Looking for the best wireless router can be as challenging as it is to look for your life partner.
Before you dive right in, it is best to open both eyes. Once you have made your decision, it is time to close one eye and live with that decision.
Thankfully, when it comes to wireless routers, there is no messy divorce to go through as you can simply walk to a store and pick a newer and better model up. The best WiFi router will be able to offer a seamless connection to the Internet while blanketing the immediate area so that you do not end up with any kind of “dead zones” in the vicinity, just which model should you pick up?
We have taken the liberty to pore over a number of WiFi routers in order to search for the very best in terms of bang for your buck. Here are the best wireless router reviews 2017.
Best Wireless Routers 2017
|Device Name||Weight||Ports||Wireless Comm||Buy|
D-Link DIR 890L
Amped Wirelss RTA2600
TP-Link Archer C7
Apple AirPort Extreme
Best Wireless Router Recommendation – ASUS RT-AC88U
WiFi routers tend to come in boring designs, as though it is more of an afterthought than anything else. Not so with the ASUS RT-AC88U. This is a generously sized WiFi router that not only carries a mean look, it is also backed by powerful hardware that ensures a seamless gaming and streaming experience. Unlike rice rockets that do seem as though they can run faster because of a sticker on the spoiler or near the exhaust vents, the ASUS RT-AC88U will not disappoint when we put it through the paces.
A generous allocation of 8 Ethernet ports which will jive to the tune of 1 Gbps connections makes the ASUS RT-AC88U the ideal candidate for small offices, an all night gaming session at LAN parties, or other situations where there is still a need for cable connectivity.
A 5GHz workhorse
5GHz wireless networking is where the ASUS RT-AC88U excels, making it the ideal WiFi router for apartments and other smaller areas. We also had added peace of mind since it comes paired with advanced firmware that are chock-full of features that will augment the network’s security, and boasts of fantastic multilingual support and very clear help documentation.
I hate gravity!
If there were one thing that the ASUS RT-AC88U is unable to do, it would be its inability to be mounted on walls. This means we always had to use it on a flat surface, and with the rather large footprint, we had to rearrange our desk and work area to accommodate it. We attribute its inability to be wall mounted to its weight, as we agree that it is not a good idea to leave anything that is more than 2 lbs on the wall in case it falls prey to the law of gravity and ends up like Humpty Dumpty. That is the price to pay for all of the innards within, and it does not offer outstanding results when making use of the 2.4 GHz wireless network. Regardless of the above fact, ASUS RT-AC88U is our candidate for the best wireless router in 2017.
Best Wireless Router for Home Use – D-Link DIR-890L Tri-Band
If looks alone could determine whether we would purchase a WiFi or not, then the D-Link DIR-890L would certainly win hands down for this year. After all, it has a design that resembles the offspring of a mechanical spider and drone with stealth capabilities factored in. It is also not small in size, but there is a very good reason for that — it needs the space to stash all of the internal components that will turn this into a speed demon. It certainly does help that it will also feature an interface that is easy to use.
Confines in a Small Space
Armed with half a dozen fixed external antennas, the D-Link DIR-890L has a fair number of connectivity options, making it perfect for home use or even within the confines of a very small office. Being a tri-band router, the D-Link DIR-890L will boast of three access points. Those rocking to older devices can make use of the 2.4GHz range, while the newer devices can settle for the higher end spectrum in the 5GHz range. It can be automated to have the SmartConnect feature assign bands on its own based on the devices that would connect to it, and the fact that parental controls and website filtering are thrown into the mix makes it ideal for use in families and homes.
Ease to Use
Other than it being insanely fast on the 5GHz spectrum, the other main strength of the D-Link DIR-890L would be its ease of use. Setting up the D-Link DIR-890L is a snap, and just about anyone is able to get it up and running in a matter of minutes. This is not for the serious enthusiast who would like to be able to control all aspects of the hardware though.
It does seem that the main stumbling block to picking up the D-Link DIR-890L in the list of best wifi routers would be its price tag that passes the $200 mark, making it a premium purchase in the eyes of many. However, gamers who want nothing but the very best will certainly not think twice about forking out a chunk of money for it.
Best Gaming Router – Netgear Nighthawk R7000 Dual-Band
High Performance Router
We might have to cancel our gym membership if we were to constantly rearrange the Netgear Nighthawk R7000, as this is one of the heftiest WiFi routers that we have come across so far. We don’t suppose Netgear would simply load up on its weight for no particular reason at all, and we were correct in following that line of thought as Netgear has decided to throw in everything, including the kitchen sink, to make this an enticing prospect for anyone who is on the lookout for a high performance WiFi router that is fully dependable and reliable at all times.
Taking a very different route from the rest of its Netgear router brethren, the Netgear Nighthawk R7000 does look the part of being a flagship WiFi router. Sporting a sleek and angular design alongside matte black finish that is accompanied by a trio of solid external antennas, it has a large footprint that ensures sheer stability when resting on a plane surface. We like the idea of having a front-facing USB 3.0 port, making it a snap to add on any USB storage if required without having to fumble around at the back.
Speed speaks for itself
Theoretically speaking, the specifications on the Netgear Nighthawk R7000 lets it hit a whopping 1900Mbps in terms of speed, and it has other components that also work in tandem to prevent any bottlenecks. We like the idea of the Beamforming feature that will allow the Netgear Nighthawk R7000 to figure out just where the connected device is, boosting signal in accordance to the device’s direction. Such targeted efforts will work great, especially in homes where there used to be dead spots and this is why the router made its way into our list of best wireless routers.
This is not a WiFi router that you would want to risk mounting on the wall in a hipster coffee establishment or at the office, since its weight might prove to be its undoing. We await the day when engineers are able to pack in a similar level of performance in a slim form factor.
Best Value for Money Router – Netgear R8000 Nighthawk Tri-Band
Ages well like fine wine
Since we are not on the lookout for the greatest and the latest, we did not mind taking the Netgear R8000 Nighthawk Tri-Band WiFi router out for a spin. It might have been around for more than a couple of years already, but thankfully, WiFi routers do not end up obsolete at the speed of which other computer components and peripherals do. It is still able to hold out against the other big hitters of today, delivering fantastic WiFi data rates over the 5GHz frequency band, and also boasts of the ability to function as a NAS server by plugging in an external hard drive.
In terms of looks, the Netgear R8000 Nighthawk is certainly a head turner after all this while, and we like the fact that we are able to fold all six of its antennas down onto the top segment, making it a snap to tote around to LAN parties without running the risk of having one of these antennas snap off due to carelessness.
Love handles reflect its age
However, time has shown that it is possible to offer better features while helping the overall form factor shrink — leading to a lighter device that would provide a greater degree of flexibility in terms of placement. The Netgear R8000 Nighthawk literally carries the weight of such baggage for being a 2014 release. We had to avoid dropping the Netgear R8000 Nighthawk as we do not want to risk amputating our toes.
The 2.4GHz frequency band’s performance also proved to be suspect, and the WiFi range is nothing to shout about. In fact, it could prove frustrating at times, and as we live in a home where there are dead spots with the existing WiFi setup, the Netgear R8000 Nighthawk certainly did not help to solve that issue. It is still frustratingly expensive even after being around for some time.
Best Asus Wifi Router – ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band
Simple to use
ASUS has long had a positive presence in the world of routers, and their reputation is not sullied with the ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band. Sporting powerful hardware that gets the job done, the ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band is a WiFi router that delivers what is promised on the box where performance is concerned. It will also make sure that our Internet surfing sessions remain as painless as possible, thanks to its ability that helps prevent any kind of malware or other malicious code from making its way onto the home network.
Offers protection for everyone
Known as the Asus AiProtection feature, it utilizes Trend Micro’s Smart Home Network solution that will help monitor sessions, picking up malware and viruses while preventing the user from entering malicious websites. Parental controls are also a staple on the ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band so that screen time among the children can be controlled. If the need arises, the ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band can also double up as a powerful VPN or NAS server.
So far, the ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band has exhibited some impressive scores in the throughput speed tests that we put it through and made it to the list of best wifi routers 2017. This makes it more than suitable for hardcore gamers and is certainly capable of meeting the demands of a home or small office without missing a beat.
The ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band would certainly not win any kind of beauty pageants for WiFi routers if there ever was one. While it might look imposing at first glance, with all of its half dozen antennas sticking out at the back as though to make the ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band look like a throne, it is certainly not practical. You are unable to sneak it in between shelves. We know that seasoned users and professionals will not bother to take a look at the included documentation as they would be able to set it up in no time at all, but beginners might struggle and call their techie friend to drop by due to the lack proper documentation.
Best 802.11 AC Router – Amped Wireless RTA2600 Athena MU-MIMO
Ekes out every drop of performance
The Amped Wireless RTA2600 Athena happens to come with support for MU-MIMO (Multi-User-Multiple In, Multiple Out) technology, which would place it in a very special pantheon of WiFi routers. Being a dual-band 802.11ac router, the inclusion of MU-MIMO technology lets it serve multiple clients all at the same time. This clearly provides it with a performance boost for those who would like to gain an edge wherever possible, no matter how small it is.
Since clients are not served sequentially, we were able to connect many devices to it at once and have all of them enjoy optimal bandwidth simultaneously. We understand that this is a reciprocal technology — the individual client would need to have MU-MIMO support as well, which not too many devices carry that kind of support as at press time.
We like the black housing that makes up the Athena RTA2600, and with looks not being everything, the Athena RTA2600 will boast of a slew of management features which are easy to use and understand via its Web interface. Basically, setting up the Athena RTA2600 is a snap and does not require a degree in rocket science. Parents will certainly find the Athena RTA2600 to be worth checking out thanks to its Airtime Allocation feature. This allows one to prioritize the amount of traffic on a specific band and more importantly, for a specific device.
During our tests, the Athena RTA2600 performed admirably, especially in the 5GHz spectrum. This would make it suitable for small apartments and perhaps a basic office set up that has no more than five people.
Priced higher than expected
However, the Athena RTA2600 is not the cheapest WiFi router that is in the market, and for the amount of money forked out for it, we felt that it did not deliver enough value. Across long distances, the coverage is not exactly the most stable, and file transfer speeds proved to be rather frustrating when tested.
Best Dual Band Router – Linksys WRT1900ACS DD-WRT
The Linksys WRT1900ACS might seem to be a blast from the past for many seasoned veterans, due to the similar color configuration of black and blue that has long been associated with Linksys’ routers and products for the past many years.
Definitely one of the better dual-band-routers out there at the moment that offers a stunning performance on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrums. The amount of coverage that the Linksys WRT1900ACS offers is also notable. Previous dead spots in the home were reachable by the Linksys WRT1900ACS during our tests, making it a suitable candidate if the workplace or home happens to have plenty of these lurking around.
If you are short on space, we would not recommend the Linksys WRT1900ACS since it happens to come with a gigantic footprint for a WiFi router in its class. The AC adapter also does not come with the most diminutive design, and will certainly stick out like a sore thumb, especially since we love to have a minimalist approach in design. The one redeeming grace for its bulk? It can be placed horizontally, and neither does it shy away from being mounted on a wall.
Easily customized for greater flexibility
We are glad to say that the Linksys WRT1900ACS is more than capable of delivering what it promises on the box, and the lack of MU-MIMO support should not be counted against it at the very reasonable price point that it comes with. More than capable of offering a speedy throughput and featuring some excellent coverage within the area, the Linksys WRT1900ACS is certainly worth checking out if you are on a rather tight budget and yet do not want to skimp on performance and features in a WiFi router. The fact that it can be customized or run on open-source software makes it all the more endearing. We like the idea of spending not more than $230 for the best WiFi router that is able to deliver so much more.
Best Modern Router 2017 – TP-Link Archer C7 Dual-Band
Progressive and modern
The TP-Link Archer C7 is one of the newer WiFi routers in the market that we put in the list in order to see just how far technology has progressed compared to the heavyweights that were released one year and even a couple of years back. The dimensions of WiFi routers have more or less stabilized to a certain size, but there is still work that needs to be done in terms of materials used. While no one is going to take a look at the WiFi router, it does help if the WiFi router itself has a premium aesthetic and feel to it. The TP-Link Archer C7 arrives in a shiny black shade that might be a fingerprint magnet, but it will not turn heads for sure.
Coverage is plentiful
Thankfully for the TP-Link Archer C7, its shortcomings in terms of looks are overcome by its performance. The TP-Link Archer C7 is no shrinking violet where wireless coverage is concerned, as it experiences a lower than average throughput speed drop within the 5 to 30 feet distance bracket even when compared to majority of the high end performers.
We like the amount of thought that went into the build of the trio of detachable antennas — these have been specially made in such a manner that they do not flop over or tilt way too easily. The performance of the TP-Link Archer C7 is further augmented thanks to another three internal antennas that will work alongside the external ones for a more compelling argument to bring it home.
Newbies will love the ease of setup
We also like the fact that the TP-Link Archer C7 can be easily setup in no time at all. Its ease of use is further enhanced via the one-touch WPS button that delivers WPA wireless security encryption. Enthusiasts who love tinkering around might want to avoid the TP-Link Archer C7 since it has very limited wireless settings that can be changed, and neither were we able to set it to 802.11n in order to leverage the speed gains on our network.
In a nutshell, the TP-Link Archer C7 is the ideal candidate to be the best wireless router for the average home user or office worker, as it is more than able to handle tasks such as movie streaming or having a VPN link to the office. What it is not built for, however, is to have it play the role of mediator among hardcore gamers.
Best Range Router – D-Link DIR-880L Dual-Band Review
Classic look that stood the test of time
The D-Link DIR-880L is the company’s very first AC1900 router to hit the market more than two years ago, so how does it hold up against the rest of the modern day competition? Not too shabby, actually. The looks of the D-Link DIR-880L are certainly uninspiring to say the least, but it does help that it arrives in an all black shade while looking glossy in all of the right places.
An outstanding part of the overall design would be the trio of dual-band dipole antennas that look way too large for comfort, being arrayed across the rear segment. While we do not like the idea of having the USB 3.0 port located on the left side of the D-Link DIR-880L, it is still a better idea than having it placed right at the back that is even less accessible.
Versatile in placement
We like the idea of having the option of placing the D-Link DIR-880L on a plane surface or to have it mounted on a wall courtesy of the included mounting screw slots that have been centered on the bottom segment. This provides the freedom of letting it remain pointed up or down according to our preference.
Overall, the D-Link DIR-880L is a decent purchase that has no reason in particular not to bring one home or to replace the broken WiFi router at the office. However, it does not really stand out from the crowd, but goes about doing its work quietly and diligently — so those who would like to have more of a visual and arresting presence might want to give this a miss and fork out a little bit more for a futuristic looking WiFi router.
With newer routers in the market, the technology on the D-Link DIR-880L might not make the cut anymore for the discerning consumer who want nothing but the latest.
Best Router for Apple users – Apple AirPort Extreme Dual-Band
Sleek Apple design reflected all over
Would a comprehensive list of WiFi router reviews be complete if it did not include Apple’s very own AirPort Extreme? We did not think so as well, which is why we also looked at how the Apple AirPort Extreme would stack up against far newer WiFi routers that are in the market. Definitely a step up over the Apple AirPort base station, the AirPort Extreme is a standards-compliant wireless router that will play nice with just about any IEEE 802.11 device — meaning Windows users too, will be able to have one of those classic looking white peripherals that were normally reserved for Apple users only.
Clever integration of power supply
At the heart of the AirPort Extreme would be a dual-band 11ac router with a power supply that has been mounted within. In other words, despite being more than a couple of years being in the market, the AirPort Extreme is still a sight to behold. It was designed in such a manner where there would be no ugly looking power supply on the outside, but rather, an accompanying matching white cable to go along with the mains lead.
Not only that, the cooling fan within gets the job done without being an irritant due to the sheer quietness as it operates. In our close range tests, the AirPort Extreme did prove to be a formidable performer still. It worked pretty well across distances of 10 meters as well, making this a worthy addition to any home that mainly uses Apple devices.
Despite the extreme ease of use of the AirPort Extreme, there is one particular drawback that we would like to highlight. It deals with the setup and administration that is especially accessible only through a dedicated software on the iOS and OS X platforms, as opposed to firing up a regular web browser to get the job done. Despite of being places last in our list of best wireless router reviews 2017, it can certainly impress a daily internet user.
WiFi Router Buyer’s Guide
Purchasing a WiFi router is not as simple as walking into a computer store and picking the cheapest model on the list. There are different factors that have to be taken into consideration as well as one’s budget while enlisting the best wireless routers. Here are a few tips that will make it easier to settle for the right WiFi router model.
I want to live wirelessly!
You might actually be living with a cable modem all this while, streaming your favorite movies and TV shows on it. However, it is time to break free from the shackles of a tethered lifestyle and make the jump to the world of wireless connectivity. This is where a good WiFi router will be able to aid your cause. No longer do you need to connect your laptop to the Internet via a LAN cable, and save more on your monthly mobile data plan as you take advantage of WiFi connectivity at home.
WiFi router performance
Most of the time, the standard WiFi router that was provided by your Internet Service Provider would offer a pretty normal level of performance and working range. In fact, one might even find the presence of dead spots in a home. That would be a surefire signal to replace the stock WiFi router with something that is able to offer a far greater amount of coverage. Do take note that the size and layout of the environment will also affect the way the WiFi router performs.
Many of the higher end WiFi routers these days come in futuristic designs. While that is all nice and good, what matters more is the performance offered underneath the hood. With that in mind, do pick a WiFi router that offers the level of performance that you want, and yet is able to fit into your existing living area or has the ability to be mounted on a wall in order to free up more space.
A small space would not require the use of a WiFi router that offers amazing coverage. In such situations, one needs to pick a model that has very fast throughput capability while working in near to mid-range distances. Those who live in a double storey house, for instance, might want to hunt for a WiFi router that has an extended range with strong data throughput even from a distance. The location of such a WiFi router should be within a central area as far as it is possible.
Budget and WiFi Router features
Always work within your budget, and you will not go wrong. Do take note of your existing (and perhaps future) needs and make the purchase accordingly. Some of the hardware features on WiFi routers that should always be taken into consideration would be the number of LAN ports that are available, the number and type of USB ports, as well as Quality of Service (QoS).
QoS is also known as Media Prioritization or Traffic Control, letting you optimize the WiFi router’s performance based on what task it is being used for at that point in time. For instance, settings can be optimized for video streaming, or to make Skype calls, and for gamers, top priority when enjoying a marathon gaming session as QoS will allocate more bandwidth to those apps in order to deliver the smoothest user experience possible.
After going through all of the above, we do hope that it has made the quest for bringing home the best possible WiFi router easier while answering any questions raised along the way. There is no perfect WiFi router in the market, only the ones that are able to best suit a particular need or situation at varying price points.