Is It Time To Update Your Wi
Maybe you’re finding your current Wi-Fi coverage to feel slower than it used to, have been dogged with spotty reception, or maybe you just need something that can better handle the demands of an increasingly wide range of smart devices in the average home. If you’ve got any of the above irritations, a new router should fix these common problems.
It’s also worth upgrading if you’re using older hardware. If you still have an old Wireless-N or Wireless-AC router in your home, you should definitely think about getting something current. Not only will these newer standards offer faster connectivity, you’ll see other benefits, too. Your smartphone battery will last longer thanks to more efficient device management, and your connected home gadgets will all feel faster and snappier with the more capable standards.
The other big reason to upgrade your router is if you’ve been paying a monthly rental fee for a gateway device from your ISP. With average equipment rentals costing $10-15 every month, a new router can pay for itself in a matter of months, and offer better service and features, too! Just don’t forget to pair it with one of the best cable modems to free yourself entirely from the extra costs that often come with broadband internet packages.
How We Tested Plus The Results
Testing for most Wi-Fi router reviews consists mostly of connecting a single device to Wi-Fi at various distances, trying to get the biggest throughput number possible, and declaring the router with the biggest number and the best range the winner, at least in terms of raw performance. The problem with this method is that it assumes that a big number for one connected device divides evenly into bigger numbers for all connected devices. This is usually a valid assumption for wired networking, but it doesnt work well for Wi-Fi.
Because we were testing in the real world, external variables affected our results, just as theyre likely to affect yours. The purpose of our testing was not to choose a router that was slightly faster than another it was to see which routers could deliver consistently strong performance without encountering major issues in real-world conditions.
Instead of running just a single speed test, we used four laptops at different distances from the router in a 2,300-square-foot, two-story suburban home to simulate the real-world activity of a busy home network. Because these tests simulated real-world traffic, they did a better job of modeling real-world performance compared with a tool like iPerf, an artificial testing utility that moves data from one machine to another as fast as possible.
Our four laptops ran the following tests:
Best Wireless Router For Game Performance Tweaking
- Solid throughput performance in testing
- Fast file transfer speeds
With COVID-19 still keeping so many people working from home, 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.
When you’re shopping for a new router, it’s best to start by considering the size of your coverage area and the number of clients you need to support, as well as the types of devices that you’ll be connecting. Not everybody needs the kind of performance that you get with the latest and greatest models, and there’s no reason to pay for features that you will likely never use. If you’re looking for a lower price rather than a big bundle of bleeding-edge features, check out this list of budget routers. But if you have several family members vying for bandwidth for things like streaming Netflix video and playing PC games online, a new router with modern management capabilities can make a world of difference and help keep the peace. Below we guide you through choosing a router that will handle your current and future wireless networking needs, and offer our top picks to get you started.
Also Check: Can I Have Two Routers In My House
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers
The Archer AX50, like the Archer AX20, uses TP-Links updated design. If you were to place the two side by side, youd have to flip them over to read their labels, or notice the AX50s Intel logo, to tell the difference. This routers plastic body is a little shiny and kind of cheap feeling next to that of the Archer A20 or Asuss routers, but youre probably not going to be handling your router after you install it. The AX50 has four non-removable antennas connected to the back panel, but they are articulated and adjustable.
TP-Links OneMesh compatibility page suggests that our runner-up choice, the Archer AX20, will in the future have OneMesh compatibility, which lets you connect additional Wi-Fi extenders that can eliminate dead spots in your home. But at the time we updated this guide, the AX50 wasnt on that list. Although mesh capability isnt a must-have feature right now, it would be nice.
The AX50 doesnt support WPA3 security, but as of this writing devices with WPA3 security are rare. This will become an issue in a few years when WPA3 is more commonplace, but for now its OK.
Why Would I Particularly Want A ‘gaming’ Router
Gaming routers can prioritize traffic to your gaming PC and consolesthey’re built to be greedy. The best gaming router reduces lag during your online game sessions, even if other devices in your household are streaming or downloading. If you’ve had the same router for years, it might be the right time to consider an upgrade if you want to get the most of your internet.
Don’t Miss: Optimum Wifi Change Password
Is It Worth Paying More For A Wi
As with all other types of routers, Wi-Fi 6 router pricing is based on hardware specs, performance capabilities, and features. Budget Wi-Fi 6 routers can cost anywhere from $70 to well above $200, but these are typically bare-bones, dual-band models that use low-end components such as dual-core CPUs, offer low data rates, and lack features such as USB ports, anti-malware software, and multi-gig LAN ports. At the other end of the spectrum, a high-end Wi-Fi 6 router designed for gaming can cost upward of $600. For that kind of money you get all the bells and whistles, including multi-gig LAN, AX11000 speeds, three radio bands, built-in malware protection and parental controls, quad-core processing, and a dedicated gamer-friendly operating system.
Amazon Eero Pro 6
One area where we’ll likely see a price drop, however, is in Wi-Fi 6 whole-home mesh networking systems. This category is getting a lot of attention from vendors as it’s generally easier and faster than adding a third-party wireless range extender to your network.
With all this in mind, take a look at the top-performing Wi-Fi 6 routers we’ve tested so far and compare them spec by spec below. Once you’ve found the right router, read our tips for setting up your router and boosting your Wi-Fi signal.
Compare The Fastest Wireless Routers
- No 2.5 Gbps LAN port
- No USB port
Not everyone who pays for gigabit speeds wants to drop a handful of 100 dollar bills on a router. If the cost of ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 gave you pause, consider the affordable alternative: the TP-Link Archer AX10.
One heads up, though: While the TP-Link Archer AX10 can wirelessly support up to 1.2 Gbps on its 5 GHz router, its fastest LAN port will give you a wired connection of up to only 1 Gbps. So if youve got a 1.2 Gbps internet plan, you wont have access to all of that speed on any one Ethernet connection.
But since youre probably spreading your bandwidth over multiple devices, we dont think this will cause problems for most folks.
Overall, the TP-Link Archer AX10 should be your budget pick for apartments and small homes. Consider the TP-Link Archer AX73, our budget pick for the best long-range routers, if you have a larger home.
- A price tag of nearly $600
- Mixed customer reviews
- NETGEAR Armor problems
If youre jumping on the Wi-Fi 6E train, good for you! The NETGEAR RAXE500 is the fastest router to connect all your Wi-Fi 6E devices over the 6GHz frequency. Your AR/VR gaming will be unbelievably smooth with the 6GHz bands low latency.
- Costs nearly $1,500
- No USB ports
- Uses only dual-band frequencies
- Costs over $300
Read Also: Dunkin Donuts Free Wifi Locations
Range: Antennas Extenders And Mesh Systems
The range of a wireless router simply refers to the physical space covered by its Wi-Fi network. Range is normally calculated based on a clear line of sight, with no obstructions between the router and the wireless device. Obstacles like furniture, walls, ceilings, and even people will reduce the actual range of a router. Also remember that 2.4GHz signals travel farther, and better through solid objects, than the higher-frequency 5GHz signals.
There are a few things that can increase the range of a router, eliminate dead spots in a Wi-Fi network, and improve connectivity. The first is the number of antennas that a router has and the orientation of those antennas. As a general rule of thumb, a router that has multiple antennas that can be rotated manually will have a greater range, and provide better coverage, than a router with just a single antenna.
If you have a small home with an uncomplicated layout, then you may do fine with an inexpensive single antenna router. Larger homes, multi-floor homes, and any situation that places a lot of obstructions between the router and your devices will benefit from a multi-antenna router. The construction of your home matters here as well, as concrete and metal will block signals more than wood and drywall.
Tips For Setting Up A Wifi Router
Here are some tips that can help you set up a wireless router. Based on the area you are intending to cover with your WiFi signal, you may only need one router to do the job. Properly setting up the router is essential in obtaining the maximum performance from the equipment.
Properly locate your router Placing your router in a location that is free from physical obstructions is key to getting the best signal from your router. Place it as high as you can and keep it away from other sources that may produce wireless interference such as microwaves and cordless phones.
Secure your network Make sure you access your routers administration panel and change the devices default password. Set your router to the highest degree of security with WPA2 as a minimum to protect your network and users.
Keep your firmware up to date To ensure your device is operating optimally you should take advantage of firmware upgrades offered by your routers manufacturer. We recommend you configure the router to automatically install any available firmware upgrades.
Minimize the distance between the router and connected devices If you find that your wireless devices are experiencing issues with the WiFi signal you may have to move them closer to the router in order to achieve the performance you desire. If this becomes a major problem, you may be a candidate for a mesh network installation.
Can I Use Any Gaming Router With My Provider
Before you splash out on a new router, you will need to make sure that it is compatible with your current ISP. Some ISP-provided cable modems, for example, don’t offer pass-through connectivity to allow a high-performance router to be paired with it. So it’s important to make sure you’re not wasting your money.
About Our Trusted Experts
Jesse Hollington has over three decades of experience in information technology and networking, and has installed, tested, and configured just about every type and brand of router, firewall, wireless access point, and network extender, dating back to the days long before Wi-Fi even existed, in places ranging from single-family dwellings to office buildings and university campuses.
Bill Thomas has been covering tech for several years, and has extensive experience with PC hardware, networking gear, and gaming. They’ve written for a number of major tech publications.
Jeremy Laukkonen is an experienced tech journalist with a background in automotive repair. He specializes in VPNs, antivirus, and home electronics, including wireless routers.
Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based writer who has been covering technology and video games since 2006. He tested the Google Nest Wi-Fi on our list and appreciated its smooth integration with the rest of the Google Home ecosystem.
You May Like: Finding My Wifi Password Mac
Netgear Nighthawk Raxe: The Fastest Wireless Router We’ve Ever Tested
Price: £515 |
Wireless router speeds have come on a lot in recent times and nowhere is this clearer than in the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500, which is hands down the fastest standalone router we’ve ever tested.
It employs the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard to transfer data over the new 6GHz band and has an enormous total bandwidth of 11Gbits/sec. It supports 4×4 MIMO on each of its three frequency bands and can reach rated speeds of up to 4.8Gbits/sec on its 5GHz and 6GHz networks and 1.2Gbits/sec on 2.4GHz networks.
Coupled with multigig Ethernet, the router delivered the fastest Wi-Fi transfer speeds we’ve ever seen, reaching mind-boggling downloads of 152MB/sec at close range.
The only catch is that it’s hugely expensive, so you’re definitely paying for that phenomenal performance, but if you want the very best of the best this router is the place to get it.
Read our full Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 review for full details
Key specs Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ax Stated speed:11,000Mbits/sec Ethernet ports: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x 2.5Gbits/sec USB ports: 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
Does The Price Of Your Router Matter
Like anything else, router pricing is based on performance and features, which means you can see some big cost differences depending on the kind of router you’re considering. An entry-level AC1750 802.11ac router will cost anywhere from $60 to $100, and that’s mostly what you’ll find in our roundup of budget routers mentioned earlier. But if you want an AC2400 router with MU-MIMO streaming capabilities, expect the price to land in the $100 to $200 range. A tri-band AC5400 gaming router with all the bells and whistles could cost as much as $500, while the newest 802.11ax routers are in the $300 to $500 price range, depending on data rates and features.
The latest spec, Wi-Fi 6E, is starting to see entries in the market, too. That’s good news for those who need more wireless bandwidth, but don’t expect it to come cheap figure $450 and above for models that support this standard. And, as you’ll see below, Wi-Fi mesh systems can be even more expensive, but remember that those prices typically reflect you buying not just a single router, but one or two mesh nodes, too.
Recommended Reading: Connect To Wifi Ipad