Why do I have to keep resetting my router?

Pretty much the first thing anyone does when they start having problems with their internet connection, is reboot their router. After all, rebooting your router usually fixes the problem – but why?

Why power cycle?

finger pushing power button

What is it about a reset (power cycle) that fixes problems? Well, there are several things.

For starters, a router is similar to a computer. It has a power supply, a processor (CPU), memory (RAM), and even an operating system (firmware).

Just like your computer needs a good reboot from time to time, so does a router.

Some routers are more well built than others and don’t require a reset as often, but for the most part any consumer-grade router is going to need a power cycle occasionally.

Consumer routers are generally built with lower quality hardware, slower speed components, and less rigorous software engineering standards compared to the routers that your ISP uses. As a result, they generally can’t go as long without a reset as their business-grade counterparts can.

Drain the electricity from circuitry

A proper power cycle involves disconnecting power from the device for 5-10 seconds, which allows for all of the circuitry in the router to fully discharge.

There are capacitors inside the router that take a few seconds to discharge, during which time, if you were to reapply power, the device would start back up but could continue to have issues since it wasn’t fully reset.

Memory in a computer system (or a router, in this case) gets fully erased when the power is cut. This is called volatile memory.

Don’t worry – there are also non-volatile memory types, which is why we don’t lose the configuration on our router as well when it is power cycled.

When power is re-applied, the router’s operating system boots from a fresh state, which fresh memory,  and is completely re-initialized so it can run at maximum capacity again.

IP address issues

After rebooting, the router also verifies that its’ current IP address from your ISP is valid (called renewing the IP) or if necessary, it requests a new IP address from your ISP.

Sometimes there is a bit of a disconnect between the IP address your ISP is providing and the IP address your router is using – the reboot will synchronize your router with your ISP again.

Bandwidth hogs are shut down (at least temporarily)

bandwidth hog

Sometimes, an internet connection is not working well because of a bandwidth hog. A bandwidth hog is defined as a person or device on your network that is uploading or downloading a large amount of data.

It could be something like a roommate downloading a new game on their Xbox, or something more systematic, like a computer downloading an automatic update.

This large upload or download creates a data contention issue, where other user’s data is slowed down because of the lack of bandwidth.

During a router reboot, bandwidth hogs lose the internet connection along with everyone else. They will usually resume their upload or download once the internet connection becomes available again, but sometimes (like in the case of a software update) they will wait a while to resume the data transfer.

Sometimes this delay is all you need to finish what you were doing online.

Wi-Fi frequencies are re-scanned

Some routers have a dynamic channel allocation feature where they survey the other nearby Wi-Fi networks to see what channels are in use, and then they pick the channel that is least populated or has the least amount of interference.

Power cycling your router will force your router to perform this adjustment as soon as the router has finished its reboot, as opposed to waiting for the router to do it on it’s own.

What are your options?

If you are otherwise fairly happy with your current router, you may wish to simply continue putting up with the minor inconvenience of occasionally resetting it. You could also automate the resets so that you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself.

keyboard reset button

Therapeutic reboots

Depending on the model of your router, you may be able to schedule it to reboot at the same time daily or weekly. I do this with my router – I have scheduled therapeutic reboots to occur every day at 2:00 AM, when everyone in the house is sleeping and won’t notice the brief interruption associated with the reboot.

If your router doesn’t support scheduled reboots, you can also get smart power switches that can turn the power off or on depending on the time of day. You could obtain one of these switches and then connect your router through it and accomplish the same goal.

Get a new router

You could also just consider getting a new router. Here is a recommendation on a router that gets overwhelmingly positive reviews and most people report that it doesn’t need rebooting.

NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 Wi-Fi Router with 4 Ethernet Ports and Wireless Speeds Up to 2.6 Gbps, AC2600, Optimized for Low Ping
  • Minimize ping and maximize performance with four 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports for lag free, wired connectivity and 1.7 GHz dual core processor network efficiency
  • Amp up your WiFi with AC2600 dual band router that delivers blazing fast speeds up to 2.6 Gbps
  • Put your gaming traffic in a designated express lane with advanced quality of service, bypassing network congestion and reducing lag spikes, jumps and jitters
  • Make every millisecond count by using geo filtering to connect to the closest servers and players so you can respond and dominate
  • Monitor your network and game ping in real time so you can see who’s hogging the bandwidth by device and application

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.

Our Pick
ASUS AC1900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC68U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, Gaming & Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS, Parental Control
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Excellent performance at an affordable price!
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AD
802.11AC
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
1.7GHz Quad Core
1GHz Dual Core
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
4 (external)
3 (external)
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
AD7200
AC1750
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
-
-
Our Pick
ASUS AC1900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC68U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, Gaming & Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS, Parental Control
Router
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
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
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AD
CPU
1.7GHz Quad Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AD7200
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
-
Excellent performance at an affordable price!
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi 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 Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1750
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
-

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; 11 AC 3x3 technology for combined speeds of up to 1900 Mbps
  • 1 GigaHertz dual core CPU enables smart multitasking by dedicating separate lanes for Wi Fi and USB data; Network standard: IEEE 802; 11a, IEEE 802; 11B, IEEE 802; 11G, IEEE 802; 11N, IEEE 802; 11AC, IPv4, IPv6. Memory: 128 MB Flash; 256 MB RAM
  • 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
  • A protection 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 Volt with maximum 1; 75 a current; Guest network: 2; 4 GigaHertz x 3, 5 GigaHertz 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 AC1900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC68U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, Gaming & Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS, Parental Control

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

asus mobile app - best router for 100mbps internet

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.

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 scheduler

This 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.

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.

Why do I need a dual-band router?

Dual-band routers are all but standard nowadays (Tri-band routers even exist now), but many people don’t stop to think “why is a dual-band router is worth having?”

Some history

The FCC (and most communications authorities worldwide) have set aside certain frequencies for local area high speed wireless transmissions, aka Wi-Fi. These frequencies are 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

The original Wi-Fi standards released in 1999 – 802.11b and 802.11a (now also known as Wi-Fi version 1 and Wi-Fi version 2) only operated on single bands. 802.11b operated at 2.4GHz and 802.11a operated at 5GHz

As technology matured and Wi-Fi become more prevalent, it become obvious that using additional frequency bands was an effective way to provide additional bandwidth, support additional devices, and reduce interference.

Starting with the 802.11n (Wi-Fi version 4) standard released in 2009, both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands were included in the standard, paving the way for the first dual-band routers to be produced.

radio channel frequency

Benefits of dual-bands

Prior to the ratification of 802.11n, we had two standards (802.11b and 802.11g) using the 2.4GHz spectrum, and one standard (802.11a) using the 5GHz spectrum.

802.11b/g ended up being much more popular and widespread, likely due to the fact that it was cheaper. As a result, the 2.4GHz spectrum was much more crowded.

Compounding the issue, the following non-WiFi devices also operate (or create interference) in the 2.4GHz spectrum:

  • Microwave Ovens
  • Wireless Microphones
  • Bluetooth
  • Car Alarms
  • Baby Monitors
  • Garage Door Openers

This resulted in the 2.4GHz band being really crowded. Having the ability to use the 5GHz band with the newer 802.11n and 802.11ac standards really alleviates this congestion issue.

wifi logo

Differences between 2.4GHz and 5GHz

Aside from the obvious difference (Look, different numbers!), there are some technical differences between the two spectrums.

Range

The first difference, is range. Lower frequencies can penetrate objects better than higher frequencies, so the 2.4GHz spectrum generally results in better range than 5GHz. The difference, although noticeable, is not huge.

Speed

5GHz can generally transmit data faster (better modulation schemes) than 2.4GHz.

Number of channels, channel width

2.4GHz only has 11 channels in North America, only 3 of which are non-overlapping. Non-overlapping basically means they are channels don’t have as much interference from nearby networks, assuming everyone is playing by the same rules.

5GHz has 23 channels in North America, and all of them are non-overlapping. This makes it much easier to avoid interference in dense environments. Less interference = better speed and reliability.

Bringing it all together

So what exactly is a dual-band router?

A dual-band router is a device that is equipped with two radios operating simultaneously – one that operates at 2.4GHz, and another that operates at 5GHz.

Devices connecting to the router will then have the choice of which band to use. Some devices only have a 2.4GHz radio equipped and thus will have to connect via 2.4GHz, while others can use either band and will generally choose the 5GHz band due to the fact that it is less crowded and has more clear channels.

The main point is this: offloading some devices onto the 2.4GHz spectrum and others onto the 5GHz spectrum increases the performance for everyone.

Make sure your next router or access point is dual-band!

What is the best Router for Google Fiber?

linksys gaming routerThe need for speed

If you are part of the small percentage of Americans that are lucky enough to live in a Google Fiber coverage area, you may be wondering, what is the best router to buy for use with your new Google Fiber service?

After all, if you are going to be getting an ultra high-speed direct fiber service to your home, you want to make sure that there are no bottlenecks in your internal network, right?

This is excellent thinking, and as a network professional, I had the same thoughts when considering Google Fiber.

Traditionally, we’ve been exposed to slow internet connections such as cable and DSL services. Typically, these services run at speeds of 25Mbps to 50Mbps, or maybe something closer to 100Mbps if you are lucky.

The speed of your internet service is limited by the slowest link in the chain. Traditionally, this was always your broadband internet connection, but that is changing.

Today, with Google Fiber and similar fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) services, you can get up to 1000Mbps (1 Gig) service at your home. Suddenly, the slowest link in the chain can easily become a device on your internal network, such as your router.

Some people still run routers that max out at 100Mbps. They literally don’t support Gigabit. And many people don’t realize it.

Google Fiber includes a router

Here’s the rub for Google Fiber subscribers: Their service includes a Wi-Fi router whether they like it for not. So, some people may not wish to buy a router for their Google Fiber service. After all, you technically already have everything you need.

When Google Fiber is installed at your home, there are at least two pieces of equipment provided. A “Fiber Jack”, which is really just a micro ONT (Optical Network Terminal) which terminates the GPON signal coming from the OLT (Optical Line Terminal) port at the nearest hut, outside plant cabinet, or data center.

Your Fiber Jack then connects to a little black box which Google has affectionately dubbed a “Network Box” (who named these things?). The network box acts as your router, terminating the service and allowing you to share the connection throughout your house.

It also supports WiFi, has a firewall, allows basic port forwarding, etc. Many of the features of your average consumer-grade router are supported by the Network Box.

What’s the problem?what chat bubble

The problem, is that per Google, the Network Box is required. Unfortunately, you can’t just plug your shiny new Netgear/Linksys/TP-Link router into the Fiber Jack and get online. You must use the Network Box – which is why the selection of a new router may be unnecessary (your traffic still goes through the Network Box, regardless of what you plug in).

So, for some users, there is no real need to use a regular router with their Google Fiber service – the Network Box is enough.

What if I want to use an aftermarket router?

Google says that you can still plug your router into the Network Box and use it, and indeed you can. You can unbox your new aftermarket router and install it just as you would with any other type of broadband internet service from Comcast, Cox, Centurylink, etc.

We should note that installing a router behind the Network Box will create a scenario where all of your traffic is getting NAT’d twice. This means that your traffic is getting translated from one type of IP address to another, twice. Usually this is only done once, but most users won’t notice a difference with their traffic being double NAT’d.

What to look for in a router to use with Google Fiber

Since you are buying a service that is high-speed, low-latency, and highly reliable, we recommend that you don’t skimp if you decide to purchase an aftermarket router. Specifically, you want a router that supports a Gigabit WAN port, the newest WiFi standard (802.11AC), and has a dual-core or better processor.

The following routers are our picks for use with Google Fiber. Any of them will work well with the service, though some are pricier than others.

Great performance at an affordable price!
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi 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
Supports Gigabit connection to Google Network Box
802.11AC Support
Beamforming
Processor Cores
2
Prime
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Supports Gigabit connection to Google Network Box
802.11AC Support
Beamforming
Processor Cores
2
Prime
-
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Supports Gigabit connection to Google Network Box
802.11AC Support
Beamforming
Processor Cores
4
Prime
-

But surely there is a way to bypass the Network Box?!

If you are a power user and feeling ambitious, there are supposedly ways to use Google Fiber’s service without a Network Box. This typically involves use of a Ubiquiti Edgerouter or setting up a PFSense box, and is completely unsupported by Google.

That information is beyond the scope of this article due to it’s advanced nature, so I’m not covering it here. But you should know that it is possible.

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 Unifi Ap-AC Long Range - Wireless Access Point - 802.11 B/A/G/n/AC (UAP-AC-LR-US),White
  • Ubiquit Unifi AP AC Long range
  • The installer needs networking knowledge to get it to work properly so for people that can’t get it to work.

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)
  • 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.