There's a traffic jam in your home, with a wide array of connected devices — from smartphones and tablets to laptops and media streamers — competing for a share of your wireless network. The average home has more than eight connected devices, market research firm IDC says. Routers that support the latest wireless standard, called 802.11ac, help alleviate those issues by providing more than four times the throughput of 802.11n hardware. Plus, by using a more efficient process, the latest routers can help save battery life on your mobile devices. But not all 802.11ac routers are created equal.
Based on our in-depth testing and reviews of more than 15 routers, the Asus RT-AC68U ($171) is the best overall choice — and the best if you stream a lot of movies and music — thanks to its pace-setting throughput. But if you're on a budget, you should also consider Netgear's R6220 ($60), which offers welcome features like parental controls alongside solid performance in a reasonably priced router.
Our list of top picks includes recommendations for gamers and those who need maximum range for large homes. If there's a router you'd like us to review or if you have any questions about what to buy, drop us a note in the comments.
How We Evaluated
We tested all routers in our office using IxChariot to measure throughput at distances from 5 feet to 140 feet. We then measured real-world performance in an older house with thick walls, to test both range and how they handle simultaneous streams from multiple devices. Other factors used in evaluating the routers include ease of setup and use, software features and available ports.
Here are our top Wi-Fi router picks across several categories.
New & Notable
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