The idea behind a wireless router is straightforward: allow several devices to connect to one network wirelessly. This idea is basic, convenient and indeed a welcome departure from complex wire webs created by the need for many wired connections. While all routers perform this function to a degree, many routers are unreliable at ensuring continuous connectivity for multiple devices. There are a couple of reasons why, which we will discuss in the next section. However, the best routers for multiple devices are outstanding in ensuring that as many clients are connected, from as far away from the router as possible, with the best possible connection speed.
Best Router for Multiple Devices Complete Guide
D-Link AC3200 Ultra Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router (DIR-890L/R)
Linksys AC3200 Tri-Band Smart Wi-Fi Router with Gigabit and USB, Designed for Device-Heavy Homes, Smart Wi-Fi App (EA9200)
TRENDnet Wireless AC1750 Dual Band Gigabit Router with USB Share Port, TEW-812DRU
ASUS RT-AC87U Wireless-AC2400 Dual Band Gigabit Router
Linksys WRT AC1200 Dual-Band and Wi-Fi Wireless Router with Gigabit and USB 3.0 Ports and eSATA (WRT1200AC)
TP-LINK TL-WR841ND Wireless N300 Home Router, 300Mpbs, IP QoS, WPS Button, 2 Detachable Antennas
Important Buying Considerations When Shopping for the Best Router
Routers for multiple devices should possess top stride qualities. They should be versatile, offer improved stability, and overall be reliable. These routers should be able to handle the extra demands of providing connectivity for several wireless devices with differing bandwidth needs at the same time. To find a router that satisfies these tough requirements and meets your needs, you should pay close attention to the factors discussed below.
Single Band versus Dual Band Routers
In general, dual band routers have stronger signals than single band routers. Consequently, dual band routers have longer range that translates to wider coverage than single band routers.
From the outset, this appears to mean that dual band routers are better than single band routers. And they are really—for most users. However, it does not mean that single band routers are not useful for some users; say for users living in small apartment like the new mini-flats springing up in large urban centers.
If you are not living in a small apartment, or need the router in a small space, then a dual band is a must-buy. These routers deliver a more robust signal suitable for large areas with increased accessibility by several wireless devices.
The speed of a router is usually measured in megabits per second (Mbps) and occasionally in Gigabits per second (Gbps). When comparing routers, the router with a higher speed value is the better router, in terms of speed.
It is important to point that a router will not increase the speed of your Internet connection if you receive poor speeds from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). That is, if the maximum speed of your modem‘s Internet from your ISP is 50 Mbps, and your router’s maximum speed is 600 Mbps; the speed of the Internet connection on the wireless devices connected to the router will be about 50 Mbps.
If you were to exchange files between devices on the network, then you could get transfer speeds of up to 600 Mbps. Nonetheless, getting a high maximum speed is a future-proof decision, which will be particularly useful if you get to upgrade your Internet plan in the future.
The wireless protocol used in a router heavily influences the number of bands and speed of the router. Most routers use the IEEE 802.11 protocols for data exchange. This is a good thing because virtually all devices with wireless connectivity support one, two, three, or all four 802.11 protocol types. The four 802.11 protocol types according to how recent they were developed include 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac.
The data transfer rates of the 802.11b and 802.11g standards are 11 Mbps and 54 Mbps respectively. Additionally, both standards only operate on the 2.4 GHz band.
802.11n is currently the most popular standard. It is a major improvement over the previous two standards with a data transfer rate of up to 600 Mbps and its ability to operate on two bands—2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz bands. It is also the first standard in the 802.11 protocol to sport the Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology. The MIMO technology enables a router to use as many antennas as necessary (usually between two and four) to allow data exchanges along four spatial streams. Therefore, 802.11n routers are able to deliver far better performance than routers on older standards. Being ubiquitous, the standard is supported on most contemporary devices, making an 802.11n router suitable for households with several gadgets sharing internet access.
If you wanted a router with more speed, range, performance, and reliability, then you would want to make a pick from the newest class of routers using the 802.11ac standard. 802.11ac is the current flagship of the 802.11 protocol, and there are many reasons why it is the best solution for multi-device wireless connectivity.
Amongst these reasons are:
- An increased number of MIMO spatial streams, double the number of supported streams on the 802.11n (up to 8)
- Wider channel bandwidth of up to 160 Hz, four times the capacity of the 802.11n (channel bandwidth of 40 Hz)
- Beamforming, an innovation that permits Wi-Fi signals to be transmitted directly to a client rather than wider broadcasting in all directions; this technology improves reception and performance
- Introduction of the Multi User-Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) technology, an improvement over the MIMO technology that debut on the 802.11n standard. With this technology, an 802.11ac router is capable of providing bandwidth simultaneously to multiple devices, rather than sequentially.
The MU-MIMO technology requires the router and wireless device to have MU-MIMO Wi-Fi circuitry. Devices with this specialized circuitry are not widespread yet, but newer devices are equipped with this circuitry, making an 802.11ac router a future-proof router.
802.11ac routers are designated with labels that define the theoretical maximum speed of the router. These labels are in the “AC****” format, where AC refers to the ‘ac’ in the 802.11ac standard, and the ‘****’ refers to the numerical value of the maximum speed in Mbps. Examples of these labels are AC1200, AC1750, AC3200, et cetera. Routers with higher numerical values in their label have higher speed capabilities.
Furthermore, the numerical value in the label is the sum of the individual speed limits of the bands supported by the router. For example, a router with maximum speed of 450 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band, and 1,300 Mbps on the 5 GHz band, will be labeled as an AC1750 router. When a router has a maximum speed of 600 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band, and 1,300 Mbps on each of two additional 5 GHz bands (total of 2,600 Mbps on the two 5 GHz bands), the router will be labeled AC3200.
The security of your wireless network is very important, regardless of the router is used in a residential space or in an office space. Wi-Fi Protected Access II, with the acronym WPA2, is the top industry security standard that provides top-notch security for routers. If a router does not have this standard, you may want to find one that is WPA2 equipped.
What is the Best Router for Multiple Devices?
1. D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router Review
The D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router screams premium in every department. The exciting design language of the device with a shiny red finish blew us away. And when we got down to testing the device, we were pleased with the record-breaking times reached during throughput tests.
It isn’t the cheapest premium router for multiple devices, but it is the easily the best performing router, making it an instant stand-out device—worth every penny exchanged for it.
Router manufacturers for a long while have focused a great deal on the internals and performance of routers. We are happy with the results, but we had longed to see a device whose design packed a heavy wow-punch, while not sacrificing on functionality.
The D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router DIR-890L/R is that device. It sports this futuristic design language manifested in a pyramidal build, capped with a shiny candy-apple red finish. We loved how the six external antennas appended on the device were snuggly fitted, giving a huge boost to the aesthetic profile of the DIR-890L/R.
To contain the high-end features present on the device and maintain top performance, the router has dimensions of 4.7 (H) by 15.2 (W) by 9.7 (D). It would be difficult to find a router with larger dimensions, but with the focus on power and functionality over portability, we would have to give D-Link a pass, especially when the results prove that they did an exceptional job.
In addition to sporting six antennas (when the competition is stuck at an average of 4), the DIR-890L/R also has six LED indicators. These indicators display vital information like the power status, the Internet connection status, activity on the USB ports, and activity on both bands.
With the LED indicators affixed to the top of the router, the back of the router holds an Internet port, four Gigabit Ethernet ports, and two USB ports (one using the 2.0 standard and the second using the 3.0 standard). Additionally, the power, reset, and WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) buttons are located on the back of the router. Within the router are circuitry for 802.11b/g/n/ac wireless networking standards, and a 1 GHz dual core processor.
The theoretical speed limit of the DIR-890L/R is 3,200 Mbps. This translates to maximum limit of 600 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band, and maximum limit of 1,300 Mbps on each of the two 5 GHz bands. With three bands, this router outperforms its competitors in an amazing way.
The router also has support for innovative 802.11ac beamforming technology for stronger connectivity, and SmartConnect technology for stable connectivity.
Setting up this device is easy as pie, thanks to a web-based management console with a user-friendly interface. The console can also be used to configure and manage the setup. The web-based console also permits authenticated remote access for management from a smartphone via the myDlink Lite mobile app.
Several relating options for configuration and management are grouped for easy access. These groups of functions are displayed on separate pages for an uncluttered feel.
Salient Selling Points
- Exquisite design
- Top grade performance
- Extensive features
- Impressive speeds
- Robust management
Activities like video streaming and HD online gaming are bandwidth-intensive. These activities often put run-off-the-mill routers to the grind resulting in abysmal performance. Not with the Linksys AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router though. The bandwidth support of the EA9200 is sufficient for these activities and for multiple concurrent use from different wireless clients.
Speed is another turf in which this premium router excels. The network throughput is excellent on all three bands, and particularly breathtaking on the 5 GHz band—on which we recorded the fastest throughput via the 5 GHz band on a router.
We also appreciated the clean and user-friendly interface of the router, which made for a complete package. Though the price of the router is on the high end, we are convinced that the performance of the device makes up for it.
Packaged in the same chassis design as the EA6900, we can’t say we were wowed like we were with the D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router. However, it is a decent design, with a matte black finish on the housing complemented with a brushed silver plate positioned in the center of the device.
The team at Linksys also manage to fit the humongous internals of the EA9200 into an 8.2 (H) by 9.7 (W) by 3.1 (D) casing. The casing is supported on a non-removable stand (6 inches in width) that leaves the router stuck in a vertical position.
The best performers in the routers’ clan are tri-bands and the EA9200 doesn’t disappoint in joining the elitist Tri-Band group. Together, all three bands, a 2.4 GHz and two 5 GHz bands, are able to deliver maximum theoretical speed of up to 3,200 Mbps.
It also sports the beamforming and SmartConnect technologies that provide better strength and stability of the Wi-Fi network generated. The connections generated are broadcast three three external antennas as well as three internal antennas—a total of six.
At the back of the router, we were pleased to see an Internet port, a USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0 port, four Gigabit Ethernet ports, and a reset button; giving plenty of options and controls.
In addition, there are green and yellow port status lights at the back of the router—a signature feature of high-end Linksys EA series routers. There are no activity indicators at the front of the router, which is not convenient. Still, it is not a deal-breaker. For quick confirmation of activity, the backlit Linksys logo on the silver plate would do, it blinks during start up.
The WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) button and a nifty button that toggles the Wi-Fi on and off (simple and useful) are positioned on the right side of the router.
Completing the setup and doing the grunt work on the inside of the router is a top-grade 1 GHz dual core processor.
Setup of the Linksys AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router is a breeze. You could choose to follow the Smart Wi-Fi Setup Wizard, which is a pleasure, or to install and configure the router manually. Either way, you needn’t be a techie, as both alternatives are simple and smooth.
Salient Selling Points
- Large bandwidth for bandwidth-intensive activities
- High connection speeds/network throughput
- Easy setup
At first glance, there are no show-stopping tri bands with blazing 3200 Mbps network throughput on the spec sheet of this router. However, this dual band offering from Trendnet is a shocker in the premium segment.
First off, the design of the TEW-812DRU is elegant. It sublimes with the top-grade performance of the device, which optimizes the futuristic 802.11ac standard on two bands. The result is awe-inspiring, extended Wi-Fi range, high throughput, and an exciting list of dazzling features.
Trendnet have doled out routers with uninspiring designs in the past, but we are happy to see a curtain drop for what we hope to be the start of stylish, trendy designs from the manufacturer. The design language of the housing tends toward the sleek end, with dimensions of 1.9 (H) by 6.1 (W) by 7.1 (L). Large in its own right, but we have seen larger. So, we think the size is not much to fuss about.
Aside the design, Trendnet raises the bar in the spec contest, proving to the industry that the 802.11ac standard sure is awesome. Extended connectivity is possible thanks to a WPS button, a WAN port, a USB 2.0 port, and four Gigabit LAN ports—all located on the rear panel.
At the front of the router are LED indicators that aim to inform the use of the status of LAN, WPS, WAN, and wireless activity as well as the USB status.
The theoretical speed limit of the TEW-812DRU is 1,750 Mbps—450 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and 1,300 Mbps on the 5 GHz band.
Salient Selling Points
- High speed connections
- Excellent connectivity range
- Top-grade performance