In the information age, no home or office is complete without only the best wireless router, a descriptor that has recently taken on new meaning. Sometimes, there’s broadband built-in, such is the case . However, that’s not always the case.
- Your router is nothing without one of the best laptops connected
The truth is that there are a ton of routers of various types and brands to choose from. It’s for that reason that we’ve gone hands-on with a wide range to find the top wireless routers below, each of which has been comprehensively tested prior to its inclusion.
1. Google Wifi
Speed: 802.11ac 5GHz down: 101.41 Mbps, 2.4GHz down: 47.53 Mbps | Connectivity: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports per Wifi point (1 WAN and 1 LAN port each) | Features: AC1200 2 x 2 Wave 2 Wi-Fi, TX beamforming, Bluetooth Smart ready
Super simple setup
Limited hardware control
Lower AC rating
Gone is the seemingly distant past of Wi-Fi range extenders. It’s clear now that wireless mesh systems are the way of the future, the most notable of which is Google Wifi. A hub-based router that’s as easy to set up as scanning a QR code, Google Wifi is more than your basic, run-of-the mill home router. It is instead a pricey testament to the lackluster capabilities of its predecessors, which failed to exhibit nearly as impressive range as Google Wifi.
Read the full review: Google Wifi
- This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing, but will arrive in Australia on July 20.
2. Netgear Orbi
Speed: 802.11ac 5GHz down: 90.14 Mbps, 2.4GHz down: 93.69 Mbps | Connectivity: 4 x 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet ports (1 WAN + 3 LAN for Router, 4 LAN for Satellite), 1 x USB 2.0 port | Features: 4GB flash memory, 512MB RAM, AC3000, MU-MIMO ready
Finicky Wi-Fi band settings
Unlike Google Wi-Fi, the Netgear Orbi wireless mesh system ships with two units rather than three: a router and a satellite, much like a cell phone signal booster. It’s expensive, but once you get past the price, you’ll see that the price tag is justified. Its simple setup, requiring little more than being plugged into a modem and a spare wall adaptor, makes the Orbi accessible to say the least. Add that to its stately performance and you’ll see why we love it so much.
Read full review: Netgear Orbi
3. Billion BiPac 8900AX-2400
Speed: 802.11ac: 2,400Mbps 802.11n: 2,400Mbps | Connectivity: 1 x DSL port, 4 x 1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 x EWAN Ethernet port, 1 x USB 2.0 | Features: Built-in ADSL2+ modem, 1 x 2.4GHz; 1 x 5Ghz bands, LED status lights, reset button, power button
ADSL2+ modem included
Only USB 2.0
Billion is back at it again, this time with the fastest router it’s ever produced. Exhibiting a throughput of 2,400Mbps over both a 2.4GHz and 5GHz band, the BiPac 8900AX-2400 isn’t conventionally attractive by society’s standards, but it is immensely capable. In lieu of a shabby interface, this router dons a wide range of ports for added storage down the line in addition to integrating a state of the art ADSL2+ modem.
- This product is only available in the UK as of this writing. US and AU readers: check out a comparable alternative in the .
Speed: 802.11ac: 1,300Mbps 802.11n: 450Mbps | Connectivity: 2 x Gigabit LAN port | Features: Dual-band Wi-Fi technology, 3.8-inch LCD touchscreen, embedded speaker/microphone
Elegant, simple interface
Touchscreen offers info and control
May need to rewire source
Gets noticeably loud
For those of us clinging to (presumably leased) routers supplied to us by our ISPs, the Starry Station makes Wi-Fi easier without handing over your clean money month after month to a greedy conglomerate. Not only is it fast, bearing download speeds that are typically around the same as a Verizon FiOS stock router, but the Starry Station is stylish enough where you won’t have to tuck it away in a cabinet that will inevitably obstruct its signal. What’s more, it manages to avert those pesky numerical gateways that no one wants to memorize.
Read the full review: Starry Station
- This product is only available in the US as of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the .
Speed: 802.11ac: 1,733Mbps 802.11n: 800Mbps | Connectivity: 4 x Gigabit WAN, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x SD card reader | Features: 512MB RAM, 1.7GHz dual-core ARM Qualcomm IPQ8065 processor, MU-MIMO, beam-forming, 4GB flash storage
Easy-to-use web interface
Great hardware extras
Pricier than other AC2600 routers
Not the fastest 802.11ac router
It’s not everyday you encounter a router that doubles as an NAS, or network-attached storage device – a type of server box that allows you to store and access files over your local internet connection. The Synology RT2600ac, on the other hand, combines the best of both worlds, going as far as to deliver third-party applications such as VPNs and DLNA media servers. There’s even Apple Time Machine support for over-the-air Mac backups.
6. Linksys WRT 3200 ACM
Speed: 802.11ac: 3x 867 Mbps, 802.11n: 600 Mbps | Connectivity: 4x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x USB 3.0, 1 x ESATA/USB 2.0 | Features: Tri-Stream 160, 1.8GHz dual core CPU, 512MB RAM, 256MB flash memory
Open source firmware support
Coverage sometimes spotty
More suitable in an office than a home
The antithesis to wireless mesh systems, the Linksys WRT 3200 ACM doesn’t boast a particularly flashy design. However, by compromising in the looks department, Linksys was able to pull off a versatile wireless router aimed at traditional PC enthusiasts. Giving you boundless control over your wireless network connections, whether you want to toggle on and off guest connections or prioritize media devices, the WRT 3200 ACM has you covered.
Read the full review: Linksys WRT 3200 ACM
- This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the .
Speed: 802.11ac: 2,167Mbps, 802.11n: 800Mbps | Connectivity: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x WAN, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0 | Features: MU-MIMO support, StreamBoost, dual-core 1.7GHz processor, 512GB RAM, Zyxel One Touch app-based setup
Good MU-MIMO wireless speeds
Excellent traffic analysis software
Few current devices use quad-stream 802.11ac
Average USB port speeds
Known for its NAS devices, extenders and powerline adaptors, it’s a wonder Zyxel would ever come out with a dual-band gaming router. Yet, although it’s not nearly as extravagant (or spider-like) in its outward appearances as the Asus RT-5300, the Armor Z2 AC2600 is a solid gaming router debut from Zyxel. Toting Dynamic QoS, otherwise referred to as StreamBoost, for the prioritization of more demanding connected hardware, a configuration app called Zyxel One Touch and MU-MIMO support, this router’s lofty price tag is damn near justified.
Read the full review: Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600
8. Linksys Velop
Speed: 117.46 Mbps single node, short range; 74 Mbps two nodes, far range | Connectivity: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet per unit (1 WAN and 1 LAN each) | Features: App-based setup; dual-stream (2x2), 802.11ac networking; 716MHz quad-core ARM Cortex A7 processor, beamforming
Fully modular mesh network
Pricey in comparison
Performance too dependent on position
The Linksys Velop makes a sound argument for a wireless mesh network’s ease of setup. With the aim of replacing both your router and your now-antiquated range extender, the Velop arrives at a time when companies like Google and Netgear are doing the same thing. The main way Linksys hopes to differentiate its contender in the wireless mesh networking space is with a user-friendly setup that anyone with a smartphone can understand. With just a visit to the App Store or Google Play marketplace, you’ll have the Linksys Velop running in a matter of minutes.
Read the full review: Linksys Velop
9. Asus RT-AC88U
Speed: 802.11ac: 2167Mbps 802.11n: 1000 Mbps | Connectivity: 9x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x USB 2.0 1x USB 3.0 | Features: 1024-QAM, MU-MIMO, WTFast Gamers Private Network, Asus AiProtection, AsusWRT Software
Fastest wireless speeds
Comprehensive software UI
Requires special hardware for fastest speeds
The Asus RT-AC88U justifies its above-average pricing with unrivalled record-breaking next-generation 802.11ac wireless performance. With four antennas and NitroQAM technology, which pushes speeds further still, this router enables wireless performance that can break the 1GB/sec limit. There's a minor catch - you'll need to invest in a NitroQAM wireless adapter, such as the Asus PCE-AC88, to see those faster speeds. It's worth it, though, because this router is a champion cheaper than its Asus RT-AC5300 Tri-band gigabit rival.
10. Netgear Nighthawk X4S VDSL/ADSL Modem Router D7800
Speed: 802.11ac: 1733Mbps, 802.11n: 800 Mbps | Connectivity: 5x Gigabit Ethernet, 2x USB 3.0, 1x eSATA | Features: VDSL 2 modem
Great wireless performance
VDSL 2 modem
Requires special hardware for fastest speeds
If routers had a fashion contest, Netgear’s D7800 would be among the top contenders. Its solid black finish is complemented by a quartet of antennas. Plus it’s damn fast and bettered by its inclusion of a duo of USB ports paired with an eSATA connector. The real centerpiece, though, is the VDSL 2 modem built into the Nighthawk X4S D7800, negating the need to buy or lease one separately. The outfitted software isn’t too shoddy either; a simple Dynamic QOS system makes it a breeze to govern a multitude of devices on a single home network.
Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article
- We’ve also picked out the best wireless business routers of 2017