These days, your wifi router not only connects to the internet, but often your job, too. Here’s what you need to build your best home network, along with reviews of the best routers we’ve tested for a range of needs and budgets.
The ASUS ROG Rapture GTAC 5300
The ASUS ROG Rapture GTAC 5300 is overkill for most home users. But if you take your gaming seriously, or want to ensure that your network is providing maximum throughput for all of your play and streaming needs, this router is as good as it gets. It delivered the fastest 5 gigahertz close proximity throughput performance of any router we’ve tested. And its 2.4 gigahertz and MU-MIMO performance numbers were also solid.
It offers a heap of gigabit LAN ports with built in acceleration for gaming applications, robust protection against malware and viruses, a powerful Quad Core processor, and a wealth of other gamer friendly optimization features. All of which are controlled using a well-designed interface. This router doesn’t come cheap, and its file transfer performance could be a smidge better. But neither gripe prevents it from earning our editor’s choice for high-end routers.
Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200
Designed for large homes, the Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 is an expensive, high-end feature packed router that delivers some of the fastest throughput performance we’ve seen. While there are other routers that have MU-MIMO data streaming, 160 megahertz wifi technology, or 60 gigahertz 802.11 wifi capabilities, the R9000 is the only one we’ve seen so far with all three.
It’s loaded with six gigabit LAN ports, an SPF plus LAN port for 10 gigabit connectivity via fiber, a feature we haven’t seen in a consumer level router until now, and automatic Amazon drive back up, and Plex media server capabilities. Granted, there aren’t many clients around to take advantage of the 802 11AD and 160 megahertz wifi features. But if you want to get ahead of the curve with a router that is ready for the future, this NetGear is our latest editor’s choice for high end routers.
ASUS RT AC 66UB1
If you’re looking to replace your outdated router but have limited funds, check out the ASUS RT AC 66UB1, a dual band router, the RT AC 66UB1 is equipped with four LAN ports and offers built-in trend micro malware protection and user friendly quality of service and parental control settings. It outperformed similarly budget priced routers in most of our throughput tests and was very easy to install and configure using the intuitive ASUS WRT web console. Its solid performance, robust feature set, and affordable price earn it our Editor’s Choice for budget priced routers.
D-link AC 2600
There’s a lot to like about the D-link AC 2600. Its embedded secure home platform brings strong home network protection against viruses and other malware. It will also scan for IOT anomalies that may indicate hacking attempts on smart home devices such as thermostats and security cameras.
It also offers rich customizable parental controls that allow you to monitor your child’s internet activity. Set time limits and block access to inappropriate content. Moreover, its throughput performance is wonderful. Granted, it’s a bit bulky and it’s file transfer performance could be better, but it’s still worthy of our Editor’s Choice for mid-range routers.
With the D-Link AC1200 you don’t have to spend a lot to cover your home with effective dual band wireless networking. The router is a snap to install and delivers fast throughput for the money, especially on the five gigahertz band.
But it lacks USB connectivity. Granted, it’s not as affordable as the Tenda F3 and 300 wireless router, but for an extra $30, you get the 802.11 AC technology, an extra LAN port, and speedy five gigahertz performance. As such, the DIR842 is our editor’s choice for budget wireless routers.
The Linksys EA6350 AC1200 Plus
The Linksys EA6350 AC1200 Plus is an excellent choice if you don’t require an advanced router. Ideal for smaller homes and apartments, it’s delivered very fast five gigahertz throughput in our tests, and while it’s 2.4 gigahertz performance didn’t set any records, it was more than adequate for a router in this price range. As with most Linksys routers, the EA6350 is very easy to install and manage. You’ll pay around $30 more for this router than you would for the D-Link AC1200, but the extra money gets you much faster throughput and a USB three port.
TP Link’s Archer C7 AC1750
TP Link’s Archer C7 AC1750 is an affordable router that performs more like an expensive one. Its scores in our 2.4 gigahertz and five gigahertz throughput tests were significantly faster than similarly priced budget models, including the $90 Linksys EA6350. It offers a nice feature set, four gigabet LAN ports, and a pair of USB two ports.
Management settings were plentiful. But the web console is slow to respond and lacks user friendly icons to help you navigate the menu system. That said, it’s the fastest dual band router in its class, and neither gripe prevents it from earning our editor’s choice for budget routers.
Trendnet AC2600 Stream Boost MU-MIMO
With the Trendnet AC2600 Stream Boost MU-MIMO wifi router, you get all the latest 802.11 AC technologies, including streamboost, MU-MIMO data streaming, and beam forming, as well as outstanding performance across the board.
In fact, it delivered one of the fastest 2.4 gigahertz scores we’ve seen, and its five gigahertz and MU-MIMO throughput speeds rival that of the more expensive, high-end routers we’ve recently tested. Its file transfer right speeds aren’t particularly fast though, however.
Our biggest gripe with this router has to do with its user interface. While easy to navigate, it takes a long time to save changes and requires a complete reboot. And you have to remember to save, then apply any changes before they take effect. That said, its excellent performance puts it at the top of its class and earns it our editor’s choice for mid-range routers.
One of the first wifi 6 routers to hit our labs back in April of 2019, the Asus RTX88U is still one of the best we’ve tested to date. Armed with 802.11 AX circuitry, this pricey router delivers speedy 160 megahertz throughput, and fast file transfer speeds in our tests. And its standard 802.11 AC performance is also very good.
Those numbers, coupled with an excellent router operating system and robust third party software security are what clinch the editor’s choice win. If it’s within your budget, the RTAX88U is the best choice if you’re ready for wifi 6 right now, and you want to future proof your wireless network. Sold exclusively at Wal-Mart, the Jetstream AC 3000 is a mid-range model that uses three wifi bands, two five gigahertz, and one 2.4 gigahertz to help balance network traffic in homes where online gaming and 4K video streaming vie for network bandwidth.
It’s very easy to install and turned in respectable scores on our close range throughput performance tests. But its long range and file transfer performances could be better. It also lacks some of the features that we have come to expect with the current crop of home wifi routers such as parental controls, QOS settings that allow you to assign bandwidth priority to a specific clients and applications, and protection against viruses and other malware threats.
Although the Jetstream AC3000 has an affordable price and a second five gigahertz band that will help distribute wifi traffic, it’s worth paying $90 more for the editor’s choice Asus RTAC86U if you need a gaming router with advanced features like device prioritization and parental controls.