Best Wireless Router

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Best Wireless RouterIf you've gone shopping for a wireless router, you'll undoubtedly have experienced first-hand how confusing this market can be. Rather than choosing the cheapest option on the shelf, it helps to narrow down your picks to the most capable models currently available. After all, this single piece of hardware serves as the center of your network, and will be relied on to provide years of service. To acquaint yourself with the terminology and technology involved, have a look at our wireless router buyer's guide below.

Best Wireless Router Overall:

Picking a wireless router is no simple task. Though it's tempting to go for the latest 'super router', careful consideration must be given to each criteria such as speed, range, user-friendliness, stability, and other useful features. The best wireless routers listed here are all excellent examples, easily meeting or exceeding most users' standards.

D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N Gigabit Router

For five years straight, we've named the D-Link DIR-655 the best wireless router. This is no coincidence - even given recent technology advances and price drops, no other router offers this near-perfect blend of performance, reliability, and affordability. Read Full Review

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    D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N Gigabit Router

    Asus RT-N66U Dual Band Wireless-N 900 Extreme Router

    The Asus RT-N66U is one of the best-performing 802.11n routers on the market today. The external antennas provide welcome improvements in range, eliminating dead zones throughout the house. Although it's pricey, this is an investment you won't regret. Read Full Review

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      Asus RT-N66U Dual Band Wireless-N 900 Extreme Router

      Cisco Linksys EA4500 N900 Dual Band Wireless Router

      Despite the introduction of the new 802.11ac wireless standard, Cisco's EA4500 still has plenty to offer. This is essentially a renamed E4200v2, paired with Cisco's latest web-based user interface system for more intuitive controls. Read Full Review

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        Cisco Linksys EA4500 N900 Dual Band Wireless Router

        D-Link DIR-868L AC Wireless Router

        If you're not hoping to get too much functionality out of the "extras", the D-Link DIR-868L is one of the best 802.11ac-enabled routers you can buy. With fast and stable performance as well as ease of use, the DIR-868L stands out as an excellent choice. Read Full Review

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          D-Link DIR-868L AC Wireless Router

          Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station ME918LL/A

          Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station's latest generation differs from its predecessor in its new design and the addition of 802.11ac support. Because of this, there's no real rush to upgrade if you already have an AirPort Extreme Base Station - unless you want a new 802.11ac router. However, if that extra speed is important to you and you have an 802.11ac-enabled computer, this router is fast, stable, and easy to use. Read Full Review

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            Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station ME918LL/A

            Best Wireless Router for Range:

            Recent advances in broadcasting and receiving technology have made it possible to equip wireless routers with multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) technology, which allows faster throughput speeds and extended range. The processors installed in modern units are becoming increasingly powerful and more efficient, which means higher operating specs are possible. Although range is ultimately limited by the receiving device, interference, and physical obstacles, a router capable of operating at extended ranges is highly desirable when there is a large area to cover.

            Asus RT-N66U Dual Band Wireless-N 900 Extreme Router

            Considering that the Asus RT-N66U is one of the few high-end wireless routers with external antennas, it should come as no surprise that this model tops the charts in terms of range. The RT-N66U offers up impressive throughput speeds, even in areas that other routers simply can't cover. Read Full Review

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              Asus RT-N66U Dual Band Wireless-N 900 Extreme Router

              Asus RT-AC66U 802.11ac Wireless Router

              The Asus RT-AC66U is similar to the excellent RT-N66U, with support for the new 802.11ac standard. Extremely fast, stable, and of course with very long range, this router is a great choice. Read Full Review

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                Asus RT-AC66U 802.11ac Wireless Router

                Linksys EA6500 Dual Band Wireless Router

                The Linksys EA6500 offers much of what makes the EA4500 so good, plus support for the 802.11ac standard. Great range and overall performance make it a no-brainer for this list. Read Full Review

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                  Linksys EA6500 Dual Band Wireless Router

                  WD My Net AC1300 HD Dual Band Router Wireless AC WiFi Router

                  With range that matches some of the top-performing routers in this class, the Western Digital My Net AC1300 earns its spot on this list. Also offering stable wireless signals and fast speeds, this easy-to-use router is an excellent choice for anyone who wants a good all-round 802.11ac home router. Read Full Review

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                    WD My Net AC1300 HD Dual Band Router Wireless AC WiFi Router

                    Netgear R6300 802.11ac Wireless Router

                    Extremely fast speeds as well as stability and range make the Netgear R6300 a great choice for anyone wanting a top-of-the line 802.11ac router. While these newer routers still come with higher price tags, they offer longevity and are worth the price for those who want the latest technology for their home network. Read Full Review

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                      Netgear R6300 802.11ac Wireless Router

                      Best Budget Wireless Router:

                      Today's top budget wireless routers are mostly comprised of older models that were once considered top-of-the-line. Our picks below hold the line at $100 or less, and many of them offer extremely high throughput speeds that are beyond well-suited for the average home network.

                      D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N Gigabit Router

                      For the money, it's impossible to do better than D-Link's DIR-655. While it doesn't offer dual-band operation, the DIR-655 puts up outstanding throughput numbers in both wired and wireless connections. Read Full Review

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                        D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N Gigabit Router

                        Cisco Linksys E1200 Wireless Router

                        The Cisco Linksys E1200 carries on with few changes, save for Cisco's new user interface app. Though the E1200 won't set any speed records, it's extremely reliable and will easily cover moderate wireless networking needs. Read Full Review

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                          Cisco Linksys E1200 Wireless Router

                          Linksys WRT54GL Wireless Router

                          If you can do without wireless-N, the Linksys WRT54GL is one of the best wireless routers for the money. The older technology has allowed the price to drop to a level where this router can now fit anybody's budget, and the amount of on-board RAM and flash memory allows the use of custom firmware such as DD-WRT for extra performance and more customized functionality. Read Full Review

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                            Linksys WRT54GL Wireless Router

                            Netgear WNDR3700 RangeMax Dual Band Wireless Router

                            While the Netgear WNDR3700 might push the definition of "budget", its performance and features justify the extra coin. This former flagship router has been superseded by higher-performing models, and has depreciated in price to the point where it can be considered affordable. Read Full Review

                            Netgear WNDR3700 RangeMax Dual Band Wireless Router

                            Asus Black Diamond RT-N56U Wireless Router

                            The Asus RT-N56U barely slips under our $100 price point, but earns its spot on this list for its top-notch performance that can be had at a very reasonable price. Despite being an older model, this router still has excellent performance that would serve any basic home network needs. Read Full Review

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                              Asus Black Diamond  RT-N56U Wireless Router

                              Best Gaming Wireless Router:

                              When it comes to choosing a wireless router for gaming, nothing matters more than throughput for the sole purpose of reducing lag. Lag can single-handedly ruin your game if it happens at an inopportune moment, which is why a good wireless router is necessary. Stability is another issue, as a wireless router that constantly drops connections is of no use in a gaming situation. The ideal gaming router should primarily be capable of fast, reliable throughput, and offer gamer-friendly features.

                              Asus RT-N66U Dual Band Wireless-N 900 Extreme Router

                              If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Despite the existence of newer technology, the older 802.11n RT-N66U offers noticeably higher (and more reliable) wireless throughput rates than the latest 802.11ac routers. Given its price advantage, this is a no-brainer. Read Full Review

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                                Asus RT-N66U Dual Band Wireless-N 900 Extreme Router

                                Asus RT-AC66U 802.11ac Wireless Router

                                The RT-AC66U benefits from Asus's latest firmware updates, drastically improving stability. The 802.11ac-based wireless throughput is extremely fast, and the variety of customization options allows gamers to set their network up specifically for gaming purposes. Read Full Review

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                                  Asus RT-AC66U 802.11ac Wireless Router

                                  D-Link DIR-868L AC Wireless Router

                                  The D-Link DIR-868L is one of the top performers of the recent batch of new routers, offering rock solid stability and speed. While its cloud features aren't quite up to par yet, when it comes to performance, this 802.11ac router is the new benchmark. Read Full Review

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                                    D-Link DIR-868L AC Wireless Router

                                    Linksys EA6500 Dual Band Wireless Router

                                    With fast performance and good stability following the latest firmware update, the Linksys EA6500 makes a great choice for a gaming router. Similar to the excellent Linksys EA4500, this router supports the new 802.11ac standard and offers a good amount of customization options. Read Full Review

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                                      Linksys EA6500 Dual Band Wireless Router

                                      Netgear WNDR4500 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router

                                      Netgear's top-performing 802.11n router is a must-have for gamers that prioritize rock-solid reliability. The WNDR4500 provides chart-topping three-stream wireless throughput, and wired devices benefit from over 750 Mbps WAN to LAN throughput. Read Full Review

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                                        Netgear WNDR4500 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router

                                        Best Mac Wireless Router:

                                        Not all wireless routers out there are designed to be used specifically with Mac computers - some work better than others. Unsurprisingly, the best options come from Apple, and these products are designed to function perfectly alongside the computers. Here is a brief summary of the best wireless routers for Macs.

                                        Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station ME918LL/A

                                        If you're looking for an 802.11ac AirPort router, this latest model from Apple is the one to get. Otherwise, the 6th generation Apple AirPort Extreme is almost identical to its predecessor, save for an attractive redesign. Read Full Review

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                                          Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station ME918LL/A

                                          Apple Time Capsule 3TB ME182LL/A

                                          The addition of 802.11ac standard support and a new, sleek design make the new Apple AirPort Time Capsule a fast and desirable wireless home router and backup/file server device. Those who already own a Time Capsule may not find enough reasons to upgrade, but this 5th generation device maintains the excellent performance, ease of use, and style that is expected from Apple. Read Full Review

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                                            Apple Time Capsule 3TB ME182LL/A

                                            WD My Net AC1300 HD Dual Band Router Wireless AC WiFi Router

                                            Though the Western Digital My Net AC1300HD does not really stand out in any particular way when put up against its competition, it offers a very solid 802.11ac home router that is "average" in an already very high-performing group. Performance is fast and stable, and the useful features make this router a great choice. Read Full Review

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                                              WD My Net AC1300 HD Dual Band Router Wireless AC WiFi Router

                                              Netgear WNDR4500 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router

                                              Apple's latest computers are equipped with three-stream Wireless-N technology, making them fully able to take advantage of the higher throughput speeds offered by the Netgear WNDR4500. Although the setup and network integration is nowhere near as airtight as with the AirPort routers, this is a great choice for more advanced users who want more control. Read Full Review

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                                                Netgear WNDR4500 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router
                                                 

                                                Finding the Best Wireless Router for your needs

                                                The smartest way to shop for the 'best' wireless router for your needs is to search for recommendations, read product reviews, and if possible, try them out yourself. Selecting a router can be confusing due to the wide range of models and specifications, and you'll soon find yourself drowning in alphabet soup if you don't have a good idea what you're looking for. Terms like 802.11n, MIMO, WPA encryption, SSID, and dual-band simultaneous broadcast can quickly become overwhelming, so we've made an effort to simplify things by breaking router selection down into four categories. The best wireless routers offer a good combination of routing performance, reliability, features, and are priced well enough to make them an excellent value.

                                                Speed & Range
                                                802.11n, or Wireless-N routers, are the most common wireless routers around. This technology offers better speed and superior range compared to the older wireless standards. Manufacturers have largely phased out routers using the previous 802.11g standard, though you may find a few budget-minded 802.11g routers on store shelves or online. The best wireless routers will provide consistently fast wireless throughput, though this is limited by the maximum speed of your internet service itself. Manufacturer's claims are always achieved under ideal conditions, and will at best give you a rough comparison to other competitors' products.

                                                Wireless range is another tricky subject. While it's true that wireless 'n' provides vastly superior range to older wireless standards, every router is different. You also need to consider the placement of the router inside your home, and how your home is laid out. Despite the newer technology, walls and floors will still stifle wireless reception. The greatest range benefits are seen outdoors where there are few obstructions to block the transmitter signals. The best wireless routers should ideally leave zero dead spots inside your home, and give you reception in the garage and in your backyard. Even at longer ranges, throughput speed should be maintained. If your concern is being able to cover your entire home with a wireless network, have a look at the best wireless routers for range.

                                                Features
                                                With wireless routers, feature lists can become seemingly neverending. Routers nowadays have become multi-tasking tools, and as a result come with additions like USB ports which support shared network drives and printers. Many wireless 'n' routers are now capable of broadcasting on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, which is referred to as 'simultaneous broadcasting'. Simultaneous broadcast routers open up all sorts of options which allow you to run multiple devices without compromising overall speed. Given that, there are still devices which can only operate on the 2.4GHz band, though this is becoming increasingly uncommon.

                                                Another benefit of wireless 'n' routers is the implementation of 'MIMO' technology. MIMO stands for Multiple Input, Multiple Output, and refers to the antenna arrangement. A wireless router which features this layout can potentially process more data, and all of the faster, more expensive models are so equipped.

                                                MIMO technology improves wireless speeds, but there are still some instances where a wired connection is a better option. To address the desire for faster speeds, better routers feature Gigabit Ethernet ports which offer up to 1 GB/s transfer speeds. Check carefully to see whether the router you're considering is equipped with Gigabit Ethernet ports if you value this feature.

                                                Some of the more sophisticated routers have multiple SSID broadcasts, which effectively divide your router service with different security options and network configurations. The most common example of this would be guest networks, which allows guests to access your network without needing your personal password.

                                                Reliability
                                                Generally, the less you pay for a router, the lower the quality of the components will be. This has a direct impact on how reliable your router will be. Cheaper routers tend to drop connections frequently, and will not provide consistent data throughput. Although spending more for a router is not a surefire way to solve the problem, reliability does tend to go up with cost. The best routers are reliable to a fault, and should need minimum attention to settings to keep a steady connection. When combined with support for a large number of users and other 'business' features, these models are often labeled 'enterprise grade'.

                                                Price & Value
                                                When choosing a single product, it's often said that you can have it be fast, reliable, and affordable - but you can only choose two. Not everyone wants to spend $150 on a router, but you'll have to settle for less performance if you're not willing to invest more. Fast and reliable routers are never 'affordable', while fast and affordable routers tend to drop connections often. Each of the picks here are outstanding options, though as always, it's up to you to draw the line.

                                                You generally want to avoid any router that is priced suspiciously low. Even name-brand low-end routers tend to be unreliable at times, and throughput speed can be sketchy. If you don't need or want the extra performance, it makes little sense to spend the extra money. Those of you adhering to a strict budget should check out our list of the best cheap routers.

                                                One of the newer technologies trickling into the market is the 802.11ac wireless standard. 802.11ac focuses on speed improvements in the 5 GHz band, leaving 2.4 GHz operation largely untouched. If you're wondering why we haven't recommended more 802.11ac routers, our reasons are quite simple. 802.11ac is still a developing technology, and the specifications are not yet fully shared among manufacturers. Next, the real-world performance of 802.11n routers is still far higher than what most home internet connections can offer, making it difficult to discern any added benefits. Finally, existing 802.11n routers are available at a lower price compared to first-generation 802.11ac models, making them a much better value overall.

                                                Leave a Question or Comment
                                                6 comments
                                                • Juda16 Juda16

                                                Muy buenos estos nuevos router pero creo que falto hablar sobre el router rompemuros de 3bumen, e trabajado con el y funciona genial.

                                                Posted on 5/23/2014 10:12 am | Reply
                                                • ethtir ethtir

                                                the Asus RT-N66U Dual Band Wireless-N 900 Extreme Router works great!

                                                Posted on 6/6/2013 5:39 pm | Reply
                                                • squeel squeel

                                                Hello Nam,I have not ordered the D-Link 655 yet,But I plan to order it later.I got to get thu Christmas first.Thanks for your input and guidance.squeel

                                                Posted on 12/30/2012 11:19 pm | Reply
                                                • Dasll Dasll

                                                Best overall is this Netgear http://goo.gl/MeeNz with newest and fastest AC standard and good antenna

                                                Posted on 9/16/2012 3:35 pm | Reply
                                                • robertjwalker robertjwalker

                                                William, this is an excellent selection of routers. I would have personally positioned the E3000 higher up in the list, but the DIR-655 is an excellent choice too. I reviewed it not too long ago myself here: http://wirelessrouterreview.net/d-link-dir-655-extreme-n-gigabit-wireless-router-review/

                                                Posted on 1/13/2011 12:06 pm | Reply
                                                • chad chad

                                                Thanks I have had problems tried a couple different routers and they did not work (netgear WPN824 and Linksys 120n) they were no good. I thought about the netgear WNDR3700 heard it was really good! But I might get the Linksys WRT610N

                                                Posted on 3/13/2010 8:15 pm | Reply