What characteristics should a router have for 4K video streaming

We are sure that many of you have had a problem when playing streaming video, either in Full HD resolution when we have a high bitrate, and of course also in 4K resolution. Nowadays, the vast majority of Smart TVs have WiFi wireless connectivity to greatly facilitate connection to the local network and the Internet, without the need for cabling, in these cases having problems with 4K video streaming is more common. Do you want to know everything that a router should have so that you do not have problems when streaming video?

To buy a good router that allows us to enjoy video streaming, either via cable or via WiFi, we must ensure that we have mid-range hardware, the most important thing in this regard is that it has a quality WiFi network, which is fast, but above all that it is stable so as not to have the dreaded “buffering” when playing the different videos. It is also very important to have a specific firmware that provides data priority to streaming, over other traffic such as web browsing or downloads.

What characteristics should a router have for 4K video streaming

Hardware features to avoid problems with streaming

To stream video in Full HD resolution with a high bitrate or in 4K resolution, we do not need to have super powerful hardware, it is enough to have mid-range hardware and a well-optimized firmware for the hardware we are using. Next, we are going to explain the minimum characteristics that a router should have to stream video without problems.

Wired Features

Most Smart TVs have a Fast-Ethernet port, that is, at a speed of up to 100Mbps. However, nowadays the speed in the wired network incorporated by mid-range WiFi routers is 1Gbps, therefore, today the most advisable thing is to have a total of four Gigabit Ethernet ports for the LAN , although we do not go to take advantage of this speed for streaming. However, today there are TV Boxes that do have Gigabit Ethernet ports and very powerful processors, therefore, we can stream video with a really high bitrate if we use this type of device, for this reason, it is very important that, as a minimum, we have Gigabit Ethernet ports on our router.

Puertos Gigabit Ethernet para WAN y LAN del router ASUS RT-AX86S

With regard to streaming video through services such as Netflix or Disney +, we will not find any type of limitation in our own router, because they all incorporate NAT acceleration by hardware , so we will be able to squeeze the maximum speed out of our Internet connection. Another aspect to assess is the peering agreements that our operator has with these services, in this case we could have problems when playing Netflix in 4K resolution, however, today it is not very normal to have this type of problem with the network of Internet.

WiFi Features

The most advisable thing to do is to connect our Smart TV or our TV Box via cable to stream video. This simple gesture will “download” a lot of work from the WiFi wireless network, allowing other devices to continue obtaining the best possible speed. We must bear in mind that, the more wireless devices we have connected and the more traffic they are generating, the less speed we will have globally in the WiFi network, especially if the devices are not WiFi 6.

Currently, the majority of mid-high-end Smart TVs and TV Boxes have compatibility for the 2.4GHz band and also for the 5GHz band. If you have no choice but to connect these devices via WiFi because you do not have the house wired, then our recommendation is that you connect them to the 5GHz band if you have enough coverage , this frequency band will provide you with better performance and a better experience. user, because we will not have as much interference and instability of the WiFi network as it does in the 2.4GHz band. In the event that we are too far from the router, it is possible that you can only connect to the 2.4GHz band, in this case a very good option could be to install a dual-band WiFi repeater to connect to 5GHz with the best coverage.

There are routers that are simultaneous triple band , generally these devices are high-end, therefore, they will cost much more than a simultaneous dual-band mid-high-end router. If you are going to connect your Smart TV and TV Box via WiFi, and you have enough budget to have a very good router, our recommendation is that you choose one with simultaneous triple band. We will have two frequency bands operating at 5GHz, in this way, we can have all the devices for video streaming in a band dedicated exclusively to this task, and have the other bands for the rest of the wireless devices that we are going to connect to the network. Thanks to this “third band”, we can achieve the best user experience and make sure that we will not have any problems.

Processor and RAM

To stream video it is not necessary to have large hardware at the processor and RAM level, having a Dual-Core router at 1.4GHz or higher and 256MB of RAM will be more than enough, we must bear in mind that it will not have too much to process even though the bitrate is too high. The only thing that could consume more processor is if we activate QoS to give the highest priority to video streaming, over other types of traffic such as downloads, web browsing or gaming.

If we go to mid-high-end routers, they will already incorporate powerful Dual-Core processors at 1.4GHz or higher, however, our recommendation is that you take a good look at the technical specifications, because there are high-end routers in WiFi, but then the processor The main one is slow when using a Dual-Core at 800MHz, in these cases we could have problems if you are going to use services such as QoS.

Firmware features for streaming

In a streaming router we do not need too many configuration options, basically it is recommended that they have two functionalities, the QoS to prioritize the streaming video traffic over other types of traffic, and also a Dual VPN to connect to remote VPN servers and being able to geographically unblock all Netflix or Disney + movies and series.

QoS for streaming

QoS technology will allow us to prioritize video streaming packets over other types of packets. Let’s imagine that we have several computers simultaneously connected to the router, and there are several that are intensively performing P2P downloads. In services like Netflix, the video quality will dynamically adapt to the bitrate, this means that we surely have to watch the video in Full HD resolution and even in HD because there is no more bandwidth available. In other services we could see the dreaded “buffering” warning, interrupting the movie or series we are watching. If we correctly configure the QoS of our router, we can make this streaming video traffic have priority over other types of traffic such as P2P, in this way, we will have the best image quality in 4K resolution and we will not have buffering of any kind .

There are routers that have different types of QoS, some allow us to prioritize only devices, in this case we will give top priority to our Smart TV and also to our TV Box. In other cases we have a QoS for the type of traffic, where we must select what type of network traffic we want to prioritize, in this case we will have to prioritize video streaming traffic over P2P traffic or web browsing, among others.

Dual VPN

Some router firmwares have VPN clients to connect us to services such as Surfshark, PureVPN, NordVPN among many others, making use of protocols such as IPsec, OpenVPN or WireGuard. Thanks to this functionality, we could route all the network traffic of our Smart TV or our TV Box directly through these servers, and “seem” that we are accessing these streaming services from other countries, to bypass regional blocks.

Dual VPN means that certain traffic will go through the VPN (that of the Smart TV or TV Box) and the rest of the traffic will go through the main Internet connection of our home, in this way, if we want to connect with a console or With our PC, we will not have an additional latency or a somewhat lower speed, but we will go to the Internet directly through our operator, without having a “second jump” to the VPN server to which we have connected.

The manufacturer ASUS has developed a truly advanced Dual VPN system in its firmwares, which will allow us to connect only certain devices through the VPN, in a very personalized way, ideal to perfectly adapt to our needs.

Recommended routers for video streaming

Once we know the minimum requirements to buy a good router for streaming video in Full HD or in 4K resolution, we are going to recommend a total of five models that perfectly comply with all the characteristics that we have indicated, and that really work. good for this type of task. Some models are WiFi 6 and other WiFi 5 models, but all of them do not exceed 150 euros in any case, since with a mid-high-end router it is more than enough for this type of use.

ASUS TUG Gaming TUF-AX5400

The ASUS TUG Gaming AX5400 is a gaming-oriented router, but it perfectly meets the needs of a user who wants to use it for video streaming. Thanks to the fact that it is a gaming router, it is more powerful than a basic one for streaming, in addition, it has several types of QoS to always give priority to video over other types of traffic. This model has simultaneous dual band and AX5400 class WiFi 6, in the 2.4GHz band we can achieve a speed of up to 574Mbps, and in the 5GHz band we can achieve a speed of up to 4804Mbps, therefore, we will have a high speed in the WiFi network.

It also has a Gigabit Ethernet port for the WAN with VLAN support, four Gigabit Ethernet ports for the LAN with a Gaming Port, and we even have a firmware that supports Dual VPN to connect to remote VPN servers with our video streaming devices. Due to its price of about 130 euros, it becomes one of the most recommended routers in this price range, there is no better model than this.

ASUS RT-AX58U

The ASUS RT-AX58U is a more versatile oriented router, with powerful hardware very similar to the previous model, but with a more “normal” physical design without so many LEDs or external antennas. This model has the same 1.5GHz Tri-Core processor as the previous model, this RT-AX58U has simultaneous dual band and AX3000 class WiFi 6, in the 2.4GHz band we can achieve a speed of up to 574Mbps, and in the band of 5GHz we will be able to achieve a speed of up to 2402Mbps, therefore, we will have a great speed in the WiFi network.

This router also has a Gigabit Ethernet port for the WAN with VLAN support, four Gigabit Ethernet ports for the LAN and a really complete firmware to configure the QoS and also the VPNs if we are going to use them. This router is also one of the most recommended considering its price. Although this router is somewhat more expensive than the TUF, in specifications it is exactly the same and in WiFi it is a little lower, so you must take it into account.

D-Link DIR-X1860

This D-Link DIR-X1860 router is one of the best that we can buy for less than € 100, it has simultaneous dual band with WiFi 6 and AX1800 class, in the 2.4GHz band we can get up to 574Mbps and in the band of 5GHz we can get up to 1,201Mbps. This model has a Gigabit Ethernet port for the Internet WAN, support for VLANs, VLANs per port and the triple VLAN of Movistar FTTH, as well as four Gigabit Ethernet ports for the LAN.

The firmware allows us to configure the QoS to give the highest priority to the video streaming devices, in addition, it is a fast and very well optimized firmware. The negative part is that it does not have Dual VPN, if for you this functionality is important then you better buy one of the previous models.

D-Link DIR-X1560

This router is exactly the same as the previous one, instead of having simultaneous dual band with WiFi 6 and AX1800 class, this model is AX1500 class, so in the 2.4GHz band we can achieve a speed of up to 287Mbps by having only one antenna, the specifications for the 5GHz band are the same as well as the rest of the hardware characteristics. This model has all Gigabit Ethernet ports and also has VLAN support.

If you want to save about 30 euros because you are not going to use the 2.4GHz band to connect via WiFi, then this model is ideal for you. The firmware characteristics are the same as always in the D-Link routers, in this regard nothing has changed.

NETGEAR Nighthawk R7000

This model is widely known by all lovers of routers and home networks, because it has been one of the best-selling routers of the NETGEAR manufacturer throughout history. This model has simultaneous dual band with WiFi 5 and AC1900 class, all ports are Gigabit Ethernet and has mid-range hardware that will work perfectly with video streaming.

The firmware of NETGEAR routers are very complete, we have a “Basic” version and an “Advanced” version, ideal to perfectly adapt to the knowledge of the users. In the «Advanced» version we can configure in detail all the aspects of the QoS of this router, where we will give priority to the devices that are streaming video, either on Smart TV or TV Box.

We hope that with these recommendations on how to choose the best router for streaming and with our recommendations, you can choose the equipment correctly.