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Best Wi-Fi routers in 2021

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Best wi-fi routers
(Image credit: TP-Link)

Finding one of the best Wi-Fi routers for your home is perhaps the most crucial tech decision you will make. It's the device that ensures that you have solid connectivity for every other device in your home, making it the literal foundation of your network. Now whether you use your connection purely for entertainment or it's a crucial piece of your work from home or remote learning, it remains vital that it can keep up with your needs.

After dozens of hours researching all of the best wi-fi routers available today we have gathered together a collection of the best of the best for a wide variety of different needs. Regardless of your budget, wireless needs or home size we have the best Wi-Fi router for you.

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What is the best wi-fi router?

The best wi-fi router for most people today is the TP-Link Archer C2300, it offers a fantastic blend of value to performance that will easily meet the needs of most users. The TP-Link Archer C2300 can cover up to about a 3,500 square foot home with enough bandwidth to support multiple users streaming HD or even 4K content, surfing the web, or gaming online.

The TP-Link Archer C2300 is reasonably compact, allowing you to find an ideal central location for it without too much difficulty and the antennas can be rotated and positioned to allow for optimal coverage throughout your home. The numerous LAN and USB Type-A ports along with the powerful browser-based customization will be sufficient for even demanding users, while the setup process is simple enough for those that just want to plug it in and get up and running.

While the TP-Link Archer C2300 is the best wi-fi router for most users, for those that need more performance, more coverage, or those that want to spend a little less there are other excellent options on the market that will be the right fit for you. Take a look at the full lineup of our favorite wi-fi routers below and we’ll help you identify the perfect fit for you.

Here are the best Wi-Fi routers you can buy today

Best Wi-Fi routers: TP-Link Archer C2300

TP-Link Archer C2300 (Image credit: TP-Link)

Best Wi-Fi router for most people

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac/Dual-Band
Max Data Transfer: 2.2Gbps
Antennas: 3
Size: 8.3 x 7.5 x 1.5-inches
Ports: 4 1-Gbps LAN, 2 USB Type-A
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic performance+Affordable+Built-in Trend Micro antivirus
Reasons to avoid
-Bland appearance-Lacks Wi-Fi 6 or mesh support

While the run-of-the-mill appearance and basic specs of the TP-Link Archer C2300 aren’t going to jump off the page at you, this is one of the best routers on the market, offering fantastic performance at an affordable price. 

In their testing, our colleagues at Tom’s Guide found that the TP-Link Archer C2300 delivered some of the fastest speeds of any router they had tested including options that cost hundreds more, all while providing sufficient range to cover a 3,500 square foot home. Thanks to the rotating and swiveling antennas combined with the MU-MIMO and beamforming tech, the TP-Link Archer C2300 can deliver strong coverage throughout most homes.

Not only that, but it features a robust app and web-based customization tool to optimize your network, set parental controls, utilize the included Trend Micro antivirus protections, and other advanced settings. 

There are benefits to the higher-end options covered on this page, but if you are looking to cover less than 3,500 square feet and don’t have any (or many) devices with Wi-Fi 6 support, the TP-Link Archer 2300 is probably the best Wi-Fi router for you.

Best Wi-Fi routers: Google Nest WiFi

Google Nest WiFi (Image credit: Google)

2. Google Nest WiFi

Best mesh Wi-Fi router system for most people

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac/Dual-Band
Max Data Transfer: 2.2Gbps
Antennas: 4
Size: 4.3 x 3.6-inches
Ports: 2 1-Gbps LAN
Reasons to buy
+Excellent, reliable coverage+Easy to set up+Built-in Google Home speaker+Smart home functionality
Reasons to avoid
-Limited ports-Lacks advanced configuration options

If you are already bought into the Google Home or Nest ecosystems, then the Nest WiFi is an easy recommendation. For those who haven’t dipped their toes into either yet, this is an excellent entry point. The Nest WiFi is a mesh Wi-Fi router that can be purchased individually or with multiple extensions depending on the size of your space. The standard two-pack is rated for up to 3,800 square feet, so it should be plenty for most homes.

While it doesn’t offer the fastest top speeds, it will deliver sufficient bandwidth for the web browsing and HD or 4K video streaming needs of a multi-user household. The added bonus is that you get a built-in Nest Mini equivalent speaker in the router and any additional access points for both smart home interactions and music playback. This can manage the rest of your smart home devices and act as part of a whole home speaker system with other Nest or Google Home speakers.

The relatively small size and pleasantly rounded fabric design of the Nest Wifi are additional points in its favor. Unlike many Wi-Fi routers, you are going to want to leave this out in the open due to the smart home/speaker functionality, which is also ideal for delivering a solid Wi-Fi signal around your home. For those with complex networking needs, the Nest WiFi may fall short as it doesn’t offer some more advanced options, but if you want an easy-to-use solution, the Nest WiFi is one of the best.

TP-Link Archer AX3000 on a wooden desk with a laptop and smartphone

TP-Link AX6000 (Image credit: TP-Link)

Best Wi-Fi 6 router for most people

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ax/Dual-Band
Max Data Transfer: 3Gbps
Antennas: 4
Size: 12.99 x 9.65 x 2.95-inches
Ports: 4 1-Gbps LAN, 1 USB 3.0 Type-A
Reasons to buy
+Affordable for performance+Solid coverage for single unit+Advanced security options+Reduces battery drain on connected devices
Reasons to avoid
-Limited USB ports-Max data transfer not as high as some

Affordable and Wi-Fi 6 were mutually exclusive concepts for a router as recently as last year, but the TP-Link Archer AX50 (a.k.a. AX3000) is one option that proves this is no longer the case coming in under $150.

While gamers or those with extensive smart home needs may need more than the four gigabit LAN ports and USB 3.0 Type-A port available on the TP-Link Archer AX50, it is more than enough for most users. You get the most up-to-date Wi-Fi 6 tech along with other enhancements like MU-MIMO and beamforming. At 12.99 x 9.65 x 2.95-inches, it is on the larger side which depending on your setup may not be convenient. 

Gamers looking for the highest throughput possible might want to take a look at our gaming-specific recommendation (see below) and those with larger homes (over 2,500 square feet) should consider a mesh option, but the TP-Link AX50 manages to make Wi-Fi 6 accessible without sacrificing anything that will impact the majority of users.

Best Wi-Fi routers: Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 (Image credit: Asus)

4. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000

Best Wi-Fi 6 router for gamers

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ax/Tri-Band
Max Data Transfer: 11Gbps
Antennas: 8
Size: 9.4 x 9.4 x 2.8-inches
Ports: 4 1-Gbps LAN, 2 USB Type-A
Reasons to buy
+Blazing fast speeds+Excellent performance at range+Extensive customization and optimization for gamers via software
Reasons to avoid
-Large footprint-Pricey

While the best Wi-Fi routers don't need to support Wi-Fi 6 just yet, gamers are one category of buyers that can’t wait to take advantage of the speed and latency advantages available via a Wi-Fi 6 router. Asus was early on the market with the ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 and it remains one of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers you can buy.

The tri-band design can deliver up to 10.8Gbps over its dual 5.0GHz and single 2.4Ghz channels. The eight antennas can be rotated to optimize the signal depending on the layout of your home and placement of the router (they are replaceable if you want to upgrade them later). The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is definitely not shy about being a gaming router,  with its RGB lighting and a bold angular design. 

While the router offers solid coverage for approximately a 3,000 square foot home on its own, it’s worth noting that additional Asus routers can be added on via the company’s AiMesh system (it doesn’t have to be the exact same unit) to fill in a gap in coverage if necessary. One other highlight for the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is how well it performs at greater distances, which, depending on the layout of your home and placement of your router, could be a big selling point.

Best Wi-Fi routers: TP-Link Archer A7

TP-Link Archer A7 (Image credit: TP-Link)

Best budget Wi-Fi router

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac/Dual-Band
Max Data Transfer: 1.3Gbps
Antennas: 3
Size: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.3-inches
Ports: 4-Gbps LAN, 1 USB Type-A
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Solid speeds+Excellent software and warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Somewhat limited range-Lacks higher-end features

If you are looking to spend less than $50 on a new router then the TP-Link Archer A7 is the easy answer. Like its larger sibling, the TP-Link Archer C2300, the Archer A7 isn’t going to win any design awards for its simple black casing and three antenna array. Sill, the end result is a solid performer for an amazing price.

The app and web-based customization tools are easy to use and let you set a variety of options to optimize your network for specific activities. For example, you can enable parental controls along with some basic security features.

The limitations with the TP-Link Archer A7 are the overall range, which is probably sufficient for a roughly 2,500-square foot home and multiple users hitting the network hard with taxing activities like 4K streaming or gaming. The best Wi-Fi routers don't have to be the most expensive options.

Best Wi-Fi routers: Netgear Orbi 6 AX6000

Netgear Orbi 6 AX6000 (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

6. Netgear Orbi 6 AX6000

Best high-end mesh Wi-Fi router

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ax/Tri-Band
Max Data Transfer: 6Gbps
Antennas: 8
Size: 10 x 2.8 x 7.5-inches
Ports: 4 1-Gbps LAN
Reasons to buy
+Excellent range and expandable+Easy to set up+Smart speaker integration
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Overkill for most users-Large footprint

If you go for the spare-no-expense model of tech purchasing, then let me introduce you to the Netgear Orbi 6 AX6000, a Wi-Fi 6 router that offers the best speeds of any mesh network option on the market. The downside is that it costs more than twice what a solid mesh option like the Nest WiFi will give you, and delivers advantages that will go unnoticed by most users.

Unless you have a gigabit connection in your home or are pushing around a lot of data within your home network, then you just aren’t going to appreciate the faster speeds that are provided by the Netgear Orbi 6 AX6000. But if you are looking to future proof your home setup, this router is going to be ready to stream 4K or 8K video to multiple screens in your home without breaking a sweat. 

Coverage shouldn’t be a problem with up to 5,000 square feet from the two-pack and additional satellites will add another 2,500 square feet of coverage each. While the white and silver design of the Netgear Orbi 6 AX6000 isn’t offensive by any means, you might not want it to be a  part of your room decor.

While it doesn’t have an integrated speaker like the Nest Wifi, you can control the system with voice commands from either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Extras aren’t really a big part of the experience with the Netgear Orbi 6 AX6000.  The same goes for the software, which doesn't have the same extensive customization options you’ll find from a gaming router or even our top recommendation, the TP-Link Archer C2300. It’s pretty much just focused on delivering the fastest performance across the widest coverage, and with that, it delivers.

Best Wi-Fi routers: Netgear Nighthawk AC2300 (RS400)

Netgear Nighthawk AC2300 (RS400) (Image credit: Netgear)

7. Netgear Nighthawk AC2300 (RS400)

Best Wi-Fi router for the security-conscious

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac/Dual-Band
Max Data Transfer: 2.3Gbps
Antennas: 3
Size: 11.2 x 7.3 x 2-inches
Ports: 4 1-Gbps LAN, 2 USB Type-A
Reasons to buy
+Extensive security features+Includes 3-year Bitdefender subscription+Easy setup
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive for performance-Limited range

The Netgear Nighthawk AC2300 can be a confusing option because it's a solid, mid-range router with a price closer to what you would expect for a mesh network or a high-performance router. So what are you paying extra for? Security. 

The Netgear Nighthawk AC2300 offers an abundance of security features baked in, like 802.11i data encryption and a double firewall that will help anyone on your network stay free from hackers and malware. Beyond that, it also includes a three-year subscription to Bitdefender Total Security, a comprehensive security suite that, by itself, would cost over $200. 

Beyond this functionality, it offers reasonable performance for those with less than 2,000 square feet to cover in their home and will deliver enough bandwidth for most families. The router also has a nice collection of ports, including four 1Gbps LAN ports and two USB Type-A ports, meaning you should have no problem getting any smart home or other connected devices up and running. It’s also worth noting that the antennas are removable and could be replaced with high-gain or amplified antennas if you need a bit of a signal boost.

Best Wi-Fi routers: Samsung SmartThings Wifi

Samsung SmartThings Wifi (Image credit: Samsung)

8. Samsung SmartThings Wifi

Best budget mesh Wi-Fi router

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac/Dual-Band
Max Data Transfer: 1.3Gbps
Antennas: 5
Size: 4.7 x 1.2-inches
Ports: 2 1-Gbps LAN
Reasons to buy
+Affordable for a mesh+Small and unobtrusive+Useful parental controls
Reasons to avoid
-Also serves as a SmartThings smart home hub-Easily expandable-Requires two apps

Mesh Wi-Fi routers and smart home tech have both been popular product categories over the last several years and Samsung has brought them together in the affordable SmartThings Wifi. Available as either a single unit or in a three-pack to take advantage of the mesh features, SmartThings Wifi is already less expensive than most of its competitors and also serves as a SmartThings hub, a device to manage your smart home devices that would cost over $100 on its own.

While each individual SmartThings Wifi doesn’t have a tremendous range, the combined three-pack should be sufficient to cover at least a 3,500 square foot home with enough bandwidth to keep all of your family’s devices streaming video while giving the required signal to smart home devices. One of the best Wi-Fi routers paired with one of the best smart home services is a nice combination.

Best Wi-Fi routers: Asus RT-AX88U

(Image credit: Asus)

9. Asus RT-AX88U

Best future-proof Wi-Fi 6 router

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ax/Dual-Band
Max Data Transfer: 6Gbps
Antennas: 4
Size: 11.8 x 7.4 x 2.4-inches
Ports: 8 1Gbps LAN, 2 USB 3.1 Type-A
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic Wi-Fi 6 performance+Solid built-in malware protection+Abundant ports+Easily configurable network options
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Limited Wi-Fi 6 devices still

The name isn't terribly memorable, but the Asus RT-AX88U is an impressive Wi-Fi 6 router and likely to be one of the best Wi-Fi routers available for some time. Available for between $300 to $350 you won't feel like you are being punished too much for future-proofing your wireless network even if you don't have too many Wi-Fi 6 devices just yet. 

The router comes with a wide assortment of ports to connect including eight 1Gbps LAN ports, and two USB 3.1 Type-A to connect up any peripherals. Built-in software includes Trend Micro AiProtection that provides both general security and parental control options.

With support for Wi-Fi 6 along with a host of other modern features like MU-MIMO, OFDMA and beamforming it is about as future-proof as they come and ready to handle a houseful of users without a problem. And if you want to prioritize the traffic from some devices, say a PS5 or Xbox Series X that's easy to set up in settings.

Serious gamers may want to consider our more gaming-specific option (see Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 above), but even those with larger homes could still consider the Asus RT-AX88U as it supports the Asus AiMesh allowing you to add additional compatible Asus routers as needed.

How to choose the best wi-fi router for you

While it can be daunting to look at even this list of the best wi-fi routers and identifying which is the right one for you, it really comes down to a few critical pieces of information about your needs. If you’ve made it through the list and still find yourself unsure then consider the factors below, which we have also addressed in our descriptions for each individual wi-fi router above, and then you should be able to return to the list and narrow it down to the best wi-fi router for you.

Square footage: If you live in a home or apartment that is less than 2,000 square feet this shouldn’t be much of a concern, every wi-fi router on our list will cover that space without issue. Larger homes will need to consider a more powerful router and those with especially large or unusual layouts will probably be best served by a mesh option to cover every corner of your space.

Max Data Transfer Speeds: Your needs here will depend both on what you are doing with your network and the number of users on it simultaneously. The more data intensive tasks you are running and the more users you have the higher you want this number to be. For a single user even the 1.3Gbps in our lowest end options will be sufficient in most situations, a family will probably want to look to the 2.2Gbps and up options, while 6Gbps and beyond are the territory for those with particularly high-end needs or those looking for a future-proof solution.

Extras: A bit of a catch-all here, but if there is some specific need or focus that you have that can help you identify the best wi-fi router for you quickly. Are you particularly security conscious? We gave you an option for that. Do you want an option that also integrates your smart home technology? We have a couple of different options there. Are you a hardcore gamer or looking to be able to stream 8K content? Again there are options above tailored to both of these activities.

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.