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Asus RT-AC88U at Amazon
"The 802.11ac RT-AC88U consistently ranks at the top of every “best router” list and for very good reason."
Google Nest Wi-Fi at Amazon
"Includes reliable mesh network performance along with smart speakers and Google Home integration"
Linksys WRT3200ACM at Amazon
"The WRT3200ACM might not look like much, it's souped up with MU-MIMO technology for fast Wi-Fi speeds simultaneously on multiple devices."
Netgear Orbi at Amazon
"Provides Netgear's solid technology to an advanced mesh Wi-Fi system that offers up to 5,000 square feet of coverage."
Synology RT2600ac at Amazon
"Synology ventured into the wireless router space some years ago and one of the best results has been the RT2600 wireless gigabit router."
Portal at Amazon
"Portal’s recent entry into the wireless router market hasn’t gone unnoticed, thanks to its outstanding product line."
TP-Link Deco M5 at Amazon
"The Deco M5 whole home Wi-Fi system offers a superb wireless router system that can cover anywhere from 1,500 square feet with a single unit to more than 4,500 square feet with a three-pack."
Trendnet TEW-828DRU at Amazon
"The TEW-828DRU Tri-Band AC3200 wireless router offers max speed of 3,200Mbps (600Mbps on 2.4GHz, 1300 + 1300Mbps on 5GHz) ensuring HD streaming will be viewed buffer-free."
Good feature set
Weaker range compared to other models
Asus hardly needs an introduction since it's one of the brands at the forefront of mobile, computers and (wireless) routers. And while they might be best known for the former products, the latter has resulted in some fantastic, top-of-the-line wireless routers. The 802.11ac RT-AC88U consistently ranks at the top of every “best router” list and for very good reason.
Capable of 5GHz speeds at 2100Mbps and 1000Mbps at 2.4GHz, the AC88U offers total signal coverage reach of more than 5,000 square feet. Additionally, you’ll find four times the total signal capacity with MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, and multiple output) technology that helps maintain signal strength even with multiple connected users online at the same time.
Integrates with Google Home
Point units double as smart speakers
No Ethernet ports on points
Lacks dedicated backhaul channel
Google of course needs no introduction, as the company has an established reputation in everything from online search to e-mail to mobile phones, but you might not actually be aware that it also makes a pretty slick wireless router system as part of its Nest home brand. The search giant actually first entered the wireless router market several years ago, partnering with TP-Link to create the OnHub from Google, and while that initial entry was met with tempered fanfare, Google took what it learned from that experience and created its first mesh wireless system, the Google Wi-Fi, which provided efficient coverage for your home that was easy to set up.
The company followed that up with the Google Nest Wi-Fi, its second-generation model that expands on all of the great technology from the first version and adds Google Assistant and Google Home integration, with each remote point module doubling as a smart speaker. A two-module system can cover homes of up to 3,800 square feet, while a third point module extends that coverage to 5,400 square feet. Dual-band Wi-Fi provides more than respectable speeds throughout your home, although the lack of a dedicated backhaul channel means that performance may drop a bit when you're further from the main router and relying on one of the points instead.
Open source firmware
Fast 5GHz speeds
Familiar nostalgic look
Sluggish 2.4GHz speeds
Subpar long range performance
Easily one of the most venerable names in the wireless router space, Linksys has a longstanding reputation for building fantastic products. While the WRT3200ACM might not look like much since it Linksys chose to maintain its nostalgic appearance, it's actually souped up with MU-MIMO technology for fast Wi-Fi speeds simultaneously on multiple devices.
Speed buffs will also enjoy the inclusion of Tri-Stream 160 technology, which has double the bandwidth on the 5GHz band and ups the speed to a super-fast 2.6Gbps. Additionally, the WRT3200ACM is open source, which means that advanced users can make changes or modify the router to suit their specific needs, with options such setting up a secure VPN, creating a hotspot or turning the router into a web server.
Fast and reliable performance
Full home coverage
Older devices can complicate things
Established in 2002, Netgear has consistently been at the forefront of consumer network products, and its lineup of routers is widely regarded as the best in their class. Netgear makes some of the most advanced and highest-performing standalone routers you can find, and with its new Orbi system it has moved into an innovative new direction in both design and technology with its first dedicated mesh network solution.
Orbi features a design that may be unrecognizable from Netgear's more traditional sleek black routers, since it's aesthetic is intended to look good in your living room, but there's no doubt that the technology inside is Netgear through and through, offering a tri-band Wi-Fi system that provides one 5GHz band and one 2.4GHz band for your devices with speeds of up to 866Mbps and 400Mbps, respectively, while the second 5GHz band is used as a "backhaul" to maintain an ultrafast connection for the mesh network. This gives it enough range to cover a 5,000 square foot home reliably, assisted by MU-MIMO and beamforming technologies that make sure your devices get maximum performance.
Can double as a NAS device
Fewer Ethernet ports than we'd like
While the Synology name doesn’t carry the same weight as brands such as Linksys or Netgear, the company has a storied history dating back to the year 2000. Originally focused on simplifying data backup or centralizing data storage, Synology ventured into the wireless router space some years ago and one of the best results has been the RT2600 wireless gigabit router.
Featuring a powerful 4x4 802.11ac radio with MU-MIMO technology and up to 2.53Gbps wireless speeds, Synology matches the heavily competitive market with an outstanding product. It's also capable of supporting NAS-grade apps like a VPN client or server, and the RT2600 shows the strength of the Synology name by allowing a hard drive to connect to the router to create a personal cloud service akin to Google Drive or Dropbox. The setup process is a little more tedious than competitive brands, but given that this is only Synology’s second attempt at a wireless router, there’s plenty to rave about.
Inexpensive mesh solution
Poor signal handoff
Portal’s recent entry into the wireless router market hasn’t gone unnoticed, thanks to its outstanding product line. In fact, the entire product line is just one device. Built and founded by engineers who wanted to create a better internet experience, the Portal wireless router and its nine dedicated antennas can cover homes up to 3,000 square feet with a single unit, doubling to 6,000 square feet with the two-pack purchase.
The mesh Wi-Fi system is still relatively new technology, but it eliminates the need for Wi-Fi extenders by eliminating dead zones and buffering by dropping a wide signal net over an entire space. Easily set up through the downloadable Android and iOS app, the Portal is ready to connect right out of the box with smart devices such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, Nest, and a multitude of other smart home products. Gamers will love the 4K-ready signal strength and streaming without buffering over the 2.4GHz or 5GHz dual-band Wi-Fi antennas.
Affordable mesh system
Fast and easy setup
Ethernet ports for wired devices
Slower performance than rivals
No access point mode
Founded in 1996, TP-Link has a long and rich history of providing some of the best WLAN (wireless local area network) devices ever built to get people online. And the Deco M5 whole home Wi-Fi system offers a superb wireless router system that can cover anywhere from 1,500 square feet with a single unit to more than 4,500 square feet with a three-pack, thanks to its support for mesh technology.
Automatically choosing the best wireless connection for connected devices, the Deco M5 utilizes Adaptive Routing Technology to help your Wi-Fi connection stay fast. Setting up is a snap with the downloadable smartphone app, so you'll be up and online within minutes. Additionally, the Deco M5 includes antivirus and malware protection courtesy of Trend Micro, so you can bank on staying secure and in control.
USB 3.0 port
Build quality isn't great
TRENDnet doesn’t have the same name recognition as Linksys, Asus, or Google, but this brand still makes outstanding products, including routers. The TEW-828DRU Tri-Band AC3200 wireless router offers maximum speeds of 3,200Mbps (600Mbps on 2.4GHz, 1300 + 1300Mbps on 5GHz) ensuring HD streaming will be viewed buffer-free.
Released in 2015, the 828DRU adds beamforming technology to increase real-time signal performance by directly pushing the signal strength in your specific location rather than randomly throughout the entire home or office. Additionally, smart connect technology will group slower devices on a separate band from faster devices to ensure that every connected user sees ideal network performance.
Our reviewers spent 47 hours testing a router from one of the top-rated brands out there. To get the most complete results, our testers took it home, hooked it up to multiple devices, and observed its performance. We asked them to consider the most important features when using this router, from its design to its speed and range. We've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
Reputation - Consider how long a specific brand has been around. Is it a newer brand or an established contender? While the former doesn’t necessarily equate to an unreliable product, there is a level of confidence when selecting a brand that has stood the test of time.
Support - How much help might you need when setting up or configuring your new router? Be sure to check online reviews and comments by other purchasers to see how well a company’s technical support has fared over the years.
Technology - Most companies producing wireless routers will be decently matched when it comes to the technology they place inside their products. However, some newer technologies such as mesh networks — essential for a large house — are only available from some manufacturers.
One of our testers said the system “provided seamless connectivity throughout the entire home” and added that he could definitely see a difference in his wireless speeds. Our reviewers liked that the network is easily configurable with an option to turn off connectivity for individual devices and "robust parental controls" that help you monitor kids’ online activities thanks to a partnership with Disney.
If you’re looking to improve your Wi-Fi range in a large home, this system will definitely deliver, with testers noting that "you can have a gigantic home and still get reliable network performance throughout." While Orbi doesn't come cheap, our reviewers agree that "you’re getting a level of performance that is genuinely worth the price of admission."