Choos­ing a... Wire­less router

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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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