The first all-virtual CES is in full swing, and with it comes a big batch of new routers being announced for later this year. With brands like Asus, Netgear and TP-Link all announcing new products at CES 2021, we decided the best way to tell you about all of the upcoming routers was to gather up the news into one guide, giving you your first glimpse of the hottest routers of the year.
This year continues a few trends, such as the proliferation of the Wi-Fi 6 networking standard and the enormous popularity of mesh networking. Among the highlights, we've also seen new voice control options, AI-powered features and designs that look so good, you'll never be tempted to hide them in a closet.
And while most people are still making the switch to Wi-Fi 6, there's already a new standard in town, called Wi-Fi 6e. Thanks to recent changes by the FCC, the 6GHz wireless band is now open to use for in-home networking. If Wi-Fi 5 and 6 were a busy two-lane road, the 6GHz band opens up an empty 8-lane highway, promising enormous expansion for both bandwidth and the number of devices that can be used. See our guide Wi-Fi 6: What it is and why it’s better to learn more about the latest standards in Wi-Fi connectivity.
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000
Asus kicked things off with the first announced Wi-Fi 6e router, the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000 Wi-Fi Gaming Router, applying the new standard to gaming. The ability to handle multiple devices with ultra-low latency will mean optimal gaming performance even when multiple gamers are using the same network.
The Rapture GT-AXE11000 boasts a quad-core 64-bit processor with a fill gigabyte of RAM. The antenna connectors have been optimized to minimize latency, and the thermal management built into the router is on par with the best gaming laptops, using custom heatsinks and board tweaks to cool with better air flow.
The speeds of up to 11,000 Mbps and wired connectivity of up to 2.5 Gigabit speeds, it's a speed demon.
The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000 Wi-Fi Gaming Router will launch later this month and sell for $549.99.
- A virtual router can share your VPN connections with other devices
D-Link AI M32 AX3200 Wi-Fi 6 AI Mesh Router
D-Link's biggest CES announcement is the D-Link AI M32 AX3200 Wi-Fi 6 AI Mesh Router, a mesh kit that pairs Wi-Fi 6 capabilities with AI enhancements that optimize performance. The D-Link AI M32 should offer better-than-average connectivity throughout the home by Auto selecting channels and intelligently connecting devices to the mesh unit.
With speeds of up to 800Mbps on the 2.5GHz band and 2,400Mbps on its 5GHz, the AI M32 offers up to AX3200 speeds (3.2 Gbps). The dual-band Wi-Fi 6 mesh units each cover up to 3,000 square feet, all in an expandable mesh network that can grow to accommodate huge amounts of space, giving you coverage across your entire house, and the yard and garage, if you want it. Additional intelligent features include WPA3 network security and voice control when paired with a compatible smart speaker.
D-Link has not yet announced pricing and availability information for the new mesh router.
Linksys is getting in on the Wi-Fi 6e excitement with its newly announced Linksys AXE8400 mesh router. With tri-band operations and the ability to support more than 60 devices on each connected node, the speedy router should offer plenty of coverage and performance for even the most data-hungry homes.
Each unit can cover up to 3,000 square feet with 2.4GHz, 5GHz and the new 6GHz band, and is certified by both the Wi-Fi Alliance and the FCC. The individual untis each boast a 4GB LAN connection and USB 3.0 port for speedy wired connectivity when you need it, but the real benefit is speedy wireless. With a 2.2GHz quad-core processor inside, the Linksys AXE8400 is being described as a prosumer device in many respects, delivering more than enough connectivity for a household of people trying to manage work, school and play at the same time.
The Linksys AXE8400 will arrive later this year (reps estimate late spring or early summer) and will sell for $449.99 for a single unit. Two and three-packs will also be available, with recommended prices of $849.99 and $1,199.99, respectively.
Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500
Netgear is also jumping to the faster speeds of Wi-Fi 6e with the new Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500, a tri-band router that imbues the stingray-esque design of the Nighthawk line with twelve Wi-Fi streams and 59 additional channels combining to provide speeds up to 10.8 Gbps for faster everything, from 8K streaming to VR gaming.
With a 1.8GHz quad-core processor under the hood and multi-gig Ethernet support for speeds of up to 2.5 Gigabits per second, this standalone router is a beast, but it will still support all of your older Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 5 devices. The router boasts five gigabit ports and two USB 3.0 connections for connecting storage and printers.
The Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 is coming later this month, and will sell for $599.
TP-Link Deco Voice X20
Is there an echo in here? TP-Link is bringing Alexa to the excellent Deco X20 mesh Wi-Fi system, letting you control your router, listen to music and interact with a whole houseful of connected devices and services using the new TP-Link Deco Voice X20. This move is similar to other integrations of voice and networking gear, such as the Netgear Orbi Voice and Google's Nest Wi-Fi, which both build smart speaker technology into the mesh satellite units that go throughout your house. We're not mad, though, because it brings one of the best new router features to TP-Link's excellent Deco X20 mesh Wi-Fi kit, making it better than ever.
The canister-shaped mesh node features built-in far-field microphones to listen to your Alexa commands from up to 10 meters away, and has a built-in speaker with bass that lets you play music and hear Alexa's dulcet tones without requiring another Amazon Echo Dot or similar device.
The Deco X20 mesh system launched last year, and offers Wi-Fi 6 coverage up to 4,000 square feet with a two-pack of units, but that can be expanded with additional nodes and even older Deco products (albeit, without the speeds Wi-Fi 6 can handle). This makes the Dco X20 Voice an easy addition to an already great mesh system, adding easy interaction without requiring a full upgrade to your networking solution.
No word yet on when the Deco X20 Voice will be sold, or for how much.
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Brian Westover is currently Lead Analyst, PCs and Hardware at PCMag. Until recently, however, he was Senior Editor at Tom's Guide, where he led the site's TV coverage for several years, reviewing scores of sets and writing about everything from 8K to HDR to HDMI 2.1. He also put his computing knowledge to good use by reviewing many PCs and Mac devices, and also led our router and home networking coverage. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.