The 5 Best Routers
These days it's becoming more and more difficult to imagine life without the Internet. While just a decade ago we were waiting on 56k dial-up modems that took the use of our telephone lines, now most of our households are covered by high-speed, broadband Internet. To help facilitate the Internet connection through your household, it's a good idea to run your connection through a router.
What Is a Router?
A router is an electronic device that passes data between computer networks. Most commonly, routers are used to pass information between home computers and the Internet as well as function as a wireless access point. They allow you to connect your devices to the Internet either through a wire or wirelessly.
Which router is right for you is largely dependent on how you use the Internet, and how many devices you plan on connecting through the router. Heavy data users connecting multiple devices should consider a dual-band router that simultaneously runs 2.4GHz and 5 GHz bands and runs the 802.11n or 802.11ac standard. Users with older devices should consider routers running the older 802.11a/b/g standards to ensure that their devices can continue to connect to the Internet.
Best 5 Routers
Highly reviewed by a number of different technology websites, the Asus RT-AC66U is praised for supporting the latest 802.11ac standard and dual-band performance. At 5GHz, the wireless performance is absolutely stellar; however performance isn't quite as strong at 2.4 GHz. The router is also compatible with all older Wi-Fi standards, so your older electronic devices should have no problems connecting to it. Additionally, this router is also capable of establishing a virtual private network (VPN). Currently $173.61 on Amazon.
For those looking for a basic, but solid router to set up their Wi-Fi network at home, the Cisco Linksys E1200 is a great contender. This Cisco is a relatively inexpensive, single-band, 802.11n router. While it doesn't have any advanced bells-and-whistles, what it lacks in extras it makes up for in ease-of-use. Installation is simple and straightforward, and while it doesn't provide the greatest range of bandwidth, most users have stated that they are quite satisfied with its performance. Currently $39.99 on Amazon.
The ZyXel MWR102 is a great, affordable, and portable travel router that is capable of providing you Internet on the go. With 3-in-1 functionality, the MWR102 serves as a router, access point, and wireless client bridge and delivers single-band connectivity on the 802.11n standard with speeds up to 150 Mbps in ideal conditions. While these speeds don't quite match up to a dual-band router, they top the list in terms of travel routers. Finally, it includes Ethernet ports for wired connections and is capable of being powered through an AC adapter and USB port for flexibility. Currently $23.00 on Amazon.
A powerhouse router, the Netgear N750 delivers incredible speed and bandwidth performance. A dual-band router, Netgear promises speeds of up to 450 Mbps on the 5 GHz band. Even if it doesn't perform under those ideal conditions, you're still getting blazingly fast Internet. Performance on the 2.4 GHz is not quite as strong, but still above average than other routers of its class. Finally, while this router is geared toward folks that like to tweak with their Wi-Fi connection, Netgear's software makes it incredibly easy for novices to set up and use as well. Currently $99.96 on Amazon.
The perfect router for those that run in a Mac environment, experts say that this router is fast, easy to use, and easily compatible with Apple products. The dual-band Apple AirPort Extreme supports the 802.11ac standard, bringing you speeds of up to 1.3 Gbps (that's up to three times faster than your typical 802.11n router). While many state that this router is easy to set up even for first-time users, it doesn't exactly play nice with PCs. While PCs can continue to use its basic function as a router, they aren't capable of using some of its advanced features. Nonetheless, its speed, bandwidth and reliability alone are nothing to complain about. Currently $184.99 on Amazon.