Best Wireless Routers

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Last updated: 06/30/2020
Best Wireless Routers

What to Look for In a WiFi Router

Not all wireless routers are created equal and low-powered or out-of-date ones will reduce your home internet’s performance. But unless you’re a tech wiz, you probably don’t know what to look for in a router. Before we reveal our top picks, we break down the specs:
  • Speed: in general, the faster the better, especially if you're signed up to a lightning-fast fiber or cable plan. You want to ensure your devices are receiving all the Mbps you’re paying for. The throughput speed of a router is linked to its wireless protocol, with the most common, 802.11ac, accommodating maximum theoretical speeds of up to 5.4Gbps. But a new protocol, called WiFi 6, or less, catchily 802.11ax, launched in 2019, handling even higher throughput. Domestic internet connections currently top out at 1Gbps in the United States but a supercharged router will give you room to grow.
  • WiFi bands: Look for a dual-band router, broadcasting on both the 5 and 2.4 GHz bands. Older routers support just the 2.4 GHz band, which is slower and heavily trafficked. The 5 GHz band has more bandwidth and isn’t as crowded but doesn’t travel as far or penetrate thick walls as well. But together they're the perfect pair and dual-band routers switch between the two. Tri-band routers add a second 5 GHz band for even better performance.
  • Antennas: Antennas project the WiFi signal around your house. For the best range, look for routers with multiple antennas. But the best coverage is delivered by mesh WiFi systems, which dispense with external antennas altogether and operate through nods placed around a house.
  • Speed: up to 4Gbps
  • WiFi bands: 3
  • Antennas: 6
  • Price: $260-300

This piece of kit accommodates speeds of up to 4,000Mbps over three frequency bands, meaning you won’t be slowed down by network traffic when your family starts streaming on separate devices. Its six antennas ensure internet signal gets to every corner of your house, so you can take refuge in the attic to watch your favorite show.

Best for Large Homes: Google Wifi

  • Speed: up to 1.2Gbps
  • WiFi bands: 2
  • Antennas: none (mesh network)
  • Price: ~$100 (one point), ~$250 (three points)

Forget unsightly routers wreathed in antennas. Mesh networks are the best way to get signal into every corner and cranny of your home. Google has its hand in WiFi too and its mesh system is intuitive and affordable. Simply buy a set of points—three is usually enough to start—set them in strategic places around your house, scan a QR code and you’re bathed in WiFi, from your attic to your walk-in closet. The points are also sleek and stylish--a subtle addition to any room. 

  • Speed: up to 1.3Gbps
  • WiFi bands: 2
  • Antennas: 3
  • Price: ~$65

You don’t have to break the bank to get a decent WiFi. The Archer has throughput speed to rival more expensive models and a respectable range. Its also unobtrusive and compact, for easy placement. And at just $65, it’s around half the cost of renting a router from most ISPs. It’s a no brainer.

Best for Security: Netgear Nighthawk AC2300 (RS400)

  • Speed: 626.6 Mbps
  • WiFi bands: 2
  • Antennas: 3
  • Price: ~$250
The speed and range are credible, but they’re not the reason to choose the Nighthawk. The draw here is its battalion of security features, including a three-year subscription to Bitdefender Total Security software. The Nighthawk locks down your home WiFi like Fort Knox, keeping all the devices connected to it safe from cyberattacks. No, you can't have our WiFi password.

Best for Gamers: Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000

  • Speed: Up to 10.8Gbps
  • WiFi bands: 3
  • Antennas: 8
  • Price: ~$450

It looks like a Star Wars spacecraft touching down on your desk and it’s just as futuristic and packed with firepower as that design implies, fitting WiFi 6 specification. Gamers will appreciate its speed, which improves over a longer range; its low latency; and its gaming-oriented customization. It won’t take you to the top of the leaderboard by itself, but it’ll help.

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