Your internet router is one of those pieces of equipment that you don’t think about until it demands your attention. And if you’re reading this, we hope that it is working well. However, this might not be the case, and you might need a replacement. Alternatively, you might be seeking to no longer rent your modem and router from your ISP, and are looking for the best replacement. You need something that won’t limit your internet, be able to provide coverage to your entire home and remain reliable.
Therefore, as you might expect, finding the perfect match might not be easy on your own. Fortunately, we’re here to help. Here are five of the best routers for 2023, one for each category:
1. Best All-Around Router: ASUS AC3100
Some routers are more specialized than others, and that can be great for those who want those customers. Yet you will want to look at the ASUS AC3100 if you want the best example of a router that can do it all. While marketed as something of a performance router, we think it fits better into the all-around category and is still priced accordingly, all the while providing service and performance that are highly competitive.
With a combined dual-band data speed of 3167 Mbps, you will be able to download, upload, and constantly stream whatever you would like without issue. And combine this with the four ethernet ports, a USB 2.0 port, and a USB 3.0 port and you’ll be able to make all the connections you’d like in your home. You may also wish to use the ASUS router app with it to fine-tune performance and check that everything is working perfectly.
However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t excellent for performance and gaming uses. The router is dedicated to reducing lag and ping times, even by a few milliseconds, and you will notice the difference when compared to other routers, especially if you have a great internet plan (we can help with that).
The ASUS AC3100 is a perfect middle-of-the-road choice that still does not compromise on the quality of its connection or its features. We would recommend it for most homes that do not have specialized needs.
- It has all the features and specifications that the average household will want from a router.
- Amazing performance for streaming, gaming, or anything that requires high speeds and low ping.
- Plenty of options for connections for busy homes filled to the brim with devices.
- It might have features or aspects to it that you will rarely or never use, effectively resulting in waste.
- It can be expensive for a router and take a few years to save the amount you would spend on renting equipment from your ISP.
- You may want something simpler for your home if you only have a few devices in it.
- People who do not want to worry too much about finding the perfect router and want something that will satisfy the needs of most homes.
- People looking for a router that is easy to use and has plenty of extra features and options to work with.
- People who want to get the most out of their internet service plan without completely breaking the bank.
2. Best Performance Router: ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300
The first router above is an excellent choice for most homes, but sometimes you need to go one step further. You might have the best possible internet service, and you will want to use it to the fullest, lest you waste the hundreds of dollars extra you spend each year on it. For people with this concern, we recommend the ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300, a router that is truly built for gamers and power users and will not quit no matter what tasks and demands you place on it.
You can expect a data transfer rate of up to 5334 Mb per second from this tri-band router. For those who want a mix between speed and security, you will want to look more into their VPN Fusion features, allowing you to somewhat get the best of both worlds. That is not to say that the router’s default cybersecurity features aren’t great; you can trust that it will help defend you from external attacks.
In terms of additional ports and options, the router has two USB 3.0 ports for ultra-fast transfers and an astounding 8 Gigabit LAN ports to work with. You can hold a LAN party on this device alone, and then connect that LAN party to somewhere halfway across the world. It has a 1.8 GHz 64bit Quad-Core processor inside of it as well, which is honestly better than you might find in some laptops. It can be expensive at about $300 as of this writing, but it is great value for what you are getting.
- Some of the best speeds, both wireless and wired, are available from a router meant for the average consumer.
- A long-range that should be more than enough for most homes.
- Options to prioritize certain traffic, which is great for people who cannot stand any slowdowns or interruptions.
- This router is not cheap and will not be a light purchase for many. It may not be worth it unless you have an excellent internet service plan at the moment.
- You might not use all of what it has to offer.
- If you are looking specifically for a router for gaming, this will do the trick, but there are more specialized options.
- Larger households looking for an excellent router with both a large range and fantastic download speeds.
- Households that want a router that will serve them well for years to come.
- People that have a high-speed internet connection and want to make the most of it. People who have a connection that other routers cannot handle.
3. Best Budget Router: Linksys EA6350 AC1200+ Dual-Band Smart Wireless Router
While our first two recommendations are fantastic for most homes, some people just want to stick with the basics and need something simple. Those people will likely want the Linksys EA6350 AC1200 Dual Band Smart Wireless Router, which is a basic yet effective router that can provide speeds of up to 1.2 Gbps (more than what most internet plans can offer). It covers up to 1,000 sq. ft, making it an adequate choice for people who are looking for a router for a small apartment. It can handle about 10 devices at once, which is good for one or two people, albeit not good for smart homes, and has surprisingly high four-gigabit ethernet ports. If you are someone who likes a direct connection to their main setup, this is the budget router for you.
Other features include a USB port, beamforming technology that allows it to focus on devices, and simultaneous dual-band support. It might not have everything the advanced routers do, but it does have the basic features you will get along fine with.
The router currently costs about $80-100 depending on where you are shopping, which is only a third of the cost of performance routers and less still than the top of the market. There is money to be saved if you don’t need the best router on the market, and you can save even more if you are using this instead of renting a router from your ISP.
- A fantastic value for anyone simply looking for a router.
- It is easy to connect, use, and set up compared to many other routers.
- While inexpensive, this router is known for its reliability, lasting for years. You are more likely to replace it out of desire than necessity.
- It may not be able to reach the speeds that you want if you have a high-end internet connection.
- The range is lacking compared to many other routers, even budget options.
- It can only handle about 10 devices simultaneously, making it not the best choice for larger families or smart homes.
- Households that only use the internet on a basic level and do not have the best internet service to begin with.
- Households that are looking for a router to hold them over for a time or a backup router.
- People looking for a router that won’t cost much but will still last them a few years.
4. Best Mesh Router: Google Nest WiFi
Yet a mesh internet setup is not a simple choice, and you can find yourself regretting it if you overspend on such a system. Unless you know you want a mesh router, you’re probably better off with one of the other options here. They can still provide excellent coverage and range, and often they are what make smart homes as reliable and effective as they are. Some would profess they are the future, but in truth, we might just see elements of mesh setups in all future setups. Regardless, they are an interesting topic, if not one you may want for your apartment or small home.
However, for those still interested in a mesh setup, you will want to consider Google Nest first. In truth, Google Nest is so much more than a router, it is effectively an entire internet setup for your home, complete with a smart speaker. Other mesh setups can provide better speeds and longer ranges, but they can also be prohibitively expensive and much harder to use. You might want to look into the best mesh WiFi system alternatives if Google Nest doesn’t look like it’ll be enough for you, but we think it’s a great average or entry-level option for this technology.
Yet what can Google Nest do? It has WiFi coverage starting at 2200 sq ft and going up to 5400 sq ft with two extra points, a max speed of 2.2 Gbps, and 2 ethernet ports per router, and you can modify the setup easily to make sure you have coverage throughout your entire home. And the voice assistant features from Google via the main node allow you to issue commands without having to start up a device.
Note that a mesh setup, complete with a smart home hub, is something that isn’t for everyone. Furthermore, depending on what devices you have in your home and your preferences, the best mesh router can change quite rapidly. We chose Google Nest as the overall best due to its functionality, cost-effectiveness, and extra features. If people are much more connected to Amazon or another company that offers a mesh or smart speaker solution, they may want to do more research.
- You can get coverage throughout your home no matter how large it is.
- You have more functionality than nearly every other router given that Google Nest works as a smart speaker.
- Compared to other mesh setups it is incredibly easy to set up, use, and master.
- Google Nest starts out rather expensive and can get more expensive depending on the number of extra nodes you want to add.
- You will be required to connect with various Google services and accounts to get the most out of Google Nest.
- It is not as powerful as some of the more expensive and advanced mesh setups on the market.
- Households that are already enmeshed with the Google infrastructure.
- Very large homes that none of the other routers listed in this article would be able to cover on their own.
- A household that wants a relatively affordable option that they can expand upon in the future.
5. Best WiFi: 6E Router Netgear Nighthawk Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6E Router RAXE500
Sometimes you want a standard router because you have a standard home, and other times you will find that you need something a little special. You may just be interested in tech and want to try out something different. At other times you might want to feel like you’re on the cutting edge, or perhaps even have a use case for the cutting edge. And with the more recent WiFi 6E routers that are just coming out, those people have something to look at and possibly get. It allows for much faster speeds and better connections. And we think the best example of it currently on the market is the Netgear Nighthawk Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6E Router RAXE500.
The RAXE500 looks great right off the bat, with an unfolding design featuring two wings that each have four internal antennas. It can produce WiFi speeds of 10.8Gbps, which is more than most businesses would even need. The router has two USB ports, and 3 bands, sets up easily and even has a 1.8GHz quad-core processor. Technically the router lacks little to nothing and will be able to meet the needs of even the most demanding user. The tech itself is inherently interesting, so we recommend reading up even further on this piece of equipment.
Other major features include an app that can help you learn more about and control the Router’s performance and a web console that allows you to control things such as parental controls and Readyshare settings (among others). It’s a huge investment at about $600 as of this writing, but it can last you for years to come.
- It can make your home just a bit more interesting and perhaps fill a need when other routers haven’t done the trick.
- It is one of the fastest and most powerful routers on the market, whether it comes to throughput or file transfer speed.
- A sleek unfolding design that will look great in many homes and aids with performance.
- You will be paying an extremely high premium for the early adoption of technology most people won’t be able to use to the fullest.
- There is a limited audience for this router compared to most others on the market, whether they are on this list or not.
- There are not as many settings and quality of life options as you might expect from a router this expensive.
- People who are interested in trying something different or novel.
- People that are looking to prepare for the next generation of WiFi and internet connections.
- People who aren’t interested in our performance pick but want a high-end router for their home.
Notes When Picking Out and Setting Up a Router
If you’ve made a shortlist from the above, you’ve already done most of the heavy work. Yet you also want to double-check that the router will work in your home. You also need to set it up properly and make sure it is in a good spot.
- Depending on your choice, you will likely need a modem as well. There are also plenty of modem router combos on the market as well, and you might want to look into those instead. If you are getting a modem, make sure that it is well-suited and compatible with your router of choice, and vice versa.
- Note that while we can provide recommendations, only you can make the final decision for your household. You know what you need and what your current internet plan is. If you decide on a router that isn’t listed above, it might be the right choice. We promise we will not be offended.
- You will also want to look at the modem-router combos often available from your ISP, either for sale or for rent. It often isn’t the most economically sound choice, but the convenience and reliability will be there, and you can trade up when you need to, often at no cost.
- Take time when setting it up and get to know both your modem and your router. That way you can fix any problems or misunderstandings that come along and be able to easily use all of the features you paid for. Just plugging it in and going can be fine, but you’d be missing out with many of the more expensive routers.
- Even the best routers should be placed in a nice spot where they can send and receive signals without interference. It doesn’t need to be in the most open area in your house, but some room to work away from other signal-producing technology or items made of blocking materials is recommended.
- Make sure to read the instructions that come with your router carefully. You would be surprised at how many people don’t and get needlessly confused as a result.
- After you’ve connected it, doing some speed tests with a mobile test around your home (especially the places furthest away from your router) is recommended.
There are dozens of good routers on the market today, but you want the best. And we hope you found your best among the five routers listed above. We understand that you might need to do some further research as well as potentially find a modem, but the time invested will be well worth it, as well as the money. Your household and your streaming services will thank you for it later. We wish you the best of luck with your improved network and may you not have to think about this again for years to come!