With so many people glued to their smartphones and social media updates, we think it’s safe to say:
Without wifi, society today would go insane or would they?
A good wifi connection is the brick and mortar to every millennials life. They wake up, check their phones, go to school check their phones, and even check their phones before bed. Without a steady wifi connection, some kids would go nuts.
The only problem with wifi is that finding a “good” router to support your internet connection has become extremely difficult. With new technologies emerging such as google fiber and gigabit internet speed, consumers are frantically struggling to find the right router to support their connection.
It is essential to be able to fully harness the power of your internet connection and broadcast it through wifi, otherwise you may be spending more than you really need. Check to see if your existing router can use an upgrade. If it doesn’t have the hardware or support for the latest 802.11ac networking standard, then it might be time for you to get a new router.
Luckily for you, we have made the process extremely simple. After spending hundreds of hours scouring the web and testing these Wi-Fi routers, we have compiled our research into a shortlist of the top 10 routers available for you to purchase.
Top 10 Wireless Routers of 2016
Below we have a list of routers, some come with more features than others, while some are a bit heftier in terms of price.
It’ll be up to you to decide what will be best for your household. Good luck.
|Asus RT-AC88U |
|8x Gigabit Ethernet||802.11ac: 2167Mbps||$$$|
|Netgear Nighthawk R7000|
|5x Gigabit Ethernet||802.11ac: 1900Mbps||$$$|
|TP Link Archer AC3200||5x Gigabit Ethernet||802.11ac: 1300Mbps||$$$|
|Linksys EA9500||8x Gigabit LAN port||802.11ac: 5.3Gbps||$$$$$|
|Asus RT-AC3200||8x Gigabit Ethernet||802.11ac: 3.2Gbps||$$$|
|Linksys WRT1900AC||4x Gigabit Ethernet||802.11ac: 1.3Gbps||$$$|
|Amped Wireless RTA2600||4x Gigabit LAN port||802.11ac: 2.5Gbps||$$$|
|TP-Link Archer C7||4x Gigabit LAN port||802.11ac: 363.6Mbps||$$|
|Apple Airport Extreme Base Station||4x Gigabit Ethernet||802.11ac: 1.3Gbps||$$$|
|D-Link DIR-880L||5x Gigabit Ethernet||802.11ac: 1300Mbps||$$|
1. Asus RT-AC88U – Best wifi router to buy in 2016
When you hear the word Asus, you automatically think of the gaming company that manufactures sleek, top of the line gaming computers. What you didn’t know is that Asus also manufactures high end wireless routers. Just like its other product lines, the routers manufactured by Asus are stylish, and look somewhat like a high tech alien gadget.
The 4 antennas that give the router its retro vibe are actually extremely powerful wireless broadcaster bands and can push speeds up to 1GB/sec. The only catch to these extremely high speeds is that you have to purchase a NitroQAM wireless adapter(Asus PCE-AC88) to take full advantage of this router. However, if you speeds such as 1GB/sec is unnecessary then the adapter is not needed and the router will function just fine without it.
The RT-AC88U comes with 8 Gigabit LAN ports. These ports can be used for you to directly hook up your computer to high-speed internet without taking any losses from performance issues. On top of the LAN ports, this dual-band router can also be switched into NAS.
Quick review from CNET
Configuration, Performance, and Installation
What’s extremely nice about this router is its setup and ease of use. It is clear that Asus has spent a significant amount of developing its user interface. The web portal is extremely clean and uses the latest flat design graphics to produce a portal that is sheer eye candy.
The installation process couldn’t be any easier. When you first connect with a computer, the interface will be automatically launched and offer you two choices to setup the router. It is then up to you to configure the settings automatically or manually.
The Asus RT-AC88U provide excellent multi-client MU-MIMO steaming, can execute both bands, 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz, perfectly, and file read/write well.
2. Netgear Nighthawk R7000 AC1900 Dual Band Router – Best Router under $200
The Netgear R7000 is claimed to be one of the best routers that Netgear has manufactured for home users.
It offers some of the most features for its price point. Powered by a dual core 1Ghz processor, it’s one of the fastest routers available on the market. It comes with unique features such as an OpenVPN server, support for Broadcom TurboQAM for increased speeds, and third-party firmware support such as DD-WRT. When paired with an external storage device such as an ssd, this router can backup your history and be turned into a Time Machine.
The only downside to this router is that it is the biggest, tankiest router, that we’ve ever seen. You will definitely need a good amount of space in order for this router to be placed comfortably. Unlike the R6300 that came out more than a year ago, the R700 is slightly larger and stays flat rather than vertical. The good news is the router is wall mountable. If you want to go the extra mile, the router comes with a set of screws that will enable you to manually mount it to the wall.
Configuration, Setup, and Parental Control
Setting up the router is an absolute cakewalk. It comes with a preset network id and password that can be found on the back. Once plugged in, all you have to do is connect your pc to the router interface and login with the information you found on the back.
The Netgear Genie Web interface will guide you through the rest of the process. It’s a breeze! Another feature of the online interface is the ability to include two guest networks. You can set the frequency of the band for each network.
Parental control is becoming extremely crucial. There has been a growth of malicious websites and content inappropriate for kids growing on the web. Thanks to a customizeable OpenDNS-based parental control setting, you’re able to completely block off sites that you wish your kids would not access.
3. TP Link Archer AC3200 Wireless Tri-Band Gigabit Router – Best Range Wireless Router
What makes this router so special? The Tri-Band Gigabit Router comes into play when you’re required to have multiple internet connections simultaneously. If you have a great deal of traffic coming in from different clients with all types of bandwidth, this router will be perfect for you. A Tri-Band router offers both 2.4GHz and two 5Ghz bands operating at the same time. This router does a nice job of moving files from attached USB devices and has decent overall performance for its price.
Features and Design
The 2.4GHz band offers a max data speed of 600Mbps while the 5GHz bands offer speeds as high as 1,300Mbps. The interior comes fully packed with a powerful 1GHz dual-core processor that can support the latest 802.11 b/g/n/ac networks. This router also features TP-Link’s latest smart connect technology which allows the router to predict the client’s best frequency band and send the best signal tailored to each client.
The design of this beauty is a 1.5 x 7.9 x 7.9 casing which sits horizontally and can also be mounted on the wall. The router is colored sleek black and has a grille finish which gives it that last touch of style. The wireless capability is powered by six antennas that can fold flush to its maximum length. On the front of the router, there are 9 LED activity lights which shows power, bands, USB, Ethernet, and WAN ports, and WPS.
The design of the online web portal is very clean and incorporates the latest flat design elements. It has some comprehensive features for more advanced users but also incorporates a quick setup feature for new users. The basic settings page offers a network map displaying the total amount of connected clients, storage devices, and printers. The advanced settings page allows you to view a client’s SSID, channel, and MAC address. These feature are useful if you are looking to either limit the client’s internet access or modify his connectivity options.
Overall performance was pretty consistent with its price point. On a 5GHz close-proximity test, this router scored a total of 293 Mbps. That’s greater than the Netgear Nighthawk R8000. However, it was slightly short of the AC3200 which is another great tri-band router.
In conclusion to our tests, the C3200 performed almost like a mid range router on the 2.4GHz band scoring 47 Mbps on our close-proximity test. In simple terms, if you aren’t gonig to utilize the 5GHz band you might be better off buying a Tenda AC1900 Wireless DUal Band Router which is almost half the cost of the AC3200.
4. Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream AC5400 – Best Gaming and Video Streaming Router
This gigantic spider look alike router is designed for gaming, video streaming, and every day professional work. It has a single 2.4GHz band that can reach astounding speeds of up to 1GBps, and has 2x 5GHz bands that reach up to 2,167Mbps. If you add up the speeds of all three bands you get a whopping 5Gbps.
Some notable features of this router is its MU-MIMO, dual core CPU, and eight extendable antennas. The best feature is Linksys smart connect which allows you to dedicate different SSIDs for the 5GHz bands. This allows you to have one network for just gaming and another for things such as professional work or media streaming. By having two separate networks, you’re able to seamlessly maximize connectivity in both fields.
Setup and Configuration
Using Linksys smart wifi based interface, you’re able to quickly configure the router. Configurations such as parental control, guest wi-fi, and dual band setup are very easy with the web portal. Just click on the icon on the smart wi-fi tools bar and the rest of the process is guided through the user interface. Even the advanced features aren’t obscure and a novice is sure to be able to figure it out by reading through the online documentation.
5. Asus RT-AC3200 – Tri Band Wireless Router
The RT-AC3200 is actually a second tier router because it is the predecessor of the monstrosity of a router, the RT-AC5300. Although second tier, this router still delivers an overall great performance for the price. With three bands (tri band) it can support 2 5GHz connections and one 2.4 GHz connection simultaneously. It also comes with usb storage, ability to connect to printer sharing and aerials, and can reach peak throughput speeds of 3200 MB/sec.
Although compared to it’s father router, the AC5300, it doesn’t look like a monstrous colossal unit. However, measuring in at 290 x 188 x 58mm it can take up quite the space. Make sure you have enough room to store this unit before deciding to purchase it.
What we really liked about this router was its overall style. It has a very angular, aggressive look that gives the router a nice clean finish. The color however is slightly lacking as it seems to be a light overcast of black and lacks in the gamer style category. The build quality is on par with some of the more premium routers because the outer casing is made of robust plastic and it has ample ventilation built in.
For those that love to see bright flashing LED’s, the TR-AC3200 has a full set of LED lights that sit on the front of the router. There are 9 different LED lights that indicate power, connectivity, wireless, WPS, and more. What some users may be disappointed with however, is the fact that the front only has 1 USB 3.0.
Setup and Use
This router has one of the most in depth setup wizards that we’ve encountered. It has a very great user experience oriented design and the color schema is of elegance. Setup is extremely easy, all you have to do is plug the router, check the ip on the back of the router, and connect to the online web portal. Once on the control panel, you can click on the simple “quick internet setup” on the top left of the page to instantly get started. The automatic wizard will help you configure the router with ease.
6. Linksys WRT1900AC – Best DD-WRT Router
This is an all time favorite, classic router that has been around for over a decade. Of course, the 1900AC has been upgraded to support the latest technologies in both single/dual band for 2.5 GHz and 5GHz. This router comes with some very unique features that make it a fan favorite.
It can simultaneously transmit both 2.4/5GHz bands to deliver a better, stronger, connection to a wider range than just a single band. The built in beamforming technology increases performance by lowering the interference from other radio waves by directing the signal only to the connected device. Upgraded from its predecessor, this new model has a USB 3.0 port to transfer data at speeds almost 10x as fast as USB 2.0. It also comes with 4 gigabit ports so you never have to worry about speed issues or simultaneous connections.
In 2015, this router won the PCMag award for top 4 best routers. To summarize its features it has a 1.2 GHz dual core processor, 4 gigabit ports, smart wifi software w/ network map, and it’s open source ready. What’s great about open source is that you can install almost any firmware, as well as the most popular: DD-WRT. This router was designed for mobile device households because of its beamforming technology as mentioned above. If you have multiple mobile users, then this router is well suited for you.
Setup and Processor
This router has one of the highest performance processors available on the market for routers. It has a professional level 1.3GHz dual core ARM processor. Unlike some of its competition, it doesn’t have to change between data streams that aren’t tailored for multi tasking. The dual core processor allows it to stream multiple data outputs at the same time. The end result is a much more efficient and higher performance multi device suited for today’s ever evolving society.
7. Amped Wireless RTA2600 Athena – Best Wi-Fi Router for Comcast
This is yet another MU-MIMO router reveal. It is one of the best wireless routers for use with comcast. MU-MIMO is the latest technological craze that has entered the wireless router market. What’s great about the RTA2600 is that it’s priced competitively for the amount of features that it has to offer.
Multi Device Ready, with MU-MIMO integrated this router is able to send and receive data simultaneously to multiple devices. Not only does this increase overall efficiency of the router but it’s able to stream 4 concurrent currents.
Blazing Speeds, with speeds as high as 2.53Gbps across the two bands you’ll never have to worry about slow speeds. These are speeds fast enough to allow flawless HD & 4K streaming. Your online gaming will be great and streaming high quality netflix films will be awesome.
Next Gen Processor, with a 1.4GHz Dual Core CPU built internally, you’ll never have to worry about the router lagging on you. THis is great for overall network efficiency because it allows for better connectivity and can take on more connections without overheating.
Amazing Coverage, there are several technologies incorporated into the RTA2600 Athena that allow for one of the best coverages. It has beamforming technology which directly routes the wifi signal to each device. It has 16 amplifies and 4 antennas that output 800mW and 5dBi. You can even control the amount of bandwidth that each device can soak up meaning that one person can’t hog the entire internet (great for streamers).
Setup and Parental Controls, you no longer have to worry about kids snooping around at night when you go to sleep. WIth the parental controls option you have the ability to give kids access time to the internet as well as block sites you do not wish them to visit. Setup can definitely be a tricky aspect to a new router, but with the simple setup wizard you can easily setup your router in just a few minutes.
8. TP-Link Archer C7 – Best Wireless Router Under 100
This is one of the best wifi routers available for under $100. It’s quite difficult nowadays to find such great budget routers that perform at a high level. This router is suitable for those looking for casual gaming or speeds fast enough to stream netflix and other forms of online entertainment.
This router has a great reputation for being an affordable router with amazing performance and features. After testing it for several months here is our honesty review.
Packed with a QUalcomm Atheros QCA9558 processor clocked at 720MHz you’re bound to run into some performance issues, but for the price there’s no complaints. It also offers 128 MB of RAM and 16 MB of storage both of which are on the lower end of the spectrum but once again for the price it is definitely an adequate amount.
Its networking capabilities are pretty standard with a 802.11ac connection that offers two networks: a 2.4 GHz and a 5 GHz frequency. The max bandwidth is stated to be around 450 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz and 1300 Mbps on the 5 GHz. This totals up to around 1.8 Gbps which is more than plenty for everyday use. What’s awesome is that this router has 6 antennas all together, 3 on the outside and 3 on the internal. This allows for fluid connectivity and a much wider signal radius.
Setup and Use
Because the TP-Link Archer is one of the older generation of wireless routers, the user interface is also slightly outdated and may be confusing for newcomers. However, there is the option for a quick setup wizard which will guide you through the whole process in a breeze. The user interface only works in english and the manual on the side of the online portal can be difficult to follow.
9. Apple Airport Extreme Base Station – Best Wi-Fi Router for iPhone, Mac
This is apple’s custom router dedicated for iPhone and Mac enthusiasts. It has an elegant yet sleek design that blows its competition out of the water. With a very small footprint, it takes up little space and overall performs very well.
However, apart from the design we think that the router is slightly over priced for the features that it has to offer. But if you’re a diehard apple fan then definitely go for this router as it is extremely stable and provides consistent connectivity.
This router is a true dual band router that is also compact and more sleek than its predecessors. It supports the latest 802.11ac standard. Although it offers one of the most reliable wifi connections and streaming capabilities, it comes with a lack of features compared to other mid to high end routers.
On the back of this router it has 3 x LAN ports and 1 x WAN port. It also has a USB 2.0 that can be used to host an additional hard drive or connect to a printer. The only thing we found missing was a USB 3.0 port which most routers these days come with.
Setup and Use
If you’re a previous owner of the airport router you’ll know that it comes with its own required utility software. Setup is extremely easy however, once you get the utility software installed. The downside to this custom utility is that it is required to make changes to your wifi. It can become a hassle sometimes if one of the computers you’re working on doesn’t have the utility but you want to make a change right away.
10. D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900 – Best Router for Large House
This router is one of the best routers for large houses thanks to its dual band capabilities. It has a very far wireless broadcasting range because it supports both 2.4 GHz and 5GHz bands. This router is D-Link’s step into the AC1900 router market.
The design of this router is very ‘white’ it comes with 3 exterior antennas and a curved exterior representing that of a tortoise shell. It is encased in soft plastic that is relatively sturdy and should withstand moderate drop height. The overall dimensions of this router is 246.9 x 190.4 x 47.2 mm and weighs around 745g.
Some of the D-Link Dir-880L features are its 1300mbps 802.11ac connectivity and a 600mbps 802.11n connection. However, the only catch for these high connection speeds on the older 2.4GHz band is that it requires a Turbo QAM compatible wireless receiver. On top of some bolstering speeds this router offers 4 x Ethernet ports and 1 x LAN port.
Setup and Use
D-Link has a easy to setup user interface that almost anyone could do. Just connect the router to the wall and login through the ip address located on the back of the router. You’ll be lead to a quick setup icon that will guide you through the entire process. What’s really nice is that the homepage has a full graphic of how your internet is setup, giving you a full visual aid of your home.
Ultimate Wireless Router Buying Guide
These days there are so many different types of routers that it can be very difficult to purchase the right one for you. You have to consider what bands you want, speeds, size, and ease of use before deciding on a router to purchase.
How does a Router work?
A router has three major points, the router, a network switch, and a WAP (Wireless Access Point). The router’s main purpose is to channel the internet coming in through your wall into a form of streamable data as well as direct connection into multiple devices. The network switch helps to connect your devices such as laptops and computers to the ethernet port. Finally the WAP is a station with an antenna that transmits and takes in wireless signal enabling you to use your wifi connection.
Types of Wireless Routers
When it comes to routers there are so many types, it can be almost confusing to figure out what each type does. We’ve compiled a list of every type so you can analyze which type is best suitable for your home.
Dual Band – These are one of the cheapest types of routers and are also one of the most common routers currently on the market. The reason why it’s called a dual band router is because it can broadcast two different frequencies: a 2.4 GHz and a 5 GHz frequency.
Tri-Band – These have slowly revolutionized the market as they are an upgrade from dual band routers. The upside to having two 5GHz bands and one 2.4 GHz band is that the router can broadcast its signal to a much wider range than ever before.
N600 – The name N600 comes from the fact that these routers produce a maximum throughput of 600 Mbps. These are dual band routers with both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. The 600 Mbps is split proportionally between the two bands. These are a little outdated and most people prefer to go with a dual band or tri-band router instead.
N900 – Just like the N600 this is just a router with speeds capable of up to 900 Mbps and is split between two bands evenly.
AC1750 – This router has a combined throughput speed of 1750 Mbps. Unlike the N-series of routers this router splits the speeds disproportionately. The 2.4 GHz band receives 450 Mbps and the 5 GHz band receives 1300 Mbps.
AC1900 – Just like the AC1750 the AC1900 is very similar except speeds are split 600 Mbps to the 2.4 GHz band and 1300 Mbps to the 5 GHz band.
AC3200 – These routers are special because unlike the other two AC types, this one supports tri band. The 3200 Mbps is split 2600 Mbps to two 5 GHz bands and 600 Mbps to one 2.4 GHz band.
AC5300 – The AC5300 currently offers the highest combined speed available on the market. However, most homeowners and business owners as well will never need a speed greater than 5300 Mbps. They are the most expensive routers available and it can be difficult to find a ISP(Internet service provider) as well as a PC that can support these high speeds.
DD-WRT – These routers are different from the rest because they run on a Linux based firmware and has additional features that most routers don’t have. The DD-WRT firmware gives users access to more controls over their router. If you would like to learn more check out this link.
Functionalities of Advanced Wireless Routers
Security – Most modern routers provide a unique ip for every device connected. These ip’s are also encrypted making it much harder for hackers to obtain your ip address because they have to go through multiple secure gateways before reaching your ip.
Easy Setup – Most advanced routers are very intuitive. The user interface is sleek and clean and allows the user to easily find what they’re looking for. They also provide an auto configuration wizard which will guide customers through a step by step process on how to setup the router.
External Storage – With the introduction of USB 3.0 it has become even easier to transfer data. With that said, most modern routers come with multiple USB 2.0 & 3.0 ports to allow users to attach additional storage. This is known as NAS or Network Attached Storage and can be used to store user information as well as internet logs.
Customization – Routers have become so advanced you can customize additional networks, delegate internet access to only certain users, control when the router turns off, or disable your childrens internet. These customization features makes each router unique to the individual.
There are so many routers on the market that it can be very confusing for an average consumer to find the best wireless router. We designed this guide to make it as easy as possible for you to learn which type of router is bested suited for your home and then reviewed our top ten picks to help narrow down your selection. Do keep in mind that your mileage may vary and certain routers will have different performances based on your ISP.
We hope that you learned quite a bit about routers and found the best one for your home. If you have any questions in regards to your router selection or about the article, don’t hesitate to drop a comment below. We’ll do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.