Stop to take a look around your home and count how many devices require a connection to your local wifi. If you’re like me, you probably see more than three. This is all too common in the hyper-connected world we now live in.
From phones to tablets, from laptops to game consoles, even our TVs and washing machines might want to stake a claim on our wifi bandwidth. Because of this, when it comes to purchasing a router, we need to consider whether it can support numerous devices at a time.
In this roundup review, we will explain what considerations you should make when choosing a router, as well as which router is most suitable for multiple devices.
- If you need a device that supports up to 45 different devices at once, the NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S Smart WiFi Router might be best for your needs.
- If you’re looking for a device with long-range so you can enjoy streaming video anywhere in your home, Linksys Tri-Band WiFi Router for Home will do the job nicely.
- If you are under a budget, a more affordable option with excellent parental controls is the TP-LINK AC2600.
- If you need a router with a high-performance dual-core processor, the D-Link Exo AC2600 provides 4×4 data streams.
- If you’re looking for a router optimized for multiple gaming computers, take the ASUS Dual-Band WiFi Gaming Router which comes with 8 Gigabit LAN Ports.
Do You Really Need a Router for Multiple Devices?
In a word, “yes.” Because bandwidth is a finite resource, you’re going to need a router that will be able to provide a moderately stable connection to every device you’re using. The more devices you connect to a single internet connection, the more your performance will start to degrade.
You should also know that having a large number of connected devices in close proximity, this could cause significant wireless interference. For this reason, many Linksys routers have a default maximum of 50 devices that can be connected at once, consuming up to 20 megabytes per second.
Router for Multiple Devices: What to Consider in 2020?
Dual-Band and Tri-Band
Routers that allow devices to connect to more than one network are called Dual-Band or Tri-Band. Usually, this is achieved with one 5GHz network paired with one 2.4GHz network or, as in the case with Tri-Band, two 5GHz networks, and one 2.4GHz network. These kinds of routers can provide each device with a more consistent connection by reducing bandwidth congestion.
MU-MIMO (Multi-User-Multiple in Multiple Out) allows more than one device to be connected to a router at a time. This technology improves connections and speeds up data throughput by reducing the negative effects of reflected wifi signals between two antennas.
Quality of Service (QoS)
Quality of Service is a great function to have when your network starts to get congested by multiple users. It improves user experience by prioritizing certain kinds of traffic.
Services that require a more consistent connection, such as voice calls and gaming, will be given more bandwidth over services that don’t require consistent connections, like downloads. This service is also known as WMM (Wi-Fi Multimedia).
802.11ac WiFi is much faster than 802.11n WiFi, this is why you’ll find it in most single-antennae items like smartphones. It can complete data transfers more efficiently, extending the battery life of your devices.
So, if you have a number of users streaming HD video to their devices from the same router, you’ll want it to have 80211ac WiFi. Just remember that even if you have a router with the fastest speeds, it won’t make the internet connection from your service provider any faster.
CPU and RAM
The CPU and RAM of a router help reduce congestion and improve throughput, meaning the average number of successful messages delivered through a network. RAM improves user experience by promoting uninterrupted service and smooth data transfer.
Best Wireless Routers for Multiple Devices: Our Picks for 2020
NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S was built with heavy-duty streaming in mind. With wireless speeds of up to 2600Mbps, you can enjoy activities such as multiplayer online gaming and 4k Ultra HD streaming. With high-level WPA/WPA2 wireless security, you’ll never have to worry about your neighbors intruding on your network. You can also provide a guest network to friends, keeping your home network and private data behind double firewalls.
With this router, you can enjoy internet service on up to 45 different devices. The router intelligently switches between two bands to maximize speeds and minimize interference. Other useful features include parental controls, a mobile app to assist with configurations, and four high-speed 1G connections.
- Easy to set up, even for beginners.
- Painless firmware upgrades.
- Excellent wireless signal strength and range across all bands.
- Mobile app for easy adjustments.
- After 90 days, customer service for the device is no longer free.
- It does not support interface monitoring to discover which devices are using the most bandwidth.
Linksys Tri-Band WiFi Router delivers a high-speed connection to multiple devices simultaneously. You can browse the internet, stream 4k media, and play games online simultaneously without any dips in performance. You can also enjoy a strong, seamless WiFi signal in every room of your house with a compatible Max-Range extender. This device comes with four Gigabit Ethernet ports, which are 10 times faster than standard Ethernet.
One interesting feature that comes with this router is Airtime Fairness, which improves your WiFi distribution and reduces the lag caused by slower devices. You can also manage your home WiFi from anywhere using the mobile Linksys app, compatible with both iOS and Android phones.
- Simple and quick setup.
- Static IPs for certain devices, like cameras or printers.
- Set up alerts with Linksys Smart WiFi.
- The guest network not secured by WPA, it uses a captive portal instead (like in airports).
- Users report challenges with parental controls.
TP-LINK AC2600 offers premium performance for an affordable price. The ultra-fast dual-band WiFi provides a lag-free entertainment experience with exceptional speeds. With 4×4 data streams, you can engage in 4k streaming, simultaneous online gaming, and more.
The equipped Archer A10 makes your wireless networks more reliable by concentrating signal strength toward your connected devices. Also with the MU-MIMO technology, many devices can be on your network at once.
Other interesting features include Alexa and IFTTT compatibility, easy usability with the Tether app, and parental controls to block malicious or inappropriate websites.
- Easy to configure.
- Excellent range.
- Strong and consistent signal.
- Weak customer support for the product.
- Tends to need a power cycle to work for an extended period.
With a dual-core processor, the D-Link Exo AC2600 can reduce latency while playing video games online, stream all the movies you want, and connect all of your devices to a high-speed network. With features such as band steering, intelligent QoS, and MU-MIMO, you can keep your connections fast. The MU-MIMO technology allows you to stream content to multiple devices at once and reduce lag and buffering.
The Dual-Band Wi-Fi can help you fight congestion, especially if you’re living in an area like an apartment complex with many competing networks. The 4×4 data streams reduce wait times when getting connected, while the DIR-882 moves your device to the less crowded band to keep speeds fast.
- Comes with a High-Performance Dual-Core Processor.
- AC Smart Beam Technology to extend the range.
- Intuitive configuration interface.
- It only allows reserved IP addresses for 24 devices.
The ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit Router features something called NitroQAM technology that improves the latency for multiple gamers on a single network. With a combined 3167 Mbps Wi-Fi speed, everyone should have a smooth, no lag experience.
With adaptive QoS, you can make sure that your gaming packets and activities are prioritized over other processes. You can even assign a dedicated bandwidth for solo gaming. This router comes with 8 Gigabit LAN ports, which is twice the number that comes with most routers, meaning you can connect multiple computers for optimized gaming sessions.
Other interesting features include items such as ASUS AiProtection with Parental Control for security and the ASUS Router App for intuitive router management.
- Comes with more sophisticated customization options for advanced users.
- VPN Fusion allows one device to go through a specific VPN through the router.
- Now supports AiMesh.
- No manual included in the packaging.
Additional Tips and Tricks
In order to maximize your network’s potential, you might consider the ways a second router or access point in your home can help to distribute the network load. The only drawback to adding another router is that it might make your network more difficult to manage.
If you do have additional routers and you still aren’t seeing a huge improvement, you might consider increasing your bandwidth by contacting your ISP (Internet Service Provider).
Another way that some people might improve the WiFi coverage in their homes is with mesh networks. Mesh networks work when interlocking routers provide coverage over corresponding areas so that you never lose your connection no matter where you are in your home.
To further expand the range of the wireless internet in your home, you might consider a WiFi extender. It connects wirelessly to rebroadcast your signal, though it tends to only deliver about half the performance. If you’re concerned about performance, you might look into a tri-band extender that should send and receive at the same frequency as your original router.
Getting a suitable wireless network up and running in your home can be a daunting affair. There is a lot of information to take in and many different variables to keep in mind.
Hopefully, with the products described above, you should be equipped with all the information you’ll need to make the best decision for your needs.
Which wireless routers have you recently used? What were some of the challenges you encountered when getting your network configured? Please leave a comment below.
Jessica is the co-founder and content manager. She has been fascinated by the startup culture in Silicon Valley and she loves building things from zero to one. When she is not writing, she loves getting close to nature and shoot photos with her iPhone and Canon EOS 80D.