WiFi networks are essential in today’s digital age, whether for leisure or for work-related purposes. Choosing the right WiFi router can help your family surf the internet much faster and with fewer interruptions. However, not all WiFi routers provide the same set of features. Hence, finding one that suits your household needs requires careful consideration.
Why Replace the Router Provided by your Internet Service Provider?
When you first sign up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP), you will typically be sent a modem and a router. While it is convenient to simply use what was provided, sticking to using your ISP’s WiFi router has some drawbacks.
Some ISPs offer high-quality WiFi routers with decent signal strength, However, other WiFi routers provided by some ISPs may have weak WiFi strengths and download speeds, which can make using the internet a chore. There are many ways to determine the strength of your WiFi signal, you can use a WiFi signal measuring tool to precisely measure the strength of the signal coming from your ISP’s WiFi router before deciding whether or not to replace it.
Aside from WiFi signal strength, many WiFi routers provided by ISPs do not offer additional features such as parental control or guest network tools. If you were to shop for your own router, you get a chance to choose a WiFi router that has helpful features.
Although parental control apps work, the controls on the WiFi routers are a lot more effective and harder for your children to crack through. Some of them come with Circle’s Smart Parental Network Controls that lets you easily manage screen time and even monitor all websites and apps.
There are also WiFi routers that provide better guest access and device prioritisation features that allow you to choose which apps or devices get priority bandwidth when everyone is using the WiFi at the same time.
What to Look For in a Router
1. Dual-Core Processor
The hardware inside your router is extremely important, particularly the processor and RAM capacity. WiFi networks are used for video and music streaming, file downloads, data backups, online gaming, and a variety of other data-intensive activities. You will need a WiFi router with a significant amount of processing power to handle all that data activity.
When choosing a WiFi router, look for one with at least a dual-core processor, which can handle more data and clients, as well as provide more efficient computational power and faster processing speeds than a single-core processor. The more cores a router has, the better it performs.
2. 128MB RAM
Aside from multi-core processors, it is important to take into account the RAM in each WiFi router. More RAM allows your WiFi to handle more devices and network traffic. 128MB of RAM is the bare minimum, but 256MB of RAM is ideal. If your budget allows for it, you should consider getting a WiFi router with 512MB or 1GB of RAM.
High amounts of RAM is recommended, especially if you have a big household with multiple devices to connect to your WiFi networks.
Dual-band WiFi routers are recommended because they broadcast the wireless signal on two frequencies – 2.4GHz and 5GHz – which is much faster than a 2.4GHz single-band. Although the 2.4GHz band is compatible with older networking devices, it is slow and susceptible to interruption, particularly in buildings where everyone has WiFi on the 2.4GHz band.
Although the 5GHz band has a smaller coverage area and a weaker signal than the 2.4GHz band, internet speeds are much faster and congestion is less of an issue because it is less used.
In ideal conditions, 2.4GHz WiFi can support up to 600Mbps, while 5GHz WiFi can support up to 1300Mbps.
4. Smartphone Apps
Many WiFi routers now include a smartphone app that allows users to easily manage wireless routers, view the router’s working state and even manage the main features of it easily. Some features include viewing an overview of all connected devices, changing WiFi passwords, prioritising bandwidth, setting up a guest network, and parental controls.
Households who frequently have guests over, families with young children, or households with multiple devices to connect to the WiFi network will all benefit from the smartphone app because it allows you to optimise the system for better performance.
5. Smart Home Integration
Today, people are increasingly opting to convert their homes into smart homes that can provide greater convenience and comfort. A good WiFi router and strong WiFi network will then be necessary for your smart home to function properly.
For smart home integration, look for a WiFi router that can work well with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant so that you can use voice commands to control your home WiFi network or one that can connect to your smart home devices.
6. Mesh Router
A mesh router connects two or more routers to form and share a single, seamless WiFi network, which can be expanded and configured to cover larger homes. Mesh routers provide better coverage than single WiFi routers and allow you to connect to strong WiFi networks from every corner of your home, eliminating WiFi dead zones.
Most mesh router models are also extremely simple to set up and manage via a smartphone app.
Consider the number of people in your household as well as the number of devices that will need to connect to the WiFi network before purchasing a WiFi router. You should also take into consideration your family’s lifestyle; do you have any gamers at home, do you frequently stream your favourite dramas and movies, or does your family have very little screen time? These will help you determine what you truly require from your WiFi router.
If you’re not sure what features to look for, you can always head down to any of our Harvey Norman stores in Singapore to speak to a tech specialist.
Shop a range of WiFi routers and other home devices at Harvey Norman Singapore.