furthermore, most of us would prefer some device-free moments for our children.
These device-free moments include during meal times or sleeping times or any other time. Since our children are more tech-savvy, being able to have parental control is a feature we need to consider.
You can check the best parental control routers for your home to ensure your home is covered and the children are safe when online.
Is there a difference between a router and a modem router?
A modem is a device that is responsible for sending the signals to the router. Each modem has the compatibility factor that allows it to work with the specific routers and ISPs. It creates the interface that bridges the router and the ISP.
A modem can serve single or multiple roles. For example, it can connect to the router or have its router hence serving more than two roles. Such a device that combines the functions of a modem and a router is called a modem router.
The main contrast between the two is that a router needs a modem to work and serves a single role. A modem-router, on the other hand, serves multiple roles under one device.
Why you need a router
Two networks cannot work together not unless a router connects them. If you have many devices that function simultaneously or have many users, a router will help ensure that each device enjoys internet access. The router also makes it simple for you to identify the network and connect devices when pairing.
Functions of a router
There are several functions that a router allows you to enjoy. Some of the primary functions are as follows.
Support of devices
A router helps in supporting the various devices and has them enjoying the connection. You can connect many devices so long as they do not exceed the limit of the router. There are also no specific devices that can use the router so long as you can conveniently connect them.
Both wired and wireless devices also have a chance to enjoy the connection. Some have gigabit speeds that make it quite simple to have the various devices connecting.
Serving multiple roles
The router is also essential as it helps in serving multiple roles. For example, you will have a chance to do various activities such as streaming content and gaming. In addition, under the wireless connection, you will have a chance to do specific activities such as surfing.
If you have a router, you will have a chance to have your children using the connection as you also do your stuff. One that is safe will give them a chance to explore the various parts and activities of the world.
Extend the coverage
A router will not serve only one point. Instead, it will serve specific other points hence enjoying an extended connection. Furthermore, each router comes with a specific range that it covers, making the devices operating within the specific range enjoy the connection.
If you want to boost the connection, you can also choose to use the second router to enjoy the connection. An opportunity to change positions also gets provided when you have a good router.
Promote the connection between two points
If you want to promote the connection between two specific points, a router will make everything convenient. For example, using the Ethernet cable, you will have an opportunity to connect two routers or between a router and a Wi-Fi extender.
If the distance is long, you will use a router to create a new connection at a specific point and have it serve. If the router is compatible, you will have a chance to connect conveniently.
Types of routers
We have two major types of routers. Wireless and wired routers are the two major types of routers that help in managing connections.
A wired router has ports and cables that facilitate the connection. When using a wired router, you will connect all your devices using the Ethernet ports. LAN ports are quick and provide a stable connection which makes the routers best for gaming and the devices that have Ethernet ports but no wireless technologies.
A wireless router uses Wi-Fi to spread its signal. Devices working under this router connect using wireless technology. Another name for such a router is the Wi-Fi router. It has an antenna and an adapter that enables the connection of devices.
Many routers are coming with Wi-Fi and LAN ports. So you can connect both wirelessly and using the cables. Some also come with a combination of modems, Wi-Fi, and LAN ports. So you can decide with regards to the kind of router you want to buy.
Components of a router
The router comes with various components that help to boost kit functionality. Such features and their functions are as follows.
CPU- the central processing unit is like the software behind the running of the router. There are various operating systems that the router has and help in managing the various functions. Logical networking is the primary function of the CPU.
Flash memory- this is the disk where the operating system is stored. It is the hard drive on the computer. RAM’s role in the computer is the same as the flash memory plays in the router.
Network interface- various drivers help the operating system to manage the various roles. It helps in managing the router modules hence making the management of the various tasks simple.
Console- the console is responsible for the configuration of the router. This function coordinates various tasks such as selection of settings and diagnostics. If there are challenges, it will help troubleshoot, hence ensuring that the router is in the best state.
Hardware-Finally, the router has hardware and the material that covers it. You will enjoy doing the various tasks because the router is also enjoying protection. Part of the manual things that make a router is the antennas. They boost the router’s functionality and help it to serve for a longer time.
How a router works
The router serves multiple roles and has a specific method of sending its signals. For example, it can use wireless connections to do the Ethernet ports to serve the users. The specific details about how a router functions are as follows.
Routing is how the router picks data packets and channels them to various points for utilization. The IP packets come from the internet source, which gets to the router, and traffic comes to the devices. When using your devices, you will send commands to the router through the browser and then get the signals back are response.
Routers work by speeding up data between the connected devices and the network. It creates the fastest route that the data pack uses. The metric value is the number that the router uses when sending the specific data.
Creating a routing table
The metric values stay in the router table. It is a list of the available paths in the network that facilitate the movement of data. First, it identifies the specific IP address of the device using the connection, then the shorted and the lowest route does the transmission work.
Every time there is a signal, the router identifies the shortest route hence making the functionality great. You need to have better understanding of the routing table if you are managing a network.
The router also works by managing the connections. All the devices that want to have access pass through the settings where the router connects or rejects them. Accepted devices connect and then work under the management of the router.
Device prioritization happens as each device connects to a band that facilitates its connection in terms of speed. Management of devices under technologies such as MU-MIMO and beamforming is one thing that promotes the proper functioning of the router.
Various rules such as port forwarding, updating of the firmware, and network encryption enjoy the router’s management. If the number of connected devices exceeds, they also get limited.
Creation of remote networks
A router helps in the creation of remote networks. You will extend connections using various boosters, which maintain high speeds and reliability. If you are managing businesses, you will have an easy and comfortable time doing various tasks.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the best Wi-Fi router 2020?
To get the best router, you have to consider the several factors described above. The router must have a good range, be able to support several devices, give you fast internet, and offer security for your devices and users.
With the question of brand preference and even person’s needs being different our best router might not be the best for your. However, Netgear Orbi Whole home Wi-Fi System (RBK50) aced all our tests and preferences.
You can also check the list of the best routers for 2020 to decide which router better serves your needs.
What is the best affordable/ budget wireless router?
We all need high-performance internet in our homes or offices. However, this must not always come with exorbitant prices. Some great routers cost less than 100 USD.
Netgear Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) – AC1750 performs excellently for its cost. Thus this is the best budget router.
Our recommendation for the best lowest budget router is TP-Link N450 WiFi Router – Wireless Internet Router for Home (TL-WR940N).
As you are getting a budget router, make sure that you don’t sacrifice on the speed, range, safety, and a number of devices. This is because a router should be a long term investment.
What is the best wireless router for gaming?
Some of us are into gaming. For a great gaming experience, you require high performance and an optimizable router. The router must have the latest technology on the device optimization and high internet speeds.
Consequently, Netgear Nighthawk Pro XR500 AC2600 performed well for gaming. The router ensures that you get fast internet speed, prioritization choices, and other features that make gaming enjoyable.
How long do wireless routers last?
A Wi-Fi router is a long-term investment. That is why we recommend that you put a sizable budget to get a router that will give you a long-lasting performance. However, you also need to know when to replace a router.
The average life span of a router varies depending on how well the router was taken care of. Some of the reasons why a router can go bad are overheating, reduced maintenance, and storage, installing the router at a place with lots of dust and interference by people, among other causes.
Therefore, you should replace your router every 3-5 years if you can afford it. You can also change the router to take advantage of the new router technologies in addition to if you get the signs that you need a new router.
What are the types of routers?
A router helps to connect devices and a modem to ensure each device gets an internet connection. We have the following types of routers:
- Wireless router: It is a router that connects directly to the modem through a cable and then broadcasts the data packets wirelessly through an antenna or several antennas.
- Wired router: These routers connect to a modem and then to the computer using cables or wired connections. The wired router gets the data packets from the modem using the cable and then sends and receives data from/ to the computers.
- Core router: This router connects the devices within a network only and not between multiple networks, as seen in wired or wireless routers. The router may be wired or wireless.
- Virtual router: This one acts as a default router for devices sharing a network, unlike the wireless router.
- Edge router: The Edge router helps in communication between one or more networks but does not distribute data packets within a network.
Getting a router for your home should be as easy as ABC. However, getting a device that meets your needs and those of your household should be paramount as you do your shopping.
The several reviews given on this site will help you to choose a router that will not only serve you well today but into the future. You can consider the factors described above or even have your additional features.
The router is an essential electronic gadget in today’s generation. They come in various types and features that make them stand out. Understanding how it works is essential as it also helps you to fix various challenges as they arise.