Your Wi-Fi router is the unsung hero holding your smart home together. Why you should go for routers? The best routers will give you that trouble-free network connection you’ve been dreaming about. They’re designed to deliver a more robust signal and provide a more reliable network. What’s more, they come with capable network management tools that are useful when you have multiple users and devices, as well as additional features like a plethora of ports or smart home support.
Why you should think about the Router?
Using your own router and ditching the gear offered by your internet service provider can also save you $10-$15 every month, as well as delivering a better Wi-Fi experience. ISPs are often slow to update their existing hardware, and a new router will often pay for itself in savings within a year.
The internet speed you need for your router will generally be determined by the speed you get from your internet service provider and what speed is supported by your modem. For most people, a standard 802.11AC router will handle all but the most impressive plans available, like Gigabit internet plans that are only available in select cities.
Choose from one of the best routers below, whether you’re looking for a regular one or looking to upgrade to a mesh router, so you can get the most out of your network.
1. Google Nest WiFi Router
Google WiFi and Home together at long last
- Speed: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2.4 GHz/5 GHz simultaneous dual-band.
- Connectivity: Dual Gigabit Ethernet.
- ports Features: Advanced security chip, Nest WiFi point with Google Assistant, privacy control.
- Excellent design
- Smart speaker(s) included
- Even simpler controls
- -No major performance gains.
- Not worth replacing existing mesh
Google kicks things up a notch in its Google Wi-Fi line with its latest installment. Don’t get us wrong; the original Google Wi-fi is still among the best wireless routers today. However, if you’re all about the smart home life, then you’ll appreciate the pure genius of Google Nest Wifi. The best router 2021 has given us takes the Google Wi-Fi, gives it the capabilities of Google Home and wraps it all up in an even sleeker and more appealing package. It’s a mesh router and a smart speaker in one, all with the simplicity that Google Wi-Fi is known for.
2. Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) Router
Wi-Fi 6 meets mesh routers
- Speed: 802.11ax 4804Mbps down
- Connectivity: 2.5 Gigabit Wan, 3 x Gigabit LAN, Gigabit Wan, USB 3.1.
- Features: MU-MIMO, Traffic Analyzer, Adaptive QoS, AiProtection Pro.
- Great Wi-Fi performance
- Good security features
- Limited to two routers
Asus has been rolling out some amazing Wi-Fi 6 routers recently, and it has been releasing them for just about every need and budget. With the Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8), It has also managed to introduce Wi-Fi 6 to that other cutting-edge tech in connectivity; mesh routers. While it is among the more expensive options out there and limits you to two mesh routers, the Asus ZenWifi AX offers blazing fast speeds as well as plenty of flexibility in its setup – such as the option to set up one or two networks using the 2.4 and 5GHz bands. With excellent security features to boot, this is a fantastic choice if you’re looking at mesh routers.
3. Asus RT-AX86U
An impressive all-around upgrade router
- Speed: 802.11ax up to 5700 Mbps.
- Down Connectivity: 4 x Gigabit LAN, Gigabit Wan, 2.5G Wan, 2x USB 3.2
- Features: MU-MIMO, Traffic Analyzer, Adaptive QoS, Parental Control, NVIDIA Geforce Now Cloud Gaming Optimization.
- Fast WiFi 6 performance
- Security features
- Not cheap
Asus has always had an excellent line of gaming-centric devices, and the Asus RT-AX86U continues that tradition. While expensive compared to run-of-the-mill routers, it’s actually a competitively priced Wi-Fi 6 router. And, considering Wi-Fi 6 is the future in connectivity, this router is a win for Asus and an ace for gamers. It also has some great features for gamers such as a 2.5 Gigabit Wan, the ability to assign an ethernet port as a dedicated “gaming” port, and NVIDIA Geforce Now Cloud Gaming Optimization. Finally, it comes with very useful parental controls if you need them.
4. Asus RT-AX58U
Wi-Fi 6 router on a budget
- Speed: up to 3000Mbps
- Connectivity: RJ45 for BaseT for WAN, 4 x RJ45 for BaseT for LAN, USB 3.1 Gen 1
- Features: Router app, MU-MIMO, Traffic Analyzer, Adaptive QoS, AiProtection Pro, Parental Control
- Strong Wi-Fi 6 performance
- Simple set-up
- Good parental controls
- Dual-band only
Wi-Fi 6 is the new cutting-edge technology in networking. And while it offers faster speeds, better connections and larger area coverage, it comes at a price. With the Asus RT-AX58U, the company has been able to offer that Wi-Fi 6 performance at a much more reasonable price. And while it might not carry some of the extra features or ports that some of the more robust options have, it does offer some important ones such as MU-MIMO and Parental Controls. So if you’re looking for a no-frills way to get speedy internet, the Asus RT-AX58U may be the way to go.
5. TP-Link Archer C5400 v2 router
Weird looks, great performance router
- Speed: 802.11ac 5GHz down: up to 2,167 Mbps, 2.4GHz down: up to 1,000 Mbps
- Connectivity: 4 x LAN, WAN, USB 3.0, USB 2.0
- Features: MU-MIMO, Tri-band Wi-Fi, 8 external antennas, Alexa voice control.
- Fast and powerful
- Alexa and IFTTT support
Are you in the market for one of the best wireless routers of 2021 and don’t mind a quirky design. If a ‘90s-inspired sci-fi design sounds like it will fit right in your home, then the TP-Link Archer C5400 v2 might be the best wireless router for you. It’s not exactly the most modern-looking mesh router out there, but it’s unique in that it can bridge consumer and enterprise users by offering high-end functionality at a reasonable price point and with a relaxed setup. It’s peculiar looking, yes; however, if you’re scouring the market for a wireless router that can cover a mid-sized home, you can’t go wrong with this.
6. Netgear Orbi Pro
A mesh router for the office
- Speed: 802.11AC 3Gbps
- Connectivity: Gigabit WAN, 4 x Gigabit LAN
- Features: Modular network coverage, modern design, easy setup, traffic separation
- Easy to deploy
- Fantastic performance
- Very expensive
If you need to bring your office’s networking into the modern age with the best router 2021 has on offer, then you must seriously consider getting the Netgear Orbi Pro. It’s a modular Wi-Fi mesh router that takes some design and performance inspiration from its business-grade competitors. It’s on the more expensive side. However, if you’re running a business where you cannot afford any lags due to poor Wi-Fi, then it’s absolutely worth every penny
7. Netgear Orbi AC2200 RBK23
The Netgear Orbi, but smaller router now
- Speed: 802.11ac 5GHz down: 68.8 Mbps
- Connectivity: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports per unit
- Features: Disney Circle parental controls, Pause WiFi, smartphone setup, Tri-Band networking, modular
- Fast and efficient
- Smaller than the original one
- Not budget friendly
When the Netgear Orbi hit the streets, it changed the wireless router scene. Then, in 2019, Netgear released the Netgear Orbi AC2200 RBK23, an economical alternative for casual users who don’t have a grand manor to cover. This makes it a worthy contender for the best wireless routers. Sure, it comes with fewer antennae and ethernet ports than its higher end counterpart. However, it does deliver more than enough to provide very solid network coverage. Plus, the small form factor means that it will have no issues blending in – not that you will feel the need to hide it.
8. TP-Link Deco M9 Plus
A router for the smart home
- Speed: 5GHz: up to 867Mbps, 2.4GHz: up to 400Mbps
- Connectivity: 2 x Gigabit WAN/LAN, USB 2.0
- Features: Tri-Band connectivity, Dead-zone killer, Built-in smart hub, Built-in Antivirus, QoS, Parental controls
- Strong coverage
- Easy setup
- Not pocket friendly
The market is now flooded with wireless mesh routers, but it’s hard to complain when the level of coverage these wireless routers brings tops anything we’ve seen before. With devices like the TP-Link Deco M9, we can see how they’re only getting better and better. By incorporating IoT smart home support, alongside industry standard speeds and coverage, the TP-Link Deco M9 is, without question, an excellent choice for a smart home supporter. Fair warning though, this router is a tad expensive. However, you’re also getting all these features and an outstanding performance in exchange.
9. D-Link Covr-C1203
Wireless mesh networking for everyone
- Speed: 2.4 GHz: up to 300Mbps; 5GHz: up to 866Mbps
- Connectivity: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet LAN per node
- Features: MU-MIMO, Parental controls, Smart network control, Smart device setup
- Great coverage
- Little slow connectivity
Ready to jump on the mesh wireless router bandwagon, but without breaking open that piggy bank? You’re in luck with the affordable D-Link Covr C1203. It’s one of the best wireless routers, if you want to upgrade and save at the same time. It offers comparable coverage to that of the Google Wi-Fi while also being affordable, and it also looks futuristic in a great way. It’s somewhat slower than Google’s legendary router, but it will still be fast enough for the typical user. It’s no surprise that the D-Link Covr C1203 gets our vote the best router 2021 if you want a mesh one
10. Eero Home Wi-Fi System
Mesh wi-fi for the power user
- Speed: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz, 5.2GHz and 5.8GHz, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz and 5GHz
- Connectivity: 2 x Gigabit WAN/LAN
- Features: Modular network coverage, modern design, included security software, dynamic rerouting
- Blends into the background
If you’re in the market for a wireless mesh router that gives you a lot of control over your network, then the Eero Home Wi-Fi system might just be the answer. It has a price more premium than that of your standard router, but it also gives users total control over their network while touting a secure connection through AI. Even better, the Eero Home Wi-Fi System comes with subscriptions to 1Password, MalwareBytes and Encrypt.me VPN, which should keep everyone linked to your network safe and secure.
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The bottom line
The best Wi-Fi routers offer you speedy access for everything, whether it’s for work and school, or entertainment and play. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a standard router, Wi-Fi 6, or a mesh Wi-Fi system; a good wireless router offers great speed, coverage and features that make it easy to manage your home network.
When it comes to choosing the best Wi-Fi router, it’s easy to get lost in the complexity of networking jargon and obscure technology standards. But all you really need to know is how to answer two key questions: What speed do you need for your internet connection? And what sort of coverage do you need in your home?