The best Wi-Fi routers in 2022, according to experts

With remote working now the norm for many, it’s never been more important to make sure your home network is up to date. The most important part of this setup is your Wi-Fi (or wireless) router, which sends information from the internet to all of your devices. Experts say you should update your router at least every five years, not only to increase your speed and reliability, but also to make sure your device receives the latest feature and security updates. If you’re still using the dusty Wi-Fi router you bought when you first got high-speed internet — or the base unit your ISP rents you — it might be time to move on. thing.

We spoke to experts to explain how Wi-Fi routers work and whether you should buy your own router. They covered how to choose the best router for your needs, including whether it’s worth spending the extra money to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 or the even faster 6E. We also offer options to improve your existing wireless signal using a mesh Wi-Fi system and range extenders, which may save you from having to buy a new router.

What is a Wi-Fi Router?

Back then, computers had to be wired together to communicate. But in 1999, Wi-Fi was introduced, giving people a new way to connect their devices without cables.

Through your Internet Service Provider (usually called your ISP), a cable or DSL line enters your home and connects to a modem – a small device that decodes the incoming Internet signal into something your computer ( and other devices) can read.

This signal is then passed to a router – which connects to your modem via a wire – which ensures that any email (or chat photo) you click appears on the correct device in your home. You can even find modem/router combo units that combine these two functions in one device.

Wi-Fi routers basically do the same thing as a traditional router, but instead of relying solely on wires, they convert data into radio signals which are then picked up by your connected devices. Devices on your home network include your WLAN, or wireless local area network.

The best Wi-Fi routers in 2022

It can be extremely confusing to choose from all the wireless routers on the market today. After speaking with experts, we’ve used their advice to put together some solid options for you to consider – from the most budget-friendly to the most feature-rich – to give you maximum speed and coverage throughout your home.

Best Affordable Wireless Router: TP-Link

TP Link Archer AX21

You’d be surprised what less than $100 will get you these days. TP Link offers one of the best value for money with the Archer AX21. Ideal for small to medium-sized homes, this router will upgrade your network to Wi-Fi 6 and delivers remarkably fast wireless-AC performance, delivering top speeds of 1,200 Mbps on the 5 GHz band and 574 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band. It’s also supported by Alexa and is a breeze to set up, even for non-experts, according to the brand. TP claims to have reduced network congestion and can manage up to six devices at the same time.

Best high-end Wi-Fi routers for optimal performance: Netgear and TP

Netgear Nighthawk AX12 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router (AX11000)

Experts tell us it’s one of the fastest routers you can buy thanks to its combination of Wi-Fi 6 and tri-band antennas. This 12-stream router covers up to 2,500 square feet and up to 50 devices can use it at the same time to stream movies and games or download/transfer files at speeds up to 10.8 Gbps , depending on the brand. It’s an investment, but power users with a host of wireless devices who need the fastest possible speeds should consider it.

TP Link Archer AX11000 Next Generation Tri-Band Gaming Router

The AX11000 is definitely a bit pricey, but if you’re a gamer and want super-fast speed, this Wi-Fi router is a great option. One of the fastest wireless routers on the market, it offers speeds over 10Gbps for extreme gaming support, according to the brand. Along with lifetime malware protection and strong parental controls, this router is packed with features, including a game accelerator, which detects and optimizes game streams. In 2019, the AX11000 received Best of CES and Best CES Innovation.

Best Mid-Range Wireless Routers: ASUS

Asus ROG Strix GS-AX5400

This dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router is very capable, offering speeds of up to 5,400 Mbps, depending on the brand. It also offers free lifetime internet security and is compatible with the Asus AiMesh feature, which allows you to connect to select Asus routers to create a whole-home Wi-Fi mesh system. The wireless router has a dedicated gaming port that gives priority to any wired device connected to it.

Asus RT-AX88U (AX6000) Dual Band Wi-Fi 6 Router

If you need a new router now and are willing to pay a little more for more bandwidth, the Asus RT-AX88U combines the new improvements in Wi-Fi 6 with everything that makes other routers great. great features: a user-friendly interface, many features and speeds of up to 6000 Mbps, depending on the brand. It also comes with lifetime network security and is Asus AiMesh compatible, Asus says.

Best Mesh Wi-Fi System for Large Homes: Eero

Amazon Eero Pro 6 Mesh Wi-Fi System

There are a host of things that can impact your Wi-Fi speed, but if you live in a larger home, your Wi-Fi probably doesn’t reach far enough into the corners of the house. In these cases, a single router may not be enough, even if it is high-end. Instead, a mesh Wi-Fi system like Amazon’s Eero Pro might do the trick. Instead of a single router, you get multiple Wi-Fi 6-equipped units that intelligently communicate with each other to cover your entire home with a continuous signal.

Should I buy my own Wi-Fi router?

When you sign up for Internet service, your ISP usually offers you a Wi-Fi modem and router for a small monthly rental fee, between $8 and $12 per month. But you also have the option of buying one on your own, and there’s a financial benefit to that: According to Whitson Gordon, tech expert and senior gaming content marketing manager at Asus, the router will usually pay for itself after about a year. of service, and it will probably be a much better model with more features. “With a better router, you can get the most out of your Wi-Fi in your home rather than relying on a basic setup that’s designed to work for everyone’s home,” he said. However, he noted that you won’t get the free tech support with your own router that you would get with a rental.

How to choose the best router

According to Gordon, there’s a lot of complicated technobabble behind the numbers of a Wi-Fi box, and there’s not much reason to bother with that — it’s mostly a benchmark that lets you figure out the overall capabilities of a router, he said. Below, we’ve broken down the things you need to pay attention to.

WiFi speed

The speed of a Wi-Fi router is measured in megabits per second (Mbps) or gigabits per second (Gbps) – 1 Gbps equals 1000 Mbps. This metric indicates how fast the router can move incoming data — like an Internet signal — from one computer (like your modem) to another (like your smartphone or TV). The FCC considers the Internet “broadband” as long as it has a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps and an upload speed of 3 Mbps – most modern Wi-Fi routers far exceed this.

When shopping for a router, you’ll usually see a speed (in Mbps or Gbps) advertised on the spec sheet. An AC router (aka a Wi-Fi 5 router), for example, can deliver up to 5,300 Mbps of super-fast speed, Gordon said. This number represents the total combined speed available to devices powered by this router – most routers will never reach their theoretical maximum speed. Still, Gordon said watching each band’s frequency “gets deep into the weeds” – as long as the overall speed is strong, you should be good.

For the past few years, the fastest Wi-Fi routers on the market used a standard called “802.11ac” or “Wireless AC”. The new standard now has a simpler name: Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi 6 sends data back and forth at speeds around 40% faster than Wi-Fi 5 models, said Abhay Bhorkar, director of the product development at Netgear, in a statement. recent blog post.

Frequencies

Gordon said dual-band routers are very common. These use two different frequencies – 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz – to deliver a better signal to your devices. Having both frequencies allows you to get the best connection no matter where you are in the house, he explained. More modern routers sport the tri-band label and use three different frequencies – 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 5 GHz – to allow more devices to communicate with the router at the same time. Gordon said it eliminates congestion when the whole family is using the web at the same time. Wi-Fi 6 also sports a tri-band label, but with 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz frequencies, making it even faster.

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