More and more people these days are turning to wireless routers for their homes.
This is because these routers offer a range of benefits such as greater ease and convenience, fewer cables to worry about, and access to high-speed internet if you purchase a high-end router.
Of course, those who want to benefit from this technology are keen to find the best WiFi routers on the market. The router you choose can affect performance, speed, signal strength, and other important factors when it comes to your internet connection so it is important to find the best WiFi router for your needs.
In This Guide
The Best WiFi Router: Our Top Picks
Apple Airport Extreme Review
- Can be accessed and configured from any OSX or iOS device
- Includes a one-year warranty
- Fast and stable network speeds
- Has one fewer Gigabit Ethernet WAN port compared to rivals
- No parental controls
- No web browser interface
The Airport Extreme from Apple offers dual-band support and is the ideal access point for areas such as offices and schools as well as for the home. This router provides you with a high level of performance when you want to connect via your PC, Mac computer or your other Apple devices.
The router is very easy to set up and will enable you to benefit from the speed, quality, and convenience. The router is able to transmit to 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies at the same time, so it will connect you to the most suitable band for the best performance.
If you find that the router range is not as wide as you would like and you want to boost performance further, you can opt for an omnidirectional antenna. The Apple base unit allows for the omnidirectional antenna to be connected in order to improve performance. The Apple Airport Extreme allows for any USB external hard drive to be used as a secure drive that can be shared across your WiFi network. You can also connect and share a printer wirelessly using this unit.
In terms of security, this router comes with an integrated firewall. This helps to provide you with additional protection and peace of mind when you are connecting to the internet wirelessly.
Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 Review
- Dual-core processor running at 1Ghz
- Simple to set-up (relies on "plug and play")
- Web browser and mobile app interfaces
- Open-source firmware
- No parental controls
- Doesn't have the best range
The NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 router is an affordable option given its high level of performance and variety of features. While there are some features that are lacking, such as parental control, it does make up for it in other ways. Its performance on the 5GHz band is excellent and it operates on a dual-core processor running at 1GHZ, making it one of the fastest 802.11ac router options.
This router is quite bulky but is very simple to set up and use. It works on a 'plug and play' basis, which means minimum fuss in terms of getting it set up. You will find printed information with the pre-set WiFi network and password details on the bottom of the device. If you happen to lose that information, it will show up on the NETGEAR web-based interface the first time you run the browser from a connected device. You can then take the information from the web interface and print it.
You can also use the NETGEAR web-based interface to make customizations to the router. Another way to do this is via the NETGEAR Genie mobile app, although the settings with the mobile app are more limited than with the web interface.
Attempts by devices on the internet to connect to devices in your local network will be blocked by default by NETGEAR routers. However, there are a number of ways to get around this including port forwarding. Using the port forwarding method will enable you to open up certain ports on your network that are usually blocked.
ASUS RT-AC88U Review
- Ultra-Fast Wireless
- Stable Connections
- Eight ports
- Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output enabled
- Fantastic management features
- Placement of USB 3.0 is awkward
- NAS performance, when router is coupled with external hard drive, is typical
This Asus RT-AC router provides ultra-fast wireless access that is ideal for streaming, gaming, file sharing and more. The 4x4 antenna design is designed to provide the ultimate in coverage and the 1.4GHz dual-core processor helps to improve USB, WAN and LAN speeds. The router also comes with integrated protection for enhanced security, which means greater peace of mind.
With this Asus RT-AC router, you get eight gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. This is double the gigabit LAN port number you normally get with a home router. You can also benefit from parental control facilities to ensure a safe online environment for younger people in the household.
If you have a problem with lag and interruptions when streaming, this router will help to eliminate this issue. This is because it uses NitroQAM technology to deliver fast, consistent speeds so that everyone using the network can continue to enjoy streaming and gaming without any problems. The router also provides coverage and bandwidth for all gaming devices including consoles, mobiles, and PCs.
TP-Link Archer C7 Review
- Gigabit capabilities
- Three times faster than N-Router Speeds
- Easy installation
- Parental Controls
- Only supports USB 2.0
- Mediocre performance on 2.4Ghz band
If you are looking for something faster than a dual-band N router, this dual-band wireless gigabit router could be the ideal option. The TP-Link Archer C7 offers speeds that are three times faster than n-router speeds. This is a great option for those that engage in high-bandwidth activities such as streaming content or online gaming. It offers speeds of 1300Mbps over the 5GHz band and speeds of 450Mbps on the 2,4GHz band.
You can benefit from the simultaneous dual-band features of this gigabit router, which means that you can enjoy access to two dedicated networks. This means that the lower GHz band can deal with basic tasks while the higher one deals with higher-bandwidth tasks and activities. You will find two USB ports so that you can connect any USB external hard drive to share files, information, and printers.
The simultaneous dual-band router comes with one gigabit WAN port and four gigabit LAN port options. The four gigabit Ethernet ports make it easy to connect via a wired network if you wish to do so using your Ethernet cable. You can use the gigabit Ethernet ports to connect to a range of network-enabled devices to suit your needs.
Google WiFi System Review
- Simple and easy to use
- Reliable and stable performance
- Strong Wi-Fi Coverage
- Fast speeds
- Google account and mobile device are required for setup and management
- No web-based interface
- Limited hardware control
The Google WiFi System is the perfect choice for those who are looking for simplicity and ease of use. While it is not the most powerful WiFi system you can go for, it is extremely easy to set up and manage. It also offers excellent value for money so this WiFi mesh system is a good option for those who are on a budget.
With Google WiFi, you get a set of three units, one of which is the primary unit that is connected to the modem or gateway. The other two units are secondary access points and you may need to use one or both depending on the size of your property.
This WiFi system offers complete coverage for your home through the use of the primary and secondary units. In addition, it does come with decent speed. You will need to have a free Google account and a mobile device to set up and manage the system, as it does not have a web-based interface. However, once it has been set up – which won't take long – you can look forward to good coverage and a high level of reliability.
What is a WiFi Router?
A wireless router is a device that allows you to connect to the internet without having to plug an Ethernet cable into your LAN port (or Ethernet port) as you would with a wired connection. Wireless routers serve as a single access point enabling you to gain internet access on your PC, smartphone, tablet, and other WiFi-enabled devices from the same router. You don't have to worry about plugging things into your USB port or LAN port, as the connection is made wirelessly.
Over recent years, the use of wireless routers has become more popular. This is for two key reasons:
- Most people want to try and minimize the amount of wires and cables that they have to use, particularly if they want to access to high-speed internet from different parts of the home.
- People now have more internet-enabled devices and having a wireless router means that they can connect all of their devices to the internet quickly and seamlessly.
The router comes with a number of ports, which includes the WAN port and the LAN ports. The WAN port deals with the wide area network while the LAN ports deal with local area networks. The latter refers to computers or devices that are all in the same sort of area such as in the same building and the former refers to a much wider area.
The Key Benefits of WiFi Routers
Using a WiFi router provides you with a range of benefits. In order to maximize the benefits of a wireless router, you need to ensure you choose the best WiFi router for your needs. Investing in a high-end router will help to ensure you continue to enjoy high speed internet access and decent signal strength. Some of the key benefits include:
- No need to have unnecessary wires and cables as you would with a wired connection
- The ability to get online from anywhere within the wireless router range (e.g. any room or from your garden)
- Having a single access point to connect your PC and any internet enabled devices that you have
- High level of router performance by choosing the best WiFi router to suit your needs
- Internet access for multiple people in your home through a single access point
It is worth noting that there are a number of mid-range and high-end router options available, so finding the best WiFi router for your needs shouldn't be an issue.
Related: Guide to Mobile Broadband Plans
Considerations When Choosing A WiFi Router
There are a number of different areas that you need to look at when you are looking to buy a WiFi router. Some of the key aspects that you need to consider include:
- A built-in modem: Although many people think of the router as a means of accessing the internet, it is actually your modem that connects you. The router simply transfers the data to your device. Most routers these days have modems built in to them but there are still standalone routers available on the market. Therefore, you need to decide whether you want a router with a built-in modem.
- The cost of the router: You will also need to take into consideration the cost of the router if it does not come from your internet service provider. While your ISP will provide you with a basic router when you sign up, some people decide to upgrade and purchase their own router to better suit their needs. If you decide to do this, make sure you check and compare prices so that you can purchase one that not only suits your needs but also falls within your price range.
- The features of the router: You should look at the features of the router you are considering buying, as these can vary from one make and model to the next. For instance, some people may be looking for features such as parental control capabilities, the ability to connect a printer via the USB port, and external storage facilities. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the various features so that you can make a more informed choice.
- The wireless router standard: In addition to your choice of single band, dual band or tri band affecting speed and performance, the wireless router standard will also impact on performance. The first generation of WiFi routers was classified as a wireless-b router. After that came the wireless-n router. The latest standard following the wireless-n router is the wireless AC router. The speeds and router range offered to vary between these classifications, with the wireless dual-band N router and AC router options providing the best range and speed. However, your hardware will also need to be able to support the same technology in order for you to benefit.
- The router firmware: You should consider at the router firmware that comes with the device you are looking at investing in. This is the software that is integrated into the router to offer access to protocols, administrative controls, security features, and more.
Related: When you've got your router set up, connecting to it might be a problem. In this guide, we offer instructions for connecting to WiFi across all devices.
Your Internet Usage Will Determine What Router is Best for You
When it comes to choosing a WiFi router, you should take some time to assess your needs. With a wireless router, you can enjoy all sorts of activities from browsing the internet to streaming movies and music or enjoying the thrill of online gaming. The types of activities you tend to engage in online will help to determine the best WiFi router for you.
If you tend to use the internet just for simple browsing, you should be fine with a basic or mid-range wireless router such as the D-Link DIR - 600. With the D-Link DIR – 600 you can enjoy simplicity and value for money. However, if you like to go online for activities such as streaming video and music or playing games, you need to ensure you opt for a high-performing router so that you do not have to cope with signal issues that will impact on your entertainment experience. This includes routers such as the TP-Link Archer C7.
Make sure you look at the features and benefits of different WiFi routers in order to determine which one will be most suitable for you. While price is important, you should avoid focusing solely on price, as otherwise, you could end up suffering in terms of performance and accessibility.
Related: How to Get Wireless Internet
The Different Types of WiFi Routers
There are different types of WiFi routers to choose from and this is another thing that you will need to look at when you are choosing a router. This includes:
- Single-band router
- Dual-band router
- Tri-band router
You will need to decide whether you need a single-band router, a dual-band router, or even a tri-band router. If you only use the internet for basic browsing and activities, a single band one should be fine. However, if you engage in activities such as video streaming and online gaming then you need to consider a dual band router or a tri-band one.
With a single band router, the only frequency that it will operate on is the 2.4 GHz band. However, a dual band router operates on the 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz band, which means greater speed and less interference. You can get a selectable dual-band router or a simultaneous dual band router. With the first one, you can select which of the two bands to operate on but you cannot access two wireless network options at the same time. However, with the simultaneous dual band option, two separate networks are supported at the same time. This means less interference and a more reliable wireless network.
Tri-band routers come with an additional 5 GHz band, which is designed for those with a number of different mobile devices on a single network, as this allows for improved performance and efficiency.
Related: You can learn more about how to extend WiFi range here.
What is the Best Router for Gaming?
Online gaming has become hugely popular over recent years, with many people enjoying this as the main form of home entertainment. However, in addition to finding the best internet for gaming, you also need to look for the best router. If you like to go online to enjoy the thrill of gaming you need to make sure you have a router that is properly suited to gaming activities. Routers such as the TP-Link Archer C7 or the Asus RT-AC88U are great options for those that want to enjoy a seamless online gaming experience.
Related Guide: The Best Wireless Extender
So, what is the use of a gaming router in comparison to any other wireless router? Well, with a gaming router you will be able to benefit from the high performance that is necessary for online gaming as well as for activities such as streaming content.
Activities such as gaming and video streaming require high-speed connections without any lag, which is where the right WiFi router can help. With this in mind, you should make sure you go for a dual-band or tri-band router so that you get the performance you need. Also, opt for a wireless-n or wireless AC router for speed and range.
Learn More: Network security is important. Learn how to create a strong password hackers can't crack.
In order to create this list of 5 top WiFi routers, we looked at a number of factors. Of course, speed and performance were taken into consideration as was coverage and router range. However, we also looked at additional factors.
This included the ease of set up and the value for money offered with each of the WiFi routers. While some, such as the Google WiFi System, are more focused on simplicity and value, others WiFi routers are aimed at those who want the best in terms of performance and speed.
Related: How to get Internet Service at home.
As you can see, a good WiFi router can provide you with the ultimate in flexibility, convenience, and ease when it comes to connecting to the internet. However, in order to optimize the benefits of these devices, you need to make sure you choose the right one for your needs. Although pricing is an important factor for most people, it is not the only consideration. You also need to make sure that the router you choose offers the right level of performance to suit the type of activities you engage in online.
A WiFi router is only as good as the Internet service you have. Now that you have a good idea about the best wireless routers of today, you may want to upgrade your Internet package. You can see our top picks for the best Internet providers here.
All the routers we discussed in this article offer some measure of security features. However, there are several simple steps you can take to increase that level of protection. To learn more ways to keep your WiFi secure, go here.