What is the best wireless router? It’s a question that gets asked a lot, and we’re going to help answer that question for you.
The thing is, there is no ‘best’ wireless router for everybody. I mean, everyone’s needs are different….
Top Rated Wireless Routers
Some people might be on a budget and want the best router for under $100. Some might want the fastest wireless router available, which normally come at a cost, but not always.
While others may want a router that has a list of features longer than the Amazon river AND want speed! This is when we start hitting $150 and above price range, especially whenever we venture into the territory of the best router brands.
We’re going to come onto the subject of different users needs real soon…what they actually want and what they actually need, and we will list the best wireless/Wi-Fi router reviews available, and a full buying guide.
In the mean time, let’s kick off with a router recommendation that should be the ideal suit for most people out there… let’s call it the ‘Best All-Rounder’…
Best Wireless Router (all-rounder)
Asus RT-AC66U AC1900 Router
Why the RT-AC66U? Well, it has a bucketload of features, including Quality of Service, a USB 3.0 port, a dual core CPU, and…..it has fast Wireless AC speeds. I mean, just check out the customer reviews on Amazon if you don’t believe us!
The RT-AC66U has been around for a couple of years now and now has a successor (the RT-AC68U). Because of this, the price has come down quite a lot, which is good news for everyone! Because the RT-AC66U has been out for a while, don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s lacking in ability.
Yes, there are more powerful and faster routers out there (we will come onto those soon), but the RT-AC66U can pretty much do what the ‘big boys’ can do, and you don’t have to break the bank in order to do it. That’s a win-win situation as far as we’re concerned!
The RT-AC66U will appeal to all types of Internet user (we have listed them below). It’s a good ‘all-rounder’, and has proven very popular with the buying public and reviewers alike. It’s one of the best Wi-Fi routers for the home available.
3 Main Types Of Router User
Ok, so you know what a wireless router is, but is that it? No!
We have listed 3 types of router users. There are more, but to keep things simple, we have listed the main 3, which will help you to determine how to buy a router.
These users will have different needs from each other, although you should bear in mind that a lot of users will fit into more than one user type! This makes the job of recommending a router extra difficult as everyone has different needs when it comes to using a router! Ok, we really are trying to make this as uncomplicated as possible, we promise.
Anyway, let’s get on with listing those user types. Don’t worry, we will be making recommendations for each of these users very soon!
The Movie WatcherThe Movie Watcher loves, well, watching movies that he’s downloaded! They want the highest definition and quality, and don’t want to lose picture or sound quality which movie streamers sometimes risk.
They’ll keep their movies stored on a NAS, laptop, tablet or USB drive and play within the local network, without relying on the Internet. Good Wi-Fi quality is what this guy wants. Luckily for the Movie Watcher, we are in the era of Gigabit wireless router networking. This means that dragging Ethernet cables through the home is no longer a necessity.
Of course, a good Internet connection is still important. Otherwise, downloading all those huge movie/video files is going to be a struggle!
The Netgear Nighthawk X6 R8000 is a very solid option for both the Movie Watcher & Gamer
The GamerThis guy loves to play online games. He loves to play the latest first person shooter or driving game. They’ll hook up with their friends on WoW or Call of Duty and play all day long. They’ll have a good Internet package which guarantees low jitter and latency.
Jitter and latency stats are what gamers look at to see how their connection to their games compare. The lower the better in both cases. The Gamer also loves to watch movies online via streaming (Netflix, Hulu etc). Having a solid Internet connection is again important for this user.
Having good wi-fi connectivity is important, although the most avid gamer will go for Ethernet cabling when hooking up to the router (or look for the best wired router), just to keep jitter and latency to an absolute minimum…unless they are in direct line of site to the router when connecting wirelessly.
Quality of Service (QoS) is a feature that The Gamer will demand. QoS can make sure that sensitive network traffic is given top priority, keeping the jitter and latency at a happy low level. This is important, especially in time-critical gaming like First Person Shooters – think of the Call of Duty games. If you see your enemy even just a split second before they see you, YOU will have the advantage!
Mr & Mrs AverageMr & Mrs Average just want a router that ‘works’. They will watch the odd movie now and again. Their kids might play games online. They’ll want to watch YouTube videos, send emails, do some online shopping, maybe Skype every once in a while with relatives or friends on the other side of the world. You know, just ‘average stuff’.
The TP-LINK TD-W8980 N600
They don’t want to pay through the nose, yet want a router that will perform reasonably well, even when everyone is the home using the Internet at the same time.
Unless there are many people in the home regularly using the router, Mr & Mrs Average will not likely need to spend more than $100 on a router – Good news for them! Remember, they generally don’t play games or are heavy downloaders.
In fact Mr & Mrs Average often just need a wireless router that will get them onto the Internet, and the Wi-Fi on the router doesn’t need to be any faster than what their Internet speeds are. If the Internet speed is 30Mbps, and only basic access to the Internet is required, then it’s not necessary to spend money on a Wireless AC router.
Just remember that everyone’s needs are different. We are just trying to make your decision that little bit easier.
So……. now that we know the basic user types, let’s pick off the best wireless routers for each of them, and list a few alternatives depending on the budget available…
Best Wireless Router (for The Gamer & Movie Watcher)
We could list separately the best routers for the online gamers and the movie watchers. But to be honest, a good gaming router will generally cater for the movie watcher too – both the movie streamer and the downloader.
In fact we previously published an article on the Best Gaming Router, which although is over a year old, still has value today.
So, let’s kick things off. What actually is the best wireless router for gamers and the movie fans alike?
Asus RT-AC68U AC1900 Router
Well, you’ve guessed it – it’s the Asus RT-AC68U. It’s the follow up to the already mentioned RT-AC66U that we have already championed. It’s got the following features that the heavy, demanding user needs:
- Dual Core Processor – Not much point having a router with so much wireless juice and capability when you don’t have the grunt to work through it all!
- 1.9Gbps Theoretical Speeds – Data rates up to 1.9Gbps when using both 2.4GHz & 5GHz bands
- 3x External Antennas – For better manual coverage
- USB 3.0 – for plugging in a USB 3.0 drive. Ideal for sharing all those HD movies throughout the home. There’s also a separate USB 2.0 port should you need it
- Quality of Service – to prioritize the Gaming & Streaming traffic over everything else, ensuring no buffering or gaming lag
There is actually a full review of the RT-AC68U which has the full lowdown on features and performance.
The Asus RT-AC68U is a very solid all-round router for those of you who are a little more demanding than Mr & Mrs Average. This is especially the case if you have a larger home with potentially multiple users at the same time.
Just bear in mind that your Internet connection speed/ISP could be the bottleneck when it comes to accessing anything on the Internet, rather than the router wireless speed itself. Don’t skimp on a good broadband connection if you know it’s something that’s going to get heavily used!
If you are accessing files or watching movies locally, and not via the Internet, then your broadband speed is not as important.
Best Wireless Router Alternative (for The Gamer & Movie Watcher)
Netgear Nighthawk R7000 AC1900 Router
The Netgear Nighthawk R7000 is right up there with the Asus in terms of specifications and performance. Just like the Asus, the Nighthawk has a dual core CPU, 3 detachable and adjustable antennas, and Quality of Service options.
We have already done a full comparison between the RT-AC68U and the Nighthawk R7000.
Best Wireless Router (for The Gamer & Movie Watcher with a little more money)
Question: What is the Godfather of all routers?
Answer: the Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 R8000
Netgear Nighthawk X6 R8000 Router
This is the latest incarnation of the Nighthawk. Only recently released, the X6 Nighthawk uses Tri Band technology, as opposed to the already popular Dual Band routers that some of you are familiar with.
The X6 Nighthawk has two bands on the Wireless AC 5GHz range. This means more bandwidth available when there are multiple clients connecting to the router. The X6 balances the wireless clients over the two bands so that more wireless bandwidth is available more of the time.
The downside is the extra cost….but you know the old saying – you get what you pay for!
Best Wireless Router (for The Gamer & Movie Watcher on a budget!)
TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 Router
Ok, so you’re strapped for cash, but you want a router that is at least Wireless AC and has a bit of grunt to it… Well, the TP-Link Archer C7 is probably what you’re looking for.Coming in at under $100 (at time of writing), the Archer C7 has cumulative theoretical speeds totaling 1.75Gbps – not too bad considering the price. Unfortunately, it only has two USB ports – no USB 3.0. But hey, to come in at under $100, they had to make cuts somewhere!
The Archer C7 is also one of the best long range wireless routers available.
The Gamer & Movie Watcher Could Also Consider…
Linksys WRT1900AC Router
The follow-up router to the EA6900. Released in mid 2014, the WRT1900AC has all credentials that heavy users want. If you are very technically savvy, you can switch to DD-WRT and have absolute full control – right down to network monitoring and adjusting power levels for each individual amplifier.
D-Link DGL-5500 Gaming Router
This is a pure gamer’s router. Using StreamBoost technology, the DGL-5500 picks out the gamer’s devices and gives them prioritization on the network with Quality of Service. Of course, it’s Wireless AC and has Gbps Ethernet ports. Best of all it’s pretty inexpensive!
Netgear R6250 Router
The Netgear R6250 has all the attributes that make a router fit for purpose when it comes to the world of gaming and streaming. It has QoS, Dual Band, Fast AC speeds….and the all-important USB 3.0 port should sharing locally be important to you.
Best Wireless Router (for Mr & Mrs Average)
TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 Router
It’s a tough one, as there are so many routers out there that will largely do the job for Mr & Mrs Average. What we are looking for is a router that will do most tasks at least pretty well, but not cost an arm and a leg.
For those reasons, you should look no further than the TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 router.
I know we’ve already labeled this the Best Wireless Router for the gamer on a budget, but we can give it a second prize, right? It’s a Wireless AC router (which is backwards compatible with older standards, including ‘n & g’) so speed is not an issue, but it also has pretty good Wi-Fi coverage and useful features, including Quality of Service and a guest network option.
It’s also incredibly easy to set up. But best of all it comes in at under $100 (at time of writing). So, basically, an above average AC router for below average prices….yes please!
Can also be used as a wireless access point.
Best Wireless Router Alternative (for Mr & Mrs Average)
Securifi Almond Touchscreen Router
The Securifi Almond has been around for a while now, and has proven itself to be a solid performer. The Almond now has over 5,000 customer reviews on Amazon, averaging over 4.5/5 stars (yes they are very impressive stats indeed) at time of writing.
It’s a Wireless N router that has a very attractive, and useful, touch-screen display built into it. No more browsing to your router to make changes or set up (although you still can if you want to!)
It may not be the fastest router out there, but for looks, functionality and for solid Wi-Fi, the Securifi Almond does the job – certainly for the Average Joe (not forgetting Mr & Mrs Average!)
Best Wireless Router (for Mr & Mrs Average with a little more money)
Asus RT-AC66U AC1900 Router
Well, we’ve already given this the best overall router. To be honest, it’s hard to look past the Asus RT-AC66U for Mr & Mrs Average either.
Of course, it’s that little bit more expensive than the offerings from TP-Link & Securifi, but if you do have the extra money to spend, you really can’t go wrong with what was Asus’s flagship router. It will do everything that the other two can do (ok, it doesn’t have a built-in screen). It also has all the features, but it just does it all better and faster.
What was once the fastest Wi-FI router around, can still play hard with the big guns out there at the moment
Mr & Mrs Average Could Also Consider…
Netgear R6400 Router
The Netgear R6400 AC1750 router is at the upper end of the price scale for the average person. But it’s a Wireless AC router with lots of features. It’s up there with the Asus RT-AC66U, around the same price, and probably a good wireless router option for most people.
Asus RT-N66U Router
The RT-N66U is a Wireless N router on sale from the Asus stables. Again, it has most of those useful Asus features. It’s also pretty quick, and at time of writing, most people still use Wireless N technology, so this router is another one for the comparison list for the average router consumer.
TP-LINK TD-W8980 N600 Router
This is one of the best budget routers to consider. The TP-LINK TD-W8980 is another good Wireless N router that does what most other routers do, but won’t give you a heart attack when you ask for the bill. Hard to think of downsides considering the low cost… perhaps it’s not the prettiest of routers for some people?
If you want a really cheap deal, you could consider an N300 wireless router…
Best Cable Modem Wireless Router Combo
If you’re look for the Wi-Fi router that has a cable modem integrated, look no further than the Netgear N600 DOCSIS 3.0 C3700 Cable Modem Router. We reviewed it previously.
A combo Wi-Fi router is a great way to save money. Sure, you pay for it up front. But you no longer need to lease the router from your wireless internet service provider.
After a few months, the modem has paid itself off and you begin saving, instead of giving more money to your wireless home Internet provider. Win-win!
Hope you enjoyed our recommendations. Remember to comment below.
Please also see our FREE report on how to set up a wireless router..
How To Set Up A Wireless Router
Setting up a wireless router can be tricky for some people. Don’t worry though! Here’s a free guide to help you get connected faster and explain the different ways you can set up your home network so you can decide what’s best for YOU!