January 27, 2021
By: Jonyque Espeut, Contributing Editor
The best Wi-Fi routers for range, performance and budget
Although WiFi routers are generally thought of as an essential item in most homes, they often go overlooked when troubleshooting lagging internet speeds or other connectivity issues. You may even believe that the problem is your ISP package or device when it's an outdated or overloaded router. Choosing a good router—and making sure yours has been updated in the past four years—can be the difference between constant buffering and buttery smooth performance.
If your router is more than a couple of years old and is struggling in more places than not, a new router or a mesh-networking kit will improve your WiFi range, stability, and speed all over your home. We have taken the time to compile a list of the best Wi-Fi routers of the year, so you can select the router that is best suited for your family's connectivity needs.
For the Budget Conscious
Netgear's R6120 IEEE router is an inexpensive router that can provide a reliable connection ideal for a small family home or apartments with under 20 devices. Netgear's R6120 IEEE router offers speeds three times faster than similar 802.11n technology, allowing you to video chat and stream in HD without dips in performance.
Compatible with next-generation WiFi devices, this router is also backward compatible with 802.11 a/b/g/n devices. With up to 300+900 Mbps speed and simultaneous dual-band WiFi technology, you can rest assured knowing this router can keep up with most ISP packages. With support for both 2.4 GHz and 5GHz wireless frequencies, you can enjoy faster data rates further from your router. Advanced features include ReadySHARE®USB and ReadySHARE® PRINTER, so you can wirelessly access and share to USB and your wifi-enabled printer. Priced under $75, Netgear's R6120 IEEE is a substantial upgrade from a typical ISP router without breaking the bank.
Amazon's eero Pro Mesh is a high-performance tri-band wireless router with a substantial wireless footprint. It complies with 802.11ac standards, works over 2.4 GHz, 5.2 GHz, and 5.8 GHz bands, and comes with two auto-sensing GbE ports for WAN and LAN connectivity.
You can set up the Amazon eero Pro as a standalone router or combine multiple units to create a Mesh network, which delivers fast, reliable WiFi across your entire house. The Amazon eero Pro Mesh adheres to the best standards in network security by issuing one-time passwords for eero app access and only allowing WPA2-compatible devices onto your network.
The Amazon eero Pro Mesh's biggest win over routers is its automatic updates, simplicity, and ability to add additional units for better ranges. Unlike other routers, Amazon's eero Pro router automatically updates overnight, so you always have the latest security and features. If you're looking for a router that provides an extensive range, added security features, and smart home support, the Amazon eero Pro Mesh router might be for you.
Productivity & Large Spaces
Picture this: You've just set up your home network with the latest Wi-Fi hardware and a 100 Mbps Internet connection. But for some reason, you still encounter buffering when you try to stream video in the bedroom. You called your ISP, and everything checks out, so what's the deal? Chances are, you need a mesh system, which consists of the main router that connects directly to your modem, and a series of satellite modules, or nodes, placed around your house for full Wi-Fi coverage. They are all part of a single wireless network and share the same SSID and password, so you don't have to worry about setting up multiple profiles.
The Nighthawk MK83 is equipped with award-winning tri-band Wi-Fi 6 technology. It delivers super-fast speeds of up to 3.6 Gbps to every corner of your home, from the basement to your home office. Gaming, video calls, and streaming video can be done from anywhere in your home thanks to Wi-Fi mesh technology that seamlessly covers up to 6,750 square feet (627 square metres). Gamers and others who need a low-latency, high performance connection can plug into one of the Wi-Fi system’s seven Gigabit LAN Ethernet ports. No more dead zones, no more buffering, and no more dropped connections. Four times as many devices can connect, with 40% more data throughput. Game consoles, streamers, and home office PCs have the option of plugging in directly with seven (3+2+2) Gigabit LAN Ethernet ports available in the router and two included satellites.
Compatible with any existing internet provider’s hardware, the Nighthawk MK83 delivers speed, support for multiple devices, easy setup and management, plus a free trial of NETGEAR Armor cybersecurity protection. Because the unit comes with two additional nodes, you can place them at various levels of your home or in different rooms, depending on the layout of your home. You will be able to enjoy the same connection whether you're upstairs in your living room or your basement, streaming in 4k.
Another added benefit is NETGEAR Armor, a network-wide anti-virus, anti-malware, and fraud unlimited # of devices. Best of all, your new router will only take moments to install thanks to the Nighthawk App, where you can also customize the above features. If you're in the market for a great mesh system with the added benefit of a sleek, modern design, the Nighthawk MK83 Whole Mesh system is a great pick.
Gamers & Wi-Fi 6
Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming 6
The Nighthawk line of routers have always been known for their slick, gaming-inspired design and the XR1000 does not disappoint. It comes with four removable antennas that attach to the body on the sides and in the back. The XR1000 features an angled design that can be placed flat or mounted onto a wall. If you have a dedicated gaming room, we recommend you mount the router on the wall, and adjust the antennas accordingly.
When gaming is your priority, optimize your network with this XR1000 wireless router. Boasting three bands, the XR1000 dedicates one of the two 5GHz bands to gaming for speedy and smooth gameplay. The router supports Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and is backward-compatible with older Wi-Fi devices, compatible with the last generation, current, and next-generation devices.
The latest 802.11ax Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi 6 standard featuring OFDMA technology provides increased Wi-Fi signal range and better coverage by dividing each channel into smaller sub-channels. These sub-channels have a smaller bandwidth that enables them to travel up to 80% farther than those without, resulting in a better Wi-Fi connection throughout your home. A generic router sends data one at a time like a courier to a single destination. Then came routers with 802.11ax with OFDMA, which is the equivalent of sending multiple couriers to multiple destinations all at the same time.
Why is this relevant? Perhaps you've picked up a new iPhone, flagship Samsung or are even planning on upgrading your laptop to something more substantial in 2021. Most of these devices have bands that support Wi-Fi 6. After shelling out on new tech, the last thing you want to deal with is a router that cannot keep up with your connectivity ecosystem. Picking up a router like the XR1000 ensures that connectivity is future proof, and will be able to handle the demands of whatever you throw at it.
Under the hood, the XR1000 has a triple-core 1.5GHz Processor and 512MB of RAM. Having a powerful processor in a router is especially important for gamers. This allows the router to support more devices for VR gaming and 4K streaming. A fast processor will also boost wireless, wired and USB performance.
On the back are four LAN ports, a WAN port and a USB 3 port. The LAN ports have gigabit per second throughput, but no port aggregation. On the front, you’ll find tiny LEDS for power, internet connection, wireless activity, etc. There’s also a button to disable Wi-Fi and a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button.
The XR1000 is a dual-band router with a maximum data rate of 5.4Gbps. That breaks down to 600Mbps on 2.4GHz and 4800Mbps on 5GHz.
If you're in the market for a router that is too powerful, too fast, too cool and future-proof: don't hesitate to check out the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming 6.
Whether you're four days into the latest season of your favourite Netflix show, on Zoom calls, or battling your friends online, you don't want a mediocre router interrupting what matters. In this day-and-age there is no reason to live with the issues of an outdated or underperforming router. Whatever your situation, Better1 has a router to fit your connectivity needs.