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Saturday | June 12, 2021

Home networking – A better experience is easier than you think.

As more and more of us go online in our homes, often with multiple devices, the demands on our networking equipment are increasing. So if you constantly hear from your children that their Minecraft is “laggy” or you are often seeing playback issues on videos you watch online it could be time to upgrade your older (or internet provider supplied) network devices… and it’s more simple than you think!

Not only is it simple, we want to give you confidence in your purchase and so every product you see below has been tested by our hardware experts at www.hardwareheaven.com, in their homes. From setup to real world gaming, video streaming and browsing they have gone through the same processes you will and the recommendations are based on that experience. They have even made sure that all of the devices below work with each other, regardless of the mix of brands.

What is a router?


Anyone with a broadband internet connection will have a router in their house. It’s that box with flashing LEDs that your internet service provider (ISP) sent an engineer out to install. That box takes the connection from your ISP and sends it around your house using wires, or wireless (Wi-Fi) technology.

As with any technology provided at a low cost, or for free, to a mass group of consumers these routers are designed to offer base level features and cost effective performance which suits your ISP, rather than your specific needs. In addition to this, they are not upgraded regularly meaning that the router you received 2-3 years ago may not be allowing your new smartphone, tablet, PC or console to perform at its maximum potential.

The good news is that most devices provided by ISPs such as Virgin Media can pass the internet connection to another router, one which we choose to suit our needs, and all with just one single cable.

What are my options for a new router?

There are a wide range of options available for new routers, and often manufacturers which you may have heard of, such as Netgear, will provide several models all with different specifications. Below we have highlighted a couple of options along with the key reasons to consider them.

Best Performance and Features: Linksys WRT-1900AC


One model sitting at the top of the router market is the Linksys WRT-1900AC. Part of the Belkin group Linksys have been manufacturing routers for over 15 years and were the first company to ship 100 million units. Their WRT-1900AC offers enough speed for 4K video along with the following key benefits:

  • Has the ability to use two Wi-Fi signals so that there is less chance of your network receiving interference from a neighbours Wi-Fi.
  • Offers the latest Wi-Fi standard (Wireless-ac) and four antenna to maximise signal power, transmission distance and minimise problems with thick walls.
  • Provides maximum bandwidth when connecting a large number of devices such as phones, tablets, laptops, consoles and Smart TV’s.
  • Has built in parental control software which allows you to limit access to specific internet sites, even down to limiting the time of day they can be accessed.
  • Offers a step by step setup where on-screen instructions help you connect to the internet and secure your network.


Setting up the Linksys WRT-1900AC could not be easier, and they even offer a high quality mobile app. The documentation provided shows us where to plug the cable from our ISP router and it automatically configures access to the internet. We can then choose to connect our devices through one of the four wired connections, or Wi-Fi.

That Wi-Fi process is also simple. Just use your device’s Wi-Fi panel to search for networks, connect to the Linksys network and press the connect button on the router. The two devices then securely connect, no need to manually enter the passwords and the setup assistant walks us through the basic options to tailor the network to our needs. Linksys also allow remote management so we can install one of their routers for a family member and then manage any issues from our own home!

Great value and good performance: TP-Link Archer C7


TP-Link are one of the fastest growing manufacturers in the networking market. Founded in 1996 their products have been sold in 120 countries to tens of millions of consumers. Their Archer C7 router offers a more accessible price point than the WRT-1900AC while still retaining many of the features.

What don’t we get? Quite simply the Archer C7 has a lower available speed on the Wi-Fi connection. Our connection from the internet provider is unaffected, however when multiple devices are used in our home they have less speed available to share than the WRT-1900AC.

Key features:

  • Has the ability to use two Wi-Fi signals so that there is less chance of your network receiving interference from a neighbours Wi-Fi.
  • Has impressive setup software including colour coded diagrams to ensure we can connect wiring easily.
  • Dual USB ports for printer and file sharing between devices.
  • Four, full speed ports for wired connections.
  • Will happily stream multiple HD video streams at the same time.


For those wanting to access the advanced settings within the router, the TP-Link screens are not as aesthetically pleasing as the Linksys but otherwise the user experience is pretty much the same.

You’ve now got strong network foundations but what next?

As we noted earlier in this guide, everyone has different networking needs and while the above routers offer the latest technology and strong signals there will be scenarios where we need a little boost. For example, if our internet connection is in one room, but a gaming/media room or home office is elsewhere. Those sort of uses often require high speed access, for example maximising quality of video calls/presentation sharing or connecting multiple consoles to the internet and keeping response times low so we can compete on a level playing field with other online gamers.

This is where an extender helps us.

What is a Network Extender?

The easy way to think of an extender is that it is a mini router. It has strong antenna which suck in our Wi-Fi connection, boost it and then share the enhanced signal instantly via Wi-Fi or wired connection. Choose the right extender and it doesn’t even need extra passwords, it will connect to our existing network and use the same security.


One of our favourite devices in this category is the Netgear EX6200. Here are its key features:

  • Extend our existing network in 2 simple button presses.
  • Dual band Wi-Fi signals to minimise the chance of interference.
  • Supports the latest Wi-Fi standard.
  • Offers four high speed wired connections.
  • Support for HD video


Need something more compact and easy to hide away? Then the EX6100 plugs into an available wall socket and offers a single wired connection as well as boosting Wi-Fi, though the total speed available in our home isn’t as high as the EX6200.

Wi-Fi isn’t the only option…Powerline Networking is one of our favourite new technologies!

Did you know that your home electrical wiring is currently a very capable internet sharing device? It just needs enabled. Whether it is a new build or a Victorian conversion, a powerline network could be the answer to maximising internet speed in rooms furthest away from your router. And the amazing thing is that it’s easier to set up than Wi-Fi.

How does Powerline Networking work?

Powerline network devices are generally sold in pairs that plug into our wall sockets. Both transmit and receive data from our devices and router, passing the signal through our mains wiring at speeds just as fast as the best Wi-Fi.

The latest tech, maximum speed with no extras: Netgear PL1200


Available in packs of two, the PL1200 offers the latest Powerline Networking technology and fastest connectors. Setup is simple. Plug in the devices to a wall socket, one by the router and the other in the room we are extending to. Use the bundled cable to connect the router to the plug next to it. Use the second bundled cable to connect our device (game console, PC, TV, etc) to the internet. No passwords, no software. Just plug in and turn on to get speeds capable of highly responsive online gaming and 4k video.

For those who want to extend to multiple rooms, just buy a second kit, plug it in and hold down the Sync button. Done!

The PL1200 is a nice simple solution. What extra features can Powerline offer?

Powerline, that little bit extra: TP-Link AV1200


TP-Link’s AV1200 adds plug passthrough to our Powerline network meaning that we can insert plugs into the device and not loose a socket. They also offer models with multiple network ports so we can connect several devices in the room and some of their models offer Wi-Fi transmitter so that we can have a strong signal in far away rooms.

Finally, don’t forget about your PC or Laptop!

All of the above components will provide you with a great network experience but there is one other thing to consider, your PC (or laptop) could well benefit from a boost to fully take advantage of the new speed available. It is possible to upgrade the internal components of both types of system, but USB is a quick and easy way to avoid all the complications.

Linksys WUSB6300


The Linksys WUSB6300 offers the latest Wi-Fi technology, high speed connectivity, stylish design and is super stable. Everything we need from a Wi-Fi adapter.

For reviews of the above hardware and much more, visit Hardwareheaven.com

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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