Routers, Mesh Routers, and WiFi Adapters

My general rule of thumb for selecting great WiFi routers is to: 1) always get a good one, and 2) to see what I can get for about $200.

Index:

Note that WiFi Mesh routers exist.  They tend to be more expensive, but they can be a perfect solution for houses that aren’t exactly square, and internet access doesn’t come into the physical center of your home.  Also, Mesh Routers do not require Ethernet cable to be installed or pulled behind walls, and avoids the patching and retexturing and color matching the paint.

Note that WiFi travels best through the clear air.  WiFi does not transmit through metal (e.g., warm floor, or metal window screens); the WiFi signal will be attenuated (reduced in strength) when it tries to go through thick material (e.g., plywood floors, wood walls).

WiFi equipment should not be “hidden” inside a cabinet.  It may be cosmetically appealing for creating a warm and friendly “home” environment, but the WiFi signal strength degrades immediately. The router will perform much better if it is placed on top of the cabinet.  Work with the physics and the limitations of WiFi, and you will like your wireless technology much better.

Purpose of WiFi Routers:

The primary purpose of a WiFi Router is to allow equipment to connect to your network without using a cable, also known as “wirelessly.” There are times when it is convenient to connect to your house network wirelessly.

  • For example, if you have a smartphone, you will probably want to connect that to the house network. This way your cellular carrier won’t charge you an exorbitant price for “Excess Usage” because you happen to use more data in a month than your monthly mobile plan allows.
  • Another example is if you are using your computer and you want to work while lying on the couch or in bed. Connect to the house WiFi and ignore the cord!
  • The last example is people expect the presence of WiFi to the point of excellent reliability and endless gobs of available internet bandwidth. Whether it’s in your home or place of business, WiFi is commonly available – but it is sometimes not implemented correctly.

Technical Info:

WiFi has two bands: the 2.4Ghz band, and the 5Ghz band. The 2.4Ghz band has been around since the inception of WiFi, so everyone and their mother uses the 2.4Ghz band – making the 2.4Ghz band “noisy”. The 5Ghz band is newer and not as commonly used – making the 5Ghz band “quieter.” Signal to noise is essential for any radio communication.

 

Mesh Routers:

WiFi Mesh routers tend to be much more expensive than a single “large” high-performance WiFi router. However, a Mesh router can be a perfect solution for some rectangular houses (most are) and have internet service coming in through one of the two narrow walls (most do).

The usage of Mesh Routers allows the signal to “cascade” deeper into the house, and the flexibility of the Mesh design allows the coverage area to be adjusted and added to more easily. But if you have one good quality WiFi router in the physical center of your house, this simpler can deliver a good quality WiFi signal throughout your house – if you use a good-to-great quality WiFi router.

Please note: We often recommend products, parts, and resources that we like.  Some of these are affiliate links, and we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

 

Recommended WiFi Routers:

These stand-alone “Not Wifi Mesh” routers will provide good wifi signal and network performance for small to medium-sized homes and offices.  There are several WiFi Routers that Chris recommends in different price ranges. If you have a preference for Best Buy over Amazon, we’ve tried to provide links to both here. Don’t forget that Best Buy will generally match the price of the identical item somewhere else.

Netgear AC3200

Netgear NightHawk  AC4000

Netgear NightHawk AX6000 (this one looks like a manta ray)

Linksys AC5400

 

Recommended Mesh WiFi Routers:

Chris likes Orbi Mesh Routers the best. Here’s an article we wrote about why a Mesh Router may be a good choice for you. These ORBI wifi mesh routers are if you have a medium to large house, and one router won’t provide enough wifi coverage.  These mesh routers are ideal for “pushing” the wifi coverage through your house and have a separate wifi radio for the dedicated “back haul” that provides low latency and high bandwidth.  If you have a medium-sized house or larger and have internet service that is faster than 300Mbps, these wifi mesh routers are the best solution that I know of yet.

Netgear Orbi 2-Pack:

Netgear Orbi 3-Pack:

 

Wifi Adapters:

USB WiFi Cards:

If you want the best USB wifi card, the Net-Dyn is a good choice.

If you want the best USB wifi card that you are likely to be able to find at a local store, the Netgear Nighthawk is the one for you or from Best Buy.

Chris also likes this TP-Link AC1900.

Internal PCI WiFi cards

There are several internal PCI WiFi cards which Chris recommends:

 

—> If you need help setting up your new Mesh Router, give us a call or send an email.