Router: How to choose the best one for you in 2021
Today we are going to talk about an essential device for those who need access to Wi-Fi: the router.
Device used to transmit your broadband internet to the entire house wirelessly, the router has evolved and today there are different models with features for all purposes.
In the midst of so many options, we will show in this article what you should take into account before purchasing the router that will meet your expectations and needs.
First, the most important
- Used to improve the performance and the distribution of connections in broadband networks in wide places, the router is indispensable in modern life.
- To optimize the performance of the router and protect your personal data, care must be taken with the installation and configuration of the device.
- We will show you what are the features that differentiate one model from another and how to choose the ideal router.
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The best router models: Our choices
If you are looking for a router you know that this device will make your life and that of several people easier. Therefore, manufacturers continue to invest in high technology. Therefore, below, we will present you the best router models available on the market today.
- A very powerful router
- An N-standard router
- A very complete router
- For those who have a company
- An option for multiple standards
Although they look all the same, there are many differences in functioning between routers sold on the market. Also, not always the most expensive or the most powerful will be right for you.
Therefore, we created this Buying Guide with all the information you will need to make the best decision when choosing the ideal router.
What is a router?
Nowadays it is very common for you to have two, three or even more computers at home or in the office, isn’t it?
But, for the connection and data sharing between devices to occur, with simultaneous access to the internet, you need to have some devices. These include, for example, the modem and the router.
When you hire a broadband service, you receive a modem thus guaranteeing you a single internet access point connected to the main computer.
But, to share this connection with more than one device in the same environment, whether at home or at the company, it is necessary to create an internal network with the router.
This is because the router is a device that connects devices that use wireless data transmission.
Thus, this device eliminates the need for the notebook or even another computer, for example, to be connected to the main computer. The router, therefore, is largely responsible for the functioning of the wireless internet (Wi-Fi).
But, in addition, this important device has another function and it comes from the name itself. ‘Router’ originates from the word ‘route’, which means path or direction.
The router is responsible for transmitting the internet signal to several devices at the same time, and is also efficient in choosing the best way to do this.
Thus, in addition to being an intermediary that enables the Wi-Fi signal , the router also has the function of searching for the best routes to send and receive data.
Therefore, it ends up giving priority to the devices that are closer and for less congested networks, allowing the wireless connection to work without interruptions or without speed drop.
The fact is that most routers have powerful antennas to send and receive data packet transmissions over wireless networks.
But each model has different antenna quantities and powers. In addition, routers have different speed, power and signal ranges.
Not to mention that the most modern models contain extra functions that allow parents to control children’s access to the internet, for example.
What is the difference between modem and router?
As we have seen, a modem and router are essential for you to enjoy the internet at home or at work.
But, although there are differences between them, the two devices also complement each other. The modem is a device that connects your computer to your broadband internet operator’s network.
In the past, most internet connections used the fixed telephone network (ADSL) and desktop computers.
However, there are other types of modems that receive data differently: through coaxial cable (NET), optical fiber (Vivo / NET / TIM) or GSM (Claro / Vivo).
ave you noticed that the operators that work with ADSL internet networks usually give a discount on the internet if you already have the operator’s landline?
This is because the phone line arrives at the location and then just install the modem.
But as we do not want to use the Internet only through a desktop computer, but access it from anywhere in the house and on any device, it is necessary to have the router.
As we have seen, the router is a device that bridges the modem and its wireless equipment (notebook, smartphone or tablets ).
The router receives the internet signal from the modem via ethernet cable. Only then is the router able to distribute the internet signal via Wi-Fi. That is, the router needs the modem.
It is worth remembering, however, that it is not uncommon to find internet providers that already offer a modem and router together in a single device.
This type of device is usually supplied for plans with higher speeds or in combos with pay TV.
Check out the main differences between the modem and the router below:
Where is the best place to install the router?
Did you know that choosing the location where you will place the router can make all the difference in the transmission quality of the Wi-Fi signal?
The fact is that the internet signal that the router transmits has a different range depending on the technology employed.
In general, we can say that most devices have a limit of more than 100 meters in range. However, walls and other obstacles can reduce the range of Wi-Fi.
Experts also recommend that you install the router at a high, barrier-free and central location. The ideal is that the device is in an area that is close to all rooms in the house.
In addition, experts warn that placing the router on the floor, near the wall or near other devices that emit wireless frequencies, such as microwaves, can damage the internet signal.
What precautions should you take with the router?
In addition to positioning your router in a suitable location, you need to take some actions to ensure the good performance of your device. For example, positioning the antenna incorrectly can hinder signal propagation.
Although the router’s antennas are able to distribute the signal in all directions, they do not spread evenly in all directions. Therefore, the ideal is to leave the antennas straight upwards.
In addition, it is very important that you update some settings on your router. As well as the location where you will leave your router, the position of the antennas has the power to influence the quality and range of the Wi-Fi internet signal.
When purchasing a router, the first step is to connect to the Wi-Fi network. But it is also essential that you change the default password.
The fact is that keeping the router data that is already configured at the factory facilitates the work of hackers who can break into your network. To protect your data, it is important to change the password before you start using the device.
You also need to update the router’s software. Keeping the system out of date makes the device even more vulnerable in terms of security.
How to configure the router?
Configuring the router to use the internet at home can seem difficult for those who have never done this.
But the task is simple and we will show you. Before starting, it is worth remembering that each manufacturer brand has a different configuration panel. Therefore, consult the manual.
In general, however, we can explain to you the basic settings that are generally common to most routers.
You will notice that the router has several additional ports / inputs, called LAN. The most common is that it has four LAN ports.
In these LAN ports you must connect the network cable that connects your router to some equipment, such as a computer, notebook or even a Smart TV. If the router has four LAN ports, it means that you can connect up to four devices via cable at the same time.
Knowing this, it is time to make the basic settings of the router. The manufacturer’s manual is critical here.
But, in general, you should follow the step by step:
- After turning on the router and connecting it via a network cable to your computer, you need to access its IP address. This number will be in the manual or under the router.
- Open the browser on one of your devices and enter the IP in the URL bar.
- After you enter the router’s IP address into the browser, a screen asking for a username and password will appear. Consult the manual to find this data.
- If this is your first access to the router, an assistant should help you with the first settings, so that you are then connected to the internet.
Next, it’s time for you to set up Wi-Fi:
- Look for a section called “Wireless”, “Wireless Network” or “Wireless Network”. This name varies depending on the manufacturer.
- In this section, you will see a box that refers to enabling the wireless network. Just select it and the router will create a wireless network.
- To rename your Wi-Fi network, look for the SSID field.
- To enter a password on your Wi-Fi network, go to “Wireless” look for the “Security” option and then “Network Authentication”.
- Select the WPA option and set a password.
- At the end, just click on the “Apply” or “Save” button.
What are the advantages of the router?
If you got here, you already know that the router is an essential device if you want to enjoy Wi-Fi at home, in the office or in places where several devices will use the internet signal at the same time.
Therefore, the great advantage of the router is that it guarantees accessibility. With this device, it is possible for multiple computers to connect simultaneously to the same internet network.
In addition, the router allows mobility. That is, you no longer need to have a computer fixed and attached to a cable.
Another advantage is that, nowadays, routers are increasingly secure and equipped with firewalls to protect your network and your data.
On the other hand, this device also has its disadvantages. Even though it is safe, it is still possible that it will be hacked. And with that, the router can provide technical and financial information about your life and that of your family.
Another disadvantage is that there may be signal interference if the router is close to certain electronic equipment.
The following are the main advantages and disadvantages of the router:
How much does a router cost?
The price of the router varies a lot depending on the manufacturer brand, the functions and technologies used in the device. But you will find the router costing between R $ 40 and R $ 1,000.
Of course, you don’t have to buy the most expensive of all. It is possible to find an efficient router for very affordable prices.
Where to buy a router?
You will find the router for sale in department stores and hypermarkets.
But we recommend that you make your purchase at online stores like Amazon. This way, you will have access to more options of brands, models and prices. Not to mention that you still get the router from the comfort of your home.
Purchasing Criteria: What to consider before choosing the best router
As we have seen, the router is essential if you want to have Wi-Fi at home or in the office efficiently. No wonder, today, there are several types of router models with different features and capabilities.
Therefore, to choose the best one for you, you need to understand the technical characteristics that differentiate one model from another. Below are the main factors that must be taken into account before purchasing the router:
- USB ports
- Parental Control
Next, we’ll explain each of these factors in detail so that you can make the best decision and invest in the ideal router.
The first step in choosing a good router is to check the technology used, known as the connection standard. The standard will define the speed of data transfers and the range of the internet signal.
This information is given in numbers and letters, such as IEEE 801.11n. But the most important information is in the letters: a, b, g and n.
The first two (a and b) represent the oldest standards and offer lower transfer rates than the last (gen).
Even if you find cheaper “b” or “g” standard routers, it is not recommended that you invest in them. These models are already outdated and do not offer the best connections.
The fact is that currently, the two patterns that dominate the market are the “n” and the newest one, the “ac”.
The “n” pattern is cheaper, about half the price of an “AC” model. The “N” standard achieves transmission speeds of up to 600 megabits per second and can cover an area of around 70 square meters.
The “AC” standard, in addition to being more stable, has a longer range and can reach up to 1 gigabit per second.
But before you buy a standard “AC” router, you need to know if your devices like smartphone, TV, computer are compatible with this type of connection. For this, consult the manufacturer’s manual.
The speed at which the router will work depends on the speed of the internet you have hired, the model of the router and the device that will receive its signal, such as smartphones .
This way, the higher the access speed, the faster the downloads and uploads made by your devices can be.
Experts recommend that you choose models with the highest possible speed, usually above 300Mbps.
But, there is no point in buying a router that offers up to 750 Mbps of speed if the internet you pay for has less than 10 Mbps of speed.
Another factor that allows faster data exchange is the frequency of Wi-Fi networks. Currently, products available on the market have support for 2.4GHz or 5GHz networks.
The lower frequency is cheaper, guarantees greater range, but at a lower speed. Already operating at 5GHz, the range is shorter, but the connection speed is higher.
Therefore, this second option is more suitable if you use many streaming services, online games and download a lot.
You also need to make sure that your devices are compatible with these frequencies.
If you are in doubt, the good news is that many manufacturers now offer routers that support both standards, known as dual band that transmit in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
With this, you can switch between the two frequencies automatically to ensure the best connection.
Another factor that you should note before purchasing the router is the type and power of the device’s antenna.
The greater the power indicated by the dBi of your antenna, the greater the area of amplitude covered by the local network controlled by the router.
In general, you will find the router containing between two and eight antennas. The most popular models, however, usually have between 3 and 4 antennas.
Routers with three antennas, for example, better manage the network with several connected devices.
But there is no need to purchase a router with three antennas if only two or three smartphones will connect to the network most of the time.
Only buy routers with more than one antenna if you expect more than five or six devices to be connected to Wi-Fi at the same time on a regular basis, and if your home is more than 50 square meters.
USB and LAN
Also check the number of USB and LAN ports on your router. USB ports allow printers and external hard drives, for example, to be shared within the network.
This allows, for example, the automatic backup of computers and notebooks to be configured more easily.
In addition, whoever has a library of videos and music, can have access to its contents at various points covered by the network.
On the router’s LAN port, you can connect computers and notebooks to allow the distribution and transmission of the Internet connection. In general, this amount varies between 2 and 4 doors.
Also note that older router models have outdated security technology.
When choosing the router, give preference to devices that are compatible with WPA and WPA2 encryptions.
Some routers, for example, can scan incoming traffic for viruses, preventing them from reaching your computer or phone.
Most modern routers have features that will increase security against intruders who can even access your personal data, in addition to using your internet without paying.
Other models maintain a list of addresses to alert you in advance if you are visiting a website with malware.
And some routers even provide a “security score”, which helps you to identify actions that can improve the security of your home network.
Finally, if you have children, know that you can choose a router that has the Parental Control function.
This function allows inappropriate content to be barred only on specific devices or across the entire network. Parents can also define the types of content their children can and cannot access.
In addition, with a router that has the parental control function, parents can define the times of the day when the internet may or may not be accessed.