Wireless routers are the key to building a good home network. The main function of the Wi-Fi signal is to provide a single internet connection to all your devices on the network. It also can provide a USB port for sharing an external drive or printer for all devices to access across the network. Other capabilities include a firewall, parental controls, and streaming multimedia through the network.
Besides the range, the most important feature to look for is the speed or throughput which will depend on the type of wireless router you buy. The latest standard wireless technology commonly in use is 802.11ac, while some devices still use the prior standard which was 802.11n. (There is a new standard called 802.11ad, but it is not widely adopted yet.)
All 802.11ac Wi-Fi routers operate on dual frequency bands, at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, while 802.11n generally operate on just the 2.4 GHz band. Your devices that support 802.11ac can connect to either band. At 2.4 GHz the highest speed will be 1000 Mbps while the 5 GHz allows for speeds up to 2167 Mpbs. Although actual speeds never reach that theoretical limit. There are also tri-band models which offer two 5 GHz bands and one 2 GHz band for a total bandwidth of up to 5400 Mbps.
You might see routers listed as AC1200, or AC1900 for example. This just means that it supports the 802.11ac standard while the number is the total bandwidth across the two or three bands that it uses. You might also see MU-MIMO which stands for Multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output technology. This allows a Wi-Fi router to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously and will dramatically speed up connections to each one.
Ports are another important feature to look for. Gigabit ports are ethernet ports that allow you to connect devices with a wire at speeds of 1000 Mbps instead of just regular ethernet ports with speeds of 100 Mbps. USB ports, which might be USB 2.0 or 3.0, allow you to connect an external hard drive or printer to share across the network.
Below we reveal our top 10 best wireless routers. Below those wireless router reviews we also provide a comparison chart so you can easily compare one model versus another.
The RT-AC88U provided speedy Wi-Fi in testing and has good range. It also has 8 gigabit ports and the interface is easy to use while providing tons of extra features not found in most routers.
While its not a tri-band router, you really only need that third band if you are connecting a lot of devices – like 10 or more to one router. So if you want speedy performance and don’t mind paying a premium then the Asus RT-AC88U is a great choice for any home.
The Archer C5400 has 8 external antennas, 4 Gigabit LAN ports, 1 USB 3.0 and 1 USB 2.0 connectors. It also uses MU-MIMO technology to deliver fast Wi-FI throughput for multiple devices. Other features include anti-virus, parental controls, VPN server, and it works with Amazon Alexa.
You won’t find a better tri-band wireless router for cheaper than this, which is why we rank the TP-Link Archer C5400 v2 so high. It is perfect for gamers or for anyone who needs fast Wi-Fi to 10 or more devices at once.
Wi-Fi speeds in testing were quite good, especially on the 5 GHz band. This AC2600 router’s speeds top out at 800 Mbps on 2.4 GHz and 1733 Mbps on 5 GHz. It also has MU-MIMO technology and a USB 3.0 port.
Because the Synology RT2600ac has a ton of features and customization’s it might be overwhelming for basic users who just want to get online, but it is perfect for an advanced user who wants to customize a network for your home or small office.
With the RT-AC86U you get high-end features like MU-MIMO, advanced traffic prioritization, extra security, USB 3.1 port and dual-WAN. Buyers should be aware, however, that this unit is only positioned vertically – it does not lay flat nor can it be mounted to the wall.
Overall the Asus RT-AC86U is a great choice for anyone who wants fast Wi-Fi speeds and gamers who need to optimize their network for gaming.
Features of the R7000P Nighthawk include top speeds of 600 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and 1625 Mbps on 5 GHz, MU-MIMO, a USB 3.0 port, and parental controls.
We think the Netgear R7000P Nighthawk is best for anyone who just wants fast Wi-Fi without having to fully customize their network or mess with lots of settings.
The EA7500-CA has most of the important features anyone would want like MU-MIMO, 4 LAN ports, a USB 3.0 port, and parental controls.
Overall we feel the Linksys EA7500-CA is a good choice for anyone with a medium sized home who wants a solid mid-tier wireless router.
Speeds top out at 450 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and 1300 Mbps on the 5 GHz band for the RT-AC66U B1. It includes 4 LAN ports and a USB 3.0 port. However, it does not have MU-MIMO technology which will slow you down if you have multiple devices connected at the same time.
We recommend the Asus RT-AC66U B1 for anyone looking for a bit more affordable wireless router.
The R6700 Nighthawk has pretty good range and throughput on the 5 GHz band, but its performance is lacking on the 2.4 GHz band. It is rated as AC1750 which means top speeds max out at 450 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and 1300 Mbps on the 5 GHz band. It also has 4 LAN ports and 1 USB 3.0 port.
If you want a quality wireless router, but don’t want to spend over $100 then you should definitely consider the Netgear R6700 Nighthawk.
The Archer A7 has 3 external antennas, 4 gigabit LAN ports, a USB 2.0 port, parental controls, and works with Amazon Alexa.
If you want a cheap AC1750 Wi-Fi router then we recommend the TP-Link Archer A7.
The Archer C1200 is the only AC1200 Wi-Fi router to make our list with speeds that top out at 300 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and 867 Mbps on the 5 GHz band. The speeds are still plenty fast enough to stream a 4K movie, but it is not ideal for lots of devices streaming at the same time. It also has 4 LAN ports, a USB 2.0 port, and parental controls.
If you just need a cheap wireless router that still works decently then you should consider the TP-Link Archer C1200.
Best Wireless Router Comparison Chart
|Wireless Router||Rating||Best Price||AC Rating||Wireless
|2.4GHz Band 1
|5GHz Band 2
|5GHz Band 3
|MU-MIMO||Gigabit Ports||USB Port||Parental Controls||IPv6 Enabled|
|Asus RT-AC88U||9.4||$227.85||AC3100||802.11ac||3167 Mbps||1000 Mbps||2167 Mbps||Yes||8||1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0||Yes||Yes|
|TP-Link Archer C5400||9.3||$223.99||AC5400||802.11ac||5334 Mbps||1000 Mbps||2167 Mbps||2167 Mbps||Yes||4||1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0||Yes||Yes|
|Synology RT2600ac||9.3||$199.99||AC2600||802.11ac||2533 Mbps||800 Mbps||1733 Mbps||Yes||4||1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0||Yes||Yes|
|Asus RT-AC86U||9.2||$162.99||AC2900||802.11ac||2917 Mbps||750 Mbps||2167 Mbps||Yes||4||1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0||Yes||Yes|
|NetGear R7000P||9.2||$181.99||AC2300||802.11ac||2225 Mbps||600 Mbps||1625 Mbps||Yes||4||1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0||Yes||Yes|
|Linksys EA7500-CA||9.1||$158.44||AC1900||802.11ac||1900 Mbps||600 Mbps||1300 Mbps||Yes||4||1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0||Yes||Yes|
|Asus RT-AC66U||9||$109.86||AC1750||802.11ac||1750 Mbps||450 Mbps||1300 Mbps||No||4||1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0||Yes||Yes|
|NetGear R6700||9||$89.99||AC1750||802.11ac||1750 Mbps||450 Mbps||1300 Mbps||No||4||1 USB 3.0||Yes||Yes|
|TP-Link Archer A7||8.7||$62.47||AC1750||802.11ac||1750 Mbps||450 Mbps||1300 Mbps||No||4||1 USB 2.0||Yes||Yes|
|TP-Link Archer C1200||8.5||$39.99||AC1200||802.11ac||1167 Mbps||300 Mbps||867 Mbps||No||4||1 USB 2.0||Yes||Yes|
(All users should note that in order to get the best performance they should download the latest firmware update for their particular model.)