Small business owners are constantly looking for ways to give the best experience possible for their customers, and in the digital age providing customers with reliable WiFi is a small but effective gesture. With that being said, it’s time to update last year’s post on the best small business routers. First, let’s brush up on the latest technology to better understand what everything means.
When searching for the right router, there are two types of WiFi technology you should be considering – 802.11n and 802.11ac. The basic difference between the two is their speed capabilities. 802.11ac is 6 years newer than 802.11n, and can typically produce speeds up to 3 times faster than its predecessor.AC also has the latest in signal technology, called ‘Beamforming’. Beamforming is a smart signal that allows the router to increase the signal strength in the direction of connected devices. This is different from legacy N routers, where the signal is emitted equally in all directions.For the sake of staying technologically relevant for the at least the next year, we will focus primarily on AC routers. So, without further ado, here are our picks for the best small business routers in 2016:
If you read last year’s post, you’ll notice we have a bit of a soft spot for this router. At $180 (and possibly cheaper now that it’s a few years old), the AC68U is one of the most affordable premium routers on the market. It’s a powerful consumer-grade router that will work best in smaller restaurants or coffee shops with roughly 10-15 connected users.This is a dual-band 1900 AC router, which means the combined data rates between the two bands (2.4 GHz and 5GHz) adds up to 1,900 Mbps.
Now, this doesn’t mean that any single user could attain such high data speeds, but for the sake of simplicity we’ll use it as a benchmark – and a solid one at that.The AC68U also comes with a dual-core processor and AiRadar beamforming technology to ensure maximum performance when the network is congested. The rest of the hardware is comparable to any of the other high-end routers, boasting 1 WAN port, 4 LAN ports for additional wired devices, two USB ports.
Lastly, ASUS’ user interface, ASUSWRT, has a 3-step web-based install process that makes the setup process quick and easy. It’s also secured with ASUS’ AiProtection which ensures your network will be protected from any malicious activity or sites.If you’re looking for a little more power, you can also check out the AC68U’s upgraded (albeit more expensive) brother the ASUS RT-AC5300.
If you want everyone to know that you mean business when it comes to a strong internet connection, then the D-Link DIR-890L is the router for you. The 890L is a tri-band router, meaning it has one 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands totaling up to 3,200 Mbps. It also has a 1Ghz dual-core processer. That combined with the 6 antennas and advanced ‘AC Smart Beam’ technology, will ensure you and your customers always have a strong connection.
In addition, the 890L also has Smart Connect, which provides intelligent traffic prioritization that prevents older devices from affecting the routers optimal performance.The 890L makes Controlling your network easy for even the less-technical business owners. The user interface allows you to quick apply admin controls, block unwanted devices, monitoring internet activity, and create additional guest networks. Lastly, to wrap-up the hardware specs, the 890L has 1 WAN port, 4 LAN ports, a USB 3.0 port and a USB 2.0 port.The design might not be for everyone, but for $280 the 890L is a powerful and easy-to-use solution for small and medium-sized businesses.
The Nighthawk X8 is the latest version of Netgear’s Nighthawk series, and it’s the most powerful and feature rich of the bunch. We raved about the X6 in last year’s post, but the X8 is even more powerful and has softer, less Batmobile-esque looks.Like the DIR-890L, the X8 is a tri-band router with two 5GHz bands and one 2.4GHz band. The difference however is the maximum speed capacity totaling up to 5,300 Mbps, which allows up to 30 guests to be connected at any given time.
The X8 also has a more powerful 1.4Ghz dual-core processor to ensure maximum performance during high-bandwidth periods, and utilizes Smart Connect technology to automatically select the best connection for each device.The X8 comes with Netgear Genie which greatly simplifies the installation and setup process. The Genie allows non-technical business owners to monitor and control their network from any computer or mobile device. The X8’s hardware is also an upgrade, coming equipped with 6 LAN ports, 1 WAN port, and two USB ports.At $345 the X8 is the most expensive router on the list, but it’s also one of the most powerful and future proof. If you like the nighthawk, but $345 is too steep, the X6 can be purchased for about $100 cheaper.
If you’re interested in having the best possible WiFi in your business, but don’t want the hassle of researching routers and installing and managing it, you should consider looking into managed router services. With Boomtown’s managed router service, you’ll gain access to our network of certified local technicians that will come onsite and install it for you. You’ll also receive 24/7 network monitoring and support to ensure you and your customers are provided with the fastest, most secure experience possible.
If you’d like to learn more about Boomtown’s managed router service, call us at 844-800-2666 or fill out the information below and we’ll have a representative reach out.