How to buy a wireless router

By Hurriken
May 19, 2008
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  1. I'm finally breaking down and getting a wireless router. I've never had any kind of router before so I don't know squat. Linksys seems to be the prefered brand but I'm not sure which specs to look for. For example what is Wireless-G and Wireless-N? I'd like to have coverage in my entire house and the backyard. I'm sure this has been asked a bazillion times but I can't seem to find much information when I search the forum. I also looked at reviews but they have not been updated for a while. I don't know if much has changed in six months. I have a price range but I don't know if stating that is frowned upon here like it is on some sites.
  2. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 4,576   +76

    Go with DLINK DIR-655

    Well I don't know about recommending Linksys right now, as they have changed over their complete like to a new sleek modern design. Those that I know who have shelled out big bucks on the top end model Linksys Ultra N Gig are having major issues with wireless dropping daily. Could be a faulty unit. As Netgear top end N Gig also has some DOA issues also. Netgear will replace those routers also.

    So that leaves you with DLINK -
    How are they doing well their are some things you need to know before you start spending.

    1. coverage
    2. features
    3. price
    4. expandable

    Now I was like you well I was coming from wired router world and had used dual routers which where wireless access points together. That was fine, until one day I decided to just go with one unit which had better router and wireless features.

    Early this month I finally had enough of the crappy models that I had tried/purchased since 11/2007. This month I got something that worked.

    Right now with all the brands they're using Draft N 2.0 or better, which is not standardized just yet. N gives you 300MB/s over the wireless which is better than any 10/100 MB/s wired connections.

    So average speed on wireless N Draft mode 2 would be 240 to 260MB/s in real life situation. Still now bad!
    Then comes in the popular G high speed mode which gives you 54 to 125MB/s, real world you're looking at 48 to 54MB/s.
    Their is B but that's a bit too slow, but you'll get with every wireless router today. Their A and D on some, but more companies are pushing N Draft Mode.

    DLINK has 3 business wireless routers (can be used in home usage)

    N Signal Band Wireless 2.4GHZ

    DIR-615 make sure you get B2 hardware model not the A1 (500MHz)
    10/100 MB/s LAN and WAN

    DIR-625 make sure you get C1 or better hardware not the A1 or B1
    10/100 MB/s LAN and WAN but has QOS

    DIR-655 make sure you get A3 or better hardware not the A1 or A2.
    10/100/1000 GB/s LAN and WAN but has QOS

    N Dual Active Band 2.4GHZ and 5.0GHZ both can be used at the same time.

    DIR-855
    10/100/1000 GB/s LAN and WAN but has QOS and OLED display showing you the router status and etc on the unit itself. This router is very expensive almost double in price of the DIR-655.

    Now DIR-855 has some issues so it might be out now, as it was out 3 times until the FCC pulled off the shelves. So when DLINK got the bugs out it would be the best one they make over the DIR-655 which is very popular. I have DIR-655 A3 hardware. No issues and like the DIR-615 which I did buy the A1 I had a lot of issues. One thing about the DIR-655 it covers my square footage over 1,500 and thats from the basement, main floor, upstairs and the attic and plus out back in the woods with a very good to excellent signal. Again this will vary with everyone so you might not get what I get in range signal.

    These are my results using PC Tools Bandwidth Tester my ISP (20MB/s down + power booster and 2MB/s up)
    [​IMG]

    If you have more than 1,500 square feet, you might have to buy the DLINK Extender (also known as the wireless bridge or wireless access point) DAP 1522 is new it has 4 GB/s ports, Dual band 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz can make any wired network device wireless. Doesn't need to be connected to any wired switch it is completely on it's own for tapping into the wireless at 100%.

    Note: If you're into gaming only their is the DGL series DGL-4500 is like DIR-655 but is has OLED display panel and Dual Passive 2.4GHZ and 5.0GHZ wireless but you can only use either band you can't use both unlike with the DIR-855 which you can use both bands at the same time. The game router is popular also and helps with online gaming lag which it is aim at more. Has 10/100/1000 GB/s ports for LAN and WAN.
  3. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    Don't know if you could do it on a percentage basis, but we track all the wireless routers we install, and have follow-up surveys at four months and annual.
    We find Cisco to be the most reliable by a long shot, Followed by 2Wire, followed by LinkSys, then DLink and Netgear tied. We have found certain models of the D-Link to be disasters, but overall they are ok.
    We also like ActionTec and Apple.
    We recommend our clients stay away from Siemens Speedstream, Trendnet, Belkin, Dynex, Engenius, and BestData.
    When money doesn't matter as much as reliable performance, we install Cisco. When money is the big issue, we install Netgear. Customers are happiest with DLink and Linksys, because they know those brands.
  4. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 4,576   +76

    Dynex routers made by Dlink are stable and quite quick they have non-blocking ports. Some Dynex are made by Belkin and Linksys for 2008. Trendnet wireless game router 633GR is the same as the DLINK DIR-655 clone. New LINKSYS N routers are slower and have issues in wireless WAN.

    I can say anything about Apple, since I am more MCP/MCSE/MCSA focus on MS related network gear products.
  5. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    Belkin rarely makes even it;s own stuff. I don't know of any Belkin routers that are Belkin when you tear them down, and examine construction. Usually realtec, actiontec, and others. The quality varies within even a 6 to 9 month range.
  6. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 4,576   +76


    [​IMG]

    I had 4x Belkin $39 one you seen them they're tiny and and one ANT sticking out. One burnt out on me so I had crack it open to see what was in their. Yeah I didn't seen Belkin wording. The one I have pictured above uses ATHEROS - CHINA wireless chipset So now we all know Belkin doesn't make it, but still for what it could do it was okay. Those can use third-part firmware to make it more powerful. Dynex 2x wireless uses Belkin design.

    Realtec makes some great wired and wireless gear. Mostly NIC cards and chipsets.
  7. Hurriken

    Hurriken TechSpot Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 195

    Tipster, thank you for responding in such great detail. That's quite a write-up. It took me awhile to soak it all in, I guess I'm a bit over my head. Thanks also to raybay your work experience is invaluable to a site like this. The D-link 625 looks like it might fit my needs and budget. I would love one of those Cisco's but dang they are expensive! My neighbor has a Netgear but I'm not sure which model. She was 'sold' by a salesman and doesn't know much about them either. I've had to help her a few times because it has screwed up a few times. I finally had her erase the software and reinstall it and it has been working OK since. How do I know which hardware version it has? I was looking at Newegg and it doesn't mention that.

    A few more questions. Is that all I will need or will I require other parts? Will I be able to send jobs to my PC printer from my wireless laptop? I plan on buying an external hard drive in the near future. I would like to be able to back up both of my systems. Will this router allow me to do that?

    I do game online but I use my PC for that so it really isn't an issue for this router.
  8. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 4,576   +76

    Welcome, I do like to type :) Well you got the info, I hope I've help you understand what's available and what to look for out there. Just need to do you homework before you buy.

    Yes I've done wired and wireless for backups.. Wired is quicker than the wireless but you can run both task at the same time if you have equipment. But you might want to buy wired NAS they also have those with USB2.0. Cost is $45 bucks. You add your own 3.5 HDD to them. The one I am looking into is pretty fast. Link below:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ShowI...escription=OKGEAR LAN-BK Networking Enclosure
  9. Hurriken

    Hurriken TechSpot Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 195

    I bought the D-Link 625 and it works great. I have a strong signal everywhere in my house. I'm sort of confused by the software. I tried to set a security code but it says I have to install their software on my laptop and after 30 days I have to buy the siftware. Whats up with that?
  10. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    I have the D-Link 625. They included a free trial of Network Magic. After 30 days you have to buy it, or you are allowed to use only a significantly reduced version. You don't need it and are not required to buy it, but it is handy and useful software for someone who is not a technician.
  11. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 4,576   +76

    Oh you're talking about the new feature on the DIR-625 C1 hardware now has Securied Point third-party online company. They're moving away from Network Magic. Really don't have to use these software if you go Vista. Still nice to see what's connected. Security code or do you mean encryption code like WPA? You don't have to buy software for that. I bet you install the software off the CD. Mine I didn't touch the CD.
     
  12. Hurriken

    Hurriken TechSpot Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 195

    OK thanks.

    I also bought the Western Digital 500gb external HD. Model WD5000E035-00. I have not tried it yet because my PC broke now. Grrrrr.
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