When looking at our standard home router, the majority of them are dual-band. Slowly, however, tri-band routers have entered the market. Usually it sounds like more is better when it comes to band options, but is that actually true when it comes to using a tri-band?
The Dual-Band Router
A dual-band router allows you to use either a 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz band, giving your internet the ability to adjust to your needs. So if you are using a modern device, it will most likely need 5 GHz Wi-Fi connection, where an older device would pair better on a 2.4 GHz band. To sum it up, a dual-band really means your router has created two Wi-Fi networks simultaneously, allowing you to utilize your service more efficiently.
Having a dual-band router means that you don’t have to worry about whether your old device will still be able to use the same internet speeds as your new devices, essentially allowing you to run what you need to. A dual-band router usually can support speeds of up to 2,167 Mbps.
Dual-Band Router Pros
- Cost effective
- Long range and good stability
- Compatible with newer 5 GHz-friendly devices
Dual-band Router Cons
- 2.4 GHz runs into a lot of traffic interference, relying more on the 5 GHz band
- Speeds are affected by how many devices are using it at once
The Tri-Band Router
Back in 2014 the tri-band router first made an appearance, advertising speeds of 3 Gbps or more. Of course the speeds were not accurate, combining the speed output of the signals rather than the actual speed between the user and the router. The tri-band is exactly how it sounds, offering three wireless signals: a 2.4 GHz and two 5 GHZ bands. Offering two bands for your data to travel along reduces the amount of signal interference and allows you to dedicate a band to specific devices.
The cost of a tri-band is more than a dual-band, which can be off-putting, especially if you are not sure whether you need the third band.
Tri-Band Router Pros
- Three times the available bandwidth
- Allow for faster file transfers between devices
- Connected devices are less likely to impact the Wi-Fi speed
- Bands can be dedicated to specific devices, freeing up others
Tri-Band Router Cons
- More expensive
- Unnecessary for many users
- Speed is not noticeably improved from other routers
Speeds between Tri-Band vs Dual-Band Routers
Let’s look at the hard numbers between the routers. Looking at the dual-band, we can, theoretically get up to 450 Mbps using the 2.4 GHz band. On the 5 GHZ band, we can get up to 1,300 Mbps. Looking at the tri-band, the router offers up to 600 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and two 1,300 Mbps on the 5 GHz band.
So the tri-bands are marketed as having 3,200 Mbps capabilities against the 2,167 capabilities of the dual-band. On paper, it looks like the tri-band is significantly faster than the dual-band, but the numbers are misleading. No device out there can utilize thousands of Mbps by itself, and most ISPs do not having the capacity for allowing such a high transfer speed. The router technology has surpassed the abilities of the average ISP. Therefore the difference in transfer speeds between the tri-band vs dual-band is negligible and should not be your deciding factor when purchasing your next router.
Yet it is true that tri-band routers can be faster, depending on your use of it. The tri-band will divvy up the devices that utilize the 5 GHz band between the available two, reducing the amount of congestions that you could be experiencing. Again, however, if you only have two of three devices on the router, you would not be able to tell the difference in speed using a tri-band vs a dual-band router.
Both the dual-band and tri-band routers are reliable choices for Wi-Fi users. The tri-band is not necessary if there are only a couple of devices that need to the Wi-Fi and there is not a lot of heavy streaming. If you are in a household that streams videos steadily on multiple devices or actively online games while streaming videos, the third band may help boost your router’s ability to handle the traffic that is going on in your home. Tri-bands do seem to be the future for many households as the amount of streaming and devices in a household increase over time. If you do not need the extra band, however, you can save your money and stick with the dual-band.