Before you go hunting for your next purchase, make sure you understand exactly what each model has to offer.
The so-called ‘WiFi standard’ of every router available right now will be an unintuitive, indecipherable codename beginning with 802.11 and followed by a letter.
What the 802.11 stands for isn’t important – what really matters to you is the letter that comes after it.
Older routers will only have a ‘b’ or ‘g’ there, and should widely be avoided as their age means they won’t be capable of the latest speeds.
Newer models have an ‘n’ – this means that they support a top speed of 300Mbps.
What you really want, though, is a router that supports 802.11ac. This is the latest consumer standard, allowing for transfer speeds of 1.3Gbps.
Even if your internet provider doesn’t offer speeds that great (and, realistically, it probably doesn’t) it means that you can get more devices connected to it at once, all delivering downloads that are as fast as your connection allows.
With most new routers (or at least any advanced enough to come with a VPN pre-loaded) will offer a choice of either 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequencies.
Put simply, 2.4GHz offers slower speeds over greater distances, while 5GHz offers faster speeds over shorter distances.
The 2.4GHz frequency can often suffer from interference due to overcrowding, too, as there are fewer wireless devices out there capable of using 5GHz.
The standard and frequency aren’t the only factors that will determine a router’s speed.
More often than not a router will state its maximum speed outright. Nothing technical to take in here – look for the highest number possible within your price range.
Just because your router is wireless doesn’t mean that you can’t still get online the old-fashioned way.
Most VPN routers will come with an abundance of ethernet ports for wired connections – the easiest way to guarantee reliability and the best speeds, if not always the most convenient one.
They’ll also usually have a USB port or two. You can use these to turn an otherwise wired printer into a WiFi one, or connect an external storage device to create a shared network drive.