Having bought Apple refurbs from Best Buy, I wouldn't call them reputable. I've bought two Apple Airport Express refurbs from them and both were configured with the previous user's settings - Best Buy didn't even bother to reset the units, much less refurb them. Once I cleared the settings, one worked fine,and the other is unstable, dropping connections all the time - probably the reason it was returned to BB.
I was always wondering whats the "difference between $20 Linksys router & there sub $200 routers."
Higher end routers will have more prosumer/professional features. One example is Quality of Service, the ability to control if network devices are capped at a certain speed. This is especially useful if you want to prevent a certain user or certain device from hogging all of the bandwith. Higher-end routers will also have other fun features like USB ports (for mounting external hard drives to your network)
Another high-end feature is the use of "Hardware NAT" (NAT standing for Network Address Translation). In short, Hardware NAT is meant to reduce (and nearly eliminate) most of that "lag" experienced with going from one webpage to another webpage. Hardware NAT sounds hokey, but many folks have confirmed that the Hardware NAT does correlate with a better user experience. My Asus rt-n56u router has Hardware NAT built in, and I, too, can attest to its effectiveness.
Here is a blurb from Asus:
Gigabit Internet Surfing with Hardware NAT
Equipped with a capable hardware NAT acceleration engine and built-in Gigabit Ethernet, it gives you full Gigabit internet performance, making its WAN to LAN throughput up to 2-5 times that of traditional software-based NAT Gigabit routers.
Even though all routers tout adhering to a certain standard (e.g. Wireless N), higher-end routers will be better at handling large volumes of traffic since it can reach higher levels of speed within your network. Wireless range is subjective, due to the number of variables that can hinder signal, but higher-end routers will typically exert better range. SmallNetBuilder.com[smallnetbuilder.com] runs a slew of speed and range tests on many common routers, and you'd be surprised at the differences even within a manufacturer's own line of routers.
Here's my turn to ask a question: What is the difference between Apple's routers versus other higher-end ones (e.g. Asus RT-n66u)?
Best Buy Apple Refurbs are not good. Had to return one as it got stuck on the UI and I could not even set it up. Apple refurbs from Apple are the way to go. At this price, you can try since the return can always be a trip to the store; if it works then it is a great deal.
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