Top 5: Best wireless routers

The best routers for high performance and low headaches.

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The wireless router just is not something you want to think about much. That's why we've rounded up Dong Ngo's list of the Top 5 best wireless routers in this video. Plug in one of these, enter your settings, and get back to high-speed, hassle-free connectivity.

There are a few new technologies you need to know about when buying a wireless router today. Here's a quick explanation of some of the terms you may have heard in this video. They are all technologies that can be found in 802.11n routers, which are what you'll be looking at when you go to the store.

450Mbps: This is a measure of how fast the router can move data wirelessly: 450 megabits per second. In theory, 802.11n routers can move data at up to 600Mbps, but you won't find that speed in a home product yet. And even when a router can do 450Mbps, that doesn't mean it can do it on all its "bands."

Dual band: There are two bands or frequency ranges routers can operate on: 2.4GHz and the newer 5GHz. These are sort of analogous to AM and FM radio: they both do roughly the same wireless chore, but the latter does it with higher performance. Some routers can handle 450Mbps on both bands, others only on 5GHz. Note that just having a router that can handle the 5GHz band doesn't mean it will make all your gear faster: each laptop, tablet, etc., must also support 5GHz as well to take advantage of that band. Otherwise, they will just drop back and use the routers 2.4GHz band and work just fine, but perhaps not as fast.

IPv6: All things connected on a network--in your home or on the Internet--have an IP address. Those addresses have typically been formed under the IPv4 standard and look something like:

192.168.100.100

But with those 12-number positions there are only 4,294,967,296 possible combinations and, believe it or not, we're running out. So along comes IPv6, which can user addresses that look like this:

2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334

This combination of numbers and letters allows for 340 undecillion IP addresses. Don't ask, it's just a lot! The Internet is gradually moving to IPv6 addresses, and there are several technologies you don't see that keep your gear current for now, but eventually you will need a router that can understand IPv6.

NAS: This stands for network attached storage. A router that supports NAS lets you connect an external drive to it and have that drive become accessible for other devices connected to that router. Some NAS-enabled routers can also make that attached drive visible on the cloud, i.e., the Internet.

About the author

Brian Cooley joined CNET in 1995 and always comes at technology from the real consumer's point of view. He brings his high energy, often skeptical style to all avenues of CNET coverage, with an emphasis on car tech. You'll also find him frequently on television, radio and the TV screens at Costco!

 

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