Continuing on with our theme of essential computer peripherals, we now turn our attention to one of the unknown elements of a good PC setup and answer the question “What’s the best wireless router of 2017?” When setting up their home internet for the first time, many users will be quite satisfied with simply keeping the wireless router provided by the ISP.
That’s all well and good if your internet usage is fairly basic and not demanding however, when things start to get slow and videos are forever buffering a lot of people will blame their internet for not being able to handle their usage. A good portion of the time when something goes amiss with the internet it’s actually down to your router not being adequate enough to handle the connections efficiently which causes connectivity issues.
A typical problem faced by many gamers is the issue of lag and ping spikes which again are due to the quality of wireless router you have installed.
To help make sure you have the best product available for your needs, we have compiled a list of the top 10 wireless routers for 2017 that you can buy right now.
While we appreciate that some of these routers may be a bit out of your budget but we just want to make sure you know exactly what products are out on the market in case you wish to purchase one at a later date.
- 1 Top 10 Wireless Routers for 2017
- 2 1. Google Wifi
- 3 2. Asus RT-AC88U Dual-Band Router
- 4 3. Linksys WRT 3200 ACM
- 5 4. Starry Station
- 6 5. Netgear Orbi
- 7 6. Netgear Nighthawk R7000
- 8 7. D-Link AC3200 (DIR-890L/R)
- 9 8. TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 (Best Router for Under $100)
- 10 9. Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 (Best Wireless Router for Gaming)
- 11 10. Synology RT1900AC
- 12 A Beginners Guide to Wireless Routers
- 12.1 What is a router?
- 12.1.1 Network Switch
- 12.1.2 Wireless Access Point
- 12.1.3 Dual Band Routers
- 12.1.4 What are the benefits of using 5Ghz wireless frequency?
- 12.1.5 Tri-Band Routers
- 12.1.6 N600 Routers
- 12.1.7 N900 Routers
- 12.1.8 AC1750 Routers
- 12.1.9 AC1900 Routers
- 12.1.10 AC2600 Routers
- 12.1.11 AC3200 Routers
- 12.1.12 AC5300 Routers
- 12.2 Conclusion
- 12.1 What is a router?
Top 10 Wireless Routers for 2017
|Wireless Router||Wireless Specification||Price||Rated Wireless Speed|
|1. Google Wifi|
|2. Asus RT-AC88U||802.11 b/g/n||$$$||AC3100|
|3. Linksys WRT 3200 ACM||802.11ac||$$||AC3200|
|4. Starry Station||802.11ac dual-band quad-stream||$$$||AC1750|
|5. Netgear Orbi||802.11ac||$$||AC3000|
|6. Netgear Nighthawk R7000||802.11ac/b/g/n||$$||AC1900|
|7. D-Link AC3200||802.11a/ac/b/g/n||$$$||AC3200|
|8. TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750|
(Best Wireless Router Under $100)
|9. Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600|
(Best Wireless Router for Gaming)
|10. Synology RT1900AC||802.11 b/g/n||$$||AC1900|
1. Google Wifi
|Wireless Router||Google Wifi|
|Connectivity Interface||2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports per Google Wifi access point (1 WAN and 1 LAN)|
|Additional Features||Bluetooth smart ready, AC1200 2 x 2 Wave 2 Wifi|
You might be looking at this strange white box with a confused look on your face, don’t worry though as we will explain very briefly as to why the Google Wifi is the best wireless router for 2017.
This is by no means the most technologically advanced router but what it offers is easy to use and setup router that will provide incredible coverage across your house with the use of a wireless mesh network.
What is a wireless mesh network?
A wireless mesh network is simply a collection of wireless access points that are installed across an area at various different locations to offer complete coverage. The beauty of using a wireless mesh network is that each node (wireless access point) only has to transmit data as far as the next closest router. A typical use for this type of network would be for allowing people that live in a remote area to access the internet by connecting their networks together with nearby rural neighborhoods.
The implications of this could be massive, in the future we could very well be looking at people’s laptops becoming part of a mesh network which would allow greater and better internet coverage than we already currently have.
But anyway back to the Google Wifi, another fantastic feature of this wireless router is the addition of traffic prioritization. What this does is it dynamically allocates bandwidth to devices which are performing demanding tasks such as streaming a movie from Netflix at 4K.
While this is by no means the most budget friendly wireless router the simplicity, design, and mesh network technology more than make up for the price point. Please note that you will need to purchase at least 3 of these to unlock their full potential of covering every single inch of your property, perhaps more if you live in a rather large house or are in a business complex.
We would rate the performance of this little device on par with the Netgear Orbi, however, this has been primarily designed to be the best wireless router for large homes.
To help kickstart your mesh network, you can currently buy a pack of 3 on Amazon which will save you a considerable chunk of money.
Overall this is a fantastic step in the right direction for wireless networking, we are pleased with the value for money that the Google Wifi offers everyday consumers. The only complaints we have are that it’s only an AC1200 system so it’s a bit limited for speed and this could put off a few potential buyers who have very high-speed internet. The aesthetics are a warm welcome that allows the Google Wifi to blend into any room without creating a large disturbance.
|Wireless Router||Asus RT-AC88U|
|Wireless Specification||802.11 b/g/n|
|Connectivity Interface||9 x Gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0|
|Additional Features||Parental Controls, Asus AiProtection, Supports MU-MIMO technology, WTFast Private Network|
Is it a bird? Is it a UFO? No, it’s the Asus RT-AC88U wireless router which quite frankly does seem a bit like a UFO with various antennas popping out of every corner. While Asus are primarily known for their gaming peripherals and laptops, their high-end routers are nothing to laugh at. One of their most premium products, the RT-AC88U, is actually one of the best wireless routers currently available on the market.
The first thing you will notice obviously is the design of the router, it does take an acquired taste to like it as it’s very high tech and will most likely stick out like a sore thumb in any room. We are of the opinion that it looks fantastic but obviously it may not be to your personal taste.
Looking now more into the technical aspects of this product we will find that it’s an AC3100 router which comes equipped with 8 Gigabit LAN ports, so there’s plenty of bandwidth to share around.
The software provided with the router comes in the form of a user-friendly web interface that hosts a whole range of various features and settings that can be tweaked in order to get the preferences you require. You can even configure this router via a mobile app which can be incredibly convenient if you are in the middle of a gaming session on your console and need to quickly open up a certain network port.
It also features an advanced software solution known as Asus AiProtection, which utilizes Trend Micro’s Smart Home Network solution, that helps to monitor and pick up any form of malware or virus that might be lurking. It also helps to block websites which are known for delivering malicious code to devices.
If there are children in the house then the Asus AiProtection also offers a wide range of parental controls that can aid in making sure the kids only stay on their devices for a certain amount of time.
You may be thinking by now that although it’s a fantastic router it’s going to be a massive pain to setup, however, the RT-AC88U is actually incredibly easy to setup thanks to the quick-setup wizard provided by Asus. Once you’ve connected the router to your internet connection and your PC to the router a console will appear which will ask if you would like to setup your router via a manual method or a wizard.
For the average everyday consumer we would always recommend the setup wizard as it gets you connected in no time whatsoever, however, that’s not to say if you had a fair amount of knowledge about networks and routers that you shouldn’t opt for the manual setup as it provides a large amount of customization.
At the end of the day, it is a great router that comes absolutely full to the brim with features, the design is questionable as we know some customers who don’t particular like it. The price tag is very high but you do get what you pay for.
If you have a household that frequently streams 4K video or has children who are obsessed with online video gaming then this is an essential purchase.
|Wireless Router||Linksys WRT 3200 ACM|
|Connectivity Interface||4 x Gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 x USB 3.0|
|Additional Features||Tri-Stream, Supports Open-Source Firmware, Supports MU-MIMO|
If you’re a fan of setting up complicated wireless networks and being able to configure your home network without any limits then the Linksys WRT 3200 ACM could be the choice for you.
This wireless router comes packing with the following hardware that helps to manage network traffic:
- 1.8GHz dual core CPU
- 512MB RAM
- 256MB Flash Memory
We wouldn’t typically recommend this device for anyone who has very little to no experience with regards to setting up a new router as this really does have quite a steep learning curve if you’re not too sure on what you’re doing.
One thing which is quite unique about this device is that you can use any firmware you like due to the fact that it’s open-source. One slight issue that you may face is signal strength, even with the protruding antennas located on this device you may still have to install signal extenders if you are planning to have coverage for your entire house.
The design is in a very similar situation to the Asus RT-AC88U in that it’s very bold and brass and will stand out in any room that you put it in.
The Linksys WRT 3200 ACM also features the ever popular MU-MIMO technology which allows a device to output data to various devices simultaneously opposed to SU-MIMO which stands for “Single User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output” which is used on a lot of standard routers and can only transfer data to one device at any time. This arguably makes it a strong contender for being the best wireless router for gaming and video streaming due to the amount of traffic it can handle without causing interruption in any one device.
It comes fully prepared with 4 Gigabit ethernet ports just in case you wish to hook your desktop up, there is a fifth Gigabit ethernet port located on this device but it’s used for connecting it to your modem.
If you are someone who needs to share files across your network then you can do so by making full use of the onboard USB 3.0 located on the Linksys WRT 3200 ACM.
This is yet another router which comes with a mobile app that allows you to configure various settings when you aren’t at a location where access to a computer is possible, this can be extremely useful when you are busy streaming a film on your Smart TV or playing a multiplayer game online on your video games console.
Overall we feel that for the tech geek in some of us, it’s like a dream come true and almost every aspect of your wireless network can be changed or modified in some way. Unfortunately, the biggest disadvantage which you may face is the signal strength that this router outputs which drops off very quickly as soon as you start putting walls between you and the device. It’s a real shame because we had such high hopes and were really wanting this to be the perfect all in one solution for every home.
|Wireless Router||Starry Station|
|Wireless Specification||802.11ac dual-band quad-stream|
|Connectivity Interface||2 x Gigabit Ethernet Ports (1 for connecting to your modem)|
|Additional Features||Settings can be Adjusted via a Mobile App, Instant Customer Support Available|
Moving in a complete polar opposite direction, we now look to a wireless router that has not been designed to provide maximum functionality or customization. In fact, the only thing that the manufacturer had on their mind was to make it incredibly simple to use and stylish so it could blend into any room, and it does both of those two things beautifully.
It’s not really that much to look at, it’s just a triangular white box that features a 3.8-inch LCD touchscreen that allows you to turn on some settings. The rated speed for this device is no more than what you would typically find with the stock router that an ISP would provide, however, saying that we did notice that the connection was incredibly stable for long periods of time which isn’t always the case with wireless routers that you would be provided with from your internet provider.
Another major bonus, for anyone that needs a hassle-free router, is the addition of instant customer support which is there when anything goes wrong or you just need some technical advice.
Installation is an absolute piece of cake as once you connect this device to your modem it will automatically begin to update until everything is setup ready for you to use, it really is a plug and play router!
The Starry mobile app is a welcome addition to an already fantastic product, it allows you to monitor the health of your network and troubleshoot any problems that may occur, you can even monitor who’s using your network and if need be stop them for a certain amount of time. It simply takes away the need to visit the world famous 192.168.1.1 every time you wish to make a few minor tweaks to your network.
There’s plenty of power in this small little device as it hosts two dual-core processors, one that manages network traffic and the other helps run the LCD display. You get 1.5GB of RAM and 8GB of Flash storage, this is for running the flashy interface and making sure that software updates have storage allocated storage space.
One slight downside to this wireless router is that it can at times get quite loud under load, normally we wouldn’t really ever comment on the noise a router makes because it’s generally accepted that they don’t. If you’re not the biggest fan of noticeable noise being generated by your router then we recommend placing it in a room that isn’t anywhere near your usual workspace.
Overall it’s a great device for anyone that wants a router with an easy setup and a steady connection when it really matters.
5. Netgear Orbi
|Wireless Router||Netgear Orbi|
|Connectivity Interface||3 x Gigabit Ethernet Ports, 1 x Gigabit WAN Port, 1 x USB 2.0 Port|
|Additional Features||Supports MU-MIMO, Uses Mesh Network System, IPv6 Compatible|
We’re beginning to see a trend now in what the best wireless routers of 2017 look like, so here’s another small white device that’s hoping it’s your next purchase that will unlock your house to the wonder of using a mesh network.
Very much like the Google Wi-Fi, the Netgear Orbi utilizes a mesh network in order to provide your house with a consistent wireless signal that has incredible coverage which can be expanded at a moments notice.
While it is relatively expensive you are buying into a new and upcoming technology that will see Wi-Fi revolutionized in the years to come. While the Google Wi-Fi requires three units to operate correctly, the Netgear Orbi comes in packs of 2 (1 being the router and the other a satellite to boost the signal across your property).
While the setup is relatively simple, we found that it was just slightly more complex than the Google alternative but still very beginner friendly.
How to set up the Netgear Orbi
- Plug the router into a spare socket anywhere in your house (with any expensive electrical appliance we always recommend using a surge protector)
- Plug the router into your modem via an Ethernet cable
- Plug the satellite into another spare socket located in a different room to your router
- Press the Sync button on both devices and they will wirelessly start communicating with each other
- Finally, create a password and SSID (Service Set Identifier) for your network and you are good to go
It’s always promising to see a MU-MIMO capable mesh network router on the market as it incorporates the latest high-end technologies that we would love to see more households utilize. We would even go as far to say that this is a very good wireless router for a business to make use of.
While it may not look like much of a customizable device, you would be surprised as to how much is actually configurable and so it’s not only ideal for beginners but expert network tweakers will also have some fun with this device.
Unlike the Google Wi-Fi which is limited to a speed rating of AC1200, the Netgear Orbi is actually an AC3000 router. So not only can it provide fantastic coverage across large areas but it also backs this up with incredible wireless speeds for compatible devices.
Looking around the back of this wireless router you will find three Gigabit LAN ports, 1 WAN port, a USB 2.0 port, the Sync button as mentioned earlier and finally the industry standard Power and Reset Buttons. You are left with plenty of connectivity if you decide to start connecting various devices through Ethernet cables.
In summary, the Netgear Orbi excels in what it’s been designed to do which is provide fast wireless speeds over large areas. It’s an easy to install wireless router which also comes ready with the latest industry technologies such as MU-MIMO and the utilization of a mesh network system.
|Wireless Router||Netgear Nighthawk R7000|
|Connectivity Interface||4 x Gigabit Ethernet Ports, 1 x Gigabit WAN Port, 1 x USB 3.0 Port|
|Additional Features||Can Transform into a VPN, NAS Capable, Comes with Mobile App|
Coming straight out of Netgear’s factory is their latest offering, the Nighthawk R7000. This dual-band wireless router comes in packing a very respectable wireless speed rating of AC1900 (1,300 Mbps spread across the 5 GHz signal and 600 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz signal).
One of the most striking elements that this wireless router has to offer is its design which is quite frankly something out of a sci-fi movie. The solid black finish is then complimented by an array of antennas that make it look like it’s powerful enough to pick up satellite signals from the moon.
Moving back to the specs side of things you will find that this router has 128 MB of onboard flash memory which is accompanied by 256 MB of RAM, this is an adequate amount to store various firmware updates and that’s easily enough RAM to handle data transfers across the wireless network.
On the front panel of the Netgear Nighthawk R7000, you will find 1 x USB 3.0 port which can be used to transfer files quickly and very easily over your network. The back panel features 1 x 2.0 USB port for the same job but just in case you needed to connect more than 1 device to the router.
You might be thinking it’s strange to have one USB port on the front and one on the back but it’s actually rather clever, the USB 3.0 port was placed on the back of the Nighthawk R7000 to ensure that it wouldn’t interfere with the 2.4GHz signal.
Moving back to the rear panel of the Nighthawk R7000 you will find 4 x Gigabit LAN ports, 1 x Gigabit WAN port and then once again the industry standard power and reset buttons.
Installation and setup is simple and if you ever do get stuck or have no clue as to how a wireless router is setup then you can always refer to the installation guide which features a very helpful and informative step by step procedure.
If you are in a large property where access to the wireless router is going to be an issue then you can always download the Genie mobile app to configure settings on the router when it’s not in your reach.
While it’s not necessarily the fastest 802.11ac device we’ve tested, it’s still our winner and the best wireless router for under $200 you will currently find on the market.
A great additional feature that many techies will love to utilize is the full VPN capability that’s present on the Nighthawk R7000, that means you can set up this wireless router for VPN access to your home when you are on holiday on the off chance you desperately need to access a file on your PC.
|Wireless Router||D-Link AC3200 (DIR-809L/R)|
|Connectivity Interface||4 x Gigabit Ethernet Ports|
|Additional Features||Supports NAS|
Now we are into some serious wireless performance on the range and speed front all in one crazy looking red package that is the tri-band D-Link DIR-890L/R.
Let’s start off with the wireless speed rating of this router which comes in at a whopping AC3200 which means you’ve got 600 Mbps shared across the 2.4 GHz signal and 2,600 Mbps across the two 5 GHz bands, that’s some serious bandwidth!
The setup for this complex looking router was actually pain-free, once you’ve connected it up to your existing router, power socket and have logged into the web interface you will be greeted by a minimalistic design that aims to provide a hassle-free setup for all users.
Making changes, once the wireless router has been setup, is also incredibly simple as the majority of settings you will ever need can be found on the home page of the web client.
Although you are presented with some of the highest throughput wireless speeds that we have seen on our list of best wireless routers 2017, you will be paying upwards of $300 for this technology. That amount of money might not be an issue for customers who want the fastest wireless router on the market but will most likely be a dealbreaker for others.
The only performance factor that is lacking really in the DIR-890L is the file transfer speed which we would classify as mediocre and not really up to the standard we would expect to see from such an expensive router.
One small issue which might be of concern to some customers is you can’t remove the antennas off the DIR-890L/R, however, considering this is a strong contender for the best wireless router for a business we are happy to dismiss that disadvantage.
The connectivity featured on this wireless router is somewhat limited as you are only provided with a total of 4 Gigabit LAN ports, for most users this will be enough but we would have liked to seen something along the lines of 8 for the price and size of this device.
Another great feature of this device is that it can actually be transformed into NAS (network attached storage) with the simple addition of an external hard drive of any size.
In summary, it’s an incredibly impressive router that has high throughput speeds in all of our tests and has exceptional wireless coverage that will suit most households and even some commercial ones.
8. TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 (Best Router for Under $100)
|Wireless Router||TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750|
|Connectivity Interface||4 x Gigabit Ethernet Ports, 2 x USB 2.0 Ports, 1 x Gigabit WAN Port|
|Additional Features||Supports NAS Technology, IPv6 Compatible|
Yes we get it, the name of this router isn’t particularly appealing with how many numbers have been mixed into the title but fear not because the router itself is actually pretty simple and darn good.
While it isn’t the highest download speed rated device on our list it’s not necessarily an issue as this is the best wireless router for under $100 currently on the market. Saying that during our throughput test it actually scored admirably and we were impressed with the overall performance of this device.
Many techies will be pleased to hear that this router does provide NAS (Network-Attached Storage) and printer support via either one of the 2 x USB 2.0 ports located on the device. Speaking of connectivity you will also find that there are 4 x Gigabit LAN ports plus an additional Gigabit WAN port, this has become a recent typical setup that you would find on many new wireless routers.
As the TP-Link Archer is rated at a speed of AC1750 you will find that the 2.4 GHz signal can provide you with a wireless speed of up to 450 Mbps and the 5 GHz radio can reach up to a total of 13 Mbps.
The TP-Link Archer can even provide you with a guest network and is fully IPv6 compatible and ready to use. The firmware provided with the device is user-friendly and everything will feel familiar to other interfaces you will have used before.
However, if you are truly a beginner at setting up a router then fear not as a setup CD is provided for this purpose and only takes a few minutes to set up.
We’ve started to notice a trend with a lot of these routers and that is, they all have these external antennas which for us is pretty cool as we like the idea of going back in time when things were big and bold. However, if you are someone who likes to have a minimalistic interior design then this router will not be for you as it will stick out quite evidently.
Our only criticism is that the wireless speed at times felt a bit inconsistent, however, this was not to the point that it was unusable but more of a case that there was the occasional blip in the AC speed.
The best way to summarize this wireless router is to ask you the question “Do you want a cheap wireless router that has all of the main features of a high-end price router?”, if the answer is yes then the TP-Link Archer is the right buy for you.
9. Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 (Best Wireless Router for Gaming)
|Wireless Router||Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600|
|Connectivity Interface||4 x Gigabit Ethernet Ports, 1 x USB 2.0 Port, 1 x USB 3.0 Port, 1 x Gigabit WAN Port|
|Additional Features||Features StreamBoost for intelligent internet traffic analysis, IPv6 Compatible, Supports MU-MIMO Technology|
Let’s now take a step back from routers that were designed for everyday tasks and now move our attention to the best wireless router for gaming which is the Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600.
Starting off with the design we feel that every gamer will love the ‘Alienware’ style aesthetics that make this router look like its come from the future to provide you with an amazing online gaming experience. As you may have expected the antennas are not removable so will need to have their own dedicated space wherever you decide to place this router.
Going into the specifications it features a rather powerful dual-core 1.7 GHz processor which is backed up by a healthy 512 MB of RAM to help deal with data transfers across your network and to ensure that the operation is handled smoothly.
Moving onto the actual speed of the router, it has been rated at AC2600 which means that there will be a theoretical maximum speed of 800 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz signal and a potential 1,733 Mbps on the 5 GHz signal.
Making modifications to the settings of the Zyxel Armor can be done in a couple of seconds via the web interface due to the impressive internal hardware that powers this wireless gaming router.
The main difference between this router and others for gaming is that it features a piece of software, known as StreamBoost, that specifically calculates which tasks running on the network demand higher bandwidth and will allocate the appropriate amount required which is why it also makes for the best wireless router for streaming.
As you would have expected, for a router that’s designed to handle communication with multiple devices at any one given time, it is MU-MIMO compatible which allows it to utilize StremBoost even more efficiently.
Looking now more to the connectivity side, you will find that there are 4 x Gigabit ethernet ports, 1 x WAN port, 1 x USB 3.0 port and 1x USB 2.0 port located on this router and of course the industry standard power and reset buttons.
Setup is relatively straight forward and standard practice when it comes to wireless routers, the user-friendly web interface pops up with a bubble map of different options which you can tweak on the router. If you like to tinker and make your router customized then you can always enable the expert mode which allows you access to more advanced features such as the Live Network Monitor and the Usage Monitor that both show detailed graphs of how the network has been utilized over any given period of time.
In summary, it’s a well-built device that acts as the best wireless router for gaming on our list. The only downside we can see with this router is that there are currently very few devices which can actually make use of the inbuilt quad-stream 802.11ac that this router has, also the USB port speeds, when tested, didn’t seem to provide a high rate of data transfer.
|Wireless Router||Synology Router RT1900AC|
|Wireless Specification||802.11 b/g/n|
|Connectivity Interface||4 x Gigabit Ethernet Ports, 1 x USB 3.0 Port, 1 x Gigabit WAN Port, SD Card Reader|
If you are well aware of the brand Synology then you will know straight away that they are famous for manufacturing and providing high-quality NAS drives. However, the company has been expanding into the wireless router market and their latest offering the Synology RT1900AC aims to shake things up a bit.
Starting off speed, you will notice that this router has been labeled with a 1900AC next to it which means that its theoretical maximum speed output is indeed 1,900 Mbps. This top speed is, of course, split down both wireless signals with 600 Mbps going to the 2.4 GHz signal and 1,300 Mbps going to the 5 GHz radio. You will of course almost never reach these theoretical maximum speeds but nevertheless, it’s an impressive start for a budget friendly router.
Very much like a large number of other wireless routers on out top 10 list we find that the Synology RT1900AC comes packing with three noticeable antennas, although it’s a rather compact router we would still not recommend it for anyone looking to keep their minimalist interior design.
On the connectivity front, we find that there is 1 x USB 3.0 port located on the right panel of the RT1900AC along with a conveniently placed SD card reader which allows for onboard storage which is used to have media playback across the network. On the left-hand side of the router, we find a WPS button that allows devices to connect via this technology. On the back panel, you will find 4 x Gigabit Ethernet ports.
The Synology RT1900AC is powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor and features 256 MB of DDR3 RAM, this is more than enough to handle the firmware present and at the same time manage the data transfer across your network.
Our only two complaints with this wireless router is that the 2.5 GHz signal could do with a greater coverage as it doesn’t seem to be fantastic and file-transfer speed seems to be very mediocre and could do with an upgrade, this surprised us the most especially since this router has come from a company that specialises in NAS technology.
Overall it’s a very solid performing router that will meet and surpass all of your requirements for everyday use, for users looking to get into some seriously technical networking then we would recommend another router off our top 10 list.
A Beginners Guide to Wireless Routers
While our top 10 wireless routers may scare the technophobe inside of you please be assured that we are here to explain all of the terminology you might come across in this post plus answer the question “How does a router work?”.
What is a router?
A router in its simplest form is a device that has been created in order to manage and direct data across various devices that are connected to the network at the time. So the responsibility of it is to transfer data that you pass through your network and then relay that to other networks across the globe.
Now that we have covered how a router works, here’s our simple to follow glossary that should allow you to make more sense of this top 10 routers list.
A network switch is a device that essentially allows you to create a network which then a router can join. This also allows you to connect computer devices to the network created via the router.
Wireless Access Point
A wireless access point is a device that allows any other device, which is fully Wi-Fi compliant, to attach itself to a wired network where access would only usually be acquired through the use of an ethernet cable.
What about all of the different types wireless router types you keep seeing in the list?
Dual Band Routers
These are the most common type of router and are quite simple to understand, the reason for the name dual-band is simply because this type of wireless router uses two different frequencies to transmit data. The first is 2.4 Ghz and the other more popular frequency is 5 GHz, both of these frequencies have their own specific use but we would always recommend using the 5 Ghz frequency.
What are the benefits of using 5Ghz wireless frequency?
- Bluetooth and other wireless devices won’t interfere with this frequency, microwaves also won’t be affecting you at this level
- A stronger signal will generally mean you will be provided with faster internet speeds from your router, as long as your device is capable of accepting 5Ghz signals
- 5 Ghz travels less distance than 2.4 Ghz which means you will generally encounter less noise from other networks
This is a much newer technology and has been picking up a large amount of traction over the last few years, while it doesn’t offer a new wireless frequency to play with you are provided with 2, 5 GHz bands and one 2.4 GHz band.
The primary benefit of having that extra 5 GHz signal is that it allows for your router to handle even more traffic coming into it, so instead of throwing all wireless data through one 5 GHz signal it can split the workload and prevent any data collisions that could slow down your wireless experience.
It’s worth noting that you can’t actually get higher speeds from a router just because it’s tri-band over dual-band but it will allow more devices to be on the network with an adequate amount of bandwidth.
What about different speed ratings for routers?
As you might have guessed when companies start placing numbers in the model name of a product it’s generally quite important. N600 routers are no different and the number 600 actually represents the total combined speed of both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless signals. Generally speaking, you will find that a lot of older routers will be N600 as it’s nothing special with today’s technology. If you are on a budget and need something that’s cheap and cheerful then an N600 router might be the right way for you to go, however, with today’s internet infrastructure this type of router is not suitable for a modern fiber optic internet.
We won’t go into much detail about these as they are essentially the same as a N600 wireless router apart from the fact they are rated at a total speed of 900 Mbps instead of 600. This figure is again evenly divided across both the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz wireless bands.
Just like the name says an AC1750 router offers a total speed of 1750Mbps, this is obviously split between the two frequency bands of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. 450 Mbps goes towards the 2.4GHZ frequency and 1300 Mbps goes in the 5 GHz wireless channel.
AC1900 routers are essentially the same as AC1750, but instead they offer a maximum speed of 1950 Mbps with 600 Mbps running through the 2.4 GHz frequency and 1300 Mbps going through the 5 GHz.
AC2600 Routers will generally split a theoretical maximum of 2,600 Mbps by sending 800 Mbps across the 2.4 Ghz radio and 1,733 Mbps across the 5 GHz band.
I’m guessing you are starting to see now how these ratings work, well you guessed it AC3200 routers have a total max speed of 3200 Mbps. Typically speaking this will only be seen on tri-band routers and the speed is split with 600 Mbps going to the 2.4 GHz channel and 2600 Mbps being split across the two 5 GHz channels.
While this is typically not a very popular type of router, quite frankly because hardly any device can handle it currently, we thought to educate you on it. As you may have guessed already AC5300 routers can offer a maximum speed of 5300 Mbps (5.3 Gbps).
Although we can advise you as to which the best wireless router is, it’s genuinely going to come down to your needs and what your household wants from the router. Please make sure to use our top 10 wireless routers list as a reference point only and make sure to always look through other reviews and find out what product is best for you.
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