The 10 Best Wireless Routers

Updated December 18, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

10 Best Wireless Routers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Streaming videos lag, web pages crawl toward loading, games freeze. It always seems like there isn't enough internet speed or Wi-Fi coverage to get you where you want to go online. But with one of the wireless routers on our list, you'll experience a significant increase in both the speed and reliability of your internet signal at home or the office. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best wireless router on Amazon.

10. Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5000

If you want an option that will last, consider the Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5000. With six LAN ports and modern MU-MIMO technology, you can share your internet with many devices at optimal speeds. Of course, it is at the pricier end of these things.
  • picks the best band for each client
  • intelligent bandwidth prioritization
  • needs to be rebooted periodically
Brand NETGEAR
Model R8300-100NAS
Weight 7 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. Asus RT-ACRH17

The Asus RT-ACRH17 utilizes MU-MIMO technology to allow multiple users to access the fastest possible speeds simultaneously. Unfortunately, the designers saw fit to finish the device with a strange black plaid pattern that may make it an eyesore in the home.
  • airadar beamforming
  • setup is quick and easy
  • auto-band selection underperforms
Brand Asus
Model RT-ACRH17
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Netgear Nighthawk AC2300

The Netgear Nighthawk AC2300 prioritizes your network traffic by both device and application automatically, but you can also configure its settings to give your most important equipment or people the boost that they need to perform.
  • comprehensive parental controls
  • straightforward installation process
  • good range of coverage
Brand NETGEAR
Model R7000P-100NAS
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Linksys AC3200 Dual-Band

For gamers who want to add faster, more reliable performance to their sessions, the Linksys AC3200 Dual-Band comes with a technology called the Killer Prioritization Engine. This detects gaming activity and automatically concentrates speed in that direction.
  • dedicated streams for each client
  • syncs to pcs that share its software
  • easy to read user interface
Brand Linksys
Model WRT32X
Weight 4.5 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

4. Netgear Nighthawk X10

The Netgear Nighthawk X10 is thoughtfully designed with multiple users in mind, so you won't experience that frustrating lag in your video feed just because someone else in the house decided to fire up an online gaming session.
  • fast quad-core processor
  • six gigabit ports
  • setup can be a hassle
Brand NETGEAR
Model R9000-100NAS
Weight 7.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Netgear Orbi Mesh System

The individual points of the Netgear Orbi Mesh System work together to blanket your space in Wi-Fi, helping to ensure that the TV in the bedroom gets just as much speed as the computer in your study, no matter how far each is from the modem.
  • integrates with amazon alexa
  • ships preconfigured
  • consistently lightning fast
Brand NETGEAR
Model RBK50-100NAS
Weight 6.3 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Google Wifi System

As consumers struggle with dead spots and range issues, even with the most powerful units, mesh Wi-Fi is becoming more popular, and the Google Wifi System is the best option for total home coverage on the market. Its individual nodes can be placed almost anywhere.
  • each point can cover up to 1500 feet
  • app makes setup and maintenance easy
  • can control the kids' wi-fi usage
Brand Google
Model NLS-1304-25
Weight 4.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

What Do I (Really) Need To Know Before I Choose A Router?

The price range between wireless routers compares to that of the Straight of Gibraltar, whose depths range between 300 and 900 meters. Not that this equates to wireless router price tags, we're simply explaining that costs can vary greatly. So how does one decide on which router will work best for them? Answering that question is not so black and white, and your deciding factor may depend on what you're looking for at a price you can afford.

The first consideration relies on the range of wireless connectivity you're interested in. Ask yourself how big your property is, whether it's in a house, apartment, small business, or corporate building. Not only that, but consider the construction of these dwellings. Depending on the constructed materials, wireless signals can attenuate. Meaning, if the walls are 4-inch thick brick, you're going to want a router that promises better range, and place it out in the open, as opposed to hiding it in some obscure corner. However, since a better range can increase the cost of a router, it may behoove you to purchase at a lower cost, and consider applying antennas to improve performance.

The amount and types of devices you plan to connect with the router will also affect your choice. To do this, you'll want to look at the wireless protocols: that's those long strings of numbers beginning with 8. Your laptop and your smartphone almost certainly use 802.11n WiFi, so if all you're just using a few of those sorts of devices, you're most likely fine with an 802.11n router. But if we're talking a lot of mobile devices, plus smart TVs, game consoles, etc, then you may want to take a look at the latest, more powerful WiFi tech, like the 802.11ac protocol with beamforming capability; where WiFi signals go directly to a device, rather than bouncing around the dwelling haphazardly.

Another option is one that features MU-MIMO technology, which can provide faster performance for multiple devices. The catch here is that it only benefits certain devices, and you'll have to confirm that your devices are MU-MIMO enabled. Features that are not as difficult to assess include the number of available USB ports, whether or not it has removable antennas, if it allows guest networks, and if you have kids, whether or not it offers parental controls.

Why Fi?

Twenty years ago, nearly 220 million Americans had a television in their home; a number that has since dwindled down by half today. Also twenty years ago, about 120 million Americans used the internet. Today, that number has doubled. Do you see the relation? As Albus Dumbledore might say, the evidence behind the internet taking over the world is incontrovertible - just ask the 13 percent of Americans who don't use it. Asia alone has seen an internet usage increase of 622 percent in that same time span; they are after all the world's largest internet consumers.

It's obvious that people have an insatiable need to use the internet, but why has WiFi, once described as the "poor cousin" to licensed communications, become today's standard to browsing the web? After all, 94 percent of hotel patrons say WiFi is the most important amenity; 34 percent consider it to be a deal breaker. This is largely due to data traffic. People today are constantly on the go and typically have a device well within reach, if not already on their person - which at least 70 percent of people do. All of this internet use clogs networks, resulting in sluggish performance, resulting in these monopoly businesses having to deal with disgruntled customers.

Another huge factor that dictates WiFi popularity is the seemingly never ending world of smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Ethernet may perform faster compared to a wireless connection, sure, but this day in age no one wants to be tethered by a cable. It's all about portability, hence the extreme demand and expansion of WiFi. But perhaps the biggest reason why we always want to be connected to the Internet is because it's our passport to the entire world.

People used to flood libraries to attain knowledge; today, Google is one step away from helping to answer your question. With WiFi, the possibilities are limitless and there is so much left to be explored. With WiFi, we're always learning, always searching, and with little letdown and zero obligations. Let's face it, a wireless Internet connection is the best relationship you've ever had. And with a little time, an additional millions of device owners will be depending more and more on WiFi and the routers that connect us to it.

This 2004 Article About Wi-Fi Will Make You Feel Hella Old

We'll be honest, we felt a little silly when we set out to research the history of Wi-Fi. A quick glance at the relevant Wikipedia article will confirm what anyone over the age of 15 probably already thinks: it's really not that long since the internet came to our homes through dial-up modems that made, er, distinctive sounds. Or at least - being ancient - that's what we thought.

Until we found this article.

It was 2004. Christina Milian was dippin' it low. The Ocean's franchise was only up to twelve. And The Economist newspaper was reflecting on the brief history of a little thing called Wi-Fi.

There are two aspects to this article that we find really fascinating. The first is the article's general tone of explaining to its readers just what is this 'Wi-Fi' that has the kids so excited: "Among geeks, it has inspired a mania unseen since the days of the internet boom."

The second is when the article tries to predict the future. It gives short shrift to the idea that Wi-Fi is going to undermine the growth of mobile networks, arguing that this was unrealistic...in part because "subscribe to one network of hotspots (in coffee-shops, say) and you may not be able to use the hotspot in the airport". Imagine!

In fact, such are the limitations of this mania-inducing technology that "Wi-Fi is also under threat in the home"! Instead, according to the voice of 2004, by now we should all be talking about WiMax and WiMedia instead. The what, now?

This Economist piece isn't just good for a chuckle: it does a good job of providing an informative and interesting run-down of the science - and the politics - that was involved in bringing Wi-Fi to our homes and public spaces (not to mention why it's really called Wi-Fi!). So fire up your WiMax connection and give it a read.



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Last updated on December 18, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.


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