Best Wi-Fi Routers 2018

Product Use case Rating
TP-Link Archer C2300 Best Overall 4.5
Netgear R6220 Best Value 4
TP-Link Archer C5400X Best for Gaming 4.5
Netgear Orbi Best Mesh Router System 4
Linksys EA8300 Max Stream Best for Power Users 4
AmpliFi HD Best for a Large Home 4

Based on our in-depth testing and reviews of more than 15 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.

Holiday Router Deals

Updated Dec. 11 - Your internet can be better, and the holidays are a great time to upgrade for less. Get better speeds and wider coverage with a new router or mesh system, and save some money while you do it with these holiday deals.

Latest News and Updates (December 2018)

  • There's a new king in gaming routers. The TP-Link Archer C5400X looks wicked, and backs it up with killer speeds, great range and built-in security.
  • Older routers are under attack from criminals using NSA-spawned malware. Find out what you can do to protect yourself.
  • Our mesh networking favorite, the Netgear Orbi, just got an Alexa-powered boost in the Netgear Orbi Voice. It's the first router we've seen with Amazon's voice assistant built in, and we have to say we're impressed.

Types of Routers: Standalone and Mesh

Routers that support the latest wireless standard, called 802.11ac, help alleviate traffic issues by providing more than four times the throughput of 802.11n hardware. Plus, by using a more efficient process, newer routers can help save battery life on your mobile devices. But not all 802.11ac routers are created equal.

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 ($400) is currently our favorite mesh-router system, although rival mesh systems, including the Eero, the Amped Wireless Ally Plus and Google Wifi have their merits. 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. 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.

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.

Here are our top Wi-Fi router picks across several categories.

Related Buying Guides:
Best Modems
Best Wi-Fi Extenders
Best Wireless Printers


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  • Mark Spoonauer
  • frawenz
    I am not sure at all what to buy for a 3,800 sqft really old home with plaster in the walls. We will be renting three guest rooms that will all need access to good wifi and a separate password. I need very fast (preferably wired) and reliable internet for work that doesn't slow down when guests use the internet. I would really appreciate a recommendation with approx. pricing. However, a good system is a higher priority to price.
  • avtella
    The Qualcomm CPU/WiFi chipset based Netgear R7800 has the best 5Ghz range/performance of any consumer router I have tested (am a beta tester) and a pretty good 2.4Ghz performance as well. Better than any on that list to be honest. If you want in depth reviews look at small netbuilder and CNET has some simpler reviews too but the R7800 in pretty much most sites, tops other routers in 5GHz performance and range. VPN performance is also better than the Linksys units as it has more powerful/newer gen CPU. Also its the only one with a properly working MU-MIMO implementation. The R7800 actually is more powerful CPU and WiFi chipset wise than the R8500, only advantage the R8500 has is the extra 5Ghz band which I don't think will help you that much and will definitely not increase range by any means. The Synology RT2600AC also uses the same hardware as the R7800 and is also a good alternative.

    Broadcom based routers from Netgear/Linksys (Marvell based units as well)/Asus can cause performance degradation with MU enabled, as Broadcom's implementation sucks. The Asus 86U is also close to the R7800 WiFi wise but its Broadcom based, though using an improved WIFi chip compared to older Broadcom units. FYI compared to the 88U (similar to R8500) the 86U is actually more powerful and using newer gen hardware, only reason the 88U is higher priced is due to extra lan ports.
  • frawenz
    Thank you avtella, really appreciate it!!!
  • robo21
    I would avoid Netgear like the plague, I have had the worst support experiences with them. 90 days tech support, lousy warranty and their technical support staff lies trying to sell extended support packages. They actually told me that I needed to upgrade my Internet Service File for $99.95. What a crock!
  • r.s.lynn
    I want to buy a new wifi router that has the functionality to allow geographically distant family to download selected photos and videos from a USB-attached external hard drive. It would be convenient for me to know which wifi routers have US-based tech support. ASUS does not have, at least not at level 1, native English speakers, and the ones I spoke with had poor English skills.
  • dnrcohen
    I have a backhouse that is about 75 feet away from the main house. We will be connecting a desktop (in the backhouse) , a laptop and a phone line (although none will probably be used at the same time. Which router would you recommend. Thanks!!
  • ljctx49
    ATT is installing the BGW 210-700 Modem/Router as their latest unit.
    Questions:
    1 - ATT sells the AirTies 4920 as a match to establish a whole house mesh network. Any experience?
    2 - What is the average range of the BGW?
    3 - Why should I buy another router and bridge the BGW for $XXX AND added complexity?
  • captjackny
    How about a review of the Edimax routers? Model 6208 V2 is under $50 and has a lot of features such as 802.11ac.
  • pat.mccarthy07604
    How about the Norton router. Norton touts it as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Would like your opinion.