The internet is an exciting invention. More so, that for many businesses and homes, the Internet is necessary for smooth operations and living conditions. For optimum efficiency, the internet connection has to be fast, reliable, and secure. A router is a central device that enables these qualities to be mainstay in a wide variety of settings, in terms of space, number of devices to be supported, and amount of bandwidth required.
Therefore, it is very important to purchase a router that will take care of your connectivity needs efficiently. It may be difficult to make out the best router from the long list of models, from different brands and at different price points. This guide aims to erase the confusion about choosing the best routers in the market, and rounds up with a number of recommendations that we are sure epitomizes the qualities of the best router in 2015.
Before we continue with the guide, and if you are pressed for time, look through the chart below to find top picks compared with each other.
Best Router Complete Guide
D-Link AC3200 Ultra Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router (DIR-890L/R)
Linksys N900 Wi-Fi Wireless Dual-Band+ Router with Gigabit & USB Ports, Smart Wi-Fi App Enabled to Control Your Network from Anywhere (EA4500)
NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (R7000)
ASUS (RT-AC68U) Wireless-AC1900 Dual-Band Gigabit Router
TP-LINK AC1900 Wireless Wi-Fi Dual Band AC Router (Archer C9)
ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router
What is the need for a Wireless Router?
Another way to look at this is: Why do you need the Wireless Router?
- In a home or office, there are bound to be a range of devices of different sizes, bandwidth requirements, and functionalities. These gadgets if they have need of Internet connectivity, and often have built in Wi-Fi support, which is where a wireless router comes in.
To be future-proof you need a wireless router for easy and convenient connectivity when you have these devices, if you do not already have them. These devices include computers (desktop PCs, laptops, all-in-one PCs, ultrabooks, hybrids and the likes), smartphones, tablets, home security systems, gaming systems, and the list keeps growing.
- Privacy and security are very important issues in the 21st If you are security-conscious, and you should be, you should use a wireless router as an extra layer of security. The router is able to perform this function using one or more in-built firewalls that filter access to the data connection used by devices in the Wireless network. Additionally, website filters, parental controls, and other management functions are extended functionality that the best wireless router is equipped with.
All routers, unless it is a dud, will have its speed limits clearly outlined. The speed is measured in megabits per second, Mbps. Routine speed range for routers extend from 150 Mbps and 300 Mbps to as high as 1750 Mbps and 1900 Mbps. There are three important information to note as regards router speed:
- The speed listed on a router is the theoretical speed limit. Actual speeds may not always be as much as is designated. Nevertheless, it is a reliable indicator when comparing models
- Higher is better as regards router speed
- The speed of a router is a measure of how well the router will perform in your home or local network, and not an indicator of the Internet connection speed. For this reason, a higher speed router does not increase the speed of your Internet connection.
Bandwidth requirements place a significant toll on the capability of a wireless router. Activities requiring an high amount of bandwidth like media streaming, online gaming, and 802.11n device support; will have you seeking routers with better capabilities. Often, a dual band router will be the solution, since it supports both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies.
5GHz being the larger of the two frequencies enables the router to permit large transfer of data without sacrificing performance. However, its shortfall is that it has shorter coverage/range than the 2.4 GHz frequency, which limits how far devices can be from the router to get connectivity. If you find believe you have found the best router for you, but are worried about its wireless range, you can always include a high-quality Wi-Fi repeater in your purchase.
The performance of a router largely depends on how well you match your connectivity needs to the router’s capability. For many home and local wireless networks, a 2.4 GHz frequency router will do, with support for 802.11 b, g, and n devices. As 2.4 GHz has a longer range than 5 GHz while maintaining comparable speeds.
Of course, all that changes if multiple devices are going to be connected with a good proportion engaging in streaming of some sort, or if the router is to be used in a mid- or large-scale business. Routers with support for one band, either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz, are referred to as single band routers. Routers with support for both bands are referred to as dual band routers.
What is the Best Router?
An imposing build, a jaw-dropping array of features, highest speeds among the competition, full-on controls, and decent pricing: What is there not to appreciate about the AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router DIR-890L/R from award-winning manufacturer D-Link?
It is said that packaging matters and the DIR-890L/R does not falter in the design segment, with a shiny-red finish and having six adjustable external antennas delicately positioned. The internals is even better, giving the D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router DIR-890L/R a home run in what could be tagged as one of the most complete devices amongst contemporary tech gadgetry.
With a device that pack this much punch in virtually all segments, it is expected that it is priced higher than the competition. However, it isn’t priced that far off, with it upping the price of one of its closest competitors, the Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router, by only about $10. That notwithstanding, with it being the fastest tri-band model and hosting an impressive list of features that leaves the competition playing catch-up for second best, the D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router DIR-890L/R is worth every penny.
The design team behind the DIR-890L/R deserves a plaque for the pyramid-like build, with a shiny candy-apple red finish, and expert positioning of six external antennas, making the device look like a space-age gadget from the future.
The dimension of the router, at 4.7 (H) by 15.2 (W) by 9.7 (D) inches, does put it in the large segment. This is fair to ensure all the components fit in well and that there is adequate air circulation for increased durability and top-performance of the router. Furthermore, the competition made up of premium tri-band routers—Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys AC3200 Tri-Band Gigabit Smart Wi-Fi Router (EA9200), and Asus RT-AC3200 Tri-Band Router—are all huge in their own right.
So, the design is great and all that, but the internals is where the focus is at, and the DIR-890L/R’s internals is outstanding on close inspection. On the top of the device, you will find six LED indicators, giving you much needed information on activity on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, USB ports, Internet connection status, and power status of the device.
On the back, you will find four Gigabit Ethernet ports; two USB ports, one is with the 2.0 standard for legacy support, and the other with the 3.0 standard for record transfer speeds; and an Internet port. Additionally, you will find the power, reset, and Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) buttons on the back.
Under the hood is where the next-gen 1GHz dual-core processor and accompanying circuitry is installed for comprehensive support of 802.11 b, g, n, and the latest ac wireless networking standards.
The D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router DIR-890L/R boasts of top connection speeds that cap out at 3200 Mbps. This is the cumulative total from all three bands supported—one 2.4 GHz, and two 5 GHz bands. Individually, the 2.4 GHz supports speeds of up to 600 Mbps, while each of the two 5 GHz bands supports up to 1300 Mbps.
Packing a lot of punch, it is therefore necessary to provide supportive software infrastructure that ensures efficient usage of the functionality provided. D-Links basks on its vast experience and expertise to develop two proprietary solutions for this important purpose, Beamforming and SmartConnect.
While Beamforming enables the DIR-890L/R to target wireless clients for strong signal reception, the SmartConnect technology functions as a traffic cop in that it enables the router to steer wireless clients to a band with the most available bandwidth.
Setup and Management Controls
A web-based management console is built into the router to enable quick and simple setup, configuration, and management. Usage of the console is user-friendly, which we confirmed from independent tests. The user-friendliness and versatility of the router is also emphasized in the router’s support for remote management using the myDlink Lite mobile app on a smartphone.
The web UI of the D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router DIR-890L/R features a clutter-free homepage with the following information:
- Internet status
- Connected clients
- Router’s IP Address, default gateway, and subnet mask
For quick setup, the settings page has a Setup Wizard built in that makes the installation process a breeze. Using the Setup Wizard, you will also be able to configure your network and Wi-Fi settings as well as set a password for secure access of your router. There are additional settings pages in the UI that enable specific configurations of the router.
Other pages in the UI of the DIR-890L/R include an Internet page, a Wireless page, a Network page, a SharePort page, and a Management page. These pages offer comprehensive control over a ton of functions.
Interestingly, you can assign bandwidth priorities to any client in your network. This is made easy using a drag-and-drop feature known called Quality of Service (QoS). There are three levels, Highest (one box), High (two boxes), and Medium (eight boxes). There are lots of other functions like IPv4 and IPv6 firewall rules, VPN Protocols (IPsec, PPTP) security settings, website filtering, and more that offer increased control.
Salient Selling Points
- Exquisite Design
- Speed of up to 3200 Mbps
- Innovative proprietary Beamforming and SmartConnect technologies
- Extended functionality and user-friendly management options
On first glance, it is easy to see the semblance between the Linksys EA4500 and the Linksys E4200 v2. Basically, the EA4500 takes all that it admirable about the E4200 v2—premium build, a snappy processor, top Wi-Fi speed of up to 450 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz brands, and support for up to 50 guest clients—and slaps on an efficient cloud-based connect solution, more features, and better performance.
Design and Features
The Linksys E4500 Media Stream N900 Smart Wi-Fi Router sports the premium design found on other Linksys E and Linksys EA series models. We must say, with its modern flat design combined with a smooth top finish, it is so great; we don’t get tired of seeing it replicated on more models.
The E4500 is equipped with four Gigabit LAN ports, and one Gigabit WAN port. All are positioned at the back of the device. Also, there is a button available for the WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) feature, a reset button, and one USB 2.0 port.
Setup and Management Controls
The E4500 comes with a web interface, and a new and improved Cisco Connect software. Both features enable new users to setup, configure, and manage the device easily. The improved interface is partitioned into two sections: Router and App Settings. This does a good job of eliminating cluttered management control options, as normal wireless router settings are controlled from the Router settings, while features of the router are controlled from the Apps Settings.
Salient Selling Points
- Cloud-based Connect solution
- Great design
- Snappy processor and robust functionality
- Support for up to 50 clients