Why You Need a New Router, Even on a Slow Internet Link

A very old Wi-Fi router sitting on a table.
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

Previous Wi-Fi routers are susceptible to stability exploits and lack the high-quality-of-life updates observed in fashionable routers. Even if you do not need to have the bandwidth improvement, upgrading is advantageous.

If your home world-wide-web is very sluggish, you may well think it doesn’t subject if you have a dusty old router with no the newest bells and whistles. Here’s why you need to give severe thought to upgrading.

1st, Let’s Determine Outdated and Sluggish

Speaking about a router being old or new, or an online link currently being gradual or quickly calls for us to determine how we’re utilizing individuals terms in the context of this report.

Most routers are generally at least a Wi-Fi engineering generation out of day about 5 years or so immediately after their release date. If you purchased your router 5 several years back, and it was now an outdated model at the time of order, you’re even further taken off from present-day Wi-Fi technological know-how. New, in the context of routers, refers to router designs introduced in the last few years—within three several years is even superior.

And as much as “fast” and “slow” internet goes, that is very subjective pertaining to viewpoints on broadband adoption and particular preference. Nonetheless, we’re on the lookout at quickly and slow in this article as a romance in between the Wi-Fi router components and the net link speed.

Men and women have requested us, does it make a difference if I have an outdated router if I have gradual web? And that is a properly valid problem. What does it make a difference if you have an early 2010s-period 802.11n router with only a 50 Mbps or 100 Mbps broadband link that will never saturate the router fully? It matters a lot more than you imagine due to the fact the Wi-Fi experience is extra than just speed exam effects but a complete host of router functions. Let’s seem at why.

Old Wi-Fi Routers Don’t Get Safety Updates

Conversing about protection isn’t captivating, but protection is vital. Even if you don’t truly feel like any of the pace or top quality of lifestyle enhancements we’ll be talking about in a second matter to you, the safety of your residence community must matter.

The times of turning on the household personal computer now and then to ship an occasional e-mail or perform an offline game are long long gone for most of us. Our homes are online all the time in some potential, our televisions are related to the web, and folks use their dwelling net link and the products on it for points like banking, securely logging into the medical information,  and other crucial issues.

With that in head, it is less than suitable to have a super aged router that doesn’t get security updates any more. Whichever vulnerabilities are learned soon after the past spherical of updates your router received, you are trapped with. And you won’t be in a position to use the most innovative Wi-Fi encryption with your products.

You do not need a brand new slicing-edge router to make certain you get stability updates, but you do want a far more latest product that still receives updates (and will for at the very least a handful of extra yrs). Router safety updates is a matter we come to feel strongly sufficient about that we advocate you throw out your router when it no more time gets them.

Outdated Wi-Fi Routers Have Weaker Components

You could not give significantly assumed to the volume of processing electrical power your Wi-Fi router has or what kind of hardware is within, so before we talk about routers particularly, let’s chat about the concern by evaluating it to pcs.

Practically anyone has experienced the working experience of upgrading their personal computer and then getting blown away by how a great deal nicer the experience of employing the computer was following the update. We’re not even speaking about players taking pleasure in enhanced overall performance in AAA video game titles or other demanding functions. We’re conversing about essential working day-to-working day things like opening documents, browsing the website, and so forth.

It’s not that producing e-mails or viewing a YouTube movie on a 2013-period notebook vs . a 2023-period laptop computer is a basically different action. It is that a 10 years of components advancements and optimizations can make executing so feel snappier and much more pleasurable.

Your outdated router probable has a much weaker CPU. It also has fewer powerful radios using more mature Wi-Fi technologies. Even the bodily ports on older routers can be anemic. Gigabit Ethernet is conventional now, but even into the mid-2010s, quite a few spending budget routers still experienced primary 10/100 Ethernet ports. Pair that form of router with speedier broadband, and you are hobbling on your own suitable out of the gate.

So guaranteed, you can link your new Apple iphone to a ten-calendar year-previous router just fine, but that outdated router won’t be optimized for Wi-Fi technology advancements that did not even exist when it was created.

When you bounce from an old router to a new router, you are going to be surprised to see things you did not understand were associated to the router—such as how rapid a world-wide-web web site hundreds soon after you ship the request or how nicely social media posts load on your phone—are enormously enhanced. It turns out you didn’t want a new clever Tv set,  you essential a Wi-Fi router that could sort a more reputable relationship to it.

Outdated Wi-Fi Routers Weren’t Manufactured for Large-Density Environments

When I mounted my initial Wi-Fi router back again in the 802.11b/g days, I experienced a handful of Wi-Fi devices in my home—most of which have been never on at the same time, permit on your own undertaking demanding things in tandem.

Now, nonetheless, I have close to 100 units connected to my Wi-Fi network at any provided time. Although numerous of those people equipment are matters like intelligent plugs, rather a few are high-need items like good TVs, phones, and other equipment that need dependable high-bandwidth connections.

The community landscape of the residence has improved, and newer routers are designed with that landscape in mind. Whether you have a basic 100 Mbps connection through your local cable company or a 2 Gbps fiber connection, your router’s ability to juggle dozens and dozens of connections on the Wi-Fi network is crucial.

It’s not just about supplying any given device with the maximum amount of bandwidth possible it’s about stability and connection management. Take streaming video bandwidth demands, for instance. You only need about 5 Mbps of speed for HD video and about 15 Mbps for 4K video.

It’s more important to have a reliable router that can reach the location of your smart TV or phone with a stable signal than anything else—and newer hardware is better suited for delivering that stability to multiple devices simultaneously.

Old Wi-Fi Routers Lack Quality of Life Improvements

We like to encourage people to think about their router purchases like they are shopping for a car. When you’re shopping for a car, you rarely shop for the fastest possible car you can buy. Outside of buying a performance car for racing purposes, the maximum speed a car can go is almost entirely irrelevant, and most people never drive their car as fast as it can possibly go.

What matters is comfort and ease of use. Most of us don’t want a car than can go 200 MPH. We want a car with comfortable seats, lane-assist semi-autonomous driving, room for the stuff we want to haul around, and so on.

In that regard, most people don’t need to buy a bleeding-edge performance router with a theoretical throughput capacity 20 times higher than their broadband connection. But they should buy a newer router that includes all the quality-of-life improvements we’ve seen in Wi-Fi and router technology over the years.

Newer routers include automatic security updates, so you’ll never have to worry about manually downloading and applying a firmware fix again. Speaking of automation, many older Wi-Fi routers don’t even have Quality of Service (QoS) rules. Or, if they do, you have to configure them manually. Newer Wi-Fi routers include automatic QoS adjusts that can intelligently identify and adapt network allocation based on activities without you even knowing what a QoS rule even is.

Wi-Fi optimizations in newer Wi-Fi generations benefit not just the newer devices that can take advantage of specific features like fast roaming but also older devices on the same network.

If you want to upgrade and you’re not sure where to start, you can consider buying a budget Wi-Fi router. But we also recommend buying a single mesh router. You get a perfectly good modern Wi-Fi router all by itself (with great automated features) for around the same price as a stand-alone budget router. And if you need more coverage extending your network with mesh nodes is dead simple.

However you approach the problem, though, it’s worth replacing that old router with an awesome router with modern features and current security updates.