4 Tips For Choosing The Best Home Router

April 6, 2023 | Blog

Americans love to be connected. And, when they’re connected, they’re using data. In fact, statistics indicate we’re using more data every year — even when we’re home. 


In a post-pandemic environment, where data usage skyrocketed in the early months of the COVID outbreak in 2020, our streaming and gaming habits are still increasingly consuming larger amounts of data. Statista reports home data usage increased by 18% overall and 75% for gaming specifically in March of 2020 compared to the previous year as American hunkered down in isolation to weather the early weeks and months of the pandemic.


However, recent figures — measured in the final quarter of 2022 — reveal data usage is still climbing. An estimated 14% of homes use more than 1 terabyte of data every month, which is a 46% increase from the previous year. And, the average home uses more than 586 GB, which is up 9% from the previous year.


Regardless of the reason behind being online, be it for streaming or gaming or shopping or scrolling, an optimal online experience relies on several factors, one of them being a connection to a fast and reliable router — which transmits a WiFi signal from a modem to a home’s wireless devices.


So, how do you choose the best router for your home? Here are a few tips. 


Determine the coverage you need. Some homes may be supported by a single-unit router, which simply plugs into a modem and handles all of the transmissions on its own. However, some building materials or home layouts make it difficult for a single-unit router to effectively transmit the signal throughout the home. In that case, a mesh unit would be a better choice. Mesh units are a set of routers that rely on one base router connected to the modem to transmit the signal to other satellite units positioned throughout the home. 


Understand your primary usage. Habits vary from person to person. Where one internet user will only conduct searches and send emails the next will want to livestream their gaming conquests. The more prolific the user, the more robust a router should be. Some routers include parental controls while others are designed for heavy streaming and some come with built-in gaming tools, storage, security and support. 


Measure speed and throughput. Routers are given speeds that measure how fast they can process certain volumes of data, generally represented with Mbps — or megabits per second. Higher Mbps speeds indicates faster processing times for data, which means the router will feel more responsive in general. Throughput measures the volume of data that a router can process, indicated as either Mbps or Gbps — gigabits per second. A higher maximum throughput allows for more data to be processed at once, which is more optimal and more necessary for lag-free streaming and gaming. 


Check your budget. The cost of routers can vary quite a bit, from less than $100 to more than several hundred dollars. Before buying — possibly more than you need based on your usage — make sure you set a budget that reasonably reflects the online experience you expect.


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