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How to Find the Best Router for Home Use

Updated on September 21, 2014

Save Yourself Some Money and Buy the Right Router for Home Use

I used to consider myself and very savvy computer guy, however the other day, I decided to try to find the best router for home use and was completely stumped. I started by looking online and all I saw was a long list of specifications and no real explanation. I didn't know what these specifications meant nor did I understand which ones would be good for my basic needs at home.

Initially, I figured I would buy the most expensive one and that this router should take care of all my needs. However looking for the most expensive router, I found it to be over $600! My laptop doesn't even cost that much. Re-thinking my decision, I went home and started researching everything about routers.

You would be surprised to see how little information is out there about a wifi router and its uses. Sadly, in most cases, a new router won't fix your internet problems and if you don't do your research correctly, you could be throwing hundreds of dollars down the drain.

So, to help you find the best router for home, I will start by showing you what specifications exist for a router and which specifications you should care about when selecting the best router for normal home use. After that, I will showcase the top 6 routers that will meet your daily internet needs without breaking the piggy bank and hopefully get you started in a smoother internet experience.

Finally, in the end, I would like to share with you tips on how you can improve your existing wifi router system, how to ensure you need a new router, and tips on the dos and don'ts of router setup.

Hopefully this should be enough to get you started and help you to locate the best router for home use.

Best Router for Home Diagram
Best Router for Home Diagram

Important Specifications for Choosing the Best Router for Home

There is more, but not for home purposes!

When looking at Router specifications, you will find that every box or product will have over 10-20 different specifications with crazy numbers and jeering names. In most cases, about 75% of this means nothing to someone who is just using the router to create a wireless home network. So, to help you get through the weeds, this section will start by discussing the top specifications that you should consider when looking for the best router for home use.

Security:

Sadly there are many people out there who want to harm your computers and access your information. That is why it is very important that you protect yourself. For security, there are three major systems: WPA2, WPA, and WEP. If you are worried about security, WPA2 is the best and is recommended however WPA and WEP can do the job. WPA2 protects your system better by requiring the use of stronger wireless encryption than what WPA requires thus making it harder for unwanted people to access your home system.

Speed:

When it comes to routers, speed is measured by Megabit Per Second (Mbps). The higher the Mbps, the faster your router is capable of producing. However, it is important to remember that the speed of you internet is almost always based on your Internet Service Provider (ISP). So if your ISP is only capable of 60 Mbps and your router is capable of 700 Mbps, your online experience will only go at the speed of 60 Mbps.

802.11:

On every router box, you will see this funny looking number that usually ends with an ac, n, or g. The number 802.11 is a set of codes that direct the wireless local area network (WLAN) to use certain frequencies in propogating the wireless signal to your computer. The important part is the letters at the end.

  • 802.11ac- AC routers are the latest and most up-to-date mainstream routers on the market. Because of it's coding, it is capable of 1300 Mbps or 1750 Mbps on the 5GHz band and 450 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band. They are also backwards compatible with all types of networking electronics.
  • 802.11n- N routers are backwards compatible with older network based electronics and are very capable over long distances. They aren't as fast as AC routers however they are reliable and in some cases have a better range.
  • 802.11g- G routers are not as fast as N or AC however they are very capable at meeting normal house use requirements and are generally cheaper than AC or N.
  • Any Other System- If it isn't a G, N or AC, then you probably shouldn't even look at it. At the time of this writing, AC was the best on the market. There are other types that are in testing but there are also a lot of old, outdated systems too that you should stay away from.

Simultaneous Dual Band:

When it comes to routers, they usually only operate in two frequency bands: 2.4 GHz and or 5 GHz. 2.4GHz is very common and because of its lower frequency, it can travel longer distances and can go through walls better. The 5 GHz band, however, can send more data and is much faster.

The capability of Simultaneous Dual Band allows your router to operate in the 2.4 GHz and or the 5 GHz frequency band. In most cases, routers only work on the 2.4 GHz however so does every other wave emitting device in your house. If you have a microwave, cordless phone, walkie talkie, baby monitor, etc, then you wireless system and these devices can create interference with one another thus causing a slow online experience. Therefore with Simultaneous Dual Band, your router can sense any interference and quickly switch between the bands so as to give you the best experience. This system gives you the best of both worlds, thus improving your overall online experience.

USB Ports:

The existence of USB ports on your router can give you many outstanding opportunities. By connecting a printer to your router through the USB, you can create a wireless printer that anyone can print off of that is connected to your wireless system. Therefore your family will only need one printer instead of one for you, your spouse's computer and your children's computers. Also, you can connect a hard drive to your router through the USB and have a file sharing system. This way you could place photos, files, music, movies and more and everyone throughout the house can experience them with a click of the button.

In Case You Need More Basic Information about Routers - here is a wonderful 2 min video to build your foundations on home networking

So What Specifications Should You Shop For?

What requirements are needed for home use.....

So now that you know the basic specifications involved in shopping for a wireless router, it is important to discuss what is needed for normal home use and what is "extra." It would be easy to just go and buy the best router on the market however the smart shopper will know that some specifications are requirements and some specifications are just extras. And remember, some of those extra's can cost you upwards of $50-$100.

802.11:

When it comes to 802.11, you don't need a AC or an N. A 802.11G will do just fine for any house. Typically a jump from G to AC will cost you an extra $100 however if you really bargain shop, or follow my recommendations below, you can find a N for the price of a G.

Simultaneous Dual Band:

While it is nice, it is generally not needed. A SDB capability is usually important for things like gaming when a slight lag in time can cost you. This too, is a very pricey addition to your router shopping.

Speed:

Again, if it is a G, N or AC, you will not need to focus on the speed. It should be adequate. Speeds that you can expect for each is as follows:

  • 802.11AC = Usually 1300 Mbps to 1750 Mbps
  • 802.11N = Usually around 450 Mbps
  • 802.11 G = Usually around 54 Mbps

There are other important features that you should consider, such as the USB port capability and other quick and easy setup functions. But for now, the above specifications are the ones you should follow when trying to make a decision on which router is the best router for home.

Best Router for Home Use Under $100

Capable but Cheap

These Routers are the best on the market for under $100. They will perform everything your family needs while also helping you to save money. I assure you that this list was not randomly made, but took over 5 hours to compile. It was made by looking at the specifications, finding the deals, reading all the top reviews (some have over a 1,000).

Best Overall Router for Home

Belkin AC 1200 DB Wi-Fi Dual-Band AC+ Gigabit Router (F9K1113)
Belkin AC 1200 DB Wi-Fi Dual-Band AC+ Gigabit Router (F9K1113)

This router is one of the best sellers in Amazon and rightfully so.

Extras: Features a wireless wave extender, making a wireless signal go further within your home.

Network: 801.22N

Speed: 300 Mbps

Simultaneous Dual Band: No. Only 2.4 GHz band

USB Ports: No

 

Easiest to Setup and Use Router for Home

Securifi Almond - (3 Minute Setup) Touchscreen WiFi Wireless Router / Range Extender / Access Point / Wireless Bridge - Works with Amazon Alexa
Securifi Almond - (3 Minute Setup) Touchscreen WiFi Wireless Router / Range Extender / Access Point / Wireless Bridge - Works with Amazon Alexa

Receiving rave reviews from the New York Times, and CNET, as one of the easiest routers to setup featuring a touch screen panel, even Grandma would be able set this up. Boasts a 3 minute step time.

Extras: Touch screen, can act as a range extender or wireless bridge in conjunction with another router.

Network: 801.22N

Speed: 300 Mbps

Simultaneous Dual Band: No. Only 2.4 GHz band

USB Ports: No

 

Router for Home Use, but with a little kick!

NETGEAR N750 Dual Band 4 Port Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (WNDR4300)
NETGEAR N750 Dual Band 4 Port Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (WNDR4300)

The best of its class, with this router, you get most of the top features while still staying under $100.

Extras: Features some of the best parental control features, compatible with Apple's Time Capsule, has the OoS system which improves streaming capability so a better Hulu, gaming or Netflix experience.

Network: 801.22N

Speed: 750 Mbps

Simultaneous Dual Band: Yes

USB Ports: Yes

 

Best Routers for Home Under $200

This is the router that I actually ended up buying

If you have the chance and the budget, then perhaps this router is the best for you. A little pricey, however, the Asus RT AC666U includes just about every feature you could ask for. So for those homes that want the best possible experience in streaming, downloading and wireless connectivity throughout the whole house, then this is the one. Notice that I only recommended the one. That's because you won't find better out there. There are a couple that match the same specifications as the Asus, however, most of them are either too complicated to setup or lack in durability or have poor reviews from other users.

This is also the router that I use. Although I use the internet a little more than "for home use," this router has given me everything I could ask for. Because of its level, I am only limited by my Internet Service Provider (ISP) and as they continue to improve on their performance, my router will still be able to get the job done and will not need an upgrade for a very long time.

My Dream Home Router

ASUS AC1750 Wireless Dual Band (5GHz + 2.4GHz) Gigabit Wi-Fi Router [RT-AC66U] 802.11ac 1750 Mbps Speed, 4x Gigabit LAN Ports, 256MB, AiProtection, AiCloud File Sharing, AiRadar Signal Optimization
ASUS AC1750 Wireless Dual Band (5GHz + 2.4GHz) Gigabit Wi-Fi Router [RT-AC66U] 802.11ac 1750 Mbps Speed, 4x Gigabit LAN Ports, 256MB, AiProtection, AiCloud File Sharing, AiRadar Signal Optimization

Quite possibly the best on the market. Includes software to help improve your wireless signal and AiRadar which will help with multilevel buildings. It's my personal favorite and worth every penny.

Network: 801.22AC

Speed: 1300Mbps over 5G + 450Mbps over 2.4G = 1750Mbps

Simultaneous Dual Band: Yes and maximized with WPA

USB Ports: Yes

 

Tips on How to Improve Your Wireless Signal

7 Easy Steps

If you find that your current signal is slow and aren't sure if its your ISP, your router or your configurations, then follow these 7 steps, and you will have a better idea as to whether or not you need a new router or new ISP. If you do these steps and nothing improves, then I recommend following the above information and buy a new router.

  1. Move Your Router to a new locations. The higher you put it, the better the signal. Also the closer it is to the source, the stronger the signal.
  2. Change the Channel that your router is using. I recommend using a program like InSSIDer. When you first setup your router, it will initially choose a channel. However, over time, your signal might start to get feedback or interference due to other electronics in the area. Therefore changing you channel may help.
  3. Make sure to update your router and Adapter Firmware
  4. Check to see if your router supports external antenna. If it does, then find one online and order it. This could seriously increase the range and signal strength.<.li>

  5. Get a different ISP - Check your local area for faster internet connections.
  6. Clean up your computer and ensure that it is free of malware or viruses.
  7. Make sure your wireless internet is protected with a password to avoid unwanted bandwidth theft.

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Please Let Me Know What You Think

Hi and thank you for reading my article. I look forward to writing a series on routers and we the common consumer can get the best experience with our internet, without the hassle. So, please leave some comments on what you read, what you liked and what you didn't like. This will really help me out as an author and will help future readers have a better experience.

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    • asereht1970 profile image

      asereht1970 3 years ago

      In our little shop we are using D-Link. Very informative article.

    • TheHonestWebGuru profile image

      TheHonestWebGuru 3 years ago

      This was a great article! Thanks