The 7 Best Wireless Routers to Buy in 2017

Shop the best routers for gamers, streamers, large houses, apartments and more

If you’re shopping for a new wireless router, don’t be intimidated by all the technical jargon. For the average person, most of those specs won’t be all that relevant. Most likely, you just want to know which router is right for your particular set of wifi circumstances. Are you a gamer? Are you a streamer? Do you live in a big house or a cramped apartment? What’s your budget?

How you answer these questions offers a better insight into what you should look for than a list of incomprehensible technobabble. If you really are into the specs, then you can probably form your own idea on what works best for your situation. However, if you’re like most people, you may need a little help. To make things easy for you, we’ve compiled a list of the routers that we think are the best for the most common situations.

If you live in a large, multi-story home, you likely have several people – and even more devices – fighting over the WiFi connection. The Linksys AC1900 Dual Band Wireless Router is perfect for households with high WiFi traffic, letting you connect 12 or more devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, game consoles and virtual assistants (we're looking at you, Alexa!). And the router’s Beamforming technology means it focuses its signal towards those devices, rather than just sending out a blanket signal, resulting in a stronger connection for everyone.

Multi-User MIMO technology enables multiple people to stream simultaneously at faster speeds. The Linksys AC1900 has USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, plus four gigabit Ethernet ports, which let you transfer data 10x faster than Fast Ethernet. The 2.4GHz band delivers speeds of up to 600 Mbps while the 5 GHz band hits up to 1300 Mbps for more involved streaming and gaming. The router is a pretty standard size (7.25 x 10.03 x 2.19 inches) and if you stash it somewhere centrally located in your house, you’ll have no problem getting a strong signal in even the most remote corners.

Setting up the device can be done in 10 simple steps, thanks to Linksys’ Smart Setup Wizard, and Amazon reviewers have reported it takes under 20 minutes. When you’re finished, you can set up a free Smart WiFi account to control your router and home network from anywhere via the mobile app.

We get it. You like your shows. But nothing ruins that Walking Dead marathon like a stream that won’t stop buffering. Well, the NETGEAR AC1750 Smart WiFi Router has come to your rescue. It features 450+1300 Mbps speeds and high-power external antennas for improved coverage. It has one USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 port and it has the best wireless security with WPA/WPA2. It even has separate and secure guest network access.

But the magic of this device lies in NETGEAR’s proprietary Beamforming+ technology. The company says to think of beamforming as “a radio transmission from the transmitter to the receiver, customized according to their relative locations.” Essentially, it focuses WiFi signals from the wireless router to WiFi devices. For you as a streamer, that means extended WiFi coverage, reduced dead spots, better throughput and a more stable connection for voice and HD video.

The NETGEAR genie App lets you monitor and manage your home network remotely. As for those kiddos who aren’t quite old enough to stream to their hearts’ desire? Parental controls ensure web filtering for all your connected devices.

It’s a pain point homeowners across the world are all too familiar with: How do you fill up every inch of your home with a solid WiFi signal? Fortunately, the time has come to put this problem to rest thanks to the introduction of Netgear’s Orbi. It’s pricey, starting at $399, but the cost belies the satisfaction you’ll receive walking around your entire home with a strong signal. The price includes two devices, a router that’s plugged into your Internet modem and an identical satellite device setup elsewhere in the home to extend the signal throughout your house. If it sounds familiar, Netgear wasn’t the first to try mesh networking but they have a secret weapon: a tri-band system that not only extends the signal, but maintains its performance by optimizing the signal with your home ISP as well.

Setup is a snap – Netgear promises you’ll be up and running in under five minutes. The 8.9 x 6.7 x 3.1-inch Orbi unit is small enough to fit just about anywhere or be tucked away near your modem. The Orbi satellite is best placed in a central spot so it can cover Orbi’s expected range of a 4,000-square-foot home. As for the hardware itself, you’ll find both 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio connections, 802.11ac support up to three Gbps, three ethernet ports and a USB 2.0 port for connecting wired devices. Additionally, you can purchase an extra satellite device to extend your connection signal another 2,000 feet for $249. While the price may sound expensive, the Orbi may be the perfect solution for even the most demanding and device-heavy households.

Think of the TP-Link AC1200 as the Archer C7’s baby brother. It offers a similar list of features and specs in a slightly slower format. TP-Link claims its Signal Sustain Technology (SST) can help provide a stronger WiFi signal while handling multiple high-bandwidth applications. And it can easily be found for less than $50.

Whereas the Archer C7 offers an impressive 1.75Gbps (1750Mbps) of throughput, the TL-WR1043ND is limited to just 867Mbps at 5GHz (and 300Mbps at 2.4GHz). But don’t let that deter you. If you’re looking for a budget router, 867Mbps is more than enough for most needs—and more than you’ll ever find in the sub-$50 price range. And the system is future-proofed with 802.11ac WiFi technology. It's great if you're going to be primarily using the router for just web surfing. So, browse your memes, stream your Netflix and check your email all at once—if your Internet starts to crawl it won’t be the router’s fault.

The TL-WR1043ND also features four Gigabit Ethernet ports, one USB (2.0) port, detachable antennas, and IP-based Bandwidth Control, which limits individual users from clogging the WiFi with intensive applications. It comes in a somewhat boring package, but so what? The thing costs around $49 and comes with a two-year warranty.

When you live in a small apartment rather than a big house, there’s no need to splurge on a big router that covers a huge amount of space. The ASUS RT-ACRH13 fits the bill perfectly because it comes in under $100 and it even has some style, with black-and-white plaid on its face that makes it look like a hip home accessory.

It has four external 5dBi antennas that ensure you get good range throughout your apartment and can use multiple devices (smartphones, computers, etc.) at the same time. The RT-ACRH13 can handle combined speeds of up to 1267 Mbps, so no matter what kind of downloads or uploads you throw at it, it can probably manage.

Finally, the device works with the ASUS Router App, so you can manage and monitor your home network on iOS or Android phones. Amazon reviewers have many good things to say about this router, with many of them raving that this is one of the best routers available at this price.

When it comes to networking, gaming is a whole other ball game. Contenders really need to ramp up their specs, ports, and hardware to support the high-volume, high-bandwidth, low-latency needs of online gaming and streaming. Naturally, that means you’ll probably need to spend a bit more to get what you need.

The ASUS T-AC88U is the best all-around router for gaming purposes. It’s a little pricey, but if you’re serious about gaming you should be serious about speed and transfer rates—and this machine is tailor-made for gamers. It includes eight LAN ports, which is enough for server-hosting and local co-op activities; as well as another eight Gigabit Ethernet ports, which is almost (almost) overkill; and ports for both USB 2.0 and 3.0 standards. What else could you ask for as a gamer? How about a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor with 512 MB memory? How about the (advertised) coverage area of up to 5,000 square feet? This thing is a workhorse that’s sure to satisfy any serious gamer.

The TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 comes right out of the box with 802.11ac support and 1.9Gbps of total available bandwidth. Internally, the AC1900 has a powerful 1GHz dual-core processor that helps handle simultaneous wired and wireless connections without interruptions. On the top of the router are three dual band antennas with high-powered amplifiers to help create a strong WiFi signal across the home, whether you want to stream in bed, on the couch or in the backyard. And setup is a snap. Just plug everything in and head to the included TP-Link website, input your admin password and WiFi name/password and you’re ready to binge stream Netflix.

The rear of the device has a USB 2.0 port, while the side of the device has a 3.0 USB port, Ethernet connection socket to your modem and four more gigabit Ethernet ports. When it comes to streaming speeds, you’re in good hands because the AC1900 is capable of 600Mbit/s transfers over 2.4GHz and 1,300Mbit/s over 5GHz. And its beautifully smooth and curvy white design is reminiscent of Apple products, which makes it much less of an eyesore than what the standard black routers look like.

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