A strong, stable and fast internet connection has become a critical component of many households. From students, parents and entrepreneurs to gamers, media lovers and audiophiles – everyone who uses the internet needs a reliable router in their home or office.
If you want to find the best wireless router for your needs and budget, there are few features you should look for to get the most out of your investment. Whether you enjoy gaming online, surfing the net or working from home; there’s a wireless router for you. This guide will help you find the best wireless router to fit your lifestyle.
How to Choose the Best Wireless Router
Here are a few questions to think about before shopping for the best wireless router:
How many people do you have in your household who use the internet? If you live with several other people who use the internet, your household might be considered to have “high Wi-Fi traffic”. If that’s the case, you’ll need a wireless router that can handle a lot of bandwidth. But the number of people may not always be as important as the number of devices connected to the network, which leads to the next question.
How many devices do you have that require an internet connection? This can be easy to overlook because sometimes people don’t realize just how many devices need Wi-Fi at some point. Here’s a checklist of things you might have that could take up a device spot on your Wi-Fi network:
- Computer and/or laptop
- Blu-ray players
- Cable/streaming devices
- Smart watch
- Gaming consoles
- Household appliances
- Smart speakers
- Sound systems
- Beds (it’s true)
- …and more…
The key thing to keep in mind is the number of devices that will be in use at one time (“in use” meaning connected to Wi-Fi). If you exceed the number of devices that your router can handle, you may not be able to connect additional devices until a spot is freed up or you may experience a major reduction in speed. The best wireless routers will be able to support several devices at one time.
What type of activities will you be using the internet for? Some internet activities are more bandwidth-intensive than others. For example, if you’re gaming online, live streaming and watching YouTube videos, you’ll need high-speed internet as well as a fast wireless router.
Remember: a high-quality wireless router doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get faster internet. The speed of your internet depends on what type of internet service you are paying for. However, you need to have a router that’s fast and efficient enough to keep up with your high-speed internet (we’ll talk more about this later).
What exactly is a wireless router?
A wireless router is a device that acts as an access point to connect to the internet, both wired and wirelessly. This means you can have the router in one room and enjoy wireless internet in any other room, or you can connect your computer straight to the router for an extremely fast, stable internet connection (provided you have fast internet in the first place).
A wireless router is not the internet itself; you have to pay for internet that is provided to you by your local internet service provider. However, you need a router in your home so that you can use your internet services.
Most internet service providers will let you rent a router for your home. This can get expensive over time, so you will ultimately save money on your internet bills by having your own router instead. Owning a personal router can give you access to more controls and features that might not be available with a rented router. Choosing your own router also means that you can find one with the right Wi-Fi range and features for your household.
Remember the old days when your computer had to be wire connected to the router to grant internet access? With wireless routers, you don’t have to deal with cable limitations anymore. However, it’s important to note that some computers may not come with wireless capabilities and will need to be wire connected to the router.
Luckily, most wireless routers have ports that allow you to connect your devices with a cable if you choose. Always make sure to look at the number and type of ports that a router has, and consider how many ports you’ll need now and in the future.
Three of the most important specifications to look at when shopping for the best wireless router is speed, range and security.
As previously mentioned, the speed of the router doesn’t really mean the same thing as the speed of your internet. However, the speed of your router will have an impact on your Wi-Fi experience. If you have a really fast internet, you need a router that can handle the speed (it’s all connected!).
Why is router performance important? There’s nothing more frustrating when all you want to do is watch a video or chat with your friend, and the video keeps buffering or stuttering. In combination with high-speed internet, a high-performance wireless router will help ensure that you can maintain a solid wireless connection wherever you are within the router’s range.
Also, if you’re paying the extra money for ultra-fast internet, you want to invest in a router that’s equally high performance so you don’t lose out on any speed.
When shopping for wireless routers, you may come across products that are either “N” or “AC”, followed by numbers (indicating speed). In general, the best wireless routers will be AC because these units are faster and have better performance than N routers.
Just like cellular towers, a wireless router will only be able to reach a certain distance before you can no longer connect to it. To get the most out of a wireless router, a lot of people also use Wi-Fi extenders or choose wireless routers with external antennas to ensure that the entire household have access to clear, stable internet. If you have a large house or you need a lot of available Wi-Fi distance, you’ll need a high-range wireless router, preferably with antennas; or you could go with a mesh home Wi-Fi system.
If you’re willing to pay a little more for optimized distance and connectivity, you should look into getting a mesh Wi-Fi system. A mesh system is typically a router that comes with one or more nodes in the form of additional units that may look similar or identical to the main router.
The idea behind a mesh system is that you set up the main router in the center of your house and place the others in different rooms as you see fit. The router and the nodes will provide “mesh coverage” to your house for a more optimized wireless signal.
In addition to having a wide and powerful range, you’ll also need to ensure that you can put your wireless router in a central location with minimal interference. You should avoid putting it under or behind furniture as this can cause interference with the wireless connection. It’s also ideal to have your device within clear sight of the router (this is where extenders or mesh nodes come in handy).
Sometimes appliances and devices such as microwaves and cell phones can cause additional interference. If you want to test the signal strength of your wireless router, there are several techniques and applications that allow you to monitor your network signal as well as your network speeds.
Overall, you want to make sure that you invest in updated hardware if you want the best possible wireless range from your router. If you want to futureproof your router, it might also be a good idea to spend extra money for a more powerful option with faster speeds and more advanced data management technologies. Wireless technology is always changing and advancing, so be sure to stay on top of the latest news on routers, internet services and devices.
To learn more about how to optimize the wireless range of your wireless router, check out this article.
As much as you like your neighbors, you probably don’t want them accessing your Wi-Fi without permission. More importantly, you want to make sure you have full control over your network at all times while avoiding any activity from viruses, malware or hackers. Additionally, you may also desire parental control features to help keep your kids safe and restricted as needed.
The router is the gatekeeper for all of your devices. With so many devices being used nowadays, router security is absolutely essential.
The simplest and easiest aspect of security for the router is the encryption that is attached to your Wi-Fi password. Essentially, encryption makes your Wi-Fi password harder to break into.
Here is a list of the available encryptions on newer routers, from weakest to strongest:
Open (no password)
- WPA + TKIP
- WPA + TKIP/AES
- WPA + AES
- WPA2 + AES
Bear in mind that, not only your router has to support this encryption, but so do the devices that you are connecting to your router.
While the encryption is important, the strength of your password can be equally important. Choosing a short password or one that is easy to guess (your name) can be an easy way for outsiders to get in and do the damage to your network. Having a long password with numbers, upper case, lower case and special characters can help improve your chances of no one guessing it correctly.
The firmware of your router is also a way to keep your network safe. If your firmware has not been updated, you may be at risk of a breach. Keeping your firmware up to date is recommended by all modem and router manufacturers.
Think of it as the same as keeping your anti-virus scanner updated; there may be new viruses in the world that your scanner doesn’t know about and can’t detect, so it’s essential to stay updated. Along with security updates, updating firmware can also improve or add features to your router.
One a final note, the best wireless router will have an intuitive user interface with an easy-to-use downloadable app. The best router apps will let you control, monitor and customize your network so that you can enjoy your internet according to your unique lifestyle.
12 Best Wireless Routers in 2020
The Best WiFi Mesh System with Tri-band
One of the best wireless routers to choose from is NETGEAR Orbi. It offers fast performance (up to 30Gbps) thanks to great Wi-Fi connection. What is more, due to patented tri-band technology, you won’t feel any changes in its speed even when using several devices simultaneously. Note that this wireless router covers almost 5,000 square feet, so you won’t face such unpleasant phenomenon as a dead zone.
NETGEAR Orbi comes with Mesh Wi-Fi system and Orbi app using which you can create a guest network, check speed, etc. Besides, there is NETGAR Armor which provides anti-virus and data theft protection for all the devices. Note that there is only 90-day free trial.
Another great option provided by this wireless router is its parental control which allows parents to limit the Internet time for their children as well as set individual filters taking into account personal preferences and age.
- fast tri-band performance
- great Wi-Fi coverage
- easy setup with Orbi app
- durable build quality
- anti-virus and data theft protection
- can be purchased with an additional node for extreme coverage
- limited USB functionality
- a bit bulky
- firmware updates can be buggy
Linksys EA7500 AC1900 Dual Band Wireless Router
The Best Wireless Router for Gaming and Streaming
Need a wireless Wi-Fi router to connect more than 12 devices at the same time? Have a look at Linksys EA7500 AC1900. It supports PCs, tablets, smartphones as well as 4K UHD TVs and game consoles. And thanks to its multi-user MIMO technology the number of devices won’t affect the quality of Wi-Fi connection at all as its Beamforming technology distributes Wi-Fi signal evenly to each device. So, a fast and stable connection is guaranteed.
Linksys EA7500 AC1900 comes with 4 GB Ethernet ports as well as USB 2.0/3.0 ports. Due to this wired connection comes with fast data transmission. On the whole, this router has dual Wi-Fi bands and combined data speeds which can reach up to 1.9 GB (2.4 GHz/600 Mbps or 5 GHz/1300 Mbps). By the way, there is a smart Wi-Fi app which provides remote monitoring and control over the network. Another great bonus is its easy setup. You won’t need any CD for installation.
- dual Wi-Fi bands
- 1.9 GB speed
- fast NAS performance
- supports up to 12+ simultaneously
- wall mounting
- quick setup
- only one USB 3.0 port
- tight power switch
- a bit bulky
- limited setting control
AmpliFi HD WiFi System by Ubiquiti Labs
Excellent Wi-Fi Router With Adjustable Modes
Looking for a Wi-Fi system? Then AmpliFi HD Wi-Fi System by Ubiquiti Labs is worth your attention. Its set includes a Wi-Fi router with a touchscreen display and two MeshPoints which prevent dead zones. By the way, there are adjustable super antennas which you can place and set in the way you need to cover the dead spots.
There is also great coverage which reaches up to 10,000 sq. ft. Note that its 802.11AC technology provides not only better coverage but also fast performance. This system is designed with multiple self-configuring radios and Wi-Fi super antenna technology which guarantees high-speed and safe Wi-Fi connection. Thus, AmpliFi HD is a great choice for gaming, 4K streaming, downloads etc.
The AmpliFi HD Kit comes with 4 GB Ethernet ports, a WAN port and an Ethernet cable. It also has a fast and easy setup due to its AmpliFi app. Besides, this app includes parental control, remote access, guest access and some configuration options as well as reporting metrics.
- stylish look with smart touch display
- plug-in mesh extender
- 4 LAN ports
- 10,000 sq. ft. coverage
- fast performance
- great AmpliFi app
- easy setup
- no desktop admin software
- large mesh points which are rather limited
- USB port does not support external peripherals
- no Ethernet ports on mesh nodes
- limited customization
Linksys Velop Tri-band Wi-Fi System
Another Great Home Router With Tri-band
Though Linksys Velop doesn’t offer such great coverage as the AmpliFi HD Kit, there are some other features which make it one of the best Wi-Fi systems to choose from. Its tri-band Wi-Fi replacement guarantees high-quality and mesh coverage. Besides, its Wi-Fi connection is stable and provides fast performance.
Note that Linksys Velop Tri-Band Home Mesh Wi-Fi System can be connected to your modem from almost any ISP. The setup process won’t be difficult as well. Its slim and modern minimalist tower design will also make it a stylish part of your interior.
Linksys Velop has also got Linksys Shield to control the network and secure Wi-Fi connection. Such option as parental control is available too. You can use it to filter content or manage screen time on certain devices. But keep in mind that you can use Linksys Shield only when having Linksys App. Note that this app provides guest access, speed test and device prioritization. By the by, Linksys Velop also offers voice control.
- modern design
- high tri-band speed
- simple installation
- MU-MIMO enabled
- stable connectivity
- no USB ports
- only one LAN Ethernet port
- doesn’t provide dedicated band control
One of the Best Home Wi-Fi Routers
Here’s another great Wi-Fi system to eliminate dead zones and provide reliable connectivity. Google Wi-Fi can replace a router for whole home coverage. It provides high-speed signals for every connected device. Thanks to advanced software this Wi-Fi system comes with you won’t need to spend time on network management as Network Assist will do everything instead of you.
Google Wi-Fi comes with a simple app which guarantees easy setup and allows you to prioritize devices on your network as well as provide guest access. Besides, you can pause Wi-Fi on specific devices during your family time.
This Wi-Fi system can cover from 1,500 up to 4,500 sq. ft. depending on the number of Wi-Fi points. In case you need greater coverage you can add more Wi-Fi points.
- reliable Wi-Fi coverage
- easy setup
- excellent management with Network Assist
- intuitive mobile app
- stylish space-saving design
- small and lightweight
- no USB and LAN ports
- comes in 1- or 3-pack only
- limited configuration options
TP-Link AC1900 (Archer A9)
Great Value for Money
One of the best budget wireless Wi-Fi routers is Link AC1900. This model is designed with 802.11AC Wave2 Wi-Fi and dual-band speeds up to 1.9 Gbps (600Mbps/2.4GHz and 1300Mbps/5GHz). Its MU-MIMO technology and three simultaneous data streams as well as Beamforming, Smart Connect, and Airtime Fairness guarantee fast performance suitable for 4K streaming and gaming. Smart Connection chooses the fastest Wi-Fi band for your device while Airtime Fairness doesn’t allow old devices to slow down Wi-Fi connection and prevents lagging.
Archer A9 comes with such additional options as parental controls, access control and a VPN server. What is more, there is great stable coverage thanks to Beamforming and 3 external high gain antennas. You can also use Alexa voice control to manage Link AC1900. This Wi-Fi router has easy setup through free Tether app. You can also use it to manage additional options.
- affordable price
- easy setup
- free Tether app
- Smart Connect
- Airtime Fairness
- good speed
- can handle multiple devices
- poor storage performance
- only one USB 3.0 port
- can be positioned only vertically
- software doesn’t have a restart schedule
TP-Link AC5400 (Archer C5400X)
One of the Fastest Wi-Fi Routers
One more wireless Wi-Fi router to consider is TP-Link AC5400. It comes with 1.8 GHz 64-bit quad-core CPU which boosts loading and has three co-processors and 1 GB RAM. Thanks to dynamic optimization traffic is always prioritized which results in eliminated latency.
TP-Link AC5400 has also got MU-MIMO and Airtime Fairness for better response rates and total throughput. The reception is also strengthened due to RangeBoost. Besides, there is Beamforming which helps to provide a stable connection at farther distances.
This Wi-Fi router is known for its great speed which can reach up to 1000 Mbps (2.4 GHz) and to 2167 Mbps (5 GHz). As there are three Wi-Fi bands it is a perfect choice for gaming as you can dedicate one of them namely to this activity.
Archer C5400X is also provided with 8 GB Ethernet ports which guarantees solid wired connection even without a separate switch. There are also two LAN ports with doubled connection speed (up to 2 Gbps for NAS devices) due to Link Aggregation. What is more, this router has got hefty threat protection to prevent cyber attacks as well as antivirus.
- excellent performance
- lots of LAN ports
- supports Alexa and IFTTT
- malware and antivirus protection
- 5 GHz speed
- easy setup
- file transfer speed could be better
- not enough gaming centered features
eero Home Wi-Fi System
Another Great Wi-Fi System for Gaming With High Security Level
Another great Wi-Fi system which can replace a router is eero Home. It comes with intelligent mesh Wi-Fi technology as well as top-notch hardware. As it is the eero second generation this system is two times faster than its predecessor. There are two auto-detecting Ethernet ports to get connect to any device you need.
This eero Wi-Fi system is designed with 5Ghz radio and tri-band power. It means that eero can be used as a gateway as well as provide additional 1,500 sq. ft. of coverage. Note that this system includes two eero Beacons which are half smaller than eero and can add up to 1,000 sq. ft. each. You can plug this compact Wi-Fi point in to an outlet and boost Wi-Fi connection for your devices. What is more, eero Beacon has adjustable brightness due to the ambient light sensor and automatic dimmer. Still, you can use eero app to control the brightness level on your own.
Thanks to eero app you won’t have problems with setup. There is also a reliable security level due to one-time passwords for eero app access. Note that eero lets only WPA2-compatible devices to your network. You can also create profiles with individual schedules and control the time spent on the Internet.
- easy setup and management
- adjustable brightness
- tri-band power
- reliable connection
- good security
- not the fastest Wi-Fi system on our list
- can run hot
ASUS Wireless-AC1700 (RT-ACRH17)
The Best Wi-Fi Router Under $100
ASUS Wireless-AC1700 is a dual-band Wi-Fi router with 802. 11ac MU-MIMO (4T4R) technology. Its data transfer speed reaches up to 1700 Mbps. Its two 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands deliver up to 400 Mbps and 1300 Mbps speeds. There is also a quad-core processor with 356 MB RAM which is responsible for the optimization of network traffic.
RT-ACRH17 comes with USB 3.0 and 4 GB LAN ports. MU-MIMO technology guarantees excellent speed performance for multiple devices. Note that this router can support up to three 3 MU-MIMO-compatible clients at the same time. Besides, there is AiRadar Beamforming technology provided with four fixed antennas which boost wireless coverage.
As well as all other pre-cited Wi-Fi routers and systems RT-ACRH17 is designed with ASUS router app. It helps to setup the network and manage all the available options like parental control.
- great performance
- MU-MIMO technology
- user-friendly app
- affordable price
- stable coverage
- poor storage performance
- doesn’t support AiMesh
- no third-party firmware support
- a bit bulky design
- only one USB port
TP-Link Deco P7
A Sleek-Looking Wireless Router with Impressive Performance
If you are looking for a trustworthy solution that will provide great Wi-Fi coverage in your restaurant, cafe or a large house, TP-Link Deco P7 mesh router is a great option for you.
This three-nod system is tiny, sleek-looking, and is coming with a two-year warranty. More importantly, thanks to its combination of Wi-Fi and powerline networking, it allows for coverage of more than 5500 square feet, which is impressive for any device of this type.
Moreover, it allows for more than 100 simultaneous connections and can be successfully used as a router, as well as an access point.
TP-Link Deco P7 supports for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz range; however, it runs the same network on both bandwidths. Therefore, dedicating a band to a specific device is out of question.
Furthermore, this router offers numerous control options, such as parental control, blacklisting of websites or apps, or restricting internet use for certain users, as well as some useful features such as antivirus and user prioritization.
Overall, TP-Link Deco P7 offers great value for the money and definitely presents one of the best wireless routers out there. Of course, if you are fine with its price that’s a bit high.
- Easy setup
- Great coverage
- It cannot be mounted to a wall or ceiling
- No USB connection
Excellent Great Wireless Router for Gaming with Dual Wan Support
Synology RT2600ac is designed with 1.7GHz Dual-core processor which delivers fast and reliable performance. Besides, there are two hefty 4×4 802.11ac wave radios which come with MU-MIMO technology. This Wi-Fi router provides up to 2.53Gbps speeds and has Smart Connect which guarantees top-notch transition between maximum speed or range.
Its Synology Router Manager (SRM) operating system will take care of easy and fast setup as well as management operations. Thanks to traffic monitoring tool you will be also able to control and shape the flow of data in your network. This router has got solid security system which includes intrusion prevention, denial-of-service protection, and firewall management. Apart from this, it is provided with a powerful VPN server.
By the by, Synology RT2600ac can be used as a centralized entertainment server, so you may enjoy multimedia content using DLNA home devices.
- user-friendly web interface
- two USB ports and SD card slot
- dual WAN support
- great media server options
- can be used as a reliable network storage server when coupled with an external hard drive
- MU-MIMO technology
- stable connection
- VPN support
- only five network ports
- lacks wireless bridge
- poor guest network feature
Linksys WRT 3200 ACM
Great Home Wireless Router with Open-Source
As well as all pre-cited Wi-Fi routers and systems this one is also provided with MU-MIMO technology. Besides, there is Tri-Stream 160 technology for better speed without lagging. It doubles the bandwidth of the 5 GHz band to boost data-heavy activity with 2.6 Gbps Wi-Fi speeds. As this wireless Wi-Fi router is also DFS Certified its number of channels available at 80MHz is also tripled.
Linksys WRT AC3200 is equipped with several ports suitable for eSATA and USB hard drives, network printers, flash drives etc. Note that Linksys WRT AC3200 is open source ready which means that you can adjust it with OpenWrt and DD-WRT according to your personal needs and requirements. Open Source Firmware includes VPN setup as well as turning a router into a web server. You can also create hotspots, manage network traffic and detect its intrusion.
By the way, this router is designed with 1.8 GHz dual-core processor which can cope with heavy network traffic and deliver low latency. As a result, you get a responsive home network with advanced speed.
- great file transfer speed
- fast 5 GHz throughput
- MU-MIMO and Tri-Stream 160MHz technologies
- good wired connectivity
- hefty hardware
- user-friendly interface
- high level of customization
- no 160MHz clients available
- old design
- connection drops
Enjoy Reliable Wi-Fi with the Best Wireless Router for Your Home or Office
Internet access provides us with entertainment, education and the ability to connect with the world like never before. If you want your home to have the best wireless connectivity, you need the best wireless router that works for your household size, lifestyle and budget.
Remember: your internet is what keeps your devices connected, but your router is what keeps your internet connected!