I test my internet speed all the time. There are several reasons for this. The top two reasons:
- Having a home computer services business, I rely heavily on the internet. From downloading updates for clients to researching solutions to strange problems, a low internet speed would severely affect how fast I can get things done.
- Entertainment. Two Xbox’s are in this house. While only one is used at a time, the games downloaded to them are very large. Streaming movies are another big past time here. The ever increasing video quality is creating a necessity for a faster internet connection. There are also ways to download streaming media directly, as well as other media files.
Not too long ago our TWC internet speed was around 30 Mbps. That speed was considered quite fast as well. With that connection I was able to download Windows Updates in a few hours to overnight (I try to download files periodically for offline installation). Last week however, I received my cable bill. It showed we had 200 Mbps! What’s going on here? Last I knew we had what was called, Road Runner Turbo. Curious, I ran an internet speed test. The results of several tests showed the speed to be around 100 Mbps. Knowing that cable internet speeds vary based on who else is utilizing bandwidth in your area the results would most likely be less than the rated 200 Mbps, but half?
My main router (I have several) was a Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH2 which was rated at 1 Gbps, so it supposedly had Gigabit ports. Calling Buffalo support, they stated the router was actually 100 Mbps. Whether the tech support person on the phone was mistaken or the router had some issue causing it to not allow the maximum speed provided doesn’t matter. The router was slow and it was time to upgrade the router. The upgrade was more necessary than I thought as going through old invoices it was discovered that the Buffalo router was purchased about 4 years ago.
My wife and I have newer cell phones which are capable of wireless AC connections, which can provide a theoretical speed of 1 Gbps. A chromecast was also purchased to allow wireless streaming to the TV without always running a super long HDMI cable. It would be nice to utilize as much speed as is provided by TWC (now Spectrum), especially since we’re paying for it. All this boils down to the simple fact that although are router was working, the services provided to us necessitated search for a new router.
Upgrading a router used to be a simple process. Unplug the old, plug in the new, possibly reboot everything. Next log in to the router and create at the very least a good password for the router itself and the WiFi accessibility. The process is a bit more involved now, especially if you have a small NSA network in your home like us. With more complex requirements comes higher end capabilities. Even if you do not have as much equipment as us, a higher class router would provide a longer stretch of time before another upgrade was needed.
Rather than bore you with the details of similar posts on the web ranking routers, my recommendation is the Linksys WRT3200ACM.
There are other Linksys routers such as the WRT1900ACM, but this model offers the best features for the cost. One great feature that will help those who have several high speed capable devices is the MU-MIMO feature set. Basically this creates a dedicated network path for each device capable of its usage, allowing the fastest speed possible for each and every device. This router also has removable and movable antennas. Although this linksys router has pretty good range as it stands, it can be upgraded to larger booster antennas. It also provides multiple WiFi connectivity networks. There is the faster 5 GHz and the slower 2.4 GHz in addition to a duplicate of each for guest access to the internet without access to your intranet (other systems on your network are segregated from the guest access). Finally a cool feature is the app which works over iPhone or Android that can be used to monitor and even change all the router settings.
The biggest test this router passed was how fast the slow internet connection speed has increased. Our speed went from around 100 Mbps to 243 Mbps on a recent test! Every single test has resulted in over 200 Mbps with the Linksys WRT3200ACM. I used to spend around $50 – $80 on a router, so this is a big jump in price. Linksys is a good brand for office network equipment since it provides rock solid stability and consistent performance. Standard household internet can also stand to benefit from the more expensive models since they provide increased performance and longer term usage which results in less money spent overall. If you were to purchase the lesser Netgear or D-link models, that could result in more calls to support for speed related issues or even loss of connectivity all together. Be very leery of Netgear products, as they were found to have vulnerabilities in the recent models that even prompted the U.S. government to recommend staying away from them.
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