Most internet service providers (ISP) will supply you with a wireless router when you use their service. It’s good enough for connecting a few devices. However, these wireless routers are likely outdated and don’t have the power to handle multiple connections. As a result, you may experience latency or unstable connections across your house. That’s when you need the best wireless routers which can establish a stable connection for the multiple of your devices.
Before taking your credit card out, there’re various factors you need to take into consideration to make the right choice:
The first thing you need to keep in mind is speed. The maximum speed of a network is determined by the services provided by the IPS and the router. This means that you need to find out the top speed provided by the IPS and then choose the suitable router. For instance, if the provider gives you a bandwidth of 200 Mbps, you'll need a router that can handle at least 200 Mbps like Linksys EA9500.
Another thing you need to keep an eye on is Wi-Fi generation. The global Wi-Fi standard is 802.11, and the following letters b, a, g, n, ac, and ax indicate the version. For example, 802.11b is known as Wi-Fi 1, 802.11a is Wi-Fi 3, and so on. All of these versions are compatible with each other, but the earlier the version the slower it is.
In general, avoid the b, a and g Wi-Fi standards as they have become obsolete. The 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) is currently the latest generation and can handle three times the theoretical speed of Wi-Fi 5. If you want to future-proof your network setup then go for a Wi-Fi 6 router like this TP-Link AX1800.
Single-band wireless routers are now a thing in the past, most modern wireless routers are now dual-bands. What this means is that it uses two different frequencies, 2.4GHz and 5GHz while single band one has only 2.4GHz. As you can guess, the higher-frequency radio has a much higher speed access. Covering-range-wise, 5GHz is not as good as 2.4GHz when it comes to penetrating walls and other structures. 2.4GHz is adequate for surfing the web or social networks while the 5GHz is ideal for streaming heavy content.
If you have numerous people connecting to a network, the best wireless routers for you is tri-band routers like NETGEAR Nighthawk X10. These routers allow you even more devices to connect to the router at the same time. If you want to avoid or minimize the congestion, a dual-band or tri-band wireless router is what you need.
Another thing that can affect the internet performance in your house is the wireless routers’ specs. Look for routers with decent CPU and RAM. A low-powered router can be the reason for bottlenecks in your network when there are high traffic load and many devices connected. Even when the network is perfectly fine, if your routers can’t handle the processing, everything will slow down.
For basic users, a lower end option is adequate for what they do. Ideally, you should get a wireless router with at least a 1.0 GHz dual-core processor and 128mb or RAM. If you’re a power user, it is advisable to spend more to make sure everything is as fast as possible. This Asus Rapture GT-AX11000 boasts 1.8GHz Quad-core processor and 1GB RAM which make it ideal for competitive gaming.
Having at least one USB port on your wireless router is a must. There’re many devices that you need to plug in: printer, hard drivers, modems, etc. Remember, USB 3.0 is always faster than USB 2.0. Some modern wireless routers even have USB-C connections for connecting to modern electric devices. For instance, this TP-Link AX6000 offers 8 LAN ports and 2 USB ports (either type A or type C).
Another type of ports you need to look out for is the Ethernet ports. These allow you to connect to wired devices such as NAS, desktop PCs, etc. Look for a router with at least 4 LAN ports.
Security is a major concern for any Internet users, especially for those who live in a crowded urban area. The best wireless routers should come equipped with nothing less than WPA2 or WPA3 encryption. Other security features to look for include firewall and VPN, which you can find on mid-end and high-end models. This TP-Link AC4000 comes with Trend Micro antivirus offering extra security for your home network.
1. What’s the difference between a Wireless Router and a Wireless Access Point?
Both of these devices help you connect to the Wi-Fi network. A wireless router’s main responsibility is to “route” the data between your devices with each other and with the wider Internet. It helps your devices that are connected to one network communicate and share files with one another. The best wireless routers can let multiple devices at your home form a local area network, while letting them access to the Internet.
On the other hand, a wireless access point (WAP) enables devices without built-in Wi-Fi connection to access a wireless network. It also acts as a wireless range extender which boosts coverage of your existing Wi-Fi network. The WAP doesn’t have a WAN port thus it can’t be connected to the ISP.
The best wireless routers are often for residential and small businesses use. While WAPs are more suitable for medium to large enterprises and use at large venues.
2. Do I need both a wireless router and a modem?
You can use a modem without a wireless router. However, you can connect only one device to a modem. Therefore, you also need a router so that you can access the Internet from multiple devices.
Some first-time buyers may get confused with these two terms. It’s fairly simple, actually. A modem is a boxy unit that lets you connect directly to the Internet. Meanwhile, a wireless router lets your devices connect to that Internet connection at the same time.
There’s something known as the modem router combo, a device which acts as both a modem and a router. This is also called a gateway. It’s more convenient to use as it takes up less space, is easy to set up and has fewer cables to manage. The downside is that a gateway offers far less customization and features than a separate modem and a router setup.
3. How do I find the best wireless routers for myself?
The best wireless routers are the ones that can satisfy your needs and requirements. Here’s our checklist for what you need to know before making any buying decision:
What will I use it for and how many devices will it support? (it is recommended to choose at least a dual-band, dual-core 128mb RAM router for basic users)
How much am I willing to spend? (low-end to mid-end models cost roughly $50-200, while high-end ones could cost about $300 and above)
What kind of security do I need? (at least get one with WPA2)
Will I be using any accessories such as printers, hard drivers, etc.? (make sure there are enough USB ports for connecting these devices)
Where will I place my router? (if you intend to use the Internet on multi-floor or multi-room area then you should seek strong signal routers)
Check for the routers’ warranty and customer support (so that you can avoid any aftersales headache).
4. Are there any features that I should look out for the best wireless routers?
Aside from what we mentioned in the section 2: buying guide, there’re many features you should take into consideration:
Guest Wireless Network: This allows your friends and visitors access to the Internet but not your home network.
Parental Controls: If you want to restrict certain websites or online time of your child, then this is a must-have.
Data Traffic Meter: This helps you monitor as well as set data limits to prevent any overcharges.
Power Button: A physical button saves you from trouble of navigating confusing settings.
Quality of Service (QoS): This feature lets you control the amount of bandwidth an app uses.
Smart-home integration: The best wireless routers for smart home setup come with virtual assistant or task automation services.
Smartphone apps: Mobile-apps allow for a more convenient and user-friendly way of remote controlling.
MU-MIMO: This allows for uninterrupted data flows to multiple devices simultaneously.
Mesh network support: This technology offers a simple and easy way to extend wireless access to dead zones.
5. How can I boost my wireless signal?
Sometimes the network seems to be acting up. The modem is fine but you can only get internet when standing right next to the routers. Here are some tips and tricks to help you when everything become sluggish:
Update your wireless routers’ firmware.
Reposition your routers.
Check to see whether there are any Wi-Fi Intruders.
If yes, change your passwords or kick these intruders off.
Use Quality of Service (QoS) tools to control the bandwidth of apps.
Reboot both your router and modem.
Replace the antenna.
If you have tried all of them above, and the problem remains, then you should consider buying newer wireless routers. You can follow our buying guide to be able to choose the best wireless routers.
The best over-all wireless router is TP-Link AX3000. TP-Link has always been a big name in the router industry, and their products are always exceptional. This award-winning router is a testament to that. This Wi-Fi 6-ready Archer AX50 delivers 2,402 Mbps on 5 GHz band and 574 Mbps on 2. 4 GHz band. Thus, make it ideal for streaming and gaming. It also comes with a 2-year warranty and a free app for easier setup.
If you’re on a tight budget, then the TP-Link Archer A7 is a no-brainer choice. The dual-band Wi-Fi 5 router is the perfect option for home use. It can deliver up to a speed of 1,750 Mbps, which is good for 4K streaming without buffering. The Archer A7 has Alexa support and parental control baked in. At the sub-$100 price range, there are no wireless routers that can beat it in terms of price and performance.
In conclusion, the best wireless routers will bring to your home network a faster and secured bandwidth with extra features. When you make the right choice, you can make the most out of your Wi-Fi rather than relying on the basic configuration provided by your ISP.