Update May 2017: The best wireless router for most people is the ASUS RT-AC88U. It’s a dual band wifi router with 8 Gigabit LAN ports and can deliver up to 2167 Mbps on 5 GHz band and up to 1000 Mbps on 2.4 GHz Band. It also has one of the easiest and robust User Interface, including the game boost features and ability to keep your home network safe online.
Best Wireless Routers 2017
After more than 90 hours of research and testing 27 new routers, We’ve come up with an Ultimate List of Best Wifi Routers 2017.
Let’s dive right in…
|8||2.6 Pounds||802.11 b/g/n|
|NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900||4||3.5 Pounds||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac|
|NETGEAR Nighthawk X6||5||4.7 Pounds||802.11 A/C|
|ASUS RT-AC5300 Wireless AC5300||4||3.2 Pounds||802.11 a/b/g/n|
|ASUS RT-AC3200 Wireless-AC3200||4||4.0 Pounds||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac|
1. ASUS RT-AC88U – Best Wireless Router 2017.
Asus is known for a little flair in its designs, and the AC88U is no exception. It is the best wi-fi router (without factoring in the price) on the market right now.
A gold logo and some diamond-shaped patterns are immediately noticeable on what is a very compact router for its abilities at roughly 6x8x3 inches.
One awkward element is a fixed stand, which may be for ventilation reasons, but it would be nice to have options.
Indicator lights across the front for the WAN and 4 LAN ports, power, Wi-Fi, etc. show a solid blue when active. Both of the USB ports can support external drives and be used for failover, as well as printers and mobile devices.
This also utilizes the Broadcom wireless controller and TurboQAM for throughput on both channels.
- Smartly designed and easy to use Web interface
- speedy Wi-Fi performance
- Excellent scores on 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz throughput tests
- Excellent range
- Advanced features
- 8 Gigabit LAN ports
- Easy set up
- Poor placing of the USB 3.0
- NAS is just average.
2. D-Link AC3200 – Best Long Range Router
The DIR-890L/R has an eye-catching design that seems to present a sci-fi drone in stunning fire-engine red. And it deserves the attention as a fast, easy to use, and extremely stable Wi-Fi router.
It also functions smoothly as NAS device with an attached external drive. The D-Link AC3200 is among the best wireless routers today.
If you live in a small home and have limited Wi-Fi devices to connect, the DIR-890 might be excessive, but at least you won’t be disappointed with its performance. In fact, you’ll probably be thrilled.
The D-Link AC3200 is the Best Long Range Router. It has fast WiFi and network storage speeds and an eye-catching design, and is very easy to use. On the whole, the new interface is better for home users who want something simpler.
- Best long range router on the market
- A Great Built Quality – Looks stunning!
- IPv6 WAN support
- Built-in media server
- Strong, consistent signal
- Great speeds
3. NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 – Best Wifi Router Under $200
Netgear’s R7000 offers home users a lot of performance from a mid-level router. A dual-core processor operates at 1GHz, making it one of the fastest routers around.
It also offers some features that weren’t previously available, such as a built-in VPN server, support of the faster Broadcom TurboQAM, and 3rd-party firmware like DD-WRT.
Add an external hard drive, and it’s ready for Time Machine backup. The USB 3.0 port is at the front of the router for quick attachment of the drive.
- Excellent performance on the 5 gigahertz band
- Fast peak throughput
- Sleek design and Excellent built quality
- Solid network storage capability
- Excellent feature set
- Efficient NAS server
- 2.4 gigahertz band might not perform that well.
- Relatively bulky
4. NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 – Best Wifi Router For Gaming.
The R8000 surpasses the excellent R7000 in many ways, such as a more innovative design and greater bandwidth. It looks meaner, larger, and in black it’s bug-shape seems more aggressive and robust. At the time of publishing, the Nighthawk X6 AC3200 is one of the best wi-fi routers online.
But it’s actually more compact since it now has fold-down antennae. These antennae swivel and are retractable, allowing you to position all 6 as needed to maximize signals.
Functionally, it’s similar to its predecessor with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, a 1 Gigabit WAN port, and the expected pair of USB ports at the back.
In a vertical stripe across the center top is an array of indicator lights- the R8000 actually has a little switch so you can turn them off if they become a distraction. It also has good ventilation and runs cool.
- Tri-band operations, good performance
- Robust hardware
- High Wi-Fi data rates on the 5Ghz band
- Strong performance as a NAS
- Simple setup
- Six fold-out antennas
- Excellent for multiple devices
- Runs cool
- Could use some better configuration UIs
- Lacks enhanced QoS feature
5. ASUS RT-AC5300 Wireless AC5300 – Best Wifi Router Under $500
The design has both good and bad aspects. The router is a little large but still limited to the standard 4 Gigabit LAN ports and single Gigabit WAN port.
A mostly-open bottom and additional ventilation grilles help to keep it cool. A little higher clearance beneath, and a geometric design on top make it seem a little more stylish than previous versions.
Like other Asus routers of this generation, it supports solid AiProtection for security and the excellent Web UI Asus provides.
The two (3.0 and 2.0) USB ports can also host a cellular dongle to share 3G or 4G networks with your clients. Unfortunately, it does not come with wall mount slots, and the LED indicator lights on the front are only marked with little gray icons that can be hard to see in dim light.
It’s a beast of a router more suited to small businesses, so you can count on a great performance and blazing speed for most home networks. However, we do not recommend this for the average consumer.
- Incredible top speeds
- Easily supports multiple devices
- Excellent Asus interface
- Wide device compatibility
- Plenty of media server features
- Very good range
- Easy setup
- Slow USB 3.0 performance
- Large footprint
The Asus RT-AC3200 is a solid performer with excellent hardware. It comes with some helpful features, good security, and acts admirably as a VPN or NAS server.
It measures up well against tri-band routers from Netgear and Linksys, proving that it’s a fine choice for homes with heavy Wi-Fi needs.
But the RT-AC3200 has a few features that set it apart. Among these are Asus’ robust Web UI that looks and feels somewhat like a video game, making it almost fun to configure a router.
It can handle multiple Internet connections at the same time and has built-in VPN features along with good monitoring tools, which make it suitable for small business.
If you really need to handle many data clients, and are ready to explore the RT-AC3200’s feature-rich UI, than this router will be a great investment.
- High storage throughput
- Good range
- More bandwidth monitoring features
- OpenVPN and PPTP server capability
- Reliable signal
- Poor documentation included
7. TP-LINK Archer C7 – Best Value for Money.
The TP-LINK Archer C7 is the best pick for average consumer.
It is currently the #1 bestseller on Amazon and is a great pick because it offers the best balance of price, features, and speed.
Some of the notable features that TP-LINK Archer C7 offers:
- Gigabit Ethernet ports
- Easy Setup Assistant
- USB file sharing / Dual USB Ports to share files & media, and printer
- Parental controls
- IP-based Bandwidth Control
- Offers best value for money
- Dual-band router offers great range and performance
- Does Excellent job at both short and long ranges
- NAS capability
- Straightforward initial setup process
- Archer C7 covers the basics well
- Best Seller on Amazon
- Poor configuration interface (Not a dealbreaker)
- Missing some advanced features such as QoS controls,VPN server, an iTunes server (most people don’t use these features anyway)
What’s the Best DD-WRT Router?
DD-WRT is actually an open source firmware which can be installed on a router. This firmware enhances the performance and increases the functionality of the router.
However, do keep in mind that many of the router manufacturers do not recommend this and installing this firmware can also void your warranty.
Our top 3 picks for DD-WRT routers are:
Advantages that installing DD-WRT can add:
- Network Printer
- DNS Caching
- Quality of Service
- Kai Daemon
- Advance Performance Graphs
- Wireless Bridging
- Adjust Antenna Power
- Analytics & Tweaking
- Wi-Fi Hotspot Management
What’s the best router for gaming?
Getting a good router is one of the best ways to boost your gaming experience. We recommend the following 3 routers for gamers:
Key features of a good gaming router:
- Configuration Options: This is a big feature to consider; You could prioritize gaming ahead of other activities (such as Netflix), so you are sure you’re getting the top gaming experience possible.
- Range: When shopping for gaming routers, make sure to get a router with the greatest range possible.
- Signal strength: You’d want to see the lowest amount of pings while gaming. All of these routers provide excellent signal strength.
- Price: The routers we recommend are not cheap but if you have a lower budget, you could easily get yourself a good router at lower price for a slightly lower performance.
Wi-fi Routers Buyers’ Guide
How do routers work?
Routers are essentially just packet-switching devices. IP (Internet protocol) technology breaks data into “packets” containing address information.
Each packet, whether outgoing or incoming, is forwarded to the correct destination IP address in use by a particular computer, smartphone, or another device.
A router handles one packet at a time (in a fraction of a second).
Network activity may involve thousands of packets going to multiple addresses, so those coded packets are reassembled into usable information at a target device with a wireless adapter. A wireless router, therefore, includes a network switch and wireless access points (antennae).
Types of routers
- Dual-band routers are the cheapest and most common, providing both a 2.4GHz (gigahertz) band (radio frequency) and a 5GHz band.
- Tri-band routers have an additional 5GHz band and are a fairly new technology. Bear in mind that the second 5GHz channel is only used when it’s necessary.
- N600 designs have a total 600Mbps (megabits per second) data transfer rate split between the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. These may be inadequate in modern networks.
- N900 routers are an updated version giving a combined 900Mbps data rate.
“AC” designates the modern (2013) radio standard 802.11ac.
- AC1750 offers a theoretical maximum speed of 1750Mbps: 450 to the 2.4GHz band and 1300 to the 5GHz.
- AC1900 – a higher speed of 600Mpbs on the 2.4GHz band.
- AC3200 offers 600Mpbs on the 2.4GHz band but 2600Mbps split between two 5GHz bands.
- AC5300 are the latest and fastest with a total speed of 5300Mbps. There are currently few client devices that can match this data rate.
WiFi router FAQs
1) What does WiFi stand for?
Most people assume it refers to “wireless fidelity”, and in part it does, but it’s technically just a term invented for the outdated 802.11b wireless standard.
2) How does WiFi work?
It involves computer-binary 1s and 0s which are sent as radio waves and converted back to electrical signals by the receiving device.
3) What is NAS?
This is short for “network attached storage”, which means connecting an external hard drive via USB 3.0 to access digital files such as video or music.
4) What should I look for in a wireless router?
In modern routers, you should expect an easy user interface (UI) to manage the device, a printer connection (USB 2.0), and useful features like parental control, network prioritization, and security.
They also come with the ability to handle data backup, and technologies like DLNA, QoS, WPS, and Beamforming. (As mentioned before, the best wireless router we choose for you has the best value for money. )
5) What is DLNA?
Digital Living Network Alliance technology lets you control how information is used on your network.
6) What is QoS?
The quality of Service is a technology that lets you prioritize data streams to preserve bandwidth for critical operations.
7) What is WPS?
Wi-Fi Protected Setup is an easier way to connect a WPS-enabled client without having to type in passwords.
8) What is Beamforming?
This is a technology that allows you to focus wireless signals in order to minimize signal loss over distance.
Many devices today are Wi-Fi compatible. Getting these devices to communicate requires a wireless router. The right choice comes down to your needs and budget.
Based on consumer reviews, start with this list of 10 of the best wireless routers.
What’s a Tri-Band Router?
Getting the best wireless router for your network needs is never easy, as there is such a wide variety of routers out there, and new WiFi client devices are constantly appearing.
But this list should give you a good sampling of what kind of routers are out there and what they can do.
Each router review on the list is based on the responses of other consumers, and these 10 are some of the most popular and highly rated. Especially if you’re new to Wi-Fi networks, they are a good start in router shopping.
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- Featured image by asus.com
- Video 1: CNET
- Video 2: CNET
- Video 3: Unicorn Reviews
- Video 4: CNET
- Video 5: Tech Showdown
- Video 6: CNET
- Best Wireless Routers 2017
- 1. ASUS RT-AC88U – Best Wireless Router 2017.
- 2. D-Link AC3200 – Best Long Range Router
- 3. NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 – Best Wifi Router Under $200
- 4. NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 – Best Wifi Router For Gaming.
- 5. ASUS RT-AC5300 Wireless AC5300 – Best Wifi Router Under $500
- 6. ASUS RT-AC3200
- 7. TP-LINK Archer C7 – Best Value for Money.
- What’s the Best DD-WRT Router?
- What’s the best router for gaming?
- Wi-fi Routers Buyers’ Guide
- WiFi router FAQs
- Netgear AC5300 – Best Wireless Router for 2016
- TP-LINK N300 – Best Budget Router.
- Linksys EA6900 AC1900
- D-Link Wireless AC1900 (DIR-880L)
- Final Words
- TP-LINK Archer C7