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Wi-Fi Router upgrade recommendations?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by friskinator, Jan 24, 2017.


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  1. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Maryland
    Question for all you computer/IT people: I'm looking to upgrade the Wi-Fi router in my house. We're presently using a cheap-o Belkin that we bought several years ago, but it's not keeping up with our needs (especially streaming video on Netflix, Amazon, etc). I've read that I need a dual-band router to keep up with that, but there are lot of models to choose from.

    Also, do I need to upgrade my cable modem as well? The current one is a Motorola Surfboard SB6141, and it's also several years old. Specs on that are below:
    • DOCSIS 3.0 certified, capable of up to 343 Mbps and upload speeds up to 131 Mbps based on Cable provider service
    Our internet provider is Xfinity/Comcast, and we have the Blast plan with DL speeds up to 75 Mbps.

    A little more info: we live in a 3 level townhouse, and the router will be stationed on the bottom level. Most of our usage will be on the main level.

    Any help navigating this would be appreciated - thanks!
     
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I got the Nighthawk system that has an extender with it. I just bought mine at Best Buy because I was pissed that day trying to learn songs in my bonus room and couldn't stream well. You can probably find it cheaper online.

    Two things.

    1) Get the extender. Period. It takes the signal from your router and amps it up whereever it is. Put the extender on the level where you want to stream.

    2) Upgrade your Internet speed. Call your provider and find out how much that is.

    With that extender you can also plug a data cable right into the side of the unit. So if your streaming device takes a Cat 5 cable you can plug the extender right into a wall outlet nearby and run a data cable to the streaming device. Instant stream speed increase. Also you can move that extender around and once it's set up it automatically links up with the main router. I run mine upstairs most of the time, but if I go to the garage or do some yard work I plug it in outside. Zero streaming interruptions in an almost 5 acre yard.


    You only have to buy the system once. Well worth the investment. But without upgrading your Internet speed it will be like putting a Ferrari engine in a VW Microbes. You won't get the full potential put of it.
     
    Funky Ghost likes this.
  3. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Maryland
    Great - thanks for the info. A couple more questions, if you don't mind. First, what speed would you recommend upgrading my internet to? Second, which system did you buy? I found this one that seems to be what you're talking about, but if that's not correct, let me know. And if I grab that one, is my present cable modem OK?

    NETGEAR - Nighthawk DST AC1900 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router with DST Adapter - Black
     
  4. fingerguy

    fingerguy Banned

    Aug 2, 2016
    CT
    UNIFI

    The best WIFI I have ever seen and not too difficult to setup.
     
    T_Bone_TL likes this.
  5. Funky Ghost

    Funky Ghost Translucently Groovy

  6. fingerguy

    fingerguy Banned

    Aug 2, 2016
    CT
    I recommend a router of your choosing but go with UNIFI if you want a strong signal. As for speeds, I think it's all none-sense for WIFI can only go so fast, and the strength of the signal plays a big factor too.

    Granted while I am in IT I do have a life, so my knowledge is only based on what I do at work. Once I get home I avoid computers like the plague.
     
    Slackerprince likes this.
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    That's the one exactly. Fast as lightening and range for days.

    Unfortunately I don't have a minute to look up the specs for your modem right this sec. I will when I get a sec if nobody else chimes in about it.
     
  8. Funky Ghost

    Funky Ghost Translucently Groovy


    I have Comcast and regularly show speeds in the 120 mbps DL and 20 UL range. Keep in mind that next to NO site you will visit allows for those speeds. Netflix I would show data rates of around 5 to 7 mbps at my router. General rule of thumb is about 20 for most home entertaining and 50 ish for gamer/home entertainers. I have 4 points of draw on my network ( 2 teens, my gal and myself ) and I show no appreciable degradation of speed at my terminal.
     
  9. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Before you buy anything, how exactly is it not keeping up?
    Manufacturers are making a killing right now selling home Wi-Fi gear, modems, and routers. Sometimes it is complete overkill.

    -Mike
     
  10. D M C

    D M C Oh good god, this again? Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2015
    North America, Earth
    On the threshold of a verge on the brink.
    Perhaps a urologist is called for?
     
  11. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Maryland
    Streaming video is constantly buffering/crashing, and Amazon video gives us messages about low bandwidth as it stops playing. Our general surfing can be a bit slow as well.

    Our router was literally the cheapest one available when purchased several years ago, so I'm guessing it has outgrown current demands.
     
  12. CatSquare

    CatSquare

    Mar 7, 2014
    Go to speedtest.net and run/record results, then pull the router out of the mix, connect direct to your modem, and try the test again. This will tell you if your issue is at the ISP/modem, or at the router.
     
  13. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I would suggest you try connecting yourself direct to your modem and see if the issue persists. The issue may not be the Wi-Fi.

    I personally use a D-Link router from 8~ years ago and I have no issues getting 1Mb+ download speeds through it. At the time Wireless N was all the rage, I don't even know if that is still current. Admittedly, I am not a huge tech guy.
     
    MJ5150 likes this.
  14. ShadowImage

    ShadowImage Guest

    Jan 12, 2016
    The best router for gaming and streaming video:
    RJ45PATCHX.Main.
     
    bholder, BurnOut and DiabolusInMusic like this.
  15. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    That's possible, but bandwidth problems can also be with your ISP.
    Don't get sucked into all the flashy names and gig speeds. Your router and modem are only going to be as fast as the bandwidth you get from your ISP.
    If you have a router with 1GB ports in it, that's great for talking inside your network, but once you go out to the internet, you are now limited by what your ISP provides.

    -Mike
     
  16. Funky Ghost

    Funky Ghost Translucently Groovy


    So true. I dropped AT&T after repeated issues with bandwidth. I was paying for their premium service ( guaranteed 10 MBPS ) for an extra fee. I was literally unable to open e-mails at one point. A test revealed I was at a paltry 75 kbps. I haven't seen
    speeds that low since my 9600 baud days! I found that they had me on a data limiter. Since I stream and game occasionally I used a lot of data. They only were allowing , unbeknownst to me, a limited amount of data regardless of service the customer had. I went several rounds with their customer service department before I cancelled and went to Comcast. Comcast has been the polar opposite. I was/am paying for 20 mbps DL and 5 up, I've never been under 110 DL ( using the speedtest site ) and 10 UL. I wouldn't have AT&T for anything, phone or otherwise, now.
     
  17. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I've had consistently good service from my ASUS RT-N66U. There is a later model of the router, but this one does 2.4 and 5 GHZ concurrent connections, and will handle up to 900 Mbps.

    Amazon.com: ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router: Computers & Accessories

    What is most important to me is that this has unusually good range! I have a 3600-square foot home and the router is in one far corner on the main floor. I got REALLY frustrated when I often couldn't connect on the far end of the house, through 3 walls. I tried various other routers and a range extender (I still have it if anyone wants it, you pay for shipping).

    Now I can connect all over the house, including upper floor and basement, including the garage on the far end, in the front yard and about 20 yards down the street. Of course, appropriate security is in place.
     
    Funky Ghost and MJ5150 like this.
  18. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    I suspect I could war drive past your house and be on your wireless network in less than five minutes.
    I have no way to prove this as I am no where near Fort Collins today and no trips planned that way in the foreseeable future.
    But hey, it was fun to sound off like a hax0r. :D

    -Mike
     
    Funky Ghost likes this.
  19. steve_ss

    steve_ss Shiny, let's be bad guys. Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2016
    Southern NJ, USA
    Call Comcast, get them to upgrade their modem to a new modem with wi-fi. It's their network, their equipment, you are their customer. Tell them their service isn't up to the task and they need to come out and make things better for you. This will be your cheapest way to go. Then if things still aren't working well, you can think about spending your money on other gear. For my two cents worth of free advice, call Comcast first.
     
    MJ5150 likes this.
  20. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Maryland
    Unfortunately, we don't own any devices with the phone cord-style ethernet cable, so we can't connect directly to the modem to test the speed. I tested on speedtest.net three times through wi-fi and my Chromebook laptop, and the DL speed came back as 8.61 to 10.34 Mbps. Upload speed is 11.07 Mbps. Based on the numbers you guys mentioned, that doesn't sound encouraging.

    We own the modem - it's not one of Comcast's.
     
    DiabolusInMusic likes this.

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