Best Router for Charter Spectrum

What is the Best Router for Charter Spectrum?

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”.

Our Pick - Extreme Performance and Highly Reliable
ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router (AC3100) with MU-MIMO, supporting AiProtection network security by Trend Micro, AiMesh for Mesh WiFi system, and WTFast game Accelerator (RT-AC88U)
Runner Up - Excellent Performance at a good price
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wifi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
D-Link EXO WiFi Router, AC2600 MU-MIMO Dual Band Gigabit 4K Streaming and Gaming with USB Ports, 4x4 Wireless Internet for Home (DIR-882-US)
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
8
4
4
4
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
1GHz Dual Core
1.4GHz Dual Core
880MHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
3 (external)
3 (external)
4 (external)
Speed Rating
AC3100
AC1750
AC1900
AC2600
Our Pick - Extreme Performance and Highly Reliable
ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router (AC3100) with MU-MIMO, supporting AiProtection network security by Trend Micro, AiMesh for Mesh WiFi system, and WTFast game Accelerator (RT-AC88U)
Router
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
8
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
Speed Rating
AC3100
Runner Up - Excellent Performance at a good price
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
Router
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
4
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Speed Rating
AC1750
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wifi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
4
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Speed Rating
AC1900
D-Link EXO WiFi Router, AC2600 MU-MIMO Dual Band Gigabit 4K Streaming and Gaming with USB Ports, 4x4 Wireless Internet for Home (DIR-882-US)
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
4
CPU
880MHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
Speed Rating
AC2600

About Charter Spectrum

Charter Spectrum logo

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

man using a tablet

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.

ASUS RT-AC88U
  • 1024 Qam technology 80 percent faster 5 GigaHertz at up to 2100 Mbps, 66 percent faster 2. 4 GigaHertz at up to 1000 Mbps; utilities: firmware restoration
  • 33 percent greater 2. 4 GigaHertz 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 GigaHertz 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.

laptop and plant on tabletop

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.

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
  • FAST WiFi PERFORMANCE: Get up to 1500 square feet wireless coverage with AC1750 speed (Dual band up to 450 plus 1300 Mbps)
  • RECOMMENDED FOR UP TO 25 DEVICES: Reliably stream videos, play games, surf the internet, and connect smart home devices
  • WIRED ETHERNET PORTS: Plug in computers, game consoles, streaming players, and other nearby wired devices with 4 x 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • LOADED WITH ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Designed with a 1GHz dual core processor, 3 amplified antennas, Beamforming plus, Dynamic QoS, Smart Connect, and more
  • USB CONNECTIONS: Share a storage drive or printer with any connected device or create a personal cloud storage to access from anywhere, using the 1 x 3.0 USB port

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.

Wrapping Up

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.

Our Pick - Extreme Performance and Highly Reliable
ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router (AC3100) with MU-MIMO, supporting AiProtection network security by Trend Micro, AiMesh for Mesh WiFi system, and WTFast game Accelerator (RT-AC88U)
Runner Up - Excellent Performance at a good price
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wifi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
D-Link EXO WiFi Router, AC2600 MU-MIMO Dual Band Gigabit 4K Streaming and Gaming with USB Ports, 4x4 Wireless Internet for Home (DIR-882-US)
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
8
4
4
4
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
1GHz Dual Core
1.4GHz Dual Core
880MHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
3 (external)
3 (external)
4 (external)
Speed Rating
AC3100
AC1750
AC1900
AC2600
Our Pick - Extreme Performance and Highly Reliable
ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router (AC3100) with MU-MIMO, supporting AiProtection network security by Trend Micro, AiMesh for Mesh WiFi system, and WTFast game Accelerator (RT-AC88U)
Router
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
8
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
Speed Rating
AC3100
Runner Up - Excellent Performance at a good price
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
Router
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
4
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Speed Rating
AC1750
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wifi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
4
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Speed Rating
AC1900
D-Link EXO WiFi Router, AC2600 MU-MIMO Dual Band Gigabit 4K Streaming and Gaming with USB Ports, 4x4 Wireless Internet for Home (DIR-882-US)
Gigabit Capability (for connections over 100M to Charter Spectrum)
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Dual Band
Number of Ethernet ports
4
CPU
880MHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
Speed Rating
AC2600

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 C7000 (Old model)

 

NETGEAR C7000 (Old model)

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 C7000 (Old model)
  • Old Model** See newer C7000 model

How to access my Netgear router

Accessing your Netgear router’s web interfacenetgear login page

The process for accessing a Netgear router’s configuration screen is actually a little bit easier than most other home router brands.

This is because Netgear uses the routerlogin.com (or routerlogin.net) URL to redirect you to the Netgear router on your own network. That way, you don’t have to remember the IP address of your router. Pretty slick.

To start, open your favorite web browser

  • Clear out anything and everything in the address bar
  • Type in www.routerlogin.com OR www.routerlogin.net (either one will work)
  • Press Enter

You should be directed to the router’s login screen and prompted for a username and password. If not, verify that you spelled www.routerlogin.com or www.routerlogin.net correctly.

If you spelled it correctly, try the other routerlogin varient – assuming you tried www.routerlogin.com the first time – try again, this time using www.routerlogin.net. Likewise, if you tried .net first, try switching to .com.

If it’s still not working, try a different web browser. Also, make sure the computer you are using is connected to your network, either via Wi-Fi or wired in directly.

Find the router’s IP address

If that still doesn’t work, try finding the router’s IP address. See this article for the procedure.

Once you’ve located the router’s IP address, go back to your favorite browser and clear out the address bar again. Now enter the IP address of the router and press enter.

You should finally receive a username and password prompt to login to your router.

Login Credentials

username password login prompt

Now you’ll need your router’s administrator credentials in order to login. For Netgear routers, the username is always admin. It cannot be changed to anything else.

The password is whatever you selected when you first set up the router. It is technically a different password than your Wi-Fi password, but it is possible that you used the same password for both, so give that password a try if you’re unsure.

If you still aren’t sure what the password is, try password or 1234 which are the default passwords for most Netgear devices. Perhaps you never changed the password from the default when you first set the router up.

Reset your router’s configuration to factory defaults

If you are still unsure of what your password is, and the default passwords don’t work either, your only choice is to reset your router to the factory default configuration.

Be advised that this will require you to go through the initial set up again – you will have to set up your Wi-Fi network name (SSID), the Wi-Fi password, the new administrator password, and any other special configurations you previously had in place such as static IP addresses, PPPoE usernames/passwords, port forwarding configurations, etc.

Your internet will likely stop functioning until your router is set up again. If your ISP requires you to use a username and password with their service, make sure you have that information accessible.

If you don’t have it, I recommend contacting them and requesting the information before you reset the router – that way you don’t end up without an internet connection longer than necessary.

computer router login screen

Reasons why you would need to access your router’s management interface

Below are some of the common reasons why a person would need to access the management interface on their router. It is certainly not an exhaustive list:

  • To change their Wi-Fi network name (SSID) or Wi-Fi password
  • To change the IP address of their router
  • To change the IP address of other devices on their network
  • To set up new port forwarding on their router so that they can access their home network via the internet
  • To set up a VPN connection
  • To access/change their PPPoE credentials provided by their ISP
  • To change the hostname of their router
  • To change the Wi-Fi channel their router uses
  • To enable or disable certain bands (2.4Ghz or 5.0Ghz)
  • To check their public IP address
  • To find out how many devices are connected to their network
  • To implement parental access controls
  • To view their bandwidth usage statistics
  • To upgrade their firmware or reboot their router
  • To modify their firewall settings

Remember the steps for next time

I recommend writing down the steps you used to access your router, and the working username and password.

It’s not every day that you need to change settings on your router, but the need does arise every so often. Save yourself a headache later and write the information down now while it is fresh in your head.

Best Router for a Guest Network

Best Router for a Guest Network

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could give guests access to your Wi-Fi without worrying about them having access to everything on your network such as your files, computers, security cameras, etc.

Previously I had wondered this as well. I always cringed a little bit when I gave out my Wi-Fi password.

Even though I typically only gave it out to people I trusted, such as friends and family, you never really know if the information might be shared later.

Another concern is that you never know what may happen to a device that has your Wi-Fi credentials stored on it. Perhaps you give your password to a friend today, and maybe their tablet gets stolen tomorrow.

The thief could potentially find and access your wireless network from the tablet, or even worse, extract the password from it and share it on the dark web.

Another common scenario would be if your friend sold or gave their tablet to someone else, which could easily lead to your password being compromised.

The point is, once you start to give out your Wi-Fi password, you have lost control of the potential security implications that its distribution might bring about later.

Luckily, there is another way. Many modern routers feature guest network capability, which does exactly what its name implies – it allows you to create a special Wi-Fi network for your guests.

How it works

The guest network will have a different name (SSID) and a different password. Devices that join the guest network will still be able to access the Internet, but they will be restricted from accessing any of your private internal network resources, such as file shares (NAS), printers, security cameras, and more.

This means that you can give out your guest network credentials to friends and family without worrying so much about your security.

Additional Features

Some routers will have additional advanced guest network settings such as the ability to throttle bandwidth, define access schedules, etc.

Bandwidth Throttling

Routers that support guest network bandwidth throttling allow you to define how much bandwidth your guests can use. Sometimes, this limit is a global limit (enforced across the sum of all users) and others this limit is enforced per-user.

For example, my home broadband connection runs at 40Mbps download and 5Mbps upload. In light of this, I have chosen to set my guest user bandwidth policy to 5Mbps download and 1Mbps upload.

This is plenty of bandwidth that a typical guest user would need. It is enough for basic surfing or even streaming a video on YouTube.

It prevents a guest user from (knowingly or unknowingly) abusing access and consuming large amounts of bandwidth by downloading something large, running BitTorrent, etc.

This ensures that my family will still have an enjoyable experience online, since the majority of my bandwidth will be reserved for them.

Access Scheduling

Some routers support the ability to define a schedule for guest network access.

For example, if you only want your guest network to be available on weekdays between 8AM and 5PM, you can configure this.

Any time outside of that schedule, the guest network won’t even appear in the list of available networks and no device will be able to connect to it. How’s that for cool!?

Best Router for a Guest Network – TP-Link Archer A7

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control&QoS (Archer A7)
  • JD Power Award ---Highest in customer satisfaction for wireless routers 2017 and 2019
  • Router for wireless internet, works with Alexa, compatible with all WiFi devices, 802.11ac and older
  • Dual band router upgrades to 1750 Mbps high speed internet(450mbps for 2.4GHz + 1300Mbps for 5GHz), reducing buffering and ideal for 4K streaming Comparable to the router NETGEAR R6700
  • 3 external antennas for long range WiFi
  • Gigabit Router with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, fast access to Multiple connected wired devices, Ideal as a gaming router

The TP-Link Archer A7 features all of the Guest Network capabilities mentioned above. Not only does it have the capability to create a basic guest network, but it also allows for bandwidth throttling and access scheduling.

Configuring the Guest Network features can be done easily from the administrative interface:

Archer C7 Guest Network Configuration

As you can see, you can easily configure an access schedule from the Web UI:

Archer C7 Guest Network Configuration

Configuring bandwidth throttling is equally easy:

The team here at Infravio loves the Archer A7 from TP-Link and we recommend it to our readers regularly.

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control&QoS (Archer A7)
  • JD Power Award ---Highest in customer satisfaction for wireless routers 2017 and 2019
  • Router for wireless internet, works with Alexa, compatible with all WiFi devices, 802.11ac and older
  • Dual band router upgrades to 1750 Mbps high speed internet(450mbps for 2.4GHz + 1300Mbps for 5GHz), reducing buffering and ideal for 4K streaming Comparable to the router NETGEAR R6700
  • 3 external antennas for long range WiFi
  • Gigabit Router with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, fast access to Multiple connected wired devices, Ideal as a gaming router

The Archer A7 features a host of great features and specifications beyond its guest network capability, which explains its high ratings and widespread popularity.

Best Router for Brick Walls

Best Router for Brick Walls

Looking for a good wireless router to go with your high speed Internet connection but live in a house or apartment made of brick or concrete?

Look no further – let’s discuss the best router for brick or concrete walls.

What is the best router for brick walls?

Here are the best routers for brick or concrete walls:

Our Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wifi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Amazing Router, but Pricey!
ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router (AC3100) with MU-MIMO, supporting AiProtection network security by Trend Micro, AiMesh for Mesh WiFi system, and WTFast game Accelerator (RT-AC88U)
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 Smart WiFi Router (R9000) - AD7200 Wireless Speed (up to 7200 Mbps) for 60Ghz WiFi Devices | Up to 2500 sq ft Coverage | 6 x 1G Ethernet, 1 x 10G SFP+, and 2 USB ports
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AD
Speed Rating
AC1750
AC1900
AC3100
AD7200
Processor Cores
2
2
2
4
Number of Antennas
3 (external)
3 (external)
4 (external)
4 (external)
Prime Status
Our Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
Router
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC1750
Processor Cores
2
Number of Antennas
3 (external)
Prime Status
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wifi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC1900
Processor Cores
2
Number of Antennas
3 (external)
Prime Status
Amazing Router, but Pricey!
ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router (AC3100) with MU-MIMO, supporting AiProtection network security by Trend Micro, AiMesh for Mesh WiFi system, and WTFast game Accelerator (RT-AC88U)
Router
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC3100
Processor Cores
2
Number of Antennas
4 (external)
Prime Status
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 Smart WiFi Router (R9000) - AD7200 Wireless Speed (up to 7200 Mbps) for 60Ghz WiFi Devices | Up to 2500 sq ft Coverage | 6 x 1G Ethernet, 1 x 10G SFP+, and 2 USB ports
Router
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AD
Speed Rating
AD7200
Processor Cores
4
Number of Antennas
4 (external)
Prime Status

What’s the deal with brick or concrete?

The composition of materials used to construct a building can absolutely make a difference in the range, reliability, and performance of your wireless network.

If your house, condominium, flat, or apartment is primarily make up of brick or concrete, you have more challenges than someone living in a building composed of traditional materials such as wood and drywall.

This has do with the fact the the Electromagnetic Waves of the Wi-Fi signal get absorbed (or even reflected) more or less by different materials in the environment. In the case of brick or concrete, these materials absorb the signal much greater than wood does, resulting in decreased range and speed, and generally less reliability than the same Wi-Fi network in a wood environment.

What can I do about it?

This is where the selection of your router and it’s configuration comes into play.

Most routers nowadays are dual-band routers, which is a good thing. However, in the case of EM-absorbing materials being present in the walls, ceilings, and floors of your residence, (and therefore being present between your router and your phone/tablet/laptop) it is best to connect on a lower-frequency band if possible.

What does that mean?

Most routers can operate at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Generally 5GHz is preferred because of the greater availability of clear (non-overlapping) channels and fewer devices and interference to compete with.

However if you are dealing with brick or concrete, your primary concern is the ability for your Wi-Fi signal to penetrate the materials in your walls.

Lower frequencies penetrate better and are attenuated less by brick, so you should use 2.4GHz over 5GHz.

This logic is the opposite of what I usually recommend. As I said before, people living in brick or concrete environments have special challenges!

So I should just scrap my dual-band router?

Now, hold on. I’m not necessarily saying you shouldn’t use the 5GHz band on your router. In fact, for wireless devices that are close to your router such as in the same room, or perhaps just one room away – you should try sticking to 5GHz.

For the rooms that are further away than that, you may need to use 2.4GHz.

Overall what I’m trying to say, is that you should be prepared to test both frequencies and see which works better for you.

Best Router for Brick Walls – Netgear R6700

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
  • FAST WiFi PERFORMANCE: Get up to 1500 square feet wireless coverage with AC1750 speed (Dual band up to 450 plus 1300 Mbps)
  • RECOMMENDED FOR UP TO 25 DEVICES: Reliably stream videos, play games, surf the internet, and connect smart home devices
  • WIRED ETHERNET PORTS: Plug in computers, game consoles, streaming players, and other nearby wired devices with 4 x 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • LOADED WITH ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Designed with a 1GHz dual core processor, 3 amplified antennas, Beamforming plus, Dynamic QoS, Smart Connect, and more
  • USB CONNECTIONS: Share a storage drive or printer with any connected device or create a personal cloud storage to access from anywhere, using the 1 x 3.0 USB port

The team here at Infravio really likes the R6700 and recommends it to our readers frequently. This router is feature-rich, highly stable, and offers excellent performance without breaking the bank.

Connecting your devices to the 2.4GHz band on this router should provide some of the best performance you can hope to attain in a brick/concrete environment.

If you are still having trouble, you may want to think about deploying one or more wireless access points in your home, which will serve to decrease signal attenuation by bringing the source closer to more devices.

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.