The 9 Best Routers Under $50 of 2023

Find the perfect cheap and reliable router for your home

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You don’t need to spend a bundle to get a good router—especially if you only need to handle a few devices in a smaller living space. Our roundup of the best routers under $50 includes great options for single users and small families living in apartments, condos, or medium-sized homes, where maximum range and tri-band coverage aren’t all that important.

Best Overall

TP-Link Archer A6 AC1200 Gigabit Smart Wi-Fi Router

TP-Link Archer A6 AC1200 Gigabit Smart Wi-Fi Router


What We Like
  • Great value for the price

  • MU-MIMO support

  • WPA3 security

What We Don't Like
  • No USB ports

TP-Link makes some of the most affordable routers on the market, and its Archer A6 (also known as the C6) may be one of the most inexpensive dual-band routers you can buy from any brand. With AC1200 specs, it offers excellent performance for its price range, with up to 867Mbps on throughput on the 5GHz band, plus another 300Mpbs for lower-end 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi 4 devices. 

The result is an inexpensive router that can easily handle streaming 4K on Netflix, keeping in touch with friends and colleagues on FaceTime and Zoom, and even light online gaming. Of course, like most budget routers, you won’t get enough range to cover a large home, so you’ll need to keep your devices close for the best performance. However, at this price, you can also easily afford to add a Wi-Fi extender if you need extra reach.  

The Archer A6 also sports four Gigabit Ethernet ports around the back to hardwire in any devices that need more speed. Thanks to MU-MIMO support, however, you’ll probably only need that for older Wi-Fi 4 clients or devices without built-in Wi-Fi. This budget router also packs some impressive features for a device in its price range, including device-based QoS, basic parental controls, WPA3 security, and even an OpenVPN server. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA3, OpenVPN, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AC1200 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 5

"With an MSRP of $50, the Archer A6 represents pretty decent value for the level of performance and the feature set it offers. You may want to step up to a more expensive unit if you have a big house or a lot of devices, and it is missing features like a USB port, but the Archer A6 is priced very well for what you get." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Best Single Band

TP-Link TL-WR940N N450 Wi-Fi Wireless Router

TP-Link TL-WR940N
What We Like
  • Solid 802.11n Wi-Fi performance

  • Can work as a range extender

  • Very affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks Gigabit Ethernet ports

  • Single-band only

  • No USB port

TP-Link's TL-WR940N is one of the most affordable routers you can buy. While you're cutting quite a few corners at this price, the solid 2.4GHz 802.11n WI-Fi 4 performance makes it an excellent choice for anybody without worrying about supporting 5GHz devices. 

Although this limits the TL-WR940N to only 450Mbps, that's all you usually get on the 2.4GHz band with even more expensive dual-band routers. More importantly, it's still enough for three or four devices to stream in 4K and make Zoom calls. Plus, it supports basic QoS features to let you control how much bandwidth each connected device can use, so you can ensure that your smart TVs and game consoles get maximum performance. 

The biggest downside is that while you get four Ethernet ports on the back, they're only Fast Ethernet, so you'll be limited to 100Mbps on your wired connections. This creates a rare scenario where you may get better performance using your devices over Wi-Fi than you would by plugging them in directly into the router.

Wireless Spec: 802.11n | Security: WPA2, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: N450 | Bands: Single-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 5

Best Value

Netgear R6080 Dual-Band AC1000 WiFi Router

Netgear R6080


What We Like
  • Compact size

  • Four Gigabit Ethernet ports

What We Don't Like
  • No USB port

  • Limited range

Despite its lower price tag, Netgear’s R6080 carries on the company’s reputation for solid and reliable routers. While you shouldn’t expect this one to handle the needs of a large home or family, it offers more than enough range and performance for a small household to enjoy all that the modern internet has to offer. 

This dual-band AC1000 router offers up 700Mbps of throughput on the 5GHz band plus 300Mbps for 2.4GHz devices to share among up to 15 devices and enough range to cover 1,000 square feet of your living area. This makes it ideal for single users, couples, and small families in an apartment, bungalow, or condo, as it can deliver more than enough speed to stream from services like Netflix in full 4K quality and keep in touch with friends and family on FaceTime and Zoom—just as long as you don’t try to throw too many devices at it. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA2, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AC1000 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 5

Best Range

TP-Link Archer C50 Dual Band Wi-Fi Router

TP-Link Archer C50

Jordan Provost / Lifewire

What We Like
  • Attractive design

  • Very affordable

  • Solid range

What We Don't Like
  • Middling speeds

  • Not great at handling multiple devices

TP-Link’s Archer C50 is an affordable router that offers a better range than most others in its class, with leading AC1200 Wi-Fi and enough capacity to deliver 1.2Gbps speeds throughout a typical three-bedroom home. 

The fixed antennas support beamforming and MU-MIMO to ensure that you get top speeds throughout your home, even when supporting multiple devices. With 867Mbps of throughput on the 5GHz band, plus 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz side, it offers more than enough performance for 4K streaming and video calling. A simple device-based QoS (Quality of Service) feature also lets you prioritize specific devices like smart TVs or game consoles to ensure they get the best performance. 

While the specs are very similar to the Archer A6, which is easily the best budget router overall, if you don’t need VPN features or the capacity for high-speed wired devices, you can save a few more bucks by going with the C50, which only includes Fast Ethernet ports. As a bonus, however, it adds the ability to act as a range extender, so it can also be a great add-on to the Archer A6. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA2, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AC1000 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 5

"We were expecting the signal strength and range to be the weak point, but we were wrong." Bill Thomas, Product Tester

Best Design

Linksys E5350 Dual-Band AC1000 Wi-Fi Router

Linksys E5350 AC1000 Wi-Fi Router


What We Like
  • Attractive design

  • Offers basic parental controls

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks Gigabit Ethernet ports

  • No USB port

Linksys E5350 proves that you don’t need to pay a premium to get a router that looks nice enough to put in your living room. This AC1000 dual-band Wi-Fi router features a smooth and sleek top surface with only two round antennas, but it still delivers enough range and performance for an average-sized home.

With 1Gbps of combined throughput—700Mbps on the 5GHz band and 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz—you’ll have no problem streaming Netflix in 4K and keeping in touch with friends and family on FaceTime and Skype. Even better, the design allows you to more comfortably place it where you’ll get the best coverage for your smart TV or game console.

The E5350 also provides secure access for your guests, plus basic parental controls to keep your kids away from the darker corners of the internet. Unfortunately, the four Ethernet ports around the back only support 100Mbps Fast Ethernet, so it’s not ideal for high-speed wired devices; you’ll get much better speeds from the 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA2, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AC1000 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 5

Best for Travel

TP-Link TL-WR902AC AC750 Travel Router

TP-Link TL-WR902AC AC750 Travel Router


What We Like
  • Dual Band Wi-Fi

  • Fast 802.11ac performance

  • Versatile wireless modes

What We Don't Like
  • Shorter range

  • Port layout isn't ideal

TP-Link's TL-WR902AC is one of the fastest pocket-sized routers you'll find, making it the best pick for users on the go. Measuring in at only 2.64x2.91x0.9 inches and 7.2 ounces, it's small enough to carry your little bubble of Wi-Fi just about anywhere.

Don't let its small size fool you, though. It offers AC750 dual-band Wi-Fi, with speeds of up to 733Mbps on the 5GHz band and 2.4GHz on the 2.4GHz side, so it's plenty fast enough to meet all your streaming and video conferencing needs wherever you happen to land. It's also versatile, working not only as a traditional router or Wi-Fi access point but also as a range extender, a private Wi-Fi hotspot for WISP networks, or as a client to provide Wi-Fi access to a wired-only device via its built-in Ethernet port.

Remember that you won't get a lot of range in a device this size, but that shouldn't matter, as this device is intended for personal use by one or two users while traveling. After all, if you're using it to provide Wi-Fi access in a hotel room or while sitting in a coffee shop, you'll never be more than a few feet away from it anyway. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA2, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AC750 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 1

"At only $45, the TP-Link TL-WR902AC is about as cheap as routers come, and is really quite a bargain considering its portability, ease of use, and remarkable versatility." — Andy Zahn, Product Tester

Best Price

TP-Link TL-WR841N Wi-Fi Router

TP-Link N300
Courtesy of
What We Like
  • Extremely affordable

  • Easy to set up

  • Small footprint

What We Don't Like
  • No 5GHz support

  • No Gigabit Ethernet

  • No USB ports

TP-Link’s TL-WR841N is a ridiculously affordable router ideal for single users, couples, and small families in an apartment, condo, or bungalow. It’s a single-band router, which means everything runs on the 2.4GHz channel, but with speeds of up to 300Mbps, it offers more than enough performance for one or two people to enjoy streaming, video calling, and even some light online gaming.

Expecting great range at this price is likely too much, but the TL-WR841N can still cover most one-story two-bedroom homes or apartments without any issues, and at 5.1x1.3x7.60 inches 8.1 ounces, it’s small enough to tuck away just about anywhere. 

You’ll have to give up a few other things at this price, of course; the TL-WR841N only includes four 100Mbps Fast Ethernet ports and no USB ports at all, and the single band may be a problem if you live in an area that’s prone to interference from other 2.4GHz devices like cordless phones, security cameras, or even your neighbors’ Wi-Fi routers. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11n | Security: WPA2, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: N300 | Bands: Single-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 5

Best for Small Business

Asus RT-AC1200 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router

Asus RT-AC1200 Wireless Router


What We Like
  • Dual WAN support

  • QoS and traffic monitoring

  • Parental control features

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks MU-MIMO support

  • No USB ports

The Asus RT-AC1200 has an interesting twist, making it an excellent choice for small businesses that can’t afford downtime. With dual WAN support, this router lets you connect to two separate internet connections simultaneously, so you’ll always have a backup connection ready.

This dual-band Wi-Fi router otherwise offers the performance you’d expect from an AC1200 router, with 867Mbps on the 5GHz band plus 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz side, providing ample speed for all the devices on your network. Four external beamforming antennas emit a powerful signal to cover a small office or modest-sized home. 

The aforementioned dual WAN feature uses one of the four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports to link up to a second broadband connection, which can either be set up to work in standby mode, failing over if the primary connection goes down or to use both connections at the same time, load balancing your traffic across them for the fastest possible throughput. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA2, RADIUS, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AC1200 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 5

Best for Home Office

Asus RT-N12 N300 Wi-Fi Router

Courtesy of
What We Like
  • Works as a router or repeater

  • Can set up multiple SSIDs

  • PPTP VPN support

What We Don't Like
  • No 5GHz

  • Limited range

  • Not suitable for very fast internet plans

The Asus RT-N12 allows you to configure up to four different Wi-Fi networks from the same router, making it an ideal choice for those with home offices or anyone else who wants to separate their Wi-Fi access for security and performance reasons. 

While it's a single-band N300 router, which means you'll only get 300Mbps of throughput on the 2.4GHz channel, it can still handle streaming, surfing, and video conferencing for a small number of users. Besides, it won't matter much if your internet plan isn't more than 300Mbps, as that's the combined speed available to all your devices. 

However, you can set up different SSIDs with dynamic bandwidth management and other access restrictions. You can keep your mission-critical devices on a priority SSID while limiting your kids' bandwidth and controlling where they can go. It's also versatile enough to be used as a range extender or wireless repeater.

Wireless Spec: 802.11n | Security: WPA2, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: N300 | Bands: Single-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 5

TP-Link Archer A6/C6 Wi-Fi Router
Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

What to Look For in a Budget Router

Although it can be tempting to go out and buy the fastest and most modern Wi-Fi router you can find, it's always a good idea to sit back and consider your needs, regardless of what you're willing to spend.

For example, serious gamers may prefer to look to a dedicated gaming router, but just because you play games that doesn't mean you need to go for the highest-end models, especially if you plan to hardwire in your PC or game console anyway, in which case Wi-Fi performance won't be all that critical.

As a rule, it's also essential to remember that the fastest and most expensive routers are generally designed to handle the busiest homes. If you're a single person living in a condo or small bungalow, you don't need to spend a lot of money to get a Wi-Fi router that will get the job done. Many great inexpensive options are available, so don't let flashy marketing or sophisticated spec sheets convince you that you need to buy a Cadillac when you can do everything you need with a Chevrolet.

Single, Dual, or Tri-Band? 

When buying a router on a budget, it's even more important to understand the difference between Wi-Fi standards and wireless frequencies since you can save a lot by not spending money on bands or frequencies you won't use.

Single, dual, and tri-band refer to the number of distinct frequencies a router can operate at and, by extension, the Wi-Fi standards they support.

Almost all single-band routers operate at 2.4GHz, the frequency that has been the base standard for Wi-Fi for over two decades. Modern single-band routers support the 802.11n standard, now known as "Wi-Fi 4," and usually offer maximum speeds of up to 600Mbps. They're also backward-compatible with the older 802.11b and 802.11g standards, which are much slower, peaking at 54Mbps. Chances are none of your user-facing devices, like computers, use these older standards anymore, but many smart home and internet-of-things devices still do, as they don't need anything faster.

The problem with the 2.4GHz frequency range is that it tends to be slower and more congested than higher frequencies. Many other things that operate at 2.4GHz, including cordless phones, home security systems, garage door openers, and even microwave ovens, emit interference in this frequency range. 

So to deal with these interference problems and provide better Wi-Fi performance, the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard was developed (now known as "Wi-Fi 5"), which uses the 5GHz frequency, opening up the potential for much faster speeds—a high-end 802.11ac router can offer multi-gigabit performance—as well as being free of most of the usual interference. There's a downside to 5GHz, however: it doesn't travel as far, primarily through walls and other solid objects.

As a result of the shorter range and the need to maintain backward compatibility with older Wi-Fi devices, all 802.11ac routers also support the 2.4GHz band and are therefore referred to as dual-band routers.

So what about tri-band? These routers offer a second 5GHz frequency band to reduce congestion when you have a lot of 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 devices in your home. However, since each of your devices can only connect to a single band at a time, there's no point in buying a tri-band router unless you have more than two or three 802.11ac 5GHz devices in your home that need peak performance. Also, remember that a tri-band router still only has a single 2.4GHz band, so it will do nothing to improve performance for your older Wi-Fi devices. 

TP-Link Archer C50

Range and Coverage

We're not going to mince words here; budget routers don't typically offer a lot of range, so while most will be more than acceptable for an apartment, condo, or even a tiny bungalow, if you're looking to cover every corner of a medium to large home, you're going to need more than most of these routers can give you, at least by themselves.

If you have a huge home, the best way to go is with a mesh Wi-Fi system. While these can be extremely pricey, some offer the ability to start with a single base router and expand later as your needs dictate, but you'll still ultimately end up spending a few hundred dollars or more if you need to cover a large home.

If you're looking to do this on a budget, however, many inexpensive routers can also be used as simple wireless access points; this means that if you're willing to run Ethernet cables around your home or invest in a Powerline network adapter, you have a pretty inexpensive do-it-yourself means of covering your whole house. Many budget routers are so affordable that you could buy three or four for less than a single mesh Wi-Fi node.

Just remember that simply because you have a larger living space doesn't mean you need to get strong Wi-Fi into every corner, so be sure to budget for the coverage you need.

Security & Encryption

While most budget routers won't include advanced parental controls or malware protection, that doesn't mean you have to do without security entirely. Ensure the router supports at least Wireless Protected Access 2 (WPA2) encryption, especially if you're purchasing an older model, and the ability to pass VPN connections through from your computers for additional security.

The nature of home internet routers means you'll get some natural defense against intruders thanks to Network Address Translation and private IP addresses, which are fundamental features, so you don't necessarily need a complicated firewall to keep intruders from breaking in, but you'll still want to make sure that you install anti-malware software on your computers, and enable the other appropriate security features on tablets and smartphones to prevent them from running apps that might be punching holes through your firewall. 

Speed & Performance

When looking at routers, you'll often see a performance rating that includes a letter and a number, such as AC1900 or N600. These refer to the highest Wi-Fi standard the router supports and the maximum total speed it can handle. For example, an N600 router supports 802.11n speeds of up to 600Mbps, while an AC1900 router offers 802.11ac and can reach speeds of 1,900Mbps (or 1.9Gbps). In the case of multi-band routers, however, it's important to remember that these are combined speeds across all bands. For example, an AC1900 router may only offer 1.3Gbps performance on the 5GHz band, with the other 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz side. This is also why tri-band routers typically have much higher ratings like AC5300—that 5,300Mbps bandwidth is shared across three bands. 

In practical terms, however, even if you have a dual-band router offering AC1900 speeds and beyond, don't expect these speeds from a single device. Routers are designed to handle multiple Wi-Fi devices, all of which will share the router's total bandwidth. 

However, to put this in perspective, streaming the highest-quality 4K UHD movies on Netflix only requires speeds of around 25Mbps. You generally don't need more than that for online gaming either—low latency is far more important than raw speed. Ultra-fast routers are generally only necessary when you have a lot of devices competing for that bandwidth or if you're regularly downloading huge files.

Also, remember that there's usually no need to buy a Wi-Fi router that's significantly faster than your home internet connection since that's where your performance bottleneck is going to be anyway; if you've only got 25Mbps download speeds coming into your home, a higher-speed Wi-Fi router isn't going to do anything to improve that. 

TP-Link Archer C50

Wired Connectivity

There are times when Wi-Fi connectivity may not be enough, and even the most inexpensive routers provide at least a few Ethernet ports to let you hardwire in devices.

This is especially important for gamers since, as we mentioned before, there's more to gaming than just raw speed—your router also needs to provide low latency so you get lag-free gaming performance. After all, there's nothing worse than having your favorite first-person shooter freeze due to network lag just as you're about to make that critical kill shot. 

Most affordable routers won't offer the kind of low-latency Wi-Fi performance that serious gamers need, so it's pretty much guaranteed that you'll need to jack in. Some budget routers offer Gigabit Ethernet ports, which are a nice bonus. However, unless your internet connection is more than 100Mbps, you'll do just fine with the lower-end Fast Ethernet ports found on many of the older and more inexpensive routers. 

What about Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 is the way forward in Wi-Fi technology. Still, you're not going to find an affordable router that includes it yet, nor is it something you even need to worry about unless you're willing to spend a lot of money to live on the leading edge of technology.

Wi-Fi 6 works across the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, offers significantly faster performance and works better on busy and congested networks. However, your computers, smartphones, and other devices must support Wi-Fi 6 to benefit from this. Right now, those are pretty rare, with the only mainstream devices being the latest smartphones, tablets, and laptops, and let's face it: how much faster do you need your iPhone's network connection to be? 

So if you're looking for an inexpensive router, you won't find one with Wi-Fi 6 support. Still, there's a chance you don't need to worry about it anyway, as you likely don't have any devices in your home that will benefit from it. Save your money for when the Wi-Fi 6 standard becomes more widespread, by which time Wi-Fi 6 routers will also be much more affordable. 

  • Is it okay to buy an older router?

    When buying a router for a smaller home, you can save a lot of money by going with an older model. In fact, many manufacturers continue selling their previous models for exactly this reason, since not everybody needs the latest and greatest Wi-Fi technologies. While we normally recommend going with at least a dual-band router that offers 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 support, if you’re a single user in a dorm or small apartment you can get some incredibly affordable 802.11n Wi-Fi 4 routers that will still give you more than enough performance for streaming your favourite movies and TV shows from services like Netflix.

  • Can an inexpensive router cover my entire home?

    Most budget routers won’t give you more than 1,000–2,000 square feet of coverage, and you’ll probably find your speeds dropping off at the edges of that range. However, you can add an affordable Wi-Fi extender to boost your range for less than the cost of a long-range router, and many inexpensive routers can also double as range extenders or wireless access points

  • Should I buy a used Wi-Fi router?

    We generally recommend against buying a used Wi-Fi router unless you know that the previous owner took good care of it. Since most people tend to ignore their Wi-Fi routers, often sticking them in a dusty corner or a closet, they’re much more prone to getting damaged from heat stress due to poor ventilation and dust building up around the vents, which can shorten their life span dramatically. 

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