Let’s be honest here: it’s hard to live without the internet these days. Almost everything we need is on there, and accessing it is extremely important that it’s now considered a basic human right. And for the modern person looking to experience the best of what the internet has to offer, one must look at routers. Mainly, wired and wireless ones. But how do you pick the best wired router or the best wireless one?
In this article, both router types will be discussed in detail to show where and when each type is best applicable. At the end, it’ll hopefully help you make an easier choice.
Wired Vs Wireless: The Basics
Before talking about wired and wireless routers, you have to know about wired and wireless internet first.
In layman’s terms, wired connections are called LAN or local area networks. It’s when you connect a LAN cable (which is often yellow or grey) into a port on your desktop or laptop computer. Many people believe that LAN or cabled internet tends to be faster than WiFi, and they’re not wrong. This is especially true with the advent of fiber optic and gigabit technologies. Since a device is connected to the web via a single cable, data transfer speed is constant and doesn’t suffer from dead spots like wireless connections do.
As for wireless connections, they are possible via WiFi, which means Wireless Fidelity. Its main selling point is cost and mobility. WiFi is cheap to install and even free (albeit with time limits in public WiFi scenarios). As for mobility, you don’t have to worry about disconnecting because there’s no wire tethering your device to a router. And with wireless internet speeds improving year after year, they’re close to matching the speed and reliability of wired connections.
Whichever you choose depends on preference, really. Do you want extreme reliability and great speeds? Go for the best-wired router. But if you want mobility and cheaper installation costs at speeds not much different from wired, go for a wireless router.
Choosing The Best Wired Router
When looking for a great wired router, you have a lot of perks to look forward to. You already know about the speed and reliability of wired connections, so here are more benefits you’ll get from going for a wired connection.
- Minimal latency: wired connections experience very little latency, aka lag. This would work beautifully for users who demand fast connections for specific applications. Say, playing online games. Competitive online games require lightning fast reflexes for players to be successful. And the low latency that a wired connection provides is more than enough to make sure that every keyboard press or mouse click is rendered quickly on screen.
- Security: the security of a wired connection is excellent because each device is connected to the network by only one cable. What that means is that the device is only sitting on a single local network that’s protected by the typical security measures. Unlike wireless, wired is quite hard to hack.
As soon as you’re on the market for a great wired router, you have to look for these specifics:
- Check the performance rating of the router. Specifically, try looking for an item with a rating of 802.11ac or higher. This ensures that the item you get is a high-performance one according to industry standards.
- Look for multiple ports. If you’re looking for a router that you’re going to use for the entire home, make sure it has enough ports.
- Additional security measures are also great to have with wired routers. There are some which come with a built-in VPN or virtual private network, which helps by masking your IP address, thus protecting it from prying eyes.
- Go for reputable brands, and nothing else. You might want to save a few bucks by going for relatively unknown brands, but in routers, you get what you pay for. Go for recognizable ones such as Linksys, TPLink, and D-Link to name a few.
Choosing Wireless Routers
As for choosing a wireless router, it’s almost the same as looking for a wired one. You need to look for the basics like these:
- 802.11ac rating: like wired routers, a wireless one must support this rating which means it can use Gigabit WiFi. The reason to go for this is that the rating allows for as much as a 1300 MBps throughput. That’s over twice as fast as the previous 802.11n rating. Always look for this as stores still sell the old routers for almost nothing, and they’re not worth saving a few extra bucks for.
- This might seem like a weird tip, but consider how the router looks when you buy it. If it has big antennas sticking out of it, chances are you shouldn’t go for it. The looks of a router might matter, according to Forbes contributor Brad Moon. Because if you think it looks ugly, you might stuff it somewhere it’s not seen. Say, a closet or a cupboard. That can severely hamper the router’s ability of giving out a decent signal. So go for a low-profile router with few visible antennas, which you’re confident won’t be an eyesore when you place it around the house.
Remember these nifty tips when choosing routers, both wired and wireless. It’s easy to be duped into saving a few bucks, but the main idea is paying for performance. And when you have a high-performance router, your days watching on Netflix or playing your favorite games will be glorious.