Image Source: Android Central
Before starting this post about which one is the Best Wireless router for 2018, let me brief you about routers and what a wireless router actually is - in case you don't know.
Best WiFi Routers 2018
What is a Wireless Router?
The crux of a wireless router are these:
- A Router - Well, think of a Router as a Traffic warden. It manages/directs the traffic between different clients connected to your network. In more specific terms, it forwards Data Packets, from your Network to other Networks out there.
- A Network Switch - It connects your WiFi devices, no matter how much they are, to wired devices through Ethernet cables.
- A Wireless Access Point - This last part, also called wireless AP, is a station and antenna that does nothing more than receiving/transmitting WiFi signals.
Why you need a Wireless Router?
Wireless Router is apparently a boring device which sees through internet transmission in a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), that's why it is also called a WiFi Router. The main advantage of wireless routers is that they connect your internet with multiple devices, without connecting them with your Modem.
Now, these devices can be anything from your Xbox one/PlayStation to iPhone 6s, and from Printer to your PC/SmartTV etc.
How Much a Wireless Router Costs?
A WiFi router can cost you as low as 50 bucks to as much as $400 -- the more you pay ,more you'll get (not always actually). But that's not the point, what I'm saying is that many people among us don't bother much when buying a Wireless Router - by many I mean most.
For them, a $50 router and a $250 one have all the things common except the price tag. Due to this, they can't watch 4K videos, play heavy games over LAN, make VoIP calls over the internet etc.
In short, they suffer from a disease, I call it LOSS (Lack Of Satisfaction from Home Networking System). In my dictionary, any good router is supposed to do following tasks efficiently.
Typical Functions An Advanced Wireless Router
- It provide you a unique local IP address - which is not visible on the internet -- for every device you've connected. In this way, it protects your network from hacking.
- You can connect all your devices to internet and move from one room to another in you house - without attaching any type of cable.
- For Network Storage and Backup drives, some modern Wireless Routers give you External Hard Drive support. It means you can plug your External Hard Drive in it for storage expansion.
- Some high-end routers offer you DLNA support. Through it, you'd have control over how Audio/video and other Media is distributed over your network. You can also use it for managing file sharing permissions of your network Hard Drive.
- Some other goodies you can expect are Network Prioritization, Shared Printing over USB connectivity, QoS, Port Forwarding, Backup servers, and Parental control etc.
So, a good decision you've made if you want to buy a new/your first WiFi router. But if you go out in the market to buy one, you'll probably be lost in all those types that are available right now. Some years ago we had N600, N900 etc. routers. Come 2018, and we've got 802.11ac wave 2 routers, mesh networks and open-source DD-WRT routers too. There are some options on Band-type too. One is Dual-Band whereas other is Tri-Band. So there is a chance that you may get overwhelmed by all those types.
Choosing a single nice Wireless Router for yourself shouldn't be that hard, right?
That's why we've tried to demystify most of the types/standards you'll probably encounter while choosing a wireless router.
Different WiFi Routers' Categories
There are two main router categories used nowadays.
Dual-band wifi routers are called so, becasue they operate on two different wireless frequency bands: one have 2.4GHz frequwncy while other one has 5GHz.
Just like dual-band routers operate on 2 different bands, tri-band routers have 3 different bands. One is 2.4GHz frequency band while other two are 5GHz Bands. That's the reason tri-band routers are better at handling a large number of devices, let say 20, at one time.
To help you guys, here is a table that'll make you understand different types of routers and their top theoretical speed (in Mbps).
5GHz Band 1
5GHz Band 2
The main purpose so far was to prepare you for what you can expect later in this post e.g. terminologies, types of routers etc. So having read that much, let's dive head first into this 2018 router buying guide.
Best Wireless Router 2018 Review
WiFi Routers Related FAQ
What is meant by routing in computer networks?
In computer networking, routing means selecting a particular path for network traffic across different networks.
What is the use of a router?
A router is a networking device which helps to connect different devices in a network, or two different networks (of same type), and forward data packets between them. You need a wireless router because without it, you cannot have internet access in your home network.
What is the difference between a router and a modem?
In a home network, a router is a device which allows different computers/other gadgets to join same network. When different devices join your home network, they doesn’t necessarily mean they have internet connectivity.
In order to do so, you must connect your wireless router with your modem. A modem is a device which connects to your ISP either by Cable or DSL internet service. Then, the modem spread the internet access all over your home network, through your router.
What is the difference between a router, a Gateway and a switch?
Before knowing what a switch is, first we’ll discuss what a hub is. A hub is a networking device with the most simplest job: Receive a message and transfer it to every other port over that network. A Hub doesn’t know about the original sender and recipient of that particular message. It means every message will be shared with all the other devices over the network.
A Switch, on the other hand, does that same task but with more efficiency. What I meant is that while switch is used to transfer message between one port to another, the message will be shared among those only, not over the whole network.
A gateway is a ‘system’ which is capable of connecting 2 networks who are based on different protocols. A gateway can be based on Hardware, Software or a combination of both. Unlike gateway, router are used to create connection between 2 similar networks.
Can a better router increase Internet speed?
Yes, a router can increase your internet speed but that’s not for certain. Let’s imagine this scenario, If your router can have a maximum speed of 50Mbps and your ISP gives you internet @15Mbps, then you can do nothing to increase that speed. It’ll only be limited at 15Mbps.
On the other hand, if your ISP gives 30Mbps internet but your current router caps @20Mbps, then upgrading a router will definitely boost your internet speed.
Can a modem also be a router?
Although modem and router are two different things, there are some wireless routers with built-in modems. You don’t need to have cable modem or DSL to connect with these routers in order to have an internet. Here is an article which’ll help you finding out if your modem has a built-in router
How do you set up a router with your LAN?
Although setting up a router is fairly simple, I would like you to watch this YouTube video.
What is 802.11 a, b, g, n, AC and how WiFi Ad is different than all of these?
802.11 is the IEEE-given name of WiFi Standards and the letters a, b, g and n are just different versions of it. To completely know about all these wifi standard versions, visit this guide about wifi standards.
What is Wave 2 wireless?
802.11ac wave 2, or simply wave 2 wireless, is an extension of 802.11ac wifi standard. Apart from better speed and support for more connected devices, this extension offers latest technologies such as MU-MIMO and Gigabit Wi-Fi Possibility.
What is MU-MIMO?
Before talking about MU-MIMO. First lets discuss about how the traditional routers handles data packets.
Conventionally, a router talk/communicate with one device, on a network, at one time. In case there is more than one device, the router ‘shares’ its communication time with all the connected devices.
This happens so fast that we usually don’t realize it happening. If your internet bandwidth is enough then it's good, but if it's low due to a lot of devices then things can go south.
Enter MU-MIMO (Multi user, Multi Input, Multi Output), a standard which enables router to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously. This things results in better home networking experience. Here you can find the full history of MU-MIMO
Which is the best router?
This is not an easy question to answer. It depends on what you require from a router. If you want only 5 devices on your home network and want to browse internet only, then even a N600 router would be enough for you.
On the other hand, if you have a 5000 Sq. ft, 3-storey house and want to have 25 devices in your home network at one time so that you can do online gaming and video over 4K, then you should probably go for a Tri-Band router like Netgear R8000.
What is the best router for gaming?
A gaming router is a wireless router that is designed specifically for gaming. It’s mostly used by hardcore gamers who do online gaming. It features optimized network for video games and its QoS gives automatic priority to gaming packet over all other network.
Other features that usually come with a gaming router are Gigabit Ethernet ports, dual or tri-band networking and other 802.11ac features. Of course, you can have these features in other ‘non-gaming’ routers too. That’s why many people think that gaming routers are just a marketing gimmick. That’s true actually but, only to some extent, not 100%.
In our testing, best router for gaming was Asus AC3100.