Tri-Band routers are all the rage these days. I’m sure you have heard a lot about them and you’re maybe thinking about grabbing yourself a piece of the action? Well before you do, we’re going to explain exactly what Tri-Band Wi-Fi is, and whether or not it’s going to be of any benefit to you.
Ok, let’s get down to business. What are the best Tri-Band routers, and why Tri-Band?
First Up – The Netgear Nighthawk X6 R8000
Well, the first Tri-Band router to come out happens to the most popular…
The Netgear Nighthawk X6 R8000 has been out now for almost a year. It has a very long list of features, that should cover everything that you need, and probably what you didn’t know you needed, lol.
Dual Core CPU – with 3 offload processors
Antennas – 6 External, that are all adjustable.
USB 3.0 – has a 3.0 port and a second USB 2.0 port
Netgear GENIE – funky tools, including easy setup and monitoring
Readyshare Vault – Backup files via the attached USB port. Really useful for backing up photos from your phone!
What is a Tri-Band Router?
Compared to Dual Band
Tri-Band is the next stage up from Dual Band. The vast majority of routers available these days are Dual Band. These have two bands (no way, dual means two? Lol). One is on the 2.4GHz range, the other on the 5GHz range.
The 2.4GHz range is the most popular, but this is more down to historical reasons, rather then it being ‘better’.
Throughout the last 10 years or so, Wireless 802.11b/g/n has used the 2.4GHz band (except Wireless N, which also uses 5GHz). So it’s only the last handful of years that 5GHz has raised itself from the ashes. 5GHz was previously used in the legacy 802.11a standard, which originally came out way back in the 1990’s.
Anyway, Dual Band routers have been very popular, with the 5GHz band available for those that can use it, or want to use it.
5GHz on Wireless AC can get real speeds up into the several hundred megabits per second. In fact, with MU-MIMO, we are now hitting real speeds of 1Gbps plus.
Tri-Band routers have 3 bands (you can see a pattern here!). One band is on 2.4GHz, the other two are on the 5GHz band, in two separate ranges.
Now this is where people get confused, and to be honest, the manufacturers don’t really help with their advertising!
The cumulative data rates on all three bands add up to 3.2Gbps (theoretical speed) – that’s at time of writing at least.
Let’s do the math:
– 2.4GHz band = 600Mbps
– 5GHz Band 1 = 1,300Mbps
– 5GHz Band 2 = 1,300Mbps
Total = 3.2Gbps (or 3,200Mbps)
Ok, that all looks simple enough. However, how Tri-Band works is that if when you are authenticated onto one of the 3 bands, you can only use the maximum throughput available on that band.
Let’s say you are using Wireless AC (5GHz). You log into your wireless network. You will only have the bandwidth available to that network as you are logged in. So, you will only have 1.3Gbps maximum data rate available to you at any one time. So basically, the two 5GHz networks are two separate wireless networks, and the Tri-Band router bridges them together into one network that can all communicate together.
Consumers, quite rightly, get confused on this, because the manufacturers advertise the combined data rates from all three bands. Even though we can’t use all that bandwidth. When consumers go to buy what they think is the fastest router, are they going to pick up the AC2400 router, or the AC3200 router? Most times they’ll go for the AC3200 router, even though wireless may be actually slower for any single client, depending on the environment.
Clever marketing, eh? Or slightly deceitful? Erm, we’ll let you decide that one!
Is Tri-Band Better Than Dual Band?
Now, you are probably wondering if there is any advantage in Tri-Band. Is Tri-Band better than Dual Band? Should you upgrade to a Tri-Band wireless router? Well, there’s no straight answer on this one. Let’s say it’s all about balance.
By having two 5GHz bands, no one wireless device can hog all the bandwidth or resources of the router at any one time. The router can balance clients over its two 5GHz networks, which can make processing a lot more efficient.
So, if you have multiple Wi-Fi devices at home and they get used a lot, especially at the same time – then a Tri-Band router could be a good move for you. Otherwise, a Dual Band router should be just fine.
The Asus RT-AC68U IS An Awesome Dual Band AC Router
Will A Tri-Band Wireless Router Give Me Faster Internet?
No! Well, not necessarily…
Always remember in the network world, that the access speed to anything is only as fast as the slowest link.
In the case of Internet access, it will almost always be your Internet link speed. If you have a 50Mbps Internet connection, then buying an AC3200 router isn’t going to make it any faster.
However, a top-end router will likely have optimization tools, like QoS, to ensure that Internet access is streamlined so that more users get the most out of the Internet. But let’s be clear on this… it won’t turn a 50Mbps link into anything faster…
The Best Tri-Band Wi-Fi Routers
All these routers are AC3200. All are awesome, but some have slightly differing features from the others.
The other Tri-Band routers are very similar to the aforementioned Nighthawk.
The RT-AC3200 is Asus’s direct response to the Nighthawk X6
Linksys brought out the EA9200 as their answer to Tri-Band.
The D-Link DIR-890L looks very similar to the Nighthawk…
Trendnet launched the TEW-828DRU Tri-Band router. The TEW-828DRU might appeal more to those on a budget.
TEW-828DRU Tri-Band Router
Do you agree/disagree? Why not comment below and let us know what you think…