When was the last time you changed your router? If the answer is a few years ago and if you’ve been experiencing slow browsing speed, especially on your Wi-Fi connection, it might be time for a router upgrade! Before you go shopping for a new router, here are some things you should know.
Different Wireless Standards
First up, make sure that the new router you purchase supports the latest 802.11ac standards, and also for the sake of your older devices, do also ensure that older standards are supported as well. Most routers will support various standards from the latest 802.11ac to as far back as 802.11A. If you are unsure of what these standards mean, no worries, the main difference are speed related. Here’s an illustration of the the most common standards and their speed capabilities:
802.11a : 6,9,12,18,24,36,48,54 Mbps
802.11b : 1, 2, 5.5, 11 Mbps
802.11g : 6,9,12,18,24,36,48,54 Mbps
802.11n : up to 600 Mbps
802.11ac : up to 1734 Mbps
Be careful when you see routers advertising speeds of up to 1900 Mbps (and beyond)! This is usually the combined transfer rates of both the router’s 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. This means that the 5.0GHZ router might be able to support up to 1300Mbps and for the 2.4GHz, the maximum speed would be 900mbps. Both speeds add up to 1900Mbps.
While it is good to future-proof your household with the latest router, be sure to also check if your wireless devices are able to support the latest wireless standards. With regards to maximum speed, some older laptops might only be able to tap on the 2.4GHz band, so even with a new router you might need to manage your expectations when it comes to browsing speed while using your older devices. If you want to get insanely fast Wi-Fi, it could be time to upgrade some of your devices 🙂
Advanced Router Features
In addition to faster speed, the latest AC routers also offer several new technologies that help increase performance. The following are some features you would want to take note of before making your router upgrade.
Beamforming is an awesome feature your should look out for when planning for your router upgrade! Have you ever shifted your wireless device up and down or tried to switch places just to get a better wireless signal? This is what Beamforming addresses!
Typically most routers would broadcast wireless signals in multiple directions but with Beamforming, the router adapts the signal to aim directly at your device so you get a greater concentration of the signal and faster Wi-Fi.
Multi User – Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO)
MU-MiMO uses multiple antennas at both the transmitting and receiving end to improve wireless performance. For routers without this feature, devices will need to take turns to receive data from the router which results in declining performance when more devices are connected to the same time. With MU-MIMO, your router will be able to serve multiple devices simultaneously!
Personal Cloud Storage
Do you use cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive? You will be pleased to know that some of the newer AC routers come with the option of having your own personal cloud storage! All you need to do is simply plug-in your external hard-disk to the router, do a little configuration and voila! Your own personal cloud storage. Some of ASUS’s latest routers even have built-in services like ASUS AiCloud which have smartphone apps that allow you to manage your files.