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What's The Best Router To Buy

All routers should give you an idea of the amount of square footage they can cover, though some get more specific than others. For example, we recommend the TP-Link Archer A20 and xFi Pods, but both of those give an estimated range based on how many bedrooms are in your house.

what's the best router to buy

Router brands are releasing new technology all the time, and some of the more recent upgrades can make a positive impact on your online experience. Here are a few features you might want to look for when shopping for your new router:

Modern routers use beamforming to direct a Wi-Fi signal to a device. Before beamforming, routers would blast a Wi-Fi signal in all directions. You can think of beamforming as a more efficient, laser-targeted Wi-Fi signal that also results in a stronger connection.

As a modern alternative to the traditional router, you would be forgiven for thinking that a mesh router would automatically be "better" in all cases than a simple, standard device. However, this isn't always the case.

We now have to give more thought to the underlying connectivity in our homes. Mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, ranging from security cameras to smart appliances, have all increased the load shouldered by our routers.

This is where mesh networks come in. Designed to lighten the endpoint load and reduce congestion, mesh systems can be invaluable for maintaining connectivity, but they aren't suitable for every household. In some cases, you only need a high-quality standard router, whereas a mesh network could be overkill. When it comes to speed, Wi-Fi routers (and LAN cabling) are often king.

A traditional router acts as a central hub for Internet connectivity. Traffic requests from devices funnel through a main router's internet service and a single access point. Routers can be accessed through wireless channels or by plugging in an Ethernet cable. Typically, these routers are password-protected.

Standard routers are generally more affordable than mesh network products. While you still may expect to pay hundreds of dollars for a premium router, there are many options that are budget-friendly and both quick and stable enough to keep your home office running effectively without further input.

Gamers and live streamers, for example, should generally stick with wired Ethernet connections and traditional routers, as they will likely provide improved speeds and stability over wireless-first products.

A standard router is often less hassle to set up than a mesh network. For something that 'just works,' a typical router might be the best option. Set it up, make sure updates are automatically applied, and forget about it.

You can set up guest Wi-Fi networks on most modern routers, but if you also want to keep all of your IoT devices on a separate home network in the interests of security, most routers will allow you to do this without much hassle.

When you access the internet while in the kitchen, you would automatically connect to the hub, whereas you would jump on a node while you're in your home office, and so on -- and this blanket coverage is why mesh devices are great for larger homes or offices. Most mesh systems will automatically select the best channels and nodes to avoid dead zones and to lower the risk of poor connectivity.

The main benefit of a mesh network is extended coverage. Investing in a mesh setup will remove annoyances such as coverage blackspots or slow connections in larger properties with a lot of square feet. You're far less likely to have dead zones with a mesh system than you are with a single router access point.

Once a mesh network is active, many vendors allow users to control their system through a mobile app. This could include keeping an eye on network traffic, rebooting, or even turning off the Internet entirely -- perhaps an appealing prospect for those with children who don't want to mess with a typical router's configuration. In addition, some mesh networks also act as smart hubs and are compatible with voice assistants.

Coverage issues: As Internet access is distributed through a single point, this can mean that areas far away from your router will have slow or spotty connections that drop. Range extenders can help remove this barrier, and while they can still be cheaper than investing in a mesh network, it's an additional expense.

Tweaking: If you want to tweak the more advanced settings on a router, this can often require annoying visits to a platform via desktop, rather than the seamless mobile app connectivity we have learned to enjoy for many of our modern services.

However, it can be expensive to overhaul your existing router setup for a large home. Going for a full mesh system may be overkill unless you consistently have multiple users and connected devices competing for bandwidth.

If you're the only person using your network and need a stable, powerful internet connection -- such as for resource-hungry work applications or gaming -- a traditional router and an Ethernet cable may be all you need for reliable and rapid Internet access. Wired internet speeds should be quicker than wireless if the connection is working properly, and investing in a simple Ethernet cable, easy to find for no more than $10 or $15, could be enough. This could save you the cost of a complete overhaul.

Wi-Fi range extenders, too, could be considered an alternative to mesh if you need to boost coverage and throughput in some areas, and they will likely be less expensive than purchasing individual mesh nodes. Some vendors also offer mesh "bolt-ons," such as Asus' AiMesh, which creates a mesh-like coverage wireless network without ripping everything out and starting again. However, the downside is that you will probably have to spend some time setting them up and tampering with your router's configurations.

If your household has gamers using consoles casually, it shouldn't matter what type of router you use. However, professional and dedicated gamers will absolutely notice small lags or latency issues -- and they will want the best speed and stability available. In these cases, a wired, traditional router is likely your best bet.

Wi-Fi extenders can't be tweaked so easily. However, they are cheaper and are the best option if you just want to tackle a few dead zones, as you just need to plug one into your main router. Keep in mind that unlike mesh nodes, Wi-Fi extenders won't improve congestion or eradicate bottlenecks.

A new router is among the best upgrades you can purchase for your home. The router you buy will determine the network speeds of every device you own, from smartphones to game consoles and computers. A cutting-edge Wi-Fi 6 (sometimes seen as 802.11ax) router can deliver speeds many times faster than older Wi-Fi 5 (also known as 802.11ac) routers.

But which should you buy? I spent dozens of hours sorting through the hundreds of routers available, testing numerous models first-hand. I judged these routers not only by their Wi-Fi performance but also their ease of setup and use.

This led to a clear result: TP-Link's Archer AX73 is the best router for most people. Its Wi-Fi performance is close to the quickest routers I've handled, yet it's affordably priced, easy to set up, and doesn't take up too much space on a desk or shelf. I have also selected several alternatives including budget-priced, mesh, and gaming routers.

My tests show the Archer AX73, which supports Wi-Fi 6 and quotes a maximum wireless bandwidth of 5,400 Megabits per second (Mbps), is nearly as fast as high-end routers, like the and Linksys EA9500, Netgear Nighthawk RAX200, and TP-Link AX6600. When near the router, I see sustained real-world speeds of up to 682Mbps, which drops to 106Mbps in a detached home office. The AX73 was no more than 20% slower than top performers across my tests.

The AX73 comes with four Gigabit Ethernet ports, along with an inbound Gigabit Ethernet wide-area network (WAN) port, and has a single USB 3.0 port for connecting a storage device directly to the router. At this price, I would like support for faster WAN speeds, such as 2.5Gbps or 10Gbps Ethernet. This isn't a concern for most owners, however, as few people have access to internet service that exceeds Gigabit performance.

The AX73 is exceptionally easy to set up and use. The company's Tether app, which is used to set up and control most TP-Link routers, is among my favorites in the industry. The app is not required, however: TP-Link also offers a great web interface that can be accessed through a PC or Mac's web browser.

I like the look and size of the AX73. It's fairly conventional and, while larger than less expensive models, still reasonably easy to place on a shelf or desk. Other, faster routers take up more space and stick out more in a room.

The TP-Link Archer AX50 is an outstanding Wi-Fi router that effectively makes every other budget Wi-Fi router obsolete. You can buy a router for less, but the sacrifice you'll make in performance isn't worth the savings.

However, the AX50's performance remains respectable at range. It handled our two most demanding test scenarios (a living room chair on the opposite side of the house and a detached office) just as well as the more expensive AX73. This budget router also beats budget mesh systems like Google's Nest Wi-Fi.

The AX50 connects to the same intuitive, approachable Tether app used to set up other TP-Link routers. Router setup takes less than five minutes. Power users can still rely on an in-depth web interface accessible through a PC or Mac's web browser. It also has four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a single inbound Gigabit Ethernet WAN port, which is typical of most modern Wi-Fi routers.

Netgear's Nighthawk RAXE500 is perfect for those seeking extreme performance from a conventional Wi-Fi router. It delivers incredible Wi-Fi speeds over the new Wi-Fi 6E wireless standard.

Performance holds up at range, as well. I saw speeds up to 100Mbps in a detached office 50 feet and many walls away from the router. That's not as quick as the Linksys Atlas 6E mesh router featured below, but high enough to feel fast and reliable. 041b061a72


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