Router vs Access Point: What’s the Difference?


Understanding the difference between a router and an access point can help you decide which is best for your needs. If you are unsure, you can read our guide to the pros and cons of each type of wireless device to make an informed decision. This article also looks at the different functions of both types of devices. Read on to learn more! But before we get into that, let’s take a closer look at what makes each one different.


If you’re looking for wireless networking equipment, you’ll need to know the differences between a router and an access point. Both devices act as a wireless gateway that relays data between the wired and wireless networks. A router connects to a modem and allows wireless devices to access the internet. An access point, on the other hand, does not route computers. Instead, it bridges computers together.

Both are hardware devices that connect to your network. A router manages your local area network (LAN), connects to the internet, and establishes the point of connectivity. It also maintains security. Both can act as access points, but a router is more popular and can be used to extend your Wi-Fi network. Despite their differences, they both serve a similar purpose: to provide wireless internet access to a variety of devices.

Routing is a complex process, with countless different methods and protocols. As a result, it can be confusing to choose the right device. Luckily, it’s easy to learn the differences by studying how these two networking devices work. While access points do perform the same basic function, routers have a lot more advanced features. An access point lets other devices connect to your network wirelessly, while a router sets up your LAN.

What is a Router?

A router is a small, hardware device that routes data from one computer network to another. These devices typically have several Ethernet ports and external antennas to connect to other computers. Routers work on the third layer of the OSI model, so they are more expensive than other networking devices. Because they are so intelligent, they can determine the fastest and safest way to connect to the internet. They can also communicate with other routers and share information between them.

A router is required if you use a wireless internet connection. It connects to a modem to enable Internet access. Modems were previously used to connect computers to analog signals. However, with today’s higher-speed internet connections, their role is much different. Wireless routers, on the other hand, connect directly to the modem. Wireless routers create a home Wi-Fi network, which allows you to access the internet from any device in your home.

A router has several functions. It connects to the Internet, acts as a hub for the home network, and sends and receives data. It contains software called firmware and should be regularly updated by its manufacturer. Routers connect to other network devices using network cables, and support wireless and wired connections. The router will usually come with several Ethernet cable connection jacks to make it easy to create a local network.

What is an Access Point?

An access point is a wireless router or other wireless interface that enables users to share a system with other devices. It can operate as a standalone device and can be configured individually, although they are typically used in larger offices and businesses. They are also sometimes used to extend the coverage of a wired network. The following are some examples of different types of access points:

Routers are the main element of a network. They manage the connectivity and communicate with the outside world. They establish a point of connection and ensure security. Access points, on the other hand, are often the sub devices that connect to the network. As a result, access points and routers are often used interchangeably. However, there are some differences between these two pieces of equipment. Here is a brief explanation of each.

If you want to extend the range of your Wi-Fi network, you need an access point. For example, if you want to share your internet connection in a large personal garage, you might need an access point. A Wi-Fi extender is a common home solution that lets you extend your Wi-Fi network to other locations. An extender can also increase the signal and extend coverage to dead areas. As the name implies, an access point acts as a central hub and lets multiple Wi-Fi-enabled devices to connect to your network.

Router vs Access Point: Functions

Both types of networking devices are required by every business. Routers are required to set up and manage the network, while access points allow other devices to connect to the network. Routers are 3-layer devices that follow the OSI reference model. They work by routing data to a destination and may also retain VPN handling and firewalls. Both types of devices are integral to a networking strategy. But what are their functions?

When used in the same network, an access point provides a wireless interface for nearby devices. It can also work as a router or an access point in its own right. Depending on your needs, you may only need one or the other. The router can cover an entire home, but it’s best to set up a wireless access point in a location where there’s minimal interference from other devices.

A wireless access point is connected to a network switch or the main router. It provides bandwidth and an Internet connection, while an access point operates within a single network. It also has a WAN port, whereas an access point does not. Both devices are useful, but there are some differences. A router has more features than an access point. It can serve as a firewall and can equally distribute data across all users.

Router vs Access Point: Differences

The primary differences between a router and access point lie in the type of wireless hardware, each device uses. While routers are more concerned with Layer 3 of the Internet protocol (IP), access points are concerned with the LAN connection between wireless devices and the internet. An access point can be a standalone device or connected to a wired network. In some cases, it can also be used as both an access point and a router.

Although the use of access points has increased, routers have become increasingly popular among small businesses. While the former is more suitable for home networks and small businesses, an access point is an excellent option for large organizations. The differences between routers and access points aren’t so obvious that you can’t use either one in a small office. These two types of networking devices are very useful and may be the perfect solution for your needs.

The primary difference between a wireless router and an access point is the type of wireless network they support. A wireless access point will extend the range of the network over a wider area than a router. An access point is useful for large businesses or homes with dead spots and needs to cover large areas. Neither one is a standalone device. But one may choose to pair a wireless router with an access point. A mesh network kit will blanket your entire house in Wi-Fi, which is far better than a single router. They also act as a wireless access point but usually have fewer advanced features.

Router vs Access Point: Benefits

The first and most important distinction between a router and access point is the type of wireless connectivity. Both devices enable wireless connections. Wireless access points provide a gateway for users to connect to the network. Wireless access points can extend the range of your current network and increase the number of users who can connect. Wireless access points convert a wired network into a wireless one, while routers do the reverse. Wireless access points can also be used as extensions of existing networks.

One of the major differences between a wireless router and an access point is their capacity. Wireless routers can only support a few users at a time, whereas wireless access points can support hundreds or even thousands of users. For large areas, an access point is a better choice. This device is better for businesses and larger organizations because of its higher capacity and increased range. While most routers have WiFi capabilities, not all of them are built with dedicated AP modes.

Despite the differences, the benefits of access points are significant. They are convenient and compact. They are also versatile, allowing a network to expand rapidly. In addition, they allow unified management of networks through a central hub. Using several routers in a single location poses problems of security, efficiency, and communication. When an access point is connected to a main router, users no longer have to switch networks, allowing them to move freely throughout an area without any interruptions.

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...