A router serves as a hub for networked devices by managing the flow of data packets among them. At home, it can connect TVs, smartphones, computers, gaming consoles and smart home appliances to one another and the internet. At work, it networks all the PCs, printers and other IP-enabled equipment in the office. This device serves as a wireless bridge and can also service established wired network connections. Staples carries a wide selection of these network devices from different brands.

Consider Speed and Range When Setting up Wireless Networks
Wireless speed and range are the most important features to look for in a router. For optimum network performance, consider the 802.11g and 802.11ac versions of these wireless devices. Models supporting 802.11n can deliver a top data transfer speed of 600Mbps while those packing the 802.11ac standard offer throughputs above 1Gbps. Choose an 802.11ac model to better handle bandwidth-intensive applications like online gaming and simultaneous streams of multiple HD and 4K contents. The wireless range of a data-routing hub depends on a number of factors including the number of radios and antennas in the unit, broadcast frequency and level of signal interference. Generally, wireless AC router models offer longer ranges than 802.11n units.

Choose Between Dual-Band and Tri-Band Routers
With many home appliances and office devices gaining wireless connectivity capability, it is easy to congest wireless networks and slow them down with too many of these networked devices. Single-band routing boxes are prone to network congestion since they only use the 2.4GHz frequency. Dual-band router models have two radios and direct data traffic over 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. This feature reduces congestion and interference by moving high-bandwidth devices to the higher frequency.

You should consider a tri-band router unit if you have multiple computers, smart TVs and IoT devices connecting to your home wireless network. This adds a second 5GHz band to further reduce the chances of congestion and deliver faster speeds to devices supporting that wireless frequency.

What Is the Difference Between a Router and a Modem?
A modem is a device that provides access to the internet while a router is a device that allows multiple devices to join the same network. A modem receives internet traffic while a data-routing hub distributes the received data packages among connected devices. A data-routing box can still establish a network without connecting to the internet. Both are essential network equipment and it is possible to have both of them in the same unit.

Do You Need a Router With Gigabit Ethernet Ports?
Gigabit Ethernet describes a LAN or WAN port with a rated speed of 10/100/1000Mbps. It is faster than a 10/100Mbps Ethernet port. Choose a wireless data-routing box with this port if your internet connection speed exceeds 100Mbps. You also need this port if you have wired devices equipped with Gigabit Ethernet ports.

How Does QoS Improve Network Performance?
QoS or Quality of Service is a feature that prioritizes certain types of data traffic in order to optimize network performance. For example, you can set your router to give higher priority to streaming media at night when you are likely to stream movies. QoS can control data traffic flow for specific applications and media file types.