Although wireless technology was available as far back as 1985 in the United States, what we now know as 802.11 wireless or Wi-Fi technology was not really made available until 1997. Prior to this time, you would need your home computer to be within reach of a modem via an ethernet cable and accessing the internet on more than one device at a time was virtually impossible.
Since those days, cable and satellite companies, as well as internet providers have required consumers to rent or buy a cable modem, or more recently a router, in order to access the internet. But, the truth is that the best AC router for most consumers is one that is not provided by the internet provider but purchased separately. The key is to find the best wireless or AC router for your particular needs. You will probably find that it ends up saving you money and gives you much better and faster access to the internet.
What is a Wireless Router?
In 2009, the technology that we now expect in a modern wireless router was released to the public as Wireless-N (802.11n). It is a dual-band technology which means that you can access the internet via 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. This technology is significantly faster than previous versions, allowing for a data transmission rate of up to 900Mbs – almost 20 times faster than before.
The other advantage of this technology is that it makes it very easy to access the internet on multiple devices simultaneously. Most of us have a television or two, a laptop, a tablet, a cell phone, and other technology that is constantly using Wi-Fi which makes it extremely important that you have the best AC router.
Should You Upgrade to a Wireless AC Router?
Perhaps the most important reason for shopping online for a router rather than buying or renting one from your cable or internet company is that you can get a much better price. Cable companies rent modems and routers for an exorbitant price and they often don’t tell you when it’s time to update them. Because of this, your existing router may be well out of date and slowing you down.
What Features Should You Look For?
As with most technology items these days, it is far more important to look for a device that suits your needs rather than just going with a well-known brand. On the other hand, some of the most well-known companies that make routers, such as Linksys, Netgear, Asus, and Google all make exceptional products that are on the cutting edge. The fact that they also provide good customer service is extremely important, too.
The average consumer is not going to get very “techy” when it comes to buying an 802.11ac router, but there are still some things you will want to look for. These include some of the following:
- Processing speed – This can be measured in a few different ways, but most routers sold right now tend to be either 1.2Ghz or 2.4Ghz. You may also see “speed” measure in terms of Mbps which is a data transfer speed rather than a processing speed.
- Range – This is a measurement of how far the signal will reach under normal conditions. Many manufacturers state this in terms of square feet, but it is important to keep in mind that there are factors that can limit the range in your cases such as thick walls, concrete floors, or other wireless signals.
- Easy installation – It is surprising to see just how easy it is to install a router these days. That being said, if you have never installed one on your own before or if you have particular needs such as increased security or speed for gaming, then choosing one that has easy to follow instructions is going to be very important.
- Online customer support – Many manufacturers have online customer support, user forums, and other venues whereby you can get your questions answered.
- Firewall protection – With security so important these days, it is imperative that your router comes with some type of built-in security. Full firewall protection will help you to keep your neighbors off your Wi-Fi and protect you from hackers.
- Warranty – Even with highly complicated pieces of technology, there are often very basic problems that can occur. It is not unusual for a router to completely stop working – for no apparent reason. Because of this you should make sure you buy an AC router that comes with a warranty or money-back guarantee.
Choosing the best AC router for your home or business can be a pretty big challenge, but here are five very well-respected routers that may suit your needs:
There is little doubt that the Netgear R6700 router is the go-to choice for many consumers.
This modem operates on a 1 GHz dual-core processor and has been specifically designed for homes with multiple devices. In fact, one of the biggest selling points of this modem is that it can handle 12 or more Wi-Fi devices simultaneously. While you may not be able to imagine a time when 12 devices in your home will need to access the Internet at the same time, you may be surprised. More and more devices commonly found in smart homes regularly need internet access, so it is not just a matter of logging on with your phone or your tablet.
The Netgear R6700 allows quick access to USB HDD via its USB 3.0 port and because of its high speed, it is a very popular AC router for hard-core gamers as well people who like to stream video or music. It is capable of handling up to 1750 Mbps per second and the USB 3.0 can provide you with up to 10 times faster access to all of your stored media.
There are a couple of other features that make this such a popular router, including built-in parental controls, free backup software, and a built-in high-powered amplifier that works in conjunction with external antennas to provide Wi-Fi throughout your entire home.
The built-in advanced QoS makes this the ideal AC router for lag-free gaming and streaming at the highest speeds possible. It is also compatible with most cable and satellite providers. There are four LAN ports, one USB 3.0 port, and one USB 2.0 port, three internal antennas, and included VPN support and backup software.
One problem that a lot of consumers have with Wi-Fi is that they often find what is commonly known as “dead spots” throughout their home. This is where your Wi-Fi signal is weak or nonexistent, preventing you from doing the things that you want to do. If you have found that streaming movies or music is frustrating or simply impossible to do, then this wireless router may be a good choice for you.
This router has been designed to cover up to 4000 sq. ft. with a high-performance Wi-Fi signal, something that atypical modem provided by a cable company simply would not do. It has been tested to work with such major Internet providers as Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, and others.
What makes this router so unique is that there is a base router that would be located where ever your signal comes into your home, and there is also a “satellite” that works as a signal extender. For example, if your cable signal comes into your living room, the router would be located there and you might put the satellite device in your basement, upstairs, or anywhere you currently have a dead signal.
Among the many features that the Netgear Orbi RBK40 comes with is a function for parents to prevent children from accessing unwanted material. These parental controls can also be used to limit internet time for websites, apps, and streaming. You can actually adjust individual filter levels for each user in your family which can be very handy.
The Netgear Orbi RBK40 operates at 2.2 Gbps and includes three Ethernet ports on the router and four on the satellite device. There is also a built-in firewall and advanced security features that will prevent viruses, malware, and unauthorized access to your network and data.
When you look online for routers specifically designed for gamers, the first one you will come across is the ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router. This is one of the most popular routers for hard-core gamers.
The specifications for this router are pretty incredible, including the fact that it is built around the latest 4×4 802.11ac MU-MIMO technology and includes 8 Gigabit LAN ports. If you don’t know a lot about wireless technology, then this might not mean a lot to you, but it means a lot to gamers who rely on uninterrupted speed.
But, it is not just fast, it’s a reliable speed that makes the ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router such a popular router. It uses for external antennas to provide fast, high-quality coverage throughout your own home as well as advanced signal stability so that streaming video or audio is virtually seamless.
It uses both 2.4 and 5 GHz dual-band networks and also USB 3.0 and 2.0 storage and networking functionality. Installing this router is unusually easy since it provides a three-step web-based installation program. In minutes, you can have your entire home connected and protected from hackers and other malicious threats. Built-in AiProtection by Trend Micro assures that all of your devices and your data will be free from viruses and malware.
The Google WiFi system is a whole-home Wi-Fi system. Although this system has a pretty hefty price in comparison to other Wi-Fi routers, it provides whole home coverage and is designed to eliminate dead zones and buffering throughout your home.
This system has been created to be compatible with all of the major Internet service providers including Time Warner, Comcast, Verizon, and others and is designed to replace your existing modem or router.
You can purchase the Google Wi-Fi system as a standalone single router, or if your home is more than 1500 feet, this three-pack is ideal. It is designed to provide a strong and stable Internet signal in homes up to 4500 sq. ft. and you can purchase additional Wi-Fi points if you need to add more coverage than this.
Because this device is made by Google, it is particularly user-friendly and easy to install. Even if you have never installed any kind of router or modem, the proprietary network assist technology makes installation a breeze and you can rest assured that all of your devices will have access to the clearest and fastest signal, too.
There are additional features that the Google Wi-Fi system has, including parental controls that can limit what kind of information your children are accessing as well as the amount of time that they spend online.
Each individual Wi-Fi point had to gigabit ethernet ports, both of which act as LAN ports along with the overall expandable Wi-Fi system. It supports simultaneous dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) which is the industry standard at this time.
In order to set up your Google Wi-Fi system, you will need a Google account, existing Internet service, and either an Android or Apple device.
5. MOTOROLA MG7540 16x4 Cable Modem plus AC1600 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router, 686 Mbps Maximum DOCSIS 3.0
One thing that is very important when shopping for the best AC router for your home is making sure that it is compatible with whatever Internet service provider that you currently have. The Motorola MG 7540 is one of the few dual-band Wi-Fi gigabit routers that is officially approved by Comcast, XFINITY, Cox, Charter, and other providers.
One of the reasons why the Motorola MG 7540 is so popular is because it takes the place of a traditional cable modem that you might rent from your Internet provider, and that means that you will save a lot of money. It is designed to operate at speeds up to 375 Mbps and the built-in Broadcom modem technology will prevent you from denial of service attacks.
This includes four 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports and you can also make use of the included wired connections if you choose to use this with a traditional Windows or Mac computer. Also, other ethernet capable devices such as HDTV’s, gaming systems, tablets, and streaming devices can easily connect at the highest possible speeds.
A feature that a lot of people comment on when it comes to this Motorola MG 7540 is that they like the vertical design. Unlike traditional routers or modems which can take up a lot of space on a desk, this one has a very small footprint. Another feature is that because it is vertical, ventilation is more efficient and that means a longer life for your router.
The size of 11” x 10.25” x 2.75” and a weight of just over 2 ½ pounds means that it is easy to move, and will not utilize as much space as other modems.
Should You Buy or Rent a Router?
Until recently, most households would simply rent a modem directly from their cable company or Internet service provider, but now that high and routers such as those mentioned above are so affordable, it does not really make sense to rent a modem. When you also consider that these affordable routers offer a large number of features not commonly found on rental models, it seems that purchasing one is a much better decision.
Whether you are looking for the best AC router for your gaming addiction or you want one that will make monitoring and controlling your family’s Internet usage easier, there are now a large number of easy to install, affordable, and high powered AC routers available.