Have Charter Spectrum Internet service at your home or business and looking to pair it with the best router? Have no fear – we are going to break down the best routers available so you can make an informed decision and get the best “bang for your buck”.
About Charter Spectrum
Spectrum from Charter Communications is a brand of broadband Internet services offered to business and consumer customers to roughly 25 million people across 48 states.
Spectrum service is primary delivered across a coaxial cable system, using infrastructure originally designed to bring cable TV to homes. Charter also delivers service in some areas via fiber optic cabling.
They have invested heavily in the infrastructure of their network and are running the latest DOCSIS 3.0 or 3.1 standards in many areas, enabling them to offer Gigabit speeds (and beyond) to their subscribers.
Spectrum’s speed offerings differ a bit depending on the service area, but in general they offer three tiers
- a base tier that runs approximately 60-100Mbps downstream and 5-10Mbps upstream
- a middle tier that runs approximately 300-400Mbps downstream and 20Mbps upstream
- a top tier that runs at 1000Mbps (Gigabit) downstream and 35Mbps upstream.
If you’re saying to yourself “Wow, that is not a lot of upstream bandwidth compared to the downstream amount you get”, you’d be right.
Fortunately, most users down’t need a large amount of upstream capacity. Power users may notice a pinch though, which is why fiber-based services that are usually available as a symmetrical service are preferred or cable-based providers such as Charter.
What to look for in a router for your Charter Spectrum Internet service
There are a ton of routers out there and most of them are very similar in the standards they support and the features they offer. For the most part, various features don’t make much of a difference.
There are, however a few things you should definitely make sure your new router for Charter Spectrum supports, and those are:
- The newest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11AC (aka, Wi-Fi 5) offers a host of improvements over previous standards. Don’t buy a Wireless-N router, and certainly don’t buy a Wireless B/G router (if you can even find someone selling them still)
- Gigabit Ethernet ports – Since your Spectrum service will likely be running at a minimum of 100Mbps and possibly as high as 1Gbps, make sure your router has Gigabit Ethernet ports. Many older routers have 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports, meaning the router can pass a maximum of 100Mbps. You don’t want to be paying for 100+Mbps speeds and not be able to use it because your older router can’t hack it.
- A proven track record of reliability – Make sure your new router is stable and doesn’t need to be rebooted constantly in order to perform. Some routers do!
- Sufficient number of antennas providing decent signal coverage – some router’s just don’t have powerful or well designed enough radios and thus are unable to provide decent coverage, which ensures that Wi-Fi users will have a strong, reliable signal that provides decent speeds at various ranges.
Best Router for Charter Spectrum – ASUS RT-AC88U
You will be happy with any of the four routers highlighted above – but of course there can only be one winner. In this roundup, we chose the ASUS RT-AC88U.
You’re probably not surprised to see that it’s not the cheapest router available either. Well, unfortunately, quality, performance, and reliability come at a cost.
- 1024-Qam technology - 80% faster 5 GHz at up to 2100 Mbps, 66% faster 2. 4 GHz at up to 1000 Mbps; utilities: firmware restoration
- 33% greater 2. 4 GHz coverage with a 4-transmit, 4-receive (4T4R) antenna design, able to reach our widest-ever coverage up to 5000 square feet
- Expansive connectivity options: with exclusively has 8 x Gigabit LAN ports for up to eight Ethernet-compatible devices to connect simultaneously
- Powerful 1. 4 GHz dual-core processor, faster USB data transfers enjoy up to over 100 MB/s Speed and the router download/UPLOAD speed (WAN-LAN throughput) up to 1. 8 Gaps
- Smart Connect- automatically chooses the best band available for you, Dimensions: 11. 8 x 7. 4 x 3. 3 inch (WDHP)
What we like about the RT-AC88U
Excellent Range – Thanks to the four external omni-directional antennas and a plethora of improvements built in to the 802.11AC standard, this router provides some of the longest range and most reliable connections among consumer-grade Wi-Fi routers.
If your house is huge, you may be better off installing multiple wireless access points instead of trying to get one powerful router. Many people don’t understand that wireless communication is a two-way street. Your phone, tablet, laptop, etc must not only receive data from your router, but it must also transmit it back. So even if your router transmits at a high strength, there is no guarantee that your device will be able to also transmit at a high enough signal strength to ensure a reliable connection. Having multiple access points in your home, where your device can associate with the closest one, is a better option for people needing to cover really large areas.
A plethora of Ethernet ports – This router has a whopping eight LAN ports. Most routers only have four LAN ports.
Many people have too many devices to plug in and need to add an Ethernet Switch such as this one to give them more Ethernet ports. This router can eliminate that need, since eight ports is probably enough for most people.
Good Management Options – ranging from an Intuitive WebUI to a handy mobile app. Advanced users really like AsusWRT-Merlin, a robust (and completely optional) firmware that supports many advanced features.
Good QoS controls – The Quality of Service controls are straight forward and actually work, allowing you to prioritize some traffic types over others (such as prioritizing Voice over IP traffic over BitTorrent traffic).
Guest Wi-Fi capability – This router features the ability to easily create a Guest Wi-Fi network – a separate network for guests with a different name, different password, and no ability to access resources on your private network (only ability to go out to the Internet).
What we don’t like about the RT-AC88U
Pricey – This router definitely carries a bit of a premium price tag.
Physical size – The AC88U is larger than most routers and many users report that it can generate a lot of heat.
Not novice friendly – While we really like the long list of advanced features that this router supports (especially if you flash the Merlin firmware), this router is not as friendly for novices as many routers on the market.
Potential for radio failure – Some users have reported individual bands (either 2.4GHz or 5GHz) failing or stopping working intermittently and requiring the router to be RMA’d. While these seem to be isolated cases (not a manufacturing defect), the failure rate seems to be abnormally high based on user reviews.
Runner Up – Netgear R6700
The R6700 from Netgear is one of my favorite routers and I recommend it to our readers frequently. Its performance and reliability relative to its affordable price point makes it the obvious choice for runner-up in this round up.
- AC1750 WiFi-450+1300 Mbps speeds
- 1GHz Dual Core Processor
- Ideal for homes with 12 or more WiFi devices
- Advanced features for lag-free gaming
- Prioritized bandwidth for gaming, streaming videos, or music.System requirements:Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0, Firefox 2.0, Safari 1.4, or Google Chrome 11.0 browsers or higher
This router may not have all of the features or as many LAN ports as more expensive routers, but it can handle a Gigabit Internet connection from Charter Spectrum without any problems.
What we like about the R6700
Gigabit Ethernet ports – The Ethernet ports on this router are all Gigabit, meaning you won’t be limited to 100Mbps like some routers.
Current Generation (Wi-Fi 5) support – This router supports the current 802.11AC specification so you get all of the benefits of the current standard and aren’t stuck on the previous Wi-Fi 4 standard, 802.11N.
Excellent Coverage – The Wi-Fi coverage from this router is excellent, providing a strong and reliable signal in the far reaches of your medium to large sized home (assuming the router is placed in a central location).
Reliability / Stability – Sampling a large number of reviews online, most users report that this router is quite reliable: not frequently experiencing drop-outs in service or requiring reboots.
Advanced Features – Make no mistake about it, this router supports its own suite of advanced features. Most notably, the Quality of Service (QOS) and Parental Control features generally work quite well.
What we don’t like about the R6700
Netgear Warranty Support – If you do run into an issue and need support, many people have reported that Netgear’s tech support is not the greatest. Some people have even said they had to pay money to Netgear for a support contract before they could start an RMA on a router that was still under warranty. Not Cool!
Advanced Firmware Incompatibility – Some versions of the R6700 are not compatible with advanced firmware, such as DD-WRT. As of this writing, v1 and v3 are compatible, but v2 is not.
Regardless of which WiFi router you buy to go along with your Charter Spectrum Internet, as long as you follow our guidelines listed at the top of this post, you should be okay.
Andrew Namder is an experienced Network Engineer with 20+ years of experience in IT. He loves technology in general, but is truly passionate about computer networking and sharing his knowledge with others. He is a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and is working towards achieving the coveted CCIE certification. He can be reached at email@example.com.