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Router Recommendations with very strong range?


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#1 The Teej

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    Also known as The Tjalian

  • Joined: 03-October 05
  • Location: England, UK

Posted 30 April 2012 - 20:54

Hi guys,

I'm looking to purchase a router with a very strong range. For some reason, despite forking out reasonable money (£50-ish) for a router previously, I'm still struggling to get a decent signal in all areas of the house despite the fact that it's a small 3-bedroom council maisonette with plaster walls. Why... I really can't figure out.

SO! I'm looking at getting a new router, but I really don't fancy being burned again by a router again with signal strength that won't even cover my whole house. Preferably this router would have USB mass storage over network capabilities (although not needed) and external antennas?

I'm not really what you would define as a "power user" when it comes to networking - so things like Tomato support, DHCP customisation, heavy QoS and traffic shaping, etc, aren't really a necessity for me. Of course, if it supports these, I won't complain! On the flipside, I'm not afraid to get my hands a little dirty when setting up my router either - so while hand-holding installations are nice they're not a necessity for me.

As long as the router has a high LOS, 300N, the ability to change channels/switch to auto, and doesn't look like a 90s switch box, it's good for me :) My budget is £100, although if we can keep it below £75 that'd be best.

Thanks guys :)


#2 xendrome

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 20:58

Are you sure it is the router and not the device's WiFi capabilities?? Have you tried accessing the same router with other devices?

#3 Squuiid

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 20:59

NETGEAR WNDR4500 is without a doubt the best consumer router currently available. Not sure what it costs in the UK, but here in the US it is $178.
If not too pricey for you in UK I can defo recommend it. Check out the Newegg reviews too. Excellent router.

http://www.newegg.co...35&Tpk=wndr4500

#4 Hum

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 21:04

Maybe there are a lot of wires inside the walls, like in reenforced concrete.

#5 OP The Teej

The Teej

    Also known as The Tjalian

  • Joined: 03-October 05
  • Location: England, UK

Posted 30 April 2012 - 21:04

Are you sure it is the router and not the device's WiFi capabilities?? Have you tried accessing the same router with other devices?


100% the router.

Tried it with my DS, 3DS, PSP, HTC Desire, HTC Mozart, Lumia 800, an iPhone 3GS and a 4S and 3 laptops (not all mine!). I always get the same issue in the same parts of the house, pretty much. Wavers ever so slightly, but on the whole it always throws a wobbly in the same parts of the house, so yeah, I'd say it's the router. All those devices can't be wrong, surely?

Squuiid: I'll check out that router, thanks!

#6 srbeen

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 21:09

Multiple cheap routers and cascade them or WDS them (for a completely terrible speed)

One will not do it and will be a serious waste of money.

the airport extreme and the airport express systems do this - if you can deal with apple. Other than that, get some DD-WRT compatible routers and set them up to distribute the wifi quite easily. Not sure how the iptables will need to be modified to allow traffic from any router to see any other router in the system.


Also the WNDR4500 is a very good router, I just upgraded my 310N to this model and even running the stock firmware I am satisifed. But, for WIRELESS, the 3700 is actually much better! (read around) The 4500 advantage is that I switched everything over to 5GHz, which provides increased range (higher freq = smaller wave) and it allows 40MHz bandwidth rather than 2.4GHz's 20MHz bandwidth. so on a 300Mbps connection with 2.4GHz I get around 7-9MB/s and on 5GHz I get around 15MB/s

I would just get 2 or 3 linksys 4200, flash with DD-WRT, add some active cooling (as they get hot and problematic! Same chipset as the wndr4500 actually) and throw one upstairs and one downstairs as 2 separate wifi points, then allow the wifi system to choose which one it wants to access. (configure both points in all wifi devices and they'll configure auto)

Also - theres no interference? microwaves, cordless phones, scanners, walkie-talkies, or anything else using the band? again the 'manual channel' forcing would avoid this interference.

#7 srbeen

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 21:12

100% the router.

Tried it with my DS, 3DS, PSP, HTC Desire, HTC Mozart, Lumia 800, an iPhone 3GS and a 4S and 3 laptops (not all mine!). I always get the same issue in the same parts of the house, pretty much. Wavers ever so slightly, but on the whole it always throws a wobbly in the same parts of the house, so yeah, I'd say it's the router. All those devices can't be wrong, surely?

Squuiid: I'll check out that router, thanks!


They are known as deadspots. Despite how much power you emit, its likley the waves will propagate the same way and still be horrible.
try some different channels - force your router to go to channel 1.. then test. switch to 2. unplug and plug back in (so devices reinitialize new channel) and test again.. keep going. each channel is separated by a few MHz so they will propigate differently. Ensure you test other areas too as it may fix area 1 but create a new problem in area 2.

5GHz signal maybe your best bet if you want one device - but your devices list, I think the 4s is the only one which can actually do 5GHz wifi... I know the ds, psp, desire, 3gs and probably the laptops (depending) won't.

#8 OP The Teej

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    Also known as The Tjalian

  • Joined: 03-October 05
  • Location: England, UK

Posted 30 April 2012 - 21:21

Multiple cheap routers and cascade them or WDS them (for a completely terrible speed)

One will not do it and will be a serious waste of money.

the airport extreme and the airport express systems do this - if you can deal with apple. Other than that, get some DD-WRT compatible routers and set them up to distribute the wifi quite easily. Not sure how the iptables will need to be modified to allow traffic from any router to see any other router in the system.


Also the WNDR4500 is a very good router, I just upgraded my 310N to this model and even running the stock firmware I am satisifed. But, for WIRELESS, the 3700 is actually much better! (read around)

I would just get 2 or 3 linksys 4200, flash with DD-WRT, add some active cooling (as they get hot and problematic! Same chipset as the wndr4500 actually) and throw one upstairs and one downstairs as 2 separate wifi points, then allow the wifi system to choose which one it wants to access.


Am I able to setup the second 4200 as a Wi-Fi repeater or would it have to be it's own thing? The reason being is cabling... having to drill a hole in the floor/ceiling to get a network cable down would be a ******. I could use powerline adapter, but surely that's just asking for trouble?

They are known as deadspots. Despite how much power you emit, its likley the waves will propagate the same way and still be horrible.
try some different channels - force your router to go to channel 1.. then test. switch to 2. unplug and plug back in (so devices reinitialize new channel) and test again.. keep going. each channel is separated by a few MHz so they will propigate differently. Ensure you test other areas too as it may fix area 1 but create a new problem in area 2.

5GHz signal maybe your best bet if you want one device - but your devices list, I think the 4s is the only one which can actually do 5GHz wifi... I know the ds, psp, desire, 3gs and probably the laptops (depending) won't.


Ah, I didn't think of that. The DS and PSP don't get any online loving anymore, the 3DS is usually used in the good zones, the Desire I no longer own and the iPhones aren't even mine. These would be for my Lumia, the laptop and other future devices I might own. That's a great suggestion though, I might force different channels through and see how that works.

Just a thought though - would my microwave cause any issues, even when it's not in use? Just a random thought that's popped into my head.

#9 KillTheIrishman

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 21:24

Maybe there are a lot of wires inside the walls, like in reenforced concrete.

Unless he is writing this from jail/prison I highly doubt it. ;)

#10 +imachip

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 21:32

Actually the new Netgear R6300 Dual Band Gigabit WiFi Router is now the premium router based on the new AC standard (supports previous N, etc).

Yes, you need the clients to support the standard but it gives far better throughput and increased range so a better buy in the long term.

#11 Squuiid

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 21:42

Actually the new Netgear R6300 Dual Band Gigabit WiFi Router is now the premium router based on the new AC standard (supports previous N, etc).

Yes, you need the clients to support the standard but it gives far better throughput and increased range so a better buy in the long term.


This isn't out yet.

#12 Squuiid

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 21:44

Multiple cheap routers and cascade them or WDS them (for a completely terrible speed)

One will not do it and will be a serious waste of money.

the airport extreme and the airport express systems do this - if you can deal with apple. Other than that, get some DD-WRT compatible routers and set them up to distribute the wifi quite easily. Not sure how the iptables will need to be modified to allow traffic from any router to see any other router in the system.


Also the WNDR4500 is a very good router, I just upgraded my 310N to this model and even running the stock firmware I am satisifed. But, for WIRELESS, the 3700 is actually much better! (read around) The 4500 advantage is that I switched everything over to 5GHz, which provides increased range (higher freq = smaller wave)


You are mistaken. 5GHz has far less range than 2.4GHz.

#13 srbeen

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 22:16

This is VERY true. the 5GHz on my netgear has better range as my 2.4GHz linksys did, but the linksys was single-band and the netgear is dual or tri band - (more ways to connect and less multipath echos) Higher freq = smaller wave = less propagation.

So, speaking strictly range, your BEST bet is to get a 802.11b router in 1-2MB/s mode, as it will give the MAXIMUM range possible as it has the largest wavelength. http://www.medicalel...medical-devices paragraph below fig 1. specifically states this. All in all this is a good read too.

Im thinking that multipath is the problem in the OP setup, and signal propagation is more of an issue than actual coverage.. 5GHz will not (likely) remedy this problem. It will only fix interference issues and allow double the throughput.

Maybe go buy $600 worth of routers (dlink, netgear and linksys) and test them for the 14 days or whatever the return policy is.. see which works better and return the other 2.

http://www.ko4bb.com..._2_and_5GHz.pdf

this is a good PDF, they test propagation through things and plot it. like blinds, carpet, glass, brick, water, nearly everything. In the abstract they derive -6.8dB is mathematically calculated gain from a jump of 2.4 to 5GHz (in laymens terms, if 2.4GHz is 100% strength you'd get 25% strength with 5GHz, as every 3dB loss is halfing the power)

Now - according to their tests, the experienced loss is about equal on both bands.... This means the propagation loss experienced is the same, so signal range would be about the same. Maybe the linksys isn't all that bad afterall.

OP: Kinda went on a tangent but out of this, if there is a lot of full water piping running between floors - 2.4GHz will be severely affected. This is also why microwaves use this frequency, as it excites water and heats up our food (and also explains why things without water in them won't heat right)

I doubt you have the gear to test how well signals propagate, so i'd just try routers and if they don't work or you don't like, return them until you either proved the top of the line ones aren't any better than what you got or you found one that works. FWIW, find one you like, return it, then order for likely cheaper online.

#14 Hardcore Til I Die

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 22:30

Asus RT-N56U.

I pull up in my car outside the house and get a signal before I even get out. There's a long garden between the car park and my house too.

The range is phenomenal.

£100 but well worth it and it looks great :)