Last week, Apple announced it is discontinuing its AirPort lineup of routers. Apple had not updated the lineup in years so this move was not particularly surprising, especially since there were far better routers already available in the market.
Nonetheless, a number of customers would buy an AirPort router purely because of its ease of use and for the peace of mind that it offered in terms of compatibility. Now that Apple has discontinued its router lineup, it is offering customers with some tips for buying their next router.
#5. 802.11 ac compatibility
Apple says that you should look for a router with 802.11 ac compatibility. While there are newer and faster Wi-Fi standards like 802.11 ad already available, Wi-Fi ac is yet to become a commonplace among households. Compared to the existing Wi-Fi n standard supported by most home routers, Wi-Fi ac offers faster transfer speeds albeit it is not as good as penetrating through walls as Wi-Fi n. Almost all budget to high-end routers support Wi-Fi ac, with some extremely high-end ones even coming with Wi-Fi ad support.
It is important to note that apart from your router, your iOS device should also have Wi-Fi ac support. Apple added Wi-Fi ac support to the iPhone lineup with the iPhone 6. Newer iPhones comes with support for higher transfer speeds over Wi-Fi ac.
#4. Dual-band Support
Apple recommends you to buy a router with dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz support. This would ensure that your Wi-Fi router is able to transmit data over both frequencies at the same time. This ensures that even if your latest iPhone connects to the router over Wi-Fi ac, your older devices connected to the router over Wi-Fi n are still able to access the internet.
Again, this feature has become a commonplace in almost all routers available in the market today.
#3. MIMO Support
For faster throughput speeds, you should buy a router with MIMO support. This will ensure optimum transfer speeds even when multiple devices are connected to a router. While budget routers may lack this feature, any mid-range to high-end router comes with MIMO support. Apart from your router, your MacBook or iOS device should also have MIMO support for faster transmission speeds and better network connectivity.
#2. WPA2 Personal Encryption Security
WPA2 Personal (AES) encryption is currently the strongest security form available for a Wi-Fi router. Thus, Apple recommends buying a router with WPA2 Personal support. Almost all routers have support for this security standard so this should not be a cause for concern.
#1. Mesh or Single Router
Depending on the area that you are trying to cover, it is important to decide if you need a mesh Wi-Fi system or a single router will do the job. Apple only offered single AirPort routers, though mesh Wi-Fi systems have become increasingly popular in recent years. Single Wi-Fi routers are great if you want to cover a relatively small area or just a single floor and can place your router right in the middle for optimum coverage. However, if you want to cover multiple floors or a vast area with poor router placement, you should look into a mesh Wi-Fi system. The latter consists of two or three (or even more) routers/nodes that you place in different locations across your house/office for maximum coverage.
Wi-Fi Router Recommendations
While Apple does not recommend which router you should buy for obvious reasons, we definitely can! Check out some of the routers that you should consider buying depending on your needs.
If you want a router that ticks all of the recommendations made by Apple without breaking your bank, have a look at the ASUS ACRH13. This dual-band router even features 4 Gigabit ports along with a USB 3.0 port. You can hook up an external hard disk to the router and make it act like a NAS as well.
You can find routers with a similar spec sheet and features for far less than $60 that this router commands, but its the most reliable of the bunch.
➤ Buy Now
If you want the ultimate single Wi-Fi router with the best possible performance, get the Asus AC5300. At almost $300, it is among the most expensive single routers you can find in the market. But for that price, you are getting a router with tri-band technology, 4×4 MU-MIMO, 4x Gigabit LAN ports, and more. A single router is good enough to cover an area of around 5,000 sq. ft. provided its placed at an optimum location. Oh, and its design is definitely a conversation starter of its own.
➤ Buy Now
Netgear offers its own Wi-Fi mesh system. The Orbi not only looks good but offers excellent performance, and its pretty easy to set up as well. Even better, its priced a bit lower than its competition as well.
The best part about the nodes in Orbi is that the satellite unit can be plugged directly into a wall outlet which makes it far easier to install them anywhere in your house compared to other mesh Wi-Fi routers. The satellite units talk to the main router over a dedicated channel for improved throughput and range as well.
➤ Buy Now
If you want the absolute best mesh Wi-Fi networking system in your home with money not being an issue, just go ahead and buy the eero Pro Wi-Fi system. The second generation eero features faster connectivity and it comes with 3 nodes in total to ensure Wi-Fi coverage across every nook and cranny in your house.
There’s a cheaper $399 variant also available that’s recommended if you have 2-4 bedrooms in your house.
➤ Buy Now
Google offers its own mesh Wi-Fi router system. The companion app makes it extremely easy to set the routers up and offers advanced control over the devices connected. You can buy a pack of 3 for $299.
➤ Buy Now
Do note that all the routers mentioned above are just Wi-Fi routers and will not replace the ADSL/DSL modem of your ISP.
While you may think that your ISP router is good enough for you, a good Wi-Fi router can make a world of difference in browsing speed on your iOS or Mac.