If you’ve ever tried to show some friends an awesome video on YouTube, only to have that dreaded buffering icon show up and kill the party, it might be time to upgrade to one of the best routers. You shouldn’t ever have to deal with that awkward situation.
You might be tempted to just fork over the cash to upgrade your internet service, but that extra bandwidth might not solve the issue. The first thing you should consider when trying to remedy a weak network is picking up one of the best wireless routers in 2018.
The first thing that’ll happen when you search for ‘wireless routers’ on Amazon, however, is that dozens of devices from different manufacturers will flood your screen. It can genuinely be a pain to pick out the best one for your needs. Fortunately, the TechRadar editorial team has put together this list of the best routers that we have tested and/or reviewed throughout the past year. So, no matter what it is you need out of your router, sit back, relax and check out the best routers you can buy in 2018.
1. Google Wifi
The future of wireless networking gets affordable
Speed: 802.11ac 5GHz down: 101.41 Mbps, 2.4GHz down: 47.53 Mbps | Connectivity: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports per Wifi point (1 WAN and 1 LAN port each) | Features: AC1200 2 x 2 Wave 2 Wi-Fi, TX beamforming, Bluetooth Smart ready
With Google Wifi, you can finally say goodbye to the days when the only way to achieve true wireless freedom throughout the house was with a bunch of outlet-bound range extenders. It’s become clear that Google Wifi, and systems like it, truly are the future of wireless routers. The premise of Google Wifi is simple – you buy a set of points and place them around your house. Then all you have to do is scan a QR code, and voilà! They’re all set up.
Read the full review: Google Wifi
2. Asus RT-AC86U
Performance as loud as the design
Speed: : 802.11ac 1734 Mbps down | Connectivity: : 5 x Gigabit LAN, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0 | Features: : MU-MIMO, Traffic Analyzer, Adaptive QoS WTFast Gamers Private Network
Anyone who’s familiar with Asus, and especially its more gamer-centric products knows exactly what they’re getting themselves into here – especially regarding design. The Asus RT-AC86U looks like the result of a Mountain Dew-fueled deal with the devil, and it will certainly stand out wherever you put it. Underneath that garish design forever, is hardware that, for its price, wholly stands up against its competition. You won’t be paying a premium here for the ‘gaming hardware’ and, if you’re looking for a fast router at a good price, you can’t really go wrong here.
Read the full review: Asus RT-AC86U
3. Netgear Orbi
Wireless coverage that’s high-end, almost to a fault
Speed: 802.11ac 5GHz down: 90.14 Mbps, 2.4GHz down: 93.69 Mbps | Connectivity: 4 x 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet ports (1 WAN + 3 LAN for Router, 4 LAN for Satellite), 1 x USB 2.0 port | Features: 4GB flash memory, 512MB RAM, AC3000, MU-MIMO ready
Unlike Google Wi-Fi, the Netgear Orbi wireless mesh system ships with two units rather than three: a router and a satellite, much like a cell phone signal booster. It’s expensive, but once you get past the price, you’ll see that the price tag is justified. Its simple setup, requiring little more than being plugged into a modem and a spare wall adaptor, makes the Orbi accessible to say the least. Add that to its stately performance and you’ll see why we love it so much.
Read full review: Netgear Orbi
4. Billion BiPac 8900AX-2400
A highfalutin router that doubles as a modem
Speed: 802.11ac: 2,400Mbps 802.11n: 2,400Mbps | Connectivity: 1 x DSL port, 4 x 1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 x EWAN Ethernet port, 1 x USB 2.0 | Features: Built-in ADSL2+ modem, 1 x 2.4GHz; 1 x 5Ghz bands, LED status lights, reset button, power button
Billion is back at it again, this time with the fastest router it’s ever produced. Exhibiting a throughput of 2,400Mbps over both a 2.4GHz and 5GHz band, the BiPac 8900AX-2400 isn’t conventionally attractive by society’s standards, but it is immensely capable. In lieu of a shabby interface, this router dons a wide range of ports for added storage down the line in addition to integrating a state of the art ADSL2+ modem.
5. Starry Station
Wi-Fi made easy (and attractive)
Speed: 802.11ac: 1,300Mbps 802.11n: 450Mbps | Connectivity: 2 x Gigabit LAN port | Features: Dual-band Wi-Fi technology, 3.8-inch LCD touchscreen, embedded speaker/microphone
For those of us clinging to (presumably leased) routers supplied to us by our ISPs, the Starry Station makes Wi-Fi easier without handing over your clean money month after month to a greedy conglomerate. Not only is it fast, bearing download speeds that are typically around the same as a Verizon FiOS stock router, but the Starry Station is stylish enough where you won’t have to tuck it away in a cabinet that will inevitably obstruct its signal. What’s more, it manages to avert those pesky numerical gateways that no one wants to memorize.
Read the full review: Starry Station
- This product is only available in the US as of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the .
6. Synology RT2600ac
NAS or router – why don’t we have both?
Speed: 802.11ac: 1,733Mbps 802.11n: 800Mbps | Connectivity: 4 x Gigabit WAN, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x SD card reader | Features: 512MB RAM, 1.7GHz dual-core ARM Qualcomm IPQ8065 processor, MU-MIMO, beam-forming, 4GB flash storage
It’s not everyday you encounter a router that doubles as an NAS, or network-attached storage device – a type of server box that allows you to store and access files over your local internet connection. The Synology RT2600ac, on the other hand, combines the best of both worlds, going as far as to deliver third-party applications such as VPNs and DLNA media servers. There’s even Apple Time Machine support for over-the-air Mac backups.
7. Linksys WRT 3200 ACM
Kickin’ it old school (and open-source)
Speed: 802.11ac: 3x 867 Mbps, 802.11n: 600 Mbps | Connectivity: 4x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x USB 3.0, 1 x ESATA/USB 2.0 | Features: Tri-Stream 160, 1.8GHz dual core CPU, 512MB RAM, 256MB flash memory
The antithesis to wireless mesh systems, the Linksys WRT 3200 ACM doesn’t boast a particularly flashy design. However, by compromising in the looks department, Linksys was able to pull off a versatile wireless router aimed at traditional PC enthusiasts. Giving you boundless control over your wireless network connections, whether you want to toggle on and off guest connections or prioritize media devices, the WRT 3200 ACM has you covered.
Read the full review: Linksys WRT 3200 ACM
- This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the .
8. Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600
An extraterrestrial gaming router that covers all bases
Speed: 802.11ac: 2,167Mbps, 802.11n: 800Mbps | Connectivity: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x WAN, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0 | Features: MU-MIMO support, StreamBoost, dual-core 1.7GHz processor, 512GB RAM, Zyxel One Touch app-based setup
Known for its NAS devices, extenders and powerline adaptors, it’s a wonder Zyxel would ever come out with a dual-band gaming router. Yet, although it’s not nearly as extravagant (or spider-like) in its outward appearances as the Asus RT-5300, the Armor Z2 AC2600 is a solid gaming router debut from Zyxel. Toting Dynamic QoS, otherwise referred to as StreamBoost, for the prioritization of more demanding connected hardware, a configuration app called Zyxel One Touch and MU-MIMO support, this router’s lofty price tag is damn near justified.
Read the full review: Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Synology RT2600ac
9. Linksys Velop
Layman’s mesh Wi-Fi comes at a cost
Speed: 117.46 Mbps single node, short range; 74 Mbps two nodes, far range | Connectivity: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet per unit (1 WAN and 1 LAN each) | Features: App-based setup; dual-stream (2x2), 802.11ac networking; 716MHz quad-core ARM Cortex A7 processor, beamforming
Like Google Wifi and Netgear Orbi, Linksys is fighting the good fight to keep wireless routers simple. Although it costs a bit more to use than those aforementioned mesh systems, the Linksys Velop is easily configured in about five minutes, thanks to the companion app you can get via either the App Store or Google Play. It cuts out the middleman, i.e. Wi-Fi extenders, in favor of a seamless wireless internet that will cover the whole house without requiring you – the user – to constantly switch networks as you enter another room.
Read the full review: Linksys Velop
10. Asus RT-AC88U
4x4 and 1024-QAM deliver the best possible wireless performance
Speed: 802.11ac: 2167Mbps 802.11n: 1000 Mbps | Connectivity: 9x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x USB 2.0 1x USB 3.0 | Features: 1024-QAM, MU-MIMO, WTFast Gamers Private Network, Asus AiProtection, AsusWRT Software
You might recognize the name from its ROG gaming hardware, but what you may not be aware of is that Asus has shaken up wireless networking as we know it with an evidently rigorous array of hardy wireless routers. The RT-AC88U is no exception. Outfitted with the top-of-the-line 802.11ac spec, Asus’s quad-antenna, whale of a router is made better only by its inclusion of NitroQAM technology, which is designed to allow for 4K video streaming and online gaming to take place simultaneously under the same roof.
Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article
- We’ve also picked out the best best wi-fi extenders of 2017