Your Wi-Fi router is your gateway to online access, turning a wired Internet connection from your provider into a wireless network for your home. When your internet service provider decides that you can achieve the maximum speed and how much data you can use, it is your wireless router that establishes the desired home Wi-Fi connection for your device.
However, it is no secret that not all best wireless routers are created equally and certain models will be more suitable for your family depending on your online activity, the number of connected devices, and the size of your home. The prices of wireless routers vary greatly depending on their capabilities. You can find budget options around 50, while the latest hardware can go up to $ 500.
How we chose our best wireless routers
To find the best wireless routers, we focused on three things when comparing models:
Speed: The more devices and users, the more speed you will need, so keep a high target. On most wireless routers, you get both the 5 and 2.4 GHz, bands. The 5 GHz band can handle more bandwidth but in a shorter range. The 2.4 GHz band can handle less bandwidth but on a larger range. Shoot to break traffic for a dual or even tri-band wireless router. Just keep in mind that while a wireless router may be able to achieve a certain download speed, your internet service provider ultimately decides what is possible.
Antenna: Any wireless router will only be as good as the signal and the antenna is a big part of it. If your desired wireless router does not have an external antenna, consider choosing a model based on a fake network.
Features: Many wireless routers come with additional security features such as guest networking, automatic firmware updates, and remote management features. All our routers need to have the latest WPA, WPA2, or WPA3 certification.
Overall, we narrowed down our search to more than 20 models based on ratings of test sites, such as customer reviews and consumer reports. From there, we compare everyone’s features and prices to find the best price for each situation.
Best router overall: Netgear Nighthawk AX8
Netgear is one of the most respected names in best wireless routers, and the Nighthawk AX8 is their new model equipped with all the latest features. More than any router we’ve seen, the AX8 is capable of delivering gigabit speeds to every corner of the room, breaking down walls and floors. Netgear says this model can connect devices up to 90 feet away, but you can expect performance to stop after about 50 feet. If you need more range, we recommend a fake network (more on that below).
The AX8 includes advanced malware protection and the latest firmware updates after installation. It works with Disney’s Circle app, which lets you block inappropriate content on certain devices.
About this item
Stream everything at Wi-Fi 6-speed: Download/transfer files at the same time uninterrupted movies, games, video calls, or 6.6Gbps Wi-Fi speed. Works with existing and newer Wi-Fi 6 devices like iPhone 11, Galaxy Note 10, and Galaxy S10
Works with all Internet providers: Replace your existing Wi-Fi router and take (requires a separate modem or modem router). Compatible with any Internet Service Provider up to 2Gbps including Cable, Satellite, Fiber, DSL, and more
Easy to set up and manage: Connect to your existing cable modem and set up and customize in minutes with the Nighthawk app – Easily manage your Wi-Fi settings at device and network level, check your internet speed, view speed history And monitor data usage
USB connection: Share a storage drive with any connected device and create private cloud storage for access from anywhere using the 1 x 3.0 USB port
Netflix Armor powered by Bit fender: The world’s top cybersecurity protects all your home devices from viruses, malware, and data theft through a 30-day free trial.
Wired Ethernet Port: Plug computers, game consoles, streaming players, and other nearby wired devices with 4 x 1G Ethernet ports
Loaded with advanced technology: 1.5GHz quad-core processor, OFDMA, MU-MIMO, Dynamic QoS, 1024-QAM, Smart Connect for One-Fi name, designed with beamforming technology and Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. WPA2 / WPA3 supports wireless security protocols. Guests include Wi-Fi Access, DOS, Firewall, VPN, and More.
Reasons for Buy
Wi-Fi 6 compatible
Great security features
Reasons for Avoid
Not great for larger homes.
Router with fastest speeds: ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000
Whether you’re a gamer, have a large family, or want to make sure you’re using every bit of your high-speed internet connection, the ASUS ROG Rapture is the best-performing wireless router we’ve got. It has a stunning eight gigabit LAN port for gaming on multiple devices and it can reach speeds of up to 3,000 Mbps, although you will be hard-pressed to find an internet plan that can provide them.
And this shows the part of the router. At 2.5 by 9.6 by 9.6 inches, it is one of the largest models on the market, with eight huge (and removable) antennas. However, with all its powerful engineering, it is relatively user-friendly. You can set up Alexa voice commands to do things like stop the Internet or turn on the guest network, and the ROG Rapture can be used to create fake networks in large homes with other ASUS routers.
About this item
- Triple level game acceleration accelerates game traffic With device, game packet, and game server prioritization
- Cutting edge hardware offers the best performance 1.8 GigaHertz Quad-Core CPU and 2.5 G gaming port for ultimate performance
- Your own gaming mesh network is Compatible with the ASUS AiMesh Wi-Fi system for seamless whole-home coverage.Memory:256 MB Flash,1 GB RAM
- ASUS wrt enables support for open, advanced monitoring and control which includes device bandwidth utilization as well as device or usage prioritization
- ASUS AiProtection security to neutralize internet threats before they hit your network
- Nextgen ax Wi-Fi is backward compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi devices and Supports current Wi-Fi devices. Operating Frequency:2.4 GigaHertz, 5 GigaHertz 1, 5 GigaHertz 2
|Connectivity Technology||Wireless, Wired, USB|
|Frequency Band Class||Tri-Band|
|Wireless Communication Standard||802.11ax, 802.11ac|
|Number of Ports||15|
|Data Transfer Rate||11000 Megabits Per Second|
|Controller Type||Vera, Amazon_alexa|
Best budget router: TP-Link Archer A7
The Archer A7 is not TP-Link’s new router it first debuted in 2018 but it still holds up as a workhorse router that is more than twice its size compared to many models. Speed can still get up to around 650 Mbps in the near range, which is much higher than what most Americans are getting.
The problems of the Archer A7 come into play with big houses. Its range is about 80 feet, but you can expect the speed to drop significantly more than the router you get. This is the only router on our list that uses the old Wi-Fi 5 standard. Newer devices that have Wi-Fi 6 will still work with the Archer A7, you won’t see the same speed and bandwidth benefits. If you want to invest in a wireless router that will take you to the next decade, you should probably spend a little more on a Wi-Fi 6 router.
About this item
- JD Power Award —Highest in customer satisfaction for wireless routers 2017 and 2019
- Router for wireless internet works with Alexa, compatible with all Wi-Fi devices, 802.11ac, and older
- Dual-band router upgrades to 1750 Mbps high-speed internet(450mbps for 2.4GHz, 1300Mbps for 5GHz), reducing buffering and ideal for 4K streaming
- Gigabit Router with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, fast access to multiple connected wired devices, ideal as a gaming router
- Integrated USB port acts as a media server, easily share your USB drive content
- TP-Link Tether app easily set up and remotely manage your home network
- Industry-leading Manufactures 2-year warranty
|Connectivity Technology||Wi-Fi Built-In|
|Frequency Band Class||Dual-Band|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 98SE, NT, 2000, XP, Vista or Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1/10, MAC OS, NetWare, UNIX or Linux Microsoft Windows 98SE, NT, 2000, XP, Vista or Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1/10, MAC OS, NetWare, UNIX or Linux See more|
|Wireless Type||802.11n, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11ac|
|Security Protocol||WEP, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK|
|Number of Ports||5|
|LAN Port Bandwidth||Gigabit|
|Data Transfer Rate|
features and characteristics of Wi-Fi router
Streaming – especially 4K streaming – consumes bandwidth for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, so you need to buy equipment and services to maintain it. You want to start with an internet plan that provides enough bandwidth (and a high enough data cap) to support your streaming habits and provide a better experience. Then you need a router that can handle bandwidth and work with multiple devices simultaneously to prioritize traffic.
Keep in mind that while the router provided by your ISP may be able to handle basic 4K streaming, it probably lacks advanced features that help facilitate streaming across multiple devices without any hassle. If you see a lot of buffering, stator, or fridge while streaming video, it may be time to think about buying your own router.
Quality of service (QoS)
Many high-end routers have quality service (QoS) features that allow you to prioritize devices and traffic over the network so that the most important data streams (such as Netflix, in this case) get more bandwidth. This ensures smooth video playback without interfering with other activities that can run at home at the same time while downloading, gaming or streaming. If your home uses a lot of the internet, be sure to look for QoS features on the router.
You may have heard the word “processor” and thought about the specification of the computer, but the processor also plays a role in the world of routers. The latest and greatest routers often have dual processors, which allow them to process data and instructions quickly. The result for the end-user is a smooth connection with fewer breaks and delays.
Tri-band, dual-band, or single-band
The router uses two radio frequencies, or “bands”: the old 2.4 GHz or the new 5 GHz. A basic single-band router supports only one of those bands. Newer routers often have dual-band capabilities, meaning they communicate with devices in both bands, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
Most advanced routers have tri-band functionality. These routers typically use two 5 GHz bands and a 2.4 GHz band. The ability to use three bands increases download and upload speeds and often reduces the likelihood of signal interference.
If streaming in 4K is your priority, at least shoot for a dual-band router. This will give your ultra-HD stream the power it needs at the most reasonable price.
Naming conventions for the Wireless Standard are in the process of being changed, but you’ll usually see values like 802.11n, 802.11ac, and Wi-Fi 6. This is the most used value at the moment. Wi-Fi 6 is the new standard available on top-of-the-line routers. (Its name is simple because it came out after the name change)
You can get the exact quality of streaming with an 802.11n router, but you’ll want to do a search using 802.11ac or Wi-Fi 6 if possible. These values provide the speed needed to stream 4K video and manage one or two games on your Xbox or PS5. It’s easy to tell which router uses the wireless standard – it’s usually named.
MU-MIMO and beamforming
MU-MIMO means multi-user, multiple-input, and multiple outputs. Many new standalone routers use technologies such as MU-Mimo because it maintains Internet speeds when Internet users access the network via bandwidth sharing. Think of it as advanced multitasking for your router. This can make a big difference, so if you often have multiple devices active in your household, be sure to look for it.
Beamforming is usually accompanied by MU-Mimo. It extends wireless throughput and range using transmitters and receivers compatible with MU-MIMO. The router (transmitter) basically beams the Wi-Fi signal to your device’s internal antenna, forming a home network capable of supporting high-level streaming.
What is the end result? You get a signal that is more powerful and longer range that can handle multiple devices at once.
The number and power of your router’s antennas can affect your Wi-Fi signal range, reliability, and performance, as well as features like MU-MIMO and beamforming.
This does not mean that the router with the most antennas is the best. But if you do 4K streaming over Wi-Fi, you want the best signal with the most throughput and that means multiple antennas.
Ethernet and USB ports make routers more efficient. You can of course go wireless for everything, but sometimes it’s understandable for the hardware on a device. Also, if you plan to use Wi-Fi Extender, you will definitely want a router with a few free Ethernet ports. Many people work with two ports, but some cannot go without at least four.
Ethernet ports on routers come in handy when placing the router in your entertainment center and plugging it directly into your streaming box or smart TV. This helps ensure a strong signal on your main device and leaves the Wi-Fi signal available for tablets and other devices.
Finally, some routers offer additional benefits. They won’t necessarily improve 4K streams, but they can make your life easier. Features range from parental control to cloud access and advanced security settings to automatic backups. Some even include “Airtime Fairness”, a feature that extends bandwidth to 802.11ac – compatible devices – such as your 4K HDTV – before giving it to 802.11n devices.
Whether you’re trying to share bandwidth with 4K streaming, multiple streams, or Netflix and your roommate’s daily zoom conference calls with their whole family, these routers won’t leave you buffering. Our choice for most families is the Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream because it delivers great performance at a reasonable price.