Best Wireless Access Point for Home

One of the best  ways to improve your  Wi-Fi’s coverage, speed (throughput), and reliability, is to add a wireless access point (AP) to your home network.

What is a wireless access point anyway?

Simply put, a wireless access point is a device that connects to your wired network and makes your network available wirelessly. It consists of a network port and one or more Wi-Fi radios that are used to serve wireless devices.

Think of a wireless access point as having a second router in your home that can be used in order to extend the coverage of your wireless network. In fact, all wireless routers include an access point – it just happens to be built into the router, so it isn’t called an access point in that case.

A wireless router is like a swiss army knife – it performs several core functions within your network. Not only does it route traffic (thus the name “router”), it also acts as a firewall, a switch, an access point, a DHCP server, and sometimes a modem.

An access point only serves one purpose – to provide wireless connectivity to devices on your network. You can’t get online with just an access point – you need a router as well.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of using an access point versus a wireless router?

hands typing on keyboard

Benefits

Using wireless access point(s) gives you the ability to distribute one or more AP’s throughout your home, which serves to increase the range and signal quality of your wireless network. This in turn makes your wireless network run faster and more reliably.

Speaking of reliability – as with many things in life, devices that are designed to accomplish just one task generally perform that task better than a device that is designed to accomplish many different tasks. This principle also applies to wireless routers versus an access point – the old adage “Jack of all trades and master of none” definitely applies here.

Since access points are designed only to efficiently and reliably connect wireless devices to the wired network, they generally do the job of serving wireless clients better than a router does.

Another benefit of access points is that they can be placed strategically – such as ceiling mounted or installed inside of a network jack gang box.

Drawbacks

Wireless access points are enterprise-grade networking equipment and are not generally marketed toward consumers. Thus, they usually require a bit more technical ability and knowledge of computer networking than a consumer-grade wireless router would.

Access points also require additional wiring work. This is both a pro and a con. Since the AP is usually placed in a strategic area to provide the best coverage, it usually requires running an Ethernet cable from the desired placement location back to wherever your router is.

This can be a lot of work, depending on the construction and layout of your home, and the proximity of the AP to your router. The amount of work also depends on how accessible of a crawlspace or attic your home has, whether or not you own or rent (which means you can’t drill into walls, floors, and ceilings), and the degree to which you wish to hide the wiring versus simply running it in plain sight along the baseboard or ceiling.

Another drawback of using a wireless access point, is price. Since using an AP also requires a router, you must buy an AP and a router, plus additional cabling. In some cases, you also need to buy a switch or firewall as well, depending on your needs and the capabilities of your current router.

The time required to run wiring (or pay labor costs to have someone else do it) should also be considered.

What is the best wireless access point for home?

Some of the best wireless AP’s on the market right now, are the UniFi product line from Ubiquiti. They are extremely popular, and for good reason – they strike an excellent balance of performance, features, ease of use, and reliability – all at an excellent price point. We recommend the UniFi AC LR (Long Range) and Lite models:

About Ubiquiti

Ubiquiti Networks has been around since 2005. They are well known among wireless internet service providers for making quality gear that is easy to manage.

They were originally known for making outdoor, long range fixed wireless equipment that allowed for high speed connections between buildings over long distances. Over time, their product lines have expanded and they have moved into other technologies of computer networking such as switches, routers, and access points.

 

The UniFi Solution

The Ubiquiti UniFi wireless solution consists of several different pieces of technology that can be put together in a customized fashion to build a very robust and feature-rich network solution. We are only reviewing their access points here, but we wanted to make our readers aware that there are several other add-on’s to the UniFi solution that will add features and visibility into your network if you wish to explore that.

The main components in the UniFi solution are the access points, the security gateway, the switches, and the controller (Cloud Key). Most components are optional – you can piece things together however you’d like, using only a single component (like an AP) if you like, or using them all together.

Access Points

The access points serve to connect wireless devices to the wired network and are the main topic of this article.

UniFi Security Gateway

The UniFi Security Gateway (USG) serves as a router and firewall. This is not your typical wireless router that you purchase at Amazon – it only performs a subset of the duties that a typical consumer-grade router does, which is just routing and firewall duties.

It also generally does a much better job of handling these duties than a typical wireless router, which is expected to handle everything. Is it any wonder that most people have to reboot their wireless router regularly?

UniFi Switch

UniFi Switches are Ethernet switches that expand the port capacity of your network and allow you to plug all of your wired devices into your network reliably and at high speed. They also serve as the connection point for the AP’s.

UniFi Controller

The UniFi Controller brings everything together. It is used to configure everything initially or to make changes down the road. It also provides a ton of reporting and security features.

The Controller can be ran on a computer or server in your home, or you can opt for the Cloud Key, which runs the controller software on a self-contained micro device that you simply plug into your network.

What is ‘Prosumer’ gear? A disclaimer:

wireless network layout

By now you are probably saying “OK hold on, this sounds complicated”. You are right.

We wanted to stop here and issue a disclaimer for anyone considering purchasing the UniFi solution.

The UniFi solution is considered “Prosumer Equipment”: it is professional-level equipment that is also suitable for savvy consumers.

This equipment is designed for professional use – it is intended to be used in enterprise environments, where the requirements for speed, security, and reliability are stricter than a residential environment. That’s what makes this equipment so desirable – it is professional grade.

There are, however, tons of people using UniFi gear in their homes. It works very well for home use… as long as you can manage installing it and getting everything up and running.

Anyone purchasing UniFi equipment should be somewhat savvy with computer networking. You should also be willing and prepared to Google for help, read forums, watch YouTube videos, and have some patience during the process. If this is you – we say go for it.

If this scares the daylights out of you – perhaps the UniFi solution isn’t for you. Or, perhaps you should consider hiring someone to install and configure it for you if it’s something you really want installed in your home.

It can, after all, be installed and configured very quickly by someone who knows what they’re doing.

Different types of AP’s

There are dozens of different UniFi AP’s SKU’s, however we are narrowing it down here to the UniFi AP AC line, which supports the newest 802.11AC wireless standard. We aren’t discussing any of the older Wireless B/G/N products here.

The four main types of UniFi AC access points are HD, Pro, LR, and Lite. You can explore more about these models here: https://www.ubnt.com/unifi/unifi-ac/

Since we are looking for the best wireless access point for home, I won’t discuss the HD and Pro models here. Those models are generally geared at larger and more dense deployments than anyone would need in their home, such as a large office, church, or stadium.

The two models that the team here at Infravio recommends are the LR and Lite version. Dare I say, these models are slightly aimed at home users, even though they are enterprise-grade.

UniFi AP AC LRUniFi AC LR AP antenna

The LR model contains most of the features common to any of the AP’s in the UniFi AC line, however is is designed to go longer distances.

It contains an antenna design that allows it to reach further into the corners of your home and yard, all from a single AP. This antenna allows it to not only transmit data further distances, but it also allows for receipt of data from a longer distance – something that a simple high-powered AP can’t accomplish alone.

Ubiquiti Networks UniFi AC LR AP Enterprise Wi-Fi System (UAP-AC-LR)
  • Long-Range, Symmetrical Links for Distant Clients
  • 24V Passive PoE
  • (1) 10/100/1000 Ethernet
  • 175.7 x 43.2 mm

UniFi AP AC Lite

The Lite model also contains most of the features of the other UniFi AP’s, however it is smaller and more compact than the other models. It is also generally the lowest-priced option of the line, making it an excellent option for home users.

Ubiquiti Networks UniFi AP AC Lite, Dual-Band 24V passive PoE, UAP-AC-LITE (24V passive PoE Indoor, 2.4GHz/5GHz, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 1x 10/100/1000)
  • Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE UniFi AP AC LITE 802.11ac Gigabit Dual-Radio PoE
  • The UniFi AC Lite AP features the latest Wi-Fi 802.11ac technology in a refined industrial design and is ideal for cost-effective deployment of high‑performance wireless networks.
  • Dual-Radio performance, gigabit speeds, the UniFi AC Lite AP delivers 5x the performance of the first-generation UniFi AP while still maintaining Ubiquiti disruptive pricing strategy.
  • Sleek, Ultra-Compact Design, uniFi AC Lite AP features a cleaner design in a reduced footprinthalf the size compared to the standard UniFi AP.
  • Scalable Enterprise Wi-Fi Management, UniFi Controller v4 software is a powerful, enterprise wireless software engine ideal for high-density client deployments requiring low latency and high uptime performance. With its software-based capabilities, the UniFi virtual control plane allows for unlimited scalability under one centralized controller. Remotely access the UniFi Controller to upgrade deployed UniFi APs while in the field.

Pros and Cons

Note: These apply to both the LR and Lite models unless otherwise noted, as they are very similar.

Pros:

  • Excellent coverage from a single access point (especially the LR model)
  • Wireless connections are reliable
  • Great price point
  • Plays nice with other UniFi AP’s (even if they are not the same model)
  • Powered over Ethernet for simplicity – no need to run separate power, just a single Ethernet cable

Cons:

  • Requires controller software (or Cloud Key) to setup initially – needs to be running regularly if you want to see data/reports or any time you wish to make changes
  • AP only – still requires a router to get online
  • Advanced setup requires some networking knowledge and persistance
  • Older UniFi AP units don’t support standard POE – make sure you get a newer one or use the included AC power brick
  • Ceiling mount can be difficult to install
  • Many people report difficultly getting good support from Ubiquiti

Performance all around

Both the LR and Lite versions bring speed and stability to your Wi-Fi network – something that I think most users are looking for. Additionally, they both support advanced features such as band steering and airtime fairness, which help ensure an enjoyable experience.

Your choice

Most people will be happy with the LR or Lite. It’s up to you to choose which one you prefer. If you are needing to cover a greater area, perhaps the LR model is the best choice. If you are more price sensitive and wanting something with a smaller footprint, perhaps you should consider the Lite model.

If you are needing to cover a really large area, you should consider installing multiple AP’s. That is one of the benefits of using AP’s instead of a single wireless router – you can grow your network over time, adding AP’s as your need for a larger coverage area increases.

 

 

Best Router and Modem Combo

woman working on laptop

 

For most people, their cable modem and router are two separate devices, however this isn’t always the case. You can also get integrated “combo” devices, which feature a cable modem and a router in the same box.

Before we go any further – a brief note: In this article, we are referring to router and cable modem combos, not router and DSL modem combos. We will cover DSL modem combos in a future piece.

2-in-1cable modem plus router

So why would anyone want a router and cable modem combo in the first place?

Pros:

  • Saves Space
  • Uses less electricity
  • Simpler: Only one device to manage, only one IP address to remember
  • Many combo devices are very robust and feature the same features as their standalone counterparts, such as DOCSIS 3.x support on the cable modem side and 802.11 AC Wi-Fi on the router side – so you aren’t necessarily giving anything up by going with a combo device
  • Saves you money on your cable bill – no more needing to pay monthly for a modem rental
  • Fewer cables, less mess

Cons:

  • They are typically expensive since they are effectively two devices in one
  • If it fails, you either have to buy another combo device (expensive) or ditch the combo and buy a separate router and modem (two devices, also expensive)
  • Doesn’t always provide all of the features that a separate cable modem and router setup would provide – especially on the router side

 

What is the difference between a router and a modem?


Duties of a router:

A router performs many functions, however the primary purpose for a router in the home is to share your internet access among all of the people and devices in your home. Without a router, you would only be able to connect one computer at a time to your internet connection.

The router further enables sharing of your internet connection through the integrated switch ports and built-in wireless radios. Most home routers have an integrated 4 port switch for wired devices, as well as a built in wireless access point for Wi-Fi devices.

The router also enhances the security of your internal network within your home through technologies such as firewalling, packet inspection, and network address translation.

Duties of a modem:

The word “modem” originates from two words (modulator-demodulator) shortened and crammed together. Modems basically allow a provider to convert digital data into a waveform for transmission over a wire, with a set of modems on each end converting digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital again.

Many people are familiar with dial-up modems, which were primarily used in the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s to send data over voice-grade telephone lines. Today, cable modems function in a similar manner, sending modulated RF data over coaxial wiring.

The modem is what enables your internet service provider to actually deliver service to your home. Ultimately, a router is an optional accessory, since your internet service will function without one – however a modem is always required.

netgear router modem combo

A note from a Nerd:

Personally, I am not a fan of combo devices as they tend to be a “Jack of all trades and master of none”. I like having a lot of choices when it comes to my cable modem and router.

If I am selecting a combo device, my choices are much more limited because of the much smaller selection of them available on the market. However, I am an advanced/power user. For the typical user, these devices are an excellent choice.

That being said, here is our pick:

 

NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 (24x8) DOCSIS 3.0 WiFi Cable Modem Router Combo (C7000) Certified for Xfinity from Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, & more

 

NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 (24x8) DOCSIS 3.0 WiFi Cable Modem Router Combo (C7000) Certified for Xfinity from Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, & more

What we like about it:

  • Supports DOCSIS 3.0 – This thing absolutely screams and supports data transfer speeds up to approximately 1 Gigabit per second
  • The wired ports are all 10/100/1000 “Gigabit” ports
  • Simple to install (some of the installation is dependant on your Internet Service Provider, so results may vary)
  • Supports dual bands – it can be configured to operate on both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz spectrums
  • Excellent Wi-Fi coverage for small to medium size homes (up to ~2500 square feet)
  • Includes a USB port for network storage or network printing
  • The management web interface is consistent with other Netgear routers – if you have owned a different Netgear router in the past, you will likely be familiar with this one right out of the gate

What we dislike about it:

  • As with any cable modem swap, your Internet Service Provider may have to send a tech out to install it – however, most ISP’s can make the change remotely, and Comcast even lets you make the change on their website
  • The management interface is somewhat clunky and slow – this will only affect you when you are actually making changes to the router, not during regular internet use
  • One year warranty is a bit short – we would have liked to have seen a three year warranty

NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 (24x8) DOCSIS 3.0 WiFi Cable Modem Router Combo (C7000) Certified for Xfinity from Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, & more
  • Compatible with Xfinity from Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, CableONE & more. Not compatible with Cable bundled voice services;Dimensions: 9.66 x 8.31 x 1.7 inches
  • Three-in-one DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem + AC1900 WiFi Router+ 4 Gigabit Wired Switch
  • Up to 960Mbps modem speed and Dual-Band AC1900 (2.4GHz & 5GHz) WiFi speed. 24x8 channel bonding/ Approved for plans up to 500 Mbps
  • System requirements: Microsoft Windows 7, 8, Vista, XP, 2000, Mac OS, UNIX, or Linux, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0, Firefox 2.0, Safari 1.4, or Google Chrome 11.0 browsers or higher. DOCSIS 3.0 unleashes 24x faster download speeds than DOCSIS 2.0
  • Ideal for streaming 4K HD videos, faster downloads, and high-speed online gaming.WiFi Technology:802.11ac Dual Band Gigabit

What is the best WiFi Router for Comcast?

comcast xfinity logoSo you just got new broadband service from Comcast and are interested to know which Wi-Fi router you should buy to go along with it?

 

Here’s a hint: Any modern consumer grade router available from Amazon, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, etc will work.

 

Unlike Google Fiber, which forces you to use their “Network Box” (which is equipment they place in your house, called a CPE), Comcast gives you the freedom to use your own router. Depending on the area you live in and the type of service you order, you may actually be required to have your own router.

Most of the time, a modem/router combo is installed – which spares the customer from having to provide a router if they don’t want to. We generally don’t like modem/router combos, since they are typically a jack of all trades and master of none.

Luckily, the Comcast modems can usually be put into “bridged mode”, which effectively disables the built in router functionality so that your preferred router can perform those duties. It is best to avoid connecting routers back-to-back after all, to prevent configuration and performance issues associated with double NAT.

 

So what is the best router? Our recommendation is the NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750 Dual Band Smart WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet (R6700):

 

NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750 Dual Band Smart WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet (R6700)

We like that it is a Tri-band router that supports the newest wireless standard, 802.11AC. It has the capability to handle the speeds that you can get from Comcast.

With Comcast, in some areas, you can get Gigabit service (and beyond) via fiber, but the majority of consumers are still on their cable network with service being delivered via the DOCSIS standard on traditional Coax cable. Speeds available to these customers usually top out around 300Mbps currently, which is still smoking fast!

Many routers that are more than a couple of years old will still have a Fast Ethernet WAN port on them, meaning that they top out at 100Mbps. You wouldn’t want to use this type of router with a 300Mbps service for obvious reasons – you simply won’t get anywhere near the speeds you are paying for.

The R6700 has a gigabit WAN port and is built to actually provide a Gigabit worth of actual throughput. Not all routers can make this claim.

The wireless radio on the R6700 can also support full Gigabit – under the right environmental conditions, of course (which applies to all routers, regardless of brand).

 

What else?

 

NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750 Dual Band Smart WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet (R6700)

A few other things we really liked about this router: It supports several additional features that you may or may not want to take advantage of, including Quality of Service (QoS). QoS can prevent bandwidth hogs (such as large downloads) from ruining the experience of any real time applications such as VOIP calls or video streaming that is going on at the same time.

After all, no one likes it when their Netflix stops to buffer. This router can prioritize streaming traffic so that the large download doesn’t affect anyone else in the house, for example.

The router also has excellent range for larger homes, has parental controls to help keep your kids safe online, and supports all of the current common WiFi security standards. It is also very reliable and doesn’t need to be rebooted frequently.

Additionally, it sports four wired Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as a USB 3.0 port – which can be connected to an external hardrive and then used as a NAS device to share files over the network.

Again, any recent router should work fine with Comcast, but the Netgear R6700 is our choice based on the features, performance, reliability, and price.

 

NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750 Dual Band Smart WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet (R6700)
  • 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

 

 

How to get WiFi at home without a router

Are you looking to have Wi-Fi in your home, but you don’t have a router? This may sound strange, but it is possible using the mobile hotspot feature on your computer. Many of the newer and more popular computer operating systems support this feature (for free).

wifi logo

Not the mobile hotspot that you’re used to

This method of sharing an internet connection is frequently referred to as ‘mobile hotspot’, however this setup differs from most people’s definition of mobile hotspot – which is the process of enabling a feature on their smartphone so that they can tether a computer to the phone for internet access through the phone’s mobile data connection.

Using a smartphone’s hotspot permanently will get expensive very quickly – since you will likely blow through your mobile data allotment in short order. This type of hotspot also requires that the phone has adequate mobile data reception – if your signal is too weak, you won’t be able to even turn on the mobile hotspot functionality on your phone.

The solution we are discussing here uses a computer to act as a router in order to share an internet connection. The internet connection you are sharing could be a Cable or DSL service of your own, or perhaps a neighbor’s Wi-Fi that they are granting you access to.

Why no router?

There are multiple reasons why someone would want to go without a router.

The most common reason is that someone has recently moved and doesn’t yet have a router because they either didn’t buy one yet or because their old router is packed away somewhere and they can’t find it.

Or, perhaps they were leasing their last router from their ISP – in this case, they would have had to return it when they disconnected service at their last house/apartment.

Also, people that are traveling frequently can benefit from hotspot functionality on their laptop. Frequently, while traveling, you will run into internet access services that only allow one device online at a time.

Want to get online with both your laptop and your tablet? In this case, you may have to pay again to get the second device online as well. This type of service is not uncommon and is typically found in airports, cruise ships, and some hotels.

A Mobile hotspot on your computer can alleviate the need for these additional charges and allow you to only pay one access fee for all of your devices.

Pros and Cons to going router-less

Pros

  • Saves money up front – No router to purchase
  • Slightly lower power consumption due to the lack of a router (this only applies in cases where you leave your computer running all the time anyway)
  • It’s an easy fix when you’re in a bind and don’t have a router
  • Excellent for travelers

Cons

  • More complex – Traffic is going to be double NAT’ed in some cases, which can also impact performance
  • Worse performance – Depending on the speed of your computer and the other tasks that are running, your computer may not be able to route packets as quickly as a regular router can
  • Worse coverage – Most computers lack an external wireless antenna, and the ones that do have one are quite small. A router can easily cover a larger area than a computer can
  • Must keep the computer on all the time – That’s right, if you shutdown or reboot your computer, other people in the house that are using your Wi-Fi network will be disconnected
  • Difficult to expand wireless coverage – adding additional access points to your network to increase the range won’t work in some cases because the wired Ethernet adapter on your computer is likely already being used to connect to your Cable/DSL modem
  • Limited to 8 devices (Windows 10) – Windows caps the amount of devices that you can share with at 8 total

It’s only temporary (usually)

There’s no reason why you couldn’t rely on this set up permanently, however, most people will only use it temporarily – such as when they are on travel or if they just moved in to a new place.

A router isn’t THAT expensive and the benefits of using a traditional setup versus a mobile hotspot are many.

Getting Started

Difficulty: Medium
Time Required: 10 Minutes

Prerequisites

  • A computer with an Operating System that supports mobile hotspot functionality (Windows 10, MacOS)
  • The computer must have a wireless adapter (any modern laptop will have a wireless adapter built in, and some desktops have them too)
  • An internet connection to share – either your own Cable/DSL type service, or a nearby Wi-Fi network that you have access to (Windows 10 only – MacOS can’t be connected to WiFi and share via WiFi at the same time like Windows 10 can)

Optional

If you are wishing to share your own Cable/DSL service, your computer will also need to have a wired network adapter for connection to your Cable/DSL modem. If you are sharing a nearby Wi-Fi network, a wired adapter is unnecessary.

Windows or Mac?

See the mobile hotspot procedure for Windows 10 below, or jump ahead to the instructions for MacOS.

Windows 10 Procedure

  • Click on the ‘Start’ Button and click on the ‘Settings’ icon:

start menu settings button

  • Click on ‘Network and Internet’:network and internet settings
  • On the menu on the left, click on ‘Mobile hotspot’

network settings mobile hotspot

You will see a drop down box that says ‘Share my Internet connection from’. If you have multiple connections to the internet, such as a Wi-Fi connection to someone else’s network plus a wired connection to your Cable/DSL modem, you will see them listed here.

  • Choose the connection that you want to share.
  • If desired, you can change the network name and password by clicking the ‘Edit’ button. Your password needs to be at least eight characters long.

Alternatively, you can keep the randomly generated name and password that is already shown on the settings screen.

mobile hotspot settings

  • Lastly, move the slider at the top of the screen that says ‘Share my Internet connection with other devices’ to ‘On’. Your computer is now acting as a router.

You should now see your shared wireless network available on other devices in your home and you should be able to connect to that network using the password shown on the mobile hotspot configuration screen.

You will also see a count of the number of devices that are connected to your shared wireless network:

mobile hotspot devices connected

Remember: If you turn off or reboot your computer, you will cut off anyone else that is using your hotspot.

MacOS Procedure

Note: With MacOS, you can create a mobile hotspot just like in Windows 10, except you can typically only share a wired Ethernet connection. This is due to the fact that Windows 10 allows you to connect to a Wi-Fi network and then share that same network on the same wireless adapter.

MacOS does not support this functionality, so you are generally limited to sharing an internet connection that comes in through the computer’s wired Ethernet port, unless you happen to have two wireless adapters. However, many people want to share their Cable/DSL service through their computer, so this functionality on the Mac is still definitely worth mentioning.

  • Click on the ‘Apple’ menu and then click on ‘System Preferences’:

mac apple menu

  • Locate the ‘Sharing’ option and click on it:

mac system preferences

  • Select ‘Internet Sharing’ on the left side:

mac sharing

  • On the ‘Share your connection from’ drop-down, choose ‘Ethernet’
  • In the ‘To computers using’ box, chose your Wi-Fi adapter (the screenshot doesn’t show a wireless adapter since my Mac doesn’t have one, but your computer should)
  • Click the ‘Wi-Fi Options’ button at the bottom to configure your hotspot. You can chose a name for your network as well as select a channel:

mac wifi settings

We recommend selecting ‘WPA2 Personal’ from the ‘Security’ box and then pick a secure password. If you don’t set a security mode, the network will be created as an open network, which will allow anyone to connect to it. Bad idea.

  • Lastly, check the checkbox next to ‘Internet Sharing’ on the left to enable the hotspot. ‘Internet Sharing’ will show as ‘ON’ and have a green dot next to it once it has successfully been enabled.

You should now be able to see the Wi-Fi network on other devices and connect to it to access the internet.

Remember: If you turn off or reboot your computer, you will cut off anyone else that is using your hotspot.

How to Reset a Router from a Computer

All routers need to be rebooted from time to time – it just just a fact of life. Unfortunately, consumer-grade home routers typically need to be rebooted more frequently due to the lower grade engineering and manufacturing that goes into them compared to their business/provider-grade counterparts.

First, let’s clear up the terms –

Before continuing, I should point out – resetting a router can mean two different things: rebooting it or resetting the configuration back to factory defaults. A simple reboot is most often what people actually mean when they say ‘reset’.

Either option is typically available remotely, but it differs depending on the make and model. Just make sure you don’t actually factory reset your router when you are only intending to reboot it.

Also, consider this:

While the need to reboot occasionally is normal, if you router frequently needs to be rebooted, you might want to look into other issues that may be causing the trouble, such as the need for a firmware upgrade, overheating or other environmental issues, or issues that need to be addressed by your ISP.

Why the need to reset a router?reset remotely button

Some of the reasons that you might need to reboot your router include:

  • router is frozen and completely unresponsive (your internet access is completely down)
  • performance is bad – the router is working but is slow or unreliable
  • certain features aren’t working – maybe you just changed a setting or enabled a feature, but it isn’t working properly
  • to rule things out – maybe you aren’t sure if the problem is your router or a problem with your ISP

Rebooting your router physically is pretty easy, simply unplug the power cord and plug it back in. But what if you want to reboot the router from a computer?

The most common reason for needing to reboot remotely, is when you are not home but need to access something on your home network like a computer, security camera, or smart home device. Or, maybe you are the most technical person in the household and a family member or roommate calls you at work to ask for help with fixing the internet.

Or perhaps you just want to reset the router without the inconvenience of going upstairs, downstairs, or across the house to physically reset it. The ability to reboot your router remotely in these cases can be very handy.

Requirements:

To accomplish a reset remotely, the following is required:

  • The router must be operational and currently passing/routing traffic. This is a big one, because often times people want to reboot their router BECAUSE it’s not currently operating. If the router is frozen or otherwise not responding, you are not going to be able to log in to it in order to reset it.
  • The routers’ admin username and password. This differs from your WiFi password and is required any time you are making configuration changes to the router. If you don’t know or can’t remember the password, be sure to try the default password – perhaps you never updated it when you first installed the router. The RouterPasswords site can help you find the default password for your make/model.
  • You need to know what the IP address of your router is. More on this in a second.

Procedure:

Determine the IP address of your router:

If you are accessing the router from home, simply run an ‘ipconfig’ (Windows) or ‘ifconfig’ (Mac and Linux) command to see your IP address information. Included in this information, is the default gateway. This is the IP address of your router.

If you are trying to access your router while away from home, the process is a bit trickier. You will need to know your public internet IP address, which can be found by going to IP Chicken before you leave the house.

Be advised, many ISP’s will change your public IP from time to time, so you might also with to explore setting up Dynamic DNS so that you don’t have to check each time to see if your IP address has changed.

router config remote management

There is also an extra option that usually needs to be configured on the router to allow management access from the internet. This is usually a simple checkbox that says “allow management access from internet, web, WAN”, etc. In the screenshot above it is called “remote management”.

Enable this feature after you have set a secure administrator password on your router. Don’t enable it if you are still using the default administrator password.

Login and Reboot!

Once you have obtained the IP address of your router, simply put it into the address bar of your favorite web browser and hit ‘enter’. Next, enter your admin username and password to log in.

The reboot option is different on every router, but will typically be found in the ‘status’, ‘tools’, or ‘administration’ sections of the menu. I’ve even had routers that had a ‘reboot’ button right on the first page. Check your router’s documentation if you can’t find the reset option.

router is rebooting message

Once you have issued the reset command, you will lose connectivity to it for a few minutes while it reboots. You can log back in to it once it boots back up.

Other Options:

In addition to logging in via the web interface, some routers have the option to log in to the command line via telnet or SSH. This can be quicker and sometimes works when the web interface won’t load.

This is also more advanced and sometimes requires knowledge of the command line syntax to properly issue a reboot command.

Additionally, some routers have a scheduled reboot option. For example, I currently have my home router scheduled to reboot every night at midnight. I know that everyone in my house is in bed at this time, so it won’t disturb anyone, and it ensures that my router is always running fresh.

We call these ‘theraputic reboots’ in the tech industry.

Check your router’s web interface or the documentation to see if your make/model supports scheduled reboots. Most third party firmware options like DD-WRT, OpenWRT, and Tomato have this option as well.

A simpler fix

Finally, you can also get a remote power switch and plug your router into it. Remote power switches provide a user with the ability to remotely turn the switch on and off, which would be equivalent to unplugging your router from the wall and plugging it back in to reset it.

These devices vary from remote-controlled units – which are the cheapest and most simple, but also require close proximity – to advanced IP-controlled units that can be operated from thousands of miles away via the Internet.

See below for a selection of remote power switches available from Amazon:


What is the best router for 100Mbps Internet?

Looking for the best router for 100Mbps Internet?

If you have a 100Mbps internet connection, you are ahead of most people in terms of broadband speed. True, there are some services that go much faster (usually up to 1 Gigabit per second, which is 10 times the speed of 100Mpbs).

However, there are still many people that struggle to reach anywhere near 100Mbps. Lots of cable and DSL services still max out in the 25Mbps and 50Mbps ranges, and then there are people in rural areas that have to setting for speeds in the 1-10Mbps range using technologies like fixed wireless, T-1, and satellite internet.

Thus, it is recommended to pick a router that can support your 100M Internet connection without slowing you down.

Best Router for 100Mbps Internet

Our Pick: ASUS RT-AC68U

ASUS RT-AC68U
  • Dual-band with the latest 802.11ac 3x3 technology for combined speeds of up to 1900 Mbps
  • 1GHz Dual-core CPU enables smart multitasking by dedicating separate lanes for Wifi and USB data. Network Standard : IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac, IPv4, IPv6
  • Effortless router setup with the ASUSWRT web-based interface. Dual-band connectivity for compatibility and performance
  • Monitor and manage your network with ease from your mobile device using the intuitive ASUS Router App
  • AiProtection Powered by Trend Micro provides multi-stage protection from vulnerability detection to protecting sensitive data. Please refer the Installation Manual and the User Manual before use which is highly essential.DC Output : 19 V with max. 1.75 A current.Guest Network : 2.4 GHz x 3, 5 GHz x 3

The team here at Infravio really likes the RT-AC68U and recommends it to our readers regularly. It features just the right mix of performance, features, stability, and quality – all at a reasonable price point.

Performance

The RT-AC68U sports the latest wireless standard, 802.11AC. It supports dual-band connectivity (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) with data rates up to 1900Mbps.

ASUS Whole Home Dual-Band AiMesh Router (AC1900) for Mesh Wifi System (Up to 1900 Mbps) - AiProtection Network Security by Trend Micro, Adaptive QoS & Parental Control (RT-AC68U)

It also features a 1 GHz dual-core CPU and all of it’s wired ports support Gigabit. Gigabit support on the WAN (Internet) port isn’t required for people with 100Mbps Internet, but it is still a good idea to future-proof your router in case you upgrade your Internet service later.

Older routers without Gigabit support typically came equipped with 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports, meaning that they could run at 10Mbps or 100Mbps, but not 1000Mbps (Gigabit). Technically, if your Internet service clocks in at 100Mbps, you could get by with an older 10/100M router, but we don’t recommend it.

We say this because even though the 100M port on the router wouldn’t slow you down (since it is running at the same speed as your Internet service), the router’s older technology and lack of current feature sets could set you back.

For example, an older router likely wouldn’t support features such as 802.11AC, MIMO, and Beamforming – all of which can give you increased wireless range and speed.

There are a plethora of new features being released all of the time, so it is generally worth it to consider upgrading your router every few years, even if your existing router isn’t broken. If your old router happens to be an ASUS router, you may even want to re-use it in another area of your home and take advantage of ASUS AiMesh technology.

Features

The AC68U runs the ASUSWRT web interface, which features powerful reporting capabilities to see what is going on in your network. We also like that it is simple enough that a novice that quickly complete the basic 3-step installation and get online without worrying about configuring optional advanced features that they may never use.asus mobile app - best router for 100mbps internet

The AC68U is fully compatible with ASUS’ mobile app (available for both Android and iOS) – which lets you view bandwidth usage, modify settings, enforce parental controls, see a list of all devices connected to your network, and much much more – all from your smartphone or tablet .

This router also optionally supports the Asuswrt-Merlin firmware product – which unlocks additional advanced features of the router and offers loads of additional monitoring capabilities. This is definitely an advanced feature and can be risky if you are a novice (flashing a router is always a bit risky).

Stability

The router has been very stable in our testing, and the majority of other reviews on this model echo our sentiment – it shows great reliability and doesn’t need to be rebooted frequently like some routers. That being said, it may need to be rebooted from time to time (every router does) and the AC68U has a great feature for this too – the auto reboot.

reboot schedulerThis is such a handy feature – you can configure the router to reboot itself regularly at a time you designate. For example – I have my router set to reboot every day at 2AM while I am sleeping.

It is well documented that most types of computing and networking equipment performs better and more reliably after a reboot – we call these ‘theraputic reboots’. The idea is to reboot the device BEFORE trouble starts.

Since these reboots can be scheduled to run at any time and on a recurring schedule, it makes for a nice ‘set it and forget it’ situation, where you can reboot the router daily at a time you won’t notice and still reap the benefits of a regular therapeutic reboot.

I never notice these reboots, and my router never needs to be rebooted manually because it is always running at peak performance due to the recent reboot.

Build Quality

The build quality on this router is great. It is both durable and stylish. It feels great when handled – you can tell that it is more than just a cheap chunk of plastic.

It also features removable antennas – a feature usually found only on higher end routers.

It also features ASUS AiProtection, which provides an additional layer of security. This service is included with the router free of charge for the life of the product and is NOT a subscription service.

Value

Overall, the AC68U offers a great mix to the 100Mbps internet user – performance, features, quality and reliability – all at a good price point.

We hope this article has helped you answer the question of what is the best router for 100Mbps Internet. Thanks for reading.

Best WiFi Booster for RV

rv plus antenna

 

Camping in an RV is a great way to relax, vacation, and see the countryside. Let’s be honest though – most of us want to stay connected to the outside world, even while we are camping.

After all, people buy or rent RV’s because they want to enjoy some of the comforts of home while they camp. Those that aren’t interested in having creature comforts usually opt for backpacking and tent camping instead.

While many RV parks, campgrounds, and marinas offer Wi-Fi to their customers, accessing this service from your RV can sometimes be a challenge. Many times, the Wi-Fi facilities may be sub-par – perhaps the campground only uses a single wireless router and doesn’t have any outdoor access points deployed.

Maybe your campsite is just too far from the office or clubhouse. Or, perhaps the campground didn’t intend for Wi-Fi to be accessed from the campsites and their only goal was to cover the general areas around the clubhouse, pool, picnic areas, etc.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to utilize campground Wi-fi reliably from the comfort of your RV? We think so to. Interested? Read on.

Alternative means of accessing the Internet

There are, of course, other alternatives to relying on campground Wi-Fi – with the main one being mobile 3G/4G cellular data. This, however, is not always reliable, and can also be quite expensive – since you can quickly burn through your mobile data allocation.

Satellite Internet is another possibility, however it can also be slow and expensive, and usually requires an annual contract.

Fixed Wireless through a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) is a good option, except for the fact that most RV’ers are moving between campgrounds regularly and thus setting up a permanent fixed wireless solution isn’t really an option. If you tend to stay in one place most of the time in your RV, I’d definitely recommend checking out WISPs in your area.

Other alternatives such as dial-up, T1, Cable/DSL, etc are not really an option due to the permanent nature of their installation and the fact that they are not designed for mobility.

Using campground Wi-Fi is still one of the best bets for most people. Luckily, there are improvements that can be made to your RV to increase the accessibility, reliability, range, and performance of these wireless networks.

Different ways to increase nearby Wi-Fi signals

rv with antenna

There are two parts to the process of increasing the usability of nearby wireless signals:

  1. Access the nearby signal using a high gain omni or directional antenna located on a high point of your RV such as attached to a window or on the roof
  2. Make this signal available for use inside the comfort of your RV

Utilizing products currently on the market, there are two main ways to accomplish this:

  • Access the external signal directly with your laptop by use of a remote antenna
  • Access the external signal and re-broadcast it inside your RV by means of a booster, repeater, or range extender

Each of these methods involve different twists on the same basic idea – position a high gain omni or directional antenna in a place to optimally receive and transmit data to the campground Wi-Fi network, and then make that signal usable inside your RV.

Differences between Remote Antennas and Boosters/Repeaters/Range Extenders

Remote Antennas

Using a remote antenna is the cheaper option, because it is less complex – one end (the antenna) goes in an elevated area, preferably with line of site to the Wi-Fi source. The other end connects directly to your laptop via USB.

The antenna can be placed on the roof or attached to a window inside of your RV.

The advantage of this solution is simplicity and price. With the remote antenna plugged in, your laptop simply has better access to the wireless signal than it would on it’s own.

The remote antenna includes it’s own wireless adapter in addition to the antenna, but it’s integrated into one device – simply plug in the USB cable into your laptop and you are ready to go. There are no additional devices to configure or power.

Installation is also simpler in some cases – many remote antennas are designed to attach to a window versus permanently drilling a hole in the roof of your RV and mounting an antenna externally.

The disadvantage is that it will not work on tablets or smartphones, it cannot be shared with multiple devices inside the RV, and it’s user will remain tethered to the antenna cable.

Side Note: In some cases you CAN share the internet connection through the laptop with other laptops, tablets, and smartphones in the RV. This depends on several factors, including the type of computer and operating system. Check here for more info.

Best Wi-Fi adapter Remote Antenna for RV

We like the Alfa Network antenna:

2000mW 2W 802.11 G/N High-Gain USB Wireless Long-Rang WiFi Network Adapter With Original Alfa Screw On Swivel 9dBi Rubber Antenna and Suction cup Window Mount dock
  • 802.11 b /g and "N", 2000mW of power which is more powerful than ANY other WiFi adapter on the market
  • Includes a 4 inch 5 DdBi Screw-On Swivel Rubber Antenna that can be removed and upgrade up to the include 9dBi antenna
  • Very Secure with wireless data encryption with 64/128-bit WEP, WPA, WPA2, TKIP,and AES and is Compatible with IEEE 802.11n, 802.11b/g/n wireless standards
  • Supports driver for Windows 2000, XP 32/64, Vista 32/64, Windows 7, Linux (2.4.x/2.6.x),and Mac (10.4.x/10.5.x)
  • The Mount designed for easy clinging on Notebook, Netbook and Window.

Boosters/Repeaters/Range Extenders

travel trailer

Boosters, Repeaters, and Range Extenders do exactly what their name implies – they boost/amplify incoming and outgoing signals. An antenna on the roof of your RV is connected to a cable that is ran inside of your RV and connected to a router and an omni-directional antenna located inside. The original, boosted signal is then ready for use inside your RV where your laptop, tablet, or phone will be readily able to connect to it with a stable signal.

Think of it as plugging in your own wireless router between the campground Wi-Fi and your computer. You get a strong signal from the source connection and maintain mobility of Wi-Fi  access inside the RV.

In this scenario, the signal is actually being re-broadcast – you will have your own wireless network name (SSID) and password (to keep other campers off your network). This method provides additional security, since your devices will be located behind an additional router/firewall from the rest of the campground network – but this benefit also comes with the drawback that it is more complex (your traffic will pass through one additional routed “hop” on it’s way to/from the Internet).

The other main benefit of this solution is that you can share the connection with multiple devices such as other laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Installation is also more complex, however.

If you are looking for a long-term solution, we generally recommend using a booster/repeater/range extender over a remote antenna as it will generally give better results.

Best WiFi repeater for RV

We like the Halo Wi-Fi Extender System:

Halo Long Range Marine & RV Wi-Fi Extender System
  • Get marina or RV Wi-Fi service from farther away than with your mobile device alone
  • Wi-Fi connect multiple cell phones, tablets or computers on your boat or RV at the same time
  • Marine-ready stainless steel connector for 14 TPI 1" wide mounts; includes 10M cable
  • Durable marine grade materials withstand harsh conditions at sea or extended outdoor RV use
  • 1 YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY and INCLUDED TECHNICAL SUPPORT. Technical Support: +1 (877) 379 8723 or support@redportglobal.com

Best WiFi range extender for RV – runner up

If the Halo isn’t a good fit for you, we also like the Alfa Wi-Fi Camp Pro:

Alfa WiFi Camp Pro long range WiFi repeater kit R36/Tube-(U)N/AOA-2409-TF-Antenna
  • Receive Internet signal from remote hotspot
  • Ideal for RV, yacht, camping Internet access

Regardless of which option you choose – a range extender versus an antenna, you will definitely notice a large improvement compared to simply using a laptop or tablet to connect directly to campground Wi-Fi – the antenna in those types of devices is simply not designed for the range needed in this situation.

Now get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!

Best router for 200Mbps Internet

For people with a 200Mbps connection to the internet, congratulations. That is a pretty fast connection. It is definitely not the quickest, with services from some cable and fiber to the home based providers clocking in at 1Gig or 2Gig service, but it is also much quicker than the 2017 national average broadband rate of 18.75Mbps.

For most people, 200Mbps is plenty of bandwidth, even for large households. However, you’ll want to make sure you select the right router to go along with your new service to ensure that your router doesn’t hold you back and thus prevent you from geting the speeds you are paying for.

Our Pick

Our recommendation for a router for 200Mbps Internet service is:

ASUS RT-AC68U

ASUS RT-AC68U
  • Dual-band with the latest 802.11ac 3x3 technology for combined speeds of up to 1900 Mbps
  • 1GHz Dual-core CPU enables smart multitasking by dedicating separate lanes for Wifi and USB data. Network Standard : IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac, IPv4, IPv6
  • Effortless router setup with the ASUSWRT web-based interface. Dual-band connectivity for compatibility and performance
  • Monitor and manage your network with ease from your mobile device using the intuitive ASUS Router App
  • AiProtection Powered by Trend Micro provides multi-stage protection from vulnerability detection to protecting sensitive data. Please refer the Installation Manual and the User Manual before use which is highly essential.DC Output : 19 V with max. 1.75 A current.Guest Network : 2.4 GHz x 3, 5 GHz x 3

Here is a short checklist of features you should look for for use with your 200Mbps Internet. The RT-AC68U supports all of them.

  • Stable Operation
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 802.11AC Wi-Fi Support
  • Dual-core CPU or better
  • Monitoring capabilities (optional, but nice to have!)

What we like about the ASUS RT-AC68U

ASUS Whole Home Dual-Band AiMesh Router (AC1900) for Mesh Wifi System (Up to 1900 Mbps) - AiProtection Network Security by Trend Micro, Adaptive QoS & Parental Control (RT-AC68U)

The RT-AC68U has proven itself as a flagship router that can route packets at line rate (1000Mbps) without issue. This router will easily work if you end up upgrading to a Gigabit service in the future. This is good for people that like to make future-proof electronics purchases.

It is also a very stable router – It doesn’t need to be rebooted all the time, like some routers.

We also like the monitoring capabilities that can be accessed  from the ASUS app on your smartphone. You can use the app to see what is going on on your network and who/what is using bandwidth.

Finally, we like that the router supports the ASUS AirMesh feature, which allows you to connect multiple ASUS routers to your network in order to increase Wi-Fi coverage in your home. This is helpful for people with large homes or people that have issues with dead spots in their home.

Think twice before you use that old router

Make especially sure that you get a router with Gigabit Ethernet ports. Many of the older Wireless-N (802.11N) and Wireless-G (802.11B/G) routers are only equipped with 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports.

This means that the WAN port on the router can’t pass data any faster than 100Mbps. This would mean that you could only get half of the speed you are paying for if you end up using one of these routers with your 200Mbps service!

Many people think that they can just re-use an old router and it will work fine. That may be true, but in the current environment, broadband speeds are exploding.

No one used to show any concern about using a router limited at 100Mbps because broadband speeds were only in the 25-50Mbps range. Now that broadband speeds are quickly surpassing 100Mbps, you need to pay special attention to the maximum speed of the equipment on your local network, since it could quickly become the bottleneck instead of your internet connection.

This rule also applies to other devices on your local network. If you are using switches to distribute wired Ethernet to other parts of your home or to simply expand beyond the 4 wired ports provided by your router, you need to make sure that those switches also have Gigabit support.

Otherwise, you will max out at 100Mbps on any devices that connect through them.

Other router picks for 200Mbps Internet

Here are a few more recommendations from our team for a router that works well with 200Mbps service:

Excellent performance at an affordable price!
NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750 Dual Band Smart WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet (R6700)
Linksys Max-Stream AC1900 MU-MIMO Dual-Band WiFi Router for Home (Fast Wireless WiFi Router, Gigabit Wireless Router)
Our Pick
ASUS Whole Home Dual-Band AiMesh Router (AC1900) for Mesh Wifi System (Up to 1900 Mbps) - AiProtection Network Security by Trend Micro, Adaptive QoS & Parental Control (RT-AC68U)
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Router
NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750 Dual Band Smart WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet (R6700)
Linksys Max-Stream AC1900 MU-MIMO Dual-Band WiFi Router for Home (Fast Wireless WiFi Router, Gigabit Wireless Router)
ASUS Whole Home Dual-Band AiMesh Router (AC1900) for Mesh Wifi System (Up to 1900 Mbps) - AiProtection Network Security by Trend Micro, Adaptive QoS & Parental Control (RT-AC68U)
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
802.11AC Supported
CPU Cores
2
2
2
4
Prime Status
Excellent performance at an affordable price!
NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750 Dual Band Smart WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet (R6700)
Router
NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750 Dual Band Smart WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet (R6700)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
802.11AC Supported
CPU Cores
2
Prime Status
Linksys Max-Stream AC1900 MU-MIMO Dual-Band WiFi Router for Home (Fast Wireless WiFi Router, Gigabit Wireless Router)
Router
Linksys Max-Stream AC1900 MU-MIMO Dual-Band WiFi Router for Home (Fast Wireless WiFi Router, Gigabit Wireless Router)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
802.11AC Supported
CPU Cores
2
Prime Status
Our Pick
ASUS Whole Home Dual-Band AiMesh Router (AC1900) for Mesh Wifi System (Up to 1900 Mbps) - AiProtection Network Security by Trend Micro, Adaptive QoS & Parental Control (RT-AC68U)
Router
ASUS Whole Home Dual-Band AiMesh Router (AC1900) for Mesh Wifi System (Up to 1900 Mbps) - AiProtection Network Security by Trend Micro, Adaptive QoS & Parental Control (RT-AC68U)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
802.11AC Supported
CPU Cores
2
Prime Status
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Router
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
802.11AC Supported
CPU Cores
4
Prime Status

Does a better router improve Internet speed?

Question: Does a better router improve internet speed?
Answer: Sometimes. It depends. It’s complicated!

Allow me to elaborate…bandwidth speedometer

There are at least three factors that impact someone’s perception of how fast or slow an internet connection is. To help make my point, think of your internet connection as a pipeline.

The three factors that affect your speed as it relates to your pipeline are:

  1. The size of your pipeline (the amount of bandwidth you have)
  2. How quickly things flow through your pipeline (the amount of latency you have)
  3. Whether or not there are leaks in your pipeline (is data being dropped somewhere in the middle)

1. The size of your pipeline

Think of the amount of bandwidth you have. This is the number advertised by your ISP in Megabits per second (Mbps).

Some people have 1 Mbps, others have 1000 Mbps. This is the size of your pipeline.The more bandwidth you have, the more data that can flow through it at the same time and the less it gets clogged up.

Remember to also consider upload speed as well as your download speed, as they can both make a difference.

The amount of bandwidth you have is certainly important, but it is not the only factor in determining the speed of your internet connection.

2. How quickly things (data) flow through your pipeline

internet pipelineThis is referred to as latency – it is a measurement of the time it takes data to go from your computer, through the internet to a remote server (Facebook, Netflix, etc), and then all the way back (round trip).

Is the data moving slowly like sludge through the pipeline, or is it moving quickly like pure water?

If data moves back and forth quickly (low latency), it is likely that someone would perceive that connection as very fast, even if it were only a 10Mbps connection.

The reverse of this is also true – someone could have a large pipe with slow flow and they wouldn’t feel that it is a very fast connection. The best example of this is Satellite Internet, such as HughesNet.

Many satellite internet plans provide decent bandwidth (usually somewhere around 25Mbps) but are still known to be quite slow. The reason for this, is due to the added time it takes the signal to go all the way up into space and then be bounced back down to earth.

This results in a large pipe/slow flow scenario, and as such, many people with this type of service are generally unhappy with it.

3. Are there leaks in your pipeline?

This is referring to the reliability of your internet connection and all of the pathways your data takes through the internet on its way to/from a remote server.

If there is an issue, either with your ISP or somewhere upstream from them, you may experience packet loss. Packet loss will definitely slow down your internet connection.

See, your computer is very intelligent and can sense when packet loss is occuring. When this happens, it has to re-request the missing data and wait for it to arrive again.

This delay, depending on its severity, is typically noticeable to the user as lag/slowness. Alternatively, if there is no packet loss, then there is no need for data to be re-transmitted. This can result in favorable speeds and saved bandwidth.

Factors that impact your speed

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the three of the ways that speed is observed, lets discuss factors that will actually impact your speed.

router with lan cable

Congestion/Oversubscription

This is what happens when your pipeline gets full. It simply can’t move any more data simultaneously until either the size of the pipeline is increased, or the amount of existing data in the pipeline is reduced.

We’ve all noticed this before – a sudden burst of lag that occurs because someone else in the household is suddenly downloading or uploading a lot of data, like a movie or a game. This creates data contention issues, which is noticed as a slowdown.

Keep in mind that oversubscription could occur in your household (too many family members or roommates using the internet at the same time) or it could also occur at the ISP level – where there are too many customers eating up large amounts of data (usually during peak times of the day) and it ends up affecting other customers.

How well is your ISP connected to other networks/providers

cables in a datacenterThe internet is made up of thousands of pathways that connect various networks. In some instances, your data has to go through 20-30 routers before it reaches its intended destination (that is considered a lot of routers).

In other cases, maybe it only has to go through 8-10 routers. Generally speaking, the shorter the path your data has to take to reach its destination, the faster and more reliably it will get there.

These pathways are decided upon by your ISP.

If they have many connections to various upstream providers, including some direct connections (called peering arrangements) with major companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon etc – you will likely have a better experience than an ISP that only has one connection out to the internet.

Other miscellaneous issues that can impact your speed:

  • Equipment problems at your ISP or one of their upstream providers
  • Issues on the server side – if the remote server you are accessing is oversubscribed or malfunctioning, you will notice slowness
  • Local issues with your computer or your router, or perhaps a Wi-Fi issue

Here are some things that a new router could solve:

Wi-Fi environmental issues

Perhaps there are environmental issues impacting your Wireless performance. Maybe there is interference from too many people nearby on other Wi-Fi networks.

Maybe the guy next door uses a cordless phone or runs his microwave frequently (both of which can affect Wi-Fi). Or maybe the materials that your home is built out of is negatively impacting your signal.

There are technologies featured on newer routers such as beamforming, additional bands, etc that can overcome some of these environmental issues and deliver a better user experience.

New features and standards

Perhaps your old router only supports an older/slower wireless standard such as 802.11G or 802.11N, so upgrading to a newer standard such as 802.11AC will definitely give better data throughput and better range.

Additionally, many newer routers have quality of service (QoS) features that would make the internet connection feel faster/more reliable when data contention is in play.

The bottom line:laptop wired to router

You won’t know if a better router will improve your internet speed unless you do some testing:

  • You could just go out and buy a new router, plug it in, and hope everything improves
  • You could connect your computer directly to your router with a network cable to see if there is a performance issue related to your Wi-Fi (connecting directly will bypass your Wi-Fi)
  • Or you could bypass your router altogether – in some cases, you can plug a computer directly in to your modem to test

Whatever type of test you run, just make sure that you are consistent in your testing. Run speed tests before and after each change and document the results.

Be sure to use the same computer and same browser each time you test. Use the same speed test website/server each time, and try to test at the same time each day, since speeds with some providers differ depending on the time of day.

If you are testing a wired connection, make sure your computer is disconnected from the wireless network before you start testing.

Results:

If your internet speeds are identical when you bypass your router, it is unlikely that upgrading your router will have any noticeable effect. Perhaps you should contact your ISP instead to see if there is a problem with your connection.

But, if your internet speeds improve when you bypass your router, there is a good chance that a new router will give you the better performance you are craving.

Good Luck!