For the Best Internet at Home, Try These Tips on Wi-Fi Gear

Most mesh kits have easy-to-use apps and they can automatically download and install firmware updates, which is important. Most people don’t ever think to check if their router’s software is up-to-date, which can lead to big security holes. Also, a lot of the mesh kits look a little better than traditional routers, which tend to be angular, dark and bristling with antennas.

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The Orbi from Netgear. In addition to giving a Wi-Fi signal greater range, mesh kits tend to be more visually appealing than standard routers.

Credit
Michael Hession/The Wirecutter

It still sounds like I want one.

Mesh kits are expensive. A three-pack can cost $300 to $500. And unless you have a big house — say, more than 3,000 square feet — most people just don’t need one. It’s going to be overkill, and having these three powerful Wi-Fi signals in your small house or apartment can actually make your network (and your neighbors’ networks) slower than if you had a single router.

Then I’ll need to buy a bigger house. So, about those regular routers and modems, should I still be renting my equipment from my internet service provider?

Not if you can at all avoid it. Most I.S.P.s charge you a monthly fee for a mediocre modem/router combo. If you have cable internet, it’s easy to avoid this charge by getting a compatible cable modem, which will pay for itself within a year. (We recommend the Arris SURFboard SB6183.) A stand-alone router will give you more control, and probably much better speed and range. If you have to use your I.S.P.’s modem/router combo (usually if your I.S.P. uses D.S.L. or fiber instead of cable), you can still buy a better router and just turn off the Wi-Fi on your I.S.P.’s modem/router. (The Wirecutter pick is the TP-Link Archer C7 (v2).)

It seems like there is a new kind of router every few years. Do I need to worry that I’m not stuck with old…

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