Finding the best Gigabit/N Router

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Finding the best Gigabit/N Router

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:23 pm

I want to pick out a new router with gigabit ethernet and 802.11n. Trouble is, unlike PC hardware, I'm not really sure what's good.

Would anyone be willing to give me a crash course on what I should be looking out for in a new router? Or point me to a source of information that has this information? Or link an example to a good router? Bonus points if you do all of the above. :D I kid.

I did have some questions though:
  • I see a lot of this "dual band" talk which, from what I have read, means it can send out signals simultaneously on 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies to boost performance. I would be using a mix of 802.11g and 802.11n, so would this be beneficial?
  • Currently I have Verizon FIOS using their provided (100Mbps) router. I have the router hooked in via ethernet instead of coax so assuming the router has a WAN port I should be fine right?
  • I'm looking to stay with FIOS for the foreseeable future but unfortunately you need to have the router plugged into the coax to use all that on-demand stuff. This is something I don't have currently (OTA, Netflix and Hulu satisfy my needs), but how should I set up my network/router settings if I have to still use the Verizon router?

Thank you in advanced for any help.
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Re: Finding the best Gigabit/N Router

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:38 pm

I recommend you give Small Net Builder a look.
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Re: Finding the best Gigabit/N Router

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:41 pm

Regarding the wireless, I've been happy with the first version of the Linksys E4200V2 (here's a review). It hits some spots in my house that my Linksys WRT300N cannot.

It's an expensive home router, but it's nice having more robust connections with less effort. It's faster in some situations (measured by LAN Speed Test), but to me, its the robustness that's worth the extra $100 over a few years of its lifetime.
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Re: Finding the best Gigabit/N Router

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:55 pm

I researched this myself some months ago and by far away the Asus RT-N56U seemed to the best choice (perhaps competition has caught up in that time, but I doubt it). It'll run you somewhere between $120-$150.

http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless ... r-reviewed
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Re: Finding the best Gigabit/N Router

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:58 pm

SmallNetBuilder should help; you can use their finder but really everything under the "Wireless" menu might be helpful. As a start, read the "How to Buy a Wireless Router" article. It's a couple of years old, but nothing fundamental has changed in the technology -- just new editions of existing product lines.
[*]I see a lot of this "dual band" talk which, from what I have read, means it can send out signals simultaneously on 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies to boost performance. I would be using a mix of 802.11g and 802.11n, so would this be beneficial?
Be careful: a lot of WiFi devices claim "dual band" but require you to choose one or another. If you're looking for maximum performance, you want a router that claims simultaneous dual band, ie two radios so it can operate on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands at the same time. There are some issues with operating in a mixed environment (ie with both g and n clients), but mostly it just works -- the "how to" article I linked to goes into more detail. (To get optimal performance, you really want to segregate the clients into their respective bands if you can, but that's not always possible since range on the 5GHz band isn't as good). Of course when it comes to performance you're often gated by your upstream connection (Verizon or the wider internet) anyway since WiFi speeds are actually petty good for most things. You are conceding some latency with wireless, however.
[*]Currently I have Verizon FIOS using their provided (100Mbps) router. I have the router hooked in via ethernet instead of coax so assuming the router has a WAN port I should be fine right?
As long as you have an ethernet cable going into your PC at the moment, you should be able to just interpose the WiFi router. However, if your broadband modem also includes a router, then you have to decide how you want to deal with IP addresses. By default, both the broadband modem/router and the WiFi router are going to want to hand out IPs, which isn't really a good thing. Since the WiFi router is going to want to hand out IPs to wireless clients (which presumably is why you're buying it) it's usually best to let it do that job for all your clients and turn off DHCP in the Verizon modem/router -- assuming they let you do that (some broadband providers lock down their boxes). This can get a little tricky (bridge mode for the modem, etc) and I haven't personally configured a Verizon FIOS setup so I'll leave it to others to chime in if you can't figure it out on your own.
[*]I'm looking to stay with FIOS for the foreseeable future but unfortunately you need to have the router plugged into the coax to use all that on-demand stuff. This is something I don't have currently (OTA, Netflix and Hulu satisfy my needs), but how should I set up my network/router settings if I have to still use the Verizon router?[/list]
If I understand what you're asking, I think I already covered it: coax into the FIOS modem, ethernet out of it into your WiFi router, and then WiFi or ethernet from there to the clients. Again, the important things is to have only one of those two devices handing out IP addresses (only one acts as an actual router; you set the other to be just a bridge or a dumb switch).
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Re: Finding the best Gigabit/N Router

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:48 pm

Depending on your time frame for purchase, you may want to wait till the new 802.11ac routers (and wireless cards) start becoming available for purchase.
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Re: Finding the best Gigabit/N Router

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:07 am

P5-133XL wrote:Depending on your time frame for purchase, you may want to wait till the new 802.11ac routers (and wireless cards) start becoming available for purchase.
I imagine the OP's timeframe is less than a year, which is the minimum I'd expect for 11ac devices. (And judging by how the n deployment went, they'll be expensive, have teething problems, and require multiple BIOS updates before they actually deliver on their promises. They also won't offer much added performance unless the clients are highly MIMO, and many mobile devices today aren't even 3x3 yet. By the time the presence of 11ac clients actually drives you to adopt an 11ac access point, the 11n one you buy today will have given you at least a couple of years of useful service.)
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Re: Finding the best Gigabit/N Router

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:28 am

Thanks for the responses so far everyone, looks like I've got a lot of research in my future to make an informed decision.

Oh, and I thought I made it clear enough (maybe I didn't) but my FIOS router is connected to the FIOS "modem" via ethernet (using the WAN port) instead of coax like they usually set it up. I asked them to set it up via ethernet so I could upgrade the router with a gigabit one later down the road. As long as the router I pick out has a WAN port, this is possible right?

Also, if I have to have both routers set up what's the down sides to doing so? I'd imagine higher latency would be the biggest culprit (even if I turn most of the stuff off) but I've read about stability problems doing this. Any comments?
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Re: Finding the best Gigabit/N Router

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:28 am

This has good reviews and is currently on sale at Newegg. Looks like a great deal to me. Appears to be Tomato and DD-WRT compatible as well.
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Re: Finding the best Gigabit/N Router

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:58 pm

Ryhadar wrote:Oh, and I thought I made it clear enough (maybe I didn't) but my FIOS router is connected to the FIOS "modem" via ethernet (using the WAN port) instead of coax like they usually set it up. I asked them to set it up via ethernet so I could upgrade the router with a gigabit one later down the road. As long as the router I pick out has a WAN port, this is possible right?
Yeah, sorry, I misunderstood and didn't realize your modem and router were separate pieces of equipment (a lot of recent broadband "boxes" incorporate both). That should actually make it easier, since you're just substituting one router for another. You'll just have to get the WAN address information from your existing router and copy it over to the new one, so it 'looks like" the old one as far as the modem is concerned. Every router you look at will have a WAN port, and just about all the ones capable of simultaneous dual-band 11n will also have gigE ports (if they have hardware ethernet ports at all).
Also, if I have to have both routers set up what's the down sides to doing so? I'd imagine higher latency would be the biggest culprit (even if I turn most of the stuff off) but I've read about stability problems doing this. Any comments?
well, depending on how you set it up, you'll have at least some of your devices behind two levels of NAT, which will make some applications (like some network games) not work, and/or you'll have your client devices on two separate subnets, which means they won't be able to see each other (that can actually be a good thing, if you want to say set up a "guest" wireless SSID that can't see any of the other computers on your home network, but many of the better WiFi routers support a separate "guest" SSID for that purpose anyway and unless you have a large number of devices or special requirements, separate subnets just makes for complications and annoyance)
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Re: Finding the best Gigabit/N Router

Postposted on Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:18 am

Excellent. :)

Thank you very much again for all the help.
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Re: Finding the best Gigabit/N Router

Postposted on Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:38 am

wibeasley wrote:Regarding the wireless, I've been happy with the first version of the Linksys E4200V2 (here's a review). It hits some spots in my house that my Linksys WRT300N cannot.

It's an expensive home router, but it's nice having more robust connections with less effort. It's faster in some situations (measured by LAN Speed Test), but to me, its the robustness that's worth the extra $100 over a few years of its lifetime.


I second the selection of the Cisco Linksys E4200 V2 -- I work from home full-time and need a high-quality router and just got this model -- set up is dead easy and it autoupates the firmware. Good signal strength and speed too. Reviews have been very positive.
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