Router

Choosing a… Wireless router

 

Wireless routers each use a number of Wi-Fi standards, so you shouldn’t have any trouble connecting your computer or phone wirelessly if you get an 802.11n or 802.11ac router. Nearly all routers support 802.11n, so even a cheap model should provide decent performance.

You can expect a transfer speed of around 40Mbit/s at a distance of 10m from any modern 802.11n router. The very latest routers use the 802.11ac standard, which provides tremendously fast transfer speeds. Some devices still don’t support the 802.11ac standard, so check the specifications before you buy.

If you subscribe to an ADSL broadband service, you should buy a wireless router that has a built-in ADSL modem. This will cost more than the equivalent cable router, but it allows you to connect your router directly to your broadband connection without having to use a separate modem.

Most 802.11n wireless routers use the 2.4GHz frequency band. This has good range but it can be prone to interference if it’s positioned close to a lot of other 2.4GHz devices, such as other routers and baby monitors. If you have trouble getting a consistent signal or you want faster speeds for video streaming, for example, it’s worth buying a dual-band router that can use both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

Alternatively, a high-gain antenna can boost signals and improve ranges and throughputs to the entire house. You can also add a high-gain antenna to a PC’s network adaptor. If wired network speeds are a priority, you should look for a router with a Gigabit Ethernet connection.

Many routers come with built-in USB ports that let you connect a USB drive and use the router as a network storage device. If you want to share a USB printer over your network, look for a wireless router that has a USB print server.

Finally, if you’re interested in making voice calls over the internet, buy a router with built-in VoIP support (and phone sockets) because this can save you money.

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