Your wireless router is responsible for handling all of the data that flows into (and out of) your house through your internet service provider. The best wireless routers in CR’s ratings will cover your whole house in a fast WiFi network, rushing data where it needs to go to keep Netflix movies and web pages humming along without a glitch.
But not every router performs that well.
“If I’m paying for a 200 megabit internet connection, can I actually get that fast with my wireless router?” says Richard Fisco, who oversees router testing for Consumer Reports. If you experience problems with dead spots or slow connections, it could be time to go shopping.
Top 10 Wifi Router
- AC1750 WiFi-450+1300 Mbps speeds
- 1GHz Dual Core Processor
- FASTER WIFI- Powerful WiFi can reach up to 1.2 Gbps for better WiFi speeds
- BETTER RANGE - Provides WiFi connectivity throughout your home for all your Internet-enabled devices.
- Wireless N speed up to 450Mbps, ideal for bandwidth-intensive tasks like HD video streaming, VoIP, and online...
- IP based bandwidth control allows you to determine how much bandwidth is allotted to each device, WPS button...
- A new type of connected system for seamless Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home, helping eliminate dead zones...
- Replaces your current router, and works your modem and internet service. It's compatible with major internet...
- Wireless internet router works with Alexa, compatible with all Wi-Fi devices, 802.11ac and older
- Dual band router upgrades to 1750 Mbps high speed internet(450Mbps for 2.4GHz + 1300Mbps for 5GHz), reducing...
- Long range Wi-Fi router-works great with wireless internet in homes offices restaurants. Works well with...
- Dual band Wireless router-thee actual speed of access to the Internet is based your internet service
- Faster WiFi Speed: N600 Dual Band WiFi delivers 300 + 300Mbps
- Ideal WiFi range for medium to large homes. System Requirements: Microsoft Windows 7, 8, 10,Vista, XP, 2000,...
- Dual band router upgrades to 1200 Mbps high speed internet(300Mbps for 2.4GHz + 900Mbps for 5GHz), reducing...
- Gigabit Ethernet ports, ideal for any internet plan and allow you to directly connect your wired devices
- Ultra-performance Mesh WiFi network blankets every inch of your home in super fast and seamless WiFi...
- Eliminates WiFi dead zones and buffering - 5,000 square feet of consistent coverage - with speeds up to 30...
- One of wireless routers for home which is compatible with all Wi-Fi devices, 802.11ac and older
- Gigabit router with 4 gigabit LAN ports, fast access to multiple connected wired devices, also ideal as gaming...
Love the One You’re With or.
If your internet service provider is your cable company, your router will plug into a cable modem, which provides your link to the internet. For other services—such as Verizon FiOS—the router may be combined with a broadband modem in a single box that your provider supplies when you sign up.
Besides an obvious reason—say, your router is broken—you might also consider a new model because:
1. You don’t want to buy or rent a router from your service provider.
2. You already have a broadband modem directly connected to a single computer but want to be able to go online with multiple devices.
3. Your router has only wired connectivity, but you want to go online with wireless devices, such as a laptop or tablet.
4. Your existing router is too slow or its wireless range is too short to reach important places in your home.
Sip or Gulp: Types of Wireless Routers
Until recently, Consumer Reports tested and rated both WiFi 4 (802.11n) and WiFi 5 (802.11ac) routers. But falling prices for the latter have rendered the former all but obsolete. Routers using WiFi 5 are significantly faster than those using WiFi 4, especially at close range. There is no reason to buy a WiFi 4 router, especially when the successor to the WiFi 5, WiFi 6 (802.11ax), is inbound.
The size and layout of your home will also affect performance. Before you go shopping, you should do an assessment of your house or apartment: the overall size, the building materials used, and where the router will be located vis-à-vis your media.
You have a small apartment where the router will be just a room away, or even in the same room. Distance won’t play as big a role, but you’ll still want speedy throughput capabilities. In our ratings, look for a router that performs with Excellent or Very Good throughput in both “near” and “midrange” situations.
For the Signal Gulper: More Throughput
You live in a large house with many rooms and more than one floor. You’ll want a router with a long range and strong data throughput at a distance. You should place the router in as central a location as possible. In our ratings, look for a model with Excellent or Very Good throughput in “far” situations.
The Router Limits
A router with top speed won’t necessarily improve the streaming performance of Netflix and YouTube videos. Across any network, data only moves as fast as the slowest connection. In most cases, the slowest connection for internet traffic is the one between your house and your internet service provider.
You can sign up for a faster connection from your service provider if you like. Unless you pay for connection speeds in excess of 200 Mbps, you’re unlikely to run up against the performance capabilities of most routers.
If your modem is located in a far corner of your home, even a router with a lot of throughputs can’t guarantee a good connection on the other side of the house. For this situation, mesh networks, which comprise two or more routers that work in unison, may be the solution.
Frequent Houseguests or Airbnb Visitors?
If so, use the guest network, which is available with all the routers we tested. It’s a second network that provides online access without you having to give guests your regular security password, giving them access to your primary network.
How Much Security Do You Need?
You should secure your router with a password using nothing less than WPA2 or WPA3 encryption. You’ll normally need to enter the password into each wireless device you use just once; afterward, the device will remember it. Security is especially important if you live in close proximity to others, such as in an apartment building or a crowded urban area.
Features to Consider
LAN ports are used to connect a computer to the router using an Ethernet cable. Many internet-connected smart-home devices, such as Philips Hue and Samsung SmartThings, require a LAN port-connected hub to function. If you need more LAN ports than the built-in ones, you can expand the number available by adding an Ethernet switch.
USB ports on a router are used for connecting to a flash drive, an external hard drive, or a USB printer if the router has a built-in print server.
Quality of Service (QoS)
Also called Media Prioritization or Traffic Control. If you’re the type who likes to play with your computer settings, you might appreciate the flexibility this feature offers. You can optimize the router’s performance depending on what you’re doing at a given time. For example, you can change the settings to work best for streaming videos, making Skype calls, playing games, or streaming music.
Accompanying almost every new router are apps that promise to simplify the task of setting up and making adjustments to your WiFi network. The apps make it easier than before to monitor which devices are connected to your network and adjust which devices get priority. These apps can also alert you when an update is available for your router.