Have you ever tried to show a friend a sick video on YouTube, only to have the action be interrupted by that dreaded buffering icon? Well, if this happens to you regularly, it might be time to go out and buy one of the best routers. No one wants to deal with that awkward situation.
However, the first thing many people do when faced with this common internet problem is just throw more money at their internet service provider to upgrade their internet service. But, even if you have all the bandwidth in the world, there are certain wireless issues that will persist. Plus, with all the devices that need a constant internet connection these days, the best thing you can do to improve your network performance is buying one of the best wireless routers. And, we here at TechRadar created this list to help you do exactly that.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you look through an online retailer for the best wireless routers is there are dozens of routers from a wide variety of manufacturers. For anyone who is just looking for a way to improve their network, it can really be a lot to take in. Luckily, we here on the TechRadar editorial team have put together this list of the best routers that we’ve had the chance to test or review throughout the last year or so. So, you can be confident that, no matter what you need to do with your network, you’ll find the best routers you can buy today right here on this list.
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. Linksys WRT32X Gaming Router
A gaming router with the performance to back it up
Speed: : AC3200 | Connectivity: : 1 x Gigabit WAN, 4 x Gigabit LAN, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x eSATA/USB 2.0 | Features: : Killer Prioritization Engine, Customized Firmware, 1.8GHZ Dual-Core CPU, MU-MIMO
On the surface, the Linksys WRT32X might not look that different than Linksys’ heavy-hitter, the WRT3200. And, well, that’s not actually that far off. The WRT32X takes all of the successful components of that highly rated router, and puts them in a gamer-centric router with a custom firmware that’s extremely easy to navigate and a very subdued and attractive visual design. You will be paying a premium for this repackaging, but if you’re looking for reliable ping performance that online gaming requires, the Linksys WRT32X takes one of the best routers and tailors it to your needs.
Read the full review: Linksys WRT32X Gaming Router
5. 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.
6. 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 .
7. 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.
8. 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 .
9. 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
10. 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
Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article
- We’ve also picked out the best best wi-fi extenders of 2017