Update, 4/4/22: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best routers you can buy. We also updated our under $100 pick from the Archer A7 to a newer model, the Archer A8.
What to Look For in a Router in 2022
We think Wi-Fi 6 is extremely important when picking a Wi-Fi router for 2022. While Wi-Fi 7 has been announced, the new protocol won’t be available until 2023, so Wi-Fi 6 and 6E are what you should look for in a router now.
If you’re buying a new router, you want it to be future-proof for a few years, and you can get very reasonably priced Wi-Fi 6 routers. Gigabit internet is becoming more common, too—and if you want the best router for gigabit internet, you want Wi-Fi 6.
However, we’ve also included a few router models that don’t have Wi-Fi 6, but they offer compelling features like a highly affordable price or best-in-class VPN configuration.
We don’t think there’s a best router for Xfinity, Spectrum, Verizon FIOS, or any other internet service provider. We recommend you pick whichever router fits your needs. The only thing that is ISP-specific is your modem, so this only matters if you’re choosing a combined router-modem unit. For most people, we recommend a separate router and modem, which will give you more choices.
Beyond that, it all comes down to how much money you want to spend, which features you’re looking for, and how much bleeding-edge technology you want in your wireless router.
- ✓ Wi-Fi 6 and future-proof hardware
- ✓ Packed with features
- ✓ 6000 Mbps speeds
- ✗ No Tri-Band
- ✗ Not the fastest Wi-Fi 6 Router
- ✗ Not the cheapest Wi-Fi 6 router
If you’re looking for the best Wi-Fi router for a home, take a look at the Asus AX6000. It’s not the most expensive Wi-Fi 6 router you can buy—nowhere near it—but it’s not the cheapest, either.
This router comes with future-proof Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), WPA3 security, 6000 Mbps maximum speed, dual-band technology, built-in VPN support, QoS (quality of service) for prioritizing certain types of network traffic, free built-in parental controls, and security features for blocking malware. For example, it has built-in VPN client support for the OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP protocols, enabling the router to connect to a VPN and route all your internet traffic through that VPN.
Wi-Fi 6 isn’t just about speed. Thanks to OFDMA technology, this dual-band router is excellent for keeping a strong signal at longer ranges with Wi-Fi 6 services compared to the previous 802.11ac technology, also known as Wi-Fi 5.
On the back of the router, you’ll find a whopping eight gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting wired devices. It’s also compatible with Asus AiMesh, which helps you set up a mesh network by adding extra Asus routers—although we recommend a dedicated mesh system if you’re thinking about a mesh network.
Realistically, any solid router, including this one, is a good option for streaming from services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. As long as your streaming devices have a strong Wi-Fi signal on a powerful Wi-Fi 6 router, you’re in business.
If you need coverage over a wider area, however, consider a mesh Wi-Fi system instead.
Best Wi-Fi Router Overall
Asus AX6000 (RT-AX88U)
Our favorite Wi-Fi 6 router offers 6000 Mbps speeds and is packed with features. It’s a good middle ground between a budget router and a more expensive model packed with bleeding-edge technologies.
$349.99 Save 14%
- ✓ Wi-Fi 6 on a budget
- ✓ Solid and reliable
- ✗ Only 3000 Mbps speeds
- ✗ No WPA3 security
- ✗ Fewer features
Not everyone needs an expensive router. Whether you only need to cover a small area with a few devices or you want to save some cash, we recommend the TP-Link Archer AX3000, also called the Archer AX50. This modern router comes with Wi-Fi 6, and it’s substantially cheaper than our pick for the best Wi-Fi router.
If you don’t want to splurge for our top pick, it is hard to go wrong with this router.
TP-Link’s AX3000 has to cut some technological corners, of course. While the Asus model we recommend tops out at 6000 Mbps throughput, this TP-Link model maxes out at 3000 Mbps. TP-Link has not included WPA3 security with this router. It also features only four gigabit LAN ports for wired Ethernet devices instead of eight.
Without a feature like AiMesh, you can’t add extra routers to create a seamless mesh network later, so that’s something to keep in mind. It has a built-in VPN server you can use to remotely connect to your home network from the internet, but it can’t function as a VPN client that routes all your internet traffic through a VPN.
If that all sounds fine to you, you’d be surprised how many high-end features you can get at this lower price point. Of course, the router features Wi-Fi 6 with OFDMA for boosting range when connecting to Wi-Fi 6 devices. You get dual-band technology and free built-in parental controls, too.
We don’t recommend spending less than this on a router if you can help it. With Wi-Fi 6 hardware this affordable, it’s an excellent opportunity to future-proof your network. If you spend less, you’ll either get a solid Wi-Fi 5 router or a particularly slow Wi-Fi 6 router.
Best Budget Router
$149.99 Save 20%
- ✓ A solid router at a very low price
- ✗ No Wi-Fi 6
- ✗ 1900 Mbps speeds
If you need a router that’s even cheaper than our top budget pick, the TP-Link Archer A8 will be a decent choice. This router doesn’t have Wi-Fi 6—only Wi-Fi 5, so it’s not as future-proof as many of the other options on this list. But, if you have a small area to cover and don’t have too many devices, you’ll likely be pretty pleased with this router. It’s an improved version of the Archer A7, our previous pick for a router under $100.
The Archer A8 offers speeds of up to 1900 Mbps, faster than the 1750 Mbps of the Archer A8. But compared to the 3000 Mbps for our top budget pick and 6000 Mbps for our overall top router, the A8 will still be on the slower side.
If you have Wi-Fi 6 devices, you can still connect them to the Archer A8 (or any Wi-Fi 5 router), but you’ll only get the slower Wi-Fi 5 speeds. Routers in this price range also tend to have their performance suffer when more devices are connected. But if you’re living in a small home or apartment and simply just need a router, the Archer A8 won’t hit your wallet too hard.
We don’t recommend spending less than this for a router—or even trying to get Wi-Fi 6 at this price range. For example, TP-Link itself offers a similarly priced router with Wi-Fi 6, the TP-Link Archer AX10. Despite that Wi-Fi 6 promise, the router is slower than this Wi-Fi 5 router, topping out at 1500 Mbps.
For now, if this is your price range, we recommend you stick with this reliable Wi-Fi 5 router.
Best Cheap Router
TP-Link Archer A8
A rock-solid router at a low price. However, it’s slower, and you don’t get Wi-Fi 6.
- ✓ 11000 Mbps speeds
- ✓ Tri-band Wi-Fi
- ✓ Packed with cutting-edge features
Gaming routers aren’t just for gaming. High-end routers with the latest features are generally branded “gaming routers.” If you want bleeding-edge technology, take a look at gaming routers—even if you never play games.
Gaming routers are a category of their own, promising impressive hardware packed with all the latest features. Our top router pick is also a gaming router, but if you’re looking for the best gaming router with the most features, you’ll want to spend a bit more.
The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is an absolute monster of a router with the latest cutting-edge technology. It’s an upgrade over Asus’s RT-AX88U with all of the previous model’s features, such as tri-band support with 11000 Mbps maximum speed. This Asus route has some seriously high-speed Wi-Fi.
That tri-band support means you can isolate your gaming devices—-PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, or anything else—on their own band of Wi-Fi, ensuring other devices in your home aren’t competing for wireless traffic on your gaming Wi-Fi network.
While the router has aggressive gamer styling, it’s not just about how the hardware looks. This router is gamer-themed right down to easy control over the router’s features in Asus’s ROG Gaming Center interface.
This router also features an innovative feature called VPN Fusion, which lets you manually assign specific devices to go through different connections at the router level. Using the router’s interface, you could have your laptop go through a work VPN, your personal computer go through a different VPN for privacy, and your gaming console connects directly to the internet and bypass the VPN.
Best Gaming Router
- ✓ Wi-Fi 6
- ✓ 5500 square feet of coverage
- ✓ QoS for traffic prioritization
- ✗ More expensive than mesh systems without Wi-Fi 6
- ✗ Not as simple to configure as Google Nest Wifi
A mesh Wi-Fi system combines a router with one or more extenders. You place these units throughout an area—for example, in different rooms throughout your home—and get a stronger signal throughout a much larger area than a single router unit could cover. They’re an excellent solution for coverage throughout large homes, pushing your signal out into the yard, or boosting coverage anywhere you have a weak signal or dead zones.
Compared to a traditional wireless range extender, a mesh network system is much more seamless. Range extenders generally create their own separate network with their own name, forcing your device to connect to the main router or the extended network.
A mesh networking system has a single Wi-Fi network name, and all the devices are aware of each other and can work together intelligently and seamlessly. It’s more simple to set up than configuring a traditional range extender, too.
We like the Asus ZenWiFi AX6600 (XT8) because, unlike many other mesh Wi-Fi systems, it supports Wi-Fi 6. It comes with two units and promises coverage for a total area of up to 5500 square feet. This is the best Wi-Fi 6 mesh router, thanks to features like QoS (quality of service) support for prioritizing traffic and optional anti-malware and parental control features.
Netgear’s Orbi 6 is also a strong contender, but it’s even more expensive than the Asus ZenWiFi hardware we recommend, and it lacks some of ZenWifi’s features.
Want more coverage? You can buy additional satellites separately and add them to your AiMesh network. The best router for a large house is a mesh system with however many satellites you need.
If you’re looking for the best long-range router, choose a mesh Wi-Fi system. It will give you robust and consistent coverage throughout your home or business. If you want to extend your Wi-Fi network out into the yard, consider placing one of the satellites at the edge of your home.
Best Mesh Wi-Fi Router
$449.99 Save 11%
- ✓ Mesh Wi-Fi on a budget
- ✓ Simple configuration
Google’s Nest Wi-Fi is a user-friendly mesh Wi-Fi system that’s been given excellent reviews all over the web. It’s not just a budget mesh system: It’s many people’s top pick for a simple, easy-to-set-up Wi-Fi network with a stylish design.
Where other routers offer a complicated web interface, Google offers simple configuration through the Google Home app. You can also control your wireless network by talking to Google Assistant—for example, you can tell it to reboot your router or turn off the Wi-Fi to specific devices. Nest Wifi points even have built-in smart speakers with Google Assistant.
We can’t recommend Nest Wifi as our top pick for one big reason: Google doesn’t yet offer Wi-Fi 6 support, and that’s too important a feature when upgrading your router. You’ll get 802.11ac, also known as Wi-Fi 5.
That said, if Wi-Fi 6 isn’t necessary for you or you want to save some cash on a solid mesh system, it’s hard to go wrong with Google Nest Wifi. A two-pack is cheaper than the Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8), and Google promises 4400 square feet of coverage.
You can even purchase a single Nest Wi-Fi device if the convenience of Google’s software appeals to you, if 2200 square feet is good enough, and you don’t need to cover a large area.
Best Budget Mesh Router
$299.00 Save 24%
- ✓ Wi-Fi 6
- ✓ Gigabit-capable DOCSIS 3.1 modem
- ✗ Fewer features
- ✗ A combo unit is a worse value
Let’s be clear—you don’t need a combined modem router combo unit. You can buy any of the routers here and connect it to your ISP’s modem, or you can buy your own modem (like the Motorola MB8600, which is ready for gigabit internet) and connect any of the routers in this list to that. You have many more options when you pick a router and modem separately.
But some people want that combo unit. After all, it’s just one device instead of two—there’s a sleek simplicity in that.
If you’re looking for a modem router combo that works with Cox, Spectrum, Xfinity, we like the NETGEAR Nighthawk CAX80. It’s one of the few modem router combo units that supports Wi-Fi 6. It also features a built-in DOCSIS 3.1 modem, meaning it can work with gigabit internet connections.
Beyond the modem, you have a solid high-end Netgear Nighthawk dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router with 6000 Mbps maximum speeds and OFDMA for long-range Wi-Fi 6 connections.
Unfortunately, it can’t match all the features of our top picks: This router doesn’t support WPA3 security. There’s no QoS (quality of service) support for prioritizing traffic. You cannot configure the router as a VPN client to route all your internet traffic through the VPN, as you can with our top overall router and top gaming router picks from Asus.
While Asus and TP-Link offer free lifetime subscriptions to their router’s security services, NETGEAR only provides a free 30-day trial, after which you’ll have to pay for additional time if you want to use it.
Overall, we think it makes sense to get both a router and a modem separately. But, if you want a single unit, this is the one to buy.
Best Modem Router Combo
$499.99 Save 26%
- ✓ Use a VPN for your entire network
- ✓ Custom router firmware from ExpressVPN for easy configuration
- ✗ No Wi-Fi 6
- ✗ 2600 Mbps speeds
Some routers come with built-in VPN support. The router connects to your VPN, and all devices on the network that connects through the router will automatically connect to the VPN. This is useful if you have to connect to a business network or if you want to route all your online traffic through a VPN for privacy.
If you’re looking for a router with a VPN client, consider looking at the Asus AX6000 (RT-AX88U), our top router pick overall. It includes built-in support for connecting to VPNs as well as modern Wi-Fi 6 technology. You can download OpenVPN configuration files and upload them to the router’s interface to configure the VPN client.
For even more control, take a look at the Asus GT-AX11000, our pick for the best gaming router, which has a “VPN Fusion” feature that lets you configure your network to send only traffic from specific devices over the VPN.
However, typical routers don’t offer the most user-friendly method of connecting to a VPN, especially if you want to change settings. Our pick for the best VPN router works very well with ExpressVPN, which is our favorite VPN. ExpressVPN offers a custom router firmware you can install on this router, which will give you a user-friendly interface for connecting to ExpressVPN and customizing the VPN settings on your router.
There’s just one downside: You can’t yet get a router that supports ExpressVPN’s custom router firmware (or OpenWrt and DD-WRT) and Wi-Fi 6. But, we think that if VPN support is your main concern, it could be worth holding off on Wi-Fi 6 for now.
Instead, we would recommend the Linksys WRT3200ACM open-source router, which is ExpressVPN’s recommendation for the most powerful router the company’s software supports. Yes, it’s just an 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) router, but it supports speeds of up to 2600 Mbps, and its MU-MIMO technology will provide better performance with multiple devices than the alternative models supported by ExpressVPN.
Best VPN Router
With a custom router firmware created by ExpressVPN, you can easily configure a VPN for your entire network.
$249.99 Save 10%
- ✓ Turn any Ethernet port into a Wi-Fi hotspot
- ✓ Better than hotel Wi-Fi
- ✓ Inexpensive
- ✗ Slower than home routers (but faster than hotel Wi-Fi)
A travel router is a must-have for anyone who’s sick of dealing with hotel Wi-Fi. More than that, it’s a must-have for setting up your own solid little Wi-Fi network anywhere you have access to a wired Ethernet connection.
Hotel Wi-Fi is rough. The speeds are often very slow, and you may only be able to connect a few devices. You’ll have to manually connect to the network and type a password on each device you use. But, generally, there’s an Ethernet port right in your room.
A travel router is a small, portable device that you can connect to Ethernet ports like this. It will quickly create your own personal Wi-Fi bubble using that wired network. You can connect all your devices without typing a new password—they’ll remember your travel network credentials—and you won’t be dependent on the hotel’s slow Wi-Fi.
The TP-Link AC750 makes for an excellent travel router. It doesn’t have Wi-Fi 6, but let’s be honest: neither do most hotel Wi-Fi networks. It’s a wireless AC (Wi-Fi 5) router that can deliver speeds of up to 733 Mbps—a lot faster than what typical hotel Wi-Fi will provide—and it’s very inexpensive and compact.
This device is also created by TP-Link, a trusted manufacturer with an excellent reputation that makes our top budget and cheap router picks.
Beat Travel Router
An inexpensive way to get better Wi-Fi in hotels (and elsewhere) while traveling.
- ✓ Bleeding-edge Wi-Fi 6E
- ✓ Our top gaming router, upgraded
- ✗ Few devices have Wi-Fi 6E
- ✗ It’s pricey
Now that Wi-Fi 6 is standard on new devices, the industry has already moved on to hyping up Wi-Fi 6E. Wi-Fi 6E is Wi-Fi 6, but it can also run on the 6GHz band instead of just the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands that Wi-Fi 6 and previous versions of Wi-Fi use. It could reduce wireless congestion and speed things up in areas where many devices are communicating wirelessly.
Wi-Fi 6E is the hot new thing router companies are pushing, even with Wi-Fi 7 on the (far) horizon. It’s certainly less crucial than Wi-Fi 6 and isn’t anywhere near as widespread yet, but more and more devices are now being released that support Wi-Fi 6E.
So if you have any Wi-Fi 6E devices or you want to be future-proof, you might want to get a router that supports Wi-FI 6E. This is a new, bleeding-edge technology, so routers that support it will be even more expensive than our other top picks.
If Wi-FI 6E is important to you, check out the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000. This is the same router as our top gaming router pick with an updated design and Wi-Fi 6E support. You get all of its powerful, bleeding-edge features—plus Wi-Fi 6E.
Consider it a step up for those who want the best, most future-proof hardware they can get their hands on.
Article From: HowToGeek