5 Best Wireless Router of 2021 (WiFi, Budget, Gigabit, AC)

best wireless router

Everything we do today is done online: work, entertainment, socializing, gaming… other stuff, too. And yet a lot of people just stick with the crappy router (or modem/router combo) that their internet company sticks them with (and you usually pay a monthly fee for using it). While you don’t need the best WiFi router on the market, there are a lot of different options out there that will almost assuredly be a better fit for you.

Whether you’re looking for the best budget router, the best AC router, the fastest WiFi router, the most secure router, the best dual-band router, we have a list of the top-rated routers to help you find the right one for you. Without further ado, here are the best routers of the year.

Our Recommended

5 Best Wireless Router of 2021 (WiFi, Budget, Gigabit, AC)

PROS

Supports the latest 802.11ad WiFi standard

Tri-band technology

CONS

Expensive

No QoS to improve gaming

Out of the box, the NetGear R9000 Nighthawk X10 AD7200 features a really aggressive design. But the 4 antennas aren’t just for show because it also features the 60GHz band on top of the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz bands.

Unlike most routers on the list, this features the latest 802.11ad WiFi standard– supporting the 60GHz band that’s insanely faster (close to 1Gbps throughput) but also insanely shorter coverage. With that, it’s clear that this is a strong candidate for the best gigabit router on the list– even the best Netgear router to date.

However, this has a limited range, unlike the Google WiFi. And you just can’t simply extend the coverage by buying more than one because it’s not a mesh system (oh and these come at a premium price tag).

It also has a total of 6x LAN ports and 2x USB 3.0 ports that you can use as a storage hub for all your files to make transfers a lot faster. It’s just unfortunate that this doesn’t have the QoS (Quality of Service) feature that prioritizes data packets for a more stable and reliable wireless connection.

This router also lets you choose which devices can have access to the internet. So even if your new device is connected to the internet, you still can’t access the internet unless you “allow” the device via Access Control.

PROS

Supports the latest 802.11ad WiFi standard

Tri-band technology

CONS

Expensive

No QoS to improve gaming

A couple things we love about the TP-Link Archer C5400 v2 are its max speed of up to 5400 Mbps and its tri-band support (1x 2.4GHz and 2x 5.0GHz).

Like the rest of the consumer wireless routers, this only has 4 LAN ports. But when it comes to wireless connectivity, you can definitely count on it. This router also comes with MU-MIMO  (multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output) technology, which simply means the router can communicate with multiple devices simultaneously at once (rather than having to rapidly switch between devices), ensuring a strong and stable connection.

It’s also worth noting that this router takes security seriously. The HomeCare feature it utilizes is an anti-virus that protects every single device connected to the network.

And lastly, this router lets you set up a personal VPN server to browse the web and access files securely unlike the Linksys AC5400 (one of its strong competitor, also considered as the best Linksys router). On top of that, this one also has a faster RAM and Flash memory.

PROS

Consistent firmware updates

MU-MIMO capable router

CONS

2 access points might not be for everyone

Expensive

What makes the NetGear Orbi Home Mesh (RBK50) great is the fact that it’s rich in features without compromising speed. And because of this, it’s relatively expensive, coming in at around $300 for the 2-set package.

Starting off with the coverage, this wireless router can cover up to 5,000 square feet since it has 2 physical routers. So, if you have a 2-story house, you can put 1 on each floor or you can have one for personal use and the other one for guests.

Separating the access point allows you and your guests to have a more stable and secure connection at all times. And this also keeps the guests from messing around with your personal network. On top of that, each router has 4 LAN ports at your disposal.

Yet another thing that makes this appealing, especially for most parents, is the parental control feature. You can limit the daily time usage for specific websites and applications for specific family members to keep them from browsing the internet too much.

Lastly, it doesn’t feature the traditional square slab with antennas pointing upward design. Rather, it has a modern touch to it– which can be used as decor.

PROS

Consistent firmware updates

MU-MIMO capable router

CONS

2 access points might not be for everyone

Expensive

If you’re only here to find the best internet router for gaming, this is it. The TP-Link Archer C5400 (C5400X) is your best bet.

This router is specifically designed to prioritize gaming above other activities to give gamers the best gaming experience during dungeon raids or heated PVP battles in the arena.

Keep in mind though that this doesn’t come cheap; it’ll set you back at least $300 and sometimes it pushes close to the $400 range after taxes + shipping are accounted for.

Everything about the router is filled with features gamers will surely love. One of which is its dual 5.0GHz bands. With 2 lightning fast bands at your disposal, you can have 2 computers connected to each band for an outstanding performance.

The robust Quality of Service (QoS) feature of this router is also what makes it perfect for gamers since this prioritizes gaming above all else. On top of that, this also has a built-in malware protection feature to keep everything safe.

This also has 8 LAN ports at the back and 2x USB 3.0s that you can use as a hub for file transfers and such.

Overall, it’s a great router if you’re a gamer; how could it not be when it looks like something straight out of DOOM. Just make sure you spare a considerable amount of space since it’s relatively large.

PROS

Outstanding 802.11ac speed and range

Reasonably priced

Asus AiMesh compatible

CONS

Can’t be wall mounted

The Asus AC2900 (RT-AC68U) is another product we proudly present in this roundup. With almost 4,000 customer reviews on Amazon now (4.2 out of 5 stars), this is definitely worth mentioning in this best wireless router roundup.

This router is a lot cheaper than the above-mentioned routers but the 802.11ac technology it features performs just as good compared to some of its competitors in the $150 price range.

It doesn’t have a really interesting design. In fact, you can’t even mount this on a wall like most of the routers featured above. Also, this doesn’t have a really sturdy stand (as you can see on the image above) so I suggest you place this in a secured and balanced area.

This router is AiMesh compatible so you can cover more area if you have another Asus WiFi that’s also AiMesh compatible. We don’t recommend using this as mesh though, since its performance isn’t outstanding compared to dedicated mesh routers.

To top it all off, this AC1900 router has an AiProtection Network Security feature, parental controls to restrict websites, and QoS to give gaming and 4K streaming the strongest and most reliable connection. So, if you want to get the best Asus router for the price, this will be it.

Important Features To Check When Buying The Best Wireless Router For You

Buying a wireless router can be a pain, especially if you have little to no idea what features really matter. Even more so as manufacturers include a lot of acronyms and other marketing terms that don’t really have significant real-life impact on most people most of the time.

To make it easy, we’ll only talk about the things that really matter when buying a wireless router this 2019.

Wireless Protocols

Before we talk about the specific specs in detail, it is important to have a passing understanding of wireless protocols. Routers use the 802.11 protocol to send and receive data from devices. There are many versions of this wireless protocol to date (a/b/g/n/ac/ad), with 802.11ac being the most widely used and the 802.11ad being the latest.

These protocols can tell us a lot about the capabilities of the router in question. For instance, the standard speed of 802.11ac is 1331 Mbps– nearly 3x faster than 802.11n (450 Mbps) — while the 802.11ad can handle a lot faster speeds (about 7 Gbps) by using its 60GHz band (which is discussed more below).

Furthermore, the 802.11ac protocol and 802.11ad protocol also utilizes the MU-MIMO (Multiple Users, Multiple Input, Multiple Output) technology. Simply, this uses more than one antenna to send and receive data (up to 8 spatial streams) for a really fast and uninterrupted surfing experience.

Aside from that, this also supports beamforming technology. Instead of just throwing out the signals in all directions, this sends the Wi-Fi signal directly to the device to achieve a stronger and more reliable connection.

Radio Bands (2.4 GHz, 5.00 GHz, And 60GHz Frequencies)

Routers have what are called bands. In layperson’s terms, each band is like a separate internet source that your router can accommodate. For instance, most routers nowadays are at least dual-band, meaning they have two bands that can run concurrently.

If you have more than two devices using these two bands, then the bands will be forced to switch between these two tasks, effectively splitting that band’s effectiveness between the devices.

  • The 60 GHz band offers the fastest speed, but also has the shortest range. You’ll have to stay really close to it or needs to be at least in the same room to get the best connection .This is also limited to the 802.11ad protocol,
  • The 5 GHz band is significantly slower than the 60 GHz band, but still insanely faster compared to the 2.4GHz band. But this is somewhat limited to a small area and is only compatible with modern devices.
  • The 2.4 GHz band covers the largest area but is undeniably the slowest. Some older devices are only compatible with older network devices. 2.4 GHz is also generally best at going through walls.

It’s worth noting that there are also tri-band routers. As you would expect these have three bands instead of just two. Specifically, they have two 5 GHz bands and one 2.4 GHz band.

Since most routers come as dual-bands, you shouldn’t worry; however, if you decide to dip into some really budget routers, you might find some older single-band routers that only offer a single 2.4 GHz band. Those are best avoided.

Speed

In our opinion, a lot of undue attention is given to router speed. Your router can be as fast as you want it to be, but it doesn’t really matter since your internet connection is almost always going to be significantly slower (unless you’re in one of the few cities that have access to Google Fiber). Keep in mind, a good internet connection is about 150 Mbps; and many cities in America don’t even have that.

The slowest router on our list, the Google Wi-Fi system, is an AC1200 with the “AC” representing its protocol and 1200 representing its maximum theoretical bandwidth of 1200 Mbps. Since the Google Wi-Fi system is a dual-band router, that means the 1200 Mbps is split across the two bands: ~800 Mbps for the 5Ghz band and ~400 for the 2.4 GHz band.

Still, in the real world, you won’t really get anywhere near that speed– with this or any other router– unless you’re connected to it with an ethernet cable. Using the numbers obtained from TrustedReviews’ testing, we see that at about 2 meters (roughly 6 feet) you get about 450 Mbps, which is likely way more than you’re getting from your IPS.

Now, the further you get away from it, the more walls are in the way, etc, the worse your signal will get. In fact, when using only one router, he was getting as low as 15 Mbps. That’s definitely bad, and likely lower than what many internet services provide, but it’s still enough to game on or watch Netflix (both require around 5 Mbps at their lowest). It’s also worth noting that according to their tests, several other routers weren’t performing quite so badly.

Now, I’m not telling you to go out and get a worse package with your IPS (remember, if other people are using the internet, things would get really slow, really quick), or to even buy a crappy router, but I am saying there are other features that are more important to consider since most routers will accommodate your maximum internet speeds by default.

Features

Wireless routers these days offer a wide variety of features, all of which are aimed to provide stronger, better, or wider coverage. But the rule of thumb is to choose a router with at least 4 Ethernet ports and is dual-band (has both 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz frequencies).

The former gives you the option to connect your computers, laptops, and other network-attached storage drives via LAN, which is the best connection you can get. If you don’t plan to use an Ethernet cable, though, then you don’t really need 4; although, all routers will come with at least one, usually more.

If you’re also involved in transferring large files, a router that supports faster throughput will be essential. And if that’s the case, look for a router that supports link aggregation like the TP-Link Archer C5400X AC5400 featured in this article. This uses 2 Ethernet ports to provide you with significantly faster throughput, sometimes up to 2Gbps. It also acts as a fail-safe feature in case one LAN connection disconnects.

It’s also worth checking whether or not the router supports QoS (Quality of Service) if your main purpose is for gaming or 4K video streaming since this feature basically prioritizes these two, respectively, above any other tasks.

And if you’re a parent, routers that support Parental Control is essential as this gives you full control over all devices connected to the router. Specifically, you can filter which websites the device can only have access to or block inappropriate websites and even pause WiFi access real-time.

Lastly, you’ll want to compare your top picks first before making any decision. This is why I highly recommend you use RouterChart.com. This is a router comparison website that lets you compare up to 3 routers at once to make your selection easier.

Things To Consider

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PC guide
Brian Stone has always been around computers since he was 8. After discovering he had a burning interest in computers, he aims to help the entire community of gamers by dedicating his time and life to help gamers and computer enthusiasts alike. Through his work, he wishes to help readers choose the best products and make the smartest investments.

Independent, transparent, rigorous and authentic, our reviews are the most thorough and honest in PC gaming. Learn about our review process.

1 thought on “5 Best Wireless Router of 2021 (WiFi, Budget, Gigabit, AC)”

  1. My house has 3 foot thick stone walls. I have fiber optics and a modem. I also have 3 routers as wifi does not go through the walls. It is time to replace my routers. Is there anything new that would work better than a router to go through the walls for more coverage? Or which routers would work best?

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