Router vs. Access Point: Which One Is Better?

Last Updated: March 9, 2022By

Close up of black wireless access point

Staying connected has become the most important thing, whether it’s a home or a business.

However, advancements in computer technology have enabled so much that consumers can get easily confused between the different types of network solutions available.

This article will discuss the two most common devices used to connect: the Access point and the router. We’ll talk about their differences, and what you should use.

First off, let’s talk about the basics as to what a router is, what a wireless access point is, and what a modem is.

What Is a Modem?

A modem links your computer to the internet through a cable, fiber optic, or telephone connection your local Internet Service Provider provides and into your home.

The modem converts digital 1s and 0s from your computer into analog information for transmission to the rest of the world through cable or telephone wire, and it also converts incoming analog signals in the same way.

What Is a Router?

A router is a network device used to connect different devices in a local area network. Routers are connected to a modem and are in charge of routing data packets between different networks.

Routers are present in almost every home today since they are easy to use and manage.

Routers today are so advanced that you can connect to them wirelessly as well, instead of the traditional cable usage method. That’s not to say you can’t connect with a cable. Routers today have both cable and wireless connectivity capability!

What Is a Wireless Access Point?

A wireless access point is a device that allows devices to connect wirelessly to a local area network. A wireless access point is connected to a router via an access point, to which you can connect a plethora of wireless devices.

While routers can act as wireless access points, wireless access points can not work as routers.

Routers can manage local area networks, establish connections between devices and ensure secure connections.

On the other hand, wireless access points can only provide access to pre-established networks.

Which One Should I Use?

White router on black desk

In the past, Wi-Fi routers didn’t have the added capability of being wireless access points. That’s why you needed to buy an additional WAP to make sure that you could connect devices wirelessly as well.

However, today’s routers are perfectly capable of hosting wireless devices. That being said, is it always wise to use a router, or should you consider getting a wireless access point as well?

The answer is – it depends. For homes and small businesses, a router is more than capable of providing the required amount of accessibility.

However, wireless networks can only reach so far, and you might have noticed that there are dead spots present in any network.

Dead spots are areas where there is no or very weak signal present. We’d suggest that areas like these be fitted with wireless Apps in order to create signals there as well.

Applications of WAPs

Wireless Access Points are generally used where wireless connectivity needs to be provided for hundreds or thousands of users.

For example, a university or a large business might be fitted with several WAPs throughout the premises to connect to their students/employees.

Wireless routers are typically used in private residences and small businesses, where a single device that combines AP and routing capabilities may easily handle the comparatively low user demand.

On the other hand, a wireless router is not suited for wireless LANs (WLANs) that expect large area coverage since it can’t expand efficiently to reflect growing network demands.

Best Wireless Router 2022 – TP-Link Archer AX21

When looking for a new router, think about the size of your coverage area, the number of customers you’ll be supporting, and the sorts of devices you’ll be connecting.

Newer routers generally have two different frequencies available, a 5GHz and a 2.4GHz one. The 2.4GHz band runs at a lower frequency than the 5GHz band and gives a superior range.

It is also stronger in catching signals between walls, meaning your connection won’t drop down if you’re a few rooms away from the router.

However, it cannot maintain the high-speeds and download rate that the 5GHz frequency provides.

The TP-Link Archer AX21 is a Wi-Fi router that supports speeds up to 1200 Mbps (1.2 Gbps) on the 5GHz band and 574 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band. It’s not as overkill as some of the more expensive brands, but it provided great connectivity and a strong reception signal.

Also, it’s effortless to set up and configure by using the Tether App.

Looks-wise, the AX21 is a very standard-looking router with four adjustable antennas, four additional LAN ports, and a USB 2.0 connection for attaching devices such as local storage or a printer.

Where to Buy?

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Best Wireless Access Point 2022 – NETGEAR WAX214

We chose this economical yet powerful WAP from Netgear as our best wireless access point for 2022. We chose this because it’s cheap, very small and unnoticeable, and can easily be configured through a web-based dashboard.

The great thing about this wireless access point is that it doesn’t require a separate power source and is powered by Power over Ethernet connection. You can connect up to 40 devices simultaneously, with up to 128 clients.

Where to Buy?

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Hopefully, by now, you have a broad understanding of what Wi-Fi routers and wireless access points are all about and are confident of what you need to get for your home or business.

There is always a conflict between price and value offered, and you can go all-in with buying a top-of-the-line Wi-Fi router that has a huge data reception spread.

Always remember that you can opt for a router if the premises are relatively small and go wireless access points if you’re looking to expand or cater to a larger number of wireless users.