There’s no question that modern life depends heavily on our ability to access the internet. And for most of us, there are two ways to get this valuable window into our world. First, most of us have smartphones that can access the internet through our service providers. And second, the majority of home computers use Wi-Fi and a wireless router.
Unfortunately for many consumers, choosing the best wireless router for a home can be tricky. Often, customers will choose the wireless ethernet port that’s recommended by their internet service provider (ISP). However, this often means that you’re renting the router from the ISP, and you may never own it. In addition, some consumers have specific needs that demand a different kind of wireless Wi-Fi router than the ISP offers. Plus, if you own your router, it’s often easier to take with you if you need to move or change ISPs.
Confused yet? At Lenovo, we want to ensure that you have the best equipment for your needs and budget. This extends beyond the purchase of Lenovo-brand electronics and into other necessities, like a wireless internet router. Let’s look at the types of routers we sell, and the reasons you might choose each.
Types of wireless routers
Before we get into why you may choose a particular kind of wireless modem router, let’s look at the kinds we have available. At this point, we’ll just describe the wireless Wi-Fi router types. This will help you think about what you might need for your home or business. In addition, these items range from a basic wireless router and modem to more elaborate options, like a wireless router booster.
· Wireless hotspot router for travel: One of the problems with traveling is that not every hotel has reliable Wi-Fi. For example, some older hotels may still have the old-fashioned ethernet-based (wired) internet. Unfortunately, many newer computers (including Lenovo models) don’t have an ethernet port anymore. In this case, you’ll need another wireless router option. A travel-specific wireless router switch can turn an ethernet connection into a Wi-Fi hotspot by broadcasting the signal.
· A wireless Ethernet switch works with older devices: If you have older workstations that need to connect to the internet, then you should consider a wireless router switch. These broadcast a Wi-Fi signal, but also have several ethernet ports for devices that can’t use Wi-Fi. In other words, this kind of wireless ethernet port is a hybrid between old and new technologies. Ideally, you should choose a wireless switch that has fast enough Wi-Fi to accommodate all of your devices without needing a wireless router extender. However, this isn’t always possible if you use a lot of bandwidth.
· Dual-band routers: Chances are that the wireless internet router that your ISP offers by default has only one band. This means that you only have one network in your home. However, if you frequently have house guests or need to separate your internet connections for another reason, this wireless router and modem will work wonders.
But how does this work? By leveraging two different internet frequencies, your wireless hotspot router can let you work on a faster internet connection. Simply connect your high-demand, newer devices to the 5 GHz network, and the others to your 2.5g network. Now, the different devices will compete less because there’s more bandwidth available. Essentially, you have two wireless routers in one.
· Wi-Fi routers are the ultimate wireless hub: If you haven’t heard of Wi-Fi, that isn’t surprising because it’s the newest technology and the fastest. If you’re looking for the best wireless router for gaming, you probably want one of these models. However, only the most modern devices can benefit from the extra speed. Otherwise, you may need a different kind of wireless Wi-Fi router.
Don’t do a lot of gaming? If you do other things that require a lot of bandwidth, then a Wi-Fi model may still be the best wireless router for home. After all, blazing-fast download speeds can improve video watching or running a lot of devices at once. These are truly the ultimate wireless routers.
· A wireless router extender helps eliminate dead spots: Some homes have trouble with Wi-Fi signals. For instance, larger homes often have areas out of range of their regular wireless hub. Or, some homes have construction that partially blocks Wi-Fi signals. If that’s you, then the best wireless router for home may include a wireless router booster. These devices work by amplifying and extending your existing Wi-Fi signal into other areas, sort of like an extension cord that lets you use a power outlet farther from the wall.
· Multiple-unit Wi-Fi systems: Finally, at Lenovo, we do have some multiple-unit Wi-Fi systems. This is essentially a wireless modem router with multiple extenders attached to it. For large homes, this may be the best wireless router because it helps ensure that there’s usable Wi-Fi throughout your property. Use just a few units, or several, depending on your needs.
Best wireless router features
Just as different wireless router types have different uses, they also have different features. Let’s look at some of the major features that you should be aware of. This will help you decide which kind of wireless modem router you should purchase for your home.
· Range: A wireless router switch isn’t the only kind of modem that has limits on how far it broadcasts a wireless signal. Even signal boosters have limits, especially since they’re extending the range of your primary router. When choosing a new router, be sure to consider if a model has enough range, with or without a booster.
· Throughput: Most people think of the “speed” of a router, though throughput is the technical term. On the specifications, look for throughput as megabits per second (Mbps), the same number your ISP brags about or uses to sell service levels. Be sure to pick a wireless modem router that can handle the same amount of throughput (or higher) as your ISP service.
· Bands: Typically, 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz. This will tell you which WiFi bands the router transmits on. Also, a “dual-band” router will use both frequencies.
· Network: Finally, there’s the network type. This number will tell you how much speed you can get from the wireless hub. If you have a family or heavy device use, chances are that an AC network type is the best wireless router for the home. If you need the best wireless router for gaming, consider a WiFi router.
Wireless router uses
With all these wireless router options available, how do you know which ones to get? Other than comparing prices and basic specifications, the way you use a wireless WiFi router should heavily influence which one you need, and which you choose. After all, at Lenovo we want our customers to have a positive experience with their equipment, including the right internet connections. Here are the usage considerations when choosing a router.
· Business use: Depending on the industry, two businesses of the same size can have very different bandwidth and speed requirements. For instance, information technology companies are very internet dependent, and their workstations use a lot of data. Especially if the company develops applications like games or graphics programs, there’s a good chance they need super-fast internet. Here, a Wi-Fi or dual-band router is likely a good idea. On the other hand, an office that mostly runs office applications to keep track of operations won’t need as much in their wireless Wi-Fi router.
Likewise, if you have a large office, you’ll likely need a wireless router extender or multiple unit system. That’s because even the best wireless internet router has range limits and, in addition, even businesses with modest bandwidth requirements use a lot when everyone’s on the internet at once. Similarly, businesses with a lot of older computers may find a wireless ethernet port is a sensible way to keep all their “machines” working.
· Home office use: Most home offices have relatively low bandwidth needs, but they’re still frequently more than expected for a home user that’s at the office most of the day. For this reason, you wouldn’t want to pick the cheapest old technology wireless router and modem you can find. Instead, either choose a wireless ethernet port for machines that need a wired connection or go with a wireless Wi-Fi router that has solid performance.
Here's the thing: although a home office will only have one or two people online at the same time, many of the same considerations apply. For instance, if your work tasks require a lot of bandwidth, you might consider a Wi-Fi model. And, if your home office is in the back of the house, you might need a wireless router extender. Finally, this is a good use for a dual-band router, because it lets you have one network for personal use and another for business.
· Home/entertainment use: For home use or entertainment, choose a wireless modem router that can handle the bandwidth according to what you like doing. For instance, if you’re a gamer, you’ll probably want a WiFi or dual-band router for their high rates of speed. The same goes if you do a lot of content creation for the internet, such as social media videos. Or, for that matter, if you’re a streaming junkie that likes high-quality pictures.
On the other hand, if you mostly use your internet coverage to write papers, check email, and browse the internet, those high-tech wireless routers are probably more than you need. Here, a more basic model is the most cost-effective.
Choosing the best wireless routers for home, business, or gaming is more complicated than you might have thought initially. Fortunately, with this breakdown of router types and features, it’s easier than ever to pick the perfect model. At the end of the day, getting the right router for the right price is the best way to enjoy your Lenovo computing equipment.