One of our primary concerns at FlashRouters is making sure that our customers have access to a reliable and safe wireless network. That’s why we frequently offer FAQs and videos showing how to get the most out of your router, and post stories about developments in the WiFi community. After all, reliable WiFi is no longer a luxury for many; it’s a necessity.
In that spirit, we thought it was a good time to finally discuss Beamforming, a process that is becoming increasingly available on high-end WiFi routers. Though this term has been around in one form or another for a while in the networking community, beamforming is an excellent router feature that is accruing increasing importance.
What Is WiFi Beamforming?
Beamforming is a process that allows you to focus your WiFi signal. Put simply, when your router is sending out a WiFi signal, the signal gets wider and wider as it leaves the router decreasing losing strength in exchange for coverage.
The end goal for a WiFi-connected device (laptop, iPhone or streaming media player) is that this wide signal will hopefully reach you with a quality enough WiFi signal. WiFi beamforming narrows the focus of that router signal, sending it directly to your devices in a straight line, thus minimizing surrounding signal interference and increasing the strength of the signal that each device.
So what is Beamforming doing? Transmitters and receivers in wireless routers and internet-capable devices use MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology. MIMO allows for the transmission and recieving of several signal streams along a determined path that ends at your laptop. By implementing beamforming, prepare for an increase in high-quality streaming HD video and higher bandwidth transmissions, since the signal will be far more concentrated.
WiFi Beamforming with 802.11n Vs. WiFi Beamforming with 802.11ac
Sounds like the most obvious thing in the world, right? Almost sounds like a “wired wireless connection.” With such a clear premise, it seems like WiFi beamforming is something that would be commonplace to use with routers. In fact, beamforming has been available, but difficult to implement and never before this affordable.
WiFi beamforming has been around as an optional feature on 802.11n devices for a while, but that didn’t much matter if your computer or laptop didn’t have compatible feature settings. You could get a 802.11n kit to try to make your device compatible, but 802.11n kits were rather unaffordable. Nowadays, more and more high end devicesare featuring the 802.11ac standard, which is often compatible with WiFi beamforming. If your router and internet-capable device are compatible for beamforming, then we highly recommend that you take advantage of the 802.11ac standard.
What is Asus AiRadar and Netgear Beamforming Plus?
While many high end routers feature a 802.11ac standard, the brands producing the devices may not use the term “beamforming” when describing their products. For instance, Asus uses the term “AiRadar” to explain the process of WiFi beamforming. Netgear describes their 802.11ac products as having “Beamforming Plus”. However, both of these terms are individual brand approaches to showcase the WiFi beamforming process.
DD-WRT & Beamforming
Flashing your 802.11ac router with DD-WRT will allow you to get the most of the WiFi Beamforming process. As shown in the image above, within the DD-WRT firmware there is an option for enable or disable Beamforming to either “Explicit Beamforming” or “Implicit Beamforming.”
Explicit Beamforming requires the transmitter (in this case, the router) and reciever (the device on your network) to exchange information. This is a feature that would be best suited for Wireless-AC compatible products, but an important one nonetheless in the future-proofing process. Implicit Beamforming is simpler, and does not require support on both ends of the wireless network. Either way, having this option explicitly available with DD-WRT is a helpful advantage that can greatly aid WiFi Beamforming.
Best DD-WRT Routers For WiFi Beamforming
Netgear Nighthawk R7000 – The powerhouse Netgear router with a best-in-DDWRT 1 GHz processor, dual band Wireless-AC1900 (wireless transmission speeds of up to 1900 Mbpscombined), a USB 3.0 port, & external antennas.
Asus RT-AC68U – Switch out the R7000 1 GHz processor for an 800 MHz processor and you have Asus’ top-of-the-line Wireless-AC router.
Netgear R6300 V2– The Netgear R6300 V2 has a similar feature set but no external antennas if that is your preference.