Question Best Router?

mmitsch

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Our son is moving into an apartment with 3 other guys at his university. The place comes with internet service, which is hard wired Ethernet to each of the 5 rooms (4 bedrooms & living room). They want wireless so I thought I would buy a router and plug it in for them.

I went to BestBuy and the guy said the best choice would be Netgear. He showed us an AC1900, another that had MIMO stuff and an AC3200/R8000-100 that was Tri-band.

Which is the best? Is the AC3200 much better? Will my son & his roommates notice a difference?

Let me know your thoughts and thanks!

Mike
 

gn842a

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Could be a good choice. If it is one of those cinder block dormitories like at my son's school, they'll do better with two.

I struggled for several years with the so called long range wireless router and they ain't worth beans. Not in my house anyhow. I installed a second router at the other end of the house and wow life got good fast.

It's hard for me to think like an electromagnetic wave but as it happens the "downstairs" "other side of my house" was directly underneath my bed upstairs. So my downstairs install also revolutionized my upstairs connectivity. Even though I'm upstairs and down the hall the downstairs wifi is actually about ten feet from my pillow.

And the other wifi at the other end served the two rooms on that side.

You never know what's going to be good. I have an ancient linksys upstairs and I will be sorry to see it go. WRT54GL. You can--or at least you could--get them refurbished on Newegg for $30 and my 2c is that they are ultra reliable. BUT, they are antiquated in terms of security. I have another one whose name I forget it's been in a couple of years and is still working. I had very little faith in it so when I bought it I bought another wifi router of a different brand and tossed it in the closet.

It would appear that the best way to make sure your gear works is to buy backups. My brother replaced a headlight on his pickup truck and decided in the store that the other one would go two, so he bought two headlights and through the other one in the closet. He still had it five years later when he sold the truck, the other light never went out.

Greg N
 
Most bestbuy guy are idiots unless they happen to be a college engineering students. Most are lucky if they can even parrot the advertising literature on the box. If they actually understood how things like wifi technology really works they could get a much better paying job.

A couple of key factors the best guy should have mentioned.
The end device is 1/2 the communication if it does not have support for things like Mu-mimo or have say 4 antenna it can not use the fancy feature and the router will perform the same as lower model.

Many of the routers are using non standard encoding that end device don't support and many only work at very short distances, so again tricks to get bigger numbers that you can't really use.

How fast is the internet. Even a mid level router can exceed the speed of many internet connections.

A single device can only use 1 radio so you can never get that big number. You have to very carefully allocate your end devices to the different radios to effectively use them. The automatic stuff tends to not work since the end client not the router selects what radio to connect to.

The actual radio coverage on routers is mostly the same since this is a transmission power thing and that is regulated by the government. What is different is how much data they pack into the signal but that does not determine how far the signal actually goes unless you get into stuff like at what distance can I get 100mbps.

.....

In your case I would buy a mid prices router something with a number in the 1200-1450 range. This matches the radios in most end devices. I suspect in college housing the much larger problem is going to be all the signals coming in from all the neighbors. I would make sure any device that can use ethernet does since there are ethernet ports in every room. If you poor wifi coverage the best solution is to add another inexpensive router running as a AP in the remote room.
 

mmitsch

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Most bestbuy guy are idiots unless they happen to be a college engineering students. Most are lucky if they can even parrot the advertising literature on the box. If they actually understood how things like wifi technology really works they could get a much better paying job.

A couple of key factors the best guy should have mentioned.
The end device is 1/2 the communication if it does not have support for things like Mu-mimo or have say 4 antenna it can not use the fancy feature and the router will perform the same as lower model.

Many of the routers are using non standard encoding that end device don't support and many only work at very short distances, so again tricks to get bigger numbers that you can't really use.

How fast is the internet. Even a mid level router can exceed the speed of many internet connections.

A single device can only use 1 radio so you can never get that big number. You have to very carefully allocate your end devices to the different radios to effectively use them. The automatic stuff tends to not work since the end client not the router selects what radio to connect to.

The actual radio coverage on routers is mostly the same since this is a transmission power thing and that is regulated by the government. What is different is how much data they pack into the signal but that does not determine how far the signal actually goes unless you get into stuff like at what distance can I get 100mbps.

.....

In your case I would buy a mid prices router something with a number in the 1200-1450 range. This matches the radios in most end devices. I suspect in college housing the much larger problem is going to be all the signals coming in from all the neighbors. I would make sure any device that can use ethernet does since there are ethernet ports in every room. If you poor wifi coverage the best solution is to add another inexpensive router running as a AP in the remote room.
Thank you very much for your reply!

I am not sure what you mean by the 1200-1450 number. Could you let me know? Is this a range? For example, does AC 3200 mean 3200 feet?

Mike
 

mmitsch

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Could be a good choice. If it is one of those cinder block dormitories like at my son's school, they'll do better with two.

I struggled for several years with the so called long range wireless router and they ain't worth beans. Not in my house anyhow. I installed a second router at the other end of the house and wow life got good fast.

It's hard for me to think like an electromagnetic wave but as it happens the "downstairs" "other side of my house" was directly underneath my bed upstairs. So my downstairs install also revolutionized my upstairs connectivity. Even though I'm upstairs and down the hall the downstairs wifi is actually about ten feet from my pillow.

And the other wifi at the other end served the two rooms on that side.

You never know what's going to be good. I have an ancient linksys upstairs and I will be sorry to see it go. WRT54GL. You can--or at least you could--get them refurbished on Newegg for $30 and my 2c is that they are ultra reliable. BUT, they are antiquated in terms of security. I have another one whose name I forget it's been in a couple of years and is still working. I had very little faith in it so when I bought it I bought another wifi router of a different brand and tossed it in the closet.

It would appear that the best way to make sure your gear works is to buy backups. My brother replaced a headlight on his pickup truck and decided in the store that the other one would go two, so he bought two headlights and through the other one in the closet. He still had it five years later when he sold the truck, the other light never went out.

Greg N
Thank you for your response!

Their apartment is just drywall and transmission should be clear. They can actually plug in their computers to Ethernet ports but this generation doesn't do thst.😂

Let me know any models you'd recommend. I'll look for the linksys you mentioned.

Loved the headlight story too!

Mike
 
No those number represent gigabit rates....sorta of. The range will be the same since they are still restricted to 1watt total power. The problem tends to not be the router it is things like cell phones that transmit at much lower power to save battery life.

What they actually represent is the way the data is encoded. BUT you have to take into account that they add the speeds of the different radios together. Most 1200 are 300 on 2.4 and 900 on 5g.

You can get the details in what is called a MCS table. But for example 300 means it is using 2x2 mimo (ie 2 overlapping feeds) so 2 times 150. The 150 represents 40mhz wide channels with a 64-qam \

I would have to dig to see what 3200 means. It likely means they are using 4x4 mimo with things like 1024-qam. Almost no device have 4 antenna and 1024-qam not part of the standard.


.......if they play online games they will learn that ethernet is the only way to go. Maybe after the wifi lag causes them to lose to often they will change their mind.
 
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gn842a

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I've been using the Netgear R6080 for over a year and it has done well. It's extremely difficult to find a router on Newegg that has both a large number of sales (to get statistical significance) and a rating over about 3 eggs. In buying this economy router, I was at Office Max and needed a router so I just jumped into the pool, so to speak. I think it was about sixty bucks. It looks like there are a few routers on Newegg with four egg reliability ratings from lots of users that are about 3x as much. It's a very critical item and surprising to see so many unhappy people. There is one thing, people who game on wifi are going to be much more critical than people who just use it for net surfing and streaming from youtube or similar, which is what I do.
 
wait a sec - so they are giving you ethernet ports that are already setup on their router?

Just get an AP like the TP-Link EAP225, will give reliable AC1350 / MU-MIMO for $65 and easily managed with the phone app. Don't get sucked into the "3200 is faster = better" mantra, you're just throwing money away. Pick a port that's closest to the middle of the dorm, good to go.
 

gn842a

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Wow. I have built four computers and everything in this house was set up by me including the modem and routers and ethernet cables. And yet, I don't understand one single thing in this Newegg headline:

TP-Link EAP225 V3 Wireless MU-MIMO Gigabit Ceiling Mount Access Point, Supports 802.3af PoE and Passive PoE(Injector Included), AC1350

So this is a humbling moment
 
Wow. I have built four computers and everything in this house was set up by me including the modem and routers and ethernet cables. And yet, I don't understand one single thing in this Newegg headline:

TP-Link EAP225 V3 Wireless MU-MIMO Gigabit Ceiling Mount Access Point, Supports 802.3af PoE and Passive PoE(Injector Included), AC1350

So this is a humbling moment
If you're new to APs, these articles are a must-read:

Review: Ubiquiti UniFi made me realize how terrible consumer Wi-Fi gear is @ ARS
What I’ve learned from nearly three years of enterprise Wi-Fi at home @ ARS

Found the first when I started having issues with my Verizon WIFI and getting expensive routers never solved my problem of chronic dropouts and disconnects. Disabled the Verizon router's wifi and got a Unifi UAP-AC-LR, I suddenly had 5ghz full bars with a very reliable connection in my entire townhome (save the furthest bedroom which only drops one bar), and even have 1/2 bars in the backyard. I guess I got lucky, based on the second article...
 

gn842a

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Thank you for the links. I actually am in don't-mess-with-it mode on my routers, they're both working and have been for some time. The dropouts and disconnects vanished from my home with the addition of a second router. But an enterprise router makes sense next time out. I value durability. Greg N
 

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