Best Wi-Fi Router 2021: the best Wireless for your home network

The best routers for gamers, streamers, large houses, apartments and more

Switching to one of the best Wi-Fi routers is the fastest method to enhance performance on any device in your home, speeding up every smart TV and smartphone with faster Wi-Fi.

The best Wi-Fi routers will not only keep you connected, but include features like built-in security, app-based settings, and easy parental controls.

Due to the fact that so much of today’s life is spent online, from school and work to gaming and streaming, there is no replacement for fast Wi-Fi performance and consistent coverage.

That’s why we evaluate every one of the dozens of routers we’ve reviewed, to identify the models that match your house and needs with outstanding performance, extended range, and a price you can afford.

Today’s best wireless routers are built for homes full of connected devices, from doorbell cameras to smart TVs, and will offer quicker connectivity and greater coverage, for a speedier Wi-Fi experience across the house. Here are the best Wi-Fi routers you can buy today.

What are the best Wi-Fi routers?

Our extensive testing revealed that the Asus RT-AX86U is the best wireless router on the market. It is a Wi-Fi 6 powerhouse with the ability to power an entire home’s worth of connected devices, as well as provide pure power for gaming and protect every item you own. It’s an equal mix of general-purpose routers, serious gaming equipment, and cybersecurity protection. And at a fair price, it’s no wonder that it’s been named an Editor’s Favorite!

The Netgear Nighthawk AX8 (RAX80) Wi-Fi 6 router, which is a little more costly alternative, outperforms the vast majority of its competitors at a reasonable price. The latest wireless standard provides the fastest throughput we’ve ever seen, and it’s capable of supporting a complete houseful of connected devices with ease.

For bigger houses, you’ll need coverage that goes further and can be extended to multiple stories if necessary, which necessitates the purchase of a mesh router. According to our testing and assessment, the Nest Wi-Fi is the best mesh Wi-Fi solution available on the market. It provides outstanding performance that covers the entire home in signal, and it has a built-in Google Home smart speaker that allows for easy voice management of the system.

Best Wi-Fi Router in 2021

1. Asus RT-AX86U

ASUS AC2900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC86U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, WTFast Game Accelerator, Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS

The Asus RT-AX86U is a Wi-Fi 6 powerhouse that provides amazing speeds and killer gaming features, as well as awesome customization possibilities. With high-end performance and lifelong protection against intrusions and viruses, it’s also an excellent solution for safeguarding your entire home network, offering long term security without a membership charge, and carrying a two-year warranty.

But the main appeal of the Asus RT-AX86U is the performance, which approaches the magical 1Gbps threshold to deliver quick and simple connectivity for all of your devices. With the outstanding range and exceptional performance – even through walls and across floors.

The RT-AX86U is equal parts general-use router and premium gaming router, and the collection of features and ports it offers are a bargain compared to some of the top-performing gaming gear. It even receives a nomination as the runner up for best Wi-Fi router in the 2021 Tom’s Guide Awards. If you want the best Wi-Fi 6 router for the whole home, the Asus RT-AX86U is it.

2. Netgear Nighthawk AX8 (RAX80)

NETGEAR Nighthawk 8-Stream AX8 Wifi 6 Router (RAX80) – AX6000 Wireless Speed (Up to 6 Gbps) | 2,500 sq. ft. Coverage

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 of 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. According to nearly every metric, the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 (RAX80) is the Wi-Fi 6 router to purchase if you don’t want to make any compromises on speed or security.

3. Google Nest Wi-Fi

Google Nest Wifi -  AC2200 - Mesh WiFi System -  Wifi Router - 4400 Sq Ft Coverage - 2 pack

There are a number of mesh Wi-Fi systems available on the market, and although they will all provide coverage for your entire home, our favorite has to be the Nest Wi-Fi system. The Nest Wi-Fi, which is manufactured by Google, is tiny enough to be hidden out of sight yet elegant enough that you won’t have to.

However, there is more to the tiny mesh units’ popularity than merely their superior performance. A Google Home smart speaker is incorporated into each mesh extension of the Nest Wi-Fi system, allowing you to have one of the greatest voice assistants in the house while also benefiting from a strong Wi-Fi connection across the house.

Nest Wi-Fi is not just fast, but it also has one of the simplest setup processes we’ve ever seen, making it simple to add extensions to the system across the house. Furthermore, it is compatible with any older Google Wi-Fi devices that you may have.

However, the addition of Google Assistant truly elevates it to a new level, giving an attractive method to integrate voice control across your house, as well as simple integration with a large number of the best smart home devices and all of the best Google Home-compatible products available.

4. Asus ZenWi-Fi AX (XT8)

ASUS ZenWiFi AX6600 Tri-Band Mesh WiFi 6 System (XT8 2PK) - Whole Home Coverage up to 5500 sq.ft & 6+ rooms, AiMesh, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Easy Setup, 3 SSID, Parental Control, White

Asus has released several amazing Wi-Fi 6 routers at a variety of price points to meet the needs of customers of all sizes and financial backgrounds. With the Asus ZenWi-Fi AX (XT8), the company has also managed to bring Wi-Fi 6 to another cutting-edge technology in connectivity: mesh routers, which was previously unavailable.

Despite the fact that it is one of the more expensive options available and that it is limited to only two mesh routers, the Asus ZenWi-Fi AX provides blisteringly fast speeds as well as a great deal of flexibility in its configuration – such as the ability to set up one or two networks using the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. This mesh router is a wonderful choice if you’re searching for a mesh router that has outstanding security features to boot.

5. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000

ASUS ROG Rapture WiFi 6 Gaming Router (GT-AX11000) - Tri-Band 10 Gigabit Wireless Router, 1.8GHz Quad-Core CPU, WTFast, 2.5G Port, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, AURA RGB

This is the only gaming router we’ve tested that supports Wi-Fi 6, and it’s a gamer’s dream thanks to its fast performance across extended distances, minimal latency, and a slew of other capabilities that gamers demand from a router. When you add it all up, most other gaming routers are now considered second-rate.

The GT-AX11000 is enormous, with a big base, eight swiveling antennae, and a whopping 10.8Gbps maximum throughput. It also has a large footprint. Because of its tri-band architecture and four downstream Gigabit LAN connections, as well as a single 2.5G Base T Ethernet connection and two USB 3.0 connectors, this wireless router provides an abundance of connectivity.

With lots of control built-in, including gaming-specific improvements, and the ability to link it with other Asus routers to create a mesh network to cover a bigger home, this router is an excellent choice. Although it is pricey (at $450), this is the best Wi-Fi router for gamers who wish to gain an advantage on the internet.

6. TP-Link Archer C2300

TP-LINK (Archer C2300) AC2300 (600+1625) Wireless Dual Band GB Cable Router, USB 3.0, MU-MIMO

However, don’t be fooled by its unassuming appearance; the TP-Link Archer C2300 is one of the most powerful wireless routers you can purchase, and it has the best range of any single router on our comparison list.

As of this writing, it is the undisputed performance champion, pushing out nearly a gigabit of data per second in our typical performance testing and effortlessly bursting through walls and ceilings. Although the Archer C2300 is the fastest router we’ve encountered, it is also the smallest, least noticeable, and most comprehensive in terms of high-end functionality.

With built-in optimization tools like antiviral, QoS, and parental controls, the Archer C2300 is a more affordable alternative to higher-priced competitors that often provide these features.

At $120, it’s less than half the price of comparably performing competitors, and it comes with a two-year warranty to protect your investment. The TP-Link Archer C2300 is without a doubt the best cheap Wi-Fi router available on the market today.

7. TP-Link Archer GX90

TP-Link AX6600 WiFi 6 Router (Archer AX90)- Tri Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, High-Speed ax Router for Gaming, Smart Router for a Large Home

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 wireless routers available for gamers, having a number of features designed specifically for intense gaming, such as a dedicated 5GHz ‘gaming band,’ which allows you to take up the majority of your household bandwidth when you want 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.

8. Asus RT-AX58U

ASUS WiFi 6 Router (RT-AX3000) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, Gaming & Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Parental Control, MU-MIMO, OFDMA

Wi-Fi 6 is the newest and most cutting-edge technology in the networking industry. And, while it provides faster speeds, stronger connections, and a broader area of service, it does it at a higher cost than the alternatives. With the Asus RT-AX58U, the firm has been able to deliver Wi-Fi 6 capability at a far lower cost than previously possible.

And, while it may not have some of the additional features or ports that some of the more comprehensive choices have, it does include some crucial ones like MU-MIMO and Parental Controls, among other things. When it comes to getting high-speed internet without the hassle of a complicated setup, the Asus RT-AX58U may be the best option.

9. TP-Link Archer AX6000

TP-Link AX6000 WiFi 6 Router(Archer AX6000) -Wireless Router, 8-Stream WiFi Router, 2.5G WAN Port, 8 Gigabit LAN Ports, MU-MIMO, 1.8GHz Quad-Core CPU

Wi-Fi 6 routers aren’t cheap, but the TP-Link Archer AX6000 router, our best budget-friendly Wi-Fi 6 router, offers exceptional value for money. It may be lacking in terms of performance and range, but it does provide Wi-Fi 6 speeds at a cost that is $100 cheaper than that of rival Wi-Fi 6 devices. Consider the Archer AX6000 as a low-cost router for the initial generation of Wi-Fi 6 devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

Because it has eight wired networking connections, two of which can be linked together to generate a 2Gbps data stream, the Archer AX6000 router from TP-Link is an excellent example of a Wi-Fi 6 router that is equally adept at connecting wired devices as it is at connecting Wi-Fi devices. The addition of router-based security elevates the Archer AX6000 to the top of the list of the best routers available at a price that is difficult to surpass.

10. Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500

NETGEAR Nighthawk 12-Stream WiFi 6E Router (RAXE500) | AXE11000 Tri-Band Wireless Speed (Up to 10.8Gbps) |New 6GHz Band | Coverage up to 2,500 sq. ft. and 60 Devices

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. This, along with the sleek appearance and numerous configuration choices, elevates the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 to one of the greatest wireless 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 eDigitalReviews 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.

11. Netgear Nighthawk AC2300 (RS400)

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (RS400) - AC2300 Wireless Speed (up to 2300 Mbps) | Up to 2000 sq ft Coverage & 35 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 2 USB Ports | Includes 3 Years of Armor Security

Even though it’s priced similarly to a high-performance or gaming router, the Netgear Nighthawk AC2300 (RS400) outperforms in a different (and arguably more crucial) area: cyber security. In terms of performance and range, the RS400 is a solid performer with enough range to cover most homes. But the real value is in the security features, which include several from Netgear and Bitdefender as well as three years of protection from Bitdefender Total Security software, which is included free with the device.

The RS400 is designed to protect your completely connected home, from your computers and phones to a wide range of smart gadgets, such as televisions, ovens, thermostats, and doorbell cameras, among other things. With so many devices connected to today’s home network, you must be more alert than ever before, since a single improperly protected item can expose you to hackers and malicious software. The RS400 protects your entire house while still being simple to set up and operate, making it our top-rated cybersecurity router for residential use.

12. TP-Link Archer A7

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router (Archer A7) -Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control, QoS

The TP-Link Archer A7 is the best Wi-Fi router for people on a tight budget, offering extremely strong 802.11ac performance as well as a surprising amount of features at a price that is far lower than that of other rivals routers in this category. The Archer A7 offers excellent performance for the money, transmitting more data than most of the similarly priced routers we’ve tested. It also includes four Gigabit LAN ports as well as a USB 2.0 connection for connecting external devices to the network.

The Archer A7, in addition to offering strong performance and functionality, is also incredibly simple to set up and includes handy parental controls, including an app that allows you to monitor and restrict network usage from any location. Even though it does not provide many customization options, it does include parental control software as well as Quality of Service (QoS) software that assures higher than average performance. It’s the most affordable Wi-Fi router we’ve found so far.

13. TP-Link Archer C5400X

TP-Link AC5400 Tri Band WiFi Gaming Router(Archer C5400X) – MU-MIMO Wireless Router, 1.8GHz Quad-Core 64-bit CPU, Game First Priority, Link Aggregation, 16GB Storage, Airtime Fairness

When it comes to gaming routers, the TP-Link Archer C5400X is the best of the best, offering some of the greatest performance you’ll find in any single home networking gear. As a result of its tri-band performance, which is greatest in class, it delivers 1Gbps over its 2.4GHz band and 2.167Gbps over each of its two 5GHz channels. As for coverage, it offers more than 100 feet of excellent coverage, which is sufficient to provide a strong, clear Wi-Fi signal to the majority of households.

However, the collection of optimization and security features that will please any power user is the true selling point. The spider-like 8-antenna design and red-on-black color scheme are guaranteed to attract attention. With superb bandwidth-allocation settings that let you use the huge throughput anyway you choose, this router puts outstanding performance in the hands of the user, whether they are gaming or doing something else on their computer.

14. Linksys EA8300 Max Stream

Linksys Tri-Band WiFi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC2200 MU-MIMO Fast Wireless Router), black

For a router that is really configurable, we recommend the Linksys EA8300 Max-Stream, which is not only a fantastic tri-band router but also comes with a slew of tools that allow you to tune and configure your network to achieve peak performance and reliability. Even though the tiny black EA8300 Max-Stream is capable of moving a large amount of data, it will perform best in smaller households. The performance is still outstanding for a router that costs less than $200, especially when the range is limited.

The ability to automate numerous functions, make on-the-fly manual tweaks, and monitor your network from your laptop or smartphone is invaluable for allocating bandwidth to prioritize gaming or video streaming, or just setting up parental controls. A power user will find the Linksys EA8300 Max Stream an easy choice because it offers several configuration options for optimizing router performance.

15. TP-Link Archer AX3000 (AX50)

TP-Link WiFi 6 AX3000 Smart WiFi Router (Archer AX50) – 802.11ax Router, Gigabit Router, Dual Band, OFDMA, MU-MIMO, Parental Controls, Built-in HomeCare,Works with Alexa

Not everyone requires the use of a high-priced router. Our recommendation for the TP-Link Archer AX3000 (also known as the Archer AX50) is appropriate whether you need to cover a small area with a few devices or you want to save money on a router. This contemporary router is equipped with Wi-Fi 6 and is far less expensive than our top-rated Wi-Fi router. In the event that you don’t want to spend the extra money on our top recommendation, the TP-Link Archer AX50 is a solid choice.

Of course, the AX3000 from TP-Link needs to make certain technological concessions. While the Asus model we recommend has a maximum throughput of 6000 Mbps, this TP-Link device has a maximum throughput of 3000 Mbps. With this router, TP-Link has chosen not to add WPA3 security. In addition, it has just four gigabit LAN ports for wired Ethernet devices, rather than the usual eight.

You won’t be able to add other routers, later on, to build a smooth mesh network unless you have a feature like AiMesh. It includes a built-in VPN server that you may use to connect to your home network from anywhere in the world, but it does not have the capability of acting as a VPN client that directs all of your internet traffic through the VPN.

Assuming all of this is acceptable to your tastes, you’ll be amazed at how many high-end features you can obtain for such a low price. Of course, the router is equipped with Wi-Fi 6 with OFDMA, which allows it to provide a longer range while connecting to Wi-Fi 6 devices. Dual-band technology is included, as are free parental controls that are built in.

Is it time to update your Wi-Fi router?

Perhaps you’ve noticed that your existing Wi-Fi coverage is slower than it used to be, or that you’ve had intermittent reception, or perhaps you just want something that can better manage the demands of a rising number of smart devices in the ordinary house. If you’re experiencing any of the above irritations, a new router should be able to resolve these frequent issues.

It’s also a good idea to upgrade if you’re still utilizing the outdated gear. If you still have a Wireless-N or Wireless-AC router in your house (which have been retrospectively renamed Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5, respectively), you should seriously consider upgrading to something more modern.

Not only will these newer standards provide quicker connections, but you will also profit from them in other ways. Because of more effective device management, your smartphone battery will last longer, and all of your connected home devices will seem quicker and snappier as a result of the more competent standards.

In addition, if you’ve been paying a monthly rental charge to your Internet service provider for a gateway device, you might consider upgrading your router. If you rent equipment on a monthly basis for $10-15 per month on average, a new router may pay for itself in a matter of months while also providing improved service and functionality.

Just be sure to combine it with one of the best cable modems available in order to completely eliminate the additional fees that are sometimes associated with broadband internet packages.

How to choose the best Wi-Fi router for you?

Choosing the best wireless router may be difficult because of the complexities of networking jargon and esoteric technical standards that must be taken into consideration. However, the only thing you actually need to know is how to answer two important questions: For your internet connection, what kind of speed do you require? And what kind of coverage do you require for your residence?

Speeds and standards:

The internet speed you require for your router will be decided by the speed you receive from your internet service provider as well as the speed that your modem is capable of supporting.

Standard 802.11AC routers are sufficient for most individuals, with the exception of the most remarkable plans available, such as Gigabit internet plans, which are only accessible in a few chosen places. With typical broadband rates hovering around 100 Mbps, the vast majority of wireless AC routers will be more than capable of handling the workload.

The most recent router technology is known as Wi-Fi 6, and it is a newer, quicker standard that is better suited to the wide variety of gadgets present in most houses these days. However, despite the availability of newer Wi-Fi 6 routers, Wi-Fi 6-enabled devices, such as laptops and smartphones, are still in short supply.

Except if you’re simultaneously utilizing a dozen devices, you’re unlikely to experience much of a gain from Wi-Fi 6 at this time. For additional information, please see our post Wi-Fi 6: What it is and why it is preferable to understand more.

Coverage area:

The other component of the wireless equation is the range of coverage available. A simple standalone router will typically have a range of 50 to 100 feet, which is sufficient for most flats and small houses.

You may want to consider a mesh router, which uses many devices to distribute Wi-Fi signals throughout an entire home if you have a house that is more than 3,000 square feet in size. These are particularly useful in multistory buildings or in homes with dead zones where the Wi-Fi signal is weak or non-existent.

Ports:

Although wireless connectivity is the most important feature of a Wi-Fi router, you’ll also want to consider the possibility of using cable connections. When connecting devices that require greater bandwidth, such as gaming consoles and smart TVs, Ethernet provides quicker connectivity, while USB ports are useful for connecting a printer or storage device to your network.

Another issue is input, which is particularly problematic if you reside in a region with Gigabit-speed internet. When using a Gigabit connection, an outdated router might become a bottleneck, causing your entire home to slow down. Some routers may even combine two or more inputs to provide an even greater speed of the connection.

Price range:

Entry-level 802.11ac routers, such as simple dual-band versions, are sometimes available for less than $100. More costly versions, which may cost up to $300, will provide wider coverage and quicker speeds, while gaming-oriented routers, which include built-in optimization capabilities, will often cost even more money. New routers that support the Wi-Fi 6 standard (formerly known as 802.11ax) are frequently priced at $400 or more.

It’s difficult to keep up with everything that’s going on in the router industry, so check out our handy guides to the newest technologies, such as What is a mesh Wi-Fi router, and do you really need one?

Alternatively, you may obtain the most up-to-date information on how to solve the security issues with your router, ranging from basic measures to complex safeguards. The latest information on the latest products and developments is available on our website, which covers everything from router security to in-depth explanations of Wi-Fi 6 and the new Wi-Fi 6e.

How we test Wi-Fi routers

In addition to measuring performance and range, we put each router through its paces in order to evaluate the simplicity with which it can be configured and the quality of the settings and capabilities.

The amount of data that may be sent back and forth between the router and its wireless connection is referred to as throughput. We measure this at a 5-foot distance away from any obstructions in order to determine the maximum amount of data that the router is capable of transmitting.

Higher throughput will be more beneficial in data-intensive applications such as streaming video, gaming, and connecting numerous users at the same time.

The range of a router is defined as the distance at which it may be used. Longer ranges are preferable in larger homes with many rooms that are separated by a great amount of space.

We test how much data a router can transport at five different distances: five feet, fifty feet, seventy-five feet, and one hundred feet. This allows you to select the optimal model for smaller houses and apartments, where short-range performance may be a concern.

We also test the performance of a router through walls and ceilings to see how effectively it can transmit a signal in the Wi-Fi-dampening circumstances that are typical in many commercial and residential buildings and houses.

We do extra testing on mesh routers to assess how effectively the mesh system performs while transmitting a signal through both the main router and a satellite device.

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