Because home offices are becoming increasingly crucial for the majority of office employees throughout the pandemic, it’s well worth the time to take a good look at the core of your home network, which is your router, before making any changes. What also makes this a particularly ideal moment to begin router hunting is the advent of the wifi 6 standard, which has finally resulted in a significant number of compatible routers becoming available. If your existing router is more than three years old and you’re searching for a way to improve both the speed and security of your network over what you’re currently using, the wifi 6 standard may be the answer for you.
It’s likely that the router you have now is compatible with the still-operational wifi 5 standard if you’re wondering what sort of router you have right now. Since its introduction on the scene in 2013, wifi 5 (802.11ac) has established itself as the de facto wireless networking standard. Its capacity to provide multi-band connection with potential throughput speeds of up to 5.4 gigabits per second (Gbps) has allowed it to maintain its leadership position for more than half a decade. WiFi 6 (802.11ax) heralds the beginning of a new era in wireless networking, with potential transfer rates of up to 9.6Gbps. There is, however, much more to wifi 6 than just increased throughput speed.
Additionally, increased client capacity, improved battery life for client devices, improved security, and increased efficiency are all perks of using a wireless router. These routers are now available in a variety of configurations, with prices ranging from as little as $70 for entry-level models to more than $600 for top-of-the-line devices.
When it comes to pricing, that’s a significant difference, so try not to focus on money as the major differentiator when picking a wifi 6 router, and instead, think about why you want to upgrade to wifi 6. (our handy guide can help). Once you’ve decided that expanding your network is the best course of action, begin by estimating the size of your coverage area and the number of clients who will be connected to the network. Other linked smart home gadgets to consider include cameras, doorbells, gaming consoles, and smart TVs, to mention a few.
These are in addition to the usual suspects such as desktop computers, tablet computers, game consoles, and smartphones. As is always the case, the wireless routers with the greatest number of I/O ports, the most comprehensive administration tools, and the greatest throughput potential will be the most expensive. Nevertheless, after you’ve determined who and what you’ll be connecting to your network, you’ll be able to determine if you truly need one of these pricey computers or whether a less expensive one would suffice. Our newest wifi 6 router reviews are included in this guide, as well as information on everything you need to know to make an informed decision when purchasing a new WiFi 6 router.
What are the best Wi-Fi 6 routers?
The numerous Wi-Fi 6 routers on the market today are dominated by a handful that stands out as the most promising, providing higher performance, lower costs, and greater features.
The Asus RT-AX86U is the finest Wi-Fi 6 router overall, and it is a Wi-Fi 6 powerhouse that will leave you happy whether you require connectivity for a house full of gadgets or gaming performance that can compete with specialized gaming routers, among other things.
Read More: Best Wifi Router
The Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 is the undisputed leader in terms of performance, thanks to its adoption of the new Wi-Fi 6e standard, which allows it to provide amazing speeds of approximately 2.5Gbps. You’ll have to shell out a lot of money for that performance, but if you’re looking for the indisputable performance champion, this is it.
The Netgear Orbi with Wi-Fi 6 (RBK852) is the best mesh system to get the new standard, combining the well-loved Orbi’s simplicity of use with even greater performance. It is the greatest mesh system for getting the new standard. After putting the device through its paces, we were quite satisfied with its overall performance. A less expensive choice (although one that does not offer the same performance) is the Netgear Orbi RBK752, which can be found further down the list in the same price range.
1. Asus RT-AX86U
With the Asus RT-AX86U, Asus has created a winner in the gaming world. This year, not only does the business continue its record of outstanding gaming-centric products, but it has also released one of the cheapest Wi-Fi 6 routers available, even though it is still a little premium when compared to the majority of routers now on the market. If you’re a gamer, the device has several excellent features, like the ability to designate one of the ethernet ports as a dedicated “gaming” port, a 2.5 Gigabit Wan port, and NVIDIA GeForce Now Cloud Gaming Optimization. It also has a number of other important features, such as comprehensive parental controls.
It’s amazing how much functionality Asus has managed to cram into the aptly titled RT-AX86U. It achieves AX5700 speeds with its dual-band connection, which is made possible by a 5GHz channel that is 160MHz wide. It also has a 2.4GHz transmission speed of up to 861Mbps, which is excellent for a home with a lot of interference. A gigabit WAN port or a 2.5G WAN port will be available for your internet connection, depending on your requirements. Even if your internet connection is only gigabit or slower, you may utilize the 2.5G LAN port for a high-speed NAS or even a fast PC if your connection is just gigabit or slower.
In addition to the 2.5G port, there are four more Ethernet ports for gamers to use. This router is also suggested by GeForce Now for its excellent game streaming capabilities. A mobile game mode can help you optimize your connection for minimal latency when playing games on your mobile device. With the help of the setup software on your mobile device, you can easily prioritize the traffic in your game.
AiMesh compatibility, which allows you to utilize other Asus routers to extend the coverage of your network by using a single Wi-Fi name, is still included, as is some other wonderful Asus functionality. AiProtection Pro is also included for the duration of the product’s lifespan, and it provides antivirus protection from Trend Micro as well as sophisticated parental controls.
2. TP-Link Archer AX10 AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 Router
The Archer AX10 from TP-Link totally dispels the idea that you have to spend a lot of money to obtain a Wi-Fi 6 router, by offering inexpensive pricing that provides excellent value for money. It lacks some of the features found in more costly Wi-Fi 6 routers (there are no USB connections, for example), but it provides enough Wi-Fi 6 performance for a modest-sized home or apartment. Conclusion
While the AX1500 speed rating on the Archer AX10 is likely lower than what you’re used to seeing on Wi-Fi 6 routers, it still translates to a respectable 1.2Gbps of throughput on the 5GHz band, which is more than adequate for 4K streaming and Zoom calls, among other things. On the downside, the 2.4GHz band is limited to just 300Mbps, but for most users these days, that’s plenty for devices such as low-bandwidth smart home accessories and other low-bandwidth applications. On the 5GHz band, on the other hand, this is a router that punches unexpectedly well above its weight class, with single-client speeds that approach TP-AX3000-equipped Link’s AX50, although it will not be able to manage as many devices as that router.
Not expected, a Wi-Fi 6 router at the price of the AX10 makes a few compromises, but we believe TP-Link made the correct decisions in this instance. When it comes to Wi-Fi, the 2.4GHz band only supports the older 802.11n Wi-Fi 4 standard, but it’s an acceptable compromise considering that Wi-Fi 6 gives no significant performance improvement below 300Mbps. TP-entire Link’s HomeCare suite of security and parental control capabilities is also not included, and while there is rudimentary QoS support, it is limited to prioritizing traffic solely for specific client devices, rather than prioritizing traffic by application or traffic type, which is disappointing. If you have a smart TV or game console, you can prioritize these, but you should not favor streaming or gaming traffic in general. Although it lacks certain sophisticated features, it does offer a surprising number of them, such as the ability to configure it as a VPN server and to customize Wi-Fi, port forwarding, and even Dynamic DNS settings. Despite the lack of a USB port, the system still contains the standard four Gigabit Ethernet connections, so there will be plenty of capacity for your wired gadgets as well.
3. Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500
A new router on the market, the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500, is the world’s first Wi-Fi 6e router, and the results are mind-blowing. RAXE500 provides category-leading performance by adding a 6GHz band to the already remarkable capabilities of Wi-Fi 6, which is already a standout technology. The tri-band gadget, which has an AXE11000 rating, more than lives up to the promise by providing approximately 2.5Gbps of real-world data. When you combine this with the sleek appearance and a plethora of setting choices, the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 emerges as one of the greatest routers we’ve ever tested.
As the first high-performance Wi-Fi 6e router, the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 takes the lead by providing access to a plethora of additional data-delivery channels in the 6GHz spectrum, thanks to its tri-band configuration. While it may not be a good match for everyone, it delivers the kind of performance that earned it the Tom’s Guide Award for best Wi-Fi router in the year 2021. While it performs best in close quarters and is one of the most costly routers you can buy, the RAXE500 is well worth the money if you want high speeds in your network environment.
4. TP-Link Archer GX90
There are a few of aspects with the TP-Link Archer GX90 that you might not care for. It’s large, it’s heavy, and it’s too costly. The inconveniences are easily overlooked when you consider that you’re receiving a lot for your money in the first place. This is one of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers available, and it comes with a slew of capabilities designed specifically for hard-core gamers. This features a special 5GHz ‘gaming band,’ which allows you to soak up the majority of your home’s bandwidth when you require it. Do you have any younger gamers in your household? Good parental controls, such as content filters to block inappropriate information, are also available, with accounts already created for children of various age groups.
5. Netgear Nighthawk XR1000
Featuring Wi-Fi 6 speeds and outstanding performance, the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR1000 is a high-performance gaming router that outperforms other gameplay routers in terms of both speed and gaming improvements.
The Netgear’s high-throughput, low-latency design is jam-packed with customization choices and built-in security, offering protection against hackers while also delivering excellent Wi-Fi 6 speed and reliability. It’s also ideal for somewhat bigger households, as its range of 105 feet allows it to easily cover the extra space that other routers are unable to cover. For those of you who find that your existing router isn’t up to par with your gaming capabilities, the XR1000 is one of the greatest gaming routers we’ve ever seen.
Through the use of a comprehensive dashboard of customization tools, you can optimize the router’s performance in a dizzying array of ways, from CPU usage monitoring to stats that identify which apps and devices are consuming the most data to connection tools that let you adjust connections based on ping rates and geographic location.
6. Asus RT-AX88U
It was one of the very first Wi-Fi 6 routers to hit the market, and it remains our top selection because it strikes the right mix between affordability, performance, and adaptability, among other things. Since its predecessor, the highly regarded RT-AC88U, was one of the most well-rounded Wi-Fi 5 routers we’ve tested, this is a router with a lot of expectations to meet.
This router does an outstanding job of updating the technology of that already excellent router to the Wi-Fi 6 generation while maintaining an essentially same form and offering all of the same basic functions while throwing in a significant increase in power under the hood. The AX6000 dual-band Wi-Fi router provides more than adequate performance for most families, with up to 4.8Gbps on the 5GHz band and 1.2Gbps on the 2.4GHz band on the 5GHz band. However, while you’ll need Wi-Fi 6 clients to take full use of these maximum speeds, it still performs admirably with earlier Wi-Fi 5 devices, thanks to its four beamforming antennas, which can provide enough power to cover a 5,000-square-foot home.
Along with strong wireless performance, you’ll also find a big collection of eight Gigabit Ethernet ports on the rear panel, which may save you the money and hassle of purchasing an additional network hub or switch if you’re connecting several devices at the same time. Like most of Asus’ other routers, the RT-AX88U is also a strong performer in terms of configurability and security features, and we appreciate that the company pre-installed its AiProtection Pro suite on the device right out of the box, rather than forcing users to wait for a later firmware update as many other companies did with their early Wi-Fi 6 routers. Asus has demonstrated its ability to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to releasing critical security and functionality upgrades to its routers.
7. Linksys MAX-STREAM Mesh Router (MR7350)
Recently, Linksys launched the MR7350, which is a low-cost entrance into Wi-Fi 6 that supports dual-band speeds of up to AX1800. The dual-band connection delivers rates of 574Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1,201Mbps at 5GHz, depending on the frequency used. In addition, there are four Ethernet connections and a USB 3.0 port on the rear of the device. In addition, WPA 3 security is incorporated.
While it is capable of providing coverage for up to 1,700 square feet on its own, it can be used in conjunction with any Linksys Velop mesh routers or even another MR7350 to provide even greater coverage. The use of this method may be quite beneficial in helping your network develop in response to your demands or if you discover any locations with a poor signal. It is housed in a simple black casing with two antennae on the rear side of the device.
The Linksys App makes it simple to set up your network, and it also allows for remote access. This is also where you can configure the parental controls that are included, and you’ll have access to Linksys’ 24/7 assistance if you run into any problems. Finally, you can use Alexa to regulate Wi-Fi access, making it simple to keep track of who is connected to your network.
8. Netgear Nighthawk 6 Stream AX5400
A single router that will simply boost speeds while also providing more dependable coverage is NETGEAR’s Nighthawk 6 Stream AX5400 Router, which is available for purchase online. For a modest fee, you can receive six Wi-Fi streams running at the same time and connect up to 60 devices to the same network. There is coverage for up to 2000 square feet, however, depending on how your floor plan is planned out, this figure may be somewhat less or greater than 2000 square feet.
This Wi-Fi 6 router supports Internet plans with speeds of up to 1Gbps, and you’ll experience Wi-Fi speeds of up to 5.4Gbps. This dual-band router is equipped with a 1.8GHz triple-core CPU and OFDMA technology, which allows it to support several streams at the same time. It also has a download and transfer speed for files of 10.8Gbps, which is impressive. There are four 1G and one 2.5G Ethernet ports included, as well.
Setting up this router in conjunction with your current cable modem is likewise a simple process. Additionally, you may download the Nighthawk app (available for Android and iOS devices) to gain even more control and information from your router. In addition to managing your Wi-Fi settings, testing your Internet speed, and monitoring your home data consumption are all available.
9. TP-Link Archer AX6000
TP-Link Archer AX6000 is the ideal solution for those looking for a standalone router that has Wi-Fi 6 capabilities and provides optimum network connectivity. The dual-band router offers fast wifi speeds, and the eight high-gain antennas provide some of the greatest wireless coverage available outside of a mesh Wi-Fi system, according to the manufacturer. The router, on the other hand, provides a plethora of ports and wired connections, which is something that most other routers do not provide. A 2.5Gbps WAN port ensures that you can connect to even the fastest internet connections, while a total of eight Ethernet ports allow you to connect a large number of wired devices at the same time. On the side of the router, you’ll discover both USB 3.0 Type-A and Type-C connections, allowing you to connect other peripherals, such as NAS and home media servers, at lightning speeds.
Because of its powerful 1.8GHz quad-core processor, the Archer AX6000 is more than capable of supporting the dozens of devices you’re likely to have in your home. TP-Link protects them all with a free lifetime subscription to HomeCare, which includes parental controls and threat blocking across the entire network.
10. Asus RT-AX58U
In the near future, some great Wi-Fi 6 routers will be available for purchase. Unfortunately, quite a few of them are simply too extravagant for most people’s tastes, not to mention prohibitively pricey. The Asus RT-AX58U is an example of this. It delivers Wi-Fi 6 into your house at an affordable price, and it has just enough capabilities to keep most small to medium-sized home networks operating at their peak performance. It may not have as many ports or gaming functions as its big brother, the RT-AX86U, but it does have the same parental controls and great Wi-Fi 6 compatibility.
11. Netgear Orbi with Wi-Fi 6 (RBK852)
The Netgear Orbi RBK852 is an upgrade to a long-time leader in mesh Wi-Fi, bringing it up to speed with Wi-Fi 6’s speed and functionality. In addition to the quicker standard and whole-home coverage provided by Orbi’s mesh networking, the company’s straightforward setup and outstanding performance have made the Orbi name well-known. Wi-Fi 6 Netgear Orbi appears to be the best mesh system available, with tri-band coverage that can reach up to 5,500 square feet with only a two-pack consisting of a base unit and satellite extension.
In addition to vastly enhanced performance and management of numerous devices, the Orbi is compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, allowing for seamless voice control across the house and throughout the world. And every Orbi extension, whether it’s the outdoor extensions or the Orbi Voice, which has a built-in smart speaker, that we’ve previously praised is compatible with the new Wi-Fi 6 versions.
12. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000
If you are looking for a gaming router, the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is an excellent choice. However, don’t let the name deceive you: it is also a superb high-performance router that can manage the demands of any large and busy home, even if you don’t have a gamer in the house. Due to the presence of a strong quad-core CPU and tri-band 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 compatibility, it is capable of handling nearly any task you throw at it, from intense gaming to 4K and 8K streaming.
With speeds of up to 4.8Gbps on each of the dual 5GHz bands, and 1.2Gbps on the 2.4GHz band, there’s enough of performance for older devices and even more contemporary Wi-Fi 6 devices that are located further away from the router. However, because of the device’s eight beamforming antennas, it’s really rather difficult to wander outside of its extensive 5GHz coverage. You’ll have plenty of space to hardwire in your game console, gaming PC, external storage, and NAS devices, thanks to the four Gigabit Ethernet connections, as well as a unique higher-speed 2.5Gbps gaming port and two USB 3 ports.
However, while tri-band Wi-Fi 6 may be overkill for many houses, especially in light of the new 802.11ax technology, which is far more capable of supporting multiple devices, it can still be a wise investment for the future. As a gaming router, the additional 5GHz band provides the competitive advantage that gamers require, allowing you to keep your gaming traffic in a low-latency fast lane, apart from all of your other Wi-Fi devices, while yet maintaining high performance. As a result, if you wish to expand your network with other routers that employ Asus’ AiMesh 2.0 technology, the GT-AX11000 is a fantastic anchor to use because the third band can be used as a wireless backhaul, similar to what Netgear’s Orbi does.
Additional to high-end Asus features such as AiProtection Pro and an integrated VPN server, the GT-AX11000 is crammed with a ton of other useful gaming tools. These features include the WTFast Gamers Private Network, adaptive QoS to prioritize gaming traffic, and VPN Fusion to secure your privacy while not degrading the performance of your gaming experience.
13. TP-Link Archer AX50
It’s hard to beat the Archer AX50 from TP-Link when it comes to value for money. It’s a full-featured Wi-Fi 6 router at an extremely reasonable price. It’s a welcome improvement from TP-extremely Link’s budget-friendly Archer AX10, which brings back the most crucial frills while still providing more than enough performance for the average home.
Among other things, the AX3000 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 provides a strong 2.4Gbps 5GHz band in addition to a more common 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz side, with enough range to comfortably cover an apartment, condo, or small home. However, TP-Link has included a few pleasant surprises for a router in this price range, including 160MHz-wide channels for optimal single-client performance, as well as a lifetime subscription to its HomeCare security suite, which includes malware protection powered by Trend Micro as well as some fairly sophisticated parental controls and QoS features—all of which are available without the need for a separate monthly subscription. If you have several family members, you can establish profiles for each of them. This allows you to set time restrictions for each member of the family, keep children safe online, and ensure that your most critical devices have the bandwidth they require for streaming and gaming.
Despite having the standard array of four gigabit Ethernet ports on the back of the device, one other trick the AX50 has up its sleeve is port aggregation, which allows you to combine two of the Ethernet ports to support a 2Gbps connection, which can be used for a high-speed WAN link or simply to get the most out of a network attached storage (NAS) device in your home. The USB 3.0 connector, which the AX10 does not have, allows for file and printer sharing as well as network backups, and it even supports Apple’s Time Machine software for Mac users.
14. Eero Pro 6
Eero 6 doesn’t break any speed records at AX1800, but its dual-band Wi-Fi 6 connection should have no trouble keeping up with a gigabit connection on its own, or with a connection of over 500Mbps when deployed in a mesh configuration. The speeds are 1201Mbps on the 5GHz frequency with Wi-Fi 6 devices and 867Mbps with Wi-Fi 5 devices on the same band. When using 2.4GHz, 574Mbps is accessible over a greater range. This router also includes a built-in Zigbee smart home hub, which allows you to ease the configuration of your home network if you require it.
Eero 6 is a small router when compared to the majority of other Wi-Fi 6 routers. With dimensions of 3.91 inches wide, 3.82 inches deep, and 2.42 inches high, this router should be able to blend in with almost any home and be easily hidden out of sight when not in use. If you have a large number of connected devices and just have one open Ethernet connection on the rear, you may also need to consider purchasing a switch. Of course, if you’ve converted to using just wireless devices, this won’t be a problem for you.
While Eero 6 may be used on its own, it is actually intended to be used as a component of a mesh network. It is possible to expand your mesh by using an earlier model or to add additional capacity in the future because all Eeros are compatible with one another. Keep in mind that if you add more Eeros, the fastest router should be placed in the heart of the network. At the moment, only the Eero Pro 6 is much faster. As a result, if you want to increase the coverage footprint of your Eero 6 in the future, the Eero 6 Extender is your best option.
The Eero app is the feature that distinguishes Eero the most from the competition. While virtually every router can be configured using an app, the Eero app is the most professional and simplest of the bunch, and it offers a wide range of configuration choices. The software has all of the configuration options that a typical user would want, including as port forwarding and WPA 3 compatibility. Unfortunately, there is no online interface, so that is as far as it goes in terms of functionality. Eero also offers a membership service called Eero Secure, which provides you with additional security features and network information if you choose to use them.
15. Netgear Nighthawk AX8 (RAX80)
Top performance and enhanced security go hand in hand with the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 (RAX80) Wi-Fi 6 router, which combines throughput that breaks through the gigabit per second barrier with malware protection and Disney’s Circle app for blocking inappropriate content and managing family network use. And, because to its exceptional performance through walls and floors, the Nighthawk AX8 will function just as well in the real world as it does in the lab.
Despite the fact that it is costly (as are other Wi-Fi 6 routers), the RAX80 is simple to set up and allows you can customize the router to your precise specifications. In addition, it has a 90-foot range, although its performance is much greater at distances of 50 feet or less, making it a better fit for medium-sized residences. By virtually any standard, the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 (RAX80) is a fantastic Wi-Fi-6 router to invest in if you don’t want to sacrifice speed or security for anything.
16. TP-Link Deco X20
The TP-Link Deco X20 is available in a two-pack or three-pack configuration, providing coverage for up to 4,000 and 5,800 square feet, respectively, of space. For the vast majority of people, two nodes are more than sufficient. The Deco X20 is equipped with dual-band AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 technology. 574Mbps, when connected at 2.4GHz and 1201Mbps when connecting at 5GHz, are the corresponding rates. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to exploit these speeds to their full potential since the X20 nodes will need to share the 5GHz band with other devices and the mesh network. Nonetheless, under ideal conditions, rates of more than 500Mbps should be achievable.
Both of the Deco X20 nodes’ Ethernet ports are located on their backs. One of these must be configured on the main router in order to connect the Deco to your modem. The other may be used for LAN devices, and it can be used to join the two Decos together via Ethernet for even faster meshing. If you want even greater speed, TP-Link also manufactures a Deco X60 that operates at AX3000 speeds. Additionally, the Deco X20 nodes may be used to expand an existing, faster TP-Link Deco mesh.
One of the most convenient features included with the Deco series is TP-Link HomeCare. Advanced parental controls are included as part of this software suite, in addition to antivirus protection. You may create individual profiles for each member of the family, complete with content filtering and scheduling capabilities. In order to maintain security, incoming connections are checked for known malicious material and, if required, banned.
17. Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8)
The Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) combines Wi-Fi 6 mesh networking with an intuitive user interface, making it a great choice for a wide variety of mid-budget households. With its tri-band architecture and Wi-Fi 6 speed, the Asus ZenWiFi AX has the capacity to provide enough wireless bandwidth to fill a moderate-sized home with a single connection. Although it is not the fastest mesh kit available, the ZenWiFi AX’s two-year guarantee and built-in security might provide reassurance to a family network’s “administrator” that the data will go through.
The sleek-looking design isn’t adorned with antennae, nor does it flash a dazzling array of lights when you look at it. A design that might be used as a bookend on a shelf instead, and a size that makes rival mesh systems appear downright bloated, the ZenWiFi keeps everything calm and collected. Furthermore, if you already have an Asus router at home, the chances are excellent that you can connect it to the ZenWiFi’s mesh network to extend its coverage even further. This is a wonderful method to improve coverage without having to give up the gear you already have.
18. Netgear Nighthawk MK63
A more robust solution is required for larger houses, and while the Netgear Nighthawk MK63 may be considered overkill for smaller homes, it is ideal for those who have a home that is up to 3500 sq.ft and want an exceptionally stable network for gaming and 4K video. There are other interesting features included as well, such as the option to build a guest network and a network map that allows you to keep track of all the devices that are currently connected to your network. However, there are no parental controls available, and if you can live with that, as well as the expensive price tag, this may be the finest Wi-Fi 6 router for your household.
19. Netgear Nighthawk AX12 RAX120
With AX6000 dual-band Wi-Fi and a Netgear design that is rather conventional, the Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 doesn’t appear to be all that special. This equates to 1200Mbps at 2.4GHz and 4800Mbps at 5GHz, respectively. This router doesn’t appear to be very noteworthy based on these figures alone, but it performs far more work beneath the hood, with 12 streams feeding connected devices.
Because most AX6000 routers are limited to only eight streams, the RAX120 will be able to maintain its performance even when a large number of devices are connected. Most individuals will not require this additional capacity, but for those who have transitioned to a mostly wireless smart home, knowing that their router will be able to handle the additional traffic may be worth it.
When it comes to wired connections, the Nighthawk RAX120 is likewise quite capable. A 5Gbps Ethernet port may be utilized for both WAN and LAN connections, allowing you to make use of a high-speed NAS or if you’re lucky, a high-speed fiber internet connection to maximize your computing power. Because link aggregation is enabled, even older and less expensive NAS systems will be able to connect at speeds more than 1Gbps.
The Nighthawk RAX120 is configured using the Nighthawk app, which is a straightforward and quick process. Allowing your program to upgrade to the most recent version as soon as feasible is highly recommended. You may also control this router using a web browser, which has sophisticated configuration options. In addition, Netgear offers its Armor software package in the app, which can provide some network protection if you’re prepared to pay for a yearly membership to the service.
What Is WiFi 6?
For those who are unfamiliar with Wi-Fi 6, it is beneficial to go through the specifics of what this new standard contains and why it is essential. Known also as 802.11ax, Wi-Fi 6 is the most recent version of the 802.11ax wireless technology standard, which is a development of the popular 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) standard, which is used by a large number of today’s routers and client devices to connect to one another and the Internet.
Additionally, Wi-Fi 6’s major advantage is a potential throughput boost from 5.4Gbps up to a maximum of 9.6Gbps, which has been validated by PCMag’s router testing, but with differing statistics across the different participants thus far this year. However, Wi-Fi 6 offers much more than just faster speeds; it also offers increased client capacity, improved range performance, as well as decreased network congestion and power consumption.
Wi-Fi 6 also adds whole new features to your router’s armory, such as the Orthogonal Frequency-Division Several Access (OFDMA) protocol, which allows you to connect to multiple networks at the same time. OFDMA increases throughput by dividing Wi-Fi channels into sub-channels and allowing up to 30 users to use a single channel at the same time, according to the company.
Wi-Fi 6 devices can choose when they will emerge from a power-saving sleep state and begin transmitting and receiving data. Target Wake Time (TWT) is a power-saving strategy that allows them to determine when they will emerge from a power-saving sleep mode and begin transmitting and receiving data. Smart gadgets such as security cameras and video doorbells, as well as smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers, are likely to profit from TWT technology in the future.
Another area that may be improved is the size of the channels. In comparison to Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 increases channel width from 80MHz to 160MHz, allowing for much quicker communications between the router and its clients. Additionally, it transmits across previously underutilized radio frequencies in order to provide higher throughput performance throughout the 2.4GHz radio band, as well. As well as increased QoS (Quality of Service) through uplink and downlink bandwidth control, as well as WPA3 encryption, MU-MIMO streaming is available for both the uplink and the downlink.
Key WiFi 6 Features to Consider
If you’re looking for a Wi-Fi 6 router, you’ll find that they’re equipped with a slew of capabilities that can provide unique benefits, albeit generally at the expense of a larger dent in your budget. The most obvious benefit is improved performance, but there are a variety of other advantages to be had as well. Consider that routers with a narrow emphasis, such as gaming routers, will likely contain features tailored only for the gaming environment while neglecting other capabilities. Make certain that you are receiving everything your network will require.
Consider purchasing a router with at least four LAN ports if you plan on connecting wired devices such as game consoles, home automation hubs, and network attached storage (NAS) drives. Several high-end Wi-Fi 6 routers are equipped with link aggregation, which makes use of two gigabit LAN ports to enhance performance for tasks such as big file transfers and network traffic load balancing. This also serves as a fail-safe in the case that one of the LAN ports stops functioning properly. Some of the most sophisticated versions are equipped with multi-gigabit LAN ports that are capable of supporting connection rates of 2.5Gb, 5Gb, and 10Gb.
It is essential that your Wi-Fi 6 router include at least one USB 3.0 port if you plan to connect peripherals to your networks, such as printers and external hard drives, to ensure that your network is fully functional. Having two or more USB ports is even better since it allows you to connect several devices simultaneously without having to disconnect one in order to attach another. An external drive, a fast USB port, and router software that supports it allow you to create your own secure network-attached storage (NAS) device that is accessible from both your local network and the Internet.
Consider purchasing a Wi-Fi 6 router that includes built-in parental controls if you plan on having children join your network. This will ensure that they remain secure while surfing the Internet. Most routers come with simple parental controls that allow you to set access schedules, block specific websites, and limit internet access to specific devices on your network. These features are particularly useful for families with children. More detailed controls, on the other hand, will be required if you truly want to keep track of your child’s internet activity.
Several Wi-Fi 6 routers are bundled with free or trial versions of parental control software that interacts with your phone and a mobile app and allows you to do things like halt Internet access with a single click and establish profiles for each member of your family, among other things. Enhanced controls let you track site visits and total online time spent, as well as customize age-based settings that automatically restrict access to social networking platforms and websites that contain things like adult material, gambling, online shopping, torrent downloads, or online gaming.
In the same spirit, every network should prioritize security, which involves thinking about antivirus and malware protection as well as other measures. The software included with certain Wi-Fi 6 routers protects your network and all of your connected clients from viruses, phishing scams, malware, adware, and other types of cyber threats. In your search for anti-malware software, look for solutions that can identify malware on a real-time basis, quarantine affected computers, and delete harmful information from client devices. Although there are a few router providers that give free lifetime memberships, the majority of anti-malware products are packaged with parental controls and come with free trial subscriptions.
Wi-Fi 6 Specifications
You’ll find Wi-Fi 6 routers with designations like AX1500 or AX11000, which indicate the highest aggregate data rate that may be achieved. Examples include a dual-band AX1500 router capable of reaching up to 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1201Mbps on the 5GHz band, and a tri-band AX11000 router capable of delivering combined speeds of up to 1148Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 4804Mbps on each of two 5GHz bands, among other things. Note that these are potential combined speeds (which are usually used for marketing purposes) and not the real speed of a router; this is crucial to understand. When it comes down to it, a router is only as fast as the radio band that it is using, and even then, that speed is determined under ideal laboratory settings, not the ones that you would encounter in real-world operation.
Other specifications to consider include the number of radio bands supported, the type of processor (CPU), and the quantity of flash memory and RAM that a router has available. Similar to what was said before, dual-band routers use a single 2.4GHz radio in addition to a single 5GHz radio, but tri-band routers utilize a single 2.4GHz band in addition to two 5GHz bands. Tri-band routers are suitable for high-traffic networks because they allow you to allocate certain radio bands to specific applications, making them perfect for large networks. For example, you may execute big file transfers over one of the 5GHz bands, allowing the other two bands to be used for other activities such as online browsing and video streaming to be freed up.
As with desktop and laptop computers, higher-end specifications equate to quicker performance. A Wi-Fi 6 router with a quad-core CPU and at least 512MB of RAM and 512MB of flash memory should be your first choice. Additionally, more antennas are often associated with better overall wireless coverage, which is why high-end routers can have as many as eight antennas installed on them.
The choice between a Wi-Fi 6 router and a Wi-Fi 6 mesh networking system is another essential and rather wide spec to take into consideration. While the latter is still in the early stages of development, they have the potential to provide a quick setup and more equal coverage for bigger residences. For additional information, see The Best Wi-Fi Mesh Network Systems for more information. And, once you’ve acquired one, be sure to read our primer, How to Set Up a Wi-Fi Mesh Network, for more information.
Is It Worth Paying More for a Wi-Fi 6 Router?
As with all other types of routers, the price of a Wi-Fi 6 router is determined by the hardware specifications, performance capabilities, and features that are included. In the range of $70 to well over $200, budget Wi-Fi 6 routers are available, but these are typically bare-bones, dual-band models that use low-end components such as dual-core CPUs, provide low data rates, and lack additional features such as USB ports, anti-malware software, and multi-gig LAN ports. A high-end Wi-Fi 6 router developed specifically for gaming can cost upwards of $600, while a low-cost Wi-Fi 6 router can cost as little as $50. It comes with all the bells and whistles, including a multi-gigabit Ethernet connection, AX11000 transfer rates, three radio bands, built-in virus protection and parental controls, quad-core processing power, and a game-specific operating system.
Prices for Wi-Fi 6 whole-home mesh networking solutions, on the other hand, are anticipated to fall in the near future. A great deal of attention is being paid by vendors to this area since it is typically easier and faster than installing a third-party wireless range extender to your network.
With that in mind, take a look at the best-performing Wi-Fi 6 routers we’ve tested so far and see how they stack up against one another feature for spec. Once you’ve determined which router is best for you, follow our instructions for configuring your router and increasing your Wi-Fi connection.