The 8 Best Secure Routers to Buy in 2018

Protect your Internet connection from prying eyes

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

  • Best Overall: Asus RT-AC88U at Amazon, “Can automatically detect network vulnerabilities or identify malicious sites.”
  • Best Security: Synology at Amazon, “Parental controls, a blacklist of malicious risky websites and security options.”
  • Best Budget: Linksys EA6900 at Amazon, “Beamforming technology make it a formidable competitor to more expensive options.”
  • Best Gaming: Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 at Amazon, “Great option for gamers looking for maximum performance without spending a fortune.”
  • Best Range: Asus RT-AC5300 at Amazon, “Can cover a 5,000-square-foot home before seeing signal degradation.”
  • Best Mesh: eero at Amazon, “Little risk of the network being set up incorrectly and left vulnerable.”
  • Best Open Source: Linksys WRT3200ACM at Amazon, “Technology helps each device stay connected to the network at the fastest possible speed.”
  • Best Design: TP-Link OnHub AC1900 at Amazon, “One of the easiest setup processes around and provides easy network monitoring.”


Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Asus RT-AC88U

4.6

The Asus RT-AC88U is Supported by 1024-QAM technology and is 80 percent faster on the 5GHz band at up to 2100Mbps and 66 percent faster on 2.4GHz with speeds reaching up to 1000Mbps. It comes equipped with a 4-transmit, 4-receive antenna design that enables it to reach a coverage area of up to 5,000 square feet. Add in 4x capacity Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO technology and it’s easy to see why the AC88U is an award-winning router.

The routers also has Asus AiProtection, which is powered by Trend Micro to keep your Web browsing, downloading and streaming safe from questionable behavior. The baked-in Trend Micro services also provide parental controls and can automatically detect network vulnerabilities or identify malicious sites before you reach them.

Best Security: Synology

Synology might not be the first name you think of when purchasing a router, but this security-focused unit is good for both homes and small businesses. Incorporating its learnings from the Network Attached Storage industry (NAS), Synology offers four 4 x 4 802.11ac antennas for extending signal range and speed up to 2.53Gbs (1,733Mbps 5GHz, 800Mbps 2.4GHz). Added features such as MU-MIMO and beam-forming help maintain the boosted speed and allows available bandwidth to be properly shared when multiple devices are connected.

Setup is a snap and within five minutes you’re up and running on both Mac and PC where you’ll gain access to Synology’s Router Management System. It’s here you’ll find options such as parental controls, a blacklist of malicious risky websites and security options. Synology’s biggest bonus is the package center where you can download NAS-grade apps such as VPN Plus or Intrusion Prevention to double up on the built-in security, so you'll have far more peace of mind when it comes to potential attacks.  

Best Budget: Linksys EA6900

With one of the easiest setups in the secure router space and a pre-configured network available on the bottom of the device, the Linksys EA6900 offers excellent performance for a budget-friendly price. Featuring 600Mbps performance on the 2.4GHz band and 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band, the dual-band output and beamforming technology make it a formidable competitor to more expensive options. The design has a utilitarian black casing and three large adjustable antennas for equal signal distribution throughout a home or office.

Beyond design, the included Guest Access feature helps maintain network security by limiting users to a separate network that removes access to on-network hardware such as other computers or printers. Security-conscious users will love the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi smartphone app that shows information about home Wi-Fi when on-the-go. You can even set up parent controls, prioritize connected devices and send guests Wi-Fi passwords via text or email. Plus, the router has SPI and NAT firewalls to fend off any network attacks.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best budget routers

Best Gaming: Netgear Nighthawk AC1900

Netgear’s Nighthawk AC1900 Wi-Fi router, properly known as the R7000, is a great option for gamers looking for maximum performance without spending a fortune. With built-in extras such as Dynamic QoS, the R7000 prioritizes bandwidth by determining which real-time application requires the most signal, which ensures optimal performance for online gaming, video chat or HD streaming. Setup remains easy with users online and browsing within five minutes of unboxing.

The router supports both 600 and 1300Mbps speeds and when it comes to security, both parents and security-savvy users will enjoy extras such as parental controls and Web filtering levels. And OpenVPN offers secure access to your home network from anywhere you can get online.

Best Range: Asus RT-AC5300

The Asus RT-AC5300 features a tri-band performance with dual 5GHz and single 2.4GHz available on 802.11ac 4 x 4 technology. The RT-AC5300 can cover a 5,000-square-foot home before seeing signal degradation. Performance excels, thanks to MU-MIMO technology that helps devices operate at the fastest speed. And gamers will love access to the WTFast Gamers private network for more stable pings during lengthy gaming sessions.

If its performance hasn’t already won you over, the inclusion of AiProtection by Trend Micro just might. The security-focused suite adds multi-stage detection of network vulnerabilities, parental controls, malicious site blocking and Adaptive QoS, which helps monitor bandwidth and provides a history of web-surfing activity. Moreover, the RT-AC5300 can detect if an existing device on the network is attempting to transmit personal data and stop it before it can get beyond the firewall.

Best Mesh: eero

The eero home Wi-Fi system is pricier than a traditional black router, but it comes with more than enough benefits to justify its higher price tag. Available as a single, two-pack or three-pack, eero recommends at least one unit for every 1,000 square feet of space. The units handle all the heavy lifting when it comes to network setup with configuration happening on the backend. Ultimately, there’s little risk of the network being set up incorrectly and left vulnerable.

On board the eero are two dual-band Wi-Fi radios, simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless connectivity, plus support for 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and 2x2 MU-MIMO technology (to blanket a home against the possibility of Internet dead zones). Easy setup aside, it’s the security where eero really shines with updates coming directly from the manufacturer. Once a network vulnerability is detected, a security update can be initiated by the cloud and can send patches to all eero customers instantly. Checking in with the cloud every 10 seconds, eero maintains near real-time data protection that offers both peace of mind and outstanding network performance.

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best mesh wi-fi network systems​ can help you find what you're looking for.

Best Open Source: Linksys WRT3200ACM

The Linksys WRT3200ACM has Tri-Stream 160 technology that doubles bandwidth to help maintain speed better than most dual-band routers. Additional features such as MU-MIMO (multi-user multiple input, multiple output) technology helps each device stay connected to the network at the fastest possible speed without interfering with the performance of other devices.

As for security, the Linksys’ Smart Wi-Fi smartphone app lets you manage and monitor the network from anywhere at any given time. It’s the open-source aspect that really shines for security-focused router buyers since you can easily use “packages” from trustworthy open source distributions such as OpenWRT or DD-WRT and establish a secure VPN, monitor and analyze network traffic or detect network intrusions instantaneously.

Best Design: TP-Link OnHub AC1900

Google’s TP-Link OnHub AC1900 is the search engine giant’s first entry into the wider space of router manufacturing. Partnering with TP-Link, the OnHub reaches speeds of up to 1900Mbps and is powered by 13 antennas capable of blanketing a home with network coverage up to 2,500 square feet. With a bonus of support for more than 100-plus connected devices, even if you’re having a party there’s more than enough power to make sure everyone stays connected. Google’s own On app adds one of the easiest setup processes around and provides easy network monitoring directly from your Android- or iOS-powered device.

Google has also ensured a steady future for the OnHub with the promise of automatic security updates far into the future. The OnHub receives software updates to stay up-to-date with known Internet threats. Beyond security, its cylinder shape is a far cry from the run-of-the-mill wireless router design.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 43 hours testing one of the most popular secure routers on the market. To get the most well-rounded results, our testers installed it at home, connected multiple devices, and analyzed its speed, range, and more. We asked them to consider the most important features when using this router — from its design to its special security features — and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Secure Router

Built-in VPNs - ISPs can keep a closer eye on the content we access online by selecting specific services they may wish to throttle (slow down) or prioritize (speed up). Routers with built-in VPNs allow users to surf the Web without worry of being watched; All traffic is carefully encrypted out of sight of your ISP.

Built-in firewalls - Because we tend to use multiple devices on our home networks, ensuring that a firewall is installed correctly on every machine can be a difficult task. Keep an eye out for routers that have built-in firewall solutions — they offer broad network protection to fend off potential attacks.

Smartphone access - Many modern routers allow for remote monitoring of your network via dedicated mobile applications for your smartphone or tablet. The ability to access your network from your smartphone means you can keep a close eye on everything that is happening. If you spot an unrecognized device accessing the network, you can quickly take action to remove it.

Test Results: Asus RT-AC88U (Best Overall)

4.6

What We Like

  • Great range

  • Fast speed

  • Easy to connect devices

What We Don't Like

  • Pricier

  • Antennas too tall

Asus RT-AC88U
Asus RT-AC88U back
Asus RT-AC88U cables
Asus RT-AC88U side
Asus RT-AC88U box

This router came highly rated by our testers for its “surprisingly simple” setup, easy connectivity, and efficiency. The only real downside of this router, according to one of our reviewers, was that its antennas were too tall: “My cable line is in my living room and I rest it on a shelf,” he explained, “and I wish it were a little flatter so I could hide it a little better.”