Based on our in-depth testing and reviews of more than 20 routers, the TP-Link Archer C2300 ($145) is the best overall choice, thanks to its category-leading throughput and extensive feature set. 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.
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. According to market research firm IDC, the average home has more than eight connected devices. Make sure your home network can handle today's networking needs by getting up to speed on the latest wireless routers.
Latest News and Updates (April 2019)
- The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is the first Wi-Fi 6 router we've reviewed, and the results are promising: Killer gaming performance, great coverage and tri-band operations that can be customized through Asus' robust software tools.
- Netgear's got the first affordable Wi-Fi 6 router, with the upcoming Nighthawk AX4. This inexpensive router offers all the speeds and multitasking capability of AX wireless, but it sells for just $199.
- Time to update your router's firmware. The TP-Link SR20 has a flaw that needs fixing and a cybercrime group is targeting D-Link routers.
Our Favorite Routers
Here are our top Wi-Fi router picks across several categories.
Types of Routers: Standalone and Mesh
While today's routers offer better speeds and wider wireless coverage than any previous generation, they do still have their limitations. Standalone routers can offer wide coverage, but as a single device, there's only so much that a standard router can do to eliminate dead spots in your home. And even the best router will struggle to provide the same quality of Wi-Fi on different floors of a multistory home. For these instances, we recommend a mesh router.
A new type of router uses mesh networking, in which a router uses relay points to extend a wireless network throughout your home. The Netgear Orbi ($312) is our favorite overall, but with reviews of more than a dozen different mesh systems, there are plenty of options to choose from. Check them all out in our roundup of the best mesh routers. From budget-friendly options to flexible add-ons that add mesh capability to an existing router, there's a lot more to mesh routers than our favorite system.
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. You may also want to check out our recommendations of cable modems and Wi-Fi extenders.
How Much Do Routers Cost?
Current 802.11ac routers often sell for under $100 for basic, dual-band models. Many models will sell for more, but deliver better coverage, and range up to $300. You can also buy mesh routers for whole-house coverage, security routers that protect your network, and gaming routers that deliver performance optimized for online gaming, but all of these options come at a premium. New routers using the Wi-Fi 6 standard (previously known as 802.11ax) sell for $400 or more.
How We Test Routers
We test every router we review to get an accurate measurement of performance, but also to get a clearer picture of how a given router will perform in various environments. To start, we test all routers in our Utah testing facility using Ixia's IxChariot to measure throughput at distances from 5 feet to 150 feet. These distance-based tests measure both throughput and range, telling us not only how much data a router can move, but how well it does at 5, 50, 75 and 150 feet. If you want the best performance in a large, spread-out home, you'll want a router that does well over longer distances. If you're in a smaller apartment, short-range performance will be your priority.
We also test how well each router does at transmitting and receiving through various materials – drywall, brick, concrete, and even metal. You may not be able to change the building you're in, but you can select a router that provides strong signal even through Wi-Fi dampening barriers. Testing is also performed on more than one floor of the building, since two- and three-story homes have their own unique Wi-Fi needs.
For mesh routers, we perform additional testing to determine how well the mesh system does sending signal through both the main router and through a satellite unit. We also test to see how consistently a pair of mesh units will cover a large area, taking dozens of measurements throughout our lab space and producing detailed heat maps of signal strength and quality.
Finally, we send each router out of the lab to our reviewer's home, to measure real-world performance. These anecdotal tests are performed 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.
|Related Buying Guides:|
|Best Wi-Fi Extenders|
|Best Wireless Printers|