The Best Wireless Router
Whether you’re dealing with slow speeds or WiFi dead zones, a new router can improve your internet experience. We spoke with networking experts and WiFi geeks to get to the root of what matters. Our top picks come with the latest protocols and recommended frequencies, have been independently tested for speed and range, and boast a great track record with consumers.
If you’ve got a lot of people or a lot of devices, you’ll like this feature-heavy option with parental controls.
TP-LINK - Archer C7 AC1750
An affordable and reliable option for surprisingly fast speeds.
If you’re not getting enough reach from routers, this mesh network is the best way to blanket your large home with connection.
A powerhouse for extreme speeds with limitless customization options.
The Best Wireless Router
A lot of things factor into your home network performance: the speeds in your internet plan, your home’s layout, the number of devices connected and the way they’re being used, and regional internet traffic. Routers range from budget $20 picks to $400 powerhouses. While top-of-the-line is always appealing, an expensive router is overkill for the majority of users and you may not need the features that make it worth that price tag. We found routers with the latest protocols and recommended frequencies, verified independent testing, and a great track record for working for the majority people.
If you’re just looking to optimize your internet speed, but aren’t interested in messing around with features, the TP-LINK - Archer C7 AC1750, delivers solid performance at an affordable price ($90). The Archer is speedier than others in its price range, and if you don’t need anything more than quicker internet, this router should solve your connectivity issues and save you money. Unlike most rented routers, the Archer C7 has two frequency bands so you can hop onto a less crowded channel and get an instant speed boost. However, the Archer will struggle with 10+ devices connected and can’t direct signal to specific devices, so households with several people actively using the internet will want to consider a step up.
If you have a large and/or multi-story home with and are looking to support several devices across a larger space, we recommend the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 ($180). It’s designed to host a larger number of devices while maintaining high speeds -- perfect for the family with more than a few connected gadgets. If you’re interested in toggling more advanced features, like beamforming (directing signal to devices) and Quality of Service (designating priority to specific apps), the Nighthawk comes with a Genie app for accessible customization. This router also comes with a separate Disney-sponsored app for Parental Controls, making it easy to set boundaries on surfing during homework time and late night sneaky streaming.
If a powerful router just isn’t covering dead spots in your sprawling home, a mesh system may be for you. It’s basically a fleet of mini routers that ping internet signals and data packages around your home for more blanket coverage. The Google Wifi AC1200 System ($274) is our favorite as it’s more affordable and accessible than others on the market. Google WiFi’s interface offers modified advanced features, like Parental Controls and Quality of Service, that are easy for beginners to utilize. On the other hand, that can be limiting if you’re used to taking advantage of advanced tinkering.
For those looking to hack their routers to host a VPN (virtual private network - a layer of privacy to prevent your data being sold to advertisers) or enable MU-MIMO (to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously), the Asus AC88U ($270) is a powerhouse. It has a built in game accelerator that will prioritize data from online games to prevent any lag or buffering. It has 8 ports, ideal for connecting printers, home automation, or external storage devices. It’s overkill for the average user, especially if you aren’t willing to fiddle with the features, but if you need internet connection with no lag and you like to control your network, this is your mothership.
How We Found the Best Wireless Router
There are a lot of wireless routers out there -- we’re talking 10,000+ -- and in truth, there’s no perfect one. Router performance is going to depend on your home’s design, your internet usage, and your internet provider. The internet you pay for from an internet service provider (ISP), like Comcast, will have an effect on your internet’s performance — if you only pay for 30 Mbps, you won’t get a single Mb more than that. If you’re using the same router your ISP has rented to all your neighbors, there will be some spatial traffic that can slow your internet down too.
Most ISPs will do what they can to encourage you to rent their equipment, usually a two-in-one modem/router machine. If you’ve decided to purchase your own modem too (not required for purchasing your own router), you’ll want to check that it’s compatible with your internet service, because the modem is the direct liaison between them and your internet. Beyond that, router compatibility shouldn’t be an issue as it’s communicating with your modem.
When it comes to the design of your home, the bigger and denser-walled your house, the more difficult it is for your wireless router to send signals to devices. According to home networking consultant Ryan Hunt, “Anytime the WiFi has to get around obstacles, like walls and furniture, you’ll see a speed reduction on your device.” The internet bandwidth will also get crowded and slow down as it connects to more devices. If you’re streaming House of Cards in the living room, the kids are upstairs playing Overwatch, and grandma is browsing QVC online, your internet network may get overloaded and inevitably slow down. So how do you figure out which router is going to solve those problems? Whitson Gordon, editor in chief at How-To Geek, recommends keeping it simple: go for a trusted brand and pick the most affordable option that will meet your needs.
So we looked at 156 wireless routers from reliable brands like Netgear, TP-Link, Google, ASUS, Linksys, and D-Link, which dominate the market. There are a few other brands to be found, like Buffalo Technology and TrendNet, but they simply don’t hold up in user reviews. Some of the products we looked at are wireless mesh networks, a newer kind of router system ideal for large homes with areas the internet can’t reach. A mesh network is a group of little pods, usually two or three, that ping signals off each other to bounce the network further. Like how news travels fast when people talk to each other, these little nodes spread their signal faster by passing it from one to the next rather than the signal “shouting out” from the router and hoping your device at the other end of the house can hear it.
We focused on must-haves: the latest protocol, dual frequencies, and security.
We broke router features down into two categories: basics that every router should have, and advanced options for power users (that most people don’t need).
- 802.11ac: The latest network standard, or protocol, that dictates how your device communicates with your network (modified for efficiency with each new version). The latest is 802.11ac (often referred to as simply AC) and it’s essential for faster internet.
- Dual-band frequency: Frequency bands are similar to radio waves, and the most common one, 2.4 GHz is really crowded. Most cheap (~$20) and rented routers will run on this frequency. Not only are all your neighbors using it, but so is your microwave. A router with dual bands allows you to switch to the less crowded 5GHz frequency (like switching channels on a walkie-talkie) giving you faster internet speeds.
- Security: WiFi security enables you to password-protect your wireless connection, preventing unauthorized access to your devices. Without password security, anyone could hop onto your WiFi and weasel into online devices. The current security type is WPA/WPA2 (WiFi Protected Access) -- it’s pretty standard in routers, but that doesn’t negate its importance.
Apple – AirPort Extreme, Asus N12_D1, Asus N66R, D-Link Wireless N300 Cloud Router, D-Link Wireless N Gigabit Router, Linksys E2500 N600 wireless router, Linksys EA2700 N600 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys EA2750 N600 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys EA3500 N750 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys EA4500 N900 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys WRT54GL Wireless-G Wi-Fi Router, Netgear AD7000-Nighthawk® X10 Smart WiFi Router, Netgear G54/N150-Wireless Router, Netgear N300-WiFi Router JNR3210, Netgear N300-WiFi Router WNR3500L, Netgear N300-WiFi Router WNR2020, Netgear N300-WiFi Router WNR2000, Netgear N450-WiFi Router WNR2500, Netgear N600-WiFi Router, Netgear N600-WiFi Router, Netgear N750 Dual Band 4 Port Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (WNDR4300), Netgear N900-WiFi Dual Band Gigabit Router — Premium Edition, Portal – Wireless-AC Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, TP-Link TL-WR1043ND, TP-Link TL-WR841ND, TrendNet AC750 Wireless VDSL2/ADSL2+ Modem Router, Ubiquiti-AmpliFi Mesh Wi-Fi System
“Any features beyond [basics] are going to cost you more money, and unless you already know what the feature is and how to use it, chances are you don't need to be spending money on it.”
Advanced features can be expensive, and take work both to setup and optimize. You have to know how to hack them to use them and that’s a little higher-level than your average router upgrade. But for more advanced users, these features may be worth the monetary upcharge.
- Quality of Service (QoS): Allows you to designate apps or devices to get a higher or lower WiFi priority. So when a lot of devices are running a lot of different systems, your WiFi will automatically delegate which gets the best stream — kind of like the carpool lane, but for Netflix or gaming.
- Beamforming: This feature enables the WiFi signal to beam straight to your device, rather than just out into space. This means a stronger signal reaches your device, making your connection faster.
- Ports: All routers come with designated ports to connect your cable modem to a hardware device, but extras can be utilized for connecting home security systems, printers, or personal media servers.
- MU-MIMO (multiple-user, multiple-input, multiple-output): Normally, a router is communicating with just one device at a time, albeit at great speeds. With MU-MIMO, the router can communicate with multiple devices simultaneously — meaning fast just got faster.
- Parental controls: If you’d like to set boundaries on your kids’ internet access, you want a router with parental controls. You can restrict types of online content (e.g. adult content), specific websites, and the hours a device is allowed online.
We relied on independent testing to verify performance claims.
After prioritizing basic features, we were still looking at 129 routers. But could they measure up to their claims? The speed capabilities advertised by all these routers are theoretical maximums in controlled environments, meaning you’re unlikely to consistently experience these speeds at home. You can come close to advertised speeds in the real world if you’re plugging your computer into your router directly, but that entirely defeats the purpose of WiFi. In reality, you’ll probably received speeds around half of the theoretical cap. The best way to know how a router will perform (wirelessly) beyond the marketed stats is to test its speeds in various simulated situations (e.g. next to the router, 30 feet away, 100 feet away).
Since we don’t have the setup for rigorous speed testing for even a fraction of our list, we looked for independent testing to verify performance claims. We looked to trusted sources like PCMag, CNET, Tom’s Guide, Small Net Builder, PC World, and Consumer Reports that have all collected data on the performance of many of our routers. They all conduct performance tests, typically using independent network performance software, like JPerf or IxChariot, that simulate internet usage and track how fast and reliably your network performs with each router. By running these kinds of software at different distances (for example, when you’re a few rooms away from your router), it’s possible to get an idea of how well the router will perform for you in everyday use.
The throughput (speed) is measured as it sends data from the device to the router, and you can expect that to happen fastest when you’re in the same room. This speed is measured in megabites per second (Mbps), and the higher Mbps a router achieves, the more quickly it can communicate a larger amount of data with a higher number of devices. On the other end of the spectrum, anything below about 50 Mbps performed poorly, and resulted in some buffered streaming and delayed webpage loading when connecting with more than one device. Other routers that performed poorly in these tests simply couldn’t maintain sufficient speeds when farther away from devices (50-100 feet). In use, that probably means taking your laptop or phone a floor or two away from the router equals a significant drop in internet speed. The best routers maintained a usable speed at any distance and could handle more than a few devices at a time. Without third-party testing we can't reliably compare different routers or speak to how these routers will actually perform in your home, so while there may be some high-performers in our cut list from this round, we couldn't include them in our review.
ARRIS SBR-AC1900P, ARRIS SBR-AC3200P, ARRIS SURFboard Wireless AC-1750 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router with DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem, Asus AC1200, Asus AC1200 (RT-AC55U) wireless router, Asus AC1750, Asus AC1900, Asus AC3100, Asus AC3200, Asus AC53, Asus AC66R, Asus AC66U-B1, Asus AC86U, Asus AC87U, Asus ACRH13, D-Link – Covr AC3900 Dual-Band Whole Home Wi-Fi System, D-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Router DIR-822, D-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Router DIR-842, D-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi Router, D-Link AC1900 (DIR-880L) wireless router, D-Link AC1900 EXO Wi-Fi Router DIR-879, D-Link AC3150 Ultra Wi-Fi Router, D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router, Google Asus OnHub (SRT-AC1900) wireless router, Google WiFi Router – OnHub AC1900, Linksys – Wireless-AC1750 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys CG7500 AC1900 Dual-Band Modem Wi-Fi Router, Linksys EA6200 AC900 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys EA6300 AC1200 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys EA6400 AC1600 Dual-Band Smart Wi-Fi Router, Linksys EA6500 AC1750 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys EA7300 MAX-STREAM™ AC1750 MU-MIMO Gigabit Wi-Fi Router, Linksys EA8300 Max-Stream AC2200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys EA9200 AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream™ AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit Wi-Fi Router, Linksys WRT1200AC AC1200 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys WRT1900AC AC1900 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys WRT3200ACM AC3200 MU-MIMO Gigabit Wi-Fi Router, Linksys-WRT32X AC3200 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Gaming Router with Killer Prioritization Engine, Linksys AC1200 (EA6100), Linksys AC1900 (EA6900), Motorola Dual-Band AC1900 Router with DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem, Motorola N450 Wireless-N Router with DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem, Motorola MG7310, Motorola MG7540, Netgear AC1200 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, Netgear Nighthawk X4S Wireless-AC Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router
Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Tri-Band Quad Stream Wi-Fi Router, Netgear AC1000-WiFi Router, Netgear AC1200-Smart WiFi Router, Netgear AC1200-Smart WiFi Router, Netgear AC1200-WiFi Router, Netgear AC1200-WiFi Router, Netgear AC1450-Smart WiFi Router, Netgear AC1600-Smart WiFi Router, Netgear AC1750-Nighthawk AC1750 Smart WiFi Router, Netgear AC1900-Nighthawk DST Router & DST Adapter, Netgear AC2300-Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router with MU-MIMO, Netgear AC3200-Nighthawk AC3200 Tri-Band WiFi Router, Netgear AC750-WiFi Router, Netgear-NIGHTHAWK® X10, TP-LINK Archer AC2600 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, TP-LINK Archer AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router, TP-LINK Archer C5400 Wireless Tri-Band MU-MIMO Gigabit Router – Black, TP-Link Archer A2300, TP-Link Archer C1200, TP-Link Archer C1900, TP-Link Archer C2, TP-Link Archer C2300, TP-Link Archer C3000, TP-Link Archer C3150, TP-Link Archer C3150 V2, TP-Link Archer C5, TP-Link Archer C59, TP-Link Archer C9, TP-Link Archer CR500, TP-Link Archer CR700, TP-Link TL-WR902AC, TP-Link Touch P5 V1, TrendNet AC1750 Dual Band Wireless Router, TrendNet AC1750 Dual Band Wireless Router with StreamBoost™ Technology, TrendNet AC1900 Dual Band Wireless Router, TrendNet AC3200 Tri Band Wireless Router, TrendNet AC750 Wireless Travel Router
We scoured consumer reviews to find which products work best in people’s homes.
We were left with 27 routers with independently verified performance claims. Since the layout of your home, your internet speed, and even the thickness of your walls can affect a router’s performance, we wanted to find patterns in consumer experiences, too. When that router is in your home, it may not perform at its promised maximum capacity, but those with great reviews have a better chance of solid performance. For the routers that performed well in testing, we looked to real customers who’ve actually been using them in their homes. We dug into user reviews from Amazon and Best Buy and tracked patterns in the reviews that talked about performance and ease of use. Favorites offered reliable performance, boosted speeds, and simple interfaces. Poorly-rated routers had frequent complaints about dropped service and the need for frequent rebooting. We narrowed our list to four highly-rated routers to suit a variety of situations.
ARRIS SBR-AC1200P , Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300, D-Link AC1200 (DIR-850L) wireless router, D-Link AC1900 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Router DIR-878, D-Link AC2600 EXO MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Router, D-Link AC5300 Ultra Wi-Fi Router, eero Home WiFi System (Individual) wireless router, Linksys AC2600 (EA8500) wireless router, Linksys EA6350 AC1200+ Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream™ AC1900 MU-MIMO Gigabit Wi-Fi Router, Linksys EA9300 Max-Stream AC4000 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router, Linksys WRT1900ACS Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router with Ultra-Fast 1.6 GHz CPU, Linksys WRT32X AC3200 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Gaming Router with Killer Prioritization Engine, Netgear AC1750-Smart WiFi Router, Netgear AC1900-Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router, Netgear AC1900-Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router with MU-MIMO, Netgear AC4000-Nighthawk® X6S Tri-Band WiFi Router with MU-MIMO, Netgear-AC1750 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router (R6400), Synology RT2600AC, TP-LINK Archer C50 AC1200 Wireless-AC Dual-Band Router, TP-Link AD7200, TP-Link Archer C8, TrendNet AC2600 StreamBoost™ MU-MIMO WiFi Router
Our Picks for the Best Wireless Router
Best for High Traffic
For bigger homes, faster speeds, and a few more advanced controls— we recommend the NetGear Nighthawk AC1900. The NetGear Nighthawk hits a happy medium between a powerful router and a sophisticated network switchboard. Amazon reviews rave about the speeds they get, even with a high number of devices connected. And an intuitive portal means even novice users are able to take advantage of the advanced features.
CNET found that on the crowded 2.4 Ghz band at 100 feet, the Nighthawk delivered 64 Mbps. That’s a lot better than most routers did at that distance, although admittedly not as impressive as the 102 Mbps that our top pick ASUS AC88U tested at that range. By simply switching to the 5Ghz band, however, CNET found it delivered a whopping 295 Mbps at the same distance. So what does this is all mean? You won’t have to worry about slow speeds unless you’re a major power user (simultaneously streaming on 20+ devices), and if you find it too slow when you’re far from the router -- like, halfway down the block -- just hop onto the 5 GHz frequency.
Complaints on Best Buy and Amazon mention poor technical support from Netgear, so if you’re concerned about setup it's best to purchase from a retailer that offers additional tech support, like Best Buy. But the Nighthawk is simple enough that you’re unlikely to need the support unless your device happens to be a faulty product or the router turns out to be ill-suited for your circumstances. (Think: lots of brick walls, offset rooms, or a neighborhood full of NetGear users.)
The web portal offers simple enough setup, especially with its “Setup Wizard” tool to guide you through the 10 minute install. You will need some tech intuition for the more advanced customizations, like enabling a guest network or metering your internet traffic. We’re not talking coding-level knowledge, more like fiddling with your Myspace HTML. The NetGear Genie App is a convenient option, but not as comprehensive when it comes to customization.
There’s also a separate Disney-sponsored app for parental controls, called Circle with Disney. You can manage content, pause the internet, limit time online, specify destinations, and set a “bedtime”, all for different family profiles. What elevates this from standard parental controls is that these options are all conveniently designated to a separate app (read: portable and user-friendly). You won’t have to open your laptop and log onto your router’s web portal, just to pause internet usage for dinner time.
When it comes to routers capable of powering your whole home at fast speeds, the NetGear Nighthawk does this while offering some next-level features to the novice network user.
If you’re not quite ready to dabble in advanced features, but are looking for seamless streaming or faster browsing, the TP-Link Archer C7 is a simple solution. At $90 it rivals the speeds of routers double its price.
PCMag’s testing revealed the Archer C7 delivered speeds higher than most other routers in its price range, and even rivalled power picks, like the ASUS AC88U. On the more crowded 2.4GHz frequency, and 30 feet from the router, the speeds still tested at 62.8 Mbps, but jumping over to 5GHz boosted that speed up to 250Mbps. Both speeds are more than enough for streaming, web browsing, and some file downloads across a few different devices. However, don’t expect those same speeds if you’re connecting closer to 10 devices, as the Archer C7’s lack of beamforming and slower bandwidth speeds will clog up the network. It’s a cheaper router, so its firmware isn’t designed to handle high traffic, but if you’re living in a smaller home or apartment with fewer than 10 devices, this router will meet your needs.
The initial install is straightforward and there’s a standard Quick Setup option. You’ll be plugged in and ready to connect within 15 minutes. However, reviews pointed out that customization is difficult due to an overly text-based setup portal and a distinct lack of novice-friendly graphic elements. So while the Archer C7 does actually have some advanced features, like Quality of Service (prioritizing devices/apps) and parental controls, they’re hard to access, making this router a better choice for the “Quick Setup and Go” user (or the advanced user willing to tinker). There is a TP-Link tether app that can enable some features, but it’s quite limited outside of changing network passwords and blocking users.
The Archer C7 has everything you’ll need to optimize your internet in a smaller home, without some of the expensive features of our more advanced picks.
Best for Large Homes
Mesh networks are likely the easiest solution if you live in a large home and your WiFi has persistent dead zones. If you think you’ll need more than one extender to cover your whole home, a mesh network is a simple, unified way to upgrade. Mesh systems are made up of multiple router-pods placed around your home to provide a blanket of connection. The pods ping off of each other to reach dead zones and hidden corners. They can be expensive, starting at around $270, and are really best for sprawling, multi-story homes. So if you have a few dead spots but live in a smaller, single-story home, you may be better off with a powerful router like the NetGear Nighthawk.
Our favorite mesh network is the Google WiFi system. Google WiFi uniquely runs auto-steering for band frequencies. So rather than manually switching from 2.4GHz to 5GHz when your internet is bogging down, the system will switch to whichever is faster in the moment. As a result, PCMag found it outperformed the Eero and Luma mesh systems by around 100 Mbps, delivering 175 Mbps at a 30 foot distance.
The Google WiFi System has mastered simple networking. Setup is incredibly intuitive -- just plug the system in and follow a few steps in the app (Amazon reviews report it takes about 15 minutes). Granted, initializing on mesh networks in general is reportedly fairly easy, but Google WiFi makes advanced features, like Quality of Service and beamforming, accessible for any user to enable via the app. This downside of the app’s simplicity means that those looking for more advanced customization may feel limited. Google WiFi is suited for ‘plug and play’ users not power users. The parental controls, for example, aren’t as comprehensive as they are with routers like the NetGear Nighthawk. You can “pause” the internet, but you can’t set limitations on hours or sites. For those with a big home who want to customize internet access for specific profiles (like block social media but allow homework-related sites during certain hours), you’ll want to consider pairing the detailed parental controls of the NetGear Nighthawk with a WiFi extender to get broader coverage with more options.
Google WiFi is often compared to the Netgear Orbi in terms of performance, but at $274, Google WiFi is almost half the price and is more compact. Plus you can purchase wall mounts to install the pods in central hallways.
Best for Gamers
For the network nerds who like to hack their router to do things like host their own VPN (an extra layer of private security) or enable link aggregation and need some major speed support, the ASUS AC88U is a solid choice. But for $270 you’ll want to be committed to customizing this router’s performance.
It has four antennas for optimal MU-MIMO functionality, compared to the two or three of most competitors. The result? It can beam data directly to your devices (plus, it looks like a spaceship). CNET found the ASUS’s data beaming to be exceptionally fast. Its same room speeds were 645 Mbps on the 5GHz frequency. Even at 100 ft, the ASUS still delivered 335 Mbps and managed 102 Mbps on the busier 2.4GHz.
One of the ASUS’s selling points for gamers is a WTFast Game Accelerator that boosts your connection for online games by automatically seeking the most efficient lane for transporting your gaming data. The catch? It’s available for only one device at a time and not every online game is supported yet (although several popular PC and Xbox games already are) -- the feature sends data packets directly to the game’s server, so they need an established partnership. You can also use the Quality of Service feature to designate priority to devices for non-supported games. So no matter what you’re playing, your games won’t lag with the ASUS.
The app’s web interface is fairly easy to navigate — the settings options are clearly labeled and it offers brief explanations of customizations. There’s a quick setup button too, that walks you through password and network creation. Beware: Amazon reviews claim setup does get increasingly complicated as you start accessing more advanced features. The ASUS also has a whopping 8 ports for link aggregation, which means integrating several ethernet wired connections into one. The result is the ability to transmit separate data packets down separate links, which improves performance and adds a layer of reliability for when one connection may fail (that data will hop onto another connection).
Be aware that without some techy tinkering, basic setup won’t deliver much more than the Netgear Nighthawk. Amazon reviewers noted that to really optimize the power of this router, you need to be willing to get nitty gritty with those advanced features: prioritizing specific devices and apps, strategically designating different uses to different bands, and arranging the antennas to best direct the WiFi to your device.
Did You Know?
WiFi doesn’t stand for anything.
Seriously, it's just a catchy name. You may have heard it stands for Wireless Fidelity, but that longer name actually came later. According to founding member of the Wi-Fi Alliance, Phil Belanger, “The Standard for Wireless Fidelity” is a made up tagline because colleagues were worried about marketing with a name that didn’t mean anything. (They’ve since dropped the tagline as it actually caused more confusion.)
Still Worried About Security?
In light of a recent unraveling of traditional WPA2 security, some are worried their devices are at risk. Your operating system (Windows, Android) should roll out updates to combat the recent vulnerabilities, but beyond that you probably don’t need to worry too much about it. The only way for it to happen would be if the hacker was on your network, which means they’d need to be in your home/near your device and have your password.
Location, location, location: router real estate is key.
The placement of your router can be a simple fix for connectivity issues. To put it simply, place your router where your devices are. It should be out in the open with no obstructions and as central to your most used devices as possible. The signal works like radio waves, and Hunt explained, the “signal is released in a roughly spherical shape, so imagine you’re positioning the “bubble” to reach as many rooms as possible. Putting it in a cupboard, closet, corner, behind a desk, and in other claustrophobic placements will decrease the signal quality and slow down performance.” If your router has antennas, play around with those and try positioning them vertically or horizontally based on where your tend to have the weakest signal.
What’s your need for speed?
Once you’ve got a router that is optimizing the speeds you pay for, you may be able to lower them and save some money. For example, if you’ve been paying for 75 Mbps but your old router was only delivering 30 Mbps, you may be able to downgrade to a 50 Mbps plan because your new router will be more efficient. To help you find the right speed for your household, we gathered recommendations from a variety of internet service provider websites, as well as HighSpeedInternet.com, a site dedicated to providing information and tools to understand high-speed internet. Then we consulted with BroadbandNow co-founder Nick Reese to find the ideal speed ranges for most households.
|Ideal Speeds||Number of People/Devices||Typical Uses|
|5–15 Mbps||1-2 people or 1-3 devices||Basic traffic (emails, web browsing, social media, SD video streaming on one device)|
|25–50 Mbps||2-3 people or 4-8 devices||Moderate traffic (music streaming, occasional online gaming, streaming HD video on one or two devices)|
|50–100 Mbps||3-5 people or 8-10 devices||High traffic (multiple devices simultaneously streaming HD or 4K video, real-time gaming, or video conferencing)|
|100+ Mbps||5+ people or 10+ devices||Very high traffic (multiple devices simultaneously streaming HD or 4K video, real-time gaming, video conferencing, large file download)|
Still need better WiFi?
If you’ve upgraded your router but are still experiencing connectivity issues, you can expand that network with WiFi extenders. They’re basically little bonus satellites that take the pings of network from your main router and direct them off to different areas of your home that the original signal has a hard time reaching.