If you’re shopping for a new wireless router, don’t be intimidated by all the technical jargon. For the average person, most of those specs won’t be all that relevant. Most likely, you just want to know which router is right for your particular set of wifi circumstances. Are you a gamer? Are you a streamer? Do you live in a big house or a cramped apartment? What’s your budget?
Best Overall, Best for Larger Homes: Linksys AC1900 Dual Band Router
If you live in a large, multi-story home, you likely have several people – and even more devices – fighting over the WiFi connection. The Linksys AC1900 Dual Band Wireless Router is perfect for households with high WiFi traffic, letting you connect 12 or more devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, game consoles and virtual assistants (we're looking at you, Alexa!). And the router’s Beamforming technology means it focuses its signal towards those devices, rather than just sending out a blanket signal, resulting in a stronger connection for everyone.
Best for Streaming: Netgear AC1750 Smart Router
Nothing ruins a binge watching marathon like a stream that won’t stop buffering. Well, the Netgear AC1750 Smart WiFi Router has come to your rescue. It features 450+1300 Mbps speeds and high-power external antennas for improved coverage. It has one USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 port and it has the best wireless security with WPA/WPA2. It even has separate and secure guest network access.
Best for Complete Home Coverage: Netgear Orbi
It’s a pain point homeowners across the world are all too familiar with: How do you fill up every inch of your home with a solid WiFi signal? Fortunately, the time has come to put this problem to rest thanks to the introduction of Netgear’s Orbi. It’s pricey, starting at $399, but the cost belies the satisfaction you’ll receive walking around your entire home with a strong signal. The price includes two devices, a router that’s plugged into your Internet modem and an identical satellite device setup elsewhere in the home to extend the signal throughout your house. If it sounds familiar, Netgear wasn’t the first to try mesh networking but they have a secret weapon: a tri-band system that not only extends the signal, but maintains its performance by optimizing the signal with your home ISP as well.
Best Under $50: TP-Link AC1200
TP-Link claims the 1200's Signal Sustain Technology (SST) can help provide a stronger WiFi signal while handling multiple high-bandwidth applications. And it can easily be found for less than $50. If you’re looking for a budget router, 867Mbps is more than enough for most needs—and more than you’ll ever find in the sub-$50 price range. And the system is future-proofed with 802.11ac WiFi technology.
Best for Small Apartments: ASUS RT-ACRH13 Dual-Band AC1300
When you live in a small apartment rather than a big house, there’s no need to splurge on a big router. The ASUS RT-ACRH13 fits the bill perfectly because it comes in under $65. It has four external 5dBi antennas that ensure you get good range throughout your apartment and can use multiple devices (smartphones, computers, etc.) at the same time. It can handle combined speeds of up to 1267 Mbps, so no matter what kind of downloads or uploads you throw at it, it can probably manage.