Types of routers 2020

by Tim Howard

You’re trying to watch a video on Youtube and you see the annoying buffering symbol. When that happens once, you are fine. A few times and you’re beginning to get frustrated. Many times and now you are now ready to break the router. 

But don’t! It helps to understand what router you are using, where you’re located in your house and depending on your usage, whether you need to change it or not. So what do you need to pick?

And who wins in the Dual-band router vs Single-band router, fight?

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Types of routers

You’re probably already aware that there are various types of routers, out of which the most common is the single-band router and the dual-band router. This article will talk about each of these two routers, break down the benefits and the disadvantages and will also talk about which one you should choose, the dual-band router or the single-band router. 

There is also a third type: the tri-band router which is quite advanced that it can be considered the router of the future. As of now, that isn’t very useful to us. You will understand why, as you continue reading this article.  

Routers are the most important electronic gadgets in our lives, and the most overlooked. We do detailed research before we buy any device, right from our phones to our tablets to even our speakers. We don’t pay the same kind of attention to the routers in our homes and why’s that? It’s cos routers usually last a very long time, more like a one-time investment that can sit in a corner. This humble router is paid any attention only when suddenly the internet slows down and the buffering begins. Well, we think routers need a little more attention, so do some research before you buy this important device that can make or break your life. 

Here’s a quick reference:

Single-band routerDual-band router
One signal supportedSupports 2 signals
2.4 GHz => max of 800 Mbps speed2.4 GHz & 5 GHz => over 2000 Mbps speed
Small homesLarge homes with large families
No device prioritisationTechnology that helps provide seamless streaming to all devices
Uses: browsing, chatting, basic quality videosUses: Stream HD quality videos, Gaming
AffordableExpensive

What is a router and how does it work?

A router is a device that routes data between gadgets on the same network. It acts as a medium between the internet and your other devices. To make it much simpler, it sends data to and from the internet and your devices. 

Let’s try and break it down further. The router assigns different numbers to each of the devices on your network, which would include a few mobile phones, some tablets, a few computers and so on. Each time you want to get some information from the internet, the router takes the data and sends it to your device, accurately, using the number it has assigned. You could say these numbers are like the addresses given to your gadgets. More like a postal system, but really quick, in a flash of a few microseconds. The same process takes place when your device wants to send some data into the internet.

The routers from a few decades ago were wired and had to be physically connected to a device to speak to it. But today, we are lucky to live in the advanced times where we have many types of wireless routers. 

Types of wireless routers

There are different types of wireless routers, a couple of which we are going to go into detail about in this article. We have the single-band, the dual-band and the tri-band. While the single-band router was the first ever wireless router invented and, therefore, the oldest, the tri-band router is the most recent, but not very popular right now. 

Dual-band vs Single-band router : which one to choose?

Now that you know why you need a router and how it works, you need to decide which router will be the best choice for you. How you choose the right router for you depends on a lot of factors:

  • What are your purpose and usage? 
  • How often are you going to use it?
  • Are you going to use it for your home or for a small office space? 
  • How many people are going to be using it? 
  • How many devices do you expect to connect?
  • What’s your budget?

Single-band routers

single band router vs double band router

Learning about single-band routers is a good place to start with. These were the first ones to be introduced in the world of wireless technology and were indeed a breakthrough in the world of the internet. 

Following are some points to understand single-band routers:

  • As the name suggests, these have a single band only and can support only one wireless signal
  • The band of frequency it uses is 2.4GHz
  • Single-band routers can offer a maximum speed of 800 Mbps. However, in reality, at the end of the day, it finally depends on the speed offered by your internet service provider
  • Though you can connect multiple devices and there is no actual limit on the number you can connect, you may not get fantastic speed when all of them are in use at the same time

Let’s look at the benefits and usage of single-band routers now:

  • You can use this for all your regular internet use like chatting, emails, web browsing, watching Youtube videos and Netflix on basic quality
  • These are great options for small homes, area wise
  • If you are a single person or a small family of 2, the single-band router will work well, depending on your use
  • These are light on the pocket, not very expensive

Let’s take a look at some disadvantages now:

  • The range of this router is obviously shorter and the signal strength is not as strong as dual-band routers. These are therefore not suitable for large houses
  • These don’t support smart features like device prioritisation
  • If too many devices are connected at the same time, it goes without saying that the streaming speed will be compromised 

To sum up, if you are a single person or a couple, living in a small house, using two mobile phones and one laptop, working most days, and spending only weekends to maybe browse a bit or watch a movie or two, single-band routers are an ideal choice. 

Also, if you are on a really tight budget and don’t want to spend too much, you always have the option of the single-band routers to give you basic, good internet.

Dual-band routers

dual band router

Moving on to dual-band routers, these are certainly more advanced than the single-band routers. These aimed at solving all the problems that could not be handled by single-band routers. 

Read on for some basic features of dual-band routers:

  • These can support two wireless signals, one being 2.4 GHz like the single-band routers and the other is 5 GHz
  • They can offer maximum internet speed of at least 2000 GHz (this again depends on your internet service provider)
  • These support modern features like device prioritisation technology

Benefits of using dual-band routers

  • These are perfect for large homes with family sizes of 4 to 6 people
  • Dual-band routers are a good option for people who like to game a lot. They can support the heavy bandwidths
  • Perfect if you like your movies in HD, and if you watch a lot of them, regularly
  • Since they support smart technology like MU-MIMO, multiple people can use the internet to do multiple activities at the same time. The router understands that, for instance, Netflix requires higher bandwidth and sends it there, and a lower one for the person using Whatsapp. Therefore, neither of the people are affected by lower speed
  • Since dual-band routers support both 2.4 GHz as well as 5 GHz signals, obstacles like walls and furniture don’t really matter

The downside of a dual-band router

There aren’t many disadvantages to using a dual-band router except for the cost. These are relatively more expensive than the single-band routers. 

To summarise, if you have a large family of over 4 members where everybody uses a mobile phone plus a computer, and you watch a lot of High definition movies streamed on your TV every other day, or if you love to game online a lot, dual-band routers are a perfect choice for you. They might be more expensive but they will save you a lot of frustration that arises with slow streaming and constant buffering.  

What is the advantage of dual band router?

One of the biggest advantages of dual band routers is the ability to switch between frequencies. The frequencies can range from 2.4Ghz to 5GHz. Why is this important? 

There are a lot of electronic devices in a household that are operating in various frequencies and the most popular frequency is 2.4Ghz. So if these come in contact with your Wifi, there can be disturbances. Have you noticed when there is a sudden fluctuation in internet speed? It’s not only your internet provider, but also other devices in the house interfering with your Wifi. If you want a seamless Wifi experience, just get a dual band router. 

Do I need a dual band router?

You need a dual band router if you have a lot of Wifi enabled devices working in different frequencies. The average household deals with phones, laptops, tablets and nothing more. In those cases, a single band router is enough. But if you have other things going such as smart fridges and other smart electronics, then you might need a dual band router. 

Is dual band or tri band router better?

It all depends on the use case. Simple devices working in two different bands, then dual band is fine. But multiple devices that require various bands and a lot more load taking capability, then a triband router is better.

What’s in store for the future?

If you’ve completed a couple of decades on this planet, you know very well that technology keeps wowing us with better and more improved stuff, every single day. Even though dual-band routers are quite efficient and adequate at the moment, with internet service providers providing affordable connections and with more people getting on the internet, dual-band routers may not be able to handle the traffic in the future. 

Hence we have tri-band routers which, as you guessed it, can support three signals. 

But, we are now sorted for a few years with the single-band router and the dual-band router, so we can worry about that later. 

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