The choise of WiFi router in 2017
How to choose the reliable WiFi router? What manufacturers offer the best correlation of price and quality? What is the main difference between the models of such popular brands as Asus, TP-Link, D-Link and Netis? When does it make sense to overpay for the trademark? Should you choose the model with the built-in or external antennae? How to place the router to achieve the maximum coverage?
Below you will find the answers to these and other questions, and at the end of article we will show you the best budget WiFi routers of 2017.
Table of Contents
- Optimal location of router in the apartment
- The best models of cheap router of 2017
WiFi routers, presented today in world markets of network equipment, are considered very reliable devices that break down very rarely. The routers are completed with safe and durable electronics. The safety of routers is so high that no one has actually collected statistics on their failures as it wasn’t necessary. However, the experience of the experts shows that no more than 3% of the new router models break down during the first year of exploitation. These figures are encouraging and give confidence that no matter which router you choose, the risk of buying the bad model will be minimal.
Thus, in terms of device safety, it doesn’t matter much which manufacturer you choose when buying the router. Problems may arise only when configuring the router (however, this applies only to the individual models). But you can handle them on your own or, as a last resort, by call the master.
Until recently, D-Link was an unofficial leader in the router market. But in the last few years a more progressive TP-Link has displaced its main rival, offering more affordable routers. However, the dominance of TP-Link is not so evident, as now the third popular actively takes over the company’s position – Netis that offers even more affordable models with good characteristics.
The segment of more expensive and safe devices is represented by the company ZyXEL. The same can be said of the relatively expensive routers Asus (you should overpay a little for them). The pricing of these routers is influenced rather by the real technical characteristics than the brand, but the fans of Asus can afford to overpay a little.
Despite the fact that the small companies try to drive out the bigger competitors, TP-Link remains generally recognized leader (both in price and quality).
Which router should you buy? Different routers are designed for different categories of users, while generally all devices have compatible technical characteristics.
Also see: How to choose RAM
The routers from TP-Link and D-Link are perfect for the use in small offices or apartments. Easily configured routers are the most popular among the customers. There are also no comments on their safety.
Those who appreciate famous brands will like routers from Asus and ZyXEL .They cost a bit more, but have much better design and the same safety.
Some customers can risk and buy the products from the expensive little-known brands. It is difficult to find a rational argument for such a purchase, as saving of a few dollars will result in the purchase of unreliable device. But are the safety parameters really so relevant? Let’s find out.
Actually, any router can break down because of lighting. No one is safe. Therefore, the residents of private houses should install the special protective nozzle in their WAN-port. The cost of such protection will be minimal, but most of noises protected from the close discharges will be effectively absorbed. But you should remember than even the grounded router won’t “survive” the direct lighting strike, so neither cheap nor expensive super-reliable router model is safe from this trouble. In this case, you can easily buy the cheapest router completed with the lighting protection.
Data transfer speed
According to the most users, the most important parameter of router is data transfer speed. But in practice, it is not so important, as even the cheapest router can have up to 150 megabit speed, while not all providers offer such Internet speed. In most cases, too fast router will be a waste of money. Therefore, the common user shouldn’t judge the router by its parameters and the loud sentences like “more than 1000 megabits per second”– these are just marketing ploys. As for the speed, there is no much difference between the cheap and expensive router.
Although the manufacturers indicate the exact data on how far from the router the signal is captured by the devices, these figures are conditional, as everything depends on the thickness of walls in a specific room. For example, thick concrete wall can fully absorb the signal of the super-powerful router. But if you place the router correctly, even the small-power model will be enough.
What should you take into account when buying the router? Here are some really important parameters:
- One of them is the transmitter capacity. The more powerful it is, the more walls can bounce the signal. Usually, the transmitter capacity of universal budget routers is about 17 dBm. At that, the maximum allowable transmitter capacity is legally restricted to 20 dBm. You should focus on this maximum when buying the router.
- Receiver sensitivity is the second important parameter of router, which is rarely indicated by the manufacturers in the technical characteristics of the product. However, if there is the information on the receiver sensitivity of certain router – focus on the minimal speed. This feature is responsible for the reliability of the router connection with the device with a minimal signal. Receiver sensitivity of the most routers is 90 dBm. However, for a more reliable signal you should choose the models with 92, 94 and 98 dBm.
- Antenna amplification factor is the feature that shows how far the router signal can reach. Remember than antenna is a passive device that can accept and send a signal sighting, spreading most actively in the plane perpendicular to the direction of antenna. But don’t forget that the amplification factor of antenna for maintaining reliable signal is not as important as the right location of router in a certain room.
The number of antennas
The number of antennas in the router doesn’t affect the intensity of signal. Additional antennas only provide more stable signal and its even distribution in the coverage zone.
The routers with one antenna are suitable for small premises. To achieve more stable signal, you should point the antenna towards the connection devices. The routers with two antennas are optimal in safety, signal stability and price. The purchase of router with three and more antennas is considered unsustainable, as third antenna doesn’t provide significant increase of any important factor (except for the large rooms with several floors).
As for the in-built antennas, such devices have a low signal amplification factor. They are suitable for the use in small rooms. You can also install them where in the places where the access to the signal is necessary on several floors (i.e. horizontally and vertically). In the routers with in-built antennas, the signal is evenly distributed in all directions.
If you’re looking for the router for the big country house, choose the models with 2 or 3 antennas, where the amplification factor is no less than 5 dBm. To achieve the maximum coverage in the apartment, router antennas should be installed vertically or under a small corner.
Router is not just “hardware”, case and antennas, but also embedded software, called “firmware”. The manufacturers of routers constantly update the firmware of issued devices, fixing the bugs found by the users or the developers themselves. An inexperienced user can buy the router with the “raw” firmware. To avoid choosing such model, don’t buy the latest or too exclusive options. At the same time, the bugs are very rare in the mass models of router.
Don’t pay too much attention to the design of router, unless you find the appearance of this trivial network accessory really important. In other cases, too fussy designs can show you that this is not the most reliable model. Usually, the most beautiful routers prove to be least durable. Moreover, due to the lack, many of them of external antenna can give a weak signal. Therefore, it is better to buy the proven models.
Optimal location of router in the apartment
The choice of place for the installation of router is the key to the stability of signal. If you choose the wrong place, you won’t be able to fully appreciate the advantages of expensive router, as the signal just won’t get through the walls.
What do you need to know about the router signal? First – it is spreading almost without reflections, straightforwardly. Second – it goes badly through the thick bearing walls. It must be taken into account when placing the device.
Choosing the place for the installation of router, mentally draw the straight line from the router to the zones where you’re going to use the network. The fewer walls and other thick objects will be in the way of your mental lines, the better will be the signal.
You shouldn’t forget that the router signal doesn’t get through the large metal constructions. The signal behind the fridge or washing machine will be minimal. The router signal will reach these zones only by reflecting from the other objects, but not directly.
Besides, the router should be located not less than 30 cm from the walls. Thus, the signal will be distributed on a better trajectory.
It is obvious that there are different routers, which can give signals with different intensity. The same applies to the devices– computers and notebooks can accept a signal through 3 and more walls, while smartphones and tablets can barely handle 2 walls. The real possibilities of router must be assessed against its features and the place of its use, as often the signal of relatively cheap router went through 5 and more walls.
Due to the density of housing, several routers can be located very close to each other, which worsens the transmission of signal. In this case, you can easily solve the problem by using the special program WiFi Analyzer for Android and configure the router on the clear channel (usually, 12 or 13). But you should remember that the problems may arise when connecting some devices to the network at these frequencies.
Scheme of installation of router
The scheme takes the typical apartment as an example, so that the user can understand the basic logic of router location in the accommodation. The place of installation of router is marked with an asterisk. The signal in different locations is indicated with a proper icon. The scheme considers the router with the transmitter power of 20 dBm and standard antenna with an amplification factor of 5 dBm.
As you can see from the scheme, relatively unsuccessful location of router is in the corner of the room. In this case, the signal will not reach the other side of the room. Probably, smartphone and tablet will not capture the connection in certain rooms.
Even more unsuitable location of router is near the kitchen table. While there will be the stable coverage in all locations of apartment, the signal in the room will be insufficient. Why? It’s easy – the signal will hardly get through 4 walls, located at a 45 degree angle.
You can see the optimal location of router on the picture 3. If you place the router in the center of apartment, it will receive the signal from any point 24/7. At that, the signal will be stable and strong even in the distant places like balcony. In this case, the number of obstacles in the form of walls will be minimized.
If you’re unlucky, and even observing all rules, you didn’t manage to provide the stable signal all over the apartment – don’t despair, as many factors affecting the work of router don’t depend on the user. As a customer, you should focus on choosing the qualitative and reliable device and the best place for its installation.
The best models of cheap router of 2017
Before buying the router, you should ask your provider whether it supports all kinds of devices. After ensuring that the provider allows connecting the router through the LAN-cable in WAN-port, you can start choosing the model.
Netis WF2411 – the most successful of affordable routers, completed with a quite powerful transmitter and qualitative antenna. You’ll be happy with the reliability and affordable price of your router.
TP-LINK TL-WR740N – excellent alternative to the previous model, which is also completed with a 5 dBm power antenna. The capacity of transmitter is 20 dBm with a maximum data transfer speed of 150 megabits per second. This router is an optimal choice for the most buyers.
TP-LINK TL-WR841N – an example of successful combination of high technical capabilities and affordable price. The distinctive feature of the model is the possibility to transfer data at a speed of up to 300 megabits per second. However, you have to consider the real Internet speed, offered by your provider. Do you really need so fast router?
TP-LINK TL-WR940N – the best choice in the category of budget routers. It is the most reliable of the above-mentioned models. The router has three antennas that provide dense and stable coverage. At that, the capacity of transmitter reaches 25 dBm. But don’t confuse this model with its Chinese analog with the modest technical capabilities.
The practice shows that there is no point in overpaying for the expensive omni-directional routers, as they won’t give a significant increase in coverage, and their stability is not better than that of the cheaper models. Besides, the location of router in the apartment (and not its technical performance) plays a major role in providing the stable wireless Internet.