- Comparing to choose the best wireless router
- Are wireless Wi-Fi routers necessary?
- Top 8 wireless routers
- What is a wireless router?
- Essential features
- Buying guide
- Choose the right network standard
- Buy from a retailer who permits returns
- Dual or tri-band routers
- Smart wireless management
- What’s important – price or performance?
A typical evening at home today involves the family using wireless routers to perhaps catch up on the latest Netflix series, gaming, watching movies or uploading vacation photos on Flickr. Wireless routers are central devices of a home network connecting computers, laptops, printers, tablets, phones and other devices.
Not only do the best wireless routers provide wireless internet access for different devices, it’s also used for sharing files and streaming media between devices and for printing to a central device from any device. Though Ethernet connections are more secure and faster, wireless routers are a better option if you use devices moving around your house.
Comparing to choose the best wireless router
Are wireless Wi-Fi routers necessary?
Routers are not necessary; but the problem is that most mobile devices don’t have a dedicated Ethernet port to connect a hard-wired internet connection. Thus opting for a wireless network is the only solution for an internet connection for your Smartphone or tablet. While a single PC won’t require a wireless router, it’s more necessary for a house full of devices.
Top 8 wireless routers
1. NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Gigabit WiFi Router (R8000)
Fed up of interruptions while downloading your favorite and latest movies? Need a stable Wi-Fi connection for all the devices you use at home? If these are your problems, then the Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Router (R8000) might be just what you are looking for.
Made in China, this Netgear Nighthawk AC3200 router offers breakthrough Tri-band Wi-Fi with multiple bands best meant for homes with maximum speed and range. Gaming, streaming and downloading of mega-sized files is so much faster and continuous without any lags because of its Smart Connect feature.
- Uninterrupted streaming with its fast combined 3.2Gbps Wi-Fi speed
- Maximum range assured at home through its six high performance antennas and amplifiers.
- Automatic backup for Windows PC to a connected USB storage device through free ReadySHARE.
- Smart Connect selects the best Wi-Fi for each device using dynamic QoS bandwidth prioritization
- Optimal performance with its 1GHz dual core processor and 3 offload processors
- USB 3.0 port provides for high-speed storage access
- Both Wi-Fi networks are used through its load balancing feature
- NETGEAR genie app provides for remote monitoring, control and repair your home network
- Poor and disorganized customer support
- Both wireless and wired devices cannot see each other on the network after using for some time
- While rebooting does solve problems, it’s usually a temporary fix as all problems reappear within 48 hours of rebooting
Looking for best wireless router for gaming? Want to have remote access to your home network while you are away? Then the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (R7000) is worth a look.
With speeds up to 1900 Mbps and a strong dual core 1GHz processor the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 lets you enjoy the fastest Wi-Fi presently available. This router is made in china and is designed to provide for maximum Wi-Fi availability, scalability and flexibility for its price.
- Easy upgrading of your Wi-Fi through its’ easy and automatic installation of Netgear router and internet provider
- Improved range and performance with its Beamforming+
- Extended Wi-Fi coverage through high powered amplifiers and antennas
- 5 Ethernet ports and 2 USB ports
- Remote access through Netgear genie helps you manage your home network and block Wi-Fi devices, manage parental controls and set up guest Wi-Fi while you are away
- Comes with 3 detachable antennas, power adapter, Ethernet cable, quick install guide and Nighthawk AC1900 Smart Wi-Fi router
- Enjoy the best gaming and video streaming experience with upstream and downstream QoS
- Stream your favourite music and videos using a prioritized bandwidth
- The dual band wireless router stays connected to internet for no longer than 2-3 days
- Poor networking experience for its many features and high price tag
- Poor customers support from Netgear
- Most users lose connectivity to wireless printers and other wired devices. While rebooting does solve the problem, it reappears within 48 hours of rebooting.
The TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router is the perfect router for your home if you are a gaming or movie freak. It lets you enjoy gaming and watching movies online without any interruptions.
Its installation process is simplified with its Easy Setup Assistant offering multi-language support. With its four Gigabit Ethernet ports, connecting devices directly to the tp link wireless router is rather easy. Sharing files and media across the network is also rather simple with its dual USB ports.
- Provides a total of 1.75Gbps bandwidth with 450Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1300 Mbps at 5GHzOffers the industry’s highest 2-year warranty and unlimited technical support
- It’s possible to manage bandwidth of individual connected devices to the router with its IP-based Bandwidth Control
- Uninterrupted gaming and watching movies online
- Reliable Wi-Fi access through your home with Archer’s C7 three powerful dual band antennas to enjoy your Wi-Fi access from anywhere in your home
- Is compatible with both existing 802.11 a/b/g devices and future 802.11ac Wi-Fi devices
- WPS button provides for easy one-touch WPA wireless security encryption
- Guest Network Access ensures privacy by providing secure Wi-Fi access for guests using your network
- Simultaneous dual band connections let you handle simple tasks like sending emails by its 2.4GHz band while bandwidth intensive tasks like gaming or HD video streaming is processed by 5GHz band simultaneously
- Some users complain that the 5GHz signal drops completely in some parts of their homes while 2.4GHz signal was weak and not great
- Poor streaming experience as there’s lots of stuttering and buffering
Fed up of your slow internet connection? With the Linksys WRT1900ACS Dual-Band Smart Wi-Fi Gigabit Router you can bring some unparalleled Wi-Fi performance into your home. Its unique four external antenna configurations and powerful 1.6GHz dual-core processor with 512MB memory helps eliminate dead spots in multi-story buildings.
This Linksys wireless router lets multiple users’ stream movies, game online and quickly transfer files without any lagging interruptions. with 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports, the router also provides connectivity to wired devices through 2 USB ports.
- Beam forming technology lets the router strengthen wireless signals to devices instead of just sending Wi-Fi in a general direction.
- The Linksys router provides quicker network speeds, powerful Wi-Fi connections and better wireless range.
- 4 external, high-performance and adjustable antennas ensure the best Wi-Fi signal strength in small offices and multilevel houses
- Its free Smart Wi-Fi App offers a suite of Wi-Fi customization tools to set parental controls, get real-time information of your home, send guests Wi-Fi passwords and prioritize devices.
- Promotes simultaneous online gaming, file transfers and movie streaming without any lagging or buffering
- Along with the Linksys WRT1900AC router you get 4 external dual-band detachable antennas, CD-ROM with documentation, Ethernet Cable, Power Cord, Power Adapter and Quick Start Guide.
- Wireless repeater and bridge mode gives a more powerful wireless signal.
- Optimal range and speed when the router works and runs properly
- Inconsistent signal strength perhaps due to buggy firmware
- CD’s setup program not very useful
With ASUS famous for its optimal Wi-Fi range, security, capabilities, reliability, file upload and download speed and other features, it’s no wonder their wireless AC1900 dual-band gigabit router easily rivals wired Gigabit connections.
It’s dual-core processor removes the performance drops common with routers of busy networks to provide for concurrent smooth 4kvideo streaming, ultra-fast downloading and low latency online gaming. While its USB ports let you share files, use a printer and connects to a 3G/4G modem, its AiProtection provides for a safe and sound digital playground.
- A dual core processor reduces the chances of any performance drops to ensure uninterrupted internet connectivity
- Sleek looking design
- Powerful wireless connectivity with 802.11ac beamforming+ technology through extended coverage, enhanced stability and dynamic data speed hikes.
- Complete Network Security through its AiProtection feature by preventing transmission of personal data from infected devices and blocking malicious sites.
- Comes with a power adapter, quick start guide, RJ-45 Ethernet cable and support CD
- RT-AC68U feature provides access to both the 3-step web-based installation process and other advanced options.
- Frequent drop in its 5ghz connection
- Very weak range perhaps due to the presence of various firmware bugs
- Many complain of connection and speed problems with devices which worked perfectly well with other routers
- Requires frequent power cycling
- No DD-WRT support as advertised on ASUS website
Movie buffs will especially love this wireless router, the NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 (24×8) Wi-Fi cable modem router (C7000) DOCSIS 3.0. as the name suggests, it’s a cable modem with Wi-Fi router which delivers up to 960Mbps modem speed so that you enjoy uninterrupted HD video treatment.
As this best buy wireless router is certified to work with cable internet providers you can save about $120 a year by eliminating your monthly cable modem rental fees. With its 24×8 channel bonding you can experience a maximum of 960 Mbps download speeds.
- Your entire home is assured of HD coverage with this Netgear wireless router Beamforming+ feature
- Save money as you no longer need to pay monthly cable charges
- Cable modem and Wi-Fi router combination delivers a maximum of 960Mbps modem speed even in peak hours
- DLNA server helps you find and play stored media on game consoles and TVs while USB port lets you access and share stored media
- Set up with Xfinity and Comcast within 5-10 minutes through their activation site
- Some complain the router is large in size
- No informative indicator lights which change colours to indicate bonded channels
- Short warranty of 90 days for phone and 1 year for equipment does not support product quality
- Expensive as you need a few years to recover the rental costs you’d have paid
- As Genie software is not updated, many features found on regular routers are missing
- No individual passwords or usernames for USB share access.
- Some screens exhibit a very slow user interface
The ASUS Dual-Band Wireless-AC3100 Gigabit Router (RT-AC88U) gives your internet connection the speed and safety you need. Its 1024-QAM technology gives you an 80% faster 5GHz for a maximum of 2100 Mbps and a 66% faster 2.4GHz for a maximum of 1000 Mbps.
The ASUS wireless router’s powerful 1.4GHz dual-core processor offers faster USB data transfers at a maximum of 100MB/s speed and a maximum router download/upload speed of 1.8Gbps. with its 8 x Gigabit LAN ports you are assured simultaneous connection to eight Ethernet compatible devices.
- Safe and secure online experience with ASUS AiProtection through parental controls, blocking malicious sites and automatic detection of any vulnerability
- Lots of connectivity options as its 8 x Gigabit LAN ports provides a simultaneous connection to 8 Ethernet compatible devices
- 4 transmits and 4 receives antenna design assure 33% greater 2.4GHz coverage over a maximum of 5000sq. Ft.
- Fast and stable connectivity to all Wi-Fi devices via the best available band through Smart Connect
- Backed by ASUS highest customer satisfaction standards in US
- Great, superior exterior design
- Many consumers complain the ASUS Dual-Band Wireless-AC3100 Gigabit router doesn’t offer the DD-WRT support advertised on their site
- The presence of many firmware bugs leads to an underwhelming range
- Devices which worked flawlessly with other routers seem to have connectivity and speed issues which are temporarily fixed by power cycling.
- GUI not up to the mark
With a NETGEAR AC1750 (16×4) Wi-Fi cable modem router (C6300) DOCSIS unit at home you no longer need separate modems and routers. This cable modem wireless router is certified to work with all major cable internet providers and is necessary to reap the fastest internet speed tiers XFINITY offers from Comcast.
This wireless modem router provides the fastest cable speed available with a maximum of 680 Mbps download speeds to enjoy faster downloading, high speed gaming and HD video streaming. The presence of simultaneous dual band provides better Wi-Fi connections through reduced interference.
- Supports 16 downstream and 4 upstream channels for efficient and reliable internet access
- A modem and router combo certified to work with major cable providers and necessary for fastest internet speed tiers.
- Save on your monthly cable subscription fees
- Not only are Wi-Fi connections secure, this modem router offers parental controls and safe guest network access
- Better Wi-Fi connections as its simultaneous Dual Band reduces interference
- Upton 16 times faster download speeds of 680 Mbps
- ReadySHARE USB access provides for wireless access and sharing of USB hard drives while the DLNA permits finding and playing of media
- NETGEAR genie parental control filters websites across all connected devices
- Ultra fast file transfer across network devices
- Supports 802.11ac
- Connects with Comcast and Affinity within 5-10 minutes through their activation site
- Short warranty does not indicate the company has confidence in their products
- Very slow web interface
- No changing indicator lights
- Genie software not updated
- A bit on the expensive side
What is a wireless router?
As mentioned above, wireless routers connect devices in a network without devices to make it easy creating and maintaining a network. It is the Wi-Fi adapters which pick up Wi-Fi signals of wireless routers which in turn lets devices connect to the internet, share files and do more.
Transfer standards determine how fast routers transfer data and have improved with each wireless router generation. The higher the transfer speed, the quicker files are downloaded. So you need to look for the highest transfer standard for the fastest wireless router. If you are not particular about speed, you can select an older slower model and save money.
Different wireless routers have different features and benefits where the most basic networks offer simplistic options while multi-function routers meet the demands of sophisticated users. However not everyone needs expensive features which is why you need to understand the important features to buy the best wireless router for home.
- Ethernet ports
Ethernet ports are useful for gamers and people who regularly use large amounts of bandwidth at a time as it transfers large data amounts faster than most wireless connections. They connect the computer to the router through an Ethernet cable.
- USB ports
Routers have USB ports for various uses. They mainly help at connecting the router to an external hard drive, flash drive or even a USB printer if the router has a built-in print server. However the better routers let you lug in a USB mass-storage device for increased network-attached storage functionality. In addition to all this, a large USB hard drive in your router and all devices on your network gives you access to the storage resource, just like having a cheap server.
- Speed ratings
Speed ratings define how quickly the router transfers data where the higher is the rating, the faster its transfer speeds. Transfer speed ratings are maximum speed a router can reach in perfect conditions which may at times slow down because of some interferences.
As some users don’t need high transfer speeds like 500 Mbps, you need to check this before buying your wireless router as the faster is the transfer data, the more expensive the router may be.
Look for secure wireless networks as improper security can make it easy for hackers to steal important data like bank and credit card information. With wireless routers maintaining a constant internet connection, they face the risk of intrusions from any part of the world.
Different protocols ensure a wireless router’s security like WEP which is a security protocol with a password which grants network access and WPA is its upgraded version. WPA uses an encryption key so that it’s even more difficult for hackers to gain access.
WPA2 is even more complex version of WPA encryption mechanisms. Wireless routers usually come with WPA security protocols and WPA2 is used when security is very important.
- Guest networking
Businesses offering free Wi-Fi access benefit with a wireless router offering guest networking. This feature lets users create two networks which are simultaneously available. They can choose between having one network open to public and the other password protected and has some portions of the data public and other portions, private.
With so many top wireless routers it is natural that you wonder what is the best wireless router in the market for your individual needs. Moreover, while wireless networks are convenient, they are insecure, especially if you don’t take the necessary steps to secure it.
Without securing it, anyone within hearing range can eavesdrop on your online activities, use your internet connection, access all the files and data in your computer, infect your systems with viruses and so many other similar problems. So here is a buying guide for people considering a wireless router best buy and those going in for an upgrade.
Buy a router which supports at least WPA2. Along with the router, all devices in the network should also support WPA2 for optimal security as your network remains as secure as the least-secured device connected to it.
While WPA is acceptable, it isn’t ideal and it’s not advisable to rely on WEP as it can be easily cracked by anyone using tools downloadable online. Once you router is secured with a password using WPA2 encryption, you usually have to enter the password into each wireless device you use on the network only once as the device remembers it afterwards.
If you are looking for optimal security if you live in an apartment building or crowded urban area, there are some wireless internet routers designed with business or advanced family security in mind.
They thus have additional features like the ability of blocking unwanted users from the network, the ability of adding extra encryption, monitor devices and even let you see what other people are browsing.
If you have frequent guests over or are an AirBNB host and are not keen on divulging your security password to the guests, its better you choose a router with a guest network. This way you can provide your guests with online access without the risk of disclosing your regular security password.
If you love playing with your computer settings, then you need to look for the feature Quality of Service or Traffic Control or Media Prioritization in the router. With this feature, you are at liberty of optimizing the router’s performance based on what you want to do at a given time. This means you can set the settings for optimal performance while streaming videos, making Skype calls, streaming music or playing games.
By changing settings as per your requirements, the specific application gets more of the bandwidth. It thus assures your Netflix movie doesn’t pause or rebuffed just because someone is downloading a large file in your house. So while it doesn’t increase your network’s bandwidth or speedup your internet access, Quality of Service does make the best use of available online resources.
Choose the right network standard
The latest network standard is 802.11ac which exists in the newest wireless routers. This means the router supports Gigabit speeds, which is much faster than previous 600Mbps limits. These routers offer 1300Mbps of bandwidth even at base level, which is more than twice the speed of the previous maxim standard of 802.11n. ‘Ac’ is backwards compatible with older devices and as they are growing more affordable, they will soon become commonplace. .
So though you may not have devices which benefit from the speed, you may in the future. There are not many devices around today which don’t support 802.11ac and if you choose a router offering 802.11ac now, you needn’t go through the hassles of changing or upgrading the router again next year again.
However in case your Smartphone supports only 802.11, you won’t experience much of an upped boost on the phone if you buy an 802.11ac router. So if none of your devices support 802.11 ac, the older and less expensive routers may be a better choice for you. However 802.11ac routers easily handle more concurrent connections which are so much important today as there are so many devices using your Wi-Fi network.
Buy from a retailer who permits returns
With so many brands of 802.11ac routers in the market, you may have to test a few out before you finally decide on the best router for your internet needs. This is because even the best routers may vary in its results when you use it as each person’s operating environment is unique based on your home specifies and the devices you use. In fact, even your ISP can affect its performance.
For example one router with great reviews may work well for all devices at home but your Xbox may not work with the same consistency. Some devices may deliver strong Wi-Fi signals at home but not to the depth of your backyard which you may not fancy if you love listening to streaming music in the porch.
This means that though wireless router reviews may help narrow down your wireless router choices based on your needs, you may not get the same experience as mentioned in the reviews. So it’s better to buy from a retailer who will let you return the router and exchange it for another one if required. This way if the first router you choose isn’t perfect, you can exchange it for another remodel till you find the perfect model for your home Wi-Fi network.
Before you go looking for your router, you should assess your house’s or apartment’s overall size, the building materials used in it and where the router will be placed. The router’s placement has a huge impact on your Wi-Fi network’s performance.
While it may not be that important if you have a one room apartment, you may want a router with speedy throughout capabilities. So choose routers which perform best in ‘near’ and ‘mid-range’ situations.
If you live in a large house with many rooms or more than one floor, look for a long range wireless router and which provides strong data throughout even at a distance. The router should preferably be placed in as central a location as possible, so choose routers which are excellent or very good for use in ‘far’ situations.
Your router’s performance may get affected by drywall, plaster and hollow doors. Even floors and uninsulated doors can lead to signal degradation. The biggest offenders are insulated floors and walls, aluminum studs found in modern apartments and office buildings, glass and solid brick and stone.
Generally, the more floors, walls and any kind of windows in its way, the worse the signal is. It’s generally better to place the router in the middle of your home for maximum Wi-Fi coverage. Leave it open and not stashed out of sight in a closet or the corner of the basement.
Dual or tri-band routers
While dual-band routers have been around for many years, many manufacturers today manufacture tri-band routers too. Dual-band means the router has two radios; one operating on 2.4GHz frequency and the other running on 5.0GHz frequency band.
You thus can set up two individual wireless networks to increase speeds in a crowded wireless networks. However do read the fine print as some dual-band routers have one radio which works on either the 2.4GHz or 5.0GHz bands but not both together.
In case of tri-band routers, there is a second 5.0GHz band which proves helpful if you have numerous mobile devices on a single network. You may thus have to spread them around three bands for improved data management and efficiency. However tri-band routers are rare as not many use them; if they are used, they are useful in a dorm or office but not that needed or useful in an ordinary house.
Smart wireless management
The worst problem for routers is interference as routers are useless if it doesn’t give acceptable wireless signals wherever required. The solution here is to use ‘smart’ processes which identify devices or dead zones and target them with Wi-Fi signals for continuous service. Some products encourage buying various routers which are linked to create a Wi-Fi web around your home to thus eliminate dead zones.
What’s important – price or performance?
The rates of routers change widely based on its available features, ports, antennas and much more. The best routers today cost between $100 to $250. Some smaller routers are cheaper than this and some larger routers, more expensive. There are also some decent routers costing $50 or less; but they don’t offer the latest or best features.
So it’s no point in buying cheaper routers to save money as they deliver sub-performance. While product reviews give you an idea about what to expect from routers, it’s only after setting one up at home will you be able to know and find out how the router will perform in your unique environment.
Choosing the best wireless routers is not so easy as there’s a huge wireless router range in the market. While some information is necessary to make a purchase, even going through wireless router reviews helps you choose the best home wireless router!