Recommended Router: This is the One to Get
There is a ton of routers on the market and frankly, most of them will work great for you. However, if you are looking to get a good router that is well worth the money, there is only one to get…
My recommendation is to get the Asus RT-AC68U (links to Amazon). This router was released as far back as 2013 and is still one of the best routers on the market. Because the model is so old, the price has really gone down, but it still offers modern features like 801.11AC and USB 3.0. Asus is also sending out new firmware with updates and new features.
At this time, there is a new wireless standard called WiFi 6 (8021.11ax) but those routers cost well above $400 and is not worth it at this time. Almost no device support WiFi 6 either, making it even more pointless spending that kind of money. That is why I recommend the AC68U.
Why I Recommend the Asus RT-AC68U As the Router to Get
I purchased the Asus RT-AC68U back in 2016 and have been using it since then, about 3 years at this time of writing. I wanted something that was easy to get with but had more advanced features as someone who is interested in networking might want to use. This router caught my eyes because:
- 3 Big Antennas
Having more antennas is not necessarily better but having three antennas that you can adjust to point in different ways is a good thing. That way, the signal can be sent in multiple directions. On top of that, the antennas are powerful with a long range
On the AC68U, you find 4 LAN ports, which is standard on routers. But there are also 2 USB ports, where one of them is USB 3.0. This means that I had the possibility to connect an external hard drive to that port and get a fast network storage that I could access on all my devices. On top of that, I could connect a printer in the 2nd USB port
- User-Friendly Interface
Asus has done a great job with their firmware on their routers. As a non-techy person, you can still understand what the most common things are and get the most important things done. As a techy person, you can dig deeper, getting statistics and configuring different parts of your network. If that is not enough, you can download 3ed party firmware like Merlin or Tomato
- Support Multiple Modes
In the Asus firmware, it is possible to configure this router as a router, an access point or together with another Asus router as a mesh network. This is easily done simply by choosing the mode you want, and the router configures the settings needed
- Support of the Latest Technology
When I purchased it in 2016, it did support the latest technology, which was 802.11ac, or WiFi 5. This was important for me; I didn’t want to buy something that didn’t supported the current standard. This is ironic, because the AC68U does no longer support the latest technology, which is 802.11ax, or WiFi 6. However, it’s still very new and almost no devices support it and if you want a router that supports it, you should be ready to pay for it. This Asus RT-AX88U on Amazon. This is a better router if you think it’s worth it
If the Asus RT-AC68U sounds like the router for you, you can click here to find it on Amazon.
When You Need Something More Powerful:
I live in an apartment that is 84m² (904sq ft) with the AC68U router in the middle of the apartment. I have full signal in all my rooms and never have to worry. However, many people have bigger homes than this and then want something more powerful. If you are closer to 100m² (1080sq ft) or more, I would recommend either getting a range extender or a more powerful router. For this, I recommend two alternatives, depending on how much money you want to spend:
These two routers are basically the same with the difference being that the AX88U support the newer standard WiFi 6 (explained down below). The routers support a longer range than the AC68U router and they also have more LAN ports on the back, for a total of 8 ports. Not many routers offer this but if you need it, then there you go. Both of them has two USB ports, a USB 2.0 on the back and 1 USB 3.0 in the front (behind a hatch so not visible on images).
The New WiFi 6 Standard
WiFi 6 is a new standard of WiFi and marks the next generation of wireless technology. It is 2-3 times faster than the old WiFi 5 and offers a better signal range as well as better stability when there are many devices connected to the network. However, just getting a router that supports WiFi 6 will not be enough, as your devices must support this technology as well. Your devices will still work with this router, but they will not take advantage of WiFi 6 and its features.
But how do you know if your device supports WiFi 6? Is it purchased in 2019? No? Then it probably doesn’t support it. Newer laptops with Intel 9th Gen processors support WiFi 6. No iPhones support it as of right now (XS and XS Max is the latest models) but the Samsung S10 has support for it.
So, to summarize, if you want this new technology and have devices, or plan to purchase devices, that can take advantage of it, you should go for the Asus RT-AX88U (on Amazon) and get all the benefits. However, if you think that you will not need these features for a while but still need a strong router, getting the Asus RT-AC88U (on Amazon) is a good choice that you will not be disappointed with.
Important Features on Routers You Want to Use
When you spend a lot of money on a router, you, of course, want to use it as much as possible. A router is not just a necessary evil for getting access to the internet, they usually come with a lot of features that you should be using to make your life easier. In this section, I thought I would cover some of these features that you might find handy.
And yes, I know that many other features exist on routers, but I believe that these features are the ones that are the most interesting.
Using the USB Ports
On most routers, you can find USB ports. These ports can be used for a lot of things, but I want to mention especially 4 things that you can do with them:
Connect a Printer
Instead of having a printer connected via USB to a computer, it’s possible to connect the printer to one of the USB ports on the router, giving all your devices access to the printer. Gone are the days where you had to send a PDF from your phone to yourself so that you could pick it up on the computer and print, just do it directly from your phone.
To make it easier, many router firmware comes with network printer as a function, meaning that you can tell the router that there is a printer connected via USB and the router can then configure technical things itself. Asus has this kind of feature on their routers, for example.
Connect an External Hard Drive for Network Share
If your router has USB 3.0, which most modern routers have, and you don’t have a NAS (Network-Attached Storage), connecting a USB or an external hard drive to the router can be a very good idea. What this does is that it creates a network file share where you can place files that will then be accessible by all devices in your home, even mobile phones.
You can let it be open for all (not recommended) or having a password so that only your family can access it but not any guests. Having documents, images, movies and other files on a network share is a really good idea if you are more than just one person that need/want access to the files. Instead of having multiple copies, have one copy and give everyone access.
If you have a summer house or a caravan, you know how nice it is to get away from the city. However, you still want internet and having a router with support for 4G adapters is then a great idea. What this means is that you take your 4G adapter that you got from your operator or the device that you have the SIM card in and connect it to the router.
You can then configure the router for USB-mode, meaning that you tell the router to use the USB dongle for internet access instead of the WAN port. Then you and your family can keep being connected to WiFi on your mobiles.
Time Machine for Backing Up Your Apple Computer
If you have an Apple computer at home, such as a Mac or Macbook Pro, you know that these computers have a built-in backup program called Time Machine. However, you need to have it on an external hard drive. Many routers offer this as a feature. It works like this that you connect a hard drive to one of the USB ports on the router, and in the router firmware, you configure it to be a Time Machine backup. On the computer, you then configure the program and point it to the external drive on the router.
The computer will then take backups of the computer whenever necessary without you having to care about it. It’s more of a hands-off approach for backing up your computer. Of course, this type of hands-off approach is available for Windows as well, but then you can just use the external hard drive that I explained above.
Guest Network to Keep Your Guests Out (Or Slow them Down)
Another feature that most routers offer today is a guest network. This gives you an option to set up a guest network for your guests that is limited depending on how you configure it. You can limit it in speed, so that guests don’t take all your bandwidth, or limit which websites they can visit so that no one is doing something stupid while on your network, for example.
Personally, I have never felt that I need a guest network, the guests I have home connects to my normal WiFi network. I have some network shares on my NAS, but they are password protected so no one can access them without me giving them the password first. But the option is there if you want it.
Quality of Service, Helping You Prioritize
Quality of Service is something that is quite a good feature in 2019, with all the streaming services we have. If you have ever been watching Netflix or any other streaming service, and suddenly it started to buffer or the quality as lowered, and then figured out it was because someone else started a download, you will love this.
With Quality of Service or QoS, you can prioritize certain activities and tell the router that streaming is more important than a download for example. This means that you will be able to watch your streaming service without being disturbed. This feature is especially good if you have a lower network speed that isn’t always enough for the full family.
Parental Control, Time to Go to Bed
The last feature that I want to mention is parental control and i is exactly what it sounds like. This feature is found in most routers today and with it, you can block specific websites from specific devices, so that your kid can’t visit a certain page on their computer, but you can do it on yours. That’s handy…
You can also set a time limit on the network in the same way. At 10 PM, the network to your kids’ mobile phone and computer dies and they can go to bed, while you spend the rest of night surfing (kids are the future and all that).
Choosing a router is often a choice that people tend to make more complicated than it has to be. Most routers in the same price range do the same thing and offer the same features. It’s more about what brand and what firmware you prefer. I prefer Asus and their firmware because I think their routers work great and their firmware is easy to use while still very powerful and that’s why I recommend routers from them.
Even if you are not very interested in technology, you should at least know what your router can do so that you can make the most use of it, especially in 2019 when it is so easy to set up most of the things.
Enjoy your new router!