Choosing The Router: What Are The Features To Watch?

The Router

At home or at work, nowadays, it has become mandatory to have performing tools, able to connect us effectively to the network. For this, in addition to a good internet service, it is also necessary to have a Wi-Fi modem router, which knows how to better manage the network. In this article, we will explain what a Wi-Fi router is, how it differs from a modem and what are the parameters to consider when choosing your modem router.

Choosing The Modem Router: Here’s How

Before going into the technical characteristics to keep in mind to choose a modem router, let’s try to fully understand what it is. Let’s start by saying that what we all call modems is actually much more. In fact, we can say that:

  • modem: it is the device that allows, through a telephone cable, to connect to the internet; however, it cannot manage a network between multiple devices, so a router is required;
  • router: as mentioned, the router instead deals with the management of devices that want to connect to the network: computers, smartphones, smart TVs, and all connected devices; wireless routers, which now represent the majority of routers for home and semi-professional use, allow the connection of devices without wires, greatly simplifying the creation of your network;
  • modem router: this device gathers in it the tasks of the modem, that is the device that physically connects to the network, and the role of the router, that is the device that manages the devices that want to connect;
  • repeater or extender: in some cases, when the place where the network is to be built is very large, and/or there are many obstacles between the devices, there may be a need to upgrade the network; these devices do nothing but “reflect” the signal emitted by the router or modem router to make the connection better even for those devices further away from the emission point.

All these devices can be combined with each other in order to obtain the best possible connection solution. Having clarified which are the devices that connect to the network, let’s move on to describe the characteristics, to choose the router in an informed way.

The Features To ChooseThe Router

Most users, when they get the router from the carrier, plug it into the phone jack and start surfing without paying too much attention to how to improve the connection speed. Yet, what connects to the network is a real computer, with features that can be more or less performing. In order to choose the one that best meets your needs, therefore, it is necessary to know the technical specifications. So let’s start to deepen the classification of routers and frequency bands.

Choose The Router Based On The Classification

Depending on the frequency on which they operate, Wi-Fi routers can be classified into different classes. These indicate the speed of packet transfer between the router and the device connected to it. In particular, the classes currently existing are:

  • 802.11a class: this protocol is capable of a maximum speed of 54 Mbps;
  • 802.11b class: routers belonging to this class can reach speeds up to 11 Mbps;
  • 802.11g class: it is the improved version of class b, of which it uses the frequencies, capable of reaching even 54 Mbps;
  • 802.11n class: with this standard, it is possible to reach a transfer speed of 450 Mbps;
  • 802.11ac class: this is the latest standard, capable of reaching a peak speed of 1.3 Gbps.

To these classes, in addition to the intermediate ones that have not been discussed for brevity, new ones will soon be added. The next standard, in fact, should be the 802.11ax class, capable of a maximum speed of 11 Gbps, and 802.11b, which can instead reach as much as 30 Gbps. So, as it is easy to guess, in choosing the Wi-Fi router the better the classification and the better the performance provided you have a fast connection.

However, in addition to the classification, there is also another factor to be taken into account. These are the frequency bands: each country, in fact, regulates the frequencies on which certain transmissions must take place. In particular, two frequencies have been reserved for Wi-Fi connections:

  • ~ 2.4 GHz: it is a frequency that allows you to transmit at low speed, but at greater distances and, therefore, it is preferable when the device is far from the router;
  • ~ 5.0 GHz: This frequency is capable of transmitting at high speed, but at shorter distances, and is therefore preferred if the device is within a short distance of the router.

Returning to the subject of the classes, some support the 2.4 GHz band (class g), others at 5.0 GHz (class ac), and some both (class n). For this reason, when choosing the router it is necessary to keep this aspect in mind, depending on the connection needs.

Choose The Best Router Based On The Connection Protocol

Another technical issue to keep in mind when choosing the Wi-Fi router is the connection protocol, i.e. the transmission speed at which the connection can reach. This standard depends on the telephone provider and, currently, can be:

  • ADSL2: provides a connection up to 12 Mbps in download and up to 3.5 Mbps in upload;
  • ADSL2 +: with this standard, the transmission speed is 24 Mbps in download and 1.5 Mbps in upload;
  • VDSL / VDSL2: these two standards, often associated with fiber connections but which actually involve fiber-copper connection, can go up to 55 Mbps and up to 100 Mbps.

To get the best out of your connection, therefore, you need to choose a modem router that has the protocols provided by your operator.

Choice Of Router Based On Hardware

Router hardware also plays an essential role in connection quality. There are three hardware components that can determine the performance of the router: the chipset, that is the network processors, the CPU, and the RAM, which together manage the connections of the different devices.

The first, of course, determines the connection performance with the network, while the last two determine the router’s ability to manage more or fewer devices. In other words, the greater the number of devices to connect to the router (computer, smartphone, smart TV), the greater the CPU and RAM power must be.

Another piece of hardware that can vary the quality of the Wi-Fi connection is the antennas. These can be arranged inside the router itself, and in this case, they will not be visible externally, or they can be external and possibly orientable. Furthermore, the number and their power can vary, which is expressed in dBi: the greater the power of the antennas, the better the quality of the Wi-Fi network.

External Connection Ports

An interesting aspect, especially in the semi-professional field, is the provision of connection ports on the router. Most modern routers, in fact, are equipped with a series of ports that allow the physical connection of the devices to the router. Usually, these can be Ethernet or USB: the former can be of the Fast Ethernet type, which reaches 100 Mbps, or Gigabit, which can reach up to 1 Gbps.

The USB ports, on the other hand, can be used both to connect devices without Wi-Fi, such as old printers, and external hard drives. Furthermore, some router models allow you to take advantage of the connection of 4G keys through the USB port in case the telephone connection fails.

Again, it all depends on the connection needs: if you have many devices without Wi-Fi connections, it may be useful to evaluate a modem with a good number of Ethernet ports, so that you can also connect these devices.

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