The 9 Best Wi-Fi 6 Routers of 2023

These routers let your devices receive data faster than ever before

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The 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 standard ushered in a new era of even faster and more robust wireless routers. Now that the Wi-Fi 6 standard has become well-established, there’s almost no reason not to get one of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers if you’re in the market for an upgrade.

While Wi-Fi 6 is becoming the norm on most new smartphones, tablets, and laptops, you don’t need to worry about compatibility problems with your older wireless devices. The best Wi-Fi 6 routers still fully support the more common 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 standard, which means you can pick up a Wi-Fi 6 router now to make sure you’re ready for the latest iPhones, iPads, Macs, Samsung Galaxy smartphones, and leading-edge game consoles like Sony’s new PlayStation 5.

Best Overall

Asus RT-AX88U AX6000 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router

ASUS AX6000 WiFi 6 Gaming Router (RT-AX88U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Router, 8 GB Ports, Gaming & Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime...


What We Like
  • Excellent performance

  • Feature-rich

  • Eight Gigabit Ethernet ports

What We Don't Like
  • Web UI can be a bit intimidating

  • Lacks multi-gig network ports

Asus’ RT-AX88U was one of the first Wi-Fi 6 routers on the market, and it remains our top pick for its perfect balance of price, performance, and versatility.

Beyond the raw Wi-Fi performance, you’ll also find a collection of eight Gigabit Ethernet ports around the back, saving you the need to pick up an extra network hub or switch. Like most of Asus’ other routers, it’s also no slouch in configuration and security features. This makes us feel confident that Asus will keep the RT-AX88U ahead of the curve in delivering important security and feature updates. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: AiProtection Pro, WPA3, 802.1x, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AX6000 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 9

Best Budget

TP-Link Archer AX10 AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 Router

TP-Link Archer AX10 / AX1500


What We Like
  • Very affordable Wi-Fi 6 technology

  • Great performance for the price

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks advanced parental control features

  • No USB port

TP-Link’s Archer AX10 completely dispels the myth that you must pay a lot to get a Wi-Fi 6 router at an affordable price that offers incredible bang for the buck.

Not surprisingly, a Wi-Fi 6 router at the price of the AX10 cuts a few corners, but we think TP-Link made the right calls here. For instance, the 2.4GHz band only supports the older 802.11n Wi-Fi 4 standard, but that’s a reasonable tradeoff as Wi-Fi 6 offers no measurable performance benefit below 300Mbps anyway. You’re also not getting TP-Link’s full HomeCare suite of security and parental control features. So, for instance, you can prioritize your smart TV or game console but not streaming or gaming traffic in general. That said, it includes a surprising amount of other advanced options, including the ability to set it up as a VPN server, tweak settings for Wi-Fi, and port forwarding.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: WPA3, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AX1500 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 5

Best Performance

Asus RT-AX89X 12-stream AX6000 Dual Band Wi-Fi 6 Router

Asus RT-AX89X


What We Like
  • Dual 10Gbps Network Ports

  • Unique Design

  • Excellent Wi-Fi 6 performance

What We Don't Like
  • Bulky design

  • Internal fan

The Asus RT-AX89X is a Wi-Fi 6 router that pulls out all the stops for users with the fastest broadband connections. Speedy AX6000 dual-band Wi-Fi is joined by eight high-performance beamforming antennas and a staggering array of high-performance wired ports to ensure you can handle multi-gigabit plans and deliver top speeds throughout even the busiest homes.

What sets the RT-AX89X apart is its pair of 10Gbps Ethernet and SFP+ ports, delivering the fastest wired performance in a home router. This not only allows you to take advantage of the fastest broadband available today—and beyond—but you can also use them for connecting a high-speed network attached storage (NAS) device or even linking up another RT-AX89U elsewhere in your home for the ultimate in high-performance Wi-Fi 6 coverage using Asus’ AiMesh 2.0 technology. If that’s not enough, you’ll find eight Gigabit Ethernet ports around the edges, plus two 5Gbps USB 3.2 ports. Of course, it packs in all of Asus’ other great features, like AiProtection Pro and a wealth of configuration options to keep even the most advanced power users happy. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: AiProtection Pro, WPA3, 802.1x, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AX6000 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 11

Best Splurge

Netgear Orbi AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System

Netgear Orbi AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System


What We Like
  • Blazing fast performance

  • Excellent coverage

  • 2.5Gbps WAN port

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • Lacks some advanced features

  • No USB ports

Netgear's Orbi AX6000 is a mesh Wi-Fi 6 system that's guaranteed to give you top speeds in even the largest homes, which isn't surprising as it builds on the great power and features of the standard Netgear Orbi, which is already one of our top-rated mesh Wi-Fi network systems. While it doesn't come cheap, the Orbi Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 system dials just about everything from the original up to 11, with greater network capacity to offer top speeds to even the busiest homes.

The standard pair of units will easily cover homes of up to 5,000 square feet, and if you need more, you can add up to five more satellite units to handle even the most sprawling estates. You'll also get four Gigabit Ethernet ports on each unit, with full speeds back to the main router for multiple wired devices, thanks to the dedicated 2.4Gbps backhaul channel. Plus, a 2.5Gbps WAN port on the primary router has you ready to hook up to the fastest broadband connections. If you're coming from the original Orbi system, you may be disappointed by this higher-end model's lack of USB ports. The good news is that it maintains the same straightforward setup process as the rest of the Orbi family. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: NETGEAR Armor, WPA3, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AX6000 | Bands: Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4 (per unit)

Best Mesh

Eero Pro 6 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System

Eero Pro 6 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System


What We Like
  • Extremely easy to set up

  • Solid W-Fi performance

  • Compact design

What We Don't Like
  • Security features require ongoing subscription

  • No web interface

  • Lacks advanced features

As the name implies, the Eero Pro 6 is the encore to the acclaimed Eero Pro mesh Wi-Fi system. It adds Wi-Fi 6 capabilities while retaining the features that made its predecessor so popular, particularly its intuitive mobile-driven software interface that makes setting up an Eero system a cinch—even for somebody with absolutely no networking experience. The built-in anti-malware and parental controls are also very intuitive, although it’s worth noting that, like many other routers, they require a small recurring subscription fee. However, thanks to its cloud-based management system, you can monitor and access all the settings from anywhere you happen to be.

Unfortunately, the Eero Pro 6 does change things up for the expansion units. You can add as many Eero Pro 6 units as you like, with tri-band Wi-Fi and dual Gigabit Ethernet ports. However, the plug-in Eero Beacons have been replaced by tabletop extenders that look almost identical to the primary router but lack the Ethernet ports. It’s an unfortunate change, as we quite liked the more discrete design of the Beacons, and they could even double as nightlights around the home. That said, you can still add the Beacons—or any other Wi-Fi 5 Eero devices—to your mesh system, although you’ll lose the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 technology in those areas of your home. Sadly, the Eero Pro 6 also remains one of the rare routers that omit support for the PPPoE protocol used by many ISPs, which could make it a non-starter for some homes. However, as long as your broadband connection doesn’t rely on PPPoE, the Eero Pro 6 offers an excellent way for beginners to get up and running quickly and easily, with a mesh Wi-Fi system that works and can grow with your needs. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: Eero Secure, WPA3 | Standard/Speed: AX4200 | Bands:Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 2 (per unit)

Best for Gaming

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Wi-Fi 6 Router

ASUS ROG Rapture WiFi 6 Gaming Router (GT-AX11000) - Tri-Band 10 Gigabit Wireless Router, 1.8GHz Quad-Core CPU, WTFast, 2.5G Port, AiMesh Compatible,...


What We Like
  • Fast Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6

  • Expansive coverage

  • Cutting-edge game optimization features

What We Don't Like
  • Large footprint

  • Pricey

Asus’ ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is a gaming powerhouse, but don’t let the designation fool you, as it’s also a great high-performance router to handle the needs of any large and busy home, even if you don’t have a gamer in the family. Packing a powerful quad-core CPU and tri-band 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 support, it can handle just about anything you can throw at it, from hardcore gaming to 4K and 8K streaming.

While tri-band Wi-Fi 6 may be overkill for many homes, especially with new 802.11ax technology so much more adept at handling multiple devices, it can still be an excellent investment for the future. Since this is primarily a gaming router, the extra 5GHz band offers the extra edge that gamers need, letting you keep your gaming traffic in a low latency fast lane, away from all of your other Wi-Fi devices. However, the GT-AX11000 also makes a great anchor if you want to expand your network with other routers that use Asus’ AiMesh 2.0 technology since the third band can be used as a wireless backhaul to what Netgear’s Orbi does. In addition to premium, Asus features like AiProtection Pro and a built-in VPN server; the GT-AX11000 is packed with many other great gaming tools. This includes the WTFast Gamers Private Network, adaptive QoS to prioritize gaming traffic, and VPN Fusion to protect your privacy without slowing down your games. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: AiProtection Pro, WPA3, 802.1x, VPN | Standard/Speed: AX11000 | Bands:Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 6

Best Parental Controls

TP-Link Archer AX50 AX3000 Dual Band Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 Router

TP-Link Archer AX50 AX3000 Dual Band Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 Router


What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • LAN port aggregation

  • Advanced security and parental controls at no extra cost

What We Don't Like
  • Mobile app required to configure security features

  • Sluggish NAS performance

If you’re looking for a full-featured Wi-Fi 6 router at an affordable price, TP-Link’s Archer AX50 makes a great choice. The dual-band AX3000 Wi-Fi 6 gives you a solid 2.4Gbps 5GHz band and a more typical 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz side, with enough range to cover an apartment or condo modest-sized home.

While the usual array of four Gigabit Ethernet ports around the back isn’t a big surprise, one other trick the AX50 has up its sleeve is port aggregation, allowing you to combine two of the Ethernet ports to support a 2Gbps connection, either for a high-speed WAN link or to get peak performance out of a network attached storage (NAS) device in your home. There’s also the USB 3.0 port that the budget AX10 lacks, allowing for file and printer sharing or network backups, and it even supports Apple’s Time Machine for Mac users. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: HomeCare, WPA3 | Standard/Speed: AX3000 | Bands:Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 5

Best Design

Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 12-Stream AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Router

Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 Wi-Fi 6 Router


What We Like
  • Sleek design

  • 5Gbps Ethernet port

  • Supports link aggregation for multi-gigabit internet plans

What We Don't Like
  • Security features require ongoing subscription

  • USB ports can't be used for printer sharing

There’s more to these upright wings than just cool looks, however, since they also allow it to conceal eight high-performance beamforming antennas without leaving them protruding in all directions like some high-tech spider. It’s a clean design that could make you comfortable showing off the RAX120 on your credenza rather than hiding it in the basement. 

The streamlined edges also align with its performance since it’s an AX6000 router that can deliver the usual 4.8Gpbs on the 5GHz and 1.2Gbps for 2.4GHz devices, along with 8-stream MU-MIMO support to guarantee all your devices get their fair share of your internet bandwidth. While you’ll naturally get the best performance with Wi-Fi 6 clients, it’s no slouch at handling older 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 devices either. 

Since it can combine two of its six Gigabit Ethernet ports into an aggregated link, the RAX120 is also ready to handle faster 2Gbps internet plans. One is a special 2.5/5Gbps Ethernet port that can connect a downstream hub, high-performance game console, or network-attached storage (NAS) device for maximum wired throughput. Two USB 3.0 ports are included for directly connecting network storage, although you won’t be able to use them for printer sharing. The RAX120’s features are now rounded out with support for Netgear’s Armor cybersecurity suite to protect your network from viruses and malware. However, sadly, unlike the security features found on some of Asus’ and TP-Link’s routers, you’ll need to pay a recurring monthly fee to take advantage of it. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: NETGEAR Armor, WPA3, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AX6000 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 6

Best Value

Linksys Velop AX4200 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System (MX12600)

Linksys Velop AX4200 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System (MX12600)


What We Like
  • Tri-band Wi-Fi 6

  • Great coverage

  • Affordable Mesh Technology

We We Don't Like
  • Requires mobile app for initial mesh set up

  • Not suitable for multi-gigabit broadband services

  • Lacks some advanced features

Linksys’ Velop MX12600 Mesh Wi-Fi system offers impressive range and performance at a surprisingly affordable price tag. For about the same price that you’ll pay for most competing mesh Wi-Fi systems with only two satellites, Linksys gives you three tri-band AX4200 mesh units. While it doesn’t offer quite the same insanely fast performance as Orbi’s AX6000 mesh system, it delivers more than enough for most large homes at a reasonable price.

You’ll also find four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a USB 3.2 port around the back of each unit, so you have lots of space to plug in wired devices like PCs, smart TVs, or game consoles around your home. You can even hook up the three units in a wired mesh configuration, where you’ll have full tri-band Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home since the dynamic backhaul channel won’t be needed. This differs from the Orbi mesh systems, where the second 5GHz band is always a dedicated backhaul channel, even in a wired setup. The USB port also lets you plug in external storage devices anywhere in your home, offering high-speed NAS performance. Sadly, the only real knock against the Velop system—which could be a big one depending on your needs—is that it doesn’t provide anti-malware or parental controls beyond device time limits and manual URL filtering. 

To be clear, the Velop is an AX4200 system throughout—if you do the math, you’ll see that the MX12600 designation means that you get three units, but it’s a little misleading, as you’re not getting AX12600 speeds. What this Velop system does give you, however, is a pair of 5GHz bands at 2.4Gbps and 1.2Gbps, plus a single 600Mbps 2.4GHz band. Most importantly, however, your Wi-Fi 6 clients can potentially use all the bands since Linksys has implemented a dynamic backhaul channel determined based on network load. In practical use, it works very well, and we had no problem making Zoom calls and streaming Netflix in 4K on multiple devices. Even better, the three units can easily handle homes of up to 8,100 square feet, meaning that this system delivers some of the best range-per-dollar of the Wi-Fi 6 routers we looked at without sacrificing performance.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: WPA3, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed:AX4200 | Bands: Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4 (per unit)

Asus RT-AX88U

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

How to Choose a Wi-Fi 6 Router

The advent of Wi-Fi 6 is a big deal considering it’s been almost ten years since the 802.11ac standard emerged in 2014 (now retroactively known as Wi-Fi 5). 

It’s not uncommon to find households where everyone has a smartphone, tablet, and laptop, plus one or more game consoles and smart TVs—and that doesn’t even include the fact that just about everything from your living room lights to your toaster wants to get online. 

So Wi-Fi routers have a lot more to handle than they once did. While manufacturers have done an admirable job of pushing older 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 technology to deliver the kind of performance necessary for fast-paced online gaming, 4K streaming, and uninterrupted video conferencing, it’s a problem that’s ultimately best solved by evolving the underlying Wi-Fi standard to handle these challenges.

The Netgear Orbi AX6000

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen 

Advantages of Wi-Fi 6

However, even if you have a Wi-Fi 6 smartphone or laptop, you won’t be able to take advantage of it unless you’re also using a Wi-Fi 6 router since both ends of the connection have to support the same standard.

As you might suspect, Wi-Fi 6 naturally offers faster speeds, but there’s much more to the new technology than just raw speed. Single-client speed is probably the least of the benefits of having a Wi-Fi 6 router. After all, most people have a hard time maxing out a good Wi-Fi 5 connection, which can easily offer speeds of up to 800Mbps to a single device. 

Where Wi-Fi 6 routers shine, however, is in their ability to deliver those speeds at longer ranges. Wi-Fi 6 routers use modern signaling methods like orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) and advanced MU-MIMO to keep speeds faster even when you’re farther away from the router.

Those same technologies also allow Wi-Fi 6 routers to handle congestion more effectively by preventing device interference. This means that pound-for-pound, a Wi-Fi 6 router will be able to support more devices on your home network than an equivalent Wi-Fi 5 router. This will have the most significant benefit on public networks in places like shopping malls and sporting venues, but that doesn’t mean it’s not also a big win for home users too.

Lastly, Wi-Fi 6 is also significantly more energy efficient, which can benefit battery-powered devices like smartphones. Thanks to a feature called Target Wake Time (TWT), devices can enter a lower power mode when not actively transmitting or receiving data. Tests have shown this leads to 67 percent lower power consumption over an equivalent Wi-Fi 5 device. You won’t need to worry about hitting a charger with your iPhone or Galaxy nearly as often when you’re just hanging around at home. 

Netgear Nighthawk RAX80 Wi-Fi 6 Router

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen 

Dual-Band or Tri-Band Frequencies? 

Firstly, unlike older 802.11n Wi-Fi 4 routers and the occasional Wi-Fi 5 router, there are no such things as single-band Wi-Fi 6 routers. Wi-Fi 6 runs on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, so dual-band Wi-Fi is the minimum standard on all Wi-Fi 6 routers.

This differs from 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5, which operates exclusively on the higher-frequency 5GHz band. This means that no matter what Wi-Fi 5 router you used when your devices switched to the 2.4GHz band, they’d drop down to older (and slower) 802.11n Wi-Fi 4 technology. 

The rule of thumb for Wi-Fi frequencies is that the higher they are, the shorter the range, but the faster the speeds. So, 2.4GHz has a longer range than 5GHz, but 5GHz is faster than 2.4GHz. It’s always a tradeoff. In the case of Wi-Fi 5 routers, however, the 2.4GHz band is even slower since devices can only work at Wi-Fi 4 speeds.

Since 2.4GHz frequencies can penetrate walls and extend to longer distances than 5GHz ones, this resulted in even slower speeds when drifting farther away from the router. 

By contrast, the newest and fastest 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 technology can be used across all the bands on a Wi-Fi 6 router. This means you can still get surprisingly fast speeds even when your devices fall back to the 2.4GHz frequencies. 

One caution, however: A few more inexpensive Wi-Fi 6 routers, like TP-Link’s Archer AX10, cut corners by only offering Wi-Fi 4 speeds on the 2.4GHz band. While it’s an understandable omission in budget routers, it’s still something to look for. 

Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 routers are also available, which offer a second 5GHz band, much like tri-band Wi-Fi 5 routers. However, since you can get the full benefits of Wi-Fi 6 on the lower-frequency 2.4GHz band, and Wi-Fi 6 is considerably better at handling congestion, there’s less need to go with a tri-band router, especially if most of your high-performance wireless devices already support Wi-Fi 6. 

With any tri-band router, it’s also essential to remember that any given wireless device can only connect to one band at a time. A tri-band router will never give you faster speeds for a single device by itself, but if you have a lot of 5GHz devices on your home network, the extra band can help divvy them up to avoid congestion. 

However, another good reason to get a tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router is for use in a wireless mesh Wi-Fi system. The additional band can be a backhaul channel to keep everything running fast between your mesh stations without sacrificing client-facing performance. Mesh systems like the Orbi AX6000 and Velop AX4200 use tri-band WI-Fi for this very reason. Still, it’s also something to consider if you’re building a mesh Wi-Fi 6 system with traditional routers using technologies like Asus’ AiMesh or TP-Link’s OneMesh. 

What about Wi-Fi 6E?

You may have heard about Wi-Fi 6E, an emerging technology that builds on the Wi-Fi 6 standard. As the name implies, it’s not a whole new Wi-Fi technology but an evolution of Wi-Fi 6 that moves wireless traffic into a new 6GHz band faster and less prone to congestion.

At this point, Wi-Fi 6E routers are only just beginning to appear. Most are tri-band routers, but instead of one 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands, they offer separate bands for 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz. 

Unfortunately, Wi-Fi 6E isn’t yet available on most client devices, so buying a Wi-Fi 6E router is premature. Further, unlike standard tri-band Wi-Fi 6 routers, which feature a pair of 5GHz bands that your Wi-Fi 5 devices can also use, Wi-Fi 6E routers are effectively dual-band routers non-Wi-Fi 6E devices since they can’t get at the third 6GHz band at all. 

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Speed: How Much Do I Need? 

Since the more technical term for the Wi-Fi 6 standard is 802.11ax, Wi-Fi 6 routers use an “AX” prefix to define their speed ratings. The number after the AX indicates the total speed available across all the frequency bands.

So, an AX6000 router can have 6Gbps (6,000Mbps) of throughput, but this will be divided across two or three different wireless bands. Most Wi-Fi 6 routers that offer AX6000 speeds or less are dual-band routers, while AX11000 models are tri-band. 

In practical terms, the maximum single-band speeds you’ll get from any Wi-Fi 6 router right now are 4.8Gbps on the 5GHz bands and 1.2Gbps on the 2.4GHz side. This would be an AX6000 dual-band router (4.8Gbps + 1.2Gbps) or an AX11000 tri-band router (4.8Gbps + 4.8Gbps + 1.2Gbps). 

Of course, some don’t even go that high. AX3000 Wi-Fi 6 routers are standard, usually offering either 2.4Gbps/600Mbps or 1.8Gbps/1.2Gbps speeds on the 5GHz and 2.4GHz channels. AX4200 is also reasonably common among tri-band mesh Wi-Fi routers like Linksys’ Velop and the Eero Pro 6, which have an even more unusual split of 2.4Gbps/1.2Gbps/600Mbps. In this case, the faster 5GHz band operates as a wireless backhaul. The Netgear Orbi AX6000 does something similar, except the second 5GHz band is also 2.4Gbps (2.4Gbps/2.4Gbps/1.2Gbps).

The question you’re probably asking is how much this really matters. To put these numbers into perspective, a 4K UHD stream on Netflix only requires a maximum of 25Mbps of bandwidth per device, and even when 8K streaming services arrive someday, they’re likely to cap out around 65-80Mbps. 

So if you have a small family, you may be surprised that you can probably get along just fine with an AX1500 or AX3000 Wi-Fi 6 router. The higher speeds are ultimately intended to handle busy homes since they offer all that bandwidth to guarantee that every device in your home can get the internet performance it needs. If you have a larger family with kids who are always online, a faster AX4200 mesh system or AX6000 router is more worth it. 

Of course, downloading is another story, and if you’re regularly downloading large files, it’s nice to have the extra bandwidth to get those 4K movies down onto your hard drive or NAS device in only a few minutes instead of a few hours but remember that your wireless router can never offer download speeds that are any faster than your internet connection. 

Range and Coverage

One consideration that doesn’t change much with Wi-Fi 6 routers is ensuring you get one with enough range to cover your entire living area. While Wi-Fi 6 routers can offer better speeds at longer ranges, their reach is still limited. If you have a larger home and want maximum performance everywhere you need it, you’re best to get a mesh Wi-Fi system instead of a single router. 

Most of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers can cover homes of up to 5,000 square feet, but your mileage may vary depending on the construction of your home. Solid objects block wireless frequencies, and concrete and metal block more of the signal than wood and drywall. This is called attenuation, and as the signal drops off, so will your speeds.

Wi-Fi 6 is better at offering respectable performance with a weaker signal, but it still can’t change the laws of physics. If the signal gets too weak, there’s not much even the most sophisticated wireless technologies can do about it. As mentioned earlier, however, one advantage of Wi-Fi 6 is that it also operates on 2.4GHz frequencies. These travel further and penetrate solid objects more effectively, but they’re still prone to interference from other household devices like cordless phones, microwaves, and garage door openers. 

The good news is that if you’ve invested in a Wi-Fi 6 router and find it’s not offering enough range, all hope is not lost. You can add one or more Wi-Fi extenders to a Wi-Fi 6 router to extend your router’s reach, and while there are some good Wi-Fi 6 extenders available, you can also add older Wi-Fi 5 extenders if you’re not concerned about performance. For instance, this can be an affordable way to extend coverage to low-bandwidth smart home devices. 

Some router makers, like Asus and TP-Link, also offer technologies like AiMesh that will let you build your own mesh Wi-Fi system by adding another compatible router. While this isn’t as cost-effective as a Wi-Fi extender, it’s better to increase your wireless footprint if you’re willing to invest. 

Netgear Nighthawk RAX80

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Wired Connections

Even with the faster performance of Wi-Fi 6 technology, sometimes you need to plug your devices in to get the best speeds. This is especially true for gamers, where wired connections almost always offer lower latency than Wi-Fi.

Most Wi-Fi 6 routers offer at least four Gigabit Ethernet ports; some push that up to even eight. It’s also not uncommon to see special, higher-speed 2.5Gbps and 5Gbps Ethernet ports. Depending on the router, these can be used for various things, from connecting a high-performance gaming PC to a network-attached storage (NAS) device. 

More importantly, however, if you’re fortunate enough to have a multi-gigabit internet plan, you’ll want to look for a Wi-Fi 6 router that lets you use this as a WAN port for connecting to your upstream provider. Alternatively, some routers allow you to pair up or “aggregate” two Gigabit Ethernet ports to create a single 2Gbps connection. In that case, your cable modem or another upstream link also supports the same link aggregation technologies. 

The bottom line, however, is that unless you have a Wi-Fi 6 router that offers a faster Ethernet port or link aggregation, you’ll be stuck at 1Gbps broadband speeds no matter how fast your internet plan is. 

Advanced Features

With Wi-Fi 6 routers still relatively new, you’ll want to pay close attention to whether they include the same anti-malware, parental controls, and other advanced features as their Wi-Fi 5 counterparts. 

In their rush to get their first Wi-Fi 6 routers out the door, many companies omitted these features in their initial hardware. For example, Netgear’s Nighthawk RAX series routers—the RAX80 and RAX120—were initially bare-bones Wi-Fi 6 routers with no anti-malware or parental controls. 

The good news is that these were added later via firmware updates, but since such features are standard on all other Netgear routers, it’s understandable that many buyers may have expected them to be there. 

A similar situation remains valid for the Linksys Velop AX4200 and the Eero Pro 6. Eero and Linksys were the first two companies to offer secure router features for Apple’s HomeKit on their Wi-Fi 5 routers, but as of this writing, they have yet to bring these capabilities to their Wi-Fi 6 models. We’ve been told by both companies that they’re working on it, but those features aren’t available on either company’s Wi-Fi 6 routers. 

So, it’s essential to read the fine print. We also never recommend buying a router based on the manufacturer’s promises of what might come in the future. If there’s a feature that you can’t live without, don’t count on it being offered in a firmware update; either wait to make your purchase or stick with a more established wireless router that supports it. 

  • Is it worth buying a Wi-Fi 6 router?

    The short answer is yes. With Wi-Fi 6 now mainstream, prices have dropped significantly enough that there’s almost no reason to not go with a Wi-Fi 6 router if you’re looking to upgrade. Modern wireless devices like recent iPhones, Samsung Galaxy smartphones, and even Sony’s PlayStation 5 already offer Wi-Fi 6 support by default, and it’s becoming standard on almost all new laptops, so you don’t have to do anything special to get Wi-Fi 6 compatible clients; you’re going to end up with Wi-Fi 6 devices as you upgrade your consumer electronics anyway, so you might as well get a router that’s ready for them. 

  • Do Wi-Fi 6 routers offer better range?

    Yes. Wi-Fi 6 routers don’t necessarily offer more power output than their older 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 counterparts, but they do take advantage of newer technologies that help maintain faster speeds at greater distances. This means that you won’t necessarily get better range overall, but you will almost certainly get a more consistently fast signal at the outer reaches, which is what a good long-range router is all about.

  • How do I know if my devices are ready for Wi-Fi 6?

    The best way to do this is simply to check the manufacturer’s specifications for your device to see if they list either “Wi-Fi 6” or “802.11ax” for their wireless capabilities. However, most popular consumer electronics companies have embraced the standard, and if you’ve bought a new iPhone, Samsung smartphone, iPad, or MacBook in the past year or so, chances are good that it already has Wi-Fi 6 built in. Don’t worry if you still have older devices, however, as all Wi-Fi 6 routers are fully compatible with the older 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 and even the 802.11n Wi-Fi 4 standards. 

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