Computers & Electronics

What's the point of a router these days when modems have WiFi?

  • Last Updated:
  • Oct 18th, 2019 10:43 pm
[OP]
Deal Guru
Aug 14, 2007
11032 posts
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Toronto

What's the point of a router these days when modems have WiFi?

Just curious as to what the real point is? Better coverage? I see some here and there and some of them are very expensive and was just wondering why?
22 replies
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
27311 posts
13016 upvotes
I've never met a modem router combo that's been any good router wise.
Wifi is also usually sketchy.

To be fair, I've never met a consumer router that's been any good either.

#pfSense
[OP]
Deal Guru
Aug 14, 2007
11032 posts
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Toronto
death_hawk wrote: I've never met a modem router combo that's been any good router wise.
Wifi is also usually sketchy.

To be fair, I've never met a consumer router that's been any good either.

#pfSense
Ah Yea I find the WiFi on my modem/router combo (cgn3) is iffy. The second I leave my basement apartment the connection is lost.

Also find the connection drops quite often. Sometimes it'll be good for several weeks and then for several weeks after that it'll drop every few hours and reconnect
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Mar 4, 2007
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Hi,

More bandwidth & more coverage. The router is connected to the Shaw modem with a network cable. I've set the modem to broadcast in only the 2.4 ghz. band. Set the router to broadcast in only the 5.0 ghz. band. The router is sending out such a powerful signal that all my wireless devices connect on the 5.0 ghz. band & the 2.4 ghz. band is never used. To be fair, I am using a commercial grade router, since it was about the same price as a consumer router.
https://www.ui.com/unifi/unifi-ap-ac-lr/

Amazon is a reseller.
https://www.amazon.ca/UBIQUITI-UAP-AC-L ... s9dHJ1ZQ==
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Oct 13, 2002
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Standalone router & modem gives much much better flexibility of router location. Modem is often restricted by the location of the incoming connection.

Another reason (for me at least) is the upgradability of these two are not the same - the technological improvement of the modem and router is not going the same pace. Over the past several years, I upgraded routers more frequently than modem.

Last but not least, the functionality/reliability that I need (3rd party router firmware) is not available to those modem/router gateways .....
Last edited by willy on Oct 9th, 2019 9:25 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Oct 16, 2008
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Maple
Better wifi, more coverage, more independent.
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Mar 17, 2006
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XtremeModder wrote: Ah Yea I find the WiFi on my modem/router combo (cgn3) is iffy. The second I leave my basement apartment the connection is lost.

Also find the connection drops quite often. Sometimes it'll be good for several weeks and then for several weeks after that it'll drop every few hours and reconnect
so why did you ask the question lol
[OP]
Deal Guru
Aug 14, 2007
11032 posts
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Toronto
konsensei wrote: so why did you ask the question lol
Because I was curious as to the benefits of using a router over the combo modem/routers provided by ISPs. Is the only benefit better coverage? I know at least one other issue I've had was setting the NAT type to a different setting for online gaming which can't be changed on the one I have.
Sr. Member
Jun 14, 2009
566 posts
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Toronto
Fraser River Rat wrote: Hi,

More bandwidth & more coverage. The router is connected to the Shaw modem with a network cable. I've set the modem to broadcast in only the 2.4 ghz. band. Set the router to broadcast in only the 5.0 ghz. band. The router is sending out such a powerful signal that all my wireless devices connect on the 5.0 ghz. band & the 2.4 ghz. band is never used. To be fair, I am using a commercial grade router, since it was about the same price as a consumer router.
https://www.ui.com/unifi/unifi-ap-ac-lr/

Amazon is a reseller.
https://www.amazon.ca/UBIQUITI-UAP-AC-L ... s9dHJ1ZQ==
Fraser River / RFD Experts --- How difficult is this to set up for a novice like me who is also looking for new routers to upgrade my old "apple time capsule" (that right now doubles as my router)? Would I need to buy these three things to make it work? 1) UBIQUITI ER-X Router, Black + 2) UBIQUITI UAP-AC-LITE Unifi AP AC LITE Wireless Access Point +3) UBIQUITI UAP-AC-LR Unifi AP AC Long Range
Total price: CDN$ 324.90?? (that's what I saw in Amazon.ca when I tried to see the product)

If so, is it as simple as a plug and play or do I need to install firmware/software etc etc? I've had suggestions ranging from Netgear AX series, to TPLink M5, etc -- all of which me and my wife are reading up on while waiting for Black Friday Deals.. (I have another thread in this forum still on the front page explaining specifically our situation - eg 3200-3300 sq ft house, current router in central location on house, now at 40/10 but might upgrade to 250 speed... etc)
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
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willy wrote: Standalone router & modem gives much much better flexibility of router location. Modem is often restricted by the location of the incoming connection.
This too.
Even worse when it's also doing wifi.
Having separate things means you can put your modem close to the demarc, your router wherever you want, and your wifi(s) in appropriate locations to give you the best coverage.
Over the past several years, I upgraded routers more frequently than modem.
I'm the opposite. My modems get upgraded far more than my router's hardware.
I'll load the latest pfSense occasionally but the underlying hardware hasn't really changed mostly because it's on a VM.
I'm still rocking one on an LGA1366.
Last but not least, the functionality/reliability that I need (3rd party router firmware) is not available to those modem/router gateways .....
This is also a huge one for me. Consumer routers (and combo units) strip out everything because they don't put enough memory in to run anything useful like VPN.
eilrach wrote: Fraser River / RFD Experts --- How difficult is this to set up for a novice like me who is also looking for new routers to upgrade my old "apple time capsule" (that right now doubles as my router)?
How old? I'd probably just sell it if it were me.
Would I need to buy these three things to make it work? 1) UBIQUITI ER-X Router, Black + 2) UBIQUITI UAP-AC-LITE Unifi AP AC LITE Wireless Access Point +3) UBIQUITI UAP-AC-LR Unifi AP AC Long Range
Technically only 2.
One would be mandatory since you need a router.
The other 2 are both access points. Which one you choose is up to you. The Long range is obviously longer range. The lite is shorter range.
The LR does have a better antenna at 6dBi vs 3dBi on the LITE.
But longer range doesn't mean squat if you have 300 walls between you and the AP. Your AP will "hear" better but all you'll get is garbage.

If so, is it as simple as a plug and play or do I need to install firmware/software etc etc?

Plug and play. You'll obviously have to do configuring of wifi but you don't need to install a firmware.
Sr. Member
Jun 14, 2009
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Toronto
death_hawk wrote:

This is also a huge one for me. Consumer routers (and combo units) strip out everything because they don't put enough memory in to run anything useful like VPN.


How old? I'd probably just sell it if it were me.


Technically only 2.
One would be mandatory since you need a router.
The other 2 are both access points. Which one you choose is up to you. The Long range is obviously longer range. The lite is shorter range.
The LR does have a better antenna at 6dBi vs 3dBi on the LITE.
But longer range doesn't mean squat if you have 300 walls between you and the AP. Your AP will "hear" better but all you'll get is garbage.



Plug and play. You'll obviously have to do configuring of wifi but you don't need to install a firmware.
Thanks Deathhawk, I'll show your replies to my wife... She's the one who's more techie (I'm the one who knows more about costing etc but with tech gadgets, throw my finance expertise out the window LOL). AFAIK, she still wants to keep the time machine for use as "storage" since she's backed up a ton of photos etc there I think... Either way, many thanks for your replies since it helps me help both me and my wife haha. Happy wife, happy life... Actually curious since no one has mentioned ubiquiti in my (own started) thread. What are the drawbacks of this "brand" vs AC3000 and higher, Netgear AX, Tplink M5, etc? All looks and sounds the "same" to me (2.4ghz and 5ghz capability, up to X speed, hackable not hackable - read in another RFD thread) LOL... all i know is that they seem to be within the same C$200-C300 price range prior to any deals/sale PS FWIW my house is relative newer <10yrs old and they advertised it more as "open concept" design so that probably helps us get away with one old router at this time LOL
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Feb 28, 2005
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Netgear, Tplink, links ya etc are all consumer brands, aka cheap products.

Unifi is considered commercial hence more reliable.
Client at: Tangerine, VoIP.ms, Virgin Mobile
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
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eilrach wrote: AFAIK, she still wants to keep the time machine for use as "storage" since she's backed up a ton of photos etc there I think...
Nothing wrong with that.
Just make sure she has photos backed up in 2 spots (preferably off site too).
Due to the age of the device, the hard drive may go at some point so it's best if you don't have a single device storing all your goodies.
What are the drawbacks of this "brand" vs AC3000 and higher, Netgear AX, Tplink M5, etc?

Personally? None. But for someone that isn't tech literate? A lot.

They are more complicated to set up because they offer more options. A consumer router will (most likely) let you set up one network.
A Unifi will let you set up multiple backed by different VLANs. There's also fun stuff like bandwidth limitations and other cool stuff that would be nice at home.
If you're willing to do some learning, these can be VERY powerful. There's a reason why quite a lot of professional installs use these: They're awesome. And they're cheap.
PS FWIW my house is relative newer <10yrs old and they advertised it more as "open concept" design so that probably helps us get away with one old router at this time LOL
That may help for sure. In a 100 year old house with 40 walls there'll be no less than 9 walls between you and the router.
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Jan 17, 2003
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Not interested in letting bell/Rogers or anyone else have access to snoop or browse what's on my network.
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Dec 12, 2009
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death_hawk wrote: My modems get upgraded far more than my router's hardware.
How are you doing that?
The modem from my ISP must be a decade old.
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Mar 25, 2003
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XtremeModder wrote: Ah Yea I find the WiFi on my modem/router combo (cgn3) is iffy. The second I leave my basement apartment the connection is lost.

Also find the connection drops quite often. Sometimes it'll be good for several weeks and then for several weeks after that it'll drop every few hours and reconnect
looks like You already have the answer
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Aug 22, 2006
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ROYinTO wrote: How are you doing that?
The modem from my ISP must be a decade old.
That's kind of my bit.
Internet gets upgraded far more often than my router ever does because pfSense is awesome.
I'm about to upgrade again to something better from Shaw and Gigabit fiber when it finally shows up but I'm keeping the same router I've had for 5 years.
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Mar 18, 2015
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I have had both rogers (500mbps plan) and bell (300mbps plan) modem+wifi combo devices and they are absolute POS when it comes to wifi performance.

Standalone wifi routers are miles ahead in my experience.
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May 1, 2018
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If you have the Telus Actiontec T3200M modem, would getting a router be beneficial to improve Wifi speed and potentially coverage? I used to be getting higher Mbps download speed at a newer built apartment but after moving to an older place to live, my download and upload speeds have both been almost cut in half and I'm not getting the speeds I used to be getting. On the 150 plan.

Also, can I just plug in the ethernet cable into the wall jack and it'll receive wifi there? Or I have to plug it into the Telus modem and go into the admin settings online to make the telus modem bridge?
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Oct 3, 2012
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8 years ago I had a bell modem with wifi. It sucked, so I used my own router. As of this week I have Cogeco modem with wifi. I don’t know if it is any good, because I have a mesh network that I am certain gives me better coverage.

So out of the last 20 years, that is a total of 24 months I had a router with wifi. 18 years without it. I wifi standards change faster than I change modems. If I want a consistent internet experience I bring my own routers with any service.

My mother on the other hand lives in a trailer. All here devices are in range of a single router. She has no need of a separate router, and every internet provider in here area includes wifi. In fact some charge extra for bridged mode...

It depends on your needs.

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