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.
Latest News and Updates (September 2018)
- TP-Link has joined the game! The company’s first gaming router, the TP-Link Archer C5400X, is a tri-band powerhouse with 8 positionable antennas and a massive 5400 Mbps of throughput. Throw in a a 1.8-GHz 64-bit quad-core CPU helped by three co-processors and 1 GB RAM, along with 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports, and it’s clear the TP-Link is playing to win.
- Netgear brings Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to your mesh routers with the new Orbi Voice, which combines an Orbi mesh satellite with Alexa technology and room-filling Harman-Kardon sound, letting you control your router and smart home with your voice. The Orbi Voice features the same tri-band Wi-Fi and Fastlane3 technology that makes the Orbi our top pick for mesh systems. Hitting stores this October, the Orbi Voice will sell as either a standalone unit to add to an Orbi Mesh network ($299.99) or included in a bundle package with the Orbi Tri-Band WiFi Router ($429.99).
- TP-Link has announced the Archer C2700, it's new lightining fast router that features an Intel Home Wi-Fi chipset and AC2600 dual-band Wi-Fi. TP-Link is packing in the features, with MU-MIMO, Airtime Fairness, Beam-Forming, L2TP VPN, Band Steering and Link Aggregation, as well as compatibility with Alexa and IFTTT for all your smart home needs. The TP-Link Archer C2700 will be available later this year for $169.99.
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 Evaluated
We tested all routers in our office using IxChariot to measure throughput at distances from 5 feet to 140 feet. (In some tests, the latter distance was 150 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.
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