In the remote work era, your Wi-Fi router is piling up some serious overtime, doing a lot more than just helping you stream movies and play games. Home Wi-Fi routers keep millions of people working, and they're also connecting an ever-growing range of smart home devices. That means picking one that does the best job for both you and your wallet is trickier than ever, especially now that we're seeing more Wi-Fi 6 devices becoming available.
We've outlined below our top picks among home and office Wi-Fi routers we've tested. Read on for our labs-tested favorites, followed by the buying basics you should know when buying a router. Also note: At the very end of this article is a detailed spec breakout of our top router choices.
The Best Wireless Router Deals This Week*
- Asus RT-AX88U AX6000 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router (Opens in a new window) — $247.15 (List Price $349.99)
- Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR1000 Wi-Fi 6 Router (Opens in a new window) — $244.00 (List Price $369.99)
- TP-Link Archer AX73 AX5400 Wi-Fi 6 Router (Opens in a new window) — $159.99 (List Price $199.99)
- Asus RT-AX1800S AX1800 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router (Opens in a new window) — $79.99 (List Price $99.99)
- Netgear Nighthawk R6700 Smart Wi-Fi Router (Opens in a new window) — $83.07 (List Price $109.99)
*Deals are selected by our commerce team
A Solid Alternative to the TP-Link Archer AXE75
Why We Picked It
The Synology WRX560 provided very good scores on our throughput tests, offering superior throughput in both bands. It also performed well on our Wi-Fi signal strength tests, delivering strong 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi to all corners of our test home except for the garage. Plus, the router could even pass for home decor, thanks to a unique black enclosure that stands vertically, with beveled edges and grillwork that give it a futuristic, minimalist look. The WRX560 is an excellent, feature-rich mainstream router.
Who It’s For
For around $200 you get the latest Wi-Fi 6 technologies, solid throughput performance, and wide Wi-Fi signal coverage. The Synology WRX560 is easy to install and manage and gets you into a Wi-Fi 6 network without spending a bundle. If you require multi-gig ports and parental control software, be prepared to spend significantly more money for a router like the TP-Link Archer AX11000.
- Easy installation
- Excellent throughput and signal performance
- Built-in parental-control and network-security software
- Multi-gig WAN/LAN
- Middling file transfer performance
- Top heavy design
|Amazon||$219.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE16000
Best Wi-Fi 6E Wireless Router
Why We Picked It
The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE16000 is one of the most advanced routers we’ve seen, and is certainly one of the most expensive. Using the latest Wi-Fi 6E technologies, it offers access to four radio bands—including the newly liberated 6GHz band—and is equipped with numerous high-speed networking ports, including two 10GbE ports and one 2.5GbE port. It delivered speedy data rates in our performance tests, but its 5GHz signal range could be better.
Who It’s For
Hard-core gamers with deep pockets should put it on their networking equipment short lists. At just under $700, the Rapture GT-AXE16000 doesn’t come cheap, but if you want the latest and greatest in home Wi-Fi, this is the router to get. It not only uses the relatively new and un-crowded 6GHz radio band and comes with lifetime network security and parental control software, but it is mesh-ready and offers lots of game-enhancing settings.
- Fast throughput speeds in our tests
- Support for Wi-Fi 6E
- Three multi-gigabit ports
- Comes with network-security and parental-control software
- Can be expanded into a mesh system with additional units
- Gamer-friendly settings
- Very expensive
- Huge footprint
- Middling file transfer and 5GHz signal range performance
|Amazon||$617.67||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|Walmart||$633.34||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Pro
Best Wi-Fi Router for Gaming
Why We Picked It
The Rapture GT-AX11000 Pro is not only one of the fastest Wi-Fi 6 routers we’ve tested, but it is incredibly well appointed. This router is physically huge, but for good reason: It’s equipped with a boatload of connectivity options, including 10Gbps and 2.5Gbps network ports. The router also supports link aggregation, offering the potential for truly massive bandwidth and future-proofing. It also offers a gamer-friendly user interface and lots of settings designed to optimize your gaming experience.
Who It’s For
Whether you’re a gaming enthusiast or simply demand a top-of-the line router to power your home network, the Rapture GT-AX11000 Pro has you covered. It uses the latest 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) tech to deliver best-in-class performance, and comes with free anti-malware and parental control utilities that help keep your network and everyone connected to it safe from viruses and unsavory websites. Perhaps the only reason you wouldn't want it is if you require Wi-Fi 6E support. In that case, you'll want to check out the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE16000 mentioned above.
- Blazing throughput speeds
- Wide signal coverage
- 10Gbps LAN/WAN
- Lifetime parental control and network security software
- Lots of gamer-centric settings
- Large footprint
|Amazon||$341.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Asus ROG Strix GS-AX5400
A Solid Alternative to the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Pro
Why We Picked It
The Asus ROG Strix GS-AX5400 is more than just a cool-looking, dual-band router. Designed with gamers in mind, it offers a slick user interface with lots of game-enhancing settings, and it delivers speedy throughput. It doesn’t have any multi-gig Ethernet ports, but it does have a dedicated gaming LAN port that is automatically given bandwidth priority, and it supports link aggregation.
Who It’s For
If network lag is affecting your game, the Strix GS-AX5400 can help put you back on top. It supports all of the latest Wi-Fi technologies, and comes with lifetime parental controls and anti-malware protection. It also offers features like Game Boost, Gear Accelerator, and Mobile Boost to optimize your network for the best possible gaming experience. Moreover, the Strix is mesh-ready should you want to create a seamless whole-home Wi-Fi system.
- Easy to install
- Fast throughput performance
- Strong anti-malware and parental control software
- Gamer-friendly optimization tools
- Dedicated gaming port
- Lacks multi-gig ports
- Only one USB port
|Amazon||$249.14||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|Walmart||$239.93||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Best Wi-Fi Mesh System
Why We Picked It
The three-piece Eero 6 Plus Wi-Fi 6 mesh system delivered blazing throughput speeds and excellent signal range in our performance tests. As with most mesh systems, it is a snap to install and manage using a phone and a user-friendly mobile app, and it has the distinction of being the first Eero system to support 160MHz channels.
Who It’s For
The three-piece Eero 6 Plus is ideal for use in larger homes of up to 4,500 square feet. It uses low-profile nodes that are designed to blend in with any home décor while providing a strong Wi-Fi 6 signal to every corner of your house. In addition to eliminating dead zones, the Eero 6 Plus doubles as a home-automation hub that uses a Zigbee radio to control smart devices such as cameras, locks, lighting, and thermostats.
- Excellent performance
- Easy to install and manage
- Controls home automation devices
- Supports 160MHz channels
- Lacks USB connectivity
- Some features require a subscription
|Amazon||$239.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|Best Buy||$239.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Motorola Q11 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System
A Solid Alternative to the Eero 6 Plus
Why We Picked It
You don’t get multi-gig Ethernet ports, USB ports, or Quality of Service (bandwidth) settings with the Motorola Q11, but we were impressed with its fast throughput performance and relatively strong signal coverage. This system supports all of the latest Wi-Fi 6 technologies, including 160MHz channel bandwidth, which enables faster data rates than the 40GHz and 80GHz channel bandwidth that you get with 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) systems.
Who It’s For
The Motorola Q11 mesh system is a good fit for homes of up to 5,000 square feet. It’s easy to install and uses low-profile nodes that support wired or wireless backhaul. It’s a solid performer, but you’ll get better performance from our Editors’ Choice winner, the Eero 6 Plus. That said, you’ll have to pay a little extra for parental control and network security software with the Eero system, while both utilities are free with the Motorola Q11 system.
- Easy to install
- Small footprint
- Includes network security and parental control software
- Solid performance
- No multi-gig LAN ports
- No USB ports
- No QoS or bandwidth configuration options
|Amazon||$199.00||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Asus ZenWiFi ET8
Best Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System
Why We Picked It
Killer throughput performance, 6GHz data transmissions, and wide signal coverage are all reasons why the ZenWiFi ET8 is our top pick for Wi-Fi 6E mesh systems. At $530, it’s not exactly affordable, but it is one of the more well-equipped mesh systems out there, offering a multi-gig WAN port, USB connectivity, and Trend Micro-powered network security.
Who It’s For
Wi-Fi 6E clients are still few and far between, but if you want to make sure your network is ready for 6GHz data transmissions, the ZenWiFi ET8 is an excellent choice. It uses two nodes to cover homes of up to 5,550 square feet, installs in minutes, and comes with free lifetime anti-malware software and parental controls that let you monitor internet usage, apply age-based web filters, and pause internet access with the touch of a button.
- Easy to install
- Strong throughput performance
- Multi-gig WAN and USB connectivity
- Strong anti-malware and parental controls
- Very good signal range
- Some advanced settings require web console
|Amazon||$399.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|Walmart||$399.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
When you're shopping for a new wireless router, it's best to start by considering the size of your coverage area and the number of clients you need to support, as well as the types of devices that you'll be connecting. Not everybody needs the kind of performance that you get with the latest and greatest models, and there's no reason to pay for features that you will likely never use. If you're looking for a lower price rather than a big bundle of bleeding-edge features, check out this list of budget routers. But if you have several family members vying for bandwidth for things like streaming Netflix video and playing PC games online, a new router with modern management capabilities can make a world of difference and help keep the peace. Below we guide you through choosing a router that will handle your current and future wireless networking needs, and offer our top picks to get you started.
What Do the Different Wi-Fi Bands Mean?
Nowadays, any router worth its salt will offer at least two radio bands, a 2.4GHz band and a 5GHz band. The 2.4GHz band operates at a lower frequency than the 5GHz band and offers better range because it is more adept at penetrating walls and other structures. However, it doesn't offer the fat pipe and high-speed access that you get with the 5GHz band.
Additionally, the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band has to compete with other devices in the home that use the same frequency, such as microwave ovens, Bluetooth gear, and wireless phones. That said, it is perfectly adequate for tasks like web surfing and connecting to social media services like Facebook and Twitter. If one or more of your devices will be streaming video from a service such as Netflix, or connecting to an online gaming service, the less crowded 5GHz band offers significantly more throughput with minimal signal interference. Most dual-band routers allow you to assign a band to specific applications and clients, thereby easing the load on both bands.
If you have a busy network with numerous clients vying for bandwidth, a tri-band router is the way to go. They use three radios—one that operates at 2.4GHz and two that operate at 5GHz, for load balancing. For example, you can dedicate one of the 5GHz bands to handle tasks like video streaming and torrent downloading, and reserve the other 5GHz band for online gaming, leaving the 2.4GHz band free for applications that don't require lots of bandwidth. If you have a house full of gamers, we have a specific best gaming routers list for you.
Finally, there's the new 6GHz spectrum, recently made available(Opens in a new window) by the FCC. While this new spectrum promises a significant boost to overall wireless network performance, few devices support it yet, so take performance claims with a grain of salt. For more on that topic, see our story on What Is Wi-Fi 6E?
Which Wireless Protocols Should I Look For?
Wireless Ethernet networks use 802.11 protocols to send and receive data. The most widely used Wi-Fi protocol, 802.11ac, allows for maximum (theoretical) data rates of up to 5,400Mbps and operates on both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz bands. It utilizes Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology, which uses several antennas to send and receive up to eight spatial streams, resulting in enhanced performance. It also supports beamforming, a technology that sends Wi-Fi signals directly to a client rather than broadcasting in all directions, and automatic band-steering, which lets the router select the most efficient radio band based on network traffic, band availability, and range.
The 802.11ac protocol also offers downstream Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology, which is designed to provide bandwidth to multiple devices simultaneously rather than sequentially. That means up to four clients can have their own data streams instead of waiting in turn to receive data from the router. In order for MU-MIMO to work, the router and the client devices must contain MU-MIMO Wi-Fi circuitry. Routers that support MU-MIMO are widely available, but the fact that consumers have been slow to understand exactly what the benefits of MU-MIMO are has kept the number of client devices somewhat scarce.
You'll see 802.11ac routers with labels like AC1200, AC1750, AC3200, and so on. This designates the theoretical maximum speed of the router. For example, a router that can achieve a maximum link rate of 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1,300Mbps on the 5GHz band is considered an AC1750 router. A tri-band AC3200 router gives you 600Mbps over the 2.4GHz band and 1,300Mbps over each of the two 5GHz bands, and an AC5400 router is capable of speeds of up to 1Gbps on the 2.4GHz band and 2.1Gbps on each of the two 5GHz bands.
It's important to note that routers rarely, if ever, reach these "maximum speeds" in real-world applications, but if you're looking for performance, consider one of the high-speed routers (but be prepared to pay a premium). We thoroughly test all routers that come through PC Labs, so you'll know how much muscle a product has before you buy.
802.11ax, the technology behind today's leading-edge Wi-Fi 6 routers, is now hitting the market with frequency. Wi-Fi 6 is an evolution of 802.11ac technology that promises increased throughput speeds (up to 9.6Gbps), less network congestion, greater client capacity, and better range performance courtesy of several new and improved wireless technologies, among them Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) and Target Wake Time (TWT). OFDMA improves overall throughput by breaking Wi-Fi channels into sub-channels, allowing up to 30 users to share a channel at the same time. Target Wake Time (TWT) is designed to reduce power consumption by allowing devices to determine when and how often they will wake up to begin sending and receiving data. TWT tech is expected to extend the battery life of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as battery-powered smart home devices such as security cameras and video doorbells.
Additionally, 802.11ax takes advantage of previously unused radio frequencies to provide faster 2.4GHz performance, and it uses refined uplink and downlink bandwidth management to provide enhanced Quality of Service (QoS). It also offers uplink and downlink MU-MIMO streaming (whereas 802.11ac only supports downlink MU-MIMO). As with the 802.11ac protocol, 802.11ax is backward-compatible and will work with devices that use 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi radios. For more on the benefits of the 802.11ax protocol, check out our primer What Is Wi-Fi 6? and see our speed tests.
And as mentioned earlier, Wi-Fi 6E, with support for the 6GHz band, is the latest standard, but 6E routers are just starting to hit the market and we've tested just a handful at this writing.
Which Other Wi-Fi Router Features to Look For?
Wireless routers come with a variety of features, and as is the case with just about everything, the more features you get, the more you can expect to pay.
Look for a router with at least four 10/100/1,000 (gigabit) Ethernet ports, which allow you to connect to wired devices such as desktop PCs, network-attached storage (NAS) drives, and home-automation hubs. If you require faster throughput for large file transfers, look for a router that supports link aggregation. Simply put, link aggregation uses two gigabit Ethernet LAN ports to provide increased throughput (up to 2Gbps). It also provides a fail-safe if one LAN connection goes down and can be utilized to load-balance your network traffic.
Having at least one USB port on the router makes it easy to plug in a printer or a USB drive and share it across the network, but with two ports you can do both. Additionally, try to choose a router that offers removable antennas. Some router manufacturers offer replacement high-gain antennas that will help boost performance, and there are a number of third-party antennas available. Just make sure your router supports whatever antennas you buy, or you'll probably wind up with decreased performance.
If you want to manage how your Wi-Fi network is being used, make sure your next router has parental controls, QoS options, and a guest-network feature. Parental controls allow you to limit network access for certain users to specific times and days, ideal for parents who want to keep tabs on their child's online gaming and social networking activities. Some routers offer basic parental controls such as access scheduling and website blocking options, while others provide more robust controls that give you the ability to pause the internet and select age-appropriate presets that will automatically block access to social media platforms and sites that contain things like adult content, gambling, shopping, blogs, and games.
A guest network lets you offer Wi-Fi connectivity to guests without leaving your entire network vulnerable. In a nutshell, you're creating a separate network for guests with a Service Set Identifier (SSID) and password that are different from your main network credentials. This lets your guests connect to the internet, but it doesn't give them access to your files, printers, and other connected devices.
With QoS settings, you can decide which applications and clients get network priority. For example, if one device is streaming Netflix video, and another device is downloading files or running a print job, you can give priority to the streaming device to avoid choppy, out-of-sync video. The same goes for online gaming; assigning a high QoS priority to a gaming console such as the Microsoft Xbox Series X or the Sony PlayStation 5 will help reduce lag time and improve overall gameplay. It also means you can keep those new work applications protected, like a phone using voice over IP (VoIP) or that webcam that's keeping you connected to your office staff meeting via video conferencing.
Almost all routers offer several forms of security. A router with Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) lets you add compatible devices with the push of a button. Just press the WPS button on the router, then press the WPS button on the client device to add it to your network. For a more secure connection, you can use Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA or WPA2), which requires entering a network password for each device. Routers with WPA-Enterprise security offer a higher level of security than WPA/WPA2, but they require a Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) server to authenticate each client.
The technology currently used to assign IP addresses, known as Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), will eventually be replaced by its successor, IPv6. IPv4 is a 32-bit addressing scheme that before long will run out of addresses due to the number of devices connecting to the internet. IPv6 is a 128-bit scheme that will offer an (almost) infinite number of IP addresses. Most current routers have built-in support for IPv6 addressing, but it's a good idea to verify this if you want to be ready for the transition when IPv4 finally hits the wall.
Does the Price of Your Wireless Router Matter?
Like anything else, router pricing is based on performance and features, which means you can see some big cost differences depending on the kind of router you're considering. The numbers and letters in the router's name are often a hint of the features it offers and thus how much it costs. An entry-level AC1750 802.11ac router will cost anywhere from $60 to $100, for instance. But if you want an AC2400 router with MU-MIMO streaming capabilities, expect the price to land in the $100 to $200 range. A tri-band AX5400 gaming router with all the bells and whistles could cost as much as $500, while the newest 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6E routers can range above $500, depending on throughput rates and features.
As you'll see below, Wi-Fi mesh systems can be even more expensive. Remember that those prices typically reflect you buying not just a single router, but one or two mesh nodes, too.
How Can I Extend My Wi-Fi Signal?
If you live in a large or multiple-story home, you may have Wi-Fi "dead zones." These are areas of your home where your main router isn't able to reach with a wireless signal. An easy way to solve this, without the hassle of running long cords around your home, is a Wi-Fi range extender, which will pick up your router's Wi-Fi signal, amplify it, and rebroadcast it. They come in both desktop and plug-in variations, and are relatively easy to install.
They do have limitations, though: The rebroadcasted signal is typically half the strength of what you get from your main router, and most of these create a separate network that makes seamless roaming through your home difficult. However, some router manufacturers are now making extenders that will share the same network SSID and password as your existing router. There's a catch, however: The router usually has to be made by the same manufacturer as the extender and must support seamless roaming capabilities.
Should I Consider a Wi-Fi Mesh Network System?
If a range extender doesn't do the trick, consider overhauling your network with a Wi-Fi mesh system. This technology offers an easy way to fill wireless dead zones in your home without the need for additional wiring, range extenders, or access points. They utilize extension nodes, or satellites, to extend your Wi-Fi signal across a larger area than most routers are capable of. Systems such as Google Wifi and the Linksys Velop employ mesh technology, where the satellites communicate with each other to provide coverage throughout your home, while others use a dedicated Wi-Fi band to communicate with its satellite. Depending on the number of nodes in the system you choose, you can spread a consistent internet connection across as much as 4,000 to 6,000 square feet of space.
Satellites in a Wi-Fi mesh system are all part of the same network and provide seamless connectivity as you roam throughout the house, and they do not usually require any configuration or management beyond a few taps on a free, associated mobile app. A number of the solutions in this category support high-end features like guest networking, device prioritization, parental controls, and MU-MIMO, but because Wi-Fi mesh systems are designed to be simple, in most cases you won't be able to access the same kind of in-depth settings you can on routers. For that reason, power users and compulsive tinkerers might not love Wi-Fi mesh systems, but for everyone else who finds network setup intimidating, these are among the friendliest and most innovative options you can find today.
So, What Is the Best Wi-Fi Router to Buy?
We broke out our top picks above in detail, outlining the best use cases for each. We've also outlined the core specs of those same top picks in the handy table below.
And if you want to investigate the mesh alternatives to a classic router in more detail, we have some additional links for you: Read about The Best Wi-Fi Mesh Network Systems and How to Set Up a Wi-Fi Mesh Network. Finally, once you've found the right router, bookmark our tips for setting up your router and boosting your Wi-Fi signal.