The Internet has become an important part of our day to day life. Be it your regular socializing on Facebook and Twitter or remote office work, you need to be connected at all times. One of the best ways to ensure seamless connectivity is to use a good quality wireless router!
The unhindered online presence is best characterized by the availability of uninterrupted internet connectivity, which is slowly becoming a global norm and a basic necessity. The growing inclination of the global populace towards blazing fast internet speeds is unwittingly opening up newer channels for more widespread adoption of wireless Routers.
As forecasted by Statista, the global market for Wireless Routers is expected to be valued at 16.2 billion dollars, by the end of 2025.
The popularity of wireless devices has picked up pace in 2020 with work from home, social distancing, and homebound existence being regarded as the quasi-permanent lifestyles. People restricted indoors are slowly converting their homes into credible workstations and office spaces, thereby stressing the role of sustained internet connectivity. Although mobile internet is still being used, nothing beats the efficacy of a home and office network that allows individuals to access the internet, at will.
Regardless of the nature of requirements, wireless routers have their place in every walk of life. You might be a seasoned gamer who prefers twitch streaming or a professional who wants to set up a VoIP calling network indoors, a Wi-Fi router can simplify sustenance for every enthusiast. As far as the entire usage catalog is concerned, having a reliable router can help you with a wide range of activities. These include smart home setup, 4K streaming, online gaming, online schooling, video conferencing, VoIP support, and more.
Moreover, a wireless router isn’t a standard internet connectivity gadget but it can also be used for the reliance on wired LAN connections, storage space as NAS or Network Attached Storage, online gaming resources via Dynamic QoS, access points, range extender, and other bespoke features. Therefore, before purchasing a wireless router, you need to check for the conventional and tailored specifications, to gain a perspective regarding the usage.
- 11 Best Wireless Routers in 2021
- 1. Best for Gaming: Asus ROG Rapture
- 2. Best for Streaming: NETGEAR Nighthawk X10
- 3. Best for Long Range: TP-Link AX6000
- 4. Best for Multiple Devices: D-Link AC2600
- 5. Best Budget Tri-Band Router: Linksys Max-Stream EA8300
- 6. Best for Small Businesses: NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900
- 7. Best Dual-Band Router: Google Nest (Gen 2)
- 8. Best for 2 Story House: Netgear Orbi RBK50
- 9. Best Under $100: Asus RT-AC66U B1
- 10. Best for Affordability: TP-Link AC1750
- 11. Cheapest Option: D-Link DIR-822 AC1200
- How to Choose a Wireless Router?
- Frequently Asked Questions
11 Best Wireless Routers in 2021
|Asus ROG Rapture|
|NETGEAR Nighthawk X10|
|Linksys Max-Stream EA8300|
|NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900|
|Google Nest (Gen 2)|
|Netgear Orbi RBK50|
|Asus RT-AC66U B1|
|D-Link DIR-822 AC1200|
In the subsequent sections, we shall enlist 11 of the best routers, based on several essential and wishful parameters. For starters, our experts tested each router based on dual or tri-band support, as per availability, total coverage area, availability of internal and external antennas, integrated processor, if any, support for simultaneous device connections, and the number of gig-ethernet ports.
Besides these essential aspects, we also checked for Wi-Fi 6 support, throughput, upload/download speeds, AC/AX standards, support for mesh systems, gaming bandwidth prioritization, existing framework, transfer speeds, beamforming support, multiple data streams, backward compatibility with other gadgets in the network, and the inclusivity or exclusivity of the security standards and parental controls.
Not only that, we’ve also taken the budget, size, app support (if available), form factor, and usage into account before coming out with detailed analysis. Also, we tested around 73 different highly-rated devices before making this list, thereby, all the models are highly reliable and provide great experience.
1. Best for Gaming: Asus ROG Rapture
- Processor Speed: 1.8GHz
- Speed: Up to 1148mbps + 4804mbps + 4804mbps
- Band: Tri-Band
- Range: 3000sqft
- Ports: 4 Gigabit LAN Ports + 1 Gig WAN Port + 1 Multi-Gig LAN Port + 2 USB 3.0
- Number of Antennas: 8
In case you are interested in a high-end gamer-friendly router, the Asus ROG Rapture is the gadget to consider. This is one of the latest 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6-compatible next-gen routers in the market, best characterized by breakneck speeds and lower latencies. Furthermore, the 1024-QAM is one of the primary reasons for the highest possible gadget throughput.
With this router at the helm, multiple connections between devices are possible. Put simply, the MU-MIMO technology associated with the AX standards ensures an increased number of data-carrying lanes which allows the user to make better use of the bandwidth.
As per expert inferences, we measured download and upload speed across the 3 bands, with 2.4GHz offering almost 350 Mbps and 200 Mbps for downloading and uploading respectively. For the 5GHz basic and gaming bangs, the download and upload speeds are in the 600+ Mbps and 570+ Mbps ballpark. The overall speeds across each band are capable of reaching close to 1gbps, at any given point.
When it comes to the internals, this router features a Broadcom quad-core processor, clocking at 1.8GHz. Clubbed with 1GB RAM and 256MB of flash storage memory for network-based storage, the processing conglomerate helps the router with DNS communication, prioritized routing, and even data tracking.
This high-end router features one WAN and 4 standalone LAN ports with Gigabit data connectivity. However, it is the support for Ethernet and the 802.3 Multi-Gig Support is dedicated specifically for 4K gaming support. Better termed as the MID-X or Medium Dependent Interface Crossover port, it supports bit rates of up to 2.5 Gbps with enviable GameFirst V technology to prioritize data packets. Connecting external storage modules is also possible with the dual USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports.
In terms of the antenna, this router has 8 to work with, which works perfectly towards providing excellent Beamforming capabilities to the same. The Tri-Band support is unique with Asus supporting traffic movement across one 2.4GHz band and two 5.0GHz bands. While the data rates slow down a bit when real-time usage across each band is concerned, the router still works fine for the 2000 sq ft coverage area or less, as per user preferences.
Despite the decent coverage area, there are no gaming-specific compromises as a least-congested 5GHz band is separately allotted for the same. Besides that this router is one of the few appliances in the market that can run the internet connection and even the VPN, simultaneously.
This router is compatible with the AiPlayer app and allows you to make the best use of the AiProtection as a threat-prevention technique. Most importantly, setting this up might require a bit of router-specific knowledge, especially when setting up the Adaptive QoS, Parental Control, and Gamers’ Network is concerned.
The mesh-like layout makes way for better cooling. However, the gadget is still quite intimidating to look at, courtesy of 8 antennas and the hefty chassis, weighing 3.8 pounds. Despite the daunting physique, this is one of the premiere routers in the market, courtesy of the excellent OFDMA technology for better bandwidth usage, link aggregation, and the dedicated gaming band for lower ping and latency.
- Connects 4 times the number of devices as compared to basic routers
- Enhanced Wi-Fi range with WiFi 6 support
- Separate gaming band
- 1.8GHz processor
- Mesh compatibility
- 2.5G MDI-X gaming port
- Heat dissipative design
- Backward compatible with other wireless standards
- Heavy Router
- Hard to set up on your own
2. Best for Streaming: NETGEAR Nighthawk X10
- Processor Speed: 1.7GHz
- Speed: Up to 800mbps + 1733mbps + 4600mbps
- Band: Tri-Band
- Range: 2500sqft
- Ports: 6 Gigabit LAN Ports + 1 10Gbps SFP+ Port + 2 USB 2.0
- Number of Antennas: 4
In case you are looking for a router that offers maximum streaming throughout and blazing wireless speeds, the Nighthawk X10 AD7200 from NETGEAR seems like a probable option. When performances are evaluated, it is the amalgamation of the quad-stream architecture and the innovative 802.11ad wireless standard transmission over the 60 GHz band, making an impression.
Regarding basic download and upload speeds, each band has a specific speed limit, courtesy of the 802.11ac and 802.11ad cohesion. The resulting speeds for one to even two connections regardless of the band can reach up to 30 to 40 percent of the overall advertised limits. However, in the case of the 60Hz band, you are expected to be at the closest possible distance and might end up getting 4.6 Gbps or slightly less for ultrafast downloads.
NETGEAR makes way for a powerful processor that seamlessly monitors the network traffic and clocks at 1.7GHz. You also get 1GB RAM on this device that stores the routine tables and configurations for quicker access. The built-in storage space is restricted to 512MB which acts as a small NAS for storing network data.
This is more of a quads-stream router with four enhanced antennas with integrated amplifiers. The router, therefore, works as an extender, across smaller distances. However, what interests our experts the most is the availability of 6 Gig LAN ports for the wired preferences, in case you are looking to avoid bandwidth losses due to interference. The link aggregation feature exists; allowing you to pair two 1Gbps wired connections.
This router also comes equipped with the SFP+ or the ‘Small Form-Factor’ Pluggable Plus port for attaining speeds well-beyond the 10 Gbps mark, precisely for usage as a Network Attached Storage module. You also get two USB 3.0 ports for connecting drives for managing and transferring files.
The tri-band support featured by this router takes the 60GHz band into account with speeds going well beyond 4 Gbps. Besides that, the basic AC bands existing with network support across 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz. As far as the coverage is concerned, once you have this router in place, there wouldn’t be any dead zones in the 2500 sq ft coverage area. It also allows you to connect up to 45 gadgets.
The coverage, band, and raging speeds are bolstered further by Beamforming+ support courtesy of four antennas in play. Besides that, this router is also equipped enough to handle VoIP and gaming traffic, courtesy of Dynamic QoS. Besides that, the speeds ensure extended support for VR usage, 4 streaming, and media-consumption via Plex Media Server usage.
Furthermore, this router can be controlled via the Nighthawk application which also offers remote access, speed testing support, and connection restriction followed by seamless router setup expertise. Despite featuring a restricted set of antennas, the gadget is quite heavy at 4.1 pounds. However, even though it is a hefty router, it can be purchased if you are looking to experience the innovative 60GHz 802.11ad band.
- 6 Gig LAN ports
- One 10gbps SFP+ port
- Four amplified antennas
- Accommodates newer 802.11ad standard
- Decent coverage
- Excellent speeds in the 7.2gbps range
- Link aggregation support
- Larger footprint
- Minimal 802.11ad clients
- Lack of extensive QoS for handling gaming traffic
3. Best for Long Range: TP-Link AX6000
The TP-Link AX6000 is one of the best routers in the market, bolstered by 8×8 downstream and upstream data movement technology. As per the wireless standards, the 1024-QAM readily increases the throughput and allows the router to scale beyond any significant competition courtesy of the advertised speeds of 4804mbps for the 5GHz band and 1148mbps for the 2.4GHz band.
As postulated by our experts, the appliance reaches a peak download speed of almost 880mbps at a distance of 15 feet from the router whereas the upload speeds were close to 300mbps. However, the rates varied quite a bit, depending on the distance from the router.
The TP-Link AX6000 features a moderately powerful Broadcom processor with an overall clock speed of up to 1.8GHz. The existing router also brings forth 1GB of RAM for keeping the settings intact followed by the 128MB of storage space for handling the existing system firmware and relevant details.
The Archer TP-Link AX6000 is a standard dual-band router with a decent port arrangement, best characterized by the 8 gig LAN slots, and the solitary 2.5 Gbps input for WAN connectivity. Link aggregation support exists but is restricted to two ports at a time. Apart from that, fast data transfer speeds are guaranteed courtesy of the USB 3.0 Type-A and USB Type-C.Adam, Using this For 5 months
With 8 antennas to work with, this is one of the more equipped gadgets to beckon the users. However, the high-gain, strategically placed antennas work according to the efficient OFDMA technology, thereby ensuring better device connectivity as compared to some of the other similarly priced routers. The router extends up to 85 feet and the coverage is therefore determined by the size of the room.
Most importantly, the Beamforming and Range boosting support further increase the coverage area. Other specs that work in favor of this router are the existing co-processors, taking care of gaming ping and latency. Apart from that, you also get support for Quality of Service or band prioritization followed by advanced security standards.
As far as the app integration and setup are concerned, the TP-Link AX6000 can be accessed easily via the HomeCare app. This flexibility allows you to monitor the bandwidth usage, setup the router quickly, or help the router schedule transmission times, based on requirements.
When it comes to the design, the soft rubber pads add a sense of cushioning to the router. While the layout might look intimidating, it doesn’t compromise on the heft and weighs a respectable 3.50 pounds. Without a doubt, the TP-Link AX6000 is one of the more powerful dual-band routers in the market, best characterized by 8 gig ports, 2.5gbps slot for faster access, and multi-device compatibility.
- Supports OFDMA technology
- Comes equipped with Beamforming and Rangeboost technology
- Includes the fast USB Type-C port
- Features 2.5gbps port
- Long-range courtesy of the 8 antennas
- Heavier than usual
4. Best for Multiple Devices: D-Link AC2600
Here is a mid-range, affordable router that doesn’t let down when the latest wireless standards and technologies are being talked about. The D-Link AC2600, as expected, boasts of excellent close-range throughout and boasts of 4 download and 4 upload data streams for perfect bandwidth management.
When it comes to download and upload data speeds, our experts could garner speeds of up to 100mbps for close-range 2.4GHz and around 57mbps for long-range 2.4GHz. For close-range 5GHz, our experts experienced speeds in the range of 515mbps.
As per the internal configuration, there is a Qualcom dual-core chipset to rely on, clocking at a standard 880MHz. While the metric is more than sufficient for a mid-tier router, the 128MB of both RAM and flash memory individually enhance the data tracking and network prioritizing performances.
This is a standard router featuring two data-centric ports, namely USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 followed by 4 gig LAN slots and the solitary WAN port for wireless connectivity. We tested it by attending Skype and Zoom calls, and Clubbed with four antennas, this router also flaunts a host of high-end technologies, including MU-MIMO support, QoS, band steering, and high-gain Beamforming.
The coverage area up to 1000 sq ft is adequately covered but the D-Link AC2600 can still churn out decent speeds for almost 1500sqft with our experts able to get around 300mbps of download speeds, two rooms apart. This dual-band router, however, advertises speeds of up to 800 Mbps for 2.4GHz and 1733 for the 5.0GHz.
Setting up the device is pretty simple with the featured D-Link app that also allows seamless network management and advanced smart beam monitoring for tracking the connecting devices for understanding traffic allocation.
This router flaunts a pretty standard design, aided perfectly by 6 activity tracing LED indicators. As compared to some of the already discussed routers on our list, the DIR-882 or the D-Link AC2600 weighs a mere 1.25 pounds. Then again, purchasing the same is advisable if you are looking for a robust 802.11ac router that is equipped enough to churn out decent gaming performances and 4K streaming experiences.
- Decent QoS Engine
- Quick setup
- Excellent close-range performances
- 6 Gig LAN ports
- Beamforming support
- Limited parental resources
- Middling long-range speeds
5. Best Budget Tri-Band Router: Linksys Max-Stream EA8300
- Processor Speed: 716MHz
- Speed: Up to 400mbps + 867mbps + 867mbps
- Band: Tri-Band
- Range: 1500sqft
- Ports: 4 Gigabit LAN Ports + 1 Gig WAN Port + 1 USB 3.0
- Number of Antennas: 4
The Tri-Band Max-Stream EA8300 from Linksys is no pushover when wireless speeds and connection stability are concerned. Most importantly, the excellent, all-round coverage is one of the better traits on display.
The theoretical speeds of 400mbps for 2.4GHz and 867mbps for each one of the 5GHz bands, however, leaves a lot to be desired, despite this being a max-stream entity.
As per bespoke testing, our experts could muster a steady average speed of almost 110mbps across each band, regardless of the distance. What stood out was the short-range top speed of up to 655mbps for the 5GHz band, which is quite close to the theoretical, 867mbps.
The existing Qualcomm IPQ4019 quad-core processor is capable enough and clocks at 716MHz. What stands out though is the availability of 256MB of built-in RAM and comparable flash memory. These attributes in cohesion take care of the settings, network data, and the bandwidth prioritization requirements if any.
This MU-MIMO router comes equipped with one Gig WAN and 4 Gig LAN ports for better-wired performances. Connecting external storage devices and data transfer is also possible courtesy of the USB 3.0 port. When external, network storage support is concerned. Linksys makes room for HSF+, FAT, and NTFS compatibility, regardless of the operating system on the supported device.
Coming to the technical aspects of the same, the Tri-Band Max-Stream EA8300 router flaunts four antennas with built-in support for signal amplification. The adjustable nature of these antennas ensures an extended, 1500sqft coverage, with heavy reliance on Beamforming+, Band Steering, and other relevant technologies. This is one of the few simultaneous Tri-Band routers in the market with two 5GHz and one 2.4GHz band to work with.
Linksys also makes way for multiple wireless standards with a focus on 802.11b, 802.11ac, 802.11a/g, and the Wi-Fi 4 or the 802.11n. The Multiple In-Multiple Out Multiplexing technology allows you to pair more than 15 devices at once. Despite being a powerful router, it is capable of working along with any ADSL modem, if and when paired across the Linksys app.
The Linksys application also supports faster router setup and even makes way for Home Wi-Fi management. With the app to rely on, you can prioritize gadgets automatically while setting parental controls, if and when required.
The Linksys Tri-Band Max-Stream EA8300 flaunts a compact layout, weighing a manageable 1.3 pounds. Besides that, there is a small and interactive digital display to rely on. Overall, this is one of the better and more affordable tri-band routers in the market that excels when customization support, speed veracity, and home or office coverage is concerned.
- 4 advanced, adjustable antennas with 6 integrated amplifiers
- Air-Time Fairness Wi-Fi distribution support
- Triple-band support
- Beamforming+ support
- Equipped with Band Steering functionality
- 3 traffic offload co-processors
- Limited speed
- Multiple connections might lead to connection drops
6. Best for Small Businesses: NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900
In case you are invested in top-notch Wireless connectivity for your small business, especially over the 5GHz band, the Nighthawk AC1900 R6900P from NETGEAR is the product to consider. However, the overall advertised download and upload speeds of up to 1.9 Gbps is more than adequate for a home network. Then again, as per independent tests conducted by our experts, the 2.4GHz throughput leaves a lot to be desired.
When raw speeds are concerned and compared against the theoretical claims, this appliance lives up to the expectations. As per tests conducted in labs and even open spaces, the router could muster a decent speed of around 524mbps at distances around the 10 feet mark.
This gadget comes equipped with the Broadcom BCM4709 chipset, clocking at 1GHz. Besides, this attribute makes it one of the fastest mid-range routers in the market. The featured chipset also ensures the availability of the TurboQAM feature; the primary reason behind the blazing fast speeds. The memory allocation is pretty standard with 128MB of storage (flash) memory followed by the 256MB of integrated RAM, best known for storing operational data and the router configuration settings.
The basic features sets associated with this standalone router deserve special mentions. To start, there are 4 Gig LAN and one WAN port to work with followed by one USB 3.0 port. However, it is the storage performance that steals the show, courtesy of the impressive ‘read and write’ speeds for the NTFS and FAT2 formats.
As far as the technical performances go, each one of the three amplified antennas deserves our special attention. These physical perks make way for Beamforming+ technology, capable of pushing speeds of up to 173 Mbps, at an almost 15 feet range. Besides that, the MU-MIMO technology ensures 30 device connectivity, spread across a cumulative coverage area of 1800 sq ft.
The featured smart router is more of a dual-band extravaganza with an adequate focus across the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz bands. However, the 5GHz performance easily outshines the former. Setting up the gadget via the dedicated Netgear app is as easy as the overall installation. It is one of the most intuitive ones in the existing arena, courtesy of its ability to monitor the home network remotely while locating devices, locking the same, and wiping them clean, as per preferences.
As far as the overall layout is concerned, the dual-band router flaunts the trapezoid design which is quite accommodative towards the interiors. At slightly above the 3.4-pound mark, the router is definitely on the bulkier side and would be better off, if not moved around the house. Moreover, while there are many reasons for going with this router, it is the Dynamic QoS that comes forth as the most persuasive. This attribute allows band prioritization across regular and gaming-centric activities.
- Reliable processor
- Excellent VPN support
- Supports Open Firmware upgrades
- Excellent range for the given price tag
- Reliable QoS
- Also comes with excellent VoIP support
- 4 Gig LAN ports
- Middling 2.4GHz speeds
- Settings take some time to feature
7. Best Dual-Band Router: Google Nest (Gen 2)
The 2nd Gen Google Nest is one of the few routers that can either work as a standalone gadget or a part of an integrated home networking mesh. With the 4×4 streams adding to the efficacy of the same, this is still one of the best routers when speed attainment is concerned. While the advertised, cumulative speeds go up to 2133 Mbps under ideal conditions, the download and upload speeds of the Wi-Fi 5 device varies with distance and interference.
As per our tests, the Google Nest performed better for shorter and even longer ranges when compared to the likes of Orbi or the Eero. In case you are interested in figures, we could experience an average download speed of 222mbps. Not just that, we experienced minimal latency spikes and an average upload speed of up to 229mbps.
This router comes equipped with a powerful quad-core ARM chipset, clocking at speeds of up to 1.4GHz. The existing processor works in cohesion with the ML Hardware and the dedicated engine, which prioritizes bandwidth allocation, intelligently. Google also brings a 1GB RAM to the mix, which is more than adequate for a mid-range router. As far as storage is concerned, you get 4GB of built-in flash memory.
Google Nest 2nd gen works best as a mesh or with an extender for sending out the signals, farther than usual. However, when it comes to basic port arrangement, you get 2 Gig slots, one each for LAN and WAN connectivity. There are 4 integrated antennas to rely on, which work in cohesion with the MU-MIMO technology, transmit Beamforming and dual-band support.
The coverage range for the same extends well up to 2200 sq ft. Not just that, the MU-MIMO support ensures that you would be able to connect 100 devices when the gadget operates at a maximum data rate for each. Moreover, setting up and controlling the home network is easier with the Google Home application. You can easily schedule pauses, restrict access, or set forth parental controls, if and when necessary.
The newer Google Nest is taller and takes pride in the dome-shaped, aesthetic overhaul. When it comes to heft, the gadget weighs a mere 380g. Although many routers in the market might perform better than the Google Nest Wi-Fi, this gadget fits in perfectly for its mesh-compatibility and nifty aesthetics.
- Impressive real-time speeds
- Band steering support
- Brilliant aesthetics
- Doubles up as speakers
- Easy to manage via the Home app
- Secured network
- Only two Ethernet ports
- No USB support
8. Best for 2 Story House: Netgear Orbi RBK50
- Processor Speed: 716MHz
- Speed: Up to 400mbps + 866mbps+ 1733mbps
- Band: Tri-Band
- Range: 5000sqft
- Ports: Router- 3 Gig LAN Ports + 1 Gig WAN Port + 1 USB 2.0 Port, Satellite- 4 Gig LAN Ports + 1 USB 2.0 Port
- Number of Antennas: 6 each for router and antenna (Built-In)
In case you are looking for a wireless system that works better than a standalone router, the Netgear Orbi RBK50 is the gadget to consider. This appliance is more of a mesh system, allowing you to enjoy better Wi-Fi indoors by eliminating every dead zone in plain sight.
The RBK50 is more of a wireless conglomerate with the AC3000 router and the AC3000 satellite to show for. When it comes to performance, the network usable dual-band support offers a theoretical throughput of almost 1300mbps.
As per tests and expert analysis, we could muster impressive speeds in the 480mbps ballpark, especially for shorter distances. When it comes to the extended range i.e. 30 feet from the system, we would experience moderate average speeds of 223mbps. Most importantly, in either case, the router and satellite portrayed comparable throughputs.
We also tested the same on our Lenovo IdeaPad 320 and the Acer Aspire R13 just to experience 128mbps, in terms of average throughput, for closer proximity. As we moved father, speeds didn’t drop as much with the average count of 124mbps holding through, both for the router and the extender.
The internals, associated with this Wi-Fi system, are quite high-end, with Netgear making way for the Qualcomm IPQ4019 quad-core processor, clocking at a decent 716MHz. The existing processor works in tandem with the existing wireless technologies while making it easier to follow the 256-QAM line coding format across each one of the three bands. Other desirable specs include 4GB of flash memory for storing network-sensitive data and the 512MB of system RAM for loading the ARP cache and initiating packet buffering.
The Netgear Orbi RBK50 is a router-extender combo, clubbed with a wide range of ports, synonymous with each device. The router, fittingly, features one WAN port for interacting with the ISP and three Gig LAN ports. The extender throws in four Gig LAN ports for better-wired fidelity. However, both these gadgets feature one USB 2.0 slot each for connecting external storage modules.
As far as technical details are concerned, you get hold of six integrated antennas, existent within the router and satellite, respectively. The 12 amplified routers, in cohesion, offer a cumulative wireless coverage area of almost 5000sqft.
While the mesh-system mentions tri-band support, one simultaneous dual-band is available for internet connectivity. The third 5GHz band, with a throughput of 1733mbps, works as the backhaul band for connecting the router to the extender and amplifying coverage. The MU-MIMO support is handy enough and allows you to connect more than 25 devices across the existing network.
The router and wall-plugging extenders are easy to install and set up via the dedicated Orbi app that also allows you to check the connection speeds, control the home network, and customize settings, accordingly. The design elements are pretty standard with the router and extender looking identical. As far as the weight is concerned, the combo weighs close to 2 pounds.
Overall, the Netgear Orbi RBK50 is the perfect choice if you have a lot of area to cover or you are looking to set up a mesh-like network with a reliance on Digital assistants, smart devices, and enhanced security standards.
- Router-Extender Combo
- Almost 8 Gig Ports to work with
- Tri-Band support with Backhaul technology
- Beamforming support
- Voice compatible
- Restricted USB functionality
9. Best Under $100: Asus RT-AC66U B1
One of the most popular sub-$100 routers in the market, the Asus RT-AC66U B1 is all about the fantastic and reliable 5GHz throughout and tons of security specs for the more skeptical users. With 3×3 streams to rely on, this is one of the more equipped, standalone routers in the market. Regardless of the dual-band functionality, the Asus RT-AC66U B1 is capable of reaching theoretical Download and Upload speeds of up to 1750mbps.
However, the real-time throughput was glaringly different, with short-range speeds capping out at 339 Mbps. With increased distances i.e. somewhere in the 100 feet range, the speeds did drop to 179 Mbps for 802.11ac and 167mbps for the Wireless-N devices. While these inferences were in the 5GHz band, 2.4GHz throughput was somewhere in the 66 Mbps region for closer distances and near about 49mbps, as per long-range testing.
It comes equipped with a standard, Broadcom BCM4708C0 dual-core chipset, clocking at speeds of up to 1GHz. The processor is the empowering feature behind the Smart and Adaptive Quality of Service and selective bandwidth prioritization. Next in line is the 256MB RAM and the 128MB of middling flash memory.
While this is a conventional Wi-Fi router, it also finds its place in a mesh Wi-Fi network, provided you connect the same with powerful Wireless extenders. The standard port arrangement is persisted with as Asus brings in one WAN and 4 LAN ports with Gig Ethernet support. External storage and legacy peripherals can be connected with ease, courtesy of the USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 slots.
The Asus RT-AC66U B1 features three external antennas followed by an extended coverage of almost 3000sqft. Despite being a dual-band router, it is backward compatible with each one of the diverse wireless standards, barring the 802.11ax. Some of the other reliable and functional specs include traffic analyzer, airtime fairness for better network management, and the high-end security standards as envisioned by the AiProtection technology.
Setting up the router is extremely easy with the existing Asus mobile app and the ASUSWRT interface. The featured app also allows you to manage the home network and access remote files, via the proprietary AiCloud 2.0 technology.
As far as the design accents go, the Asus RT-AC66U B1 is one sleek gadget, flaunting a detachable base. The gadget weighs close to 1.50 pounds and can also function as a range extender, if and when required. Overall, this is one innovative router that excels in the 5 GHz Wi-Fi department while doubling down as an access point or media bridge, as per preferences.
- Powerful processor
- 4 Gig LAN Ports
- AiCloud compatibility
- Excellent speeds for the 5GHz band
- Airtime Fairness
- Adaptive QoS
- Heats up a fair bit
- Not the best 2.4GHz speeds
10. Best for Affordability: TP-Link AC1750
The TP-Link AC1750 is geared to handle the internet requirements in a small household. Despite the lack of the latest MU-MIMO or Beamforming technologies, the router can reach theoretical maximum speeds of up to 450 Mbps in 2.4GHz & 1300 Mbps in 5.0GHz.
Archer A7 comes with a single-core 750MHz processor built on a Qualcomm chipset. It has an operating memory of 128MB, and storage memory of 16MB. The flash memory holds space for the firmware and its subsequent updates. The hardware configuration performs adequately as an entry-level router. The memory will be a limiting factor in its ability to handle multiple devices simultaneously.
The Archer A7 is a standalone router that works in tandem with an active ISP subscription. It has the provisions to set up parental controls. Users can create schedules and limit access to multiple devices.
The router has three huge antennas at its rear-end to disperse Wi-Fi signals at dual-frequency (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz). TP-LINK claims to support up to a maximum of 50 devices over a surface area of 2500 sq ft. The support for multiple devices will depend on optimizing usage across several devices.
The TP-Link router has four Gig Ethernet LAN and one Gig WAN, to handle the wired connections. With one USB 2.0 port on offer, the router can support a shared printer within the home network. The speeds of USB 2.0 will limit the performance of shared network drives. TP-link has a tether application for Android and iOS devices. Tether application keeps the initial set up simple and quick. The web interface gives more control over the advanced settings on offer.
At 0.90 lbs, the router falls under the lightweight category. The A7 is reminiscent of the traditional shiny black design with towering antennas and the ports aligned at the rear. For the sub-$100 price, the Archer A7 offers features like parental (access) controls, and QoS settings. The intuitive design of the Tether iOS mobile application makes a strong case for A7 as the best budget router for seamless network connectivity.
- User-friendly interface
- Backward compatible 802.11 AC
- QoS device priority
- Alexa’s voice control
- 5 GIG ports
- Limited range & storage
- No USB 3.0 port
11. Cheapest Option: D-Link DIR-822 AC1200
In case you have a restricted router-buying budget but MU-MIMO technology is a must, the D-Link DIR-822 AC1200 comes across as the best form of investment. The 2×2 streams make way for decent, budget-centric throughput. The existing router also stands for decent ‘download and upload’ speeds with the cumulative bandwidth being restricted to 1167mbps.
As per our tests, the DIR-822 AC1200 is a very capable router for the 2.4GHz band, reaching maximum speeds of up to 100mbps. However, the 5GHz performances weren’t exactly path-breaking. As far as the processing conglomerate is concerned, the Realtek RTL819DL chipset makes an appearance, with an acceptable clock speed of up to 660MHz. The memory allocation is still quite middling with D-Link making way for 8MB of flash memory and a smaller, 64MB RAM unit.
This is a standalone router with four LAN and one WAN port to rely on. However, Gig connectivity isn’t available and the maximum wired throughput can reach up to 100mbps. This gadget also misses out on a USB port for storage and peripheral pairing.
Furthermore, D-Link flaunts four high-gain 5dbi antennas that are capable of throwing signals outward, at a greater distance. The 2500sqft coverage area, therefore, isn’t wishful and the router is capable of reaching adequate performance levels. The dual-band support further improves the range whereas the processor can, therefore, assist with Intelligent QoS or traffic prioritization.
Installing and setting up the Wi-Fi on this router is easier than ever with the QRS mobile application to rely on. The app UI allows you to create guest profiles, block devices, and enable parental controls, as desired. Other innovative specs include Green Ethernet technology, IPV6 compatibility, Network Address Translation for hiding private IPS, and high-end security standards courtesy of the WPS.
DIR-822 AC1200 flaunts a standard router design with no bells and whistles. Besides that, the router weighs less than one pound and can be readily purchased, based on the excellent 2.4GHz throughput.
- Low-power mode courtesy of Green Ethernet technology
- MU-MIMO compatible
- Guest Access
- Backward compatible with other wireless standards
- Excellent 2.4GHz performance
- No USB support
- No Gig support for wired connections
How to Choose a Wireless Router?
Now that you know about the best-rated reliable routers, you should also be well-versed with how to choose the perfect one for your needs! Sometimes, people end up buying the wrong device without actually assessing their needs and then suffer from either low speeds or poor coverage! Hence, you must always keep some factors in mind before you make a purchase.
1. The ISP-Router Relationship
Your internet service provider brings connectivity right at your doorsteps, precisely in the configurable mode. The router, as per the name, routes the connection as per preferences with a uniform IP address at the helm. Therefore, the quality of the wireless router matters while ascertaining the speed of connections.
Assuming your ISP bandwidth is fixed and as per requirements, the speed issues are directly related to underwhelming router speeds or the wireless bands. Then again, you need to be mindful of the theoretical and practical router speeds.
For instance, If you have an AC1750 router at your disposal and the ISP is capable of reaching similar speeds, you will get a mere 15 to even 20 percent of overall throughput, due to aligned interferences. Moreover, better speeds will be experienced nearer to the router, due to the emphasis on the 5GHz. Therefore, it is necessary to take several router aspects into account, before making the final purchase.
2. Wireless Standards
To set up a Wi-Fi router, you need to be aware of the dynamic wireless standards and how these aspects can determine your purchase. While the 802.11 prefix concerns the entire gamut of wireless connectivity standards, 802.11n is probably the oldest standard retaining the dual-band hierarchy i.e. connectivity across the longer 2.4GHz range and the shorter 5.0GHz range.
A majority of gadgets are Wi-Fi 5 or 802.11ac compatible. This is more of a 5GHz compatible standard boasting of MU- MIMO functionality and speeds amounting to 3.46gbps. However, certain vendors pair 802.11n standard along for lending 2.4GHz band functionality and backward compatibility.
The latest Wi-Fi 6 or the 802.11ax standard aims at improving WLAN performances while offering support in the dual-band spectrum. Most importantly, Wi-Fi 6 targets almost 400 percent performance improvement as compared to Wi-Fi 5 and 802.11n standards.
3. The Price
The first and foremost thing that most people look at is the price of the device. To be fair, that is the right thing to do too. A router may have all the features that you need but sometimes the budget does not allow you to purchase a high-end model. It is here that you have to make a trade-off between price vs features – would you go for a low-priced router that fits your budget but does not offer all the features you want, or would you spend some extra bucks to get hold of the router that offers you all the required features.
The price of a router depends upon various factors – at times, the brand of the router has to play a critical part as well. However, mostly, the more features the router has, and the higher the speed and the greater the range of the router are, the more expensive it is going to be. Most of the WiFi Routers usually range between $70 to $300. One must analyze all the price vs features situations carefully before making a final decision to buy a wireless router.
4. Range and Coverage
‘Range’ of a router basically means how far can it provide you with internet access. Depending on the size of your house or your workplace, you would need to buy a router that provides sufficient coverage. Sometimes, you need to buy satellite extenders which ensure that your home is well covered and you get good internet access everywhere. Most decent WiFi routers provide a range between 1500 to 2500 sq.ft. on the primary router and the extenders help multiply it by another 1000-1500 sq.ft.
Before you buy one, make sure you know how your home measures vs the kind of coverage the router offers. Sometimes, users require it only for a particular room or area – in those cases, routers which offer a lesser range of coverage are also good enough. However, if your entire house needs to be connected, the range is a critical factor that you must consider before you buy the router.
5. The Speed
Another key thing that you need to keep in mind before you make the final purchase is the kind of speeds that you would be getting. Those on a high-speed plan must buy a router that can process those kinds of speeds. There is no point of getting a basic, 900 Mbps router when your ISP offers you speeds of 2 Gbps because you won’t be able to utilize it! Hence, it is important that before you buy a router, you look for the range of speed that it provides. The router you are buying needs to be compatible when it comes to processing the speed that your ISP provides.
On the converse, sometimes, users tend to buy high-speed routers even though they have an average-speed internet plan. In this case, they should probably look for a low-cost router that supports the kind of speeds that they are getting. Nevertheless, buying a wireless router that supports higher speeds than your existing internet connection is sort of future-proofing yourself for when you upgrade your internet connection.
6. Router’s Life Span
The lifespan of a router is also an important thing that buyers need to consider. Routers are not a huge investment – and they don’t even last for long. The best of routers usually last 3 to 4 years before deteriorating in performance and they need to be upgraded eventually. Hence, it is important to understand how long the router will continue to perform as well as it does on the first day.
Furthermore, given that wireless network standards are constantly evolving, you need to ensure that the router you have bought has enough capabilities to last you for at least the next few years. Sadly, there is no sure-shot way of predicting how long a wireless router is going to last. However, one cannot expect a $100 router to last them for more than 2 years without causing problems of some kind. Similarly, a $300 router should at least perform well for 4 years before starting to slow down.
7. No. of Bands Supported
Another consideration here is that if your preferred router a single-band, a dual-band, or a triple-band router. The more the number of bands, the faster your internet connectivity with your connected devices would be. The more the number of bands on a router, the less cluttered its internet connectivity would be. Interestingly, the selection of dual-band or a triple band router depends on the area that you live in.
If you live in an area that is densely populated, you must opt for a triple-band Wireless Router. A dual-band router would provide you with a 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz connectivity. However, a tri-band router would provide you a third band offering 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz + 5 GHz of connectivity.
In the past, the choice was only between single-band and dual-band routers, however, tri-band routers are also getting popular of late. These days, single-band routers are rarely available. Moreover, the more the number of devices you want to connect, the more number of bands are suggested. This ensures that the signals of one device do not interfere with the other. We’ve mentioned about all these bands below:
Single Band Router: A single-band router functions on just one frequency band (2.4 GHz) which caps the speed at about 800 Mbps. However, that is a theoretical number and you’re unlikely to get such speeds on a single-band router. These routers function on the 802.11n WiFi standard and are usually called Wireless-N routers.
Dual-band routers: They function on two frequency bands are among the most common routers present these days. They function on bands of 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz. The second band here functions on the 802.11 ac standard while the first band functions on the older 802.11n standard. The second frequency band allows faster data transfer because the older 2.4 GHz band has been around for a long time and the network is rather cluttered.
Tri-band router: offers three frequency bands of 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz + 5 GHz. They’ve been around only for a few years and are ‘smarter’ devices compared to the earlier single-band and dual-band routers. These routers understand what data you are consuming and accordingly use the appropriate band to channel the data to your device.
While many users may not give this a priority while buying a new wireless router, one has to make sure that the router that they are going to buy offers sufficient security. Encryption is an extremely important feature as it ensures not only that hackers don’t break into your network, but also that data from your network does not flow out and reach the wrong hands. Encryption is extremely important – and one needs to ensure that their wireless router offers the best and the latest levels of security.
If your encryption is weak, hackers can break into your network and use your WiFi without your permission! Moreover, it can lead to worse scenarios such as the hacker getting hold of your private data such as which websites you are visiting and what kind of information are you transmitting! Worst still, they may be able to get hold of critical data such as credit card information or details about your personal finance which may put you at a risk. Hence, you must always ensure that the router you are buying offers the latest standards of security.
Many people believe that the brand does not matter, the performance matters. However, we strongly believe that this is just an urban legend. The brand does matter. There is a certain kind of satisfaction that comes with buying a product from a well-known brand. When it comes to router brands, We at Freedom 251 prefer Netgear and T-Link. Going for an inferior brand, one that you may not have heard of is always going to put you at a risk! These companies have been around for a long time and are a tried and tested name in the market.
Furthermore, they come with goodwill that has been built over the years and there is a faith that they will honor their commitments. Moreover, another consideration here is the resale value. Given that you buy a wireless router of a good brand, it will always fetch you a better resale or exchange value than compared to a router of an inferior brand. Hence, you need to consider the brand before you make a purchase.
Warranty is critical, especially when it comes to wireless routers. Given that these devices are plugged-in for almost the entirety of their lifespan, they are prone to electrical damage at times. Hence, getting a product with a good warranty will always serve you better. Most routers come with a one-year warranty and there are some such as TP-Link which offer a two-year warranty. You must always check how long the warranty period is and what the terms and conditions of the warranty are. Most routers will not offer you a warranty against physical damage or water-induced damage.
Furthermore, always look up the reviews from other customers before you buy a router. There, ensure that the company is honoring the warranty! Sometimes, companies put in clauses in the warranty contract where most kinds of damages are not covered! There are some companies which will offer you a new replacement free of cost while there are others which will repair the existing device. We strongly recommend you to go through the document carefully before you buy your desired router.
11. Does it have USB Ports?
Another important factor that you need to check before you buy a wireless router is: “does it have USB ports”. If it does, check if your router has USB 3.0 ports. Some of the models we’ve mentioned above have multiple USB 3.0 ports. In the past, this wasn’t as important but of late, there is a growing demand for routers with USB Ports. It is because USB ports on your router allow you to create shared drives on a network where you can easily store your data from any computer in your home. Moreover, you can also share files and stream them over the network with ease!
Furthermore, having a router with USB ports allows you to plug your printer into the router and use it as the network printer for your family or your office. This ensures that you can use it to print files from any device without having to connect the device to the printer. Most good routers come with USB ports these days – but there are some exceptions (for example the Google WiFi).
12. Is it a ‘Smart’ Router?
Another new trend these days is to ensure that you are using a ‘smart’ router. Now this isn’t a complete necessity, but it is a good thing to see if your router is a smart device. A ‘smart’ router doesn’t mean it solves math problems for you! It means that it can be controlled over voice. Many routers these days can be controlled by voice using Amazon’s Echo devices. You can directly talk to Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, and give her some basic commands that she can instruct the router to follow!
Now, this isn’t an absolute compulsion to have, but it makes it easier to control the router. Given that voice-controlled smart devices will become common in the years to follow, this will be something that you need to check if you want to future-proof your device!
13. Customer Service
Customer service is an important aspect which many people tend to overlook when it comes to buying a wireless router. However, it is an important consideration! Not everyone is an expert when it comes to handling technology and sometimes you may need to perform complex features that may require expert assistance. Hence, it is always important to make sure that you get a router that offers good customer support.
This is again where the brand plays an important part. The more reputed the brand of your router is, the more likely it is that you get better support. You can always expect good support from the likes of Google, Netgear or TP-Link than compared to an unknown or a lesser-known brand located in some far-off country!
14. Mobile App
Last but not the least, the mobile application of the router is also very important. One needs to ensure that the wireless router that they are buying comes with a mobile application that allows them to view all the network-related statistics and information on their mobile phone. This will ensure that you are always connected to your router and can see who all are using your device. In case of any unknown device being added to your network, you can be alerted and take appropriate actions.
A mobile app is also helpful because heading on your laptop or your computer every time you need to do some network-related tasks can be quite cumbersome. Mobile apps allow you to create guest WiFi networks and perform a number of other tasks remotely. Furthermore, you can also use the mobile app to set parental control, which makes sure that your children are not accessing the internet while it is their study-time or bed-time.
Frequently Asked Questions
A wireless router helps all the devices in your home connect to the internet. While most modems can only handle one device at a time, users with multiple devices generally connect their modem to a router. All your devices then connect with the router and get proper internet access. Furthermore, some ISPs also provide a wireless modem – but the problem is that they have a very limited range. Hence, connecting the modem with a router helps ensure that you get internet access all over your home across all the floors.
The answer to this question is: yes. However, the capacity of your router would then be limited. You would be able to use the router for tasks such as network sharing and using network printers. However, you will not be able to access the internet. This is because there are some modems that come with a built-in router. However, routers usually do not feature a built-in modem. Hence, simply putting it, if you want to access the internet, you would require both – the modem as well as the router.
A modem’s basic task is to convert one network protocol into another! This means that the mode acts as a link between your Internet Service Provider (ISP’s) system and your system. It translates the signals from the ISP’s system to be understood by your system. Most modems generally allow connecting only one device. A WiFi modem allows you to connect multiple devices but the range is extremely limited.
A WiFi Router, on the other hand, is a device that helps connects multiple networks together. It allows you to handle multiple devices at the same time, as well as share your internet connection. A router also boosts the signal coming from your modem and helps spread it to a bigger range, ensuring your entire house gets internet access.
The answer to this question is Yes and No. First and foremost, you must know what internet plan you have with your ISP. If you have a 100 Mbps connection, getting a router that supports 2 Gbps speeds does not mean your speeds will also become faster. Your internet speed is completely reliant on the plan that you have from your Internet provider.
On the other hand, however, if you have a faster internet speed – for example, a 2 Gbps connection, but your router supports speeds up to 450 Mbps only, then you would get slower speeds. This is how the router and internet speed are connected. A faster router does not automatically guarantee faster internet speeds but a slow-speed router can slow your internet down.
Again, the thing that you need to see here is your internet connection. A 300 Mbps internet connection would be very fast for streaming videos as well as playing games. Good video streaming requires a 5 Mbps connection while a good gaming experience requires about 20-25 Mbps connectivity. Hence, if you are on a 300 Mbps connectivity, a 300 Mbps router will be good for streaming videos and playing games.
However, if you are on a slower internet connection, then getting a 300 Mbps router will not do anything to boost your internet speed! The key thing that you must consider here is the speed that your Internet Service Provider gives you and not the speed that the router supports.
The answer to this is, yes. Wireless routers, like all electric devices, can go bad. Given that they are plugged in almost all the time, any electric surge can cause the router to heat up or get damaged. However, this also depends on the kind of router that you buy. A premium router priced above $200-$300 will usually be more resistant to these electric surges and is less likely to be damaged. However, if you go for a cheaper device below $50, there’s a good chance that it can get damaged faster.
While most people set up their routers in the corner of a room (given that is how most homes are designed), it is best advised to have the router placed centrally so that it covers the entire home. However, it is also advisable to place it in a place where you use the internet the most.
Moreover, it is also a good practice to avoid keeping metal objects around your router as metal dissipates electromagnetic signals. Having concrete or brick walls near your router will also be bad for the signal strength as concrete absorbs these signals. Moreover, keeping your router near a microwave is also ill-advised. You may notice that your internet will slow down every time you turn your microwave on! This is because Microwave operates at the same frequency as a WiFi router. It is best advised to set it up at a high place.
Our experts were more than happy to test each one of these routers, based on the mentioned metrics. While these are certainly 11 best options available in the market, regardless of the budget, you can take a pick, depending on the budget, requirements, and the area that is to be covered.
- If you are interested in the latest AX Wireless standards with emphasis on coverage area, OTT 4K streaming, and backward compatibility, the new TP-Link AX6000 with Wi-Fi 6 support might just be a good option.
- If you are into gaming and looking for a dedicated band for online gaming traffic, the expensive Asus ROG Rapture might just do the trick.
- For office setups that require excellent coverage, the Netgear Orbi RBK50 Tri-Band Wi-Fi system is a handy choice.
- Last but not least, if you are looking for a more affordable router with minimal thrills and at least four Gig Ports, the TP-Link AC1750 should be your go-to router.