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Christopher Gonzalez
Christopher Gonzalez

Buy Network Router

I'd love to give you a list of routers that will 100 percent work for you, but the problem with home networking is that everyone's environment is different. Your neighbors' Wi-Fi, older devices, walls, floors and even your microwave can affect your Wi-Fi signal.

buy network router

Most ISPs offer a modem/router combo that you can rent, but you can also purchase your own router, add an extender if you need additional coverage, or try a whole-home mesh Wi-Fi system. Even if you don't know anything about networking, you can adjust some settings to improve performance when you run into trouble.

The newest routers are defined as 802.11ac. The letters are what's important. The "ac" standard was set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for Wi-Fi and refers to the generation and maximum theoretical speed of the router (more than one gigabit per second in this case). Previous IEEE 802.11 standards were a, b, g and n. Most routers are backward-compatible with devices using these older standards, but almost all devices you use today are either ac or n, from laptops to smartphones to media steamers.

Technically, 802.11ac is only available on the 5GHz band (I'll explain this more later), while 802.11n is available on both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. However, you will often see routers with both bands defined as "AC1900" or "AC3000." This is the combined theoretical data transfer speed of all the bands, measured in megabits per second (Mbps). For instance, AC1900 denotes a max speed of 600Mbps on 2.4GHz and 1,300Mbps on 5GHz. This is misleading, because one device can't be on both bands at the same time, and due to environmental factors, your router won't get close to those individual speeds either.

It's also important to know that in networking there are a bunch of links in the Wi-Fi chain, and each one has a limit. The slowest one (e.g., router, internet speed, device hardware) will determine your top speeds. An 802.11ac router won't make an 802.11n device exceed the limits of 802.11n. If your current internet connection is 50Mbps, a $400 router that boasts gigabit speeds won't make your device go faster than 50Mbps.

If you want to prepare your network for the future, an 802.11ac router is the simplest method. The 802.11ac distinction means you will get the latest technology, gigabit speeds and coverage for homes of up to 2,500 square feet. It's best to place your router in a central location of your home for maximum coverage and minimizing dead spots that receive little or no Wi-Fi signals.

Toward the end of 2018, look out for new, faster 802.11ax routers, like the D-Link AX11000. Official standards for 802.11ax haven't been finalized, but predictions say that it will deliver network speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps). Be advised that your current devices can't take advantage of 802.11ax speeds. They will cap at the networking standard they were built to meet, such as n or ac. The router will still work, but you'll need new 802.11ax-capable devices to fully utilize the new routers.

If a router isn't fast enough or you aren't getting the coverage you need, you can always expand your Wi-Fi via additional wired access points (recommended for best performance) or Wi-Fi extenders (easier to set up, but usually slower). Some high-end mesh Wi-Fi systems, like Netgear Orbi, even have a dedicated wireless connection, which is used exclusively to send information back to your router. This frees up the other bands and helps extend your Wi-Fi coverage as well as mitigate speed loss.

A Wi-Fi mesh system can cover 5,000 or more square feet, depending on the system and the number of satellite units. They consist of a main hardware unit wired to your modem and one or more wireless satellite units that work together to blanket medium to large homes in Wi-Fi. They are great for novice users who just want to get online quickly and conveniently, but typically offer fewer customization options than traditional routers, in the interest of keeping installation simple. Most major manufacturers, like Asus, Netgear, D-Link and Linksys, have at least one mesh Wi-Fi option and some systems, like the Samsung Connect Home, even act as a hub for smart devices.

The most important thing to keep in mind when you're buying a router or mesh Wi-Fi system is budget. Expensive doesn't always mean better. Mesh means multiple devices, so that can add up quickly depending how many units you need. You can find a really good router for less than $200 and it should last you a few years at least.

It will get the job done, but more than likely you are paying to rent it. It's better to ask if there are any restrictions on which modems or routers you can use and then buy your own. It's a much better deal to spend about $100 to $200 for a modem and router than to pay $10 per month for the rest of your life to rent a junky piece of hardware. And keep in mind that most broadband modems of the same standard offer the same performance. The router is where you will see major differences.

A Wi-Fi extender is the fastest way to extend your router's Wi-Fi network. All you do is place the device about 15 to 40 feet away from your router. It will connect wirelessly to the router and rebroadcast your Wi-Fi signal. Extenders generally only deliver half the original Wi-Fi speed of the router, unless it's a tri-band unit, because it has to both receive and send a signal on the same wireless network frequency. Make sure to check compatibility before you buy one, because some are designed to only work with specific routers or mesh systems.

Essentially, they are the same. However, the units in a Wi-Fi system are designed for the specific purpose of working together. Mesh systems are generally easier to use and offer seamless hand-off, meaning a device can move from one broadcasting unit to another without interruptions. Mesh systems are also usually more expensive than getting a router (of the same standard) and a few extenders.

First of all, the speeds you read about are theoretical, meaning you have to be in a ideal environment, free from any interference. This doesn't exist. You'll never see 1,300Mbps on 5GHz from an AC1900 router in your home. All your connected devices contribute to speed loss as well. Remember when I said earlier that the slowest link in the chain caps your speed? Older devices can bog down your whole network, since they can't take full advantage of new technology. Expect to get closer to 50 percent of advertised speeds when transferring data locally within your network. If you are downloading or streaming from the internet, your speed will max out at whatever rate you are paying for from your ISP.

Don't worry, it's pretty simple. In short, the answer is a factor of eight. Networking speed is described in megabits (Mb, with a lower-case "b"). It's a simple conversion, 8 megabits = 1 megabyte (MB, with a capital "B"). Take the number of megabits and divide it by eight. So, if a router's speed is 800 megabits per second (Mbps), it can theoretically transfer 100 megabytes in one second (800Mb divided by eight equals 100MB). For reference, a CD holds about 700MB, a DVD holds 4.7 gigabytes (GB) and a dual-layer Blu-ray disc holds 50GB.

2.4GHz and 5GHz bands: These are the two bands in the radio frequency (RF) spectrum that Wi-Fi uses to transmit signals. Basically, they are the highways you use when you connect to Wi-Fi. The 5GHz band offers much faster speeds but has trouble penetrating walls and other obstacles. The 2.4GHz band loses less speed as obstacles are introduced, but it suffers from a more congested wireless transmission environment. Older devices, like microwaves, cordless phones and baby monitors, also use the 2.4GHz band and can cause interference with your router. Both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz bands have their own strengths, but it really comes down to your environment. 802.11ac works only on 5GHz, while 802.11n works on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Lucky for you, new routers come with both.

Dual-band or tri-band: A tri-band router, much more expensive than dual-band, can broadcast three signals, two on the 5GHz band and one on the 2.4GHz band. They work simultaneously to transmit and receive data to and from different devices, helping to keep your network running smoothly. Some mesh systems use the third band as a dedicated backhaul channel to communicate with other units, or just to have a faster path to and from the main router. Dual-band routers lack a second 5GHz band, but you can set some of these devices to automatically choose the band with the best signal when your devices connect.

Channel and channel width: Each band has a set of channels that you can use. Most routers automatically pick them for you, but sometimes there are better channels with less interference. The 2.4GHz band has 11 channels (numbered from 1 to 11) available in the US, spaced 5MHz apart. Wi-Fi uses at least 20MHz, so finding non-overlapping channels is important. These are 1, 6 and 11. If you manually choose the other channels, you could cause problems for others and probably yourself. You can also use 40MHz channels, which are wider and can be faster. You do use more space at these higher channel frequencies, so the chance of running into interference from other Wi-Fi or devices is greater.

Antennas and spatial streams: These two are often mixed up. A 4x4 MIMO (multiple input/multiple output) router has four transmit (send) antennas and four receive antennas. You will also find 3x3 and 2x2 on 802.11ac routers. Each antenna wirelessly sends/receives data to and from your devices, which also have antennas that send and receive data. These independent data signals, called spatial streams, are sent simultaneously over the same channel.

Think of streams like lanes on a highway. A router antenna can have one to four streams or "lanes" to give you more space to send data. Each stream sends the same data though, because some of it gets lost in transmission due to interference. Simultaneously sending multiple streams of the same data means better reliability. If one of the streams is incomplete, theoretically another stream will have the missing information and the router won't have to resend the data. It can move on to sending the next piece of data to that device or a different one. Generally, more streams mean faster speeds, but more antennas don't always mean better performance. 041b061a72


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