Best Wi-Fi Routers for Streaming 2020

Our pickBudget pickSplurge pickWi-Fi 6 pick
Linksys EA7500TP-Link Archer A7NETGEAR Nighthawk AX12TP-Link Archer AX6000
$121.16$64.99$499.99$299.99
View on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonView on Amazon

What Wi-Fi router is best for streaming?

Most modern routers can handle video streaming. But if you’re looking for the absolute best for your 4K streaming experience, we recommend the Linksys EA8300 Max-Stream router. It has speeds fast enough for streaming, gaming, and other bandwidth-hogging activities without buffering.

Of course, different home networks have different needs. So here are our top five router recommendations to keep you connected.

Top Wi-Fi routers for streaming

ModelMax throughputWi-Fi bandsPrice
Our pickLinksys EA75001,900 Mbps2$121.16View on Amazon
Budget pickTP-Link Archer A71,750 Mbps2$64.99View on Amazon
Splurge pickNETGEAR Nighthawk AX1210,800 Mbps3$499.99View on Amazon
Wi-Fi 6 pickTP-Link Archer AX60005,952 Mbps2$299.99View on Amazon
Multitasking pickASUS RT-AC53005,334 Mbps3$295.11View on Amazon
Our pick
ModelLinksys EA7500
Max throughput1,900 Mbps
Wi-Fi bands2
Price$121.16
View on Amazon
Budget pick
ModelTP-Link Archer A7
Max throughput1,750 Mbps
Wi-Fi bands2
Price$64.99
View on Amazon
Splurge pick
ModelNETGEAR Nighthawk AX12
Max throughput10,800 Mbps
Wi-Fi bands3
Price$499.99
View on Amazon
Wi-Fi 6 pick
ModelTP-Link Archer AX6000
Max throughput5,952 Mbps
Wi-Fi bands2
Price$299.99
View on Amazon
Multitasking pick
ModelASUS RT-AC5300
Max throughput5,334 Mbps
Wi-Fi bands3
Price$295.11
View on Amazon

Pro tip:

Is your internet fast enough to stream in 4K? Take an internet speed test to make sure you’re getting at least 25 Mbps download speed.

Test your speed.

Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream AC1900 Wireless Router

Our pick

  • Speed: 1.9 Gbps
  • Ethernet ports: 4
  • USB ports: 2
  • Antennas: 3
  • Dimensions: 10.03″ x 7.25″ x 2.19″
  • Weight: 2.05 lbs
  • Notable features: MU-MIMO and beamforming technology, Linksys management app

The Linksys Max-Stream router is a little more conservative than other routers on this list, but it strikes a great balance between reasonable price and performance. This router will handle 4K streaming and everything else you do online, and its network management app lets you prioritize specific devices in your network when you want all your bandwidth to be dedicated to your binge-watching marathon.

Pros

  • Easy setup with smartphone app
  • Capacity for 12+ connected devices

Cons

  • Only dual-band Wi-Fi

TP-Link Archer A7 AC1750 Smart Wi-Fi Router

Budget pick

  • Speed: 1.75 Gbps
  • Ethernet ports: 4
  • USB ports: 1
  • Antennas: 3
  • Dimensions: 9.59″ x 6.32″ x 1.29″
  • Weight: 0.93 lbs
  • Notable features: TP-Link Tether app, works with Alexa

This budget-friendly router combines a superlow price tag with speeds fast enough for most households. It lacks many of the advanced features of the other routers on this list, but if 4K on a budget is what you’re after, you’ll find it here.

Pros

  • Great price
  • Alexa integration

Cons

  • Lower max throughput than other models

NETGEAR Nighthawk AX12 Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band Wireless Router

Splurge pick

  • Speed: 10.8 Gbps
  • Ethernet ports: 5
  • USB ports: 2
  • Antennas: 8 (internal)
  • Dimensions: 11.7″ x 3.07″ x 8.3″
  • Weight: 3.2 lbs
  • Notable features: Wi-Fi 6, WAN port integration, Nighthawk App

With max speeds up to 10.8 Gbps, a range up to 2,500 square feet, and capacity for more than 40 connected devices, the NETGEAR Nighthawk AX12 is probably overkill. But if you’re looking for top-of-the-line equipment that can handle all your 4K streaming, gaming, and other internet activities without breaking a sweat, this is your router.

Pros

  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Port aggregation for multigig internet

Cons

  • High price

TP-Link Archer AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Router

Wi-Fi 6 pick

  • Speed: 6 Gbps
  • Ethernet ports: 8
  • USB ports: 2
  • Antennas: 8
  • Dimensions: 10″ x 12″ x 4″
  • Weight: 3.5 lbs
  • Notable features: Wi-Fi 6 support, MU-MIMO technology, tri-band Wi-Fi

The TP-Link Archer router doesn’t quite meet the Nighthawk X12’s max speeds, but it’s still top-of-the-line with Wi-Fi 6 speeds, eight external antennas for excellent range, and a load of advanced features like MU-MIMO and beamforming. It’s also a bit cheaper than the X12— though, admittedly, it does look more like a spider.

Pros

  • Alexa compatibility
  • 2.5 Gbps WAN port

Cons

  • No way to disable Q0S

ASUS RT-AC5300 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Gaming Router

Multitasking pick

  • Speed: 5.3 Gbps
  • Ethernet ports: 4
  • USB ports: 2
  • Antennas: 8
  • Dimensions: 24.5″ x 6.5″ x 24.5″
  • Weight: 3.2 lbs.
  • Notable features: Tri-band Wi-Fi, unique antenna design for longer range, built-in gaming optimizations

This router is unique in that it’s optimized specifically for gaming. It’ll work for any purpose, of course, and some of its gaming features—like Adaptive QoS—can work to prioritize your streaming data. It also has exceptional range, thanks to the large size and unique antenna design.

Pros

  • Gaming optimization
  • Wi-Fi coverage up to 5,000 sq. ft.

Cons

  • Very large size
  • No multigigabit ports

Pro tip:

Interested in more routers built for gaming? Check out our guide to the best Wi-Fi routers for gaming.

What to look for in a Wi-Fi router

Streaming—especially 4K streaming—eats bandwidth for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, so you’ll need to purchase equipment and services that sustain it. You’ll want to start with an internet plan that provides enough bandwidth (and a high enough data cap) to support your streaming habits and provide a good experience. Then you’ll need a router that can handle the bandwidth and work with multiple devices at once to prioritize traffic.

Keep in mind that while the router provided by your ISP might be able to handle basic 4K streaming, it likely lacks the advanced features that help facilitate streaming on multiple devices simultaneously with no hiccups. If you’re seeing a lot of buffering, stutters, or freezes when streaming video, it might be time to consider purchasing your own router.

Quality of Service (QoS)

Many high-end routers have quality of service (QoS) features that allow you to prioritize devices and traffic on the network so that the most important data streams (like Netflix, in this case) get more bandwidth. This ensures smooth video playback without interference from downloads, gaming, or other activities that might be going on in the home at the same time as the streaming. If your house has a lot of simultaneous internet usage, definitely look for QoS features in a router.

Powerful processors

You might hear the word “processors” and think of computer specifications, but processors perform a role in the router world too. The latest and greatest routers often possess dual processors, allowing them to process data and instructions faster. The result for the end user is a smoother connection with fewer pauses and delays.

Tri-band, dual-band, or single-band

Routers employ one of two radio frequencies, or “bands”: the older 2.4 GHz or the newer 5 GHz. A basic single-band router supports only one of those bands. Newer routers often feature dual-band capabilities, meaning they communicate with devices on both bands, one 2.4 GHz and one 5 GHz.

The most advanced routers have tri-band functionality. These routers typically use two 5 GHz bands and one 2.4 GHz band. The ability to use three bands increases download and upload speeds and often reduces the chances for signal interference.

Pro tip:

If streaming in 4K is your priority, shoot for a dual-band router at minimum. It will give your ultra-HD stream the power it needs at the most reasonable price.

Wireless standards

Naming conventions for wireless standards are in the process of changing, but you’ll commonly see standards like 802.11n, 802.11ac, and Wi-Fi 6. These are the most commonly used standards at the moment. Wi-Fi 6 is the newest standard that is available in top-of-the-line routers. (Its name is easier because it came out after the name changes took place).

You could get okay streaming quality with an 802.11n router, but you want to look for one using 802.11ac or Wi-Fi 6 if possible. These standards offer the speeds needed to stream 4K video and handle a game or two on your Xbox or PS4. It’s easy to tell which wireless standard a router uses—it’s usually in the name.

MU-MIMO and beamforming

MU-MIMO stands for multi-user, multiple input, and multiple output. Many of the newer standalone routers employ technologies like MU-MIMO because it keeps internet speeds steady when multiple users access the network by divvying up the bandwidth. Think of it like advanced multitasking for your router. It can make a big difference, so if your household often has multiple devices active at once, be sure to look for it.

Beamforming typically accompanies MU-MIMO. It uses transmitters and receivers compatible with MU-MIMO to increase wireless throughput and range. The router (transmitter) essentially beams the Wi-Fi signal to your devices’ internal antennas, forming a home network capable of supporting high-end streaming.

What’s the end result? You get a signal that’s more powerful and has a longer range that can handle multiple devices at once.

Antennas

The number and power of your router’s antennas can affect your Wi-Fi signal range, reliability, and performance, as well as features such as MU-MIMO and beamforming.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the router with the most antennas is the best one. But if you’re 4K streaming on Wi-Fi, you want the best signal with the most throughput possible, and that means multiple antennas.

Ports

Ethernet and USB ports make for a more functional router. You certainly could go wireless for everything, but it sometimes makes sense to hardwire in a device. Plus, if you plan to use Wi-Fi extenders, you definitely want a router with a few free Ethernet ports. Many people make do with two ports, but some can’t get by without at least four.

Ethernet ports on routers come in handy when placing the router on your entertainment center and plugging your streaming box or smart TV directly into it. This helps ensure a powerful signal to your main device and leaves the Wi-Fi signal available for tablets and other devices.

Other features

Finally, some routers offer additional benefits. They won’t necessarily improve a 4K stream, but they could make your life easier. Features range from parental controls to cloud access and from enhanced security settings to automatic backups. Some even include “airtime fairness,” a feature that extends bandwidth to 802.11ac–compatible devices—such as your 4K HDTV—before offering it to 802.11n devices.

Our verdict

Whether you’re trying to handle streaming in 4K, multiple streams, or divvying up bandwidth between Netflix and your roommate’s daily Zoom conference call with their whole family, these routers won’t leave you buffering. Our pick for most households is the Linksys EA7500 because it offers great performance at a reasonable price.

Get the Linksys Max Stream on Amazon

Author -

Rebecca is a natural techie and the friend you turn to when your Wi-Fi randomly stops working. Since graduating from the University of Evansville with a degree in creative writing, Rebecca has leveraged her tech savvy to write hundreds of data-driven tech product and service reviews. In addition to HighSpeedInternet.com, her work has been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ and iMore.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has edited for HighSpeedInternet.com for three years, working with smart writers to revise everything from internet reviews to reports on your state’s favorite Netflix show. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span (buffering kills). With a degree in English and editing and five years working with online content, it’s safe to say she likes words on the internet. She is most likely to be seen wearing Birkenstocks and hanging out with a bouncy goldendoodle named Dobby, who is a literal fur angel sent to Earth.

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