How to choose a good cheap Wi-Fi router? Model what manufacturer is best in terms of price and quality – Asus, D-Link, Tenda, TP-Link, Netis, ZyXEL, and whether it makes sense to overpay for the brand? What should be signal strength and what other settings should pay attention to? Which is better – Wi-Fi router with internal or external antennas and how it is placed in the house or apartment, not to get areas with a weak signal?
Choose the manufacturer Wi-Fi router
All modern Wi-Fi routers – a highly integrated device, therefore, considered to be quite reliable and their hardware goes down infrequently. Although public statistics are not available online, but from personal experience and available information from Internet service providers no more than 3% of all sold or installed devices fail within the first year of operation for internal reasons, though sometimes there are difficulties with the setting up of some models that can be solved only by experts.
In the recent past, a virtual monopoly of this market was the Taiwanese D-Link, which produces good products at a good price, but a few years ago it was thoroughly pushed the Chinese TP-Link, which produces equipment of the same or even better quality and more solid specifications, but at much lower prices. Solid heavyweight ZyXEL has a known name, a bit overpriced and legendary reliability, which is currently really common for such devices level. The situation is similar with Asus router that buyers become trusting of the reliability of the brand, although here, as usual. To win its market share, newcomers (such as Tenda and Netis) trying to lower the price of their devices, but without compromising quality or performance to do it below the level of the TP-Link is very difficult.
Also you may like how to Choose Reliable Laptop in 2016 for your Wi-Fi router.
So what manufacturer to choose Wi-Fi router? A survey of the available Internet providers and my own experience agreed that for apartment, home or small office perfect ratio of price and quality are the 2 mass model TP-Link specified at the end of the article (less than 1% of hardware failures during the first year of operation!); fans of the classics, you can choose D-Link; lovers solid names extended features and design are better suited Asus and ZyXEL, but to experiment with less known or unknown manufacturers, to save 2-5.e. at least unwise.
It is worth noting that the most common cause of a failure of any router is a shot of the storm (most often this happens in the private sector in may-June), so it is advisable inlet (WAN port) to install the lightning protection. To buy expensive models, it makes no sense, because in most cases, a typical low cost triac lightning protection at the price of 5-8.e. even without grounding, able to handle 98% of the interference from nearby discharges, and a direct hit of the storm would not leave a chance to survive even “thrice grounded” to the router. By the way, for the same reason (the risk of hitting a storm) it is preferable for all clients (especially expensive SmartTV, PCs and laptops) to connect wirelessly, as in the case of lightning strike or strong interference at the input of the WAN port, we run the risk of losing only inexpensive Wi-Fi router, but not all, of your connected equipment.
Determine the characteristics Wi-Fi router
Connection speed – the first thing that draws the attention of the buyer although this is a very deceptive argument. The theoretical maximum speed even the most inexpensive budget Wi-Fi routers are 150 Mbps (megabits per second) at the same time, few providers can provide the real least 50 Mbps (and usually 5-20 Mbit/s), so it becomes clear that the alluring phrases like “up to 300 Mbps” or “up to 1300 Mbps” in practical terms means that what if the Internet speed difference between expensive and cheap Wi-Fi routers there is almost no.
Radius of action – it would seem that everything is simple, because usually indicate the distance inside and outside the premises, everything is clear and understandable. But these values are very relative, especially indoors, as a couple of good reinforced concrete walls will negate even the most powerful router, so really important are the two following characteristics.
Transmit power – here, the name speaks for itself and this is really important. Many budget routers have a transmitter power of about 17 dBm, or even less, which is usually enough to more or less confidently “break” only 2 walls. The maximum power permitted by the laws of most countries for the range of 2.4 GHz is 20 dBm (100 mW) – they are recommended to buy. It should be borne in mind that some wifi routers have the technical ability to run at much higher power (typically up to 27 dBm, 500 mW), so they are in accordance with local regulations artificially reduce its capacity.
The antenna gain makes many users into believing, as in fact themselves the antenna is a passive device and do not amplify, they can more narrowly direct signal. For example, the higher gain Omni-directional antenna, the more energy the transmitter out to the side, perpendicular to the axis of the antenna, the less energy the transmitter goes up and down (see illustration). Thus, a more powerful antenna is not a universal solution, as it gives the opportunity to significantly further “break” signal to the side, but “taking” it from the top and bottom.
The number and type of antennas. When using multiple antennas, their energy is not cumulative, as many buyers are, therefore, three antennas will not be able to “break” three times more the number of walls, they will only make the relationship more stable, and the coating more uniform. The difference in the quality of coverage router one antenna and two antennas is significant, but the difference between the two – and three-antenna devices is almost absent, the latter is convenient to use only when signal is necessary to transfer between floors, and not only within one room. To cover the largest possible space one-story house or apartment, you need to install the antenna vertically or at a slight angle relative to one another.
Built-in antennas have low gain, so to spread the signal almost uniformly in all directions and can be useful only in small rooms or for network access from adjacent floors. For a stable signal in a one-story home or apartment it is recommended to buy a wifi router 2 antennas with a gain of not less than 5 dBi.
Stability and firmware. Programmers are normal people and can make mistakes, and all their mistakes are able to identify only users already in the process. Therefore, at each router there are updates to the software (firmware, firmware), which usually fix bugs and sometimes add to the functionality. To get unstable “raw” firmware, it is recommended not to buy the new very rare or exclusive models of routers. The likelihood that a mass model, which is available for several years, there is a fatal error, tends to zero.
Design. The last thing you need to pay attention when you select a Wi-Fi router for the house, as it is often beautiful in appearance models have an omnidirectional antenna embedded type, which in principle may not be very good.
The optimal location of Wi-Fi router
The correct location of the router are of paramount importance, sometimes even more important than transmitter power and antenna gain combined. Wrong choice of the place of installation can negate all the advantages of even the best router to be the cause of resentment about the fact, why such an expensive device so disgusting works.
The distribution of the signal. The main thing you need to know – the wifi signal is weak and is reflected mainly in a straight line, allowing you to work without barriers in a rather significant distance (200-300 meters and even more), but very much is lost with the passage walls, especially the capital and reinforced concrete. Therefore, when choosing the place of installation of Wi-Fi router you need to imagine straight lines to the places of the apartment or house, which often will be customers (a lap Desk in the room, SmartTV in the living room; kitchen table, where many people like to sit with a tablet, etc.). It is important that the path of these straight lines as much as possible walls and other bulky items, or they intersect under a right angle. In addition, it is worth considering that large metallic or contains metal items (refrigerators, washing machines, mirrors in fashion now-in closets and so on) is absolutely opaque to radio waves, so for them, the signal will pass only through reflections from the side walls, i.e. considerably weaker and of poor quality. It is also advisable not to put the router close to the walls (no closer than 20 cm).
Other features. Naturally, routers, and adapters to the customers, and the walls are very different, but a General observation is that most laptops are starting to accept the unstable signal through 3 walls and the bottom of the screen – already through 2 walls. This rule is often respected, but not an axiom, as there are cases, when and through 5 walls, out a little notebook, was relatively stable to use the Internet. In addition, the dense urban environment the density of the closely spaced active devices is often so high that even using the best antenna and powerful Wi-Fi routers may not always be able to significantly improve the situation. In any case, it is recommended to scan your network (for example, a very simple program for Android WiFi Analyzer) and occupy the channel, where the signal from other routers is 70 dBm or lower. Most often, the most free channels 12 and 13, only some client devices (laptops, tablets, phones) can’t connect to the access point at these frequencies.
Scheme of installation of Wi-Fi router
The schema is composed of, for example, one of the typical layouts 3-bedroom apartment or small one-story house. The installation location of the router marked a star, and the expected signal level at different places marked with a familiar icon. Assume that you are using a router with a transmitter power of 20 dBm and a conventional omnidirectional antenna with a gain of 5 dBi.
Example 1, bad location in the corner of the room. Signal is good only in half of the premises, and in “places of solitude”, where the commonly used smartphones and tablets, may be absent.
Example 2, very bad location – in the kitchen near the kitchen table. Though the coverage is very good or at least stable almost throughout the apartment, but Комнате2 the signal is very weak or it is almost will not be, as you will need to get through 4 walls located at 45 degrees, which is equivalent to 6 walls.
Example 3, optimal location of Wi-Fi router in the center of the apartment or house, really open. In this case, the signal will be good or very good in all rooms and on the balcony, as the way of straight lines from the place of its installation to clients in most cases will be not more than 1 wall.
It is worth considering that a weak signal or unstable Internet connection can be dozens of different reasons (problems with the provider; “raw” firmware of the router; the router is faulty or the adapter in the client device; interference from near another device, etc.), but many of the factors we are often difficult to influence, but to properly choose a good Wi-Fi router and the optimum location for its installation is completely straightforward.
The best budget Wi-Fi routers 2016
It is assumed that the Internet router is connected via standard Lan-cable in the WAN port, which typically emit a different color, and sometimes sign off as “Internet” or “Internet”. To avoid misunderstandings, before purchase be sure to ask your Internet provider if they are models of Wi-Fi routers.
TP-LINK TL-WR740N (fixed antenna) or TP-LINK TL-WR741ND (detachable antenna) – inexpensive and very reliable Wi-Fi routers with a decent antenna, 5 dBi, the maximum allowed by law a transmitter power of 20 dBm and a speed of up to 150 Mbps, which when properly installed will be adequate for most small homes and apartments.
TP-LINK TL-WR841N (fixed antenna) or TP-LINK TL-WR841ND (detachable antenna) – perfect inexpensive solution for most users, the best ratio of price, quality and characteristics. Two good antenna 5 dBi, the maximum allowed by the legislation of the transmitter power of 20 dBm and speed up to 300 Mbps will enable you to obtain the most stable and fast Internet connection. In particularly difficult cases, the model TP-LINK TL-TR841ND allows you to replace one or two antennas to more powerful, to exclude areas with a weak signal. Also changing the slope of one of the antennas to achieve a steady signal on adjacent floors of the building.
Buy the more expensive Wi-Fi routers with omnidirectional antennas makes no sense, as no speed increase, no appreciable increase in the zone of stable signal will not. And don’t forget it is very important to place the router in an open area as close as possible to the center of the house or apartment.