Best Wi-Fi Routers
Buying anything can be complicated, but this is especially true about modern, high-tech stuff. Routers, an essential part of the modern Internet, are not an exception.
There are many technical terms about routers that you need to understand in order to choose a proper one for you. At first, these may seem very complicated. And also, router price range is huge, since some cost more than 10 times as much as others. There are many things that you need to take in consideration, so yes; buying a router can be very complicated.
To make things easier for you, we have designed this guide. First, we will talk about some basics. What is a router? Do you need one? How to choose the best router for you? And then we will give you 10 examples, of routers that we think are the best. So, even if you don’t decide to pick one of those, you will have much broader knowledge about routers after reading this text.
Benefits of Using a WiFi Router
A router is a device that is used to forward data packets to its destination. It is something like a dispatcher, as it decides which way to send packets.
Let’s get one common question out of our way first. Do you need a router if you have only one PC, and you can connect it directly to the Internet? Simply put- yes you do! Here is why.
A router stands between your PC and the Internet. But it is not just a dispatcher; it is also a security officer. So it is one more layer of protection standing between your precious data and the malicious depths of the Internet. Every router, even the most basic and cheapest one has a built-in firewall. And this firewall is far stronger and more stable than any firewall included in your OS, or installed later. No matter how old and vulnerable your PC is, it will stay protected behind a router.
So yes, it is possible to connect your computer directly to the Internet modem. And yes, it is possible to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. But is it smart?
If you have more than just a single smart device in your home (and you probably do since now we all have smartphones), then a good router is even more important. The more devices get connected to your Wi-Fi, the greater the need for good data forwarding is. So a great router becomes essential.
Choosing the Best Wi-Fi Router
Now you know that you definitely need a router. Here are some things to look for when browsing for one:
Price: this one is the easiest. You should choose the best router that fits your budget. So you can exclude all that are too expensive. But don’t always go for the cheapest; with a higher price comes more power and features, be smart.
Wireless protocols: this is marked with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ ad standards. 802.11 is a Wi-Fi standard, and the letters that follow are versions of it. All versions are forward and backward compatible, so every Wi-Fi device can be connected to any of these. But there is a catch- if a Wi-Fi device with a newer version connects to one that supports older version, transfer speed will be reduced. So if most of your devices support for example 802.11 ac standards, the router you choose should also support it. If not, your transfer speed will be slower. We highly recommend buying a router that has at least 802.11 ac compatibility. This will ensure that any future Wi-Fi devices you buy get maximum speed.
Single or dual band: single band routers work on 2.4 GHz band and are lot cheaper than dual band routers. Dual band can operate both on 2.4 and 5 GHz. This is important because 2.4 GHz frequency is crowded, since almost all home devices use it- wireless phones, microwave ovens, Bluetooth devices. You want a router that can use both options, so dual band is better
Range: choose wisely. If your apartment is small and only has one room, you don’t need 300 feet range, so a simple router will do the trick. But if you live in a two or three story house, you will probably need a Wi-Fi system.
Features: the more the merrier. You want your router to have Ethernet ports so you can connect your PC directly to it, for maximum speed. You also want USB ports, so you can connect a printer that can be shared by multiple devices. Or to connect an external hard drive or a USB flash drive, so you can share data across devices. You also want a router with more advanced ways to manage how Wi-Fi is used such as parental control, guest network, and quality of service options.
1. Linksys WRT AC3200
This Linksys router is in blue-black combination that is proven to work in some older models. This color pattern makes it unique and pleasing to the eye. This is rare for routers, since they are not the prettiest devices you can buy.
It has four adjustable and removable antennas. It also has nice looking LED status lights up front which give you all the basic information you need, such as- 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radio bands, WPS, Lan ports, USB ports, eSATA and power. On the back side you will find 4 Ethernet ports, WAN port, USB 3.0 and a USB 2.0/eSATA combo port and Reset, Power and WPS buttons.
In short- Linksys WRT AC3200 has all ports that are required, so you will have no problem connecting it to any device.
One of the key features of this router is its Web-based smart Wi-Fi management console that can be also used via mobile app. This allows you to customize and manage your Wi-Fi remotely at any time. App allows you to control guest access, setup a parental control and you can also set device prioritization.
Also Linksys WRT AC3200 has open source firmware, which makes it fully customizable. Advanced users will appreciate this as it allows them to setup secure VPN, turn router into a web server, create hotspots, detect intrusions, etc.
This router is equipped with a powerful Dual Core processor (1.8 GHz). This raw power ensures the lowest possible latency even when handling the heaviest traffic. It also has 256MB flash and 512MB RAM memory for improved data transfer speed.
Linksys WRT AC3200 has Tri-Stream 160 technology that doubles bandwidth and has faster dual-band than many routers.
Its MU-MIMO technology provides constant speed to multiple devices, at the same time.
All in all, Linksys WRT AC3200 is a well-designed and feature-rich router. It brings top performance of an enterprise-grade Wi-Fi right into your home.
2. Asus RT-AC88U
Asus RT-AC88U has four detachable antennas, designed for greater range. Asus says that this design allows RT-AC88U to cover as much as 5,000 square feet. So, no matter how big your house is, you can expect to stay in RT-AC88U’s range.
This router has its USB 3.0 placed on the front, and USB 2.0 port placed on its back side. But what separates Asus RT-AC88U is having eight Gigabit LAN ports, as most other home routers have only four. You can even combine first two ports to create a powerful and fast 2Gbps connection and use any of the first four ports as a WAN port. These eight ports give you options- now you can connect even more devices directly to your router.
Asus RT-AC88U has an excellent web interface that is very user-friendly. You can use it to see detailed stats of your Internet usage, and see what device/application is draining your connection the most.
Asus RT-AC88U supports MU-MIMO, smart technology allowing multiple clients to connect to it at the speed each device needs.
It has adaptive QoS that prioritizes Internet bandwidth according to its usage. You can arrange this yourself, something that gamers will especially appreciate.
This router has some advanced security features too, namely it’s AiProtection, designed to protect your whole network from Internet malware. And if it recognizes that one of your devices is already infected, it will block its data transfers.
Asus RT-AC88U supports up to six guest networks. You can set security levels and options for each.
It also has a built-in PPTP VPN server that can have 10 remote clients on it. This makes it good for in-office use.
Asus RT-AC88U is a top class router. If you can afford it- go for it. This router is one of the best (if not THE best) Asus routers available. Long ranged, packed with features, fast and reliable, the Asus RT-AC88U has it all.
3. Google Wi-Fi
You will not find a better looking Wi-Fi device than Google Wi-Fi, period. These three tiny round-shaped satellites can fit any space. They only have a simple white LED light indicator in center. All three are exactly the same, and all have the same functionality. This means that any of them can act as the main router, or a satellite. Each has Ethernet plugs, for wired connection. They are powered by USB-C.
Google Wi-Fi- minimalism at its finest.
Everything regarding Google Wi-Fi is fast and easy. There are no complicated features to worry about. All is very simple, yet effective. It is the easiest and most manageable Wi-Fi system out there.
Setup is done via free IOS or Android app. Initial setup is fast, mostly automatic. Besides the basic setup options, the app offer some cool and useful features too. With it you can monitor your network, and devices connected to it. It allows you to prioritize bandwidth and devices, or to pause the network. This is essential for gaming. You can also control smart home devices with it, if you have any. Everything is elegant, and user-friendly. And if the connection breaks, the network can automatically repair itself. Amazing!
Each Google Wi-Fi unit is powered by a quad-core processor, has 512 MB RAM, and 4GB SSD. It uses Qualcomm’s IPQ4019 Wi-Fi radio and control chip. This allows it to effectively cover 5,000 square feet of space with high speed and stable Internet.
If you want a simple solution to fix your Wi-Fi problems, get Google Wi-Fi. It is designed with quality, effectiveness in mind and it is also pretty affordable. It’s a better solution than other single high end routers, as Google Wi-Fi has more range. And this is also a lot cheaper solution than other Wi-Fi mesh systems.
4. NETGEAR – Orbi AC3000
You have a big house that is hard to cover with Wi-Fi? Are you suffering from dead spots, connection loss, and weak signal upstairs? There is a simple and elegant solution for all these problems. It’s called Netgear Orbi AC3000.
These twin white oval shaped units can fit any shelf or windowsill, so no angular style, with pointy antennas that most routers have. Orbi is designed to blend into any space, without being noticed. It has a smart LED light system from the top, useful to see the network status. At the back of the router you will find modem input and three LAN ports to connect any device that needs a wired connection. You also have a USB 2.0 port for shared printers or USB drives. The satellite has all these, except for the modem socket. But instead of it, it has another LAN port, so on the satellite you have 4 Ethernet ports in total.
The initial setup process of Orbi AC3000 is done through a Web browser, but there is also a mobile app available. The basic setup is simply plug&play. There are many advanced options too, such as: VPN, port forwarding, MU-MIMO, parental control, restricting access to websites for specific users. So Netgear Orbi gives you all the tools you need to configure your Wireless network just the way you want it.
The key feature of Netgear Orbi AC3000 is its range. It covers up to 5,000sqft with high-speed Wi-Fi. The key to its speed is its special way of communication between the router and the satellite. Unlike most range extenders that use the same frequency to communicate with both the router and the device connected (which cripples speed), Orbi devices use a dedicated 5GHz band to communicate within themselves. This leaves the full bandwidth available for data transfer at maximum speed.
The Netgear Orbi AC3000 is a perfect solution for large homes. It sets a high standard for all other Wi-Fi systems. With Orbi you will quickly forget dead spots and weak signal troubles. It is pricey, but if you can afford it, Orbi AC3000 is a must buy, as it will never fail you.
5. NETGEAR NIGHTHAWK X10
Nighthawk X10 shares the appearance of common Netgear routers- it’s black, angular, and has pointy antennas. This router is so powerful that it has a fan/heatsink combination to vent away excess heat! It also has a set of traditional LED lights for status. Additionally, its antennas are also lit. Too much LED light for your taste? Don’t worry; there is an ON/OFF switch, only for lights.
At the back side of it you will find 1 WAN port, and 6 LAN ports. This is great, since most routers have 4 or less LAN ports. Also, ports 1 and 2 can be run in Aggregate Mode to double the speed. Nighthawk X10 has two USB 3.0 ports. To make this one of a kind router, NetGear installed 10G LAN SFP+ port, for those ultra-high speed devices.
Nighthawk X10 has the next standard in wireless, 802.11ad. This adds the 60 GHz frequency. This promises ultra-low latency, as well as blistering speed, as much as 4Gbps! Only a handful of routers support the 802.11ad standard. So Netgear Nighthawk X10 is truly groundbreaking.
Nighthawk has a Netgear standard interface. Very clean and easy to use, it displays all the information needed and has many advanced options. Setup is very smooth, and it even does firmware updates automatically. The high powered antennas give it an edge as Nighthawk X10 has maximum speeds of 800 Mbps on 2.4 GHz, 1733 Mbps on the 5 GHz frequency, and 4.6 Gbps on WiGig 60 GHz. It is powered by a 1.7 GHz quad core processor.
Nighthawk X10 has a smartphone app, so you can control everything remotely. It supports Plex services and also Amazon Cloud Drive backup and you can even directly download BitTorrent to it.
Netgear Nighthawk X10 is a premium router at a premium price. If you can afford the latest 21st century technology, this is the router for you. It is packed with features, and offers nothing less but top performance.
6. TP-Link AC3150
TP-Link AC3150 isn’t as big as many other routers from this list with the dimensions 1.5 by 10.4 by 7.8 inches. It is colored in two-tone black, matte and glossy. It has four removable and adjustable antennas sticking from its back side.
Also located on the back are 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports and one WAN (Internet) port. Besides the usual reset and on/off button, it’s left side holds two USB ports, one 2.0 and one 3.0. On the top side it has a series of LED light indicators.
TP-Link AC3150 has a Web-based management console. Its menus are straightforward and easy to understand. But don’t be fooled by its simplicity, this router is packed with advanced features. It has tools that many more expensive routers don’t have. You can configure it’s USB for creating a media server and enable file sharing. It has Parental control options, where you can filter out content by using keywords. You can also create Guest networks. In the security control you can change the Access Control, Denial of Service, and SPI firewall settings. If needed, you can also setup a VPN server.
This dual-band (2.4GHz and 5 GHz) router is run by a powerful 1.4 GHz dual-core processor that is able to provide high speed Internet to all your devices. It is also MU-MIMO Ready. It has Smart Connect technology which allows devices to run faster by assigning them to best available connections.
TP-Link AC3150 is a good choice for most households that have multiple wired and wireless devices. It gives solid performance on all fields, for more than a fair price. If your pocket isn’t that deep, but you still want to play video games, and stream HD videos using your Wi-Fi, buy TP-Link AC3150.
7. Linksys EA8500
You have a big family. Good for you! And every family member has several gadgets hooked onto the Internet. And each member wants to use the Internet at the same time. And it never seems to be enough Internet for all of you, but you think that your ISP package is good enough. You don’t have money to waste on better packages, nor on expensive routers. Try Linksys EA8500, it might just keep the peace.
Linksys EA8500 has some interesting design solutions. They have skipped adding many boring status lights. Instead, on the front, the only thing that is lit is company’s logo. This provides some basic status information, as it blinks when there is a connection error.
On the back, Linksys EA8500 has four Gigabit Ethernet ports, a WAN port, USB 2.0/eSATA combo port, USB 3.0 port, a power jack, WPS button and Wi-Fi ON/OFF button.
Linksys EA8500 is a dual-band router that is powered by a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor. It is capable of reaching speeds up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1,733Mbps on the 5GHz band.
MU-MIMO technology allows Linksys EA8500 to divide connection between devices more accurately. Having a MU-MIMO router is like having multiple wireless routers dedicated for each device. So there is no bandwidth wasting, as it will run at its full capacity.
Linksys EA8500 Web interface is user-friendly. It allows user to access the router locally or remotely. You can also access it via Linksys mobile app. Initial setup is very easy and straightforward. There are many features that advanced users will appreciate: parental control, guest networking, VLAN, media prioritization, external storage settings, etc.
Linksys EA8500 has plenty to offer. You will get the same functionality that other, more expensive routers have, at a much lower price. This makes it a very cost-effective solution and a smart buy.
8. ASUS RT-AC87U
Asus RT-AC87U has an interesting angular appearance. Thicker at the back and pointy at front, colored all black with blue LED lights, and with four antennas sticking out, it looks awesome and futuristic.
It has five Gigabit Ethernet ports at the back, and one WAN port to connect your modem. Back side also holds USB 2.0 port, while the USB 3.0 port is located on the front. These USB ports can be used for shared devices such as printers, and you can also access these via Asus AiCloud smartphone app. Overall, a very well designed device.
RT-AC87U, like all Asus devices, has an excellent interface. Very well-featured, it is great looking and easy to use. Everything is clear, and very responsive, thanks to its dual-core processor. It has many advanced settings such as device prioritization, Traffic Analyzer, parental control, and advanced security settings. This can all be tweaked remotely too, by using the Asus mobile app.
This ultra-fast 802.11 ac dual band router supports MU-MIMO technology. Its 4×4 antenna with AiRadar gives it unrivaled performance when you have multiple devices connected to it. It also allows an extremely strong signal and long range, one of the longest of all routers we have tested.
Asus RT-AC87U is very fast; 2.4 GHz band goes up to 600 Mbps, while 5 GHz is capable of delivering 1733 Mbps.
Asus RT-AC87U has been around for a while now, but it is still a top choice router. The fact that it remains one of the best for so long, tells the story about its quality. This very well designed and fast device offers many advanced features, at a fairly reasonable price.
9. ARRIS SURFboard SBG6900AC
If having two devices separately, a modem and a router are unnecessarily complicated for your taste, Arris has the solution for you. Its SURFboard SBG6900AC is the perfect combination of a modem and a high quality router.
ARRIS SURFboard SBG6900AC Cable modem/router is available in both black and white. As its name suggests, it only works with cable Internet. It is designed to be elegant and simple. On the back, besides cable and power sockets, you will find 4 Gigabit Ethernet connectors, and a USB port, so you can connect all your devices directly to it. Front side has some good looking and useful blue and green status lights. SURFboard SBG6900AC is not too big, and this combined with the fact that it is a 2 in 1 solution, saves you a lot of space. No more unnecessary cables!
This dual-band concurrent 802.11ac Wi-Fi Access Point and Ethernet router has a lot to offer. This is the most powerful modem/router hybrid in Arris SURFboard lineup.
It has 16 download and 4 upload channels, and is capable of reaching download speeds as high as 686 Mbps and Wi-Fi speeds up to 1900 Mbps. This is more than enough to prevent lag in gaming, or prevent long video buffering. ARRIS SURFboard SBG6900AC has a good range too, so dead spots will vanish in history. It also has Wireless Guest access, Energy Efficient Ethernet connection and pre-set Wi-Fi security.
And most importantly, the fact that it’s a modem/router hybrid saves you money. Having it will cut rental fees for your cable modem, and separate fees for your wireless router.
ARRIS SURFboard SBG6900AC Cable modem is ideal for those who are looking for an economical solution. This quality hybrid will save you a ton of money, without dropping much performance. This is truly good value and a solid option to get.
10. TP-Link AC1750 Wireless Wi-Fi Access Point
TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi Access Point is designed to be mounted on the ceiling. Small and white, roundly shaped, it looks like a smoke detector, so it will not stick out. As it supports Power over Ethernet technology it is much more convenient, since you don’t need to run a separate power cable. Besides power and Ethernet ports, it only has a little green LED for status, nothing else. It looks really elegant, and it will fit any space.
TP-Link AC1750 has an 802.11ac dual-band Access point. It has band steering which automatically moves dual band devices to 5 GHz band for faster connection. It has 3×3 MIMO technology and a high-gain antenna that creates signal that easily passes through walls. All this makes it perfect for campuses, offices, restaurants and small businesses.
It has a really smart system that recognizes all EAPs that are not configured and it configures them remotely. Also with its EAP control software you can control hundreds of EAPs from one centralized location. From there you can monitor statistics, manage traffic and upgrade your system. Its captive portal provides a smart solution that is both secure and good for marketing. Use its voucher system and customized authentication page for a branded experience and also for advertising purposes.
The smart Load Balance technology redirects traffic from busy EAPs to those with less traffic. You will never have a device that is overloaded with data, while others do nothing at all.
TP-Link AC1750 Wireless Wi-Fi Access Point is an ideal solution for businesses. It will provide your company with much needed functionality. And with its many features it can even be used as a marketing tool. An elegant Wi-Fi solution and a great buy.
If you are in the market searching for a Wi-Fi solution, you definitely have enough choices to pick from. The ones we presented here are all different; different in style, price and features. From an old-school powerful router with pointy antennas, to futuristic Wi-Fi mesh systems and access points.
But all of them have few things in common. They are made by top brands in the network industry and are all top quality. They all provide great speeds, and stable connection, and all are packed with features.
From Linksys WRT AC3200 to TP-Link AC1750 Wireless Wi-Fi Access Point they all represent something different, but all fall in the same category: they are truly the best Wi-Fi routers that money can buy.
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