From the seasoned tweaker to the clumsy digital illiterate, virtually everyone uses Wi-Fi. So they all have an interest in independent studies of the performance of WiFi devices, especially routers. The Tweakers Testlab and editors have therefore spent a year developing a testing procedure for routers, so that the performance of the equipment can be truly mapped.

The biggest challenge of testing WiFi equipment, is to exclude external jammers. Smartphones, laptops, even microwaves can interfere with a WiFi signal to such an extent that it becomes impossible to perform a reliable test without taking additional measures. The results will then vary enormously per day or even per hour.


Faraday cage

The Tweakers team therefore developed a test procedure in a Faraday cage: a space that blocks all radiation from outside. Within the cage are a number of computers that are connected as clients to the router being tested and, in addition, there is equipment present to attenuate the wifi signal. Thus, the pure performance can be measured and it is possible to simulate different scenarios. Think, for example, of a concrete wall blocking the signal or a laptop or smartphone standing at a considerable distance from the router. In short, by muting the signal you can see if the router can hold its own in the real world. The software to control the equipment and read the results was all written by Tweakers itself.

‘We are unique with this, in the Benelux, but also beyond,’ says Eric van Ballegoie, coordinator of the Tweakers Review editorial team. Manufacturers of network equipment will have a similar set-up, but we are the only ones to make this kind of publications with it. And it hits the spot; the first article (Dutch) with test results of routers in the lower price range is incredibly well read.’

In this video you can see what the test room looks like:

Routers soon to be included in the Best Buy Guide

To further help consumers orient themselves to a new router, a new category for these devices will soon appear in the popular Best Buy Guide (BBG). Here readers will find a selection of interesting routers for different purposes. For our partners this also offers opportunities: Manufacturers and suppliers of selected devices will receive a BBG Award. With this they can let their website visitors know that their product is a ‘Best Buy’. As a manufacturer or supplier, you then have the right to use the associated logo on your website and/or advertising materials to promote your product.


Future Plans

In the coming months, Tweakers will focus on extensive testing of routers in the lower and mid-range segments. Routers in the high-end spectrum will follow later this year, but before that, some adjustments need to be made to the test environment. Further future plans are also fed by the community and the Tweakers Pricewatch. For example, independent reviews of mesh networking equipment are also in high demand, so this is high on the list.

The Best Buy Guide is a guide for many tech enthusiasts through the varied offerings, so we’re proud to add a new category here. As soon as the first BBG for routers is in the works, we’ll notify you. 

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