The best 10 routers in comparison

Mesh Wi-FiMost secureWi-Fi 6
Routers (1 - 5)
TP-Link Archer AX11000TP-Link Archer C5400XNetgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700TP-Link Archer AX6000Asus RT-AX88UAsus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000Linksys MR9600Linksys EA9500 Max-StreamAsus ROG Rapture GT-AC2900Asus RT-AX86U
Image
TP-Link Archer AX11000
TP-Link Archer C5400X
Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700
TP-Link Archer AX6000
Asus RT-AX88U
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000
Linksys MR9600
Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC2900
Asus RT-AX86U
Best price
Best price
Summary
Summary
  • General info (49)
  • Performance (90)
  • Antennas (100)
  • Security (83)
  • Features (90)
  • General info (51)
  • Performance (76)
  • Antennas (100)
  • Security (83)
  • Features (90)
  • General info (69)
  • Performance (100)
  • Antennas (25)
  • Security (83)
  • Features (80)
  • General info (68)
  • Performance (78)
  • Antennas (50)
  • Security (94)
  • Features (80)
  • General info (100)
  • Performance (75)
  • Antennas (25)
  • Security (100)
  • Features (100)
  • General info (55)
  • Performance (73)
  • Antennas (50)
  • Security (94)
  • Features (90)
  • General info (72)
  • Performance (74)
  • Antennas (75)
  • Security (89)
  • Features (100)
  • General info (66)
  • Performance (74)
  • Antennas (50)
  • Security (67)
  • Features (80)
  • General info (70)
  • Performance (54)
  • Antennas (50)
  • Security (89)
  • Features (100)
  • General info (56)
  • Performance (73)
  • Antennas (17)
  • Security (94)
  • Features (90)
General info
Outdoor capabilityThe device can be set up in outdoor environments.
Outdoor capabilityThe device can be set up in outdoor environments.
LAN portsWith more LAN ports you are able to connect more computers to the network directly using LAN cables.
LAN portsWith more LAN ports you are able to connect more computers to the network directly using LAN cables.8
8
6
8
8
4
4
8
4
4
WAN portsA WAN (Wider Area Network) port is most commonly used to connect the router to the internet. It can also be used to connect to an external private network.
WAN portsA WAN (Wider Area Network) port is most commonly used to connect the router to the internet. It can also be used to connect to an external private network.1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
USB portsWith more USB ports, you are able to connect more devices.
USB portsWith more USB ports, you are able to connect more devices.2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
Total score for "General info"
Total score for "General info"
Performance
DNS relayWith DNS relay or DNS caching, the router stores the response to queries for a short time. This means that the same query will return a quicker response if repeated from another computer in the same network.
DNS relayWith DNS relay or DNS caching, the router stores the response to queries for a short time. This means that the same query will return a quicker response if repeated from another computer in the same network.
Dual-band technologyDual-band devices can transmit data quickly on the newest 5GHz band, using recent standards (e.g., 802.11n, 802.11ac). They can also use the older 2.4GHz band if needed.
Dual-band technologyDual-band devices can transmit data quickly on the newest 5GHz band, using recent standards (e.g., 802.11n, 802.11ac). They can also use the older 2.4GHz band if needed.
Wi-Fi speedA higher maximum Wi-Fi speed results in better performance. This is measured in megabits per second.
Wi-Fi speedA higher maximum Wi-Fi speed results in better performance. This is measured in megabits per second.4804Mb/s
2167Mb/s
7133Mb/s
4804Mb/s
4804Mb/s
4804Mb/s
4804Mb/s
2166Mb/s
2167Mb/s
4804Mb/s
Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) connectivity802.11ac wireless works on the 5GHz frequency range. It offers higher transfer rates, improved reliability, and improved power consumption. It provides advantages for gaming and HD video streaming.
Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) connectivity802.11ac wireless works on the 5GHz frequency range. It offers higher transfer rates, improved reliability, and improved power consumption. It provides advantages for gaming and HD video streaming.
Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) connectivityWi-Fi 4 (802.11n) is a wireless standard released in 2009. It has faster transfer rates and improved security compared to its predecessors – a, b, and g.
Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) connectivityWi-Fi 4 (802.11n) is a wireless standard released in 2009. It has faster transfer rates and improved security compared to its predecessors – a, b, and g.
Total score for "Performance"
Total score for "Performance"
Antennas
External antennasMore antennas result in increased signal strength. External antennas can be repositioned in order to improve the signal, and replaced with a longer antenna if needed.
External antennasMore antennas result in increased signal strength. External antennas can be repositioned in order to improve the signal, and replaced with a longer antenna if needed.8
8
4
8
4
8
4
8
3
3
Internal antennasMore antennas result in increased signal strength. Devices with internal antennas often take up less space.
Internal antennasMore antennas result in increased signal strength. Devices with internal antennas often take up less space.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.1
1
Removable antennasThe antennas can be removed if they are not needed, or replaced with longer ones if necessary.
Removable antennasThe antennas can be removed if they are not needed, or replaced with longer ones if necessary.
Total score for "Antennas"
Total score for "Antennas"
Security
Built-in network firewallA network firewall protects a computer network from unauthorized access.
Built-in network firewallA network firewall protects a computer network from unauthorized access.
DoS protectionDoS protection guards a content network against DoS (Denial of Service) attacks. These flood a network with server requests, slowing overall traffic and potentially causing long term interruptions.
DoS protectionDoS protection guards a content network against DoS (Denial of Service) attacks. These flood a network with server requests, slowing overall traffic and potentially causing long term interruptions.
MAC address filteringThis is a security feature in which network access is granted to devices based on their unique MAC address. It can provide increased security, but it can be a risk if the user loses the device.
MAC address filteringThis is a security feature in which network access is granted to devices based on their unique MAC address. It can provide increased security, but it can be a risk if the user loses the device.
Port filteringPort filtering is a type of access control where access to certain internet service are assigned to users using port numbers. This can increase security as well as restricting internet usage.
Port filteringPort filtering is a type of access control where access to certain internet service are assigned to users using port numbers. This can increase security as well as restricting internet usage.
SPI intrusion protectionAll incoming traffic will be blocked except for those types selected in the Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) section. This helps to protect your network from unwanted traffic.
SPI intrusion protectionAll incoming traffic will be blocked except for those types selected in the Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) section. This helps to protect your network from unwanted traffic.
Total score for "Security"
Total score for "Security"
Features
Dynamic routingDynamic routing is useful if you need to configure several routers, as they can automatically find network destinations and best routes, as well as sharing information between routers. They can reroute automatically if there is a fault somewhere.
Dynamic routingDynamic routing is useful if you need to configure several routers, as they can automatically find network destinations and best routes, as well as sharing information between routers. They can reroute automatically if there is a fault somewhere.
IPv6 enabledIPv6 is a newer version of the Internet Protocol. IPv6 operates as a separate network to IPv4, and has the capacity for more IP addresses and more features.
IPv6 enabledIPv6 is a newer version of the Internet Protocol. IPv6 operates as a separate network to IPv4, and has the capacity for more IP addresses and more features.
Network Time Protocol enabledWith Network Time Protocol (NTP) you can ensure that devices across a network display the exact same time and date, using UTC (Coordinated Universal Time).
Network Time Protocol enabledWith Network Time Protocol (NTP) you can ensure that devices across a network display the exact same time and date, using UTC (Coordinated Universal Time).
Quality of Service (QoS)With (QoS) Quality of Service, you can optimize performance by deciding which traffic to prioritize when a bottleneck occurs. You can decide which traffic is important based on things like IP address and the type of internet service.
Quality of Service (QoS)With (QoS) Quality of Service, you can optimize performance by deciding which traffic to prioritize when a bottleneck occurs. You can decide which traffic is important based on things like IP address and the type of internet service.
Universal Plug and Play (UPnP)Universal Plug n Play (UPnP) is a set of networking protocols that permits networked devices, such as PCs, printers, internet gateways, Wi-Fi access points and mobile devices to find each other and exchange information on the network.
Universal Plug and Play (UPnP)Universal Plug n Play (UPnP) is a set of networking protocols that permits networked devices, such as PCs, printers, internet gateways, Wi-Fi access points and mobile devices to find each other and exchange information on the network.
Total score for "Features"
Total score for "Features"

How to choose the best router for your home or office

Routers are electronic devices responsible for interconnecting computers in a single network by sending packets of information from one to the other. Back in the old days (more specifically, in the 1990s, when the internet became publicly available), almost everybody used a dial-up connection with a very slow 56 Kbps modem. The modem used home telephone lines to establish an internet connection.

Fast forward to the present day, and traditional modems have been replaced by routers to facilitate a wireless connection or an Ethernet connection for connecting computers to a network. Routers are much faster now, offering connection speeds that reach nearly 2,000 Mbps.

Routers have now become commonplace in both home and office environments. When buying a router for your home or your office, you need to consider many factors to find the best router for your application. You can purchase cheaper devices from TP-Link or splurge on the more expensive ones from Netgear and Asus if you want added benefits. You must consider specs such as signal strength, speed, antennas, connectivity, and security to get the best performance.

Types of routers

When you are looking for routers, you will frequently come across the terms single-band and dual-band. It's because routers mostly come in these two flavors – single-band and dual-band. Information packets can be sent via routers either on a 2.4 GHz band channel and/or on a 5 GHz band channel. The keyword here is and/or. Single-band routers can only use one of the frequency channels depending on the Wi-Fi connection type, whereas dual-band routers, as the name suggests, can utilize both frequency bands.

Why are there two frequency bands? Traditionally, routers only used the 2.4 GHz band to transmit packets of data. Due to the overabundance of users and connections, manufacturers decided to use the 5 GHz frequency band in addition to the pre-existing 2.4 GHz band. This made routers faster. In dual-band routers, the 2.4 GHz band is for simple applications, like web browsing and sending emails, whereas the 5 GHz band is reserved for heavy-duty tasks, for example, streaming videos and playing online games. In a single-band router, all activities take place over the same frequency channel.

You will need to decide which router you require based on your needs. If you run bandwidth-intensive programs and apps and you do not want to experience interference from other nearby networks, then you require a dual-band router. More recently, tri-band routers are gaining popularity as well. This kind of router features one 2/4 GHz band along with two 5 GHz bands for improved performance. The Linksys WRT3200ACM is an example of a router with tri-band technology, allowing it to essentially double the bandwidth of the 5 GHz bands. A router like this is ideal for large homes inhabited by numerous people who need to connect various devices all at once.

Signal strength and speed

Another very important aspect to consider is the class of your Wi-Fi router. You may have heard of the IEEE 802.11 standard on many router boxes, but there are also a bunch of letters associated with these. You will find letters like a, g, and n on many of the router standard classifications. The table below details the difference between each of these classes.

IEEE 802.11 protocol Frequency (GHz) Bandwidth (MHz) Max Data rate (MBps) Indoor Range (m)
a 5 20 54 35
b 2.4 22 11 35
g 2.4 20 54 38
n 2.4/5 20/40 900 70
ac 5 20/40/80 5300 35
ax 2.4/5 20/40/80/160 9607 70

The key differences between the various classes are speed and range. 802.11b was the most common standard for Wi-Fi connections for several years until it was supplanted by the much faster 802.11g, which is now the de facto standard for routers on the market. However, due to the ever-increasing problem of interference, new standards, such as 802.11ac and 802.11ax, came out. These standards offer incredibly high speeds, utilizing both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands.

Another critical parameter for connectivity is the Quality of Service (QoS). When many devices on your network compete to use the limited bandwidth, generally, the more bandwidth-hogging applications will always get precedence, leaving behind other apps. However, those apps that consume less bandwidth may be the more important ones. In such a scenario, you want a router with excellent QoS technology service that prevents this problem.

QoS optimizes performance by allocating a set amount of bandwidth for each application so that none of them consume too much. If you like to watch movies or play games online AND download files at the same time, QoS will ensure that your experience is unhindered while you are downloading large files in the background. QoS ultimately shapes your traffic.

Beamforming

A router's signal and the strength of that signal can be affected greatly by a technology known as beamforming. Normally, a router broadcasts the Wi-Fi signal in all directions, but using beamforming technology, the router detects where your device is and focuses a stronger signal in that direction, resulting in a better connection. It's basically working to constantly identify the most efficient route on which to deliver data to a device, leading to higher-quality connections and reduced interference. Routers such as the TP-Link Archer AX11000 and Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 have beamforming technology. 

Mesh Wi-Fi

If you're building a larger home network or need to create a solid office network, finding a router that supports mesh Wi-Fi is a great idea. If you use several of these routers, they can link up with each other to provide a greater area of Wi-Fi coverage. It's particularly useful if you have a large house or apartment. To create a mesh Wi-Fi network, you'll set up the main router that connects directly to your home or office modem. Assuming it supports mesh Wi-Fi, it'll connect to nodes that you place around your house that will work to extend the same wireless network connection while sharing the same SSID and password.

Ports

All routers have LAN (Local Area Network) and WAN (Wide Area Network) ports, the latter being synonymous with the internet. If you have many computers in your network, then you need a router that can accommodate all of the machines with an Ethernet cable. Ethernet allows for high-speed connections between the computers, much faster than via WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network). Most routers have one WAN port to connect to the central computer that is hosting the network or centrally accessing the internet. Routers have multiple LAN ports to allow several computers to connect with a cable to the router.

Routers these days even have USB ports to allow you to connect peripherals to your computer. If your computer lacks USB ports, then investing in a router that has multiple USB ports will let you connect, for example, a printer or an external hard drive. Every computer on the network can then access the devices that are connected to the router via the USB ports.

Antennas

Routers have two or more antennas to transmit data over radio channels and to increase the Wi-Fi range. The antennas meant to improve the Wi-Fi range are called high-gain antennas, and are typically placed above the chassis. However, many routers have no external antennas. The internal antennas are housed within the enclosure of the router and protrude slightly from the sides.

Conventional wisdom says that external antennas have much better reception than internal ones, allowing for higher speeds and better penetration through walls with enhanced signal strength. This is usually true, as it enables you to move the antenna on a router, just as you would handle the antennas of an old TV set, to get the best possible signal.

Routers with external antennas pose one problem, though – they take up too much space sometimes. If you lack space in your home or office and need to nestle your router in a tiny area, then only invest in a router that has internal antennas. However, if you need the boost in signal strength, you can buy a pair of standalone external antennas and connect them to your router.

Security

Security is the crucial feature you should consider when buying a router. Speed is important, but it means nothing if you lose your data. You want to browse the web in a protected and secure manner, and that is possible thanks to the security parameters and measures your router incorporates.

All routers have a built-in firewall to protect your computer network against intrusive online snoopers and data thieves. You can set up the firewall software to allow only certain types of incoming traffic by configuring the Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI). As a result, your network will not be exposed to unwanted incoming traffic that you do not authorize. If you are looking for enhanced security, you need to make sure your router has a built-in firewall with SPI features.

Asus routers have a technology known as Network Service Filter that blocks LAN and WAN packet exchanges and can prevent specific devices from using your network. You can also restrict access to your network for a specific device by adding its media access control address (MAC address) in your router configuration. The MAC address is an identification number that uniquely identifies a device on a network. However, hackers can fake a different MAC address for a device, so additional security features, such as data encryption, are useful.

If your router has it, make sure to turn on IPsec Passthrough to permit encrypted data to pass through your router. IPsec Passthrough will enhance your security, keeping you safe against hackers and breaches. Another protocol you should consider enabling is the (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP). L2TP is a Virtual Private Network (VPN) protocol for transmitting data from one machine to another in a very secure manner, using encryption. If you plan on using a VPN connection on your network, you must buy a router that has the L2TP feature.

What about Wi-Fi Protected Access, or WPA2, and WPA3? WPA2-PSK is a method of securing your network using WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2) as well as a Pre-Shared Key (PSK) password. This was designed for home users without an enterprise authentication server, and while it's a pretty common security feature found on most routers these days, WPA3 is less common. WPA3 is a method of connecting to a Wi-Fi network that is more secure than the previous protocol (WPA2). Individual data is better encrypted and it is harder for hackers to gain the password with a brute-force attack. 

By Pranjal Rahman
| Updated on
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