Throughout the past few weeks, we’ve been constantly talking about the very best router for most applications. Whether you need a device that is optimized for gaming, streaming, or simply to set up a secure network in the workplace, there is most certainly a wireless router that can cater to your requirements. However, despite listing some of the best routers we’ve had the privilege to get our hands on, we’ve always overlooked one very important factor when pitching our top 10’s and top 5’s: simultaneous connectivity of multiple devices.
In this day and age, more devices than ever are equipped with features that rely on internet access and that connect wirelessly to your router in order to fulfill said requirement. Consequently, the router that was once able to provide stable internet to your computer and, in some cases, your printer, is now suddenly not able to keep up with the demand of multiple devices, causing the network to struggle in the process. If this is your case, I’m sorry to inform you that a replacement may be in order. The truth is, older routers use protocols and technology that is optimized to provide the very best internet to the devices of the time, which were actually rare and not that commonplace. Today a wide variety of household devices, including your refrigerator, your TVs, stereo systems, and even the illumination of your house can connect wirelessly to your router, so that they can be controlled via your cellphone or, in the case of the TVs, stream content from the internet. Understandably, these put a massive amount of stress on the router, and if it isn’t up to snuff it might even crash the network entirely until the burden has been lightened or lifted.
It goes without saying that the router you’ve used 5 or 6 years ago may no longer be suited for the wireless traffic that is common today. This fact is especially important if your livelihood depends on providing reliable internet as a commodity for your clients or to allow your employees to get some work done. If this is your case then you might benefit from taking a look at our top picks for best wireless routers for multiple devices. The products in this article are designed to allow the connection of the most amount of simultaneous devices without letting the entire network suffer as consequence.
But before hopping into our top 5 best wifi routers for multiple devices, let’s elaborate briefly on the things you should consider when browsing the market for one.
When it comes to wireless telecommunications, Netgear is one of the heavy-hitters of the industry. Their high-end routers are among some of the best for competitive gaming, or for environments that require a stable and powerful wireless network. The Nighthawk series of products contains some of this company’s most powerful wireless routers, and the X4S is no exception. This router uses top-of-the-line 802.11AC technology to provide a huge bandwidth of 2400Mbps across its two bands; 800Mbps for the 2.4GHz band, and 1733Mbps for the 5GHz band. Its dual-band design allows it to create 2 networks simultaneously, which can be further segmented to improve performance for the users that require it most. In most households the users create guest networks using the 2.4GHz band, while dedicating the 5GHz frequency for domestic use, so they can enjoy uninterrupted internet access.
As if the internet speed of the router itself wasn’t actually enough, the X4S is also equipped with a 1.7GHz onboard processor so it can provide all its services without taxing your PC and, more importantly, without ever lagging or skipping a beat, even in times of heavy traffic.
Asus is also another big contender in the market of PC peripherals, components, and other related products. Although they’re not too big on the telecommunications scene, they have quite a few high-end routers aimed specifically towards the gaming scene. Their products are designed to provide the very best and uninterrupted performance so that the player can focus more on dominating the battlefield and less on lag and latency issues. Similar to our previous entry, the AC1750 uses “AC” technology to provide powerful wireless networks. This router has a total bandwidth of 1750Mbps spread across its two bands and has 3 antennae complemented with beamforming technology to improve the range of the wireless coverage.
Besides the 4 ethernet ports, which are pretty much standard on products in this price range, the AC1750 also has 2 USB ports which can be used to stream media of all types (even 4K videos and movies) to all connected devices without adding stress to the network. If you’re not technologically-inclined or simply have a hard time installing routers, you’ll be glad to know that, with the ASUSWRT dashboard, setting up the AC1750 is as easy as a few clicks. Furthermore, the dashboard also lets you monitor important metrics, such as signal strength, and connected devices, and also lets you customize every parameter of the network with a few clicks.
D-Link is a Taiwanese provider of network solutions and telecommunication equipment for domestic and industrial purposes. Their products are aimed towards getting work done in a fast and efficient manner, and their routers are used by many companies worldwide, with great results. Despite sporting a curious design, the AC3200 is one of two tri-band routers featured in this list that offer some of the best performance in terms of bandwidth, coverage and stability. This beast of a router offers 600Mbps bandwidth in the 2.4GHz band, and 1300Mbps on each 5Ghz band, for a grand total of 3200Mbps in bandwidth. You can connect all the devices you want to this bad boy, and your network will not suffer in the slightest, even while streaming 4K or HD video, while simultaneously downloading big files on another computer.
This router is equipped with a 1GHz dual-core CPU to keep the network speed stable regardless of the number of connected devices. Furthermore, the SmartConnect technology automatically assigns each device to the optimal band so they can enjoy the fastest internet possible. Like the AC1750 mentioned above, this router is equipped with Beamforming technology, alongside 6 powerful antennae, to increase the range and stability of its networks. Additionally, the SmartBeam AC feature can keep track of connected devices as you move around the house and provide the best performance possible according to their range and requirements.
All of these features are packed into an intuitive and user-friendly user interface, which makes setting networks up a cinch,
Speaking of powerful routers, this beast is manufactured by ASUS and provides the very best performance a gamer could ever need from their internet service. This one is also tri-band, offering a total bandwidth of 5334Mbps across all their frequencies. If the AC3200 mentioned above could host streams, file transfers, and downloads simultaneously without skipping a beat, then the RT-AC5300 can do it even better. The combination of Beamforming, coupled with 8 powerful antennae, allow this router to create networks that can span up to 5,000 square feet in range. Plus, the antennae make it look like a cool spider, so that’s a plus if you enjoy those kinds of things.
The AC5300 is also equipped with SmartConnect technology, so it automatically assigns connected devices to the best possible frequency, based on their network load and range from the router. For the gamers out there, this router also has exclusive access to the WTFast Gamers Private Network, which offers route-optimized servers to ensure low pings and latencies at all times.
Last but not least is the AC3150 by TP-Link. This router isn’t tri-band, like our 2 previous entries, but it still manages to provide a whopping 3167Mbps across its two bands: 1000Mbps on the 2.4GHz frequency, and 2167Mbps on the 5GHz side. Despite being a bit weaker (and cheaper) than the competition, this device can definitely provide all the performance you would ever need from a wireless router. Much like the ASUS RT-AC5300 above, this router is also equipped with SmartConnect technology, so you can rest assured that your devices are receiving the very best network conditions at all times. Additionally, this router also has an onboard 1.4GHz dual core CPU, so you will always enjoy uninterrupted wireless internet regardless of the amount or load of connected devices.
The only drawback that we can think of when compared to other routers, is that the AC3150 doesn’t include a USB port, so streaming media via a storage device is impossible. Nevertheless, it has 4 Gigabit ethernet ports, so if you can get a media server set up on the host computer, you can still pull off some nifty media streaming with this router.
Now that we know what type of router we’ll be focusing on in this list, the next thing you need to know are the different elements that make up said routers. We’re not specifically talking about the components; that’s a subject for another article entirely. What we’re referring to are the different factors you need to consider in order to choose the best wireless router suited to your needs and requirements. Understanding what makes a router stand out among the competition can be a bit more difficult than, say, knowing why one mouse is better than the other, especially since the terms used to describe their features are usually alien to the average user. For this reason we have compiled a list of the most important aspects to keep in mind when browsing the market for a good router.
The wireless standard is the type of technology used by the router in order to create wireless networks. For most routers this feature stands out on the box, as it helps to shed valuable light on the type of product we’re dealing with. The wireless standards usually come in the “802.11X” format, where “X” stands for either b, g, n, or AC. These letters are used to identify both the generation, and the type of technology used by the router in question, “b” being the oldest routers, and “AC” the newest and most powerful routers on the market.
It’s important to consider the wireless standard when browsing the market for a new wireless router and, if possible, always try to aim for either “n”, or “AC” standards, as these can offer you the very best bang for your buck today.
The frequencies in which the wireless signals are emitted by a router -and in which most wireless devices function- operate are referred to as “bands”. Up until the “g” generation, most wireless routers operated exclusively on the 2.4GHz band, a frequency that is shared with other devices, such as TVs, microwaves, home phones, and basically every other modern household appliance. Nowadays the newer generations of routers are able to create networks in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies simultaneously. This means that while older routers have to stick to the crowded 2.4GHz, the newer models can create wireless networks on the other, less cluttered 5GHz band. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re looking for a router that can handle connecting multiple devices simultaneously, then you should definitely go for a dual-band or even a tri-band router, the latter being ideal for really cluttered environments, such as internet cafés. They may be a little bit more expensive but are definitely worth the extra investment.
Not to be confused with the internet speed provided by your data plan. The connection speed of a router usually refers to the total bandwidth it can provide across all its bands. While the older “b” generation of routers was limited to speeds such as 11 megabytes per second, the newer “AC” models can deliver speeds around 1900 megabytes per second. While there are few data plans that could actually deliver this kind of speed, it’s good to have a router that can deliver far above your hired data plan, as there will be no risk on the router’s end of losing speed or performance when multiple users are connected at the same time. So if you’re asking yourself which is the best router for multiple devices, always go with “802.11AC,” or at the very least a “802.11n” device.
Like we mentioned above, despite allowing the user to wirelessly connect to the internet, most wireless routers also offer alternative methods to obtain a connection. The vast majority of wireless routers also come equipped with several ethernet ports so that the devices that benefit more from a physical connection may do so via cable. Some routers also offer USB ports to share media content across the whole network with a media storage device, or to share the use of a printer on all connected devices.
Most routers safeguard the flow of information within their networks by using encryption protocols. The most common of these are the WEP, WPA and WPA2 protocols which not only protect the information circulating within the network but also prevent unwanted individuals from connecting and leeching off of your internet connection.
One very important thing you ought to know when browsing for a router is that there are several very different types of devices, which is a fact you will need to consider if you need it for a specific purpose.
Up until the last decade this was the most common type of router available for commercial use. Its main purpose was to allow several devices or computers connect simultaneously to the same network. There was no wireless at the time, so these devices basically acted as a bridge between the modem and all the devices that would connect -via ethernet cable- to the internet. Most of these devices featured several ethernet ports as well as a phone port so that the user could access certain services, such as Voice Over IP (VOIP). Despite being a huge help in a time where most people still needed to avoid picking up the phone so that the connection wouldn’t crash, they were mostly replaced by newer technologies later on.
This type of router was designed as a replacement for the broadband variant mentioned above and is currently the most common type of device in use. It basically serves the same purpose, with the very important difference that these routers allow the creation of wireless networks across a determined area. Furthermore, since they’re further along the line in terms of technology, most of them are equipped with several amenities designed to improve the user’s experience. These features include, but are not limited to, beamforming technology to improve wireless range and stability, USB ports to wirelessly stream content from a media storage device to every connected user or to share a printer across the network, smartphone support to tweak the networks settings remotely via a phone application, and so on.
The routers we will be discussing in this article belong to this category.
And then there are other types of wireless routers, most of which are meant to be used in industrial environments, or as part of bigger networks, which require powerful -and expensive- hardware. Some of these devices include Edge Routers, Core Routers, and Inter-Provider Border Routers.
As technology advances, so too do a number of routers available on the market, most of which can probably offer decent performance for their price. However, those that are looking for the very best devices could benefit a bit from researching the most important aspects to keep in mind when purchasing a wireless router. Fortunately, we have compiled said factors, as well as our top picks of best wireless routers for multiple devices, for your convenience. With this handy guide, you can rest assured that you will make the best decision, as well as receive your money’s worth in a quality product.
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