Top 5 Best Wireless Routers 2021:
- Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 Router
- TP-Link AC5400 Archer C5400X Router
- TP-Link Archer A7 Router
- Linksys EA6350 Dual-Band WiFi Router
- Asus RT-AC66U B1 AC1750 Router
We have all become so addicted to smart technology that we simply can not do without internet surfing, live streaming, and online gaming. As a result, the Wi-Fi routers became the unsung heroes and the essential devices in a smart home.
Therefore, finding the best wireless router has turned out to be one of the most important missions of the modern man.
Do not fret, though! If you are a fellow soldier fighting your way through the overflowing market of wireless routers, I’ll give you a hand, help you pick the right one, and get out of this fight as a winner.
See Also: The Best Outdoor Wifi Extender
What Should You Consider When Buying A Wireless Router?
I bet that you have an array of mobile devices at your home (starting with your smartphone), am I right?
Of course, you need to connect all these home devices ruling over your life – that is a matter of life and death for all of us addicted to smart technology. Therefore, you cannot just go out and buy the first wireless router you stumble upon… because if it were to fail you and leave you without your precious Wi-Fi… I don’t even want to think about such a horrid scenario!
Thus, the best wireless router has quite a few standards to live up to.
- First of all, it must handle your demand for Wi-Fi connectivity. For this reason, when buying a new router, consider how big the coverage area it can manage as well as how many clients it can service. You also have to consider the compatibility and requirements of the devices that you plan to connect to the router.
- There is no point breaking the bank for the latest model if you do not need that level of performance or the number of features it brings to the table. Likewise, you cannot be thrifty and go for the cheapest model, and then expect a family of five to enjoy streaming Netflix videos and playing highly-demanding games online without any hiccups.
Here is a short overview of all the things you need to consider if you want to choose a wireless router that can handle all your current and future wireless networking needs:
1. Radio Bands
- Any wireless router worth mentioning has to offer at least two radio bands (2.4GHz band & 5GHz band). The lower frequency 2.4GHz band is there to secure optimal range as it is better at penetrating solid structures such as walls of your house.
- The higher frequency 5GHz band allows for high-speed access and offers a reliable signal with less interference when 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band competes with all the other home devices that use the same frequency.
- The majority of dual-band wireless routers provide you with an option to assign each band to a specific application or client so that you can split the load to both bands in the best possible way.
- If you are a business owner, or you simply have a busy network and numerous clients connected, you can opt for a tri-band router to balance the load. One 5GHz band can be dedicated to torrent downloading & video streaming, the other one to online gaming, while the 2.4GHz band will be free for apps that don’t call for a lot of bandwidth.
2. Wireless Protocols
- All the Wireless Ethernet networks utilize 802.11 protocols for sending and receiving data. Most of them use the 802.11ac protocol. It operates on both low & high-frequency bands and permits maximum data rates of up to 5,400Mbps.
- Thanks to several antennas, the featured Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology sends and receives up to eight spatial streams for the best possible performance. The beamforming technology sends a Wi-Fi signal directly to you instead of broadcasting it in all directions. Finally, there is the automatic band-steering which enables your wireless router to select the best radio band based on range, band availability, and network traffic.
- There is also the more advanced Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology that delivers bandwidth to multiple devices simultaneously. Thus no client needs to wait their turn to receive data from the wireless router. Both the router and the user device need to have the MU-MIMO Wi-Fi circuitry for this technology to function. Unfortunately, even though most routers are up to date with this technology, other devices are not.
- 802.11ac wireless routers are labeled according to their theoretical maximum speed ( for example, AC1200, AC3200, etc.). However, routers seldom reach the maximum speed in reality. It is still recommended to buy a high-speed router if you can afford it, as it will perform the best.
- Finally, if you want the highest possible throughput speed of up to 4.8Gbps, you should look into Wi-Fi 6 or High Efficiency (HE) Wireless router with an 802.11ax protocol. It will bring about better range performance as well as reduced network congestion and higher client capacity. It is all thanks to the newest technologies such as Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) and Target Wake Time (TWT) that allow for up to thirty clients at the time and reduce power consumption extending the battery life of your mobile devices.
Furthermore, 802.11ax protocol utilizes unused radio frequencies securing faster 2.4GHz performance. For better Quality of Service (QoS), it also uses refined uplink and downlink bandwidth management as well as uplink and downlink MU-MIMO streaming. This protocol is still a rarity among available routers, and even more so among client devices, so we all have to wait a bit until it becomes readily available.
The more features the router has to offer, the more will you need to pay for it. This is the least you need:
- 10/100/1000 (gigabit) Ethernet ports
- link aggregation
- one USB port (for your printer or USB drive)
- removable antennas ( so that you can use replacement high-gain antennas to boost performance when needed)
I also recommend:
- Parental controls to manage how your router is used and limit access
- Quality of Service (QoS) options to prioritize applications and clients
- A guest-network feature so that you can offer Wi-Fi connectivity to your guests and keep the network safe at the same time
The best wireless router should offer several forms of protection, including the following:
- Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) – enables you to add compatible devices by pressing the WPS button on the router and the client device
- Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA or WPA2) – every device will need to enter a network password
- WPA-Enterprise security– each client will have to be authenticated through the Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) server
5. Internet Protocol Version
- We all currently use Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), but it is soon to be replaced with IPv6. IPv4 is the technology needed to assign IP addresses. The problem is that it is a 32-bit addressing scheme, and as such, it is expected to run out of available addresses rather soon.
- IPv6 is a 128-bit scheme, and thus it will bring about an almost limitless number of IP addresses. Your router should, therefore, feature built-in support for IPv6 addressing so that you can sit back and wait for the transition.
- If you want supreme performance and a number of features, you will need to pay some extra money. An entry-level router will cost the least but offer the least as well. However, it does not mean that you will need to buy the most expensive unit as you will likely not use any of the advanced features in the first place.
Read More: The Best Ethernet Switch
5 Best Wireless Routers In 2021: Detailed Reviews
1. Linksys EA6350 Dual-Band WiFi Router – The best budget-friendly router for your home
If you need a router for your home and only a couple of wired or wireless clients, you can buy a Linksys EA6350 Dual-Band router for less than a hundred bucks, isn’t that great news?
Even at a price so low, this wireless router will deliver the latest Wi-Fi technologies, the super-fast 5GHz throughput, and a decent assortment of I/O ports. Moreover, it features a WAN port, four Gigabit LAN ports, and a surprisingly fast USB 3.0 port, so it should not surprise you that it has found a place on our best-buy list.
The maximum theoretical throughput speed on the 2.4GHz band is 300Mbps, while the 5GHz band can reach up to 867Mbps. This router also offers beamforming technology sending the signal to each client, but it, unfortunately, does not support MU-MIMO data streaming. Speaking of downsides, EA6350 features two non-removable antennas preventing you from upgrading to a high-gain antenna.
On a brighter note, you will be able to use the parental controls to limit access for your kids, as well as Media Prioritization settings to give network priority to specific applications. You can also configure the Firewall, Port Forwarding settings, and VPN Passthrough. The router is easy to set due to the intuitive Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Web console and mobile app.
- Low price
- Quick and easy installation
- Variety of Smart Wi-Fi Tools and Router Settings
- Four Gigabit LAN ports
- USB 3.0 port
- WPS & Reset button
- Lightning-fast 5GHz throughput in testing
- Parental Controls
- Speed Test
- Media Prioritization settings
- Non-removable antennas
- No Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output ( MU-MIMO)
- Guest networking is available for 2.4GHz clients only
2. TP-Link Archer A7 Router – One of the best bargains in the wireless routers world
If Linksys EA6350 is a budget-friendly option, the TP-Link Archer A7 is a real bargain!
Low-price is just one of the selling points as this Dual-Band router has much more to offer. It delivers entirely satisfactory performance as well as a surprisingly high number of features. Believe it or not, it has proven more efficient at pushing through data than most of its rivals in the same price category.
Archer A7 features four 1-Gbps LAN ports, and one USB 2.0 port to connect your devices. There are three non-removable antennas so, once again, you won’t be able to upgrade to the high-gain antenna. The maximum throughput for the 2.4-GHz low-frequency band is 450 Mbps while you can count on 1.3 Gbps for its 5-GHz band, which in total, gives you 1.75 Gbps of total bandwidth. The range of the unit is 80 feet.
For your convenience and safety, there are parental controls that paired with a practical app allow you to monitor and control your network no matter where you are at that given moment. The setup and settings are easy but, unfortunately, there are no advanced customization options that most of the same range routers have to offer, nor the MU-MIMO’s ability that would enable you to connect with multiple users simultaneously.
This bargain router is compact & discreet, but it also runs cool, and you can thus easily hide it away. It is backed up by the two-year warranty for your peace of mind.
- Lowest price on the list
- Four 1 Gbps-LAN ports
- USB 2.0 port
- Quality of Service (QoS), parental controls, & guest access
- Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)
- Supports IPv4 and IPv6
- Alexa and IFTTT Compatible
- Night Mode
- 2-year warranty
- No advanced customization options
- Limited range
- Non-removable antennas
- No MU-MIMO ability
3. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 Router – A great high-end gaming router
If you are a dedicated gamer, you know the real value of a router that can deliver adequate throughput when the network lag freezes your existence. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 is thus a perfect gamer’s companion that guarantees speedy throughput performance and tons of gamer-friendly features that you control via a well-designed interface (ROG Gaming Center web console and mobile app).
How can this device enhance your gaming experience?
The GameBoost analyzes the network and prioritizes gaming traffic. The Trend Micro-powered Game Intrusion Protection System (IPS), is also there to protect you from malware and viruses. Finally, a Game Radar feature lists all the worldwide servers making it easy for you to find a specific game.
The unit is IPv6 ready and supports all modern 802.11ac technologies such as MU-MIMO and beamforming. It also has all the perks such as Guest Networking and parental control.
There are eight gigabit LAN ports at your disposal, as well as two USB 3.0 ports on the side and a WAN port on the back of the unit. You can pair two LAN ports for link aggregation and 2Gbps of speed for all the aggregation-compatible NAS devices you connect to your router.
The maximum speed this router can achieve is up to 1,000Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 2,167Mbps on each of the 5GHz bands – the fastest 5GHz close-proximity throughput I have seen so far.
- Gaming acceleration and prioritization features
- Heap of LAN ports
- Excellent protection against malware and viruses
- Powerful quad-core processor
- Eight removable & adjustable antennas
- Guest Networking
- Features the new Wi-Fi 6 specifications
- 10.8Gbps maximum throughput
- Works with Alexa and IFTTT applets.
- Robust design
4. TP-Link AC5400 Archer C5400X Router – Impressive coverage & high customization potential
The TP-Link Archer C5400X is a Tri-Band gaming router designed for advanced users and gamers. Its strongest point is the collection of optimization and safety features. If you add maximum speed of 1Gbps for the 2.4GHz band, and 2.167Gbps for each of the two 5GHz channels, you know that you have a powerful machine indeed!
Archer C5400X features eight 1-Gbps LAN ports, one USB 2.0 port, and offers 16GB of storage. It provides you with advanced MU-MIMO technology, beamforming, Game First Priority, QoS, and Link Aggregation. Air Fairness software makes sure every client can enjoy a high-speed connection. It works with Alexa voice control too.
You and your kids will be sage online thanks to the parental controls and superb security software that incorporates Malicious Content Filter, Intrusion Prevention System, and an Infected Device Quarantine in case anything gets by the first two. All the harmful sites and network attacks will be blocked so you can put your mind to rest and enjoy surfing the net.
There are eight antennas, but they are, sadly, non-removable and cannot be swiveled or aimed. The price is not low by any means, but it is undoubtedly justified.
- Secured Wi-Fi thanks to the Malicious Content Filter, Intrusion Protection System and Infected Device Quarantine
- Works with Alexa
- 859.5 Mbps peak throughput
- Excellent performance
- High customization potential
- MU-MIMO and beamforming
- It allows you to aggregate two Ethernet connections for peak throughput
- Built-in VPN server
- Quality of Service (QOS) and Airfairness software
- Parental controls
- 2-year warranty and support
- The antennas cannot be swiveled or aimed
5. Asus RT-AC66U B1 AC1750 Router – Affordable feature-packed router of reliable performance
The affordable Asus RT-AC66U B1 dual-band router is an upgrade of the good-old original RT-AC66U router. So, what’s new?
The upgraded version features a more powerful chipset, a USB 3.0 port, and it is compatible with the Asus’s AiMesh technology, which means that you can create a mesh network using other Asus wireless routers. The newly added AiProtection settings allow you to set up Trend Micro’s network protection utilities that will block malicious sites and prevent intrusions, as well as assess the router security.
The Adaptive QoS enables you to easily assign network priority and view a history of visited websites so that you can limit bandwidth allowances if necessary. The AiCloud can be utilized for connecting and managing your router via the internet, no matter where you are at that moment. The unit supports beamforming technology, VPN, and IPv6, but not MU-MIMO technology.
The maximum speed on the 2.4GHz band can reach 450Mbps, while the maximum for the 5GHz band is 1,300Mbps. There are four gigabit LAN ports, a USB 2.0 port at the back, and one USB 3.0 port at the front of the unit. Three antennas can be adjusted but not removed.
- Speedy throughput performance
- AiProtection powered by Trend Micro
- Easy installation
- Parental controls
- Built-in protection from viruses, malware, and infected devices
- MAC filtering, Radius Server, and Wireless Bridge
- VPN & IPv6 support
- Non-removable antennas
- Middling file transfers
All the reviewed devices are worthy of your attention, so choosing the best wireless router depends only on your requirements and budget.
The average home user will do just fine with the least expensive model – The TP-Link Archer A7 Router.
Choose quickly, and you are a sure winner!