You want to invest in a new wireless router, but with so many options, it’s hard to figure out which one is the best for your needs. This article helps you decide which Wi-Fi router is best for your house without throwing a lot of technical jargon at you. Whether you have a big house, small apartment, you are a gamer, streamer, or on a budget; we show you the right router for your circumstances.
Sparing you the technobabble, this article tells you the specs that are the best for what you need and for the most common situations that come up when people shop for Wi-Fi routers.
If you are looking for a Wi-Fi system that will grow as you and your family grows, a mesh network is worth a look. However, if gaming is your thing, you will want to check out a router that offers performance as its main feature, but be prepared to spend a little more for that speed.
1. Linksys AC1900 Dual Band Wireless Router - Best Overall
The Linksys AC1900 Dual Band Wireless Router gives you enough horsepower to stream and game, even in a multi-story home. This router uses Next Gen AC Wi-Fi, which is excellent at allowing many Wi-Fi devices to operate online at the same time while maintaining speed and throughput. A standout feature of this router is the inclusion of four-gigabit Ethernet ports allowing you to connect 4K TVs, gaming consoles, smartphones, tablets, and laptops. These ports transfer data at up to 10x faster than traditional Ethernet ports or USB 3.0 ports. Three external antennas distribute wireless data with precise beamforming technology and provide enough coverage to blanket a medium sized home.
Lastly, this router sets up quickly thanks to the company’s setup software, and allows you to generate temporary guest passwords. The Linksys software allows you to monitor your Wi-Fi remotely and the system is compatible with Amazon Alexa.
Buyers of this product complained about the router’s durability and the company’s poor customer support when things go wrong.
The Linksys AC 1900 Dual Band Wireless Router puts out decent enough speeds to feed multiple devices at once. The signal covers a large area and the setup is simple. However, some users voiced concerns over the system’s ability to hold connections, and the customer support — according to some buyers — seems lacking.
2. TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 Long Range WI-Fi Router - Best Router for Streaming
The TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 Long Range Wi-Fi router promises to allow you to stream 4K video and game content over a 5GHz band with no lag. The 2.4 GHz band handles normal use such as web browsing, email and regular Internet tasks. The powerful 1GHz dual-core processor allows this unit to handle simultaneous wireless and wired connections without slowing down. This is an important feature for users wanting a versatile router to connect tablets, smartphones, and laptops.
Like other modern routers, the TP-Link Archer C9 utilizes beamforming technology that zones in on wireless devices and creates a stronger Wi-Fi signal between them. This reduces lag and increases coverage area. Like most modern routers, this one supports the now standard Wi-Fi 802.11ac.
Adding multiple devices such as printers to this router is easy thanks to the USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports.
Three dual band antennas detach allowing you to position them for maximum coverage and to compensate for obstacles such as walls or furniture.
Some users say the 2.4 GHz channel doesn’t provide enough bandwidth to do basic tasks, and signal strength drops off significantly in as little as 15 feet.
This router provides decent performance for those wanting to hook up multiple devices. The powerful 1GHz dual-core processor helps maintain even data streams and reduces the amount of lag. In addition, the dual band antennas, which are removable, can alleviate some of the issues with coverage. Lastly, the curvy white design is stylish and fits well with more elegant computer systems such as Apple’s Macs.
3. Asus RT-AC88U Wireless Dual Band Gigabit WI-Fi Router - Runner Up, Best Router for Gaming
This router’s high-bandwidth and low-latency make it ideal for online gaming and streaming of HD content. The Asus RT-AC88U is a better choice for gamers than other routers thanks to its custom technology, which provides speeds at 5GHz up to 2100 Mbps, and speeds at 2.4 GHz up to 1000 Mbps. These speeds should be sufficient to all but the most hard-core and demanding user.
Like other routers, the Asus RT-AC88U gives you plenty of connectivity options such as eight Gigabit LAN ports allowing you to connect eight Ethernet devices at once with little to no lag or data loss. The system utilizes a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor, which powers high-speed data transfers (up to 100 MB/s) through USB.
Lastly, this router covers a large area with Wi-Fi signal — up to 5,000 square feet thanks to its 4-transmit, four-receive antenna design. This is a router designed for the serious gamer or streamer.
Some users complained the router stopped working randomly, even after only a few weeks or months of use. In addition, some buyers said they found customer support difficult to deal with.
The ASUS RT-AC88U Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Router is recommended for gamers and those needing high speed, low-latency, and high performance.
4. NETGEAR AC1750 Smart Wi-Fi Router - Best Router for Streaming
The NETGEAR AC1750 Smart Wi-Fi router we believe is the best choice for people who stream HD shows like Game of Thrones, and HD movies. If your current router drives you crazy with constant buffering, the NETGEAR AC1750 is worth a serious look.
What sets this apart from other high-speed routers is their AC1750 Wi-Fi technology, which delivers 450+1300 Mbps speeds. High power external antennas give an even, strong signal throughout your house or apartment, and help to maintain video quality. Dual band works to reduce interference and gives better performance when connected to multiple Wi-Fi devices.
This router sets up quickly and easily thanks to the NETGEAR UP app, you download on your iOS or Android device. In addition, you control this router with voice commands via the Amazon Echo/Alexa, which makes using this router easier than many competitors do.
In addition, this router powers multiple devices thanks to the included USB 2.0 port and five 10/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet ports. With these connections, you can hook up printers and other wired devices.
Parent controls give you the ability to set limits to what your children access, and the system provides for guest passwords for better wireless security.
Lastly, like other routers, the NETGEAR AC1750 gives better coverage and range thanks to beamforming technology and high-powered amplifiers that extend Wi-Fi signal.
Some users complained the router stopped working inexplicably even after owning for a short time. Others mentioned they found the interface to be difficult to navigate.
Streamers rejoice! This router delivers both speed and performance and the dual band technology allows users to connect a multitude of devices with no slowdown or drop in performance. External antennas provide decent speeds and coverage for most averaged-sized homes or apartments.
5. ASUS RT-ACRH13 Dual-Band 2x2 AC1300 - Best Router for Small Apartments
The ASUS RT-ACRH13 Dual Band 2x2 AC1300 works best for the small apartment as opposed to the big house with a huge amount of space. What makes this router special is the use of the dual-band AC1300 technology. This means this router puts out combined speeds of up to 1267 Mbps, which is high enough for most gaming, high definition streaming, and uploading and downloading. Like other modern routers, the ASUS RT-ACRH13 allows for multiple device connections thanks to the 5dBi antennas that provide versatility and better Wi-Fi range.
Monitor this router and your network via the ASUS router app that is available for both iOS and Android devices. Setup of this router is easily accomplished through the ASUS web-based interface.
This router’s dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard puts out accelerated speeds up to 867Mbps on the 5GHz band, and 400Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band. Both of these bands provide the appropriate speed and bandwidth depending on actual usage needs.
Most user complaints center on the router failing not long after purchase — in some cases after only a few months. In addition, some remarked the router randomly fails to connect to the Internet.
If you need a low-priced, powerful, fast router for a smallish apartment, the ASUS RT-ACHR13 delivers. It is the perfect solution for those needing a good, basic router for gaming, streaming, and downloading in a small area. In our opinion, it is the best small apartment router available for the price.
6. NETGEAR Orbi AC3000 - Best for a Complete Home Coverage
The NETGEAR Orbi AC3000 is a home mesh Wi-Fi system, which means you set these devices throughout your home and (in theory) get better coverage than you would by using a central router with antennas. This system provides a solid Wi-Fi signal through the whole house by utilizing a central router and satellite devices. Set up at various points in the home, these satellites create a blanket of Wi-Fi signal no matter what room you are in. Netgear claims to support an area up to 5,000 square feet with this setup.
This system is ideal for homeowners who have a large are to cover, but don’t want to deal with multiple routers or clunky extenders or for those who know they’re going to need a bigger home in the future. This system grows as you grow. The Tri-Band technology ensures the data stream remains connected by using a dedicated backhaul connection and allowing room to room roaming with no signal loss. This means you enjoy streaming music when you moving from the upstairs bedroom down to the laundry room in the basement.
Easy instructions via the Orbi app walk you systematically through the entire installation and setup process you can complete in under five minutes.
Lastly, this system provides a method to create separate, but secure, Wi-Fi networks for guests and visitors.
Users commented the company’s customer support to be less than helpful. Also, some complained of glitches with the firmware that causes some devices to randomly lose connection.
Heavy use households benefit from mesh networks the most. Homeowners with large homes and multiple devices need to consider Netgear’s Orbi system, especially if they have been frustrated by other router/network setups in the past.
7. TP-Link AC1200 - Best Under $50
The TP-Link AC1200 delivers great performance for a less than $50 router. This router ranks high with users for its reliability and output. The TP-Link AC1200 puts out a strong Wi-Fi signal with speeds up to 1200 Mbps, which is good enough for most streaming, downloading, and light gaming. In addition, this router supports multiple applications thanks to the inclusion of speedy Ethernet ports.
This device is both future proof and backwards compatible with older devices. It makes use of the newest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, which makes this router capable of delivering fast performance for years to come. While this router won’t be fast enough for the most demanding gamers or multiple 4K streams, it’s perfect for the casual gamer or Netflix user, checking email, browsing the Internet, and streaming music.
Setup is easy with the TP-Link Tether app that’s available on both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
Lastly, the TP-Link AC1200 comes with a 2-year warranty and 24/7 free technical support.
Some users commented this router stopped working only after a few month’s usage and that things didn’t improve even with firmware updates.
At under $50, you can’t go wrong with this router. It delivers great performance, allows you to connect multiple devices, and is compatible with a wide range of devices.
8. Google Wifi system - Best for Active Households
Google’s Wi-Fi system is similar to other mesh network devices in that it utilizes a central “router” and creates a mesh with three or more satellites. This system is best for large homes with many connected devices where the traditional router system failed to provide signal throughout the entire home. The Google Wi-Fi system provides absolute coverage for up to 4,500 square feet. In addition, this system is unobtrusive; using small, white, hockey puck devices as satellites. These “hockey pucks” can be set up out of the way and still provide the coverage you need.
The benefit of the mesh network is it provides coverage throughout the home and eliminates dead spots and dropped signals.
The system delivers speed and connectivity by combining 2.4 GHz and 5GHz bands into a single band. Beamforming technology ensures a strong connection between devices. Also, the base station includes 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports for tacking on wired devices or additional Wi-Fi points.
Setup is accomplished through the accompanying app that is both iOS and Android compatible and takes only a few minutes.
Some users say this system bogs down when put under heavy loads due to multiple attached devices.
The Google Wi-Fi system expands to accommodate your needs now and in the future. It delivers decent performance and ensures everyone can connect and get data. While it won’t satisfy the hardcore gamers with its speed, the busy household will find this system performs as needed.
9. Synology RT1900ac - Best for Savvy Users
The Synology RT1900ac is a fast, highly customizable home network router that’s a perfect choice for those looking for fast Wi-Fi speed, robust network storage, and long range signal.
This router operates with simultaneous dual band technology at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz with a throughput of 1900 Mbps. The beamforming technology seeks out wireless devices and ensures all benefit from a solid connection. Beamforming also ensures fast, reliable Wi-Fi signal to multiple devices without having to worry about bottlenecks or lag. Like other routers, the Synology RT1900ac allows users to set parental controls with a built-in DNS based web filter, which means you can block and filter websites from your children.
Manage your router with the DS router app you install on your Android or iOS device. This gives you tools to control and manage your router and network right from your smartphone or tablet.
Some users say, while the interface is good, the performance lacks stability, with devices randomly disconnecting from the network, and requiring a re-set to the router.
At just over $100, you can’t go wrong with this router if speed and performance are your main concerns. Getting far away from the router can lead to signal drops, but as long as you stay within the “comfort zone” you’ll experience good performance.
There are plenty of great wireless routers out there, and if you’re in the market for a new one, make sure you look at one with Gigabit Ethernet ports and an Ethernet connection for adding wired devices. This makes your router more versatile.
Also, buy the router designed for your use case. If you have a house, consider a mesh network system that you can expand. If you have an apartment, distance isn’t likely an issue. We determined the best value to performance router is the Linksys AC1900 Dual Band Wireless Router. It delivers on all the key points: range, power, number of supported devices, and price.