Are you looking for a new router but don’t have the time to learn about the latest router technology? Don’t worry: we’ve listed and described below the eight questions to ask when buying a new router. And you should be able to discover a router in your price range that has all the capabilities you require. Let’s get started!
Questions Ask Buying New Router
1. Does the router have Wi-Fi 6 or another high-speed Wi-Fi standard?
First and foremost, check sure your router’s hardware is up to current. At the time of writing, Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, is the most recent generation of Wi-Fi, and it provides excellent speeds and low latency. Wi-Fi 6E also has the advantage of operating in the 6 GHz range, which is quicker and more dependable than the 5 and 2.4 GHz bands used by prior Wi-Fi standards.
If you’re a gamer or streamer, you’ll want to get a router that supports 5 or 6 GHz networking to cut down on latency and disturbances.
2. Does the router support 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, or 6 GHz Wi-Fi?
It’s critical to understand how wifi bands function if you’re shopping for a new router.
The older Wi-Fi frequency, 2.4 GHz, is supported by practically all devices and has the longest range. However, it has higher latency and lowers reliability than the newer bands, especially on busy networks.
The contemporary Wi-Fi spectrum, 5 GHz, is supported by newer devices. It has a shorter range than 2.4 GHz but significantly improves speed and latency. The 5 GHz band is also far less crowded than the 2.4 GHz spectrum.
The most recent and cutting-edge Wi-Fi band is 6 GHz. The main advantage of 6 GHz over 5 GHz on supported devices at the time of writing is less network congestion and interference — until everyone is on 6 GHz, and we have to start all over again.
Most current routers should be able to operate at both 2.4 and 5 GHz. It’s probably time for an upgrade if yours doesn’t.
3. Does the router support QoS (Quality of Service)?
QoS (Quality of Service) is a router function that allows the router to prioritize different types of network traffic. For example, if you’re on a video chat and your loved one is watching Netflix in the other room, QoS will prefer your latency-sensitive call over Netflix’s long, static video file.
You may prioritize communication and gaming on your network with QoS, avoiding difficulties with latency-sensitive applications yet enabling major data hogs (like YouTube and Netflix) to run on it. Because it combines the latency sensitivity of gaming with the high bandwidth demands of streaming video, QoS is essential for things like gaming with Steam Link or a cloud gaming service.
4. Does the router support MU-MIMO?
A router’s MU-MIMO function allows it to transfer data to numerous devices at the same time. When more than one person is utilizing the network at the same time, this decreases latency and network disturbance. That should make a reasonable impact unless you live alone.
5. Does the router have multiple antennas?
A high-end router with numerous long-range antennae could be exactly what you’re searching for if you want to extend the range and reduce latency. Those extra antennae will be put to good use if the router in question supports MU-MIMO and beam-forming (a technique for focusing a wireless signal toward a specific receiving device). Extra antennas are very useful in beam-forming.
6. Does the router support mesh networking?
Multiple routers in a Wi-Fi mesh network share the same name and information, allowing for seamless transit and high speeds. This is an alternative to Wi-Fi extenders, which are less expensive but less effective.
Because they’re only replicating signals from a single, original router, a network constructed on Wi-Fi extenders will have an extra visible network and will be far more prone to lag and latency than mesh networks. While expanding a network with Wi-Fi extenders rather than a full-fledged mesh configuration can save you a lot of money, the mesh is still preferable in every regard except price.
While mesh networking is a fascinating feature, it’s unlikely that most of our readers will need it. Mesh networking, on the other hand, has a lot of appeal as a straightforward method for extending your network if you live in a multi-floor home or a larger residence.
7. Does the router have enough Ethernet and USB ports for your needs?
While choosing the correct features in a wireless router is vital, it’s also important to remember what your actual wires have to offer, especially if you’re a gamer or power user.
For example, Ethernet connections can be utilized to route to gaming PCs and game consoles to reduce game latency. This level of dependability may be required even on fast networks, notably for streamers and professional players.
If the router supports it, USB ports can be used to connect printers or external drives to a network as well as enable (custom) firmware updates. A USB connection to a router, on the other hand, normally does not allow you to connect to the internet. This is when Wi-Fi and Ethernet cables come in handy. Even if you could, using a USB cord is slower than using Ethernet or Wi-Fi.
8. Does the router support custom firmware? (Optional)
A router with custom firmware support may be exactly what you’re looking for if you enjoy tinkering with your technology to your heart’s content. Routers with custom firmware support can be updated with software capabilities like QoS and VPN integration that the original router may not have had.
While custom firmware isn’t required for high-end routers, it’s a terrific method to transform an outdated or cheap router into something that’s actually worth using. Using custom firmware to add QoS to a router that doesn’t have it already can drastically enhance things like your gaming experience, especially if you’re on a slow connection with limited bandwidth to spare.
Using custom firmware to add QoS to a router that doesn’t have it already can drastically enhance things like your gaming experience, especially if you’re on a slow connection with limited bandwidth.
If you’re interested in gaining control of your router and pushing it further than it was designed to go, check out our DD-WRT vs. Tomato vs. OpenWrt post, where we compare the most popular router firmware.
Check out the Best Wireless Routers of all time.
Final Thoughts: Questions When Buying New Router
You now know what questions should be asked when buying a new router based on the answers to the above questions. If you’re going to use an Ethernet connection, you’ll also need to know how to buy Ethernet cables.