Router Buying Guide. Things to be considered before buying a new one!

Good evening guys.

I always spend my time at lowyat.net and browse through Networks & Broadband topics. There is one specific hot topic that most people like to ask.

“What is the best router to be replaced with either ageing router or stock ISP provided router?”

unifi-router

Figure 1: D-LINK DIR 615, UniFi’s first supplied stock router.

Previously on my post, I’ve mentioned that, the things you should have on your checklist to replace your current router. However, in this post, I will summarize it in a simpler way to make users understand even better. Nowadays, most routers do come in the form of dual bands instead of single band router which is considered as an outdated router.

#1 BRANDS

Almost, all of us sure think of the router brand to be purchased from. However, not all the router price from different brands were the same. Some are expensive, yet suitable for long term, some were cheap, but only used for short term, but offers better specification over the other expensive routers.

6159801_rd

Figure 2: Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router.

#2 SETTING UP FOR FIRST USE

The most important process before having a good moment with your internet subscription is, the setup process. All the current routers do support our ISP requirements. The setting up the router will be much easier, even for the novice users.

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#3 WIRELESS PERFORMANCE

Nowadays, almost all the new router comes with built-in wireless functionality. With the tremendous demand in Malaysia for wireless routers, most manufacturer focus on developing wireless router with improved specifications and wired router almost left out. However, if you’re staying in a bungalow or a Semi-D house, dedicate a small room for your home network, then, you can opt for Mikrotik wired router and make your home fully wifi-ed with mesh routers that connected to the Mikrotik router.

asus

Figure 7: Asus Lyra AC2200 Tri-Band Whole-Home Mesh WiFi System.

This is a very important step that should be on your list. Some routers come with huge antenna’s but, the wireless performance of the router will be poor. Some router’s, such as the router that comes with built-in antenna have better wireless coverage compared with the router. I would strongly recommend that, it is advisable to read a router’s review before going and buy the router. Always focus on the wireless benchmarks of the router to get a clear picture of the router.

#5 FIRMWARE UPDATES

The most important feature of the router is, the router should receive frequent updates to improve the current bugs. There are very few router manufacturer that still providing frequent updates for their router including discontinued router. One of the most famous router manufacturer brand that comes in the list are, ASUS.

firmware

Figure 8: TP-LINK Archer C3150v2 Firmware Page.

As an example, ASUS RT-N12 rev. D1 released on 18th August 2013 to the public. Although it has been 5 years since the model debuted on the consumer market, the model still has received firmware upgrades until now.

The firmware of the existing router should receive frequent update as the new patch will fix the security issues and other feature enhancements. If your router manufacturer didn’t issued an update for your router, then it is a serious issue as what happens recently, to a router from Brand X due to poorly coded firmware until the bugs in the existing firmware has to bring forward to the public to highlight the serious security issues on the router.

#6 SECURITY (Anti-Virus)

This is an optional feature that should be in your checklist. Your low end and mid-range router comes with standard security features. However, only high end routers do come with a built-in anti-virus powered by Trend Micro.

27072400_325397751316657_2423800381873061888_o1

Figure 9: ASUS Ai Protection (Real-Time block).

Okay. This is the most crucial part. There are two types of security that a high end router provides. One is the real-time protection and back-end protection. However, some router manufacturer does implement the security features in their router for a good protection for their consumer.

#FINAL VERDICT#

To summarize the post, these are my honest advice for the most users out there. Most routers do come with gigabit built-in WAN & LAN ports along with dual band wireless feature. Some high end router does provide tri-band wireless feature.

If you are a home user that subscribed to  (10 Mbps – 50 Mbps) packages, then it is highly recommended to buy a dual band router.

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Figure 10: D-LINK Wireless Router AC Specifications.

If you are a home user that subscribed to (100 Mbps – 500 Mbps) packages, it is better to invest in high end dual band wireless router. Although the high end router were quite expensive, but, for best internet performance, then, it is better to buy the high end router. Another reason for such point is due to, high end router’s having better sub-processors for their wireless chip that able to support up to 1Gbps speed.

A good router should have a good processor and large amount of RAM (if and only if you’re planning to build a home network). This is very important because, when a heavy usage occurs, then, the router should work smoothly and shouldn’t freeze as this would affect other activities as well.

SOCspec

Figure 11: The Broadcom Processor Chip.

A router not only functioned as a route for the digital signals for the devices that connected to it, but, it should act as the first network defense against the harmful malware’s out there.

antivirus

Figure 12: The built-in Trend Micro antivirus in Archer C3150v2.

In my opinion, I felt, ASUS router’s performs the best here. It not only blocks the incoming request that contains malware in the form of back-end protection, but it also protects the user from visiting the website that contains malware in the form of real-time protection. To justify my points, please refer here.

Finally, good things don’t come cheap, but it is suitable for long term usage. If you’re a normal user, then it is recommended to get a router in the price range of RM 300 to RM 500 from TP-LINK or ASUS. If you’re a heavy user, it is highly recommended to buy a high end router that priced in the range of RM 700 to RM 1500. In such price range, ASUS router will be the perfect selection.


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