I wish I could tell you what modem or router would work best for you, but there are so many factors to consider!
For example, I don’t know if you live in an apartment, own a multi-story home or run a small business, but I know if you’re reading this, you want faster internet.
Modems and routers come in all shapes and sizes and every situation is different.
You may be thinking…”I already have a modem and/or router and it works…sometimes”. Well, sometimes is not good enough.
What you want is a reliable, fast internet.
If you are having connectivity issues these could be the reasons why:
- Your modem/router range doesn’t cover a wide area leaving some parts of your home or business without WiFi access
- You have an older modem/router, which means it could be missing the latest technology you need
- You rent a modem/router from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), and their system isn’t strong enough to support your online activity
- You don’t have a wireless modem/router, which means you are unable to support multiple wireless devices (tablet, phone, laptop, TV)
If any of these sounds like the issue, it might be time to purchase a new modem and/or router.
So where do you begin?
Most people don’t understand the difference between a modem and router, or if they need one to support the other.
Let’s first get down to the basics, then look at the features of an ideal router/modem.
Modem, router, and modem-routers
There is a difference between a modem and a router.
A modem is a device that runs data through cables or WiFi and turns the data into electrical signals.
A router is required to sort through the digital data provided by the modem and determine where to send it. Whether it’s a laptop, tablet or smartphone, a router uses one single internet connection to power all devices.
A combined modem-router device kills two birds with one stone because it translates data and disperses it to the correct devices (an all in one).
Should you have one over the other?
When you sign up with your internet service provider they provide a modem for you (this connects you to their service), and they usually offer a router for a small fee each month.
If you decided against the router offered by your ISP, and are looking for a permanent one to buy, be sure to keep reading. I am going to explain the most important factors when setting up a successful internet connection.
Some ISP’s will provide you with an all-in-one modem-router. To check what kind you have, turn your device around and count how many ports are available. If you see more than the one you have a modem-router. If there is only one, this is a modem and you will need to purchase or rent a router.
So the answer is simple. You need both, whether they are apart from each other or come as one. In order to get a fast reliable internet connection to wirelessly support all your devices, you will need a modem and router.
Note: If you decide to go with a combined (modem-router) and it breaks, you lose all access to internet connection and will need to purchase an entirely new system.
Let’s take a look at modem/router features to consider:
A router speed is calculated by its megabits per second (Mbps). First generation routers typically offered around 11 Mbps, but have increased their speed capabilities over the years. Mid-range 802.11g routers offer around 50 Mbps and the newest 802.11n offers up to 150-600 Mbps (and 802.11ac even up to 1 Gbps (gigabytes per second)).
If you live in a small apartment or mid sized home take into consideration the actual need of your router. An excessive amount of speed may not be needed to have a reliable connection.
However, if you run a business that supports multiple devices (such as a security system, computers, phones, tablets etc) your connection will require faster speed and a high-end 802.11ac router.
2. Single or Dual-Band
These days having a dual-band router is essential to a great internet connection. When you are shopping for a router you will want to make sure it comes with two frequencies: 2.4 GHz and 5.0GHz. The reason these routers come in two frequencies is to have less interference through the wireless connection. The less interference, the better the internet speed.
- 2.4 GHz is great for large number of devices that are more susceptible to interference (higher range)
- 5.0 GHz is great for smaller devices and provides a less cluttered faster connection (more bandwidth pass)
3. Guest access
If you are a host like I am, and have visitors always coming and going. You will want to consider getting a router with a guest access feature to protect your home/business network and make it more convenient to your guests. By having a guest access option, you can keep your password and files on your main network protected.
Determine whether or not one router can support the space. Keep into consideration that walls and floors impede a wireless signal. If you’re working with a larger space, you may need to have 2 routers to support the desired reach.
Note: If you have an old router you are thinking about getting rid of, you can reuse it as a wireless bridge to extend coverage to other areas in your home or business.
One of the main reasons we suggest you purchase the newest 802.11ac as it supports WPA2 encryption (the most secure version of encryption). Any router with “ac” will be WPA2 certified giving you the most up to date encryption standards.
Our recommended routers
Now that we have reviewed the basics and features of router/modems we want to give you a few of our favourites to help the research go a little smoother:
- NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (R7000): This is great for large homes with a large coverage range.
- D-Link AC1200 Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Wi-Fi Router (DIR-842): This is great for an average home that needs fast internet speeds.
- NETGEAR N600 Dual Band Wi-Fi Router (WNDR3400) & Netgear High-Speed DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem (CM400-1AZNAS) Bundle: This is an affordable bundle for a small to medium home.
We hope this article has helped you narrow down the options. Just keep in mind that although you may be attracted to the most expensive router out there, the price isn’t the only thing you need to consider.
Depending on the size of your home or business getting fast internet doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Sometimes the “best” isn’t really the best for your situation.