Best Wi-Fi Routers 2022

Recommended wireless routers picked by our experts.

Our pick: Which wireless router is the best?

Google Nest Wifi is the best router for most homes. It’s an expandable mesh router that allows you to add satellites to your Wi-Fi network, so you can blanket your entire home with connectivity.

Sure, Nest isn’t the fastest or newest router on the market. But it has all the features most internet users need—and it makes it supremely easy to use them. You don’t need to be a geek to get this system up and running in just minutes.

Of course, home networking isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. You may want better customization capabilities or features specific to gaming. Here are our other highly recommended wireless routers that will fit different networking needs.

Looking for a modem/router combo?

A wireless gateway is a single device that combines a modem with a router. Check out our best modem/router combos that are compatible with most (if not all) cable internet providers.

The 5 best Wi-Fi routers

Best Wi-Fi routers

ModelImageMax throughputPriceGet it
Best overallGoogle Nest Wifi (2-pack)2,200 Mbps$219.00View on Amazon
Best for budgetsTP-Link Archer AX101,500 Mbps$69.95View on Amazon
Best for speedNETGEAR Nighthawk RAX1206,000 Mbps$349.99View on Amazon
Best for gamingASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX1100011,000 Mbps$431.07View on Amazon
Best for long rangeASUS RT-AC88U3,100 Mbps$209.12View on Amazon

What should you look for in a wireless router?

Go with a router that has a multicore processor and at least 128 MB of RAM. Your router’s CPU and system memory play a big part in its overall performance.

You should also keep an eye on the specification used by the router. Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 are the latest, providing gigabit speeds and technology that help balance and streamline your wireless network’s traffic.

For more recommendations on what to look for, check out the specs and features section below.

Best overall—Google Nest Wifi

Best overall

$219.00*

Specs:

  • Wi-Fi 5
  • 2.2 Gbps combined max speed (router)
  • 1.2 Gbps combined max speed (point)
  • Dual-band
  • 6 streams on router (4 on 5 GHz, 2 on 2.4 GHz)
  • 4 streams on points (2 per band)
  • 2x Ethernet ports (router only)
  • Includes a router and point

Google Nest Wifi is easy to use and versatile enough for most home networks. It’s a mesh router—it creates a blanket of coverage when paired with satellite units called “points.” By comparison, traditional routers broadcast outwards from a central point.

That said, you can add as many Wifi points as you want, but Google suggests a maximum of five.1 The Nest Wifi router and three points can cover up to 7,000 square feet, which is excellent compared to a traditional router. All Wifi points have a built-in Google Assistant smart speaker.

The router supports speeds up to 1,733 Mbps on the 5 GHz band (433 Mbps per stream) and up to 300 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band (150 Mbps per stream). The Wifi points are slower, reaching 867 Mbps on the 5 GHz band (433 Mbps per stream) and 300 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band (150 Mbps per stream).

The drawback to a Google Nest Wifi setup is that the router has just one Ethernet port for wired networking—the other port connects to your modem. The Wifi points do not have an Ethernet port, so you’ll need a gigabit Ethernet switch box to expand your wired connectivity.

Overall, Google Nest Wifi is more than fast enough for gaming, 4K streaming, and basically anything else. The router plus one point system is capable of handling up to 200 device connections you can manage from your phone using the Google Home app.

Pros:

  • Expandable coverage with additional points
  • Easy setup
  • Google Assistant integration

Cons:

  • Limited ports for wired connections

Best for budgets—TP-Link Archer AX10

Best for budgets

$69.95*

Specs:

  • Wi-Fi 6
  • 1,500 Mbps combined max speed
  • Dual-band
  • 4 streams (2 each band)
  • 4x Ethernet ports (1 Gbps)

The TP-Link Archer AX10 is our favorite router for smaller budgets and smaller spaces because it’s a good value. For the price, you get a good router, Wi-Fi 6 efficiency, and some easy-to-use extras.

While it doesn’t have the same bells and whistles as higher-end routers, the Archer AX10 does cover the basics well. It’s not the best option if you want top speeds, but it’s fast enough for video streaming and online gaming.

There are cheaper routers on the market, but most don’t give you the same performance that the AX10 will. For example, the best-selling TP-Link Archer A7 is less expensive than the newer AX10, but it is also slower and has much less processing power, which negatively impacted its performance in testing.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive price
  • Wi-Fi 6

Cons:

  • Lower max speeds

Best for speed—NETGEAR Nighthawk RAX120

Best for speed

$349.99*

Specs:

  • Wi-Fi 6
  • 6,000 Mbps combined max speed
  • Dual-band
  • 12 streams (8 on 5 GHz, 4 on 2.4 GHz)
  • 4x Ethernet ports (1 Gbps)
  • 1x Ethernet port (5 Gbps)
  • 2x USB-A 3.2 ports (5 Gbps)

The NETGEAR Nighthawk RAX120 is a splurge-worthy Wi-Fi 6 router for those who want superfast speeds. It’s a good option if you have gigabit or multigigabit internet because it has a multigigabit port and supports port aggregation—basically, you can use two gigabit Ethernet ports together to support speeds up to 2,000 Mbps.

NETGEAR’s router supports up to 4.8 Gbps on the 5 GHz band (600 Mbps per stream) and up to 1.2 Gbps on the 2.4 GHz band (300 Mbps per stream). That means you can have four smartphones connected to the 5 GHz band and two more connected to the 2.4 GHz without any one of these devices needing to share their bandwidth.

Overall, this router is pretty expensive, but for the price, you get the latest Wi-Fi tech and plenty of fast wired connectivity. It’s great for a large family where everyone is constantly online.

Pros:

    • Multigigabit internet support
    • Decent range

Cons:

    • High price

 

Pro tip:

Looking for a router with top speeds and the latest Wi-Fi standard but want to compare your options? Check out our guide to the best Wi-Fi 6 routers.

Best for gaming—ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000

Best for speed

$431.07*

Specs:

  • Wi-Fi 6
  • 11,000 Mbps combined max speed
  • Tri-band ( 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz + 5 GHz)
  • 12 streams (4 each band)
  • 4x Ethernet ports (1 Gbps)
  • 1x Ethernet port (2.5 Gbps)
  • 2x USB-A 3.2 ports (5 Gbps)

The gaming optimization features are what sets this router apart from others. Sure, you can play games online successfully with any of the routers on our list, but the ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is built specifically for gamers. That said, it might be overkill for most folks.

The router’s 2.4 GHz band supports up to 1,200 Mbps (300 Mbps per stream) while the two 5 GHz bands speed along at up to 4.8 Gbps each (1,200 Mbps per stream). There are plenty of LAN ports for wired connections, too, along with two USB-A ports to share a printer, NAS device, or other external storage devices.

If you have an ASUS ROG desktop or laptop, then this router should be part of your gaming arsenal. It’s the first ROG router to sport Aura RGB lighting, which allows you to synchronize colors and effects across all ASUS ROG products that support it. We love gaming bling, and there’s plenty here with the GT-AX11000.

Pros:

  • Gaming optimization features
  • VPN fusion

Cons:

  • Bulky design

Pro tip:

While we think the ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is the best, there are a ton of other gaming routers out there that can keep you at the top of your game. Check out our recommendations for the best routers for gaming.

Best for long range—ASUS RT-AC88U

Best for long range

$208.12*

Specs:

  • Wi-Fi 5
  • 3,167 Mbps combined max speed
  • Dual-band
  • 8 streams (4 each band)
  • 8x Ethernet ports (1 Gbps)
  • 1x USB-A 3.2 port (5 Gbps)
  • 1x USB-A 2.0 port (480 Mbps)

This is the top pick in our list of the best long-range routers you can get. Sure, it’s another gaming router from ASUS, but this one has a better range of 5,000 square feet versus 3,500 square feet with the pricier AX1000 model.

The RT-AC88U is great for 4K streaming and smart homes without being overloaded with game-centric features. It’s compatible with ASUS AiMesh, which lets you link it with other compatible ASUS routers to create a mesh-based Wi-Fi network.

Complementing this router’s range is decent Wi-Fi speed. The 2.4 GHz band reaches up to 1,000 Mbps (250 Mbps per stream) while the 5 GHz band reaches up to 2,167 Mbps (542 Mbps per stream). That means a Wi-Fi 5 smartphone can support up to 1,084 Mbps on the 5 GHz band, which is excellent for internet plans with gigabit speeds.

Pros:

  • Great range
  • Good Wi-Fi speeds

Cons:

  • No Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi router specs and features

Your router is the second-most important part of your home network, so picking the right one can seriously affect how you interact with your internet connection. But with hundreds of routers on the market—how do you choose?

We’ll walk you through the major specs and features to keep an eye on when picking your router. Then you’ll be able to shop like a pro.

Router red flags

We recommend avoiding buying a new router that has any of the following specs:

  • Speeds below AC1200
  • A single Wi-Fi band
  • Only WEP or WPA security

These are all signs that the router is old and out of date.

Price

About $100–$200 is a good price range for the average router. That should cover one that’s powerful enough to handle multiple connections, uses newer Wi-Fi standards, and offers useful network management features.

You can get a good router (like the TP-Link Archer AX10) for less than $100, but many higher-end routers—especially gaming routers—can cost $400 or more. High-priced routers generally have the best processors, more RAM, and a faster throughput. Some even have a third Wi-Fi band and more than eight streams to better handle all your connected devices.

Of course, not everyone needs the extra power. But users with a lot of bandwidth-hogging connections (like gamers and streamers) could benefit from the additional oomph.

Wi-Fi standard

Look for a router that advertises Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6—which may also appear as Wireless AC (802.11ac) or Wireless AX (802.11ax), respectively. These are the two newest Wi-Fi standards, and they’ll work the best for your home network.

Wi-Fi 6 is faster and more efficient, but Wi-Fi 5 devices still work great for most internet users. However, if you want to futureproof your setup, Wi-Fi 6 is better because the standard will be around for the next several years.

All manufacturers advertise the router’s specification and the theoretical maximum speed of all the bands combined by pairing both in one simple label. For example, AC1200 means the router is based on Wireless AC (or Wi-Fi 5) and has a maximum throughput of 1,200 Mbps. An AX10000 router is based on Wireless AX (Wi-Fi 6) and has a maximum throughput of 11,000 Mbps.

Avoid routers based on Wi-Fi 4 (Wireless N or 802.11n) because it’s outdated. In fact, it’s best not to choose a router with speeds lower than AC1200.

Wi-Fi bands

Choose a dual-band or tri-band router. Dual-band routers are the standard nowadays and give you more wireless flexibility than older, single-band routers. Some high-end routers have three wireless bands, which is great if you want a dedicated Wi-Fi band for your gaming connection but not necessary for most people.

Wi-Fi signals use two main radio frequencies:

  • 2.4 GHz has slower max speeds but can travel further.
  • 5 GHz has shorter range but faster speeds.

The best home networks split connections between the two wireless bands to keep either one from getting overloaded. For example, gaming or video streaming devices are better off on the 5 GHz band while smart home devices are better suited for the 2.4 GHz band.

Speed

Your router should have a max throughput (data transfer rate) well above your actual internet speed. For example, if you have 100 Mbps of internet bandwidth, you still want to go with something like an AC1200 router, even though it may seem like overkill.

The truth is, the speeds most routers advertise are their theoretical max—meaning they’re built to reach those speeds, but real-world conditions prevent them from doing so. Plus, manufacturers combine the maximum speeds of both bands to advertise one impressive number. So, an AC1200 router has speeds up to 900 Mbps on the 5 GHz band and up to 300 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band.

And at first glance, the number seems misleading. But given that you have multiple devices connected at the same time, the router is dishing out the combined speeds across both bands simultaneously.

Ethernet ports

Nearly all computing devices now have Wi-Fi, and most support wired connections with the right cable and adapter. Wireless is obviously convenient for smartphones, tablets, laptops, and so on. But wired connections are more stable and can deliver better speed than Wi-Fi.

If you want to use an Ethernet connection with your gaming rig, console, laptop, or even an iPad Pro, make sure the router you choose has enough ports to handle all your wired devices. If it doesn’t and there’s no way around it, you can always add an Ethernet switch for more.

Also, pay attention to the type of Ethernet ports a router has. Gigabit Ethernet ports are standard on home networking equipment, which is fine unless you have multigigabit internet. In that case, you should find a router that offers port aggregation or a multigigabit port—otherwise, you’re paying for bandwidth you won’t get to use.

User interface and management app

You want your router and all of its features to be accessible and easy to use, and for that, we strongly prefer routers that have a mobile app. Network management apps are often more convenient and intuitive than web-based interfaces, and that makes it easier to set up and monitor your network.

We like management apps that let you access most of your router’s features from the app—some basic ones are just used for setup and still make you log in to your router’s user interface to change settings.

Mesh vs. traditional

A mesh networking kit creates a blanket of coverage throughout your home. It’s ideal if your home is more than 3,000 square feet or you notice Wi-Fi dead zones in certain areas.

A mesh networking kit is the way to go if you want simplicity. However, mesh routers tend to be more expensive than standalone routers, especially if you want to add multiple points or satellites.

Meanwhile, traditional routers broadcast Wi-Fi outwards from a central point—although beamforming now makes the transmission more direct to each device. They’re generally cheaper than buying a multi-unit mesh kit, and they provide a deeper level of control over your network.

That said, traditional routers are best for gamers and those who need long range but don’t want to invest in a multi-unit networking kit.

Security features

Make sure your router has Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) 2 or WPA3. The security standard encrypts your Wi-Fi signals so no one can snoop through your network (or at least, it makes it more difficult). The original WPA is outdated and should be paired with another security standard to be effective.

Automatic firmware updates are also a great bonus for keeping your network secure. Firmware updates keep your router up to date to protect against any potential vulnerabilities and make your router as efficient as possible.

Pro tip:

Read more about Wi-Fi security (and peep more router recommendations) in our review of the best Wi-Fi routers for security.

Our verdict

Google Nest Wifi is the best router you can get. It’s easy to use and powerful enough for most home networks. Its mesh-based design means you can easily expand your Wi-Fi network to fill in dead zones at any time.

FAQ about wireless routers

Does my router affect my internet speed?

Your router manages your whole home network—so one that is out of date or too slow can definitely drag down your speed. A good router makes the most of your speeds and keeps up with all your connected devices.

Make sure your router has a max speed that is higher than your actual internet speed—you’ll never see your router operate at its advertised max. For example, an AC1200 router is a good choice for internet plans up to 300 Mbps.

If you think your router may be slowing down your speeds, check out our guide to figuring out whether your internet is slow because of your router or ISP.

Sources

  1. Google, “How Many Google Nest or Google Wifi Points Do I Need?” Accessed December 20, 2021.

Author -

Rebecca Lee Armstrong has more than six years of experience writing about tech and the internet, with a specialty in hands-on testing. She started writing tech product and service reviews while finishing her BFA in creative writing at the University of Evansville and has found her niche writing about home networking, routers, and internet access at HighSpeedInternet.com. Her work has also been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ, and iMore.

Editor - Aaron Gates