The 10 Best Long-Range Routers of 2020

Eliminate those dreaded Wi-Fi "dead zones"

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The Rundown
Best Overall:
Asus RT-AX88U at Amazon
"An upgrade to an already great router for a whole new generation of Wi-Fi devices"
"A multi-unit 'hotspot' system with great coverage and plug-and-play simplicity."
"Offers great range at a wallet-friendly price"
Best for Gaming:
Asus GT-AX11000 at Amazon
"An ultra-fast Wi-Fi 6 router with great range and a ton of gaming optimization features."
"As TP-Link’s first 802.11ax router, the Archer AX6000 makes an immediate impact."
"Enjoy smooth, bufferless 8K video streaming."
"Can deliver up to 20,000 feet of coverage through multiple mesh stations."
Best Parental Controls:
Netgear Nighthawk X6 at Amazon
"Circle with Disney integration lets you easily monitor your kids' screen time."
Best Connectivity:
Linksys EA9500 at Amazon
"A collection of eight Gigabit Ethernet ports and two USB 3.0 ports make this a great choice for busy households or home offices."
"Advanced Wi-Fi 6 capabilities make this the fastest and most impressive mesh system available."

If you've been blessed with a large living space, you've probably already discovered that it can be tricky to make sure that you have reliable and fast Wi-Fi everywhere in your home. The good news, however, is that it doesn't have to be if you pick up one of the best long-range routers.

The fact is that not all routers are created equally, and just because a router is fast, powerful, or expensive doesn't mean that it's designed to deliver on actual range. After all, any router can offer fast throughput when you're sitting right beside it, but the best long-range routers keep your internet connection going strong even when you're streaming Netflix out on your back deck or gaming in your basement.

There are actually two approaches you can take to getting the best coverage throughout your home. Single-unit routers offer powerful beamforming antenna arrays and tri-band frequencies that put out strong and focused signals to blanket your home with Wi-Fi, while mesh Wi-Fi systems combine a powerful base router with one or more satellite units that you can strategically deploy around your home to get the best coverage where you need it the most.

It's also important to keep in mind that if you have a big home you probably also have a lot of family members or housemates vying for Wi-Fi signal, and in many cases that also includes a laptop, tablet, and smartphone for each person, plus common household devices such as smart TVs, game consoles, and smart home accessories. However, the best long-range routers are designed to handle all of these devices with ease on even the busiest networks, using multiple Wi-Fi bands to reduce congestion and support for the newest 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 standard that offers a whole wealth of new benefits for the latest smartphones and tablets.

So read on for our collection of the best long-range routers to make sure your home is bathed in strong Wi-Fi coverage.

Best Overall: Asus RT-AX88U AX6000 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router

What We Like
  • Advanced Wi-Fi 6 support

  • Excellent performance

  • Eight LAN ports

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

We've been fans of Asus' RT-AC88U for a while—it's been one of the best single-unit Wi-Fi routers you can buy—and as a direct upgrade to the classic, the RT-AX88U takes the gold standard to a whole new level by packing in the latest Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax technology, increasing the bandwidth, range, and reliability while supporting all of the advanced features that made its predecessor so great. 

In fact, you might be hard pressed to tell the RT-AX88U apart from its older sibling, since Asus has retained the same unique design, which we kind of like for its lower-profile look as compared to some of Asus' more behemoth gaming routers. Measuring in at 11.8 inches wide by 7.4 inches deep, it's got an unobtrusive footprint, yet four antennas still make sure that it can provide enough beamforming range to get a strong and fast signal to the far reaches of your home.

In addition to the blazing fast 802.11ax 6Gbps throughput, you'll also find a set of eight Gigabit Ethernet ports around back, allowing you lots of room for wired devices without the need to add an extra hub or switch, and like most Asus routers, it also packs in AiProtection Pro powered by Trend Micro to help protect you from internet security threats, plus support for Asus AiMesh technology for adding additional units and even Alexa voice commands. 

"The Asus RT-AX88U is an excellent Wi-Fi 6 router and is a great way to future proof your home network even if you don’t already have a lot of Wi-Fi 6 devices." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Best Mesh: Netgear Orbi Whole Home Wi-Fi System

What We Like
  • Speedy performance

  • Full home coverage

  • Beautiful aesthetics

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • Older devices complicate things

Netgear’s Orbi system gives you a multi-unit mesh Wi-Fi system with plug-and-play simplicity, bundling two separate units: a router and a satellite. While the router works like any of the other routers on the list and the satellite unit is basically a Wi-Fi extender in concept, they're designed to work together seamlessly so that you don't need to be a network expert to set them up. You can roam around the home with your smartphones, tablets, or other Wi-Fi devices and they'll simply latch on to whichever of the units they need to in order to get the best performance, giving you amazing coverage anywhere in your home.

What does that coverage amount to? In this case, our testing showed that the two units will easily cover a 5,000-square-foot home, which should be more than enough for most users, although you can add up to two additional units if you need to extend the range even further, which will ultimately give you better coverage than any single router is capable of providing, and thanks to a dedicated 5GHz backhaul channel, you'll get maximum throughput back to the main base router no matter which of the stations your devices are connected to.

"When you take the phenomenal range, speedy performance, and MU-MIMO support together in a package, it’s frankly amazing. You will have a hard time finding a better wireless router than the Netgear Orbi." Bill Thomas, Product Tester

Best Budget: TP-Link Archer C80 AC1900 Wireless MU-MIMO Wi-Fi 5 Router

What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Strong Wi-Fi signal

  • Easy setup

What We Don't Like
  • Limited positioning options

Finding a budget-priced router with excellent range isn’t an easy request, but TP-Link's Archer C80 long-range router is an excellent wallet-friendly option that can offer solid coverage for all but the largest homes, thanks to its array of four beamforming antennas and its higher-power front-end module (FEM). With support for 802.11ac and dual-band networks (2.4GHz and 5GHz), the Archer C80 creates a strong and reliable Wi-Fi signal throughout your home or small office, and it's a snap to set up with the free TP-Link tether app available on both Android and iOS.

The Archer C80 also introduces MU-MIMO support to TP-Link's lineup of more affordable routers, which helps to ensure that your Wi-Fi devices can get maximum throughput even on a busy network, plus there are four Gigabit Ethernet ports around back so you can hardwire in for maximum performance. Built-in QoS features also ensure that real-time traffic like streaming, gaming, or voice and video calls get priority, and basic parental controls even allow you to filter internet access to specific devices by time of day.

"For various reasons, faster Wi-Fi routers don’t necessarily provide better range. While AC3200 and AC5400 routers offer speeds that make them ideal for handling the increased number of devices that are often found in a larger home, there’s no direct correlation between the speed of a router and the range that it offers."Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer

Best for Gaming: Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Wi-Fi 6 Router

What We Like
  • Advanced Wi-Fi 6 Support

  • Extremely fast performance

  • Cutting-edge game-centric QoS

What We Don't Like
  • Large footprint

  • Pricey

If you're a gamer, there's going to be a lot more to a good long-range router than just making sure it reaches the corners of your home. It also needs to be able to offer fast, lag-free connectivity while doing it, and that's where Asus' ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 shines. Offering blazing-fast 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 performance, this router has a maximum combined throughput that can reach 10Gbps, along with an eight-antenna beamforming array that offers up to 5,000 square feet of coverage all by itself.

Since it's designed expressly with gamers in mind, it also offers low-latency performance along with advanced band steering to ensure that your high-performance gaming devices get the fastest and most congestion-free Wi-Fi possible. However, since Asus knows many gamers still prefer to jack-in rather than relying on Wi-Fi, there's also a collection of four Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back, along with a special 2.5Gbps gaming port. Asus has also packed the firmware with a gamer's paradise full of features, including WTFast game acceleration, VPN Fusion to isolate your gaming traffic from your VPN, and Dynamic QoS to prioritize your gaming traffic and automatically connect to the fastest servers for popular online games. 

"I took my mobile device down to my garage, about 100 feet from the router in a direct line, with a ton of interference, including metal, in the way. At that extended range, I was able to achieve a top download speed of 54Mbps, still plenty of speed for streaming and gaming." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Best for Speed: TP-Link Archer AX6000 8-Stream Wi-Fi 6 Router

What We Like
  • Wi-Fi 6 Support

  • 8 Gigabit Ethernet Ports

  • Good parental controls

What We Don't Like
  • Large footprint

  • Lacks WPA3 Support

As TP-Link’s first Wi-Fi 6 router, the Archer AX6000 makes an immediate impact. Beamforming and “Rangeboost” technologies help its eight external antennas deliver strong long-range signals. With 802.11ax operating on both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands (802.11ac only operates on 5GHz), this next-generation router supports speeds of 4.8Gbps at 5GHz and 1.2Gbps at 2.4GHz for a combined total of 6Gbps of throughput.

With many households now filled with multiple phones, tablets, 4K video streaming, and smart-home devices competing for download and upload capacity, Wi-Fi improvements need to be about more than range and speed. The 802.11ax standard boasts four times greater capacity and performance, thanks to both uplink and downlink MU-MIMO working with OFDMA (orthogonal frequency-division multiple access) technology to handle heavy Wi-Fi traffic much more efficiently. The Archer AX6000 also has features aimed at the safety and security of all these gadgets and their users, such as adaptive antivirus, parental control profiles for groups of devices, and custom levels of active content filtering.

"Beamforming technology gives it the ability to concentrate Wi-Fi signals on the devices that matter to you most, while range boost allows the signal to travel farther." Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Best for Streaming: Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 12-Stream AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Router

What We Like
  • Wi-Fi 6 Support

  • Tri-Band Wi-Fi with 12 streams

  • Advanced wireless features

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Few devices can yet take advantage of it

The RAX120 is the absolute powerhouse of the Netgear Nighthawk line. At its core, it offers improved network capacity due to the more modern Wi-Fi 6 technology, which is especially useful for video streaming since in today’s households it’s very likely that a dozen devices can be streaming video on the same network. The RAX120 offers performance that will enable you to enjoy smooth, bufferless streaming for your favorite TV shows.

Capable of supporting up to 12 simultaneous streams, the RAX120 offers a combined throughput of 6Gbps, which is more than enough to support 4K and even 8K video streaming for multiple devices thanks to the eight separate high-efficiency antennas, which also provide 50 percent higher Wi-Fi range than previous generations. The whole system is supported by the WPA3 security protocol and a dual-core processor. Plus, because it’s a Netgear device, you can control who has access to your Internet connection and when through its intuitive smartphone app.

"The router has an impressive range overall, and I didn’t experience any dead zones, which has been a problem with other routers in the past. The speeds on the AX12 did slow down when faced with obstructions though, especially outdoor walls and appliances." — Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Best Range: Amplifi HD Mesh Wi-Fi System

What We Like
  • Great range

  • Amazing speed

What We Don't Like
  • Bulky

In today’s connected world, everyone wants faster Wi-Fi with better range and fortunately, the tech industry is listening. Enter mesh networking, a relatively new Wi-Fi router technology that offers complete home coverage through a multitude of devices plugged in around the home or office. AmpliFi HD’s home Wi-Fi system is a new entry into the mesh networking space and is already leading the pack.

Inside the main AmpliFi HD box are six high-density long-range 802.11ac 3x3 MIMO antennas offering speeds up to 5.25Gbps and a range of 20,000 feet. The design of the 5-pound, 4-inch main box is a complete breakaway from traditional router appearance and it’s a well-deserved change.

Setting up the network is as easy as plugging in and watching Internet dead spots in your home disappear. On the front of the all-white unit is a lone multicolored LCD that offers both the current time and speed statistics. Beyond the base router are the white plastic “mesh points” that look like slightly larger USB sticks that plug into traditional power outlets around the home. Overall, the AmpliFi HD is the most robust mesh router on the market and offers unique style and solid performance in both speed and range.

"This is an ideal system for someone with a large area to cover, but it’s not a powerhouse capable of managing an army of devices like the Nighthawk AX12 or the TP-Link Archer AX6000." — Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Best Parental Controls: Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router

What We Like
  • Tri-band technology

  • Very fast setup

  • Advanced parental controls

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Large footprint

To the average person, routers are undeniably confusing. Between their multiple antennas, bands and inputs, they can be incredibly frustrating to set up. So we’re pleased to recommend the Nighthawk X6 as not only one of our favorite long-range routers but one of the easiest to set up as well. With its tri-band technology plus beamforming, it smartly assigns each one of your devices to an optimal Wi-Fi band, ensuring they can connect at their max speed, up to 3.2Gbps.

As for its simple set-up? Our testing showed us that the Netgear genie app makes installation a snap. It supports a single sign-on (SSO) feature that lets you use one login for all of your Netgear accounts and also enables you to monitor, connect, and control your home network remotely from your iOS or Android phone. On top of that, it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa, so you can control your home network via voice commands.

"The Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router is poised to deliver fast and reliable speed to a larger home full of devices." — Yoona Wagener, Product Tester

Best Connectivity: Linksys EA9500 Tri-Band Wireless Router

What We Like
  • MU-MIMO capable

  • Eight built-in LAN ports

  • Two USB 3.0 ports for file and device sharing

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Very large footprint

  • Bulky, laptop-style power pack

With its multitude of antennas, streamlined black design, and generous collection of ports, the Linksys EA9500 is an excellent addition to any home. While most routers offer both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, the EA9500 includes a second 5GHz band to reduce congestion on busy networks and ensure that all of your devices get top speeds. Powered by a 1.4GHz dual-core processor and sporting eight Gigabit Ethernet ports, the EA9500 is ready to tackle any job. The router also supports MU-MIMO technology, so each device connected to the Wi-Fi network can operate independently without affecting the speed of other devices.

Beyond the tri-band Wi-Fi set, the inclusion of 802.11ac offers fast Wi-Fi performance, which our testing showed is especially great for busy households or home offices. All totaled, the 802.11ac connection paired with the three Wi-Fi bands add up to a combined maximum throughput of 5.3Gbps, and a pair of USB 3.0 ports allow you to hook up external storage and stream your media around the house thanks to its built-in DLNA support.

"The Linksys EA9500 Router is a beast, both in terms of size and performance." — Benjamin Zeman, Product Tester

Best Splurge: Netgear Orbi AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System

What We Like
  • Blazing fast performance

  • Excellent range

  • 2.5Gbps WAN port

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • Lack some advanced features

  • Requires a fast internet plan for maximum performance

Netgear's Orbi already has a reputation for being one of the best mesh Wi-Fi systems available—it's definitely one of our favorites—so if you're looking to take your Wi-Fi technology to the next level, you'll be happy to know that Netgear has you covered here too, thanks to its new Orbi AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System.

Boasting the latest Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax technology, this new Orbi system is easily one of the fastest mesh network solutions available, not only up close, but throughout your entire home. Two units will give you up to 5,000 square feet of extremely solid Wi-Fi coverage, with consistently fast speeds even in the farthest corners of your home, and if you need more, you can easily add additional satellite units. 

While the Orbi Wi-Fi 6 system doesn't come cheap, that's at least partly because Netgear has pulled out all of the stops here. In addition to the usual set of four Gigabit Ethernet ports on each station, you also get a 2.5Gbps WAN port capable of handling the fastest home broadband connections available right now. Like its siblings, the Orbi Wi-Fi 6 system also dedicates one of its two 5GHz bands to be used as a backhaul to keep everything moving super-fast between all of the units, so you'll never suffer slower speeds when you're connected to a satellite unit, and support for the Wi-Fi 6 standard means that it can handle even the most congested networks with ease. 

"Just one base station is powerful enough for a moderately sized house, and adding a satellite can vastly improve speeds and range."Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Final Verdict

If you're looking for a single router that will go the distance, Asus' RT-AX88U is an easy choice to make, since it offers a plethora of advanced features, including strong security and parental controls, along with advanced Wi-Fi 6 support. For the last word in whole home coverage, however, the Netgear Orbi AX6000 is an amazing setup that's well worth the splurge, delivering one of the first mesh Wi-Fi 6 systems that offers both incredible speed and range on even the busiest home networks.

How We Tested

Our expert reviewers and editors evaluate routers based on design, connectivity, performance, and features. We test their performance in both wired and (where applicable) wireless configurations, measure their effective range and bandwidth, and analyze their feature sets, including how well those features are implemented. We also consider each router as a value proposition—whether or not a product justifies its price tag, and how it compares to competitive products. All of the routers we reviewed were purchased by Lifewire; none of the review units were furnished by the manufacturer or retailer.

About our Trusted Experts

Jesse Hollington has over three decades of experience in information technology and networking and has installed, tested, and configured just about every type and brand of router, firewall, wireless access point, and network extender, dating back to the days long before Wi-Fi even existed.

Jeremy Laukkonen is an experienced tech journalist with a background in automotive repair that has taught him the importance of breaking down complex technical subjects in understandable ways. He specializes in VPNs, antivirus, and home electronics, and manages his own automotive blog on the side.

Bill Thomas is a New York-based freelance writer who covers technology, music, film, and gaming. They began writing for Lifewire in January 2018, but you can also find their work on TechRadar. Bill has also worked as an editor at Future. 

Erika Rawes has written for Digital Trends, USA Today, Cheatsheet.com, and more. When she's not busy reviewing the latest gadgets on the market, she can be found fishing, playing board games, or enjoying water sports. Erika has tested more than 50 consumer technology products, ranging from kitchen gadgets to cameras, to thermostats, and more.

Yoona Wagener enjoys helping people simplify processes. She has experience providing technical support and help documentation to end users, building websites for small business owners, and offering career advice to social-impact job seekers. 

Benjamin Zeman is a business consultant, musician and writer based in southern Vermont. When he’s not reviewing tech products for Lifewire, he’s getting nerdy fixing them or solving complex problems for businesses in need of an outside perspective.

The Ultimate Long-Range Router Buying Guide

Our homes are now more connected than ever. From computers and televisions to smart home systems that link together everything from refrigerators to power outlets, seemingly every device in your home is now talking to at least one other. However, in order for the digital conversations that coordinate our electronic ecosystems to function, one key piece of technology is needed to link them all together—the humble and often neglected router. 

For many of us, a router is just a dust-covered box with blinking lights that our internet service provider installed for us some time in the distant past. Given its ever-increasing importance, however, that little box might bear greater consideration, and an upgrade could very well result in serious tangible advantages especially if you get a long-range router. 

Why Get A Long-Range Router? 

Many problems that we often blame on our internet service could be resolved by improving how the internet is distributed inside our homes. It's also not longer just a question of getting better range; the increased number of devices in the average home also means that you'll need more powerful technology to get internet service to each of these devices.

A long-range router can provide very real benefits for your household. They're designed to cover larger areas, which means that you don’t have to install Wi-Fi extenders all around your house or deal with annoying dead zones, and if you have multiple devices scattered throughout your home, a long-range router can reach all of them. They also often include advanced features to speed up your connection and allow a larger number of users and devices to utilize your network. Today’s long-range routers are sophisticated devices that rival a PC with the number of advanced features.

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300
Lifewire / Yoona Wagener

Analyzing Your Network Needs

Before upgrading to a new and powerful router, it’s important to obtain a basic understanding of the technology involved. One way to help figure out which router is the best for your needs is to use a network analyzer such as Netspot, a free tool that can help you get a map of what your Wi-Fi coverage looks like. This helps you find out where signals are weakest in your house and where there may be dead spots or interference. 

Wireless Standards

There are a wide range of wireless standards, which are radio wave spectrums. Radio waves are transmitted through the air, and operate at different frequencies, usually measured in Megahertz or Gigahertz (MHz or GHz). There's a limited range of usable frequencies in the radio wave spectrum, and these are carefully subdivided and assigned to different uses, such as communications, broadcasting, radar, and computer networking. 

As a rule, higher frequencies can offer faster data transfer speeds, but are limited to much shorter ranges and don't pass through solid objects nearly as well. When Wi-Fi networks were first developed, they were assigned to both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, however most consumer networks originally stuck with 2.4GHz since it offered better range, and blazing fast speeds weren't really needed back then. The two oldest common Wi-Fi standards, 802.11b and 802.11g, both only support 2.4GHz.

As internet speeds increased, however, it became necessary to start using the 5GHz band to get faster performance and avoid interference from other devices like cordless phones that also used the 2.4GHz band. The 802.11n standard was developed to support both frequencies, and later the 802.11ac standard came along as a much higher performance spec that ran on 5GHz only. However, all of the newest standards remain backward compatible, so there's never any need to worry about whether you'll leave older devices behind by purchasing a newer router.

The bottom line, however, is that it's important when shopping for a long-range router to make sure that it can offer good performance and range on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Signals in the 2.4GHz frequency range travel farther anyway, so you usually won't have a problem with these on any router, but if you want the maximum speeds in the far corners of your home, you'll need a router that can punch through a strong 5GHz signal too.

Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router
Lifewire / Yoona Wagener

Frequency Channels

Wi-Fi devices generally use only one of those two frequency ranges at a time—either 2.4GHz or 5GHz. A dual-band router operates on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, while a tri-band router offers a single 2.4GHz band and two separate bands in the 5GHz range. This allows these routers to support older 2.4GHz-only Wi-Fi clients while newer devices that support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz can use whichever band offers the best signal at any given time.

Signals in the 2.4GHz frequencies can travel over a longer distance than 5GHz signals, however the 5GHz frequency offers more bandwidth for faster speeds, and it's also less affected by interference since fewer household devices operate in those frequencies; the 2.4GHz band is shared by Bluetooth devices, cordless phones, garage door openers, microwaves, and more, all of which can interfere with your Wi-Fi signals. Long-range routers typically use the 5GHz 802.11ac standard as it's not only faster, but also supports features like MU-MIMO that can offer even better performance over longer ranges.

The more bands a router provides the greater the number of devices that can connect to it without slowing each other down, but remember that each of your devices can still connect to only one band at a time, so you won't see any real performance benefit from a tri-band router if you only have one or two devices that support the 5GHz band.

Also keep in mind that the speed of your internet service will be a limiting factor here, as no matter how fast your home network is it can’t provide a faster connection to the internet than that service is capable of. However, a fast router with many channels may still be useful if you plan on using it to wirelessly transfer information between devices within your home network.

Extended Range

As the name implies, long-range routers are designed to cover a large area with a strong and consistent Wi-Fi connection. This makes them ideal for large homes and businesses, but an unnecessary expense if you live in a small apartment. 

In a large home of over 2,000 square feet, it may be difficult for a Wi-Fi signal from your garden variety router to reach all corners of the house. Walls, fireplaces, and mirrors can act as barriers to the signal, and can reduce the range of the signal by as much as 75 percent. This means that ideally, you want a router that covers a larger area than your home actually is in order to ensure more consistent coverage throughout. Typically, a long-range router will be capable of serving an area between 3,000 to 10,000 square feet. Also think about whether or not you want to cover an area beyond the interior of your home, such as a patio or garage. 

Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit WiFi
Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman 

Speed

The speed of a router is largely dependent upon the Wi-Fi standard and frequencies it supports. Since almost all modern long-range routers use the faster 802.11ac standard you can generally expect speeds of up to 1.3Gbps on 5GHz frequencies, and around 450Mbps on 2.4GHz frequencies. By comparison, a much older and cheaper router using the 802.11g standard would only be capable of delivering 54 Mbps at 2.4GHz. 

Some very new routers are starting to use the 802.11ax standard (also known as Wi-Fi 6), which delivers a massive performance boost over older technologies. 802.11ax is capable of delivering up to up to a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 14Gbps.

That said, don't expect to get these kinds of speeds from any single device. Routers offer these kinds of maximum speeds so that they can support many devices at the same time, and once again, keep in mind that your internet connection will be a limiting factor. If your internet is only 12Mbps then you won’t see any increase in speed in moving from an 802.11g router to an 802.11ac router unless you are transferring files between devices within your home network.

Security

High-end long-range routers often come equipped with advanced security features such as firewalls and current encryption standards such as WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) that block suspicious activity on your network. Other security features to look for include support for router level VPN implementations. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and when you use one your data is sent through a secure, encrypted connection that obscures your identity from prying eyes. 

By implementing a VPN on the router level all your devices can take advantage of it without the need to install VPN software on individual devices. Many long-range routers have the option of implementing parental control as well, and in some cases, you may set up a guest network to implement controls and security features for both kids and visitors. One of the first things to do after setting up your router is to access the router’s web interface to determine which security options you can control.

Setting up the Netgear Orbi router
Netgear 

Mesh Networks

Traditional long-range routers rely on sheer brute force signal strength to cover a wide area. A mesh network, on the other hand, uses multiple routers broadcasting the same network signal to create one large network. These networks have the main router directly connected to the modem and a series of satellite routers that act as extensions of the main router, all with the same SSID (network identifier) and password. These will have faster speeds than traditional Wi-Fi extenders since they're designed to work together for maximum performance. They also allow for future expansion if necessary. An advantage of mesh networks is that they can cover larger areas than any single router. A disadvantage is that all those connected routers make for a more expensive system. 

MU-MIMO and Beamforming

MIMO stands for multiple in, multiple out, and is a method for coordinating multiple radio antennas in a wireless network. MU-MIMO (the MU stands for Multi-user) is a variation of MIMO designed for 5GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi networks. It improves the performance of connections made using it. Essentially, MU-MIMO is a technology that improves the performance of long-range routers.


Beamforming
is another technology designed to improve performance in routers. Put simply, traditional routers are omnidirectional, casting a signal over a wide area, diluting the signal. In the case of routers with beamforming, the signal is directed to devices that connect to the router in a concentrated beam that improves signal strength. For this reason, your new long-range router is likely to have an array of antennae. Rather than send equal signals in all directions, these antennas can be aimed towards areas of the house that are most in need of extra signal strength.

Number of Users

The increased strength and bandwidth of a long-range router allow these routers not only to serve a larger space, but they also allow for more devices and users to share that network. You could theoretically connect hundreds of devices to your router. But in reality, the more devices you have, the more they will slow the speed. If you are getting 1,625Mbps at 5GHz and you have ten devices, each one will actually function at one-tenth of the highest possible speed, or about 160Mbps—assuming of course they're all download or streaming simultaneously.

Some routers include software that allows them to prioritize different types of network traffic or different traffic sources to prevent one device from hogging the network and provide the optimum balance for all users. The feature which allows you to prioritize traffic on your system is known as QoS (Quality of service). Using this feature will improve the performance of the most critical network traffic. Care must be taken, however, so that other important connections are not slowed down. QoS is most likely to be useful for streaming and gaming.

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300
Lifewire / Yoona Wagener

Internal Components

All the powerful features of long-range routers require some serious hardware to run, so much so that you should really think of them as mini-computers in their own right. Dual-core and even quadcore processors (CPUs), as much as a whole gigabyte of random access memory (RAM), and flash memory drives for storing settings and software are key components to look for. Generally, more is better, but don’t be too concerned by such nitty-gritty details here.

AI Assistant Support

Some routers allow you to integrate an AI assistant like Amazon Alexa and use that to control the router. This enables you to adjust router settings via simple voice commands. For example, you could use it to enable a guest network, start a speed test, or activate Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) to easily connect a new device to the router, all without pressing a button.

Brands/Manufacturers:

TP-Link

With their excellent Archer C80 long-range router, TP-Link is a great choice if you’re looking for a more affordable long-range router. What’s more, their budget-friendly products don’t suffer in terms of quality despite their low price point, and the company is known for its quality routers. They also stand out for their unassuming minimalist design philosophy. However, they don’t have the best customer support available.

Netgear

Netgear is known for its expensive, high-end Nighthawk series of routers. They specialize in long-range routers with performance to match their high price tags, and which wouldn’t look out of place in the Bat Cave. Netgear products are typically flashy both in design and feature set, and they have superior customer support to that of TP-Link. However, expect to pay a premium price for their routers.

Linksys

With their utilitarian appearance, Linksys does not make exciting routers. They specialize in mid-range routers, making functional products at reasonable price points. Though their aesthetic clearly is best suited to a traditional office setting, their routers are a solid choice for any purpose.

Asus

If gaming is your thing, then you might already own an Asus gaming PC or laptop. Asus also makes excellent long-range routers such as the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 Gaming Router, a hulking machine, the bizarre and ornate appearance of which resembles nothing more than some kind of sci-fi portal to another dimension. Asus routers are clearly marketed towards gamers with outrageous specifications to match their outrageous appearance. Expect to pay extra for their high-end products.

Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 parts

Other Considerations 

It’s worth considering that long-range routers, in general, are expensive devices. If your internet is slow, your house is small, you don’t have many devices to connect, and you don’t need to wirelessly transfer large files, then you might as well save a few bucks by keeping your existing system or buying an inexpensive one. Often it’s possible to get your internet service provider to install a basic model at little or no cost to you. 

One thing is for sure though, routers need not be the boring office furniture we assume them to be. Manufacturers are now creating routers that replicate alien spacecraft in appearance, and pack in technology to match. With a little knowledge and understanding of the tech, buying a router can be a downright exciting purchase.

Conclusion: How to Pick the Best Long-Range Router 

Long-range routers may carry a high price tag, but in addition to serving a large area, they also offer faster speeds than your average router. They offer high-grade security features, greater bandwidth, and advanced network management tools. If you’ve got a slow internet service provider, then the value of a long-range router will be less significant, but still appreciable thanks to the extensive and varied features they include. Whatever the size of your house or the speed of your internet, a long-range router might be a worthwhile upgrade.