Computer Routers Best Buy
We researched dual- and tri-band routers from each of the major router manufacturers, including Asus, D-Link, Linksys, Netgear, and TP-Link. We also looked for routers from less well-known manufacturers with strong reviews from tech experts or potentially interesting features that set them apart.
computer routers best buy
In addition, we consulted customer reviews on Amazon and Newegg, plus professional router reviews and performance rankings from CNET, Dong Knows Tech, PCMag, PCWorld, SmallNetBuilder, and Trusted Reviews, to generate our list of contenders. After identifying every model that met all of our criteria, we thoroughly tested the most promising routers ourselves.
We characterized speed by looking at the combination of performance when downloading a large file at short and long range. The majority of the routers were able to top 500 Mbps at close distances, with some of the best-performing routers, like the Asus RT-AX88U, reaching over 640 Mbps. Only a couple of stragglers (the TP-Link Archer AX10 and D-Link DIR-X1560) fell far behind at 100 Mbps.
As mentioned in our guide to modems vs. routers, a modem is a box that connects your home network to your internet service provider, or ISP. A router is a box that lets all of your wired and wireless devices use that internet connection at once and allows them to talk to one another directly. Think of the modem as the box that deals with all the data packets to and from the outside world, and the router as the one that deals with all the communication inside your home (or business).
Tri-band routers have an extra 5 GHz band or 6 GHz band in addition to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands of a dual-band router. This third band allows more devices to connect and be busy at once without slowing the network down so much.
Fans of the Synology RT2600ac may be interested in the Wi-Fi 6 Synology RT6600ax. Like its forebear, it straddles the space between a high-end router for consumers and one that is capable of serving the internet to a small business like a coffee shop or family restaurant. It can be linked with other RT6600ax routers to make a mesh network, though that could get pricey quickly. The RT6600ax was an above average performer on our tests, and it tested well in our latest mesh guide update.
We tested the Linksys E5600, E7350, and E8450. Ranging in price from about $40 to $150, these three routers share an antenna-less angular design, but were poor performers overall. The E5600 and E7350 notably were at the bottom of our performance charts. Neither router supports smart connect (aka band steering), and each has a short, one-year warranty.
The D-Link DIR-X1870 and DIR-X5460 shared a very basic web-based user interface with very few settings. The DIR-X1870 experienced errors during testing, which caused clients to drop off the network, while the DIR-X5460 was in the mid-to-bottom tier on our performance tests. Like Linksys routers, the D-Link routers have a shorter, one-year warranty.
Asus routers like the RT-AX55, RT-AX3000 (aka RT-AX58U), RT-AX68U, and RT-AX82U tested well but were worse than our picks for one reason or another. For example, the RT-AX55 was competitive with the TP-Link Archer AX20 for approximately the same price, but was significantly worse at the long-distance throughput test. The RT-AX82U was also in our bottom third at the long distance test.
Adding one of the best Wi-Fi routers is the easiest way to upgrade your home network and well worth the investment. Swapping out your existing router with a new, up-to-date one can make it seem like every laptop, smart TV, game console and doorbell camera is working a lot faster.
Besides giving you a speedier Wi-Fi connection throughout your home, many of the latest routers ship with built-in security software, mobile apps to configure their settings on the go and easy to use parental control software to help limit screen time.
Wi-Fi 6 routers are usually more expensive, but value is the name of the game for the TP-Link Archer AX6000 router, our favorite budget-friendly Wi-Fi 6 router. It may lag on performance and range but it offers Wi-Fi 6 speeds for less than competing Wi-Fi 6 models. Think of the Archer AX6000 as the affordable router for the first generation of Wi-Fi 6 devices.
The first gaming router we tested withs Wi-Fi 6, the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is a gamer's delight, with speed that improves over longer range, low latency and all the features that gamers expect. Add it all up and most other gaming routers are now second best.
Built-in customization and gaming-oriented optimizations provide plenty of control, and you can even pair it with other Asus routers for mesh networking to cover a larger home. At $450, it is expensive, but this is one of the best gaming routers for those that want an edge online.
The Google Nest Wi-Fi combines an excellent mesh Wi-Fi router with a smart home speaker, giving you whole-home connectivity along with the benefits of Google Assistant, wherever you are in your house. Although they lack WI-Fi 6, they have both Bluetooth and 802.15.4 Thread mesh networking built in to efficiently connect with low-power home-automation devices. However, if you want a mesh router from Google with Wi-Fi 6E support, the Nest Wifi Pro is now available but it isn't compatible with Google's other routers and lacks smart speaker functionality.
The TP-Link Archer C5400X is the gaming router to beat, with some of the best performance you'll see in any single home networking device. It offers best-in-class tri-band performance, delivering 1Gbps over its 2.4GHz band and 2.167Gbps over each of its two 5GHz channels. It also has impressive coverage, with more than 100-feet of superb coverage that will blanket most homes in strong, clear Wi-Fi signal.
For a truly customizable router, we recommend the Linksys EA8300 Max-Stream, which is not only a great tri-band router, it's also loaded with tools to tweak and customize your router for optimal performance. The small black EA8300 Max-Stream can move lots of data, though it will do best in smaller homes. But even with shorter range, it offers impressive performance for a router that sells for less than $200.
Input is another issue, especially if you live in an area where Gigabit internet is available. With a Gigabit connection, an older router can be a bottleneck, slowing down your entire home. Some routers can even aggregate two inputs for even faster connectivity.
Price range: Current 802.11 ac routers often sell for less than $100 for basic, dual-band models. More expensive modems range up to $300 but offer better coverage and faster speeds, while gaming routers have built-in optimization features and typically sell for more. New routers using the Wi-Fi 6 standard (previously known as 802.11 ax) often cost $400 or more.
We measure throughput using IXChariot (opens in new tab), first at a 5-foot distance without obstructions, so that we can gauge the maximum amount of data that the router can move. We then measure how much data the router can move at 50, 75 and 100 feet, so that you can also choose the best model for smaller homes and apartments, where short-range performance may be the priority.
Wireless routers support either single- or dual-band performance. A single-band router operates on the 2.4GHz band, but may interfere with other devices on this band, including microwaves and cordless phones. A dual-band router lets you choose between a 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency, reducing the chance of interruption with other devices.
For your security, wireless routers use encryption technology to make it difficult for hackers and snoopers to access your information. WEP was the first security protocol introduced in wireless routers, with the more recent WPA and WPA2 offering stronger data encryption and greater security. Most routers also let you set up a password for your network, preventing outsiders from accessing it.
Most routers with a sim card slot would be called Mobile Hotspots as these take cellular data and turn it into WiFi, but these devices are meant to be extremely portable so are small and don't include wired ports.
In the remote work era, your Wi-Fi router is piling up some serious overtime, doing a lot more than just helping you stream movies and play games. Home Wi-Fi routers keep millions of people working, and they're also connecting an ever-growing range of smart home devices. That means picking one that does the best job for both you and your wallet is trickier than ever, especially now that we're seeing more Wi-Fi 6 devices becoming available. 041b061a72