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The best Wi-Fi 6 routers of 2021

best Wi-Fi 6 routers
(Image credit: TP-Link)

The best Wi-Fi 6 routers combine the latest wireless standard with standalone and mesh devices to offer speedy wireless connectivity wherever you need it. Wi-Fi 6 offers better wireless speeds, but it's also better than older Wi-Fi 5 standard it replaces, making Wi-Fi 6 gear a genuine upgrade that offers better connectivity for more devices in your home, and it can even improve battery life for mobile and IoT devices. And the latest enhancement is Wi-Fi 6e, which adds an additional 6GHz band for dramatically faster speeds and truly unbeaten performance.

Dozens of devices have arrived with Wi-Fi 6, making it the current standard in home networking. If you've been waiting to upgrade from your old wireless AC router, it's time to stop holding off.

To help you keep up with all of the new products, we've rounded up some of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers and Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems you can buy. We've selected from among the top selling, top performing, and most innovative products available. Here we highlight routers made for homes small and large, for gaming and media streaming, both standalone units and expandable mesh systems.

The best Wi-Fi 6 routers for going back to school

When you're likely to have children from elementary school to college trying to handle online classes while parents work from home, you need the best Wi-Fi you can get. Something that delivers great speeds for all of your devices, and offers security and parental controls as part of the package.

Thankfully, the Wi-Fi 6 routers listed here all offer great speeds, excellent performance and plenty of handy features, whether you need a single router or a mesh system for wider coverage. They'll walk you through the set up, protect you from hackers and malware, and offer Wi-Fi 6 at pretty reasonable prices.

Check out all of our picks for the Ultimate back to school guide 2021

What are the best Wi-Fi 6 routers?

Of the many Wi-Fi 6 routers on the market, a few stand out as the most promising, offering better performance, better prices and more functionality. 

The best Wi-Fi 6 router overall is the Asus RT-AX86U, a Wi-Fi 6 powerhouse that will leave you satisfied whether you need connectivity for a house full of gadgets or gaming performance that rivals dedicated gaming routers.

For unbeatable performance, the hands down leader is the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500, which uses the new Wi-Fi 6e standard to offer incredible speeds of nearly 2.5Gbps. You'll pay a lot for that performance, but if you want the undisputed performance champ, this is it.

The Netgear Orbi with Wi-Fi 6 (RBK852) is the best mesh system to get the new standard, combining the well-loved Orbi's ease of use with even better performance. When we tested it, we were seriously impressed with the performance it offered. And for a less expensive option (that doesn't have the same performance) there's also the cheaper Netgear Orbi RBK752 further down the list.

The best Wi-Fi 6 routers right now

Asus RT-AX86U router review

(Image credit: Asus)

1. Asus RT-AX86U

The best Wi-Fi 6 router overall

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Dual-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 3/Yes
Ports: 1 WAN/1 Multi-Gig WAN/ 4 LAN gigabit per second, 2 USB 3.0
Peak Throughput: 929.7Mbps
Size: 9.0 x 6.7 x 3.1 inches
Reasons to buy
+Excellent throughput+Security software with lifetime updates+Multi-Gig input and port aggregation+2-year warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks gamers tools like geofencing and ping heat map

The Asus RT-AX86U is a Wi-Fi 6 powerhouse that delivers great speeds and killer gaming features, as well as awesome customization options. With high-end performance and lifetime protection against intrusions and malware, it's also a great option for securing your entire home network, providing long term protection without a subscription fee, and carrying a two-year warranty.

But the real draw of the Asus RT-AX86U is the performance, which approaches the the magical 1Gbps mark to provide speedy and effortless connectivity for all of your devices. With excellent range and great performance – even through walls and between floors – the RT-AX86U is equal parts general-use router and elite gaming router, and the collection of features and ports it offers are a steal compared to some of the top-performing gaming gear. It even gets a nod as the runner up for best Wi-Fi router in the 2021 Tom's Guide Awards. If you want the best Wi-Fi 6 router for the whole household, the Asus RT-AX86U is it.

Read our full Asus RT-AX86U review.

Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 review

(Image credit: Netgear)

2. Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500

The Wi-Fi 6e speed demon

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6e/Tri-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 8/No
Ports: 1 WAN/4 LAN gigabit per second, 2 USB 3.0
Throughput: 2.396Gbps
Size: 12.0 x 8.6 x 3.3 inches
Reasons to buy
+Top speed with 6GHz band+Customizability+Security software
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Throughput declines quickly with distance

The Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 is the first Wi-Fi 6e router to hit the market, and the results are mind-blowing. By adding a 6GHz band to the already impressive capabilities of Wi-Fi 6, the Nighthawk RAXE500 delivers category-leading performance. With an AXE11000 rating, the tri-band device more than lives up to the hype by delivering nearly 2.5Gbps of real-world data. Add this to the slick design and highly customizable configuration options, and the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 becomes one of the best routers we've ever reviewed.

By adding access to a slew of new data-delivering channels in the 6GHz spectrum, the tri-band Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 takes the lead as the first high-performance Wi-Fi 6e router. It's the sort of performance that earned it the 2021 Tom's Guide Award for best Wi-Fi router, even if it's not a great fit for everyone. While it’s best at close quarters and is one of the most expensive routers you can buy, the RAXE500 is worth every penny if you have the need for speed.

Read our full Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 review.

(Image credit: Netgear)

3. Netgear Orbi with Wi-Fi 6 (RBK852)

Best Wi-Fi 6 mesh router

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Tri-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 8/No
Ports: 1x 2.5 Gbps WAN port (on base unit), 4x LAN Gigabit Ethernet ports (per unit)
Throughput: 1200 Mbps (2.4GHz)/2400Mbps (5GHz) + 2400Mbps (5Ghz)
Size: 10 x 2.8 x 7.5 inches
Reasons to buy
+Speedy tri-band performance+Expandable up to 10,000 square feet
Reasons to avoid
-Big devices are hard to hide-Expensive

The Netgear Orbi RBK852 updates a long-time leader in mesh Wi-Fi with the speed and capability of Wi-Fi 6. The faster standard and whole-home coverage of Orbi's mesh networking combine with the easy setup and stellar performance that the Orbi name is known for. With tri-band coverage that can handle 5,000 square feet with only a two-pack consisting of a base unit and satellite extension, the Wi-Fi 6 Netgear Orbi looks like it's the best mesh system yet.

In addition to massively improved speeds and handling of multiple devices, the Orbi also works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for seamless voice control throughout the house. And every Orbi extension that we've loved in the past works with the new Wi-Fi 6 models as well, whether it's the outdoor extensions or the Orbi Voice that has a built-in smart speaker.

Read our full Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) review.

Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 router review

(Image credit: Netgear)

4. Netgear Nighthawk XR1000

Best Wi-Fi 6 gaming router

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Dual-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 4/Yes
Ports: 1 WAN/4 LAN gigabit per second, USB 3.0
Peak Throughput: 860.7Mbps
Size: 11.6 x 7.9 x 2.5 inches
Reasons to buy
+Top Wi-Fi 6 performance at mid-range distances+Top gamer’s tools and interface+Includes malware protection
Reasons to avoid
-No Multi-Gig input or port aggregation-90-day support policy and extra charge for security updates

The Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR1000 is a powerful gaming router with Wi-Fi 6 speeds that goes above and beyond other gaming routers with excellent speeds and top-shelf gaming enhancements. The Netgear's high-throughput, low latency design is packed with customization options and built-in security, providing protection against hackers along with superb Wi-Fi 6 performance. It's also great for slightly larger homes, with a range of 105 feet, easily covering that extra room that other routers can't quite reach. If your current router isn't keeping up with your gaming abilities, the XR1000 is one of the best gaming routers we've ever seen.

With an entire dashboard of customization tools, you can optimize the router's performance in a dizzying number of ways, from CPU usage monitoring to stats that identify what apps and devices are using the most data and connection tools that let you adjust connections by ping rates and location.

Read our full Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 review.

Eero Pro 6 review

(Image credit: Eero)

5. Eero Pro 6

Mesh Wi-Fi 6 with unbeatable convenience

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Tri-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 7/No
Ports: 2 Ethernet on each unit
Throughput: 438.2Mbps
Size: 5.3 x 5.3 x 1.9 inches
Reasons to buy
+Great range+Dynamic tri-band operation+Easy fast setup
Reasons to avoid
-Devices have only two Ethernet ports-Moderate throughput close up-No USB ports

The Eero Pro 6 combines tri-band Wi-Fi 6 networking with a mesh setup that's quicker and easier than pretty much any mesh system we've reviewed, making it the best way to get great performance throughout your home without much hassle. With a single unit covering 2,000 square feet with reasonably fast Wi-Fi, the three-pack Eero Pro 6 will blanket up to 6,000 square feet with ease - and we set up the three-piece system in about 11 minutes.

It may not have the highest throughput, but the Eero Pro 6 mesh kit does well at mid-range distances where others peter out, is quick to set up and automatically adjusts just about everything. If you want granular customization, then tools like band steering, local DNS caching and home automation tools, it's got those, too. But the Eero Pro 6 does it's best when it lets you set it and forget it, giving you speedy Wi-Fi 6 without the hassles.

Read our full Eero Pro 6 review. 

Netgear Nighthawk AX8 (RAX80) review

(Image credit: Netgear)

6. Netgear Nighthawk AX8 (RAX80)

Another killer Wi-Fi 6 router

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Dual-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 8/Yes
Ports: 1 WAN/5 LAN gigabit per second, 2 USB 3.0
Throughput: 1.389 Gbps
Size: 12.0 x 8.0 x 6.3 inches
Reasons to buy
+High performance+Includes malware apps+Good configuration options
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Throughput falls off quickly with distance

With the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 (RAX80) Wi-Fi 6 router, top performance and enhanced security go hand in hand, combining throughput that smashes through the gigabit per second barrier with malware protection and Disney’s Circle app for blocking inappropriate content and managing family network use. And with excellent performance through walls and floors, the Nighthawk AX8 will work just as well in the real world as in the lab.

It may be expensive – most Wi-Fi 6 routers are – but the RAX80 offers easy setup and lets you configure the router exactly the way you want it. It's also got a 90-foot range, but delivers better performance at distances of 50 feet, making it better suited to medium-sized homes. By almost any measure, the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 (RAX80) is a great Wi-Fi-6 router to get if you don’t want to compromise on speed and safety.

Read our full Netgear Nighthawk AX8 (RAX80) review

(Image credit: TP-Link)

Best value mesh Wi-Fi system

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Dual-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 4/No
Ports: 1 WAN Gigabit Ethernet, 1 LAN Gigabit Ethernet
Throughput: 574 Mbps (2.4 GHz)/1201 Mbps (5 GHz)
Size: 4.33 x 4.33 x 4.49 inches
Reasons to buy
+Compact design+Affordable price
Reasons to avoid
-No dedicated data backchannel

Inexpensive, small and easy to set up, TP-Link’s Deco X20 mesh networking kit is a cheap thrill that can help fill a home with Wi-Fi 6 data while protecting a family’s identities with an extra layer of online security. If you want mesh capability and Wi-Fi 6, the TP-Link Deco X20 is the best budget option for covering larger homes with better speed and capability than any older 802.11ac system can match. It even earned the runner up for best mesh router in our 2021 Tom's Guide Awards. Selling in a 3-pack of matching units, the Deco X20 covers up to 5,800 square feet, and can manage up to 150 separate connected devices.

With dual-band connectivity and two gigabit wired connections on each node, the Deco X20 offers great coverage and connectivity with easy setup and management. TP-Link gives you all the tools you need in the accompanying Deco app, which lets you set up your network quickly and control the individual features of the network with illustrated, easy-to-navigate menus. It also protects, with WPA3 encryption and a lifetime subscription to TP-Link HomeCare security and antivirus included with the set.

Read our full TP-Link Deco X20 review.

Netgear Orbi RBK752 review

(Image credit: Netgear)

8. Netgear Orbi RBK752

A cheaper version of the Wi-Fi 6 Orbi

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Tri-Band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 6/No
Ports: Router – 1 WAN/3 LAN; Satellite – 2 LAN
Peak Throughput: 506.7 Mbps
Size: 9.4 x 6.5 x 2.0 inches
Reasons to buy
+Malware protection+Tri-band operation+Easy setup
Reasons to avoid
-Large-90-day support policy-Short range

The Netgear Orbi RBK752  is the smaller and cheaper alternative to one of the best mesh routers on the market, the highly ranked Netgear Orbi RBK852. Selling in a two-pack that can cover up to 5,000 square feet, the cheaper Orbi RBK752 has fewer internal antennas and a less powerful processor, which translate into reduced throughput and range. That makes it well-suited to mid-sized homes, but you'll want to step up to the 3- or 4-packs for larger coverage areas. They may be more expensive, but buying them as a package will be cheaper than adding single satellite units.

The cheaper Wi-Fi 6 Orbi doesn’t place as much emphasis on raw performance, but does manage to include an impressive array of customization options, and offers a way to get the ease of Netgear's excellent mesh networking gear and decent speeds throughout your home for less than the more expensive version.

Read our full Netgear Orbi RBK752 review.

Linksys Velop AX4200 review

(Image credit: Linksys)

9. Linksys Velop AX4200

Affordable Wi-Fi 6 for bigger homes

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Tri-Band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 8/No
Ports: 1 WAN/3 LAN, USB 3.0 (per unit)
Peak Throughput: 507.7Mbps
Size: 9.6 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches
Reasons to buy
+Inexpensive mesh kit+Good throughput with dynamic tri-band operation+Three-year warranty
Reasons to avoid
-No security software-Slow set up

The Linksys Velop AX4200 mesh kit offers tri-band Wi-Fi 6 that can cover a large home in Wi-Fi signal without the higher prices of many Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems. With decent throughput and great range – the three-pack we reviewed can fill an 8,0000 square feet, and is easily expanded with additional units – this affordable mesh system offers simple configuration tools and a generous three-year warranty. It also has USB connectivity, a small touch, but one that some users will hugely appreciate. That was enough to get it named the best mesh router in our 2021 Tom's Guide Awards.

But it's not the fastest mesh kit on the block, lagging behind more expensive competitors and offering none of the extra security and customization options you'd get from other manufacturers. That said, the three-pack Linksys Velop AX4200 is one of the best bargains in mesh networking at the moment, offering a relatively cheap way to set up a wide-ranging Wi-Fi network in a big house.

Read our full Linksys Velop AX4200 review.

Linksys Max Stream MR9600 review

(Image credit: Linksys)

10. Linksys Max Stream MR9600

A streamlined Wi-Fi 6 router

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Dual-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 4/No
Ports: 1 WAN/4 LAN gigabit per second, 2 USB 3.0
Throughput: 822.0 Mbps
Size: 11.0 x 6.8 x 5.6 inches
Reasons to buy
+Can create mesh network with other Linksys equipment+Small and easy to hide
Reasons to avoid
-Mediocre performance-Lacks port aggregation

The Linksys Max Stream MR9600 is a dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router that is among the smallest and least obtrusive Wi-Fi 6 models you can buy. The small size makes it easy to fit onto a shelf or desk, but the streamlined design does leave little room for ports — with only a WAN port, four LAN ports and two USB 3.0 connectors, the rear panel of the Linksys Max Stream MR9600 is uncluttered, but we wish it offered the two-line aggregation seen on many competing Wi-Fi 6 models.

Able to work either as a standalone router or to create a mesh network by linking it with other Linksys networking gear, the MR9600 offers the choice of a single unit for smaller homes and apartments, or it can be incorporated into a mesh setup with other Linksys networking devices, giving you the unique ability to expand coverage for larger homes.

Read our full Linksys Max Stream MR9600 review.

TP-Link Archer AX6000

(Image credit: TP-Link)

Best connectivity

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Dual-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 8/No
Ports: 1 × 2.5Gbps WAN port, 8 × Gigabit LAN ports, 1 USB-A 3.0 Port + 1 USB-C 3.0 Port
Throughput: 4804 Mbps (5 GHz)/1148 Mbps (2.4 GHz)
Size: 10.3 x 10.3 x 2.4 inches
Reasons to buy
+8 LAN ports+Extra security+Inexpensive
Reasons to avoid
-Limited app-Hard to remove LAN cables

For a standalone router with Wi-Fi 6 capability, the TP-Link Archer AX6000 is the best choice for optimal connectivity. The dual-band router promises great speeds and the eight high-gain antennas offer some of the best wireless coverage this side of a mesh Wi-Fi system. But for pure connectivity, it also has something most other routers do not — a wealth of ports and wired connections. A 2.5Gbps WAN port will work with even the fastest internet connections while a total of eight Ethernet ports give you connectivity for a huge number of wired devices. On the side of the router you'll also find both USB 3.0 Type-A  and Type-C connectors, giving you speedy connectivity for other peripherals, like NAS and home media servers.

The Archer AX6000 is powered by a 1.8GHz quad-core processor, making it more than capable enough for the dozens of devices you likely have in your home, and TP-Link protects them all with a free lifetime subscription to HomeCare, which includes parental controls and threat blocking for the entire network.

Read our full TP-Link Archer AX6000 review

(Image credit: Asus)

12. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000

Another great Wi-Fi 6 gaming router

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ax/Tri-Band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 8/Yes
Ports: 1 WAN, 4 1-Gbps LAN, 1 2.5-Gbps LAN, 2 USB 3.0
Throughput: 731.4 Mbps
Size: 9.4 x 9.4 x 2.8 inches
Reasons to buy
+First Wi-Fi 6 (802.11AX) router+Performance improves with distance+Plenty of customization+Impressive 2.5Gbps wired connector
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Big

When it comes to Wi-Fi 6 routers that we've tested and reviewed, the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 stands out as one of the best, delivering excellent performance and packaging that expanded capability alongside gaming-oriented features that will delight both the gamers and non-gamers in your house. 

The GT-AX11000 has a larger design, bristling with eight swiveling antennas. But inside that larger footprint, the router offers plenty of connectivity, with four downstream Gigabit LAN ports, a single 2.5G Base T Ethernet connection, and two USB 3.0 ports. Wireless capability is even better, with performance that actually improved at longer distances, super low latency and massive 10.8Gbps of maximum throughput. Combine all of this with customization tools and gaming optimizations, and it's still one of the best gaming devices we've seen in the new breed of Wi-Fi 6 routers.

Read our full Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 review.

Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) review

(Image credit: Asus)

13. Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8)

A great whole-home solution

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Tri-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 6/No
Ports: 1 WAN (2.5Gbps)/3 LAN (Gbps), USB 3.0
Throughput: 701.0Mbps
Size: 6.6 x 6.3 x 2.9 inches
Reasons to buy
+Good Wi-Fi 6 performance+Protects against malware+Tri-band design+Two-year warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Can take long time to reconnect satellites-Short range

The Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) puts Wi-Fi 6 mesh networking into an easy-to-use package that's excellent for all sorts of mid-range homes. With its tri-band design and Wi-Fi 6 performance, the Asus ZenWiFi AX comes through with the ability to fill a moderate-sized home with wireless data. It may not be the fastest mesh kit, but the ZenWiFi AX’s two-year warranty and built-in security can give a family network “administrator” the peace of mind that the data will get through.

The sleek-looking design isn't festooned with antennas, nor is it blinking with an array of lights. Instead the ZenWiFi keeps things sedate with a design that could be used as bookend on a shelf, and a size that makes competing mesh systems look downright bulky. Plus, if you already have an Asus router at home, chances are pretty good that you can add it to the ZenWiFi's mesh network for even more coverage area, making it a great way to expand the coverage without giving up current hardware that you love.

Read our full Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) review.

Linksys MR7350

(Image credit: Linksys)

14. Linksys Max-Stream Mesh Router (MR7350)

For Wi-Fi 6 on a budget

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Dual-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 2/No
Ports: 1 WAN/4 LAN gigabit per second, USB 3.0
Throughput: 478.3Mbps
Size: 8.5 x 6.1 x 2.2 inches
Reasons to buy
+Budget-friendly price+Low power use+Can set up mesh network
Reasons to avoid
-Short range-Limited customization options

Our favorite cheap Wi-FI 6 router is the Linksys MR7350, which proves that the capabilities and features of Wi-Fi 6 aren't limited to high-priced units. The simple-looking router is a stripped down model, sporting two simple antennas instead of the spider-like antenna arrays of other routers, and it drops niceties like built-in security and port aggregation. But that streamlined router still delivers solid performance and Wi-Fi 6 speeds, all for an economical price.

Capable of covering 1,700 square feet, it's perfect for apartments and smaller homes, but the Linksys MR7350 also has a trick up its sleeve. The router can work with other recent Linksys products to create a mesh network from scratch. While it's a far cry from the speed-demon performance of more premium Wi-Fi 6 routers, it's a great basic model that provides Wi-Fi 6 capability for much, much less. If you've been waiting to upgrade from an older Wireless-N or AC router, this is a great low-cost option to get.

Read our full Linksys MR7350 review.

Netgear AX1800 4-Stream Mesh Extender (EAX20)

(Image credit: Netgear)

15. Netgear AX1800 4-Stream Mesh Extender (EAX20)

A Wi-Fi 6 extender with mesh capability

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Dual-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 4 internal/No
Ports: 4 gigabit Ethernet
Throughput: 375.4Mbps
Size: 9.5 x 6.7 x 2.5 inches
Reasons to buy
+Wi-Fi 6 support with 802.11ax operations+Customization and built-in security+Offers mesh compatibility with other devices
Reasons to avoid
-Large-No USB ports

With Wi-Fi 6 speeds and even mesh capability built right in, the Netgear AX1800 Mesh Extender (EAX20) was already a contender for the best Wi-Fi extender you can get. While not everyone will be excited about it's large desktop design – without a plug-in design, there's no hiding this extender behind the couch or in the corner – and a price that's more expensive than some routers, the proof is in the performance. And boy, does the Netgear EAX20 deliver, with category-leading speeds and an awesome 95-foot range.

The Netgear EAX20 does one thing and does well: it extends networks that are faster and have a longer range than the competition. Throw in a handful of customization options, and add a layer of online security to help protect your home network, and it's not hard to say that this admittedly pricey extender is worth every penny.

Read our full Netgear AX1800 Mesh Extender (EAX20) review.

How to choose the best Wi-Fi 6 router for you

Choosing the best Wi-Fi 6 router isn't terribly different from shopping for any other networking product. While complicated jargon can be confusing, there are really only two significant questions that need to be answered. First, what speed do you need for your internet use and devices? Second, what sort of coverage do you need for your home?

Speed: Wi-Fi 6 is good for high-speed connections, since the newer standard offers much higher throughput than the previous 802.11ac standard. It's especially well-suited to gigabit-speed internet plans, which may be available in your area. However, even average broadband speeds will benefit from Wi-Fi 6, as the standard offers better efficiency for sharing your bandwidth among many devices.

Compatibility: Similarly, you'll get the most out of Wi-Fi 6 by using Wi-Fi 6-equipped devices, from laptops to smartphones. While the new standard is backwards compatible – it should work with every older Wi-Fi-connected device you already own – some of the features, like improved battery life for connected devices, will only work when both the router and the connected device have Wi-Fi 6 capability. Everything will connect, but the best performance will also require devices that are on the same standard, and that's still slowly proliferating out to various product categories. There are a handful of Wi-Fi 6-ready phones, Samsung is including Wi-Fi 6 in its new 8K TVs and some laptops are offered with the newer standard, but it's still relatively rare. That said, the number of Wi-Fi 6 devices is growing steadily, making a Wi-Fi 6 router the best way to futureproof your home network.

Coverage: The other question is coverage area, or how far and wide your Wi-Fi signal will travel. A basic standalone router is usually sufficient for an apartment or smaller home, with ranges of 50 to 100 feet being common. Larger homes, usually those with 3,000 square feet of space or more, would benefit from a mesh system, which pairs a base unit with satellite extensions that can be placed throughout the house. These extension units stretch the reach of your Wi-Fi signal to cover even the largest of homes, and can be expanded as needed with additional units.

Gaming: One other consideration is gaming. The last thing you want when raiding an enemy base or playing with friends in a battle royale is to be slowed down or interrupted by your network connection. Gaming routers offer all of the capabilities of a standard router, but are optimized specifically for gaming. They reduce interruptions, help eliminate lag time, and usually offer advanced controls for customizing how data is used in your home among different devices.

Price: Finally, the biggest factor in many people's shopping decisions isn't capability or specific features, but price. While Wi-Fi 6 products are still notably more expensive than older standards, there are a handful of budget-friendly options available. Though many Wi-Fi 6 products cost for $300 or more, there are options in both standalone and mesh devices with more affordable prices. While these do offer many of the benefits of Wi-Fi 6, they will often do so with more modest device handling and less impressive coverage. However, a solid Wi-Fi 6 standalone router can be had for under $150, and a mesh system can be found for under $300.

Brian Westover
Brian Westover is an Editor at Tom's Guide, covering everything from TVs to the latest PCs. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.
  • KevinKProf
    I have seen reports from users that the TP-Link routers require a $5/month subscription to access their features. This is a big omission from your review. Can you confirm?
    Reply
  • fxv300
    Has anyone purchased or reviewed the Archer AX10 AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 Router or the Archer AX50 AX3000 Dual Band Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 Router ?
    How do they compare against the Netgear RAX20 ?
    Reply
  • mwerneburg
    Hi. After reading this, I bought a Netgear RAX4 Wifi 6 router. It was a disaster. Like so many commenters on the manufacturer's product page, I experienced constant problems with the router: not all of my family members could connect in the first place, and then the router would drop all connections 1-3 times a day. I couldn't reliably use the suggested "Nighthawk" app to connect to the router to administer it. I eventually got through a firmware upgrade using my son's iPhone (one of two identical phones, it was the only one in the home that could connect) and that did nothing. Just a lousy product.
    Reply
  • rlevs
    fxv300 said:
    Has anyone purchased or reviewed the Archer AX10 AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 Router or the Archer AX50 AX3000 Dual Band Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 Router ?
    How do they compare against the Netgear RAX20 ?
    I just purchased the AX50 AX3000, but I’m sending it back, because as another reviewer stated there’s a $5 per MONTH fee to use an app that controls some key functions like QoS, among others. Absolutely ridiculous that a: they are pulling that crap and b; Toms Guide review didn’t mention it. Take it off your list
    Reply
  • El Pato Grande
    I purchased the ASUS ZenWifi AX system, based in no small part to past good experience with other ASUS products and the great reviews of this product.

    Big Mistake! The System is entirely unreliable, with numerous problems, the most significant being the system crashing every 2 to 4 hours and rebooting. Unlike the past ASUS support has degraded to the point where they are no help at all.

    Being a past ROG customer for pretty much everything from ROG Motherboards and laptops to Monitors, their support is nothing like it used to be.

    Their suggested troubleshooting was nothing more than help a NOOB would require. It didn't solve any issues.

    Numerous "Reset to Factory Defaults" didn't solve the problem. I did manage to solve a few of the issues but swapping the nodes since they're symmetrical, making the former master node the remote and vice versa.

    Following the support folks advice was worthless, got me nowhere in spite of frequent sending diagnostic info. An analysis of the syslog didn't show any error messages prior to a crash.

    Eventually, I did another factory reset and went with totally default settings. That was stable but didn't meet my requirements. I let that run for a day or so before turning on IPv6 (in "Native" mode, again ASUS provided no help with this setting and their documentation on and in their "manual" was zero help). That also ran for over a day with no problems.

    I next turned on AiProtection, one of the major router features. running with the settings recommended by that feature except for UPnP (I left it on), which I need for my network. 4 hours later, the crashes resumed.

    So I contacted the ASUS office of the CEO and they promised to do a Manufacturer's Return and send me a check. I'm now waiting for their RMA instructions.

    With these flaws (and others) the system is of little use to me. I would warn anyone with a fast and complex network away from this product.

    I need a system that Allows for a large number of devices with high speed connections.

    I'm still looking at my options after I return this system. The lead candidate for me at this time is the AmpliFi™ Alien system. Reviews on this are sparse, but I've had much better luck with Ubiquiti products in the past as they're generally commercial grade instead of consumer grade. Runner ups are the Netgear Orbi and Linksys Velop systems.

    I'm quite disappointed that the Ubiquiti system wasn't included in this review.

    Background: I have 1 GB Internet (Comcast), 1 GB Ethernet connecting the nodes and 14 of my over 50 devices. The rest are on Wifi with many IoT devices.

    I also stream up to 2, 4K UHD streams simultaneously to 2 TVs, 3 Computers, 2 Amazon Echo Shows. I have 6 other Echo devices, Nest Thermostat, 3 Nest Protect Smoke/CO2 Alarms, plus a bunch of other IoT gadgets.

    While my home isn't large, it has robust walls and even a 2.4 Ghz signal has trouble in my home. The big chimney in the center of the home doesn't help. I have Ethernet spanning the length of the home but no Ethernet in the middle as my home office is at one end of the house and the Media room where the Comcast termination and equipment rack is at the other end.
    My plan is to put in a 3 node system with the base node in the Media Room and ethernet connected satellites in the Office and Living room (it's on the other side of the chimney and I can reach it with an new Ethernet cable without too much trouble.
    Reply
  • mwerneburg
    El Pato Grande said:
    I purchased the ASUS ZenWifi AX system, based in no small part to past good experience with other ASUS products and the great reviews of this product.

    Big Mistake! The System is entirely unreliable, with numerous problems, the most significant being the system crashing every 2 to 4 hours and rebooting. Unlike the past ASUS support has degraded to the point where they are no help at all.

    I don't know what's happened at Asus but the company that built a reputation on motherboards appears to be long gone. The Asus Wifi router I bought about 3-4 years ago systematically degraded to the point where I could no longer connect as a Wifi client or get the admin interface to function properly. And the Asus laptop I bought for my wife started developing cracks in its lid hinges about 18 months after I bought it. Asus used to be a go-to name but now it's a hazard.
    Reply
  • andreacanzi
    KevinKProf said:
    I have seen reports from users that the TP-Link routers require a $5/month subscription to access their features. This is a big omission from your review. Can you confirm?

    looking at www. tp-link. com / us / homecare / it seems that it is a free service for "Lifetime of Product" they say:
    *Free lifetime subscription to TP-Link HomeCare™ is included with purchase on select TP-Link routers at no additional cost. “Lifetime Subscription” refers solely to the life of the purchased device and can not be transferred. TP-Link reserves the right to modify the service and feature at any time.

    deco and ax series are supported.
    Reply