Best Wi-Fi Routers for 2023 Buying Guide
Your internet speeds may be slowed if your router is more than a few years old.
We put the major brands to the test in order to help you pick the best one.
Is it really necessary to get a new WiFi router?
If your WiFi has been sluggish or if you have any “WiFi dead zones” in your house, it’s time to upgrade your router.
However, your maximum WiFi speeds are ultimately controlled by your ISP (internet service provider), so simply purchasing a new router may not result in much better WiFi.
While it may be handy to utilize the router provided by your ISP, they are typically slower and less expensive, and hence lack the functionality of newer ones.
Furthermore, most routers need a monthly leasing cost from your ISP, so purchasing your own might save you money in the long term.
Both your router and your ISP (for example, Comcast, Xfinity, or Spectrum) supply a fixed amount of “bandwidth,” which is essentially the maximum WiFi speeds you can obtain from all of your connected devices at the same time.
Consider your router and ISP to be two interconnected water pipelines. If one of the pipes is larger, expanding it will not allow additional water to flow through.
So, before you buy a new WiFi router, you should determine whether the bottleneck is your router or your ISP.
We can help you if you’d rather save the effort and have a professional set up your WiFi network for you.
Simply schedule WiFi installation service, and a local specialist will visit to your home as soon as today to establish your WiFi network.
Perform a WiFi Speed Test Before Purchasing a New Router
To determine whether you truly require a new router, just run a WiFi speed test.
If the results suggest that you’re not getting close to the download speeds you’re paying for, it’s possible that your router is the bottleneck.
In such situation, purchasing a new router may greatly enhance your WiFi speeds.
The most important thing to pay attention to in a WiFi test is the download speed, which tells you how fast you can receive data from the internet.
To put your results into perspective, the average download speed in the US is currently around 170Mbps (megabits per second), according to Ookla.
If, on the other hand, you perform a WiFi speed test and your download rates are comparable to your ISP capacity, your router may not be the issue.
If you wish to speed up your WiFi, you might consider upgrading your internet subscription.
However, it is crucial to note that the most recent routers will have improved security and will allow you to connect more devices at once.
Even if you don’t update your plan, purchasing a new WiFi router may boost your WiFi network.
What to Look for When Purchasing a Wireless Router
There are only three things to check for when purchasing a new WiFi router.
You must first determine whether you want a classic stand-alone router or a mesh WiFi setup.
Then seek out a dual-band or tri-band router that supports WiFi 5, WiFi 6, or WiFi 6E.
Traditional Router Vs Mesh WiFi System
WiFi routers broadcast and receive data through radio waves. With a typical router, the radio signal weakens as you grow further away.
A mesh WiFi system, on the other hand, allows you to employ extra devices known as “satellites” to expand your WiFi signal to any room in your home.
Should You Get a Regular Router or a Mesh WiFi System?
A standard router is usually all you need if you reside in a tiny flat under 1,500 square feet. However, if you have a bigger home or your WiFi signal must go across many walls and floors, you should consider a mesh system instead.
Because a mesh system can wirelessly link to its satellites, you may place these devices in any room and rapidly improve your WiFi signal.
Most mesh systems allow you to add as many satellites as you need to cover your whole house WiFi network, regardless of size.
If you live in a small apartment under 1,500 square feet, a regular router is generally all you need. However, if you have a larger home or your WiFi signal must go across many walls and floors, you might consider a mesh system.
Because a mesh system can wirelessly connect to its satellites, you may deploy these devices in any area to increase your WiFi signal quickly.
Most mesh systems let you to add as many satellites as you need to cover your entire house WiFi network, no matter how large it is.
|Google Nest WiFi Router and 2 Points|
|eero Pro 6e Mesh WiFi 3-Pack|
What is a Dual-Band Router?
WiFi is divided into “frequency bands,” which function similarly to various motorways.
Because it is the oldest and smallest band, the 2.4GHz (gigahertz) frequency has grown congested and sluggish. Because the 5GHz spectrum is newer and bigger, it is more quicker.
A dual-band router allows you to connect devices to both of these bands at the same time.
In reality, most dual-band routers will generate a distinct WiFi network for each frequency these days.
When you purchase a dual-band router, you will be able to connect all of your low-bandwidth devices (such as your smart thermostat and baby monitors) to the 2.4GHz network.
This frees up capacity on the 5GHz network for higher-bandwidth devices (such as your PC and smart TV).
However, there are additional benefits to purchasing a dual-band WiFi router. Because the 2.4GHz network is older, it is compatible with the majority of devices. Furthermore, it has a far longer range than the other bands, making it ideal for linking video doorbells and smart cameras in the yard.
What is a Tri-Band Router?
A tri-band router allows you to connect to three different WiFi frequency bands at the same time.
Some tri-band routers will generate two separate 5GHz networks, while the most recent ones will provide access to the brand-new 6GHz band, which is larger and quicker than both of the previous bands combined.
If the 2.4GHz band is like a three-lane highway with heavy traffic, and the 5GHz network is like a 25-lane highway with moderate traffic, the 6GHz band is like a brand-new 59-lane highway with absolutely no traffic at all.
However, part of the reason the 6GHz band is so fast is that there aren’t many gadgets that function on the frequency right now.
Right present, the only devices that can use the 6GHz band are a handful of the most recent cellphones, laptops, and mesh WiFi systems.
Should You Purchase a Dual-Band or a Tri-Band Router?
If you’re looking for a classic router, a dual-band device should suffice. However, if you want a mesh WiFi system or a dedicated channel for gaming or other crucial devices, a tri-band model is a better option.
Many older tri-band routers contain a single 2.4GHz channel and two separate 5GHz bands. This enables you to devote a single 5GHz band to a single gaming console, work computer, or other device.
Then you’ll have a slow lane, a fast lane, and a super-quick lane for your most crucial gadgets.
The majority of mesh WiFi systems will use one available band as a “wireless backhaul channel” to interact with their satellites.
This means you won’t be able to connect your devices to that band, but the wireless connection between the router and satellites will be stronger.
When purchasing a mesh router, search for a tri-band model. This way, you receive the advantages of a dual-band router as well as a more consistent WiFi signal across your home.
We recommend purchasing a mesh system that supports the newest WiFi 6E standard, since this allows you to use the 6GHz band as a completely distinct backhaul channel.
There are also quad-band routers with a 2.4GHz band, two 5GHz bands, and a 6GHz band.
This gives you the most control over your WiFi network, especially if you locate a mesh WiFi system that allows you to select which band to utilize for wireless backhaul.
If you merely want to expand your WiFi signal to another room, WiFi extenders are an option. These little gadgets may also be installed in any area to extend your range.
What exactly are WiFi Standards?
WiFi, like all other technology, has evolved over time and continues to improve every few years. Newer WiFi versions are quicker, safer, and have more functions.
If you’re looking for a new router, you should only consider products that support WiFi 5, WiFi 6, or WiFi 6E standards.
Which WiFi Standard Is Better for You: WiFi 5 or WiFi 6?
WiFi 5 (also known as 802.11ac or AC) was introduced in 2014, yet it is still fast and secure for the majority of users.
WiFi 6 (also known as 802.11ax, or AX) was announced in 2019 and is faster, more secure, and can connect more devices at the same time without slowing any of them down.
WiFi 5 vs WiFi 6: Speed
WiFi 6 routers have a maximum speed of 9.6Gbps, whereas WiFi 5 routers have a maximum speed of 6.9Gbps.
However, these are “theoretical maximum speeds,” which you will never achieve. However, WiFi 6 includes other technologies that improve device performance, such as MU-MIMO, OFDMA, and beamforming.
When purchasing a new router, check at the device’s name to determine the maximum WiFi speed.
The Asus RT-AX82U AX5400, for example, has a maximum speed of 5,400Mbps (or 4.5Gbps), whereas the Netgear Nighthawk AXE7300 has a maximum speed of 7,300Mbps (or 7.3 Gbps).
What Is MU-MIMO?
WiFi 5 and WiFi 6 both have MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, multiple output) technology, which allows routers to connect to numerous devices at the same time rather than one after the other.
The difference is that WiFi 5 only allows you to connect to four devices at once, whereas WiFi 6 allows you to connect to up to eight.
This technology is ideal for high-bandwidth devices such as smart TVs and laptops since it lets them to all be linked at the same time without slowing down any of them.
What Is OFDMA?
One reason WiFi 6 is quicker than WiFi 5 is due to a technique known as OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division numerous Access), which allows routers to send data packets to numerous devices in a single transmission.
If you think of WiFi 5 as a delivery truck, it can only deliver one package to one location at a time. However, because to OFDMA, WiFi 6 may simultaneously send numerous payloads to various devices.
This approach is better suited to low-bandwidth devices such as smart cameras. So, even if your internet connection is poor, a WiFi 6 router with OFDMA might make your devices feel quicker.
What Is Beamforming?
Beamforming was first implemented in WiFi 5, however it was much enhanced in WiFi 6.
Essentially, this technology lets your router to target a WiFi signal towards your devices rather than in all directions at the same time.
Beamforming strengthens your WiFi signal, reducing interference from other devices and the surroundings.
The difference is that WiFi 5 can only send your signal to four devices at once, but WiFi 6 can send it to eight.
When purchasing a WiFi 5 or WiFi 6 router, look for these characteristics because they are not all required and may not be accessible with some models.
WiFi 5 vs. WiFi 6: Safety
WPA (WiFi Protected Access) and WPA2 security protocols are supported by WiFi 5 routers, whereas WPA3 is supported by WiFi 6 routers.
This new security protocol was recently designed to make your WiFi network more convenient and safe.
WPA2 has been around for over two decades and is no longer as secure as it once was.
WPA3 provides greater data encryption and improved security against thieves attempting to guess your passwords.
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Optimal Wake Time
WiFi 6 will even extend the life of your electronics. Devices that have been inactive for an extended length of time will be deemed “asleep,” and can be turned off, thanks to a feature called Target Wake Time (TWT).
This makes WiFi 6 ideal for modern homes, since you will no longer need to charge the batteries in your video doorbell, smart cameras, and other smart devices as frequently.
In contrast to WiFi 5, which needs devices to be turned on and “waiting” to send or receive data even when not in use.
What Is WiFi 6E?
WiFi 6E (also known as AXE) is a WiFi 6 standard extension that also allows you access to the new 6GHz frequency range.
Other routers will not be able to access the 6GHz band until the next-generation WiFi 7 routers are available in the future years.
Should You Get a WiFi 5, 6, or 6E Router?
WiFi 5 should be plenty if you purchase a standard router. However, if you have a large number of devices, you should opt for a WiFi 6 router to provide the quickest and most secure network.
A WiFi 6E router will provide the quickest and strongest signal across your home if you purchase a mesh WiFi system.
There isn’t much need to buy a standard router that supports WiFi 6E right now. However, when more devices begin to use the frequency spectrum, it will become increasingly beneficial.
Soon, its ultra-wide lanes will be available for 8K video streaming, VR gaming, and other high-bandwidth activities.
What is the optimal number of Ethernet ports for your next router?
On the back of any WiFi router, there are two types of Ethernet connections: WAN (wide area network) ports that link to your modem and LAN (local area network) ports that connect to your devices.
When purchasing a new router, ensure that it has at least four LAN ports with adequate bandwidth capacity.
When you connect your video gaming consoles, PCs, and smart TVs to your router directly using an Ethernet cable, they have the quickest and most reliable connection available.
Best Wi-Fi Router
Wi-Fi Speed up to 5400 Mbps, USB 3.0 Port, 1.7 GHz Quad-Core CPU, with OneMesh and HomeShield, Compatible with Alexa (Archer AXE75) Black
MR7500 Tri-Band WiFi Mesh Router AXE 6600 – Mesh WiFi Router For Wireless Internet – WiFi For The Home, Work, And Guest House – Connect 55+ Devices, 2,700 Sq Ft
6 GHz | AI-Driven Mesh | Beamforming | MU-MIMO OFDMA | 6 Streams | 1.7 GHz Quad-Core CPU
2.5G Port, Gaming Port, Mobile Game Mode, Port Forwarding, Subscription-Free Network Security, VPN, AiMesh Compatible
Netgear Orbi Larger Whole Home Dual Band Mesh WiFi 6 System (RBK353) Router with 2 Satellite Extenders | Coverage up to 4,000 sq. ft. and 30+ Devices | AX1800 WiFi 6 (Up to 1.8Gbps, Dual_Band)
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a dual-band or tri-band router for my home network?
- The choice between dual-band and tri-band routers depends on the number of devices you have and your bandwidth requirements. If you have numerous devices connected simultaneously and need high-speed performance, a tri-band router may be more suitable.
What is MU-MIMO technology, and how does it benefit me?
- MU-MIMO stands for Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output. It allows the router to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously, improving overall network efficiency and reducing lag when multiple devices are in use.
Can I set up a guest network on my WiFi router?
- Yes, most modern WiFi routers offer guest network features that allow you to create a separate network for visitors. This ensures that your main network remains secure and private.
How often should I update my router’s firmware?
- It’s essential to keep your router’s firmware up to date to ensure security and performance improvements. Check for updates at least once every few months or as recommended by the manufacturer.
What is a mesh WiFi system, and is it better than a traditional router?
- A mesh WiFi system consists of multiple devices that work together to create a seamless WiFi network with extended coverage. It is particularly useful for large homes or spaces with connectivity issues. However, traditional routers are more budget-friendly and still suitable for many households.
With this WiFi router buying guide, you are now equipped with the knowledge needed to make the right choice for your internet needs. Remember to consider factors like internet usage, coverage area, security features, and budget to find the perfect WiFi router that will keep you connected and satisfied for years to come. Happy browsing!