What It Is
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As much as manufacturers would have us think otherwise, consumer-grade hardware routers have evolved to the point where they are largely commodity products. This basically means that they all do pretty much the same thing and that your purchase decision can be driven largely by brand preference and price.
However, there are still a few areas where routers can differentiate themselves, so we've created this chart to help you quickly find a product that meets your needs.
The chart summarizes download and upload throughput for all hardware routers that have been reviewed on Tom's Networking dating back to 2002. Download throughput has become more important due to the wider availability of broadband connections with speeds higher than the 1.5 Mbps speeds common just a few years ago.
Buying a router with throughput faster than your Internet connection won't help it run any faster. But if you are purchasing a router to share fiber, ADSL2, or ADSL2+ Internet service, you'll need to choose carefully to avoid having the router be a speed choke point.
Unless otherwise noted, all products have the following features:
- Web-based admin interfaces
- Built-in 10/100 switches
- Ability to open or forward ports to support applications such as gaming, Web and FTP servers and video/voice conferencing
- Ability to filter ports to control access to specific web-based applications
The chart also includes a matrix of key features that do differentiate one router from another:
WLAN - Product includes wireless capability
GbE - Product includes a gigabit Ethernet switch
QoS - Product contains features to control Quality of Service and/or bandwidth management
VLAN - Product contains Virtual LAN capabilities
Throughput for all products is measured using the method described in this article.
We'll be adding new products to this chart on an ongoing basis and hope you'll find it to be useful. We'd also like to enhance the chart to better serve your needs, so be sure to use the discussion link below to give us feedback.