Wireless internet has been the standard for most homes and offices for years now, with wireless routers among the essential items one needs to ensure optimal connections and network speeds.
As with most other wireless products, you have seemingly limitless choices when it comes to routers, so novice consumers can often have a hard time navigating through the endless buying listings.
As an experienced IT expert, while I understand that frustration, I also know what to look for in routers, and enjoy passing my knowledge onto others so they can acquire the right products to keep their networks humming right long.
So, are you one of those who’s having a frustrating time searching for the right router? Or are you simply curious as to whether or not you’re using the best one within your budget?
Whoever you are, I’ve got you covered. Below are my top picks for the best wireless routers of 2018, along with some vital information that can help steer you along with your buying decisions.
Let’s jump right in.
Best Wireless Routers 2018
|Device Name||Weight||Ports||Wireless Comm||Buy|
D-Link DIR 890L
Amped Wirelss RTA2600
TP-Link Archer C7
Apple AirPort Extreme
Netgear R7000P – Best WiFi router currently on the market
As fickle as it sounds, the first thing we have to address with Netgear R7000P is the sharp looks of the router. There is a nice edge to the design, quite literally, which makes the device look a lot more masculine, dominant and confident.
I for one am glad sharp edges are making their way back into the market, but that’s just me.
The display is a lot more refined. There are 4 WiFi antenna sticks and 4 LAN ports, so it makes sense to have 4 indicators as well, conveniently labeled 1, 2, 3 and 4.
There are two USB ports as well, with the arguably faster USB 3.0 in the front, and the standard (and somewhat outdated?) USB 2.0 on the back. The design speaks highly of the ergonomic considerations, with the angles and air vent placement certainly being well thought out.
Netgear’s R7000P has two 5GHz bands to carry your traffic, as we noted earlier. This places it several notches higher than the average router.
It is considerably weighty, (which makes it extra stable on the table,) but do make sure you drive the nail nicely inside the wall if you plan on mounting or hanging it.
The size may be a little off-putting to some, making the location crucial, but I don’t recommend hiding your router under a mantlepiece or tucking it somewhere inconspicuous, as it needs air circulation to avoid overheating.
Netgear R7000P gives you more than your money’s worth, while offering plenty of versatility, two 5 GHz bands, and a very user-friendly form of operation. It’s the best router you can find right now. We definitely understand its popularity.
Performance: Up to 2.3 Gbps, AC2300 WiFi
Runner UP – Best Performing – 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. In fact, it was our best wireless router of 2017 — but not because of looks.
This is a generously sized WiFi router that not only carries a mean aesthetic, it is also backed by powerful hardware that ensures a seamless gaming and streaming experience.
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 great for apartments and other smaller areas.
It also comes paired with advanced firmware that is chock-full of features that will augment the network’s security, and boasts fantastic multilingual support and very clear help documentation.
One thing that the ASUS RT-AC88U is unable to do is be mounted on walls. This means we always had to use it on a flat surface, and with its rather large footprint, we had to rearrange our desk and work area to accommodate it.
We attribute the inability to be wall mounted to its weight, as it’s 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. Regardless of that fact, the ASUS RT-AC88U is still one of the best wireless routers in 2018.
Performance: Up to 1.8 Gbps, AC3100 WiFi
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: the DIR-890L needs the space to stash all of the internal components to turn it into a speed demon — albeit with a very easy to use interface.
Excels 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 can provide three access points. Those who are still rocking 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.
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.
For some, the main stumbling block to placing 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. However, gamers who want nothing but the very best will certainly not think twice about forking out the money for it.
Performance: Up to 3.2 Gbps, AC3200 WiFi
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.
Netgear has decided to throw in practically everything 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 a matte black accompanied by a trio of solid external antennas, it has a large footprint that ensures stability when resting on a flat surface.
We like the idea of having a front-facing USB 3.0 port, making it a snap to add on any USB storage without having to fumble around at the back.
Speed speaks for itself
The specifications on the Netgear Nighthawk R7000 lets it hit a fast 1900Mbps in terms of speed, and it has other components that work in tandem to prevent any bottlenecks.
We love the Beamforming feature that allows the Netgear Nighthawk R7000 to figure out just where the connected device is, boosting signal in accordance to the device’s direction. This is very effective in minimizing any dead spots in the home.
As with many of these routers, the weight aspect and lack of wall mounting is kind of a bummer, but comes with the territory for now. We look forward to the day when routers have these sam capability in s smaller, light er package, but this will certainly do for now.
Performance: Up to 1.9 Gbps, AC1900 WiFi
Best Value for Money Router – Netgear R8000 Nighthawk Tri-Band
Ages well like fine wine
Since we are not necessarily on the lookout for the very latest, we did not mind taking the Netgear R8000 Nighthawk Tri-Band WiFi router out for a spin. 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 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 size factor shrink, leading to a lighter device that provides 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.
The 2.4GHz frequency band’s performance also proved to be suspect, and the WiFi range is nothing to shout about. Living 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. Even so, its blazing speeds and connectability still makes it one of the best around all these years later.
Performance: Up to 3.2 Gbps, AC3200 WiFi
Best Asus Wifi Router – ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band
Simple to use
ASUS has always maintained a big presence in the world of routers, and their reputation is not sullied with the ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band. Sporting powerful hardware that always gets the job done, the ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band delivers exactly what is promised on the box where performance is concerned.
Its ability that helps prevent any kind of malware or other malicious code from making its way onto the home network is another major plus.
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.
In addition, the ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band has exhibited some impressive scores in the throughput speed tests that we put it through, placing it on the list of best wifi routers 2018.
This makes it very suitable for hardcore gamers, and is certainly capable of meeting the demands of a home or small office without missing a beat.
With that said, the ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band will certainly not win any kind of beauty pageants for WiFi routers if there ever was one.
While it might look imposing at first glance thanks to a 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. Good luck placing it between shelves.
The setup aspect will be fine for expert users, but novices may have a bit of trouble fine-tuning it for their network needs.
The ASUS RT-AC3200 does have a few flaws, but it’s still our overall favorite for ASUS routers, which is definitely saying a lot.
Performance: Up to 3.2 Gbps, AC3200 WiFi
Best 802.11 AC Router – Amped Wireless RTA2600 Athena MU-MIMO
Maximizes every last drop of performance
The Amped Wireless RTA2600 Athena comes 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, and not too many devices carry that kind of support as at press time. Still, for those that do, it’s a game changer.
As for looks, we like the design of the sleek, black housing. The Athena RTA2600 also provides a slew of management features which are easy to use and understand via its Web interface.
Setting up the Athena RTA2600 is a snap, and 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. This was mainly in regards to a lack of coverage over larger spaces, and file transfer speeds proved to be rather frustrating when tested too. If it was a little cheaper, this wouldn’t be as glaring, but it’s still an excellent purchase despite.
Performance: Up to 2.53 Gbps, AC2600 WiFi
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 familiar color configuration of black and blue that’s long been associated with Linksys’ routers and products.
The WRT1900ACS is definitely one of the better dual-band-routers out there at the moment, offering 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 them lurking around.
However, if you are short on space, we would not recommend the Linksys WRT1900ACS since it happens to come with a sizable footprint for its class.
The AC adapter also does not come with the most diminutive design, and will certainly stick out like a sore thumb. The one redeeming grace for its bulk? It can be placed horizontally, and even mounted on a wall for once.
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 due to 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.
Performance: Up to 1.9 Gbps, AC1900 WiFi
Best Modern Router 2018 – TP-Link Archer C7 Dual-Band
The TP-Link Archer C7 is one of the newer WiFi routers in the market that we put in the list, and it certainly stacks up well against established heavyweights.
Coverage is plentiful
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 work alongside the external ones.
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 we were not 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.
Performance: Up to 1.3 Gbps, AC1750 WiFi
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 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 like many other models out there.
Versatile in placement
We like the idea of having the option of placing the D-Link DIR-880L on a plane surface or, 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 preference.
Although there’s much to like, with many newer routers in the market, the technology on the D-Link DIR-880L might not make the cut anymore for the discerning consumer who favors nothing but the latest in tech.
Overall, the D-Link DIR-880L is still a solid purchase for anyone looking for extended range, without spending too much in comparison.
Performance: Up to 1.9 Gbps, AC1900 WiFi
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?
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.
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. 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. In other words, despite being more than a couple of years being in the market, the AirPort Extreme is still a sight to behold.
Not only that, the router’s quiet cooling fan gets the job done while being barely audible.
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. The setup and administration that is 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.
Even with a few minor drawbacks, the AirPort Extreme continue to hold its ground against new competitors each year, despite remaining largely unchanged.
Performance: Up to 1.3 Gbps, AC2300 WiFi
Best Routers for Large Homes – Asus RT-AC2900
Bigger homes are going to have bigger router needs in order to provide the coverage needed for all devices throughout — unless you want to buy extenders, which isn’t the best route to take.
The Asus RT-AC2900 has been designed for larger properties, offering substantial network strength and traffic regulation, reaching even the most furthest rooms, and perhaps even out on the back patio as well. It’s combination of custom options, user-friendliness, and of course range and performance make it the best choice for any large homeowner.
Power and Features Galore
The router is dual-band, and uses 802.11ac MU-MIMO technology, giving it the capability of data transfer speeds up to a whopping 2900 Mbps (which is ultimately determined by your internet provider’s service plan, of course.)
Network traffic optimization and blazing connection speeds are largely owed to the RT-AC2900’s 1.8GHz 32 bit dual-core Processor. On the back of the unit, you’ll find a USB 3.1 port, along with and 4 separate Gigabit LAN Ports for even more connection options.
The RT-AC2900 also comes with an impressive built-in security system to ward off outside attacks, and all the controls and features can be operated using the Asus app, which includes instant notifications to your phone or tablet.
The only real drawback to the RT-AC2900 is its awkward profile and lack of wall mount, but it’s not hard to find a way around such things.
For under $200, you’re simply not going to find a more all-inclusive and user-friendly router for large homes. The Asus RT-AC2900 is both large home and high-bandwidth device friendly, so it’s an easy choice.
Performance: Up to 2.9 Gbps, AC2900 WiFi
Types of Routers: Standalone and Mesh
Standalone – A standalone router is simply a router that is separate from a modem. Most cable companies will rent you a modem/router combo by default, and for some this is the most convenient way to go about things. However, you are skimping out on performance.
Having a standalone router gives you the ability to increase speeds when you sign up for faster services, as modems tend to be a little behind in this aspect. A standalone router also has better security settings.
Mesh – Mesh routers are routers capable of working on a mesh network. A mesh network consists of a router that broadcasts the signals to other “satellites” on the network, which then bounces the signals back and forth between others.
These creates a web-like network coverage that is very effective in eliminating dead zones and maintaining a consistent quality of service, regardless of where you are in the building or area.
These networks are more extensive and complicated than standard networks, but provide a number of advantages, especially in terms of speed and security. Keep in mind that you will need to purchase additional equipment to run a mesh network that goes beyond just the router.
How We Evaluated?
There are a lot of different ways to approach the rating and evaluation of wireless routers, but we believe these four aspects to be the most important.
This is an all-encompassing way to refer to how well the router works overall, but it also references the speed and throughput the router provides. Whether you’re using the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bands, both the speed and throughput should be consistent and fast.
Range is something many novice users overlook. If you’re in a large house or building, mediocre range on a router will result in signal drop offs in dead zones, reduction in speeds, or the lack of connection ability period when too far away. All of our selections have adequate range and then some.
Routers can be difficult to deal with for the majority of users who are not all that tech-savvy. For the most part, a router should require minimal setup, and should be ready to go from the moment you start it up. Easy to understand buttons and switches are favored too, along with clear signal indicators and error lights.
Price is almost always the first thing we look at, right? As a general rule, you tend to get what you pay for with routers, so higher prices usually result in better performance and quality — but this isn’t’ always the case.
We made sure to identify and analyze routers that offer the full value reflective of their price, with some of our selections outperforming their price point.
Single or Dual-Band?
When it comes to wireless signals, the only two choices are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
Single-band routers are only capable of transmitting in 2.4GHz, which at this point is very outdated. A 2.4GHz band can be easily interfered with everything from microwaves to Bluetooth devices, causing a slowdown.
Dual-band routers are capable of supporting both 2.4 GHz and 5GHz, increasing bandwidth and letting two separate networks operate alongside each other with no interference.
Single-band routers are cheap, but they should be considered obsolete by now. Always go with a dual-band.
How to Extend Your Wireless Signal?
Is your wireless signal dropping off in certain areas, or providing lower bandwidth in rooms further away from your router’s location? There are a few quick solutions that can improve the signal and avoid frustration that comes from these common issues.
Change its location.
If your router is located in a corner room in the house and far away from where you generally use your computers, gaming devices, and television, the first thing you should do is move the router to a more central location.
This simple fix can easily boost the signals of all your devices in just a few minutes. A few cases of trial and error will help you determine
Make sure you’re on the 5GHz band.
A 5 GHz band is less prone to interference from other devices, and offers a better connection in general. Sometimes routers connect you to the 2.4 GHz band by default, so check and make sure you’re on the 5 GHz, and switch it over if not.
Replace the antennae.
Sometimes the antennae on the router is the one in need of an upgrade. Fortunately, these antennas are rather inexpensive, and take only a few moments to swap out.
Use a range extender.
Range extenders look like routers, but are really just devices that catch a network signal, and the reamplify it to further locations. While range extenders are a good way to boost your actual signals, be aware that they do not boost bandwidth.
Advantages and Features of Modern and Powerful Wifi Routers
As is the case with most wireless technology, modern advances have resulted in better performance and features overall. Here’s just a few of the things modern routers can offer consumers now.
Supports Multiple Devices
Routers have the ability to control bandwidth and connections in a way that is more conducive to ensuring a better connection to numerous devices on one network. A wireless modem can struggle in optimizing connections for each device, leading to a reduction in speed and performance for each device on the network.
When using a router, you can combine with with a firewall that serves as a gatekeeper to managing incoming traffic and more expansive network security.
You may also like to 11 steps to jam a Wifi Network
Regulate Traffic and Data
Perhaps the most beneficial advantage to modern routers is how they are able to seamlessly regulate the traffic and data on the network. Without going into all the technical stuff, I’ll just say that routers save bandwidth, ensure data delivery packets even when encountering interruptions, and foster a better environment that ensures a smooth connection, making all of your devices work better — which is what we want in the first place, right?
What Is The Technology That Drives A Wireless Router?
This may come as a surprise, but although routers work in conjunction with a wi-fi network and seem like complicated devices, they are really just highly-digitized radio wave regulators. Now of course there is a lot more to the process, but routers are basically fancy radio transmitters that direct traffic from the bandwidth source to your devices.