Wireless-n routers can support up to four Ethernet lines and numerous wireless connections for a variety of devices. They deliver wireless speeds nearly comparable to a direct line and can work with devices such as mobile phones, wireless TVs, game consoles and other Wi-Fi enabled devices. If you live in an apartment or standard-size home with only a handful of devices to support, this type of router will suit your needs perfectly.
We've compared wireless-n routers and offer detailed reviews based on useful evaluation criteria to narrow choices in support of purchasing decisions. For more information and details, read our articles about wireless routers and side-by-side reviews of high-quality products such as the Linksys E1200, the Apple AirPort Express and the Belkin N450.
Wireless-n routers are still the way to go if you are on a budget. If money is no problem, then consider the wireless ac routers, but realize that you won't achieve the promise of 802.11ac speeds unless you upgrade your laptop, tablet and smartphone.
Wireless-n routers are backward compatible so they still support the previous IEEE 802.11a/b/g standards. Many include two internal antennas for increased reliability. Most wireless routers in this range can support up to four Ethernet lines and several wireless devices easily. The routers come with the ability to lock down access to secure your devices and bandwidth. The best n routers also come with parental controls and powerful encryption methods.
The criteria we use to evaluate wireless routers include:
For the sake of creating a relevant product comparisons, we've looked at routers in this range that share similar attributes such as IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi standards, 2.4 GHz band and dual antennas. If you are looking for a new router, nothing less than an n router should be considered. If you have a wireless g router, it would be wise to upgrade to a wireless n router. The newest routers also increase speed with Wi-Fi Quality of Service software (QoS) standard, which makes efficient use of Ethernet connections by prioritizing multimedia traffic according to the application’s sensitivity to delay. Many wireless n routers also employ multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) radio antennae to boost speeds.
The best wireless routers protect your bandwidth by locking down outside access to your data by encrypting wireless data transfers. Wi-Fi routers include firewalls based on Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) or Network Address Translation (NAT) technology, or both. SPI detects traffic patterns that appear to be from hackers. NAT hides all of the devices on your wireless network behind a single IP address.
Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA/WPA2) encrypts communication sessions. WPA and WPA2 are better than the previous method, Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). Most vendors continue to offer WEP in order to support previous-generation Wi-Fi clients that can’t use WPA or WPA2. Parental controls and guest access features are available on some, but not all, home routers. For telecommuters who use personal internet accounts from home to access a Virtual Private Network at work, there are home wireless products that support VPN pass through.
Ease of Use
Routers have become easy to use, thanks to features such as UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) to facilitate the connection of multimedia players. Additionally, WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) is a single button that configures and secures client devices. Most routers also come with a CD or USB device that will provide you with systematic instructions on how to set up your router securely.
Help and Support
You should be able to set up your router easily, but if you need help, it ought to be readily available. Take into account your level of expertise as you consider whether you need phone and online chat or whether you could get by on email or user-forum access. Wireless routers typically include a one-year warranty, but some offer two-year warranties.
Few households today can get by without a wireless router. Wireless n routers are affordable and provide fast, reliable internet for mobile phones, web-enabled TVs, game consoles, laptops and tablets.