Finding the Best Wireless Router
Updated: September 09,2022
Creating a robust home Wi-Fi network has never been easier. Modern internet routers make setup incredibly simple. Gone are the days of typing 127.0.0.1 into your browser, decoding arcane menus, and keeping your lucky rabbit’s foot handy in case the router configuration goes awry.
Today, some routers can be set up with user-friendly mobile apps. It’s a breeze. Setting up Wi-Fi networks may be easier, but choosing the best wireless router is harder. The market is crowded with manufacturers, models, standards, specs, and options. It’s easy to get lost in all the jargon when all you want is a decent router that won’t be obsolete within a few months.
That’s why we’ve explored the market and identified the best solutions for homes, offices, and gamers. So, if you’re in the market for a new router, here’s what we’ve found.
ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300
- Lots of ports
- High speed
- Easy to set up
Asus Wi-Fi routers are known for their distinctive designs. We can envision this one beaming up to its mothership or getting up on its antennas and scurrying away. Despite its gaudy appearance, this router is likely to be one of the best purchases you’ll ever make.
This is one powerful piece of hardware. Asus’s eight-antenna design was the first of its kind in 2015, and the new model continues this legacy as one of the best wireless routers you can buy, and it’s the king among gaming routers.
The ROG Rapture is one of the market’s few tri-band routers, which means that it provides two 5 GHz bands, in addition to 2.4 GHz network connectivity. Rest assured that you won’t have to worry about your Wi-Fi signal being short on bandwidth if you opt for this router. Thanks to amplitude modulation, the router provides incredibly fast Wi-Fi connection speeds - 1 Gbps on the 2.4 GHz channel and 2.1 Gbps on each 5 GHz band.
MU-MIMO technology is supported, as well as beamforming for stable connections and simultaneous data streaming. With ROG Rapture, you won’t feel any lag in your favorite games even when other household members are streaming Netflix and downloading Windows updates. Everyone gets a fair share of network traffic across multiple devices.
As a strong candidate for the best Wi-Fi router, ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 is great for LAN parties and large home networks. On the back, you’ll find eight Gigabit LAN ports, and you can use link aggregation for a 2 Gbps Ethernet connection. The router also has two fast USB 3.0 ports, letting you hook up external drives or share a printer with the rest of the network.
The accompanying software is robust but intuitive, letting you set everything up in just a few clicks, including a mesh network. If you’re dealing with a large area that a single router can’t cover, then using it in tandem with other routers to create a mesh Wi-Fi system can greatly improve your signal coverage.
All of this comes at a price, however. This is not the most affordable wireless router, not by a long shot. In fact, it’s one of the most expensive Wi-Fi routers on the market. Still, considering all the high-end features crammed into a single router, we can safely say that the price is worth it.
- OneMesh solution
- Sleek design
- Dated user interface
Need an affordable internet router that packs a punch? Check out the TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750, the best-value wireless router currently available on the market. This router tops our “under $100” category, which is fiercely competitive these days. The Archer C7 is the most affordable way to experience the next generation of home Wi-Fi routers.
The price makes it hard to compete against the Archer C7, especially considering it offers 1 Gbps of bandwidth over a 5 GHz network. The 2.4 GHz band provides a 450 Mbps connection, and you can set up a mesh network if you need better coverage.
If you decide to use this router in an office or public place, you’ll be glad to know that you can set up guest networks, so all your connected devices are kept safe behind a password barrier.
There are several other key components that make the Archer C7 the best router under $100 - dual USB ports and four Gigabit LAN ports. These ports give you great flexibility if you need to connect multiple wired devices.
For example, you might hook up a printer to one USB port and use the second for a network drive that your whole household can access. Granted, these USB 2.0 ports are significantly slower than USB 3.0 ports, but that’s reasonable in a router this affordable.
We like the visual appearance of this device. It’s not an out-of-this-world space-age design, yet it’s not so simple as to be bland and boring. It strikes a perfect balance between style and function.
On the downside, the user interface of this wireless router doesn’t fare quite as well, since it’s quite dated and clunky. TP-Link recommends downloading a free Tether app for your smartphone, which helps with the basic setup but doesn’t allow much fine-tuning.
All things considered, if you’re prioritizing affordability over everything else, then this could very likely be the best dual-band router for you.
- Highest Wi-Fi speeds
- Future-proof technologies
- USB 3.1 ports
We like Asus’s gaming routers. Still, we weren’t prepared for the RT-AX88U. The company has outdone itself with one of the best Wi-Fi routers currently available, and though it might not be the fastest wireless router in the world, it definitely is a strong contender.
Just one look at the AX88U is sufficient to convince you that this isn’t a run-of-the-mill device. A futuristic angular surface is a base for gold-tinted antennas. The golden color is repeated as a theme elsewhere on the case, making this router stand out from the crowd.
On the back, you’ll find eight Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports and two USB 3.1 ports for setting up shared network resources such as printers, hard drives, and other peripherals.
Speed is the main attraction with the Asus RT-AX88U, and not just through the Ethernet ports. This is the best high-speed wireless router available, with speeds reaching 6,000 Mpbs thanks to Wi-Fi 6 and beamforming technology.
The router also supports MU-MIMO for simultaneous data streaming, AiMesh technology that lets you cover a bigger space with a mesh system by using multiple Wi-Fi routers, guest networking, and OpenVPN.
If you’re worried about security, you’ll be glad to know that a lifetime license for TrendMicro’s AiProtection Pro is included with the router. The software includes parental controls, a network firewall, and filtering of known harmful websites.
There is a lot to like about the Asus RT-AX88U. It’s a great wireless router for large homes or small offices, not to mention that it’s a great gaming router, as you’d expect of Asus routers.
The only real factor keeping the RT-AX88U from being the absolute best Wi-Fi router on this list is its high price. In fact, it’s the most expensive router on our list. Still, considering all the future-proof technology bundled into the futuristic case and the router’s status as one of the fastest devices on the market, we’d say it’s good value.
- Optimizes traffic for streaming
- Good speed and coverage
- Mobile app for easy setup
- No USB ports
Unlike Asus, D-Link isn’t known for its flashy exterior design or cutting-edge features. As such, this a fairly inconspicuous router that will get the job done without breaking the bank, so if that’s what you’re looking for, it might be the best Wi-Fi router for you.
D-Link’s routers are mostly on the tame side, at least when it comes to their looks. Matte black on black is the color combination here, with just a few peculiar angles to distinguish the AC1750 from the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The back panel features four Gigabit Ethernet ports, but unfortunately, USB ports are completely absent. This is a strange decision on D-Link’s part, especially considering that many less expensive routers, including TP-Link’s Archer C7, have USB connections. However, speed, coverage, and network stability are all great.
So, while it’s not the best option for connecting wired devices, it’s more than capable of serving as a gaming router and maintaining a stable home network with multiple devices connected.
The manufacturer includes several advanced technologies to help you get the best signal throughout your home or office - primarily SmartBeam and 3x3 MU-MIMO. The latter also improves stability when a lot of devices are connected to the router, so if you have a Netflix party or a lot of family members who watch YouTube at the same time, there won’t be any network congestion or slowdowns.
One major advantage of modern D-Link routers is the accompanying software. The UI is very nice, with all the options easily accessible. You can even download a mobile app that speeds the setup process and lets you monitor your network traffic.
Though it offers good value, this isn’t one of the market’s most affordable wireless routers. It is priced slightly higher than TP-Link’s Archer C7 and it lacks a USB port, so the AC1750 doesn’t sound like a great deal.
However, it is one of the best Wi-Fi routers on the market, with a fast home Wi-Fi network setup, and an impressive Wi-Fi range with optimization for streaming apps. For movie buffs and Chromecast fans, these are compelling features.
- Very fast
- Automatic traffic optimization
- Long-lasting warranty
Next, we have another obvious gaming router for gamers who want the best internet connectivity they can get. This tri-band device is marketed as the best wireless router for gaming - it’s capable of incredible speed and packed with more ports than you’ll ever need, all the while featuring the aggressive design that router manufacturers like to slap onto gaming-oriented products.
Performance-wise, TP-Link Archer C5400X matches the Asus ROG Rapture blow by blow, reaching 2,167 Mbps on the 5 GHz antennas and 5 Gbit Wi-Fi available with link aggregation.
A powerful quad-core CPU ensures a rock-solid internet connection even under maximum load, and beamforming technology means you won’t lose your signal even if you’re gaming on the opposite side of the house. That said, out of all the products on this list, this is the wireless router with the best range.
Why mark this as a gaming router, aside from its bold looks? One of the reasons is its Dynamic Optimization Engine, which is a special feature that prioritizes gaming traffic over traffic from any other devices, and it’s also one of the reasons why many see this Wi-Fi router as the best wireless gaming router.
TP-Link provides eight Gigabit Ethernet ports. You can team them up for a 2 Gbps connection if you like. There are also two USB 3.0 ports, which let you share devices with the whole network. That could be handy when setting up a home network or a home theater system with video streaming, for example.
Like every other Wi-Fi router on our list, the TP-Link Archer C5400X comes with a robust set of security features. A free lifetime subscription for TP-Link HomeCare is included with every purchase. It provides integrated antivirus protection, a firewall, and VPN apps. This router supports OpenVPN, so you can install a third-party VPN on it if you wish.
Our main complaint is the price. When a gaming router costs as much as a decent monitor or a brand-new gaming console, you have to wonder whether it’s worth the money. But if you’re looking for a new router and don’t mind paying a premium price for excellent features and performance, you’ll be happy with the Archer C5400X.
Best Wi-Fi Routers right now
- Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC530
- TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750
- Asus RT-AX88U
- D-Link Wi-Fi Router AC1750 Wireless Internet
- TP-Link Archer C5400X
Our Methodology for Identifying the Top Wireless Routers
Our reviews are based on objective evaluations of key metrics. These criteria make it easy to perform a meaningful comparison or identify the product that best meets your needs. You can use this methodology to compare wireless routers that aren’t included on this list.
The main reason we buy wireless routers is to provide a stable internet connection throughout the office or home without using cables. A wireless router doesn't provide infinite coverage - a Wi-Fi signal has a limited range. Stray outside of that area, and you’ll enter a Wi-Fi dead zone, losing the internet signal.
This is why Wi-Fi range and coverage are the first features we analyze when we evaluate a router. We’re looking for a wireless router with the best range. At the very least, you want a wide enough range so you’ll have no Wi-Fi dead zones in your home or office. While most modern routers let you create a mesh network, we are also interested in the raw power of the base station.
You not only want to have all your wireless devices connected to the internet, but you also want to give them enough bandwidth to browse the internet smoothly. That is why we put the maximum router speed so high on our list of priorities.
This is a straightforward requirement - the faster the speed, the better. Since we are talking about the best Wi-Fi routers, we’ll be looking at the wireless connection first and foremost. Many modern routers are equipped with Wi-Fi 6 capabilities and employ advanced technologies to provide maximum bandwidth for each device as needed.
A good wireless router is more than range and raw power. While those are essential, it’s also important that a router supports a decent range of technologies and protocols that will make it future-proof and provide better networking.
First of all, dual-band routers are the norm now, meaning that they should support both the 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz bands. Moreover, many routers have three bands now, though a tri-band router can be overkill in many cases.
A good router should also come with a lot of Ethernet ports. We consider four the bare minimum. A USB port - preferably USB 3.0 or later - gets a big thumbs-up from us, as it allows easy home streaming and network sharing, basically creating a network disk for all your devices to use.
Innovative technologies that improve the overall quality of service are always a plus, and router manufacturers rarely skimp on them. We’re talking about MU-MIMO support, prioritized network connections based on usage, and parental controls, among other features. Link aggregation is also a nice bonus. It lets you use two LAN ports, essentially doubling the speed of your connection to another device.
Whether we’re talking about the best wireless router for office or home use, it should provide some level of protection for the network. Security features include the ability to create guest networks, integrated firewalls, and filters for blacklisted malicious websites.
Additionally, you should always have an additional layer of antivirus protection, even if you’re on a highly secure operating system such as macOS. Your home probably has more interconnected devices than you realize, so implementing adequate measures against cybercrime is also important - and it all starts with the wireless router.
Much like with other device types that offer the convenience of operating wirelessly, such as outdoor speakers, value is an important factor. We look for the best ratio of features versus price.
That means an expensive router that’s jam-packed with lots of useful advanced technology may be a better bargain than a less expensive router that barely does the job. Cheap routers that lack basic features will not find a place on our list.
Frequently Asked Questions
Depending on the size of your home and your budget, you should probably go with the ASUS ROG Rapture or TP-Link Archer C7. The ASUS router has incredible coverage and max speeds of up to 5 Gbps, but it costs quite a lot. TP-Link’s model is modestly priced, and even though it can’t match the ROG Rapture’s performance, it’s a great, affordable solution for a home wireless network.
ASUS, D-Link, and TP-Link produce some of the best routers today. These companies are known for creating high-quality hardware for both the lower and higher ends of the consumer spectrum, so you can rest assured that you’ll always get top-quality devices from them.
When wireless routers fail, it’s generally due to overheating. As routers run 24/7, they produce heat, so they should be set up in a ventilated space. Avoid placing your router on top of other devices or in a cramped spot with no airflow. Also, connecting too many devices on the same network may lead to overheating, even if it’s the best wireless router for home use. Be sure to read any safety manuals that come with your router.
Depending on your internet service provider, it might be better and cheaper to buy your own router. Most ISPs rent you a router, not just lend it to you for the duration of your contract. In the long run, that means you’ll end up paying for that router, but you won’t get to keep it.
It’s often better to have your own router to improve connection speed and stability. The routers provided by ISPs are far from high-end. They provide weaker signals, slower Wi-Fi speeds, and fewer advanced options. A good router is an investment, but we think it’s worth it.
In our judgment, the best wireless router for users on a budget is the TP-Link Archer C7. It costs less than $100, comes with a lot of bells and whistles, and offers decent speeds. You can even use it to set up a mesh network. The only disadvantage is its dated UI.
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