Which Is the Best Router to Buy for a House With Wi-Fi and DSL?

by Andy Walton

The features and capabilities offered by Wi-Fi routers vary widely, with some devices offering super-fast wireless, others focusing on value and some intended to be good all-rounders. There's no single best Wi-Fi router for a DSL connection as each home network is different. However, by knowing what to look for in a wireless router you can select the device that's best suited to your requirements and ensure that your network runs smoothly.

Integrated and Stand-Alone Modems

One of the first choices you need to make when choosing a DSL router is whether to purchase a combined modem-router or a stand-alone router. Modem-routers, such as the Netgear DGN2200 and the Linksys WAG320N, are all-in-one units that don't require a separate modem to work. This can help you to save space but might not be necessary if your Internet service provider has already sent you a modem to use. In addition, any modem-router you buy must be compatible with the version of DSL you get from your provider.

Wi-Fi Standard

There are several different versions of Wi-Fi, each with its own maximum speed and range. Wi-Fi speeds don't affect the speed of your Internet connection, only the speed of internal networking, like networking between computers or streaming media. Most routers support 802.11n, a standard that enables wireless communication at up to 300 megabits per second. However, routers such as the Apple Airport Extreme and Cisco EA6500 also support the emerging 802.11ac standard, which allows for greater speed and range than 802.11n. A faster router can help if you plan to put a lot of demands on the network.

Dual Band

Dual-band routers can broadcast wireless signals over both the 5-GHz and 2.4-GHz frequency bands. This gives them an advantage over single-band routers, which can only use the 2.4-GHz spectrum. Using higher frequencies enables dual band devices to broadcast cleaner signals, resulting in better overall wireless performance. However, some older wireless devices may not be able to receive 5-GHz signals. Most routers from major manufacturers such as Linksys, D-Link and Netgear support dual band.

Additional Features

Some routers offer additional features on top of basic network connectivity services. For example, the Apple Airport Express enables you to stream music to external speakers wirelessly using Apple's AirPlay technology. Likewise, routers such as the Netgear DGN2200 have USB ports than can be used to connect storage devices and a printer directly to the router. These devices can then be shared across the network. However, routers with these kinds of advanced features usually cost more than basic models.

About the Author

Andy Walton has been a technology writer since 2009, specializing in networking and mobile communications. He was previously an IT technician and product manager. Walton is based in Leicester, England, and holds a bachelor's degree in information systems from the University of Leeds.

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