When it comes to home network equipment, most people people are asking the wrong questions.
People ask “What is the best router for gaming?”, “what is the best router for wifi range?”, or What is the best Router for Comcast/Verizon/Cox/Centurylink?”, not knowing enough to even ask the right questions.
Here is what you really need to know in order to select network equipment like a pro.
First off, There are 4 broad types of home network solutions you will find.
It technically works™: “Just let the ISP manage it!”
When you sign up for home internet, your ISP will offer to sell or rent you a piece of equipment that is every device you need for a home network rolled up into one. The ISP designs the equipment just well enough to avoid the majority of people calling in to tech support to complain about WiFi or performance issues. They are designed for statistically average use by people who don’t really use the internet heavily.
An ISP gateway is the bare minimum needed to get devices online. It won’t support a house full of people or advanced uses like VPN. Practically speaking, they are probably good for one or two users, or a handful more if the usage is light. A family of 5 with a phone, computer, and tablet each, plus a handful of smart devices is probably running into trouble for sure.
Good: “This router the ISP gave me is terrible. I bought my own instead”
This is the internet’s favorite advice regarding home networking. Odds are you found countless sites that recommend you do exactly this. Having trouble with your ISP provided box? You get what you pay for. Get a nice router from Best Buy or Amazon and your networking troubles are over. It’s true that when you put better equipment in, performance gets better, but even the highest end consumer grade router is still a consumer grade router. It was also the only practical advice available a decade ago. They are still better than the box your ISP gives you.
There is a smarter way though.
Better: “Home routers are flaky. Business class stuff is pretty nice and no longer so expensive I want to cry.”[content-egg module=Amazon template=custom/simple_list]