When we looked for the best router in 2017, we measured dozens of features, statistics, and measurements against each other to list the top five you’ll find on the shelves today.
To begin with, all the routers we have chosen must have a minimum bandwidth of 1900AC and pump at least 200Mbps on the 5GHz spectrum. We have made sure that the router also has additional parental controls and firewall settings. So you can be sure that your family is always protected when it is on the Web. Finally, competitors such as the # 1 Wireless Linksys 3200ACM router are equipped with scalable technologies such as MU-MIMO, which ensures you the fastest connection possible, no matter where you navigate. House.
To see why the AC3200ACM beat the rest of the competition, read our annual best riders’ guide in 2017!
Table of Contents:
- Wireless Routers Compared
- Why You Should Buy a New Wireless Router
- Our #1 Pick
- Why Trust Me
- How We Choose
- Features to Look For
- Speed Tests
- Final Thoughts
Best Wireless Routers Compared
|Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now|
|Linksys WRT3200 ACM Smart Wi-Fi Router||TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 Wireless Router||Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 WiFi Router||Linksys EA9500 Tri-Band MU-MIMO Router||AmpliFi HD Mesh Wi-Fi Router Review|
|Rank||#1 – Editor’s Choice/Best Home Router||#2 – Best Budget Wireless Router||#3 – Best Wireless AC Router||#4 – Best Range Wireless Router||#5 – Best Router for Gaming|
|Full Review||Linksys WRT3200 ACM Review||TP-Link Archer C9 Review||Netgear Nighthawk X6 Review||Linksys EA9500 Router Review||D-Link AC3200 Review|
|WiFi Types||802.11 b/g/n/ac||802.11 b/g/n/ac||802.11 b/g/n/ac||802.11 b/g/n/ac||802.11ac|
|Ports||4 Ethernet, 1 WAN||4 Ethernet, 1 WAN||4 Ethernet, 1 WAN||8 Ethernet, 1 WAN||4 LAN Ports, 1 WAN Port|
|WPS Setup & Security|
Why You Should Buy a New Wireless Router
The technology of wireless routers has evolved rapidly in recent years, incorporating a plethora of new wireless bands, transmission standards and additional features designed to meet the requirements of a modern home.
The older routers that use b / g / n to transmit their signal are not built for the way people use their wireless networks these days, be it Netflix in 4K, downloading file sizes that can extend to dozens (if not hundreds) of gigabytes, or play online games that require the lowest possible ping / latency to reach the top of the local ranking.
If you find yourself doing one of these activities, but you are constantly clenching your fist at the dreaded “buffering” symbol that mocks you on the other side of the screen, level of the router might be sufficient to solve these problems. so many others.
Similarly, if you update your smartphone every year on the latest model and you break out on a new glossy laptop shortly thereafter, your router should receive as much consideration as any other technology you use on a daily basis. Your wireless router is the last limit between your devices and the rest of the Internet. This is why it is important to make sure that it uses the latest firmware with the best firewalls and that there is always enough horsepower to recharge a new laptop or phone on your network constantly growing personal mobile technology.
Finally, features such as MU-MIMO and mesh networking should allow anyone considering improving their home network not to have to think about routing for the next two years or more. Mesh networking in particular is probably one of the best reasons to upgrade in 2017 because it allows you to get signals in places like the basement, attic or garden that were considered dead zones for all the routers out there.
These reasons are just a few of the dozens that should give you all the motivation you need to invest in a new router this year!
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Linksys WRT3200ACM is the best pick for your home router needs.
As the direct descendant from last year’s #1 pick, it’s no wonder why the latest Linksys WRT3200ACM wireless router quickly won over our hearts with its nostalgic design and exceptionally well-presented Smart Wi-Fi software suite. Whether it was setting a new firewall rule from the comfort of the Smart Wi-Fi smartphone app or the insane speeds of nearly 500Mbps at peak under ideal conditions, this is a wireless device that’s painfully simple to set up with a monster engine to back it up.
The design of the Linksys WRT3200ACM is straight out of 1998, and we love it all the more. It has the same purple color scheme that we have all liked from Linksys over the years but still manages to keep things fresh and modern through the addition of more angular and stiffer lines around the hull.
Equipped with a 3200ACM radio, the throughput, reliability and speed of our fiber connection regularly showed results well above the curve of what any other router on this list could do. Of course, some may seem faster on paper, but from a day-use point of view the quality level you get from the Linksys WRT3200ACM still needs to be paired.
If you need a complete router and complete then you would find it hard to find everything that meets all requirements for a better price than this one. Of course, its range was a bit weaker than we would have liked, but this little complaint aside, Linksys continues to hit the ball straight out of the park with another solid router in the Linksys 3200ACM – making it number 1 on our list for the best routers of 2017!
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Archer C9 pumps out serious speed for the price.
The TP-Link Archer C9 isn’t just one of the best budget routers you’ll find on this list, it’s one of the best routers we’ve ever tested…period. Don’t believe me? See our full review by clicking the link above. We were blown away by its download and upload speeds, especially at a distance of 20ft or less.
While I was doing tests, I noticed that the Archer C9 was struggling with longer-distance connections, or those that had to jump through a number of walls or ceilings before reaching the intended destination. This makes it a tough recommendation if you plan to run this as your only base station in a 1500 square foot home or more.
But even if it does not have as much range or reliability as other contenders here, but what lacks signal strength, it does more than compensate for a raw and pure speed. The Archer C9 is a high-end router for games, streaming 4K or lightweight web browsing as long as you do it in a 2 bedroom apartment or less. No matter how you want to use it, it handles everything you throw as long as you are within reach.
Just note that these LED status lights can be a bit annoying, especially in a dark room.
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Netgear Nighthawk X6 takes no prisoners on speed or reliability.
Speaking of spaceships, Netgear’s Nighthawk X6 AC3200 wireless router has got a name and a shell to match. The Nighthawk looks like something straight out of a military piece of kit or something you’d find in the ruins of a long lost alien civilization, all business from front to back, draped in a coat of menacing matte black.
Of course, the Nighthawk would not have done on the list just to look cool on its own. With six massive antennas coming out on each side and a tri-band WiFi throughput that can designate the devices in your home that should receive the most bandwidth, the Nighthawk takes the most weight to get all the power you can get out of your router with minimum system requirements.
During our tests, we found that the area where the Nighthawk X6 excelled beyond all was in the range / reliability range. Thanks to its wide range of antennas, the X6 achieved the best results of the whole year. It offers a perfect balance between high performance and reasonable cost, but its more extreme design choices may not be perfect for each home.
This is a much more suitable router for a den, office or garage, out of sight and out of mind. During the tests, we not only found it to be clear, but we could even be a bit noisy, with the processor / fan combo on the fly until an audible buzz whenever we did another evaluation of the speed.
Even so, the performance of the Nighthawk X6 is still sufficient to excuse him from these minor sins. As long as you have a place to store it where it’s not going to get its attention too much (or have a black lounge), it’s certainly one of our favorite routers for big houses that do lots of streaming and games at the same time.
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Powerful and sporting the latest technology, it’s hard to go wrong with this beast.
When we first got a gander at the insane specs on the new Linksys EA9500 Tri-Band MU-MIMO router, we were admittedly a little scared of what it would be capable of when we really opened it up on a pure fiber connection. Of course, those fears quickly (no pun intended) melted away as the router proceeded to blow every one of our tests clean out of the water with insane speeds, solid connection reliability, and extensive range that reached to every corner of our homes.
In addition, with the help of the Smart Wi-Fi dashboard from Linksys, the additional options and features offered on the EA9500 continued to impress with remarkable style and flair, unlike the other routers on this list.
Certainly, this router could be considered excessive for most households. Its higher price and its almost confusing list of additional characteristics could constitute an imposing entry point for the average consumer. We do not suggest the EA9500 to anyone who is not sure they need the absolute best quality but if you need a lot of range and do not mind to give up the extra piece to get it , the Linksys EA9500 is simply one of the most powerful and feature rich routers you can buy in 2017.
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The AmpliFi HD makes high performance routing look good again.
When I first laid eyes on the AmpliFi HD mesh networking system, I thought to myself “sure, it looks good, but there’s no way I’m getting any kind of performance out of that puny little box”. With a central base station that measures just 3.9″ on all sides (a perfect cube), this is a router that on its own could squeeze into just about any corner in your home without your guest being any the wiser.
That said, we can not think of a reason why you would not want to make the AmpliFi a central star in the decor of your home. Everything from Apple’s white hull to the 1.5 “LCD multicolor screen, screams the best of networking.We are not even sure that this is necessarily a category of routers but if so, AmpliFi invented it.
So how is the company able to offer some of the best speed and range test results we’ve seen on a router in 2017? The secret lies in a more recent technology that has just been introduced to the market over the past year (at least on a large scale), called a mesh network. Mesh routers and network systems work by creating multiple antenna networks that communicate with each other and plug into standard outlets wherever you need them most. This means that instead of a single base station with a bunch of antennas broadcasting from a single location, the responsibility to have your whole house covered is rather spread over a “mesh” of antennas.
You can add as many antennas as you want to a single hub, making it easy to get a reliable signal, no matter where you navigate. Using its smartly designed antennas that are magnetized at the output (they will fall if your dog or your child accidentally strikes it), the AmpliFi HD broke all the records of speed and range that we put forward, beyond the call of duty.
The only disadvantage of the AmpliFi HD system is that, instead of using a pre-built dashboard, the company started from scratch. This means that many essential features such as QoS management and parental controls are piecemeal over time, instead of being immediately available. If you are a large family and want to keep an eye on their data usage or at least be able to better control the types of content they can or can not see on the web, you are probably better off with a Linksys model instead.
Why You Should Trust Me
As a resident router expert at Gadget Review, in my nearly 10-year career in reviewing new wireless hardware technologies, I learned a lot about what makes a excellent router and where others are so obvious that you can see they come a mile away.
I spent about 200 hours reviewing 15+ routers for Gadget Review and I wrote a number of practical articles and tutorials that explain the router’s technology, how to use it and where it can help you develop the wireless network of your home the most. I have pretty much all the mobile network apps installed on my iPhone 7 at one time or another and I know the ins and outs of the desktop and web browser configurations that many manufacturers currently use.
My reviews have been featured on the websites of some of the best router distributors, including Linksys, and I have kept up to date on all the latest developments on the hardware and software side of the company for years.
How We Choose the Best Wireless Router
When you are wondering what to look for in a wireless router, there are some key features to watch for. The way we choose the best of the best routers is usually down to three main factors: signal strength, number of embedded functions and price. The routers on this list are all leading their game in these areas and consistently offer high-end performance alongside a fair price and a plethora of extras that users can use to perfectly customize their own experience wireless network at home or their office space.
Router technology is continuously evolving to respond to new Internet activities, whether it be online games, photo uploads or 4K broadcasting.
All the routers we have chosen work with a specification of the 802.11ac standard, the latest version of the Wi-Fi transmission technology that will be available, as well as a minimum of two wireless bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz . They incorporate additional features that place them a little above the rest of the competition, including: quality of service management, parental controls, intuitive mobile applications, media servers, internal firewalls, and more. The routers were tested in a 2,600-square-foot home, which was surrounded only by two other wireless networks, so we experienced the least possible interference during the testing process.
Accessing and configuring these features made it possible to have an entry barrier that only the mid-level technical nerd would fully understand, but nowadays, with mobile and desktop applications, the process has considerably simplified.
Dashboards like Linksys Intelligent Wi-Fi system continue to establish the gold standard to create software that looks to be designed for real people, not just for those who have read the manual Routers Wireless for Dummies. Each characteristic is clearly presented and explained in a way that is meaningful to the layman. In today’s world of Internet threats, we believe it is important that as a purchaser (and owner) of these routers, you know exactly what they can (and can not) do to protect you, and your family, while they are surfing online. a well-designed dashboard is a must.
In terms of speed, all routers in this list are equipped with a minimum specification of 1900AC, which means they have a theoretical maximum output of simultaneous dual band signals up to 600 Mbps (2.4 GHz) + 1300 Mbps (5 GHz) at one time. Options like the Linksys WRT3200ACM are even faster than this though, peaks at a massive 2.6Gbps.
In recent years, one of the new technology products for the high-end sector of the routers market is the addition of MU-MIMO, or multi-user multi-user technology to multiple users. As explained in my HowToGeek article on this topic, MU-MIMO is a beamforming technology style that evenly distributes traffic to all members of the household simultaneously, instead of one at a time. There is not yet a large number of devices capable of supporting a MU-MIMO stream, but if you are the type of buyer who will prefer to make purchases such as MU-MIMO is the way to go to follow.
Finally, we always do what we can to keep a close eye on the design of a router, and only recommend those who do not take up too much space or end up being a central part of your home (unless you want to being, of course). Aberrant values such as AmpliFi HD move the router design to the next level, although we think it might take several years before traditional routers follow the same path.
Wireless Router Features to Look Out For
- First, it helps to know that when we talk about “dual-band” routers, what we’re actually referring to are the radio frequency spectrums that the router uses to transmit data to wireless devices.
- The first, 2.4GHz, is the oldest of the current WiFi transmission standards still offered on modern-day routers, and is generally best for long-range, low-speed transmissions like internet browsing and checking your email.
- The other, 5GHz, is made to achieve the highest-speed signal possible, usually at the expense of the amount of range you can maintain from the wireless base station. So if you’re looking for the fastest wireless router, make sure it has this.
- And all those letters (a/ac/b/n/g)? All you need to know about those is most routers these days don’t even bother with the outdated a/b standard. “G” and “N” are the newer, most widely adopted spectrum classifications that designate the maximum amount of bandwidth the channel is capable of handling at any given time (54Mbps and 600Mbps, respectively).
- 802.11ac is the newest entry of the bunch, capable of handling what’s known as MIMO technology, or “Multiple Input, Multiple Output”.
- This refers to the way a router prioritizes which devices get their data first, either doling it out sequentially to up to four devices in older standards, or in the case of 802.11ac in particular, simultaneously giving every device in the house its own stream that’s no more or less powerful than the other at upwards of eight streams at a time
- There aren’t a ton of mobile devices capable of decoding 802.11ac’s MU-MIMO stream capabilities just yet (the MU is short for “multiple user), but if you want a router that’s 100% future proof, this is definitely an indicator you’ll want to keep an eye on.
- When it comes to achieving the best wireless router range, both the type of channel you settle on (2.4GHz vs. 5Ghz) and the spectrum your wireless device uses to connect (b/g/n) to will be the primary indicators of what the router can push out at any given point.
- This in mind, the size of the antenna on the back of the device can also play a huge part in what kind of distance or power you can achieve with any given model. The larger the antenna, the longer the signal will transmit before eventually petering out.
- If you’re worried about interference from surrounding technology or other routers in your apartment building, it’s better to use the 5GHz spectrum, which is often less crowded than 2.4GHz.
- If you’re a gamer, and looking for the best wireless router for gaming, or someone who is already on the 4K Netflix streaming boat, you know better than most that even the best WiFi signal in the world still won’t beat being directly plugged into the back of the router.
- The three different numbers you should be looking for when choosing a router that’s best for both WiFi applications and wired connections is 10/100/1000, which refers to the number of Mbps that the ports on the back can handle at any given time. Most consumer cable plans don’t break more than 100Mbps/down, but if you’re looking for an enterprise-level device a 1000Mbps connection should be more than enough to handle the job.
Parental Controls, QOS and Guest Network Features
- Having once been a kid with the internet myself, it’s no secret that parental controls installed on a local computer can only go so far to prevent certain members of the household from doing what they want online without getting caught. This is where the backend restriction controls come in.
- All of the routers on this list come with some form of parental control panel or another, capable of directly limiting access to specific websites, IP addresses, or connection types throughout the day.
- QOS (Quality of Service) configurations on the other hand, are made for just the opposite, customizing which channels get opened up to a greater amount of bandwidth over others (a game vs. a Netflix stream, for example).
- If you live in a house with a lot of roommates or family members, but need to prioritize certain activities over another, a solid QOS rollout is how you’re going to make it happen. Next is the option to set up what’s known as a “guest network”, or a WiFi space that’s transmitted separately from the primary hub. Guest networks are great if you have people coming in and out of your home often and asking for the password, but don’t feel comfortable letting everyone on the block know how to get into to your main network after the visit is over.
Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) and Security
- Although the earliest days of WiFi security were plagued by a deluge of conflicting, often confusing and ineffective standards, these days most router manufacturers seem to have settled on the idea that it doesn’t get much better than WPA/WPA2.
- WiFi Protected Access is the security method that most readers are probably already familiar with, requiring users to create a network key that any devices joining the network need to enter in order to get let in the front door. A new technique however; WPS (WiFi Protected Setup), is starting to buck that common trend, using a simultaneous button press on the router and device themselves to link up a secure connection.
- By requiring the device owner to have physical access to the router itself, WPS keys prevent hackers from breaking into a network from over the air or stealing a signal from your next-door neighbor’s house instead.
- Lastly, if you’re someone like me who’s already burned through the entirety of everything Netflix or Amazon Prime has to offer, the option to set up your own media server for streaming on the go can be an enticing one. Some routers will include a USB port on the back that you can use to mount an external hard drive packed to the nines with downloaded shows, movies, and music, all of which can be a lifesaver on long road trips or while you’re waiting for delayed flights in a dreary airport terminal.
Router Speed Tests
What Else You Should Think About
Before you start buying your first (or fifteenth) router, you must first familiarize yourself quickly with the most informed purchase decision.
The first is to learn the basics, what you can do through our resource article that covers this very subject. Then, once you have your router in the house, you are going to have to know how to set it up properly. There is no point trying to protect your network after it has already been infected. It is therefore imperative to have a solid security strategy and a good understanding of all threats that your network can protect. round trip.
So with all this in mind, what model is the best wireless router for 2016 and 2017?
If the Linksys Smart WRT3200ACM is not supported in the scope, reliability, and ease of use settings, the Linksys Smart WRT3200ACM supports it. It’s a bit more expensive than some, but with an elegant and timeless design combined with the attention of the attention of the Linksys details, the WRT3200ACM succeeds in striking all its brands while bringing an air of simplicity to the table that can not be matched.
Of course, the TP-Link Archer C9 is of great value and the Nighthawk X6 seems to be able to shoot down an attack helicopter, but when you count all the different variables, the Linksys WRT3200ACM is the best bet on the market today .
You still can not decide? Take a look at our notices about wireless routers, and by the time you are finished reading, you may feel sufficiently informed to activate the trigger of the model that suits you.