Best Wi-Fi Routers: A Complete Guide
Your router is probably the most important piece of internet hardware you have in your home. If you’re struggling with a weak signal, bad connection or trouble streaming, it could be your service provider — but it could also come down to the router you’re using.
Fortunately, there’s never been a better time to buy a router. The advent of W-Fii 6 and mesh routers mean they’re better than ever at delivering high speeds and providing coverage to large homes.
There’s a wide range of routers to choose from. There’s a model that’s perfect for every household, no matter how many devices you need to connect or how much square footage you’re trying to cover.
These are some of the best Wi-Fi routers available right now, and who they will be perfect for.
The Best Mesh Router With Wi-Fi 6
Larger homes need a mesh router.
What is mesh? Unlike a standard router, which uses a single device to provide Wi-Fi coverage, a mesh router uses several to provide a broader range and eliminate dead zones. This means that a mesh router is just about essential for any larger household that’s struggled to get a strong signal throughout the home.
The ASUS ZenWi-Fi AX6600 (XT8) is one of the best mesh routers available. With high throughput, malware protection and powerful parental controls, the AX6600 is a fully featured router great for homes that have had trouble providing full coverage.
It also comes with support for Wi-Fi 6 — the next generation of Wi-Fi technology. It’s designed to boost your network’s overall performance by increasing throughput. In theory, Wi-Fi 6 routers can handle speeds of up to 10 Gbps, though performance in practice may be lower.
It is not cheap, however. The router will cost you at least $249, and you may need more than one to cover your living space. While ASUS offers two- and three-packs that are cheaper than buying the routers individually, you’ll still need to invest a bit for good home Wi-Fi coverage.
The Best Mesh Router for Households on a Budget
Maybe you don’t want to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 just yet. If not, there are cheaper mesh routers available that still deliver high performance.
The Nest Wi-Fi from Google is one of the best mesh routers available. It can handle up to 100 devices and, according to Google’s specs, “multiple simultaneous 4K video streams.”
The Nest costs just $149, and its construction and feature set means it will likely outperform similarly priced routers.
However, the Nest doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6 — meaning that if you absolutely need the highest throughput possible, you may want to look at another mesh router.
If you need to connect many devices wirelessly or provide coverage to a large home but don’t need the speeds that Wi-Fi 6 can provide, the Nest Wi-Fi is a great choice.
The Best Budget Pick
The TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Router MU-MIMO Gigabit (Archer A6) is a budget pick best suited for users who need a high-throughput router but don’t have that much ground to cover.
This router is a great fit for an apartment or small home with a fast internet plan but not a lot of devices or square footage. However, it does come with MU-MIMO tech that allows it to communicate with two devices simultaneously, boosting efficiency if you have two or more people trying to connect.
The router doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6, meaning it can’t deliver speeds as fast as some more cutting-edge routers. However, if you don’t need high speed or major coverage for a large living space, the Archer A6 is one of the better budget picks available.
The Best Overall Router
The TP-Link AX3000 Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 Router Archer (AX50) is one of the best, well-rounded routers on the market that comes at a reasonable price point — just $150 at the time of writing.
The router features support for Wi-Fi 6, up to 3 Gbps speeds and beamforming technology to help cover more of your home.
If those features aren’t enough, you may consider upgrading to the TP-Link AX6000. It comes with all the same features as the AX3000, but offers faster speeds and twice as many ethernet ports. If you have a large number of wired devices that you need to plug into your router, the AX6000 may be a better investment. However, its high price and large size may not make it practical for every buyer.
Similarly, if the AX3000 is out of your price range, you might look at the AX1800. It retails at $99.99, about $50 cheaper than the AX3000. While it doesn’t come equipped with the same features, its high-quality specs make it a good budget alternative.
The Most Secure Router
If keeping your home network secure is your top priority, then you should consider the NETGEAR Nighthawk AC19000 Smart Wi-Fi Router (R7000). The AC1900 has been on the market for a few years but remains one of the best routers available when it comes to network security.
The router is priced at $189. It comes with advanced features like DoS protection, parental controls and Netgear “Armor,” a security service that helps to protect your home network from internet threats like malware and viruses.
How to Pick the Right Router for Your Home
The router you choose can have a big impact on your signal strength throughout your home and your network’s security.
For those who need the fastest speeds available, a router with Wi-Fi 6 will be a good investment, such as the TP-Link Archer A6. If you have a large home and have struggled with signal dead zones, you may also want a mesh router, like the Nest Wi-Fi or the ASUS ZenWi-Fi AX system.
If security is your top priority, then you may want to invest in the NETGEAR R7000, which comes with some of the best available router security features.
Consider your needs and budget, and the right choice for you should easily stand out.