The 8 Best Secure Routers to Buy in 2017

Protect your Internet connection from prying eyes

Synology RT2600AC
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Being online today feels almost as important as our need for water and food even if your router feels unappreciated most of the time. However, without it, you can’t stream the latest season of Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards or even keep up with breaking news updates from around the world. Whether it’s for your smartphone or PC, protecting your information at your home or business is critical. Routers do a great job of baking in security that’s so good, users hardly recognize its presence. In a time where computer hacking is ever present, the list of routers below rise to the challenge of protecting you from anonymous Internet threats.

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.  

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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