The main difference between a regular broadband router and a gigabit router is the capacity that each offers for transferring data to and from computers in a local or wide-area network. Broadband routers are ideal for providing computers with access to the Internet, while gigabit routers are better suited for transferring large files between computers that are connected to a LAN.
- A gigabit router typically complies with the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard which is capable of transferring data at up to 600 megabits per second. A broadband router usually features the 802.11a, 802.11b or 802.11g Wi-Fi protocols, which transfer data at up to 54 Mbps. That the routers transfer data at these rates does not mean your computer will be able to process the data at these rates, especially if your machine is an older model or has a slow processor.
- When it comes to accessing the Internet, there’s not much difference between a gigabit and normal broadband router. The type of Internet connection you have ultimately determines the rate at which your router receives data from the Web. At the time of publication, cable and DSL Internet connections are the most common types of high-speed links available. DSL connections transfer data from the Internet at up to 15 Mbps, while cable connections can reach speeds of up to 150 Mbps. A gigabit router is best for accessing the Web through the fastest cable connection available, which, at the time of publication, is Verizon’s FiOS service.
- Gigabit and normal broadband routers can provide multiple computing devices with simultaneous access to your LAN and WLAN. Because a gigabit router has a wider bandwidth than a normal broadband router, it is able to support more devices at once. Devices that access a gigabit router experience fewer data transfer slowdowns than those connected to a broadband router. When serving as a platform for transferring data between parallel computers, a gigabit router is more efficient at maintaining the infrastructure needed to support large-file transfers.
- As with any technology, faster and stronger devices — such as a gigabit router — are pricier alternatives to their low-end counterparts, like a normal broadband router. Gigabit routers are also more powerful than normal broadband routers and, as a result, are capable of providing stronger links to connected devices. For instance, a broadband router loses speed when it is further from a connected device. A gigabit router maintains its speed capacity for longer distances than a broadband router.