Routers

Let's face it, routers are now a big part of our daily lives. Whether for your connected home or just at the office, jumping on a Wi-Fi connection is a necessity most days, especially if you want to keep the mobile data usage on your smartphone low. Most everyone has an internet plan of some sort, and while the router that comes from your internet provider will get you online, it's not necessarily the best option overall. But just what router is the best router? We've compared the top 5 Wi-Fi routers so you can decide which one is best for your needs.

Pretty much any old router will get you cruising on Wi-Fi, but there are some great devices that will get you the best speeds and better features without having to spend a ton of cash. From the $68 Edimax BR-6478AC to the $187 Nighthawk R7000 - we give an in-depth look at 5 of the best routers to see which one is the king of them all.

So swing by Connectedly to check out the pros and cons of each, and see which of our top router picks is the one for you. Be sure to hit up the comments and let us know!

 

Reader comments

The best Wi-Fi routers you can buy right now

77 Comments

wrong wrong wrong. You just spent $300 for what someone can do better for $80-150. Also, connectedly is not a reliable site for actual network testing. Shame on androidcentral for linking to them.

http://smallnetbuilder.com/ exists for a reason! Buy the top routers there.

you do realize connectedly is a mobile nations site right? I wouldn't blame them at all for promoting their own site.

Plus the Connectedly article was written in part with some input from Smallnetbuilder... Besides, just because MOST people won't get anything out of a $200 router that they wouldn't out of a cheaper model doesn't mean SOME won't, so you're making a lot of assumptions off a one line comment.

The R7000 *was* the top router on smallnetbuilder late last year btw. Upgraded to it from my "old" Netgear WNDR3800 w/ddwrt for the dual channel and AC (to match my Note3)

Actually the Nighthawk covered in the review (the R7000) is $187, not $300. I didn't include the R8000 because it offers only marginal performance benefits over R7000 and that increase in performance doesn't justify spending $300 on a home router for a vast majority of people.

Regarding SmallNetBuilder, that indeed is THE authority on router testing, and for that reason, instead of reinventing the wheel, I have used them as my primary data source (while giving Tim Higgins and his excellent team full credit for it), as mentioned in the post. That said, it can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating for the average Joe to select a router from there due to the immense volume of (extremely valuable) technical information available there. If you take a look at the routers I have chosen and compare them to the top-ranked routers on SmallNetBuilder, you'll see that my recommendations are all from the top few routers listed there for each of the classes I have included. Hope that clears things up.

Good timing! I'm about to replace mine. Let's see what posts are generated here, I'll be checking back to see and get ideas. Thanks!

I have the NightHawk R7000 and I love it. However, I'm not sure if it's the router or the phone, but it does not play nice with my AT&T LG G3 sometimes. Both devices are up-to-date. My OG Note, GS3, GS4, etc work fine and are FAST!

Admittedly, I haven't really had time to troubleshoot much.

This is a very good point to highlight with wireless routers. There are other models out there that some of our Smartphone won't connect or connect reliably with for a number of reasons including due to custom ROMs. My trusty old 615 Dlink has been performing great until I ran into this issue.

Have you checked for a firmware update? I had a DLink DIR-655 prior to the Netgear, and there was a firmware update to specifically address issues with my then GS4. Never had a problem after I updated.

Yes actually, and I'm running on a firmware update that came from the dlink team in Russia. Its better, much, just some of my portable devices on WiFi are not connecting reliably still.

Netgear must have improved a lot. I am using a Linksys WAP51AB 5GHz with an Amped remote wireless to amplify the signal.

I've been very happy with my ASUS RT-AC68 too, very stable out of the box, though I'm not using a lot of the advanced features (yet). It replaced a venerable Linksys WRT54G (most popular router ever?) at home, which worked without any issues for over 10 years...

I had a little trepidation before getting the ASUS, since you tend to hear far too many complaints about modern routers requiring constant reboots, shipping with buggy firmware, etc. Only reason I'm not giving it heavier use right now is our DSL has been flaky as heck and I'm about to switch to cable.

Anyone know of a router that can throttle bandwidth? In other words, If I have a guest account set up in the house, but I don't want that account/channel to become the bandwidth hog... Does that make sense?

Thanks

Check into routers that you can flash DD WRT. I did that to my Netgear. I don't do throttling, but it solved my disconnect issues I had with my GS 4

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Is it sad that I look at this and think meh? Then again I do have a Atom D510 Mini-ITX system running pfSense, a Ubiquity UniFi AP for WiFi & a Dell PowerConnect 2724 managed switch at home.

DavidJ276, I know some can do it, but I don't know off the top of my head which ones can. I know a Ubiquity Edge Router Lite & Ubiquity UniFi AP combo can but they aren't the easiest to setup.

Actually, the ERL + UniFi AP are getting easier to set up with newer versions of their web-based GUI (finally!). And from what I've read, guest accounts are very straight-forward there (I haven't needed one, so don't have direct experience). The whole setup is under $170 on Amazon, and it's a lot of bang for the buck.

No Linksys ac1900? It is awesome and would be interested in how it measures up to netgear.

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I was looking for the same review. We just bought the Linksys ac 1900 to replace our old WRT54G based on a whole bunch of positive reviews. I think it's true ... linksys is going back to the old days from before Cisco slaughtered their reputation. The AC1900 looks like at WRT54G on steroids (somebody else's words) and acts that way too. The only thing I have to complain about so far is that the firmware UI is pretty horrible ... but then again it's compatible with ddwrt, et al.

I suspect it wasn't on this review because of it's hefty price tag (making it "unpopular").

In any case, kudos to Belkin for reviving an old favorite!

The Linksys EA6900 is mentioned in the Alternatives for the AC1900 class, and it's certainly a great router, ranked among the top three with the NETGEAR Nighthawk R7000 and the ASUS RT-AC68U. The latter two just provide better overall performance and value for money, but not by a huge margin.

Can anyone comment on a router specifically for Comcast please? Can't believe I'm still paying them $7 a month for their POS.

I've had the same modem from Comcast since 2005 and I supports my dual band at router with no trouble

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Well,

Years ago (2006) I had Cable Internet withe Media One (bought by Comcast). In the 3 years I had service, the modem was replaced 4 times. Everytime there was an outage, they blamed the modem or my router. I know this was awhile back, but that was when modems were over $200 and the payback/breakeven period was 2 years.

I have tried them all and the best and the current router that I am using is the Apple Airport extreme. I know I know it's an Apple but it works damn fast with a blow torch signal. BTW I don't own any other Apple products. This is a kick ass router.

I have heard those are very good too do you have the time capsule one with the storage inside?

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I have the same router and it is freaking awesome. My kids upstairs across the house get amazing signals and download speeds. Can't believe the difference. I should have upgraded to AC sooner. Oh, besides the router, my kids have the PCE-AE68 wifi cards from ASUS. Together, they are network heaven. I'm also not an Apple user - my wife has an iPad, but she is the only other Apple device in the house other than my Airport Extreme.

Was this sponsored by Netgear? How can you not include at least ONE Asus. I have the N66U and it by far the best router I've had. It is stable, customizable, great coverage and steady great speeds (except 5ghz range is poor).

I was going to get this one myself. I think the Nighthawk, N66U or 68, or the Apple Airport Extreme are all awesome routers. I ended up getting the Airport Extreme and I'm not sorry. It is a brick powerhouse.

I thought the same thing. I was expecting to see the Asus routers at least in one spot. In the AC1750 section it even said this "When it comes to the overall performance and extra features, the excellent ASUS RT-AC66U is undoubtedly the best router available in the AC1750 class." Which leads me to believe this is a paid for article or someone who doesn't understand the concept of a top 5 of anything. I have the AC66U and that thing is ungodly powerful, it's incredibly fast, has a ton of settings and controls that you don't find in any other router. Horrible article is horrible.

Just because you see a router in the Alternative recommendations section doesn't mean it's not a great router; in fact it is in my recommendations because it is a great router. That said, what it simply couldn't beat was the price-to-performance ratio of the TP-LINK ARCHER C7 for its class. In routing performance alone, the C7 does indeed outperform the AC66U in more factors than the other way round. (See http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/rankers/router/result/1221-tplink-archerc7 and http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/rankers/router/result/1140-asus-rtac66u ). And as I mentioned, when it comes to the extras such as more powerful software, USB 3.0 and the like, the RT-AC66U is indeed hands-down better. It's just that these extras don't matter that much to a vast majority of home users.

I have included four ASUS routers, actually: RT-AC68U, RT-AC66U, RT-AC56U and RT-N66U, among the 'Alternatives' section for all the classes included, and also mentioned why they weren't my #1 recommendations for the top slot for each class. I still highly recommend them as the best alternatives, and the routers ranked #1 often came out on top against them with a very thin margin (or price/performance ratio consideration).

Okay super newbie question. Do any of these also act as modems? Or do you need to buy both a modem and one of the routers on this list in order to connect to your ISP??

You can get modems with built-in routers. You need to make sure the modem works with your ISP, however. Routers are not ISP specific. None of those listed here are modem/router combos.

Thanks, so I would still need to purchase my own modem if I wanted to avoid renting it from my ISP. Is it even worth doing so for small apartments?

Apartment, house...doesn't matter. Figure 12 months of $7 is $84. The thing will pay for itself, or at least close to it, after a year. I've always owned my own modem...first with Comcast, and now CenturyLink...and connected my router-of-choice to that. Both modems have more than paid for themselves. The only variable, really, is whether your modem has built-in router (leased or owned). I always had my own router, but my owned CenturyLink modem also has one built-in (I've disabled it). I always encourage people to buy their own modem, unless they don't plan to keep their service very long.

Modems are cheap these days, I'd get a modem and a separate router (more common and easy to manage/upgrade setup) and be done with it, just check with the ISP or other customers about which modem is recommended. Newegg puts Moto modems along with a few others on sale like all the time btw.

I've got an old Cisco Valet and it works fine. I'm sure a new one would have greater range, etc etc but there's only so much disposable income to go around. So until it bites the dust..... Cisco it is.

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Unfortunately after reading that article, I am still on the fence on whether to go with the Nighthawk R7000 or the Asus RT-AC68U.

My main PC has an ASUS Dual-Band Wireless-AC1900 PCI-E Adapter, so I can definitely take advantage of the AC speeds both routers provide.

And it's not really a price issue, because as of today (08-06-2014), Amazon has the R7000 for $188.99 while the RT-AC68U is now listed at $199.99. Only an $11 difference!

Which one should I go with????

Thanks!

I would go with the Apple Airport Extreme. Look at the reviews by customers on Amazon and Newegg and see for yourself. You want range and reliability? That's what I would do. The ASUS might be a little faster, but damn, trust me when I say my Apple is fast.

Actually he's talking about AC1900 class devices, and he does have a PC that supports that class of connectivity. The Airport Extreme is AC1750 only, and while it does work fine enough for most people, it just isn't the absolute best-in-class when it comes to several performance factors. SmallNetBuilder ranks it at #7 in the AC1750 class for good reason.

Been happy with the ASUS here, but it was a toss up for me as well... In the end I went ASUS because they've never let me down (got several ASUS tablets, laptops, and GPUs in the house, tho I'm running an MSI mobo in the desktop these days) plus I recall suffering thru some pretty terrible Netgear CS a while back while dealing with a client's network gear.

Also, when I was buying it Newegg had some rebates going on the router as well as the newest PCI-E Wi-Fi card from ASUS. I have a Netgear GigE switch I'm also happy with tho (those old school metal boxes are great for mounting). The upright profile of the ASUS router seemed nicer as well, totally trivial things these but since I couldn't decide on technical merit..

Isn't ASUS' warranty longer too or am I remembering that wrong? I came from a venerable Linksys WRT54GS that never gave me any trouble btw, lasted something like ten years, before that we had a wired Netgear router (with no web based GUI, telnet ftw hah).

Based on the revised price, it's a more fair match between the two. It'll have to be a tough call, regardless. Considering how close they are in terms of performance, and since you have ASUS client hardware in your PC, I'd say go for the ASUS. Though you simply can't go wrong with either (the throughput benefits offered by one over the other over one band or the other are what I'd call marginal).

Hell yes. I'm no Apple fan boy - most my house is PC and Android, but I love my Airport Extreme. Best router I've ever had. Works great with the latest ASUS wifi cards too.

Pretty sure mine will top all of those... It's square, made of metal and says Cisco Systems on it hehe. Also A, B, G, N on 2.4 and 5ghz bands.

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I've been using an inexpensive Netgear router without issue for two years. It's been a great experience compared to the many problems my dad has had with several costly routers (mainly Linksys brand) over the years. I'm interested in upgrading to the latest Wi-Fi standard, though, and I'll likely stick with Netgear, so I'm surprised to see so many complaints about them.

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You always hear more complaints than praise, it's true of most things but particularly true of something like a router which (if it works right) you can just set and forget for years.

These routers work irrespective of your internet source. What you need to look for is a modem that's compatible with Verizon FiOS. Or you can just use your existing modem and hook it up to one of these routers for your home networking. If your current ISP-provided modem has built-in basic router capabilities (many do), you can disable those in that case.

Thanks this is really helpful. What I'm looking for is a way to stop renting equipment from Verizon. So if I'm hearing you correctly I'll need to find a modem and a router to do this.

It's worth noting that Netgear just came out with an AC3200 (vs AC1900) router called the R8000 Nighthawk X6. It's basically the R7000 on crack.

Dual band AC router is the way to go for all your gear. That and smoking fast FiOS! Wish Google would roll into DFW!

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I have a 5 year old Linksys WRT54G 802.11g router, how are these routers any better? Is it just better range? I have all 802.11g devices.

I doubt you only have G devices. Any smartphone in the last few years is an N device. Besides better range and speed there are lots of better features, USB device support, QoS, faster CPU and Gigabit ports means internally your network is faster device to device.

If you're sure all your devices are 802.11g, then you already have one of the best routers for that class. It'll be a good decision to stick with it for now, and buy a higher-class router when you get 802.11n or 802.11ac devices, since by then, router prices for these classes would almost certainly fall further.

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