Whenever something in tech is new, I generally get pretty excited about it. In other words, I tend to be an early adopter. Unfortunately, upgrading to the latest and greatest is not necessarily worth the cost; sometimes throwing money at things isn't the best option. I remember upgrading my optical burners at every single small increase in speed. Ultimately, I probably wasted thousands of dollars to save myself seconds in CD and DVD burning. So why did I do it? Other than stupidity, we nerds like to brag about our computers. Hell, even on IRC (Internet Relay Chat), where no one can even validate your claims, it is fun to boast about new PC components.
Wi-Fi can be a rather tricky subject when it comes to upgrades; sometimes it is worth upgrading to a new standard and sometimes not. You see, it really depends on what you are doing. If you are simply using Wi-Fi to connect to the internet, a faster router and card won't make a difference if it is exceeding the speed that your ISP supplies. It does make sense however, if you are sharing files with a home network or streaming from a desktop to a media box. Currently, the best home wireless gear you can get is 802.11ac, and that standard starting to grow in adoption. According to ABI Research, by the end of 2014, the amount of worldwide access points is predicted to reach over 176 million, and 18 percent will be 802.11ac.
"The worldwide Wi-Fi customer premises equipment (CPE) market is expected to grow 11 percent in 2014. According to ABI Research’s Market Data, Wi-Fi Customer Premise Equipment, total shipments of Wi-Fi access points, routers, and residential gateways are set to surpass 176 million units by the end of 2014. Since its WLAN market inception in 2013, shipments of the 802.11ac standard have accelerated", says ABI Research.
The company further explains, "shipments of Wi-Fi devices with older generation standards such as 802.11a/b/g have dropped significantly over the past few years as they were replaced by 802.11n products. Rapidly growing Wi-Fi enabled mobile devices and multimedia applications continue to drive demand for higher performance Wi-Fi equipment. ABI Research expects that accelerating 802.11ac deployments will cause a downward trend in older 802.11n standard devices starting from the end of 2014".
While there are many companies producing 802.11ac equipment, D-Link and NETGEAR are leading the pack for the home market, while Cisco and Aruba Networks lead the enterprise. As prices come down, it only makes sense to buy an 802.11ac router when you need one; however, before you upgrade, make sure that you will actually be taking advantage of the better speeds. Quite frankly, having a stable router is arguably more important than owning one which is super-fast. If your current hardware is trouble-free, consider saving your money, as new routers can sometimes be a headache.
Have you transitioned to 802.11ac yet? Tell me in the comments.