At home, most of us would like a reliable internet connection that isn't so slow as to be almost useless. A good connection starts with your Internet Service Provider (ISP). If you're having problems - check your data package details first - are you on a package that can give you decent speeds? Are there bandwidth caps? Also enter your postcode into a broadband speed checker like this to get an idea of what connections people have in your local area. The first step to decent connectivity is to set up a decent package with your ISP.
At home, you usually connect to the internet using a modem provided by our ISP (Internet Service Provider). This can be sufficient if you're not placing hard demands on it, but if you are, getting and staying online quickly becomes a hassle despite paying for and accessing a fast connection. Now it's time to consider a hardware upgrade.
Which is the best choice?
Our recommendations are made by Netgear, a very well known American network technology manufacturer. We've tested three options for establishing a reliable, fast wired and wireless internet connection.
The ultimate solution: Nighthawk X10
Netgear's Nighthawk X10 Wifi Router is the ultimate solution with six wired gigabit ethernet LAN ports – and two of those are able to aggregate - effectively giving you one double speed link which can be dedicated to, for example, a high-speed Network Storage. Wireless speed delivered is 802.11ac/Ad Quad-Stream MU-MIMO. 802.11ac is the fastest and most up to date wifi standard giving speeds of up to a GB per second at very short ranges. The X10 is around £400 and overkill for many households, but for those who love their connection, use multiple devices, have a NAS, stream on multiple devices and game on-line, this is the router that has it all. Everything will always be connected everywhere. Netgear let us test the Nighthawk for 3 weeks and we had perfectly high-speed connectivity to the bottom of the garden and a way down the road.
If Wi-fi is your main aim: Orbi
If you're quite happy with the router supplied by your ISP, but your wifi is a problem, the Orbi wi-fi system offers a premium solution. It has a base with satellites that can significantly expand the area that has good wifi coverage. We tested the Orbi for a month and had fast, smooth coverage over a large area that extended beyond the house into the garden and driveway.
S8000 Switch: The Gamer's Choice
A switch lets you plug many ethernet connected devices together usually with a single connector to wider network or the internet. The S8000 goes a step beyond the normal switch in two areas – prioritization and diagnostics. Prioritisation is often known as Quality of Service or QoS. It lets you give particular ports and therefore particular machines priority for different types of packets. For example, you could give your gaming PC’s media packets the highest priority and put the Mac upstairs checking email at the bottom of the list.
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