Best Wi-Fi Routers 2016

Product Use case Rating
Linksys WRT1900ACS Best Overall 9
Netgear R6220 Best Under $100 8
Amped Wireless RTA2600 Athena Best for Gaming 7
Netgear Nighthawk X8 Best for Power Users 9
AmpliFi HD Best for a Large Home 8
Luma Best for Mesh Networks 8

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 Linksys WRT1900ACS ($180) is the best overall choice thanks to its high throughput and extensive monitoring tools. If you're on a budget, you should also consider Netgear's R6220 ($80), which offers welcome features like parental controls alongside solid performance in a reasonably priced router. And gamers will appreciate the ability to customize the Amped Wireless RTA2600 Athena router ($160).

*The Luma router was tested with a combined 2.4- and 5-GHz throughput benchmark.

A new type of router uses mesh networking, in which a router uses relay points to extend a wireless network throughout your home. The Luma ($399) is currently our favorite mesh router, though we plan to test rival mesh routers, including the Eero and Netgear's Orbi. If you need to fill a large home with Wi-Fi, we recommend the $350 AmpliFi HD.

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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9 comments
    Your comment
  • Naveen_8
    ASUS RT-AC68U was launched in 2012-2013, i am looking to buy a new router, should i buy this one or wait as refreshing of the model may be due?
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  • hmazuji
    i am using an upvel that i am happy with
    0
  • sandyray0521
    My house is an apple house for the most part. iPhone, iPads, Apple TV, iMacs, MacBook Pro lap top. Any comment or advise about using Airport Extreme for my router?
    -1
  • LA_Pasten
    Could you do a review of the Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream AC1900? Would be much appreciated.

    ps Thanks for the article and all the info!
    0
  • Jade_8
    You're reviewing WRT1900ACS, but you link to the WRT1900AC, which is about $200, not $124
    1
  • Jade_8
    That didn't sound right, too bad no edit option. WRT1900ACS: you're linking to an older model, WRT1900AC. the newer model you are reviewing is more expensive.
    0
  • Agusdrink7
    I am looking for an ac router, for a 3 story old house. What would be the best solution for 200 MBps. Initially looking to netgear nighthawk 1900, linksys ac1900 or even the amplifi hd long range thanks a lot
    0
  • Oldnuke69
    Since many relatively new PCs still have only 802.11n capability, could you please include the results for that standard in your reviews? Thanks.
    0