Router Speed: Which One Is Best For Your Internet Connection?


Your internet speed is mainly limited by the lowest speed in the network path.

For Internet Service less than 100Mbps, choose a router like the Archer C60. It only has a 100M WAN port, which means the maximum transmission speed is 100Mbps through this port.

If your bandwidth speed is higher than 100Mbps from your ISP, consider a router that has a 1000Mbps (a gigabit) WAN port (for example, the GL.iNet GL-AR750S-Ext (Slate) Gigabit Travel AC VPN Router, TP-Link Archer A7/C9/C8/C7/C5/C2, etc.).

The WAN port is always connected with the ISP service line, so with a high-speed bandwidth from your ISP, a router with a 100M WAN port will permit a maximum of 100Mbps speed in total. This is your speed bottleneck for the Internet. Your router itself may be fast enough — 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz frequency and 867Mbps on the 5GHz band between devices connected to the network created by the router itself, but the download or upload speed of the devices to the world wide web will still max out at 100Mbps.

Choosing a WiFi Router, the summary: When choosing a router speed, consider your internet activity needs: for the average internet user, AC1200 routers are decent and will handle a high-speed cable or DSL Internet Connection. When choosing a router, keep in mind that the speeds advertised on consumer router packaging are theoretical maximums; the actual speeds achieved by your home devices depend on a variety of factors: your ISP connection, your modem, the layout and construction of your home, and interference from other networks, devices on the network, and materials surrounding your network.

You have a high speed Internet connection, but is your router slowing down your entire home network?

Is your router the bottleneck for your Internet speed? Consider wiring what can be wired.

Choosing a Wired Router: To take advantage of your fast Internet connection, choose an appropriately specified home router that supports the bandwidth service coming into your home. Next, I recommend you wire all the devices that can be wired, to make the most of your Internet speed.

How to Tell How Fast a WiFi Router Is

The Deceptive Way in Which Routers are Marketed: Go Wired Where You Can, For Best Performance, Stability, and Security.

Wired VS Wireless Speeds

Let’s consider a router with 4 Gigabit wired (LAN) ports and radio frequency that supports 1200 Mbps, according to the router packaging. You might be thinking that since a Gigabit is 1000 Mbps, then obviously the WiFi is faster than the LAN connection, right? Nope.

Each Gigabit LAN port can transfer 1000Mbps up and down, at the same time.

If it were wireless and measured the way that wireless devices are marketed, marketers would call it a 2000Mbps port. Similarly, your typical home router with a 1 Gigabit WAN port and 4 Gigabit LAN ports would be labeled as an impressive 10,000Mbps router.

WiFi Router Naming Conventions

WiFi Routers are usually named something like AX2700 or AC1200 — a descriptive name that reveals the 802.11 protocol (AX is WiFi 6, AC is WiFi 5).

Why is a name like AC1200 a misleading rating? Manufacturers use this naming convention to indicate top speeds; the problem is that those top speed ratings don’t actually indicate a router’s top speed.

AC1200, for example, tells you the combined top speeds of each of the router’s WiFi bands — 2.4GHz, 5GHz and perhaps a second 5GHz band if it is tri-band router. In every case, however, a device can only connect to one wireless band at a time, so adding those speeds from each band together is hugely misleading.

WiFi 6 routers may be listed with astronomical-sounding names like AX11000 — but the average internet connection in the US is about 190Mbps, and even if you have a top-of-the-line fiber connection, at best, you’ll get only about 1 gigabit per second (1000Mbps) from your provider. But when someone shopping for a router sees AX11000 next to AC1200 on the shelf, they might easily assume that the AX router is 9 times faster than the other. And that’s exactly what the manufacturer of the AX11000 router is aiming for.

An educated shopper will know that the AX11000 router is likely a tri-band router, and that the 11000 is the sum of the speeds of three separate bands.

(In a mesh system with multiple devices, that third band is likely reserved as a backhaul between the router and the satellite, which means that it doesn’t directly factor into data speed. In some cases, those backhaul bands account for as much as 4800Mbps, which somewhat explains figures that appear to be up to 10 times faster than other offerings in the router aisle.)

AX routers are fast, yes, but they are typically only about 30% faster than the previous-generation AC routers — not hundreds or 1000% faster, as the numbers on the box may mislead people to think.

Theoretical Wireless Speed Rating

Now, consider the wireless side of the router speed rating. That 1200 Mbps rating is split across ALL wireless clients, for both up and down data transfer. The more devices connected to that network router, the slower the WiFi connection.

So if 10 clients were connected and they were all transferring equal traffic up and down, the divided transfer could not possibly exceed 60 Mbps up/down per device, — and in reality would be unachievable because of other limitations around WiFi interference, etc.

And, understand that the 1200Mbps claim is theoretically achievable in a shielded laboratory environment, connected to an optimal number of clients, and is likely the total possible speed of all of the wireless radio standards added together, whether or not the router can handle them all at the same time.

Best Router Speed for a 10, 15, 25 or 50Mbps Internet Connection

If your internet service speed is less than 100 Mbps, choose a router that has at minimum a 100Mbps WAN port anyway, which is all of them at this point. Anything more is overkill for your bandwidth speed, and 100Mbps can still provide a better transmission speed in LAN as well.

My general recommendation to make the most of any Internet Service is to wire your network.

  • Connect a basic router to as many devices that can be wired, then place an Access Point in a central spot of your house near where people use phones and other wireless devices.
  • If you have many wireless devices: buy a dual band wireless router to use as the WAP (Wireless Access Point). The 5GHz signal will transfer more data faster and effectively travel a shorter distance. (If your neighbour also uses 5GHz, their wireless signals will penetrate your house less than a 2.4GHz signal, and cause less interference for your network.)

The wired local network link speed is limited by:

  1. the capability of router’s LAN ports,
  2. the type of Ethernet cables and
  3. the Ethernet Adapter of the computer. If the router has 100Mbps LAN ports, normally the local network link speed will show 100Mbps if the Ethernet Adapter and cable support 100Mbps.

What does “Fast Ethernet Port” mean?

A Fast Ethernet Port has a maximum speed of 100Mbps; a Gigabit Ethernet Port has a maximum speed of 1000Mbps.

Internet Speeds From Internet Providers

  • Fiber optics: Up to 10Gbps
  • Cable connections: 25 – 900Mbps
  • Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL): 0.5 – 100Mbps
  • Satellite: 5 – 25 Mbps
Enjoy the awkwardness and learn about bandwidth vs speed

What is the Average Speed of a Home Router, And Which is Best

wireless router speeds chart

If you Have an Internet Service of 75Mbps, Will a Dual Band Router of 1200 (300 + 900Mbps) Work?

Most of the time, when an Internet Service plan lists one number, such as 75Mbps, that typically refers to the download speed. For cable plans especially, the plan will have lower upload speeds, like 10 or 15Mbps. (If you have fiber, you are more likely to have the same speed for both downloads and uploads.)

The 300 is likely the total bandwidth available on the 2.4GHz radio, and the 900 is the total bandwidth on the 5GHz radio. If all of your traffic is to/from the Internet, and you do not have local printers, file servers, or a streaming box shared across your local network, then an AC1200 router will work fine for the average household’s needs. Recall that the 900Mbps network speed will extend barely beyond one standard drywall and wooden stud wall or maybe several feet. Beyond that distance, your devices are likely connecting to the slower band speed.

Even with that router, consider running cables to everything you can to improve your entire network:

  • Wire your gaming computers (where latency is bad, and jitter is worse)
  • Wire your streaming devices, especially Smart TVs.
802.11 Wireless Router Speeds
Approx. Data Transfer in Mbps, Up To
802.11b11
802.11g54
802.11n (WiFi 4)600-900
802.11ac (WiFi 5)1000-5300

Which Home Router for Fiber Internet?

Fiber optic network is the fastest form of Internet connection available to the public at the moment — fiber technology can send data as fast as about 70% the speed of light over fiber optic cable.

Fiber Optic Internet provides speed of transmission: Up to 10Gbps

  • For a Fiber connection, look for a router equipped with two-gigabit ports to support up to 1000 Mbps download and upload speeds.
    • TP-Link Archer AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Router – up to 4800Mbps on the 5GHz band for many devices connected at once.
    • TP-Link Archer AX11000 Wi-Fi 6 Router – as the name suggests, the band-combined top speeds max out at more than 10Gbps, but the actual top speed is a little less than half that, since you can only connect to one band at a time, and the fastest of those bands boasts a top theoretical speed of about 4800Mbps. 

Choosing a Router: What features actually matter when it comes to router performance? 

  • Antennas: When purchasing a router, think less about the number of antennas and more about functionality. Specs like MIMO and MU-MIMO increase a router’s capacity to transmit and receive data, which makes your network faster. MIMO (Multi-Input, Multi-Output) isn’t new, but MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multi-Input, Multi-Output) allows communication with 4 different devices at the same time where you only used to be able to connect one. No longer is there a queue of connectivity on a router waiting for availability. With WiFi 5 (Wireless-AC), more devices can connect instantly to a single router, with less interference or disruptions.
  • Frequency channels: Single, dual, and tri-band refer to the frequency channels of a router. Single band routers operate at a lower frequency — on the 2.4GHz band — which has fewer channels and is therefore more crowded. In fact, most household appliances — such as your microwave, cordless phone, bluetooth devices — also operate on this frequency. Dual band routers support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. The 5GHz band is capable of transmitting more data at higher speeds, but has a hard time routing around walls and furniture and cannot travel as far. Tri-band routers support a third band on the 5GHz channel, 5.8GHz.
  • 802.11 Standard: 802.11ax, 802.11ac and 802.11n are the WiFi standards you’ll find on most current routers, and the “a,” “b,” and, “g” standards are considered out-of-date. Depending on your needs, a network can operate successfully on 802.11n, but most people use the newest standards, 802.11ac or ax, because this standard is faster and transmits more data utilizing both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. The downside is you need to be close to your router to use both channels — otherwise the router automatically defaults back to using only the 2.4GHz band. To get WiFi in every room, not just next to your router, consider connecting multiple 802.11ac Access Points throughout your home. Or go wired!
  • Speed: Routers have all sorts of speeds listed on their packaging — from 8Mbps (megabits per second) to 1900Mbps. In theory, the higher the number, the faster your internet speed — but these numbers are misleading. When comparing routers, you’ll likely see labels touting AC1200, AC1750, AC 3200, and so on. The “AC” refers to the wireless standard, while the number refers to the speed. For example, a router with a maximum link rate of 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band is considered an AC1750 router. But no individual client device, like your Apple TV, uses all that bandwidth at the same time, and each device can only use one band or the other. Plus, for normal WiFi usage you only really need 5Mbps down consistently throughout your home.
  • Megabits vs megabytes: Usually, the 8M network speed advertised by the ISP is actually 8Mbps. The following conversion relationships exist in network communication:
    • 1MBps = 8Mbps
    • Mbps or Mb/s means megabits per second while MBps or MB/s means Megabytes per second; there are 8 bits in a Byte. Clarify between Mb or MB, as they differ by a factor of 8.

Find out how many joules of protection you need to protect your new router, whether daisy-chaining surge protectors is a good idea, and when to use a power line conditioner instead.

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