DATA DOCTORS

When shopping for a Wi-Fi router, here’s what to consider

Jan 22, 2022, 5:45 AM
(Pixabay Photo)...
(Pixabay Photo)
(Pixabay Photo)

Q: I’m shopping for a new Wi-Fi router and want to understand what all the numbers and letters mean.

A: Shopping for a Wi-Fi router can be one of the most confusing experiences until you can decode all those numbers and letters.

Wi-Fi GenerationsThe first thing to understand is which generation of Wi-Fi the device supports, which will generally tell you how fast the connection between the router and your wireless devices will be.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created the ‘802.11’ standards for Wi-Fi and each generation is designated with letters to help consumers know what they are buying.

There are currently 6 generations of Wi-Fi:

  • Wi-Fi 1 designated as 802.11b
  • Wi-Fi 2 designated as 802.11a
  • Wi-Fi 3 designated as 802.11g
  • Wi-Fi 4  designated as 802.11n
  • Wi-Fi 5  designated as 802.11ac
  • Wi-Fi 6  designated as 802.11ax

Today, you’re probably only going to see routers for sale with the ‘n, ac or ax’ designation followed by a series of numbers.

Those numbers represent speed classes but the numbers themselves don’t always directly translate to the devices speed (part of the confusion).  The good news is that the higher the number, the faster the speed between your wireless devices and the router.

Does This Speed Matter?The way that you use Wi-Fi, the number of simultaneous devices and how much bandwidth each device uses will play a factor in deciding which standard makes the most sense for you.

If your primary use is for connecting to the Internet, your internet connection speed is probably slower than just about anything you’re going to buy.

The theoretical maximum data speed of an 802.11n router is between 72 and 450 Mbps and the average home Internet connection is generally slower – you can get a good test of your connection at: https://testmy.net

If you’re paying for a really fast Internet connection or if you transfer a lot of large files between devices on your network, the faster throughput numbers matter a lot.

Current 802.11ac devices have a theoretical maximum data speed of 200 Mbps to 1.73 Gbps while 802.11ax devices will range between 143 Mbps and 2.4 Gbps.

Keep in mind, your wireless devices must also support these faster standards in order to take advantage of the speed.

Dual & Tri BandOlder routers operated at the 2.4Ghz frequency which is slower but can travel farther distances and newer routers added the 5Ghz frequency which is faster but won’t have as much of a reach in distance.

When you see ‘dual-band’ in the description, it simply means that both bands are available (recommended) so you can put items that don’t need the speed on the lower band.

If you see ‘tri-band’ in the description, it means that there three separate network connections – one at 2.4Ghz and two at 5Ghz.  This type of router is best for households with lots of different wireless devices that need to be connected.

Mesh NetworksYou may also see ‘mesh’ in the description, which indicates it’s a system devised to use multiple connection points which can be critical if you have a large home.

MU-MIMOIf you see this designation which means Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output, it tells you that a more sophisticated antennae system is being used.

Having multiple antennas allows the router to communicate with multiple devices at the same time,  which can be beneficial in households with lots of high bandwidth needs such as gaming and video streaming.

Data Doctors

(Pexels Photo)...
Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

Here are the benefits of having a virtual private network at home

A VPN is a tool that can provide a variety of security and usability services that are most useful on networks that are shared by others or when you are traveling.
3 days ago
(File Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)...
Data Doctors

Here’s what you need to know about syncing multiple Windows computers

Making your computers look and work the same way has it’s obvious benefits. Both Windows 10 and 11 have the ability to sync lots of settings.
17 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Data Doctors

Here are conversion websites and programs that are safe to use

Q: Are file conversion websites safe to use? A: It’s not uncommon to have a file sent to you in a format your computer can’t make use of and it needs to be converted. In some cases, a program that you already have installed may be able to convert the file for you. A common […]
24 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Data Doctors

Here’s what you need to know about end of Facebook Trusted Contacts feature

Facebook hasn’t given a reason why they are shutting down the important Trusted Contacts security feature.
1 month ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Data Doctors

Tips to understanding full virus scan information

Depending upon your setup, there are a few things you can check for to help you understand what and where files are stored on your computer.
1 month ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Data Doctors

A handful of free and easy video editors for beginners

For those looking to get into video editing, here are a few options that work directly on smartphones, computers and tablets.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
Canvas Annuity

The secret to guaranteed retirement income

Annuities aren’t really a secret, but they are so misunderstood that they might as well be. Once you understand what an annuity is and how it can benefit you, you could decide this “secret” is the perfect supplement to your retirement plan.
When shopping for a Wi-Fi router, here’s what to consider