When it comes to using the internet at home, most of your headaches are probably related to internet providers. Whether you’re reeling from a sudden price surges or trying to deal with customer service over the phone, there’s unfortunately no way to get around the telecoms companies that keep us connected. But an equally important part of the equation is the router itself. Paying for premium internet with a junky router is about the same as trying to whitewater raft in an innertube — it can be done, but the picture won’t be pretty. That’s why it’s important to invest in a router that can keep up with your needs.
There are a few different kinds of routers. The kind that’s best for home use is probably the kind you think of when you hear the word router, and that’s a wireless router. Wired routers are used to connect directly to a computer, but wireless routers allow you to use your phone, laptop and other devices from wherever in the house. The best wireless routers to buy are dual-band — these support 2.4 GHz connections as well as 5 GHz. Put simply, the former offers range and the latter offers speed.
Wireless routers can also vary widely in terms of price. Which is why it’s important to think about what you’re using your router for. Do you live alone and log on just to check social media and do occasional online shopping? No need to go big. Does your entire family consist of Twitch streamers? You might need to spend a little more. We’ve rounded up some of the best options available right now.
1. NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R7000)
If you need something high performing, this router from Netgear is a good option. It provides coverage for up to 1,800 square feet, and it can support up to 30 devices. Plus, with four high-speed Ethernet ports, you can directly plug in any devices that require a stable connection. You can even set up a separate WiFi network for guests so you don’t have to share passwords.
Pros: Has four Ethernet ports and a USB port. Coverage for 1,800 square feet and 30 devices. Can be used to set up a separate network for guests.
Cons: Somewhat expensive.
2. TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router
TP-Link is the top provider of consumer WiFi products, and its reasonably priced dual WiFi router is a good option to suit a variety of needs. It’s designed to provide coverage for 2,500 square feet and connect up to 50 devices. The router has numerous connection options in addition to WiFi. There’s a USB port, a WAN port, and four LAN ports. You can set up guest WiFi and parental controls.
Pros: Multiple connection options including a USB port, WAN port and four LAN ports. Three external antennas for greater range.
Cons: Can occasionally have issues connecting to certain devices.
3. ASUS Wireless-AC1700 Dual Band Gigabit Router
ASUS is known as a great brand for laptops, but they also make routers. This powerful, wireless dual-band router delivers transfer speeds of up to 1,700 Mbps. The four fixed antennas provide wide coverage and there are multiple Ethernet ports on the back of the device, plus a USB for convenient wired connections.
Pros: Powerful dual-band router with wide coverage thanks to the four antennas, speeds up to 1,700 Mbps.
Cons: Somewhat expensive.
4. Tenda AC1200 Dual Band WiFi Router
If you’re looking for a good budget option, this router from Tenda offers up to 1,200 Mbps connections through its dual-band router. It can be used to link up to 20 devices, so you can pair smart speakers and other devices. There are three LAN ports and a WAN port, and the router has four antennas with beamforming technology for better coverage.
Pros: 2,000 square foot coverage, four LAN ports, link up to 20 devices.
Cons: No USB connection.
5. Medialink AC1200 Wireless Gigabit Router
If you’re looking for an affordable basic option for connecting to the internet, this wireless router has beamforming and two antennas for wider coverage. Multiple connection ports give you the opportunity to directly connect to the router. There are four LAN ports, one WAN port and one USB 2.0 port. You can also use this router as a range extender.
Pros: Four LAN ports and a USB 2.0 port. Two antennas and beamforming.
Cons: HTTP instead of more secure HTTPS for device management.