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Which is better for faster internet: a Dual-band or a Tri-band router?

Which is better for faster internet: a Dual-band or a Tri-band router?

What is Tri-Band wifi router?  What’s the difference between a Dual-band router and a Tri-band router? Will a Tri-band router give you more Internet speed? Is Tri-band nothing more than marketing or is there some real substance to it?

Now that we are all at home and the entire family is using the internet simultaneously, our internet speed has become even more essential. We all want a nice fast internet connection for those work and school video conferencing calls, Netflix streaming, gaming, and general online stuff to keep the boredom away.

So perhaps now is the time to purchase a new router – but which one do you buy? There is an overwhelming number of options; each offering various features and speeds.

As you head out on your shopping spree, one term you will find constantly is Tri-Band so before “adding to cart” here is what you need to know:

What is a Dual-band router?

If you purchased your router in the last couple of years odds are good that you have a Dual-band router. This means that your router can broadcast a 2.4Ghz signal as well as a 5.0Ghz signal. Those are the two “bands”.

We know that 2.4Ghz is slower than 5.0Ghz but works over longer distances. Whereas the 5.0Ghz band is faster than the 2.4Ghz but works over shorter distances.

Therefore, if your devices are typically within close proximity of the router, you should connect to 5.0Ghz to get that nice fast WiFi and therefore fast internet speed.

You should connect all your smart home devices such as security cameras, smart plugs, smart lights, and doorbells to the 2.4Ghz. These devices typically require less bandwidth and are usually spread further away from the router.

The 2.4Ghz is especially necessary for some of the cheaper smart home devices who can only connect to 2.4Ghz as they can not connect to 5.0Ghz.

What is a Tri-band WiFi router?

A tri-band WiFi router is a router that has 3 bands. It has one 2.4Ghz and two 5.0Ghz bands. Your router is able to manage three separate “lanes” of data at the same time. The slower 2.4Ghz one and two faster 5.0Ghz.

Why do you even need a Tri-Band WiFi router?

The reason you would want a tri-band router is because of data congestion. When you have multiple devices all connecting to 5.0Ghz, the bandwidth in that band is shared by all the devices. The more devices you have, the more the bandwidth is divided.

The router does a fairly good job of managing the data. However, when you have several high-demanding devices that all want as much bandwidth as possible, as quickly as possible, this is where it struggles.

This actually happens more often than it sounds. If you are playing online games on your PS4 while a 4K Netflix movie is streaming on the TV, while your kids are watching YouTube then they all fight for that bandwidth. Since these all require a nice fast constant connection to avoid lag and buffering, they will suck up that bandwidth making it slow for everyone.

This is where the tri-band router comes in.

It’s like having that one slow lane on the freeway (2.4Ghz), and then adding not one, but two fast lanes (2x 5.0Ghz) so traffic can flow much faster as it has two fast lanes to choose from. Each lane is managed separately from the other.

The D-Link DIR 3040 Tri-Band Mesh WiFi Router

D-Link kindly sent me the D-Link DIR-3040 tri-band router and this is a beast. Besides being Tri-Band, this router has 6 antennas. As you know from my previous video, the router antenna position can eliminate dead spots – they don’t all have to be vertical. So having 6 antenna means you get more flexibility in how you shape your wifi coverage.

You can set this router up via the app which takes you through each stage. This makes it simple for anyone who is not technical to get going. Of course you can set it up the traditional way, by connecting to it via the web interface.

The DIR-3040 can be controlled via your Alexa or Google voice where you can say commands like switch on guest wifi.

The D-Link is a Mesh system which means you can add various mesh nodes around your home and together extend your coverage. The big difference between a mesh and a WiFi extender is that mesh wifi has intelligence built-in allowing traffic to be routed via the least congested nodes which give you a better internet experience.

D-link DIR-3040 Tri Band Wifi router
D-Link DIR-3040 tri-band router

In order to really stress-test this router, I connected 15 devices to the WiFi. I then streamed YouTube at 4K, Hulu, Netflix, and upload 1GB of data to Google Drive – all at the same time. While this was going on, I ran a speed test which resulted in over 460Mbps download and 16Mbps upload.

Tri-Band Router on D-Link Dir3040 mesh router

This is impressive!

Will a Tri-Band Router give you faster internet speed?

If your ISP is providing you with slow internet service, besides paying for a higher tier of bandwidth, there is nothing you can do to get more speed than you pay for.

No devices or “hack” on your router will bypass the ISP’s system so magically you get more download or upload speed.

In many cases, the problem is not the ISP speed.  The problem is in your own WiFi.

Therefore, using better equipment and troubleshooting your own WiFi can significantly make a difference on your internet speed.

Should you change to a Tri-Band router?

It depends. Simple adding a Tri-band router doesn’t mean you will automatically get faster WiFi and therefore faster internet. At least not in a way that you will notice.

Current 5.0Ghz does do a fairly good job so simply swapping out your dual-band router for a tri-band router isn’t going to have much of an impact.

However, if you have a good internet connection and multiple devices that are bandwidth-heavy then yes – a Tri-band router will have a great impact.

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Liron Segev - TheTechieGuy

Liron Segev - TheTechieGuy

Liron Segev is an award-winning tech blogger, YouTube strategist, and Podcaster. He helps brands tell their stories in an engaging way that non-techies can relate to. He also drinks way too much coffee! @Liron_Segev on Twitter
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