Your router is the mysterious legend that keeps your keen home running. From mesh devices to specialized gaming models and Wi-Fi 6 compatible, these are the best routers we've tested, with options for every budget.
Thanks to the advent of Wi-Fi 6 and its promise of faster and more efficient connection performance, 2019 was a particularly interesting year for wireless networks and Wi-Fi technology. And now, in 2020, the arrival of new second-generation mesh networking options is also worth paying attention to, especially since many of them are considerably less expensive than the systems that preceded them.
All of this has left us with a varied and extensive list of new Wi-Fi router models to evaluate. We're still diligently making progress on it, but we've already found many great options that we can recommend to you. Regardless of whether you're keen on lattice frameworks, gaming switches, Wi-Fi 6 viable switches, or you just want a good model that won't bankrupt you, we're here to point you in the right direction.
This note will be updated periodically as we continue with our device tests. When we find a Wi-Fi router worth your attention, we'll add it to this list with links to our latest test data.
Best Wi-Fi 6 router
TP-Link Archer AX6000
Wi-Fi 6 is the latest and fastest version of Wi-Fi, and we expect to see many new compatible models in 2020. But, if you want, you can upgrade to a Wi-Fi 6 router now for Wi-Fi performance. Faster and more efficient Fi on connected devices that support the new standard, like Samsung's iPhone 11 or Galaxy S10. Wi-Fi 6 is backward compatible with Wi-Fi, so your older devices will be able to connect too, but the new wireless router won't speed up.
All of this means that it is probably still too early to buy a new Wi-Fi 6 router (and don't forget that to notice the difference in the speed you will need to have a really fast Internet connection).
With that said, if you want to upgrade now, or if you need a new wireless router and want one that's ready for the next generation of devices, then go for the Archer AX6000 from TP-Link. Basically, this model shone in our benchmarks, posting the fastest transfer speeds we've ever measured, plus excellent range and low latency.
The AX6000 was launched at a price of US $ 350, but we have seen it lowered, even to the US $ 270. It's definitely not a cheap device, not even at that price, but if you find it on sale, it's a good way to upgrade to a solid Wi-Fi 6 network. If you can, wait a few months as TP-Link will release two new AX6600 routers in the course of the year: the $ 300 AX90 in April and the gaming-focused GX90 for the $ 330 in the summer. That most likely method a value cut for the 2019 model.
The best budget router
If you need to upgrade to a new wireless router, but don't want to spend hundreds of dollars, make sure D-Link's DIR-867 is on your list. When we first tested it, in 2018, we were impressed with consistent Wi-Fi speeds and features quite adequate for its price. And when we tested it again, in late 2019, it fell short of high-end video game routers.
Indeed, of the relative multitude of switches we tried, the DIR-867 recorded the quickest normal download speeds in the 2.4 GHz band, both in our maximum velocity and genuine speed tests. This Wi-Fi router also performed well in the 5 GHz band, outperforming several routers that cost much more. It didn't perform the best in terms of its range of action, so it's probably best suited for small homes, but you'll still get a solid return for $ 100 or less.
Note that D-Connection declared its new line of switches for 2020 at CES. This includes Wi-Fi 6 compatible models starting at $ 120, which should start hitting stores in the coming months. We will be attentive to the new releases and inform you if it is worth paying the extra money compared to the DIR-867.
The best mesh router
With fast speeds, simple setup, and helpful, easy-to-use controls in its app, Google Wifi was our top pick for mesh routers in the last three years. Its second-generation model, Nest Wifi, is faster, cheaper, and just as simple to set up and use. In addition, the range extension points now also function as smart speakers with Google Assistant. That, along with a new design that comes in multiple colors, aims to get you to keep them out in the open and out of sight, where they'll perform better.
It doesn't support Wi-Fi 6 (and it's Wi-Fi extenders to increase the range of your signal don't have Ethernet connectors, which means you can't connect them to the Wi-Fi router), but Nest Wifi adds a couple good updates, including support for new WPA3 security standards and also 4X4 MU-MIMO connections, which means it can bring faster top speeds to devices using multiple Wi-Fi antennas. Valued at $ 269 for a two-gadget arrangement that can conceal to 3,800 square feet (around 350 square meters) (something we had the option to check when we triedValued at $ 269 for a two-gadget arrangement that can conceal to 3,800 square feet (around 350 square meters) (something we had the option to check when we tried it in both a small house and CNET's 5,800-square-foot smart home. or 540 square meters), the Nest Wifi Dual Band is the most complete mesh router on the market right now, and the first one I would recommend.
That being said, with all the new mesh systems just announced at CES 2020, including some that are Wi-Fi 6 capable and priced lower than Nest Wifi, this year is shaping up to be very interesting (and busy) for the segment of mesh routers. If any of those new systems succeed in dethroning Nest, we'll be sure to let you know in this space.
Netgear Orbi (dual-band, AC1200)
It doesn't have all the features of systems like Nest Nest's Wi-Fi, and the app controls you need to use to set it up aren't that fancy, but other than that, Netgear's new Orbi inexpensive system stands out for its good value for money. price in the category of mesh routers. Priced at just $ 150 for a two-device setup (the Wi-Fi router and a single-range WiFi extender), it's one of the cheapest mesh networks out there, and it had results comparable to Nest devices. and Eero in our speed tests. And for now, it's on sale for a discounted price: just $ 130.
Indeed, of those three frameworks, Netgear's Orbi posted the most elevated normal maximum velocity at short proximity, and when we tried it in that range at technical care bd savvy home, it again outperformed the other two Wi-Fi systems. I even like its new design, with clever contours on the top that allow heat ventilation in style.
And what is the next Netgear news? Interestingly, this month it will launch a new mesh system under the Nighthawk brand. It looks like this Orbi system, except it's black, and it's Wi-Fi 6 compatible. It will be estimated at just $ 230 for a two-gadget arrangement, and it's one of the following cross-section frameworks we desire to test. We will have more data about it soon.
Better performance of a mesh system
Netgear Orbi 6 (tri-band, AX6000)
With prices starting at $ 700 for the two-device setup shown here, the Wi-Fi 6 version of the Netgear Orbi (which I call the Netgear Orbi 6) is much more expensive than the dual-band version we discussed above. but it is also much more powerful. Thanks to a second 5 GHz band that serves as a dedicated backhaul for system transmissions between the router and its satellites (at Wi-Fi 6 speeds by the way), the system shone in our benchmarks.
To be precise, the system delivered average speeds of 289 Mbps when I spent a few days testing speeds in various rooms in my house, where I have a 300 Mbps fiber optic internet plan. It's a near-perfect result - one that no other system can do. mesh that I have tested has been able to match.
Is it worth paying $ 700 for such a performance? I think most will find a better value for money if they buy something less expensive, and this year a wide variety of suitable options will hit the market. But if you're thinking of upgrading your gear right now and you want the best mesh performance money can buy, this is your best choice.
The best mesh router for Wi-Fi 6
Asus ZenWiFi AX
It's not quite as fast as Netgear's Orbi 6, but Asus' ZenWiFi AX Mesh Router packs a punch, and its $ 450 price tag for a two-pack is much more affordable. For that amount of money, you get almost everything you would have with the Netgear equipment, including a multi-gigabit WAN port and a dedicated backhaul band to keep transmissions between the router and your satellite separate from traffic. your network.
And while $ 450 is still a lot of money, this easy-to-use system proved to be highly capable and reliable in our benchmarks. That puts it in the sweet spot for those who want a mesh router that doesn't lose relevance in the short term and feels like a high-end upgrade.
The best router for video games
Computer game switches guarantee elite and low dormancy for in-your-face gamers, and it's normal to discover them available to be purchased for $ 300 or even $ 200. Priced at roughly $ 150, the Asus RT-AC86U dual-band router isn't very cheap to say, either, but it packs a great value for money compared to other routers of its kind, and also offers excellent performance.
In particular, the RT-AC86U double band switch recorded the most elevated normal greatest paces in the 5 GHz band of all the Wi-Fi 5 switches we tried. It was also the best gaming router in our dozens of latency tests, with a lower average ping than any other router we tested, including more sophisticated and expensive gaming routers and even a couple of Wi-Fi 6 models. The router is controlled using a great app with many advanced network controls, including parental controls for your Wi-Fi network and options for device prioritization.
That incorporates everything a great many people need from a decent gaming switch and double band switch, and at a cost that permits us to prescribe it to you. You can also wait until later this year when Asus plans to release the RT-AX86U, which adds Wi-Fi 6 support, but we don't know how much that router will cost or when it will hit stores.