If you’re planning to sign up for an internet plan through Spectrum, you may be wondering about a router. What kind of router should you get or should you rent the standard one from Spectrum? What features should you look for in a high-quality router?
Buying with Spectrum, you get a free modem with your internet subscription, but not a router. You can either purchase a router or rent one from Spectrum. If you choose to buy one, you should make sure to get one that will best suit your internet needs for speed, range, settings, etc.
While you can rent a router from Spectrum, depending on your needs, it may be a better option to purchase your own. You could also buy a modem/router combo that is compatible with Spectrum. Read on to learn more about routers and what you should look for to suit your needs.
Compatible with Spectrum
When you are setting up WiFi at your house, there are two things you will need, a modem and a router. The modem connects your household to WAN (wide area network) through cables. The router is then connected to the modem and provides WiFi. As far as compatibility goes, you only need to check your modem’s compatibility. Any router works, but your modem needs to have the right infrastructure to work with Spectrum.
When you get internet from Spectrum, they provide you with a free modem, so you won’t have to worry about compatibility unless you want to get your own modem. There aren’t many reasons why you would need to purchase your own modem unless you wanted to purchase a modem/router combo. If you just need a standard internet connection without any special settings or features, buying a separate router may be your best option.
Combo vs Separate
Since Spectrum provides you with a modem at no cost, it may be easier to only purchase the router. Having a separate router allows for more customization and features. It is also less expensive and easier to upgrade.
Having a combined modem/router, however, takes up less space, is simple to install, and reduces troubleshooting issues to one device. Spectrum has a list of compatible and approved modem/router combos, so you can make sure your combo will work with your internet.
How to Choose a Router For Your Needs
When you are looking for a router, there are a lot of factors to consider. How do you use your internet? Are you frequently online? Do you need a stable connection for work? Do you use the internet for gaming and streaming? Do you need it to cover a large distance? Should I get a modem/router combo or a separate router? How many devices use Wifi at the same time? When you are looking for a router, there are a lot of factors to consider. How do you use your internet? Are you frequently online? Do you need a stable connection for work? Do you use the internet for gaming and streaming? Do you need it to cover a large distance? Should I get a modem/router combo or a separate router?
Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted through your router and modem at once. You can think of bandwidth as a pipe with water flowing through it. No matter how fast the water flows through, only a certain amount of water can be in the pipe at any given second. If you utilize high amounts of data at once, you will need high bandwidth to handle receiving and sending that much data at once. To increase internet speeds, a high bandwidth can ensure that your router and modem aren’t overwhelmed by too much data at once.
Bandwidth relates to how fast your internet connection is but isn’t the only factor. Spectrum offers three different bandwidth options noted as different speeds. If you have a higher speed plan, you’ll need a router that can handle the higher speed. If you have a low-speed plan, you may not need a more expensive, high-speed router capable of more bandwidth. Even though it may not be a necessity, a router built for higher speeds and more bandwidth may be a good option if you decide to upgrade your connection later on. The bandwidth options that Spectrum offers are 200 Mbps, 400 Mbps, and 1Gb.
Most routers have higher speed capabilities, so you generally don’t need to worry about a router, but if you’re looking for a modem/router combo, you will need to keep this in mind.
- 200 Mbps
There are a lot of affordable options online for routers that have higher speed capabilities.
The most recommended router/modem combo for speeds up to 200Mbps is the NETGEAR Cable Modem Wifi Router Combo C6220. It’s compatible with Spectrum and it’s pretty affordable at $85 on Amazon.
- 400 Mbps
If your internet speed is a bit higher, the most recommended is the ARRIS SURFboard SBG10 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem & AC1600 Dual Band WiFi Router. It’s priced at $99 on Amazon.
A great option for those who don’t have great internet needs is the Linksys – AC1000 Dual-Band WiFi 5 Router. This will work for up to 1000 Mbps, so this is a great standard option for either 200 Mbps or 400 Mbps.
- 1 Gb
If you are signed up for the 1 Gb internet plan, you probably want a nice router to ensure fast internet speeds. A recommended option for high-speed internet is the TP-Link WiFi 6 AX1500 Smart WiFi Router (Archer AX10). This router will ensure quick speed and has other great features as well that improve your internet experience, such as triple-core processing to avoid buffering and the ability to connect more devices to WiFi.
When looking at routers, consider the types of ports and how many ports you need. Some routers have extra ethernet ports which allow internet connection straight through the cable, rather than a wireless connection. Connecting through ethernet cables gives you a more stable internet connection and is often faster.
Routers that have plenty of ethernet ports give you the option to connect your desktop or stationary computer to a solid internet connection as needed but also give you the ability to use WiFi for laptops or other devices in the house.
Most people won’t need extra ports, but if you need a steady connection for work or gaming and streaming, you might want to consider the number of ports on your router. If your router doesn’t have enough ports to support your internet needs, you can always increase the number of ports with a switch.
Gamers who play online while streaming are dependent on having a good broadband connection. When looking for a router ideal for gaming, you need to consider installation, settings, ports, and speed.
Some routers have setting options that make gaming and streaming immensely easier. For example, some routers offer QoS (quality of service), which allows you to favor certain devices. You can set the router to recognize certain IP addresses and ensure that those devices have the best access to the internet. This allows gamers to give internet priority to gaming devices. The router will then reduce internet speed and quality on other devices before reducing speed on the prioritized device.
A regular router treats all packets the same. Packets are small collections of data sent together through the internet. When a router treats all of the packets the same, your gaming could be impacted by another device. For example, if your roommate is trying to upload lots of photos while you are streaming and gaming, you may have glitches because the router doesn’t know which to favor. While gaming, you could experience packet loss, which causes glitches or oddities in video or audio. If your router can recognize and favor an IP address, it can ensure that no data is lost for that specific device.
Having the right ports on your server is important as a gamer as well. If you have USB ports, you can improvise your own server by inserting a thumb drive for extra storage. The USB port is also used for software updates to the router itself. Having Ethernet ports is also useful as you can hook your desktop up to the internet through a physical cable, creating a more stable connection.
If you are a gamer and you’re looking for a router that will support your streaming at the same time, the TP-Link Archer AX11000 Next-Gen Tri-Band Gaming Router could be an ideal option for you. On pcmag.com, it’s rated best overall for gamers and is the most recommended. It has gamer-friendly settings, lots of ports, lifetime malware protection, and parental controls. It’s listed on Amazon for $199.99.
If you live in a large home, to get coverage throughout the whole house, you will need a long-If you live in a large home, to get coverage throughout the whole house, you will need a long-range router. Some people have issues with certain areas of their house having a poor connection. The average router reaches up to 150 ft inside and 300 ft outside. If you need a larger area covered, you need to consider the range of the router you are purchasing. If you have a router that doesn’t have great range, you can always increase the range with a range booster. These can increase the strength of the signal further away from the router.
Another option for large homes is a mesh router. With mesh routers, you can pair two routers together to increase the range of your WiFi. Instead of using one router for the whole house, two can be used that share data back and forth.
This isn’t only ideal for large homes or big areas but also homes with thick walls. Sometimes the layout of a house and the density of the walls can prevent certain rooms from getting a strong WiFi signal. Using a set of mesh routers can remediate this problem.
The most popular mesh router right now is the Google Nest WiFi Router. It comes in a set of three on Amazon for $468. The set of three boasts 6600 square ft of coverage.
There are different levels of security routers provided, including WEP, WPA, WPA2, and WPA3.
WEP stands for Wired Equivalent Privacy. In 1999, this was the standard. Today, this doesn’t provide much security. It’s rated at one star for security and is very difficult to configure. WPA stands for WiFi Protected Access. While this is a substantial step up from WEP, it still only received a two-star rating on security. WPA2 is the most common security standard and is available on most routers. It is easier to configure and is more secure than WEP and WPA.
While WPA3 is more secure, it isn’t recognized by most devices. WPA2 is the standard and meets the needs of almost every internet user.
Cost of Renting vs Buying Your Own Router
If you don’t want to purchase your own router, you may rent one from Spectrum for $5 per month. The Spectrum Internet GIG plan includes a router, but the other plans require a router rental or purchase. Renting may be the option for you. If you have average internet and WiFi usage, renting a standard router will not be an issue.
While renting a router may seem cheap, it adds up. The average life of a router is around five years. The average cost is under $100. After five years, a router needs to be updated and replaced to maintain fast internet speeds and ensure good connectivity. If you rent a router for five years at $5 per month, it adds up to around $300.
There are pros to renting though. If you haven’t decided on a router that will best meet your needs, renting one until you buy one could save you money. If you aren’t very knowledgeable about technology, renting could be a good idea. If you are renting a router, and you have any issues with the router, Spectrum is responsible for ensuring the router is working properly and that any kinks or bugs are fixed.
Check this article on our blog to understand nuances of buying Vs renting a router for your home.