The 7 Best Routers in 2021
Stable streaming and Wi-Fi connectivity await you on our list of the best routers in 2021.
These days, no one settles for subpar wireless connectivity. Not only is Internet access important for our social lives, but it’s also an important aspect of our professional jobs or job hunting. Stable Internet connectivity is also important for entertainment; almost everyone streams their favorite shows or plays video games online.
So when we went searching for the best routers in 2021, we only chose products that truly impressed us or that had features that make them stand out from the rest of the market. In general, we think that the TP-Link AC4000 is the best choice for a majority of users due to its high speeds and excellent range. But the NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S AC4000 is a solid choice if you’re a serious gamer, while the TP-Link AC1200 is an exceptional pick for larger homes or families.
Regardless of your needs, we’re certain that a perfect router awaits you in our guide below.
TP-Link AC4000 Smart WiFi Router
Best Router Overall
Why should you buy this? The TP-Link AC4000 Router is a superb piece of equipment, featuring advanced security software, excellent bandwidth maximum capabilities, and fantastic range.
Who’s it for? This is the perfect router for everyone, but it’s especially good for larger families or those who want uninterrupted streaming no matter what.
Why we picked the TP-Link AC4000:
This phenomenal router is among the best on the market, featuring AC4000 tri-band speeds. Basically, this translates to a high upper maximum bandwidth, meaning you’ll be able to funnel more Internet traffic through your router without suffering. As a result, it’s an ideal choice for larger groups of people that need to share the same device.
It even has specialized software to eliminate buffering and allow you to connect to multiple devices at the same time. Further software developments include a special range boost technology, which improves Wi-Fi coverage throughout a larger home, and advanced security software to protect your network from any malicious attacks.
All of these excellent features are bolstered by a two-year warranty and 24/7 technical support. All things considered, this router has virtually everything you could want from a wireless networking device.
TP-Link N300 Wireless Wi-Fi Router
Best Cheap Router
Why should you buy this? The TP-Link N300 Router is an affordable but effective router option for those who need dependable Internet access without completely emptying their wallets.
Who’s it for? This is a perfect router if you need affordable and reliable access to the Internet, as well as a stable Internet connection, but don’t have too much money to spend on more advanced routers.
Why we picked the TP-Link N300:
This router offers an excellent Internet connectivity solution for an affordable asking price. It features twin antennas that can greatly increase the wireless connectivity and stability of your home network, plus an easy setup assistant to help you install the router once you set it up. It offers speeds up to 300 Mb per second, which is fine for casual gaming or for general video streaming.
There’s also a suite of parental controls, making this a great budget option for smaller families that still want to monitor the Internet activity of their children. It includes several ethernet ports to let you connect to wire devices, although its primary function is as a wireless piece of equipment.
While it’s not the fastest router on the market, nor does it have the most technologically advanced features, it’s still a solid choice that can provide Internet connectivity you can depend on when you need it most.
D-Link Exo Wi-Fi Router AC2600
Best High-End Router
Why should you buy this? Those in the market for a higher-quality piece of equipment will not want to skip the D-Link Exo Wifi AC2600 Router, which offers excellent streaming and gaming performance and excellent internal software.
D-Link Exo AC2600
Who’s it for? This is an ideal choice for those who want a hard-core Internet router that will never fail them, even if they tax its internal systems to the limit with higher than normal amounts of Internet traffic.
Why we picked the D-Link Exo AC2600:
This router has everything you could imagine. It features four antennas to boost Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home, plus potential Wi-Fi speeds of up to 2600 Mb per second. This is excellent for gaming or streaming in high definition; in fact, this router can handle four data streams simultaneously, allowing for same-time streaming of a shell across multiple streams.
This is in part due to the dual-core processor that provides all of this power. It incorporates multiuser “MIMO” tech to boost its ability to stream video on multiple devices. This is accompanied by additional advanced smart beam technology to boost its range across your house. It also offers two USB ports and an intuitive user interface that makes the router easy to set up from your mobile device.
In total, it’s a top-tier router suitable for those who will only settle for the best of the best.
NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S Smart Wi-Fi Router AC4000
Best Router for Gaming
Why should you buy this? The Netgear Nighthawk X6S is a top Wi-Fi router for gaming, largely because of its phenomenal potential maximum speed and its high amount of coverage.
NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S AC4000
Who’s it for? This is an ideal router for those who spend lots of time gaming competitively and want to be on an even playing around with their opponents.
Why we picked the NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S AC4000:
When it comes to competitive or serious gaming, a bad Wi-Fi connection can seriously mess with your chances of success. That won’t be a problem with this router, which offers rock-solid Wi-Fi connections at potentially 4000 Mb per second. This will allow you to keep up with your opponents and it comes with software built in to prevent any buffering or slowing down of your connection during the critical moment. You can thank the 1.8 GHz processor included in the hardware for that.
It also features six amplified antennas and some of the best Wi-Fi range we’ve seen on a router. This allows it to be capably used by multiple people at the same time and across a very large house. It further features smart connectivity software, plus Amazon Alexa voice controls. It even has two USB connections, so you can obtain a wired connection to the router if you’d rather go with the classical solution to network buffering.
All in all, this is the top Wi-Fi router for gaming because it has everything you need to ensure that your network will give you any trouble when you’re competing.
WAVLINK AC1200 Wi-Fi Router
Best Wireless Router
Why should you buy this? The Wavlink AC1200 Router is an excellent wireless device that is perfect for smaller homes or offices, offering balanced capabilities and an affordable asking price.
Who’s it for? This is a great choice for those in need of a solid Wi-Fi connection and who are looking for a Wi-Fi router that can offer consistent wireless performance.
Why we picked the WAVLINK AC1200:
This router doesn’t do any one thing particularly well, except for providing consistent and reliable wireless connectivity across a small home or office. It can offer Wi-Fi speeds up to 300 Mb per second, but it also has a separate 5 GHz band that can reach up to close to 1000 Mb per second. This allows you to switch between the bands depending on the task or activity you are attempting.
It features excellent antennas that can expand the wireless coverage of the router, providing excellent performance even in rooms far from the router’s home location. It also features a power amplifier to increase the energy of the signal and improve consistency even further. Add to all of those features four Ethernet ports and several integrated security protocols and you have a top-tier product that’ll be suitable for many users.
TP-Link AC1200 Smart Wi-Fi Router
Best Router for Long Range
Why should you buy this? The TP-Link AC1200 Smart Wi-Fi Router is a phenomenal piece of equipment that offers some of the longest range possible from a 4-antennae device.
Who’s it for? This is the perfect choice for larger homes for those who need to ensure Wi-Fi performance while working outdoors or away from the main router device.
Why we picked the TP-Link AC1200:
This router features four high-quality antennas, each of which works together to provide long-range coverage at 1200 MB per second speed. This limits the buffering or stuttering you might experience while streaming content, even if your current device is significantly farther from the router than other computers.
It further features a special AP mode that can let you share your Internet network wirelessly. A proprietary link tether at will let you easily set up and manage the home network, even from a remote distance. This is, again, due to the high quality of the antennae and their superior construction.
It also comes with a two-year warranty and 24/7 tech support, so there’s great value for money contained with this purchase.
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router R7000
Best Router for Streaming
Why should you buy this? The Netgear Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi R7000 Router delivers top-tier speed at maximums of 1900 MB per second, making it an excellent device for smooth streaming of Netflix and other services.
NETGEAR Nighthawk R7000
Who’s it for? This router is an excellent choice for those who love to stream their favorite shows uninterrupted.
Why we picked the NETGEAR Nighthawk R7000:
This router is the top choice for fans of streaming services thanks to its excellent wireless speeds, which can reach up to 1900 MB per second, and it’s 1800 square-foot coverage. It’s also powerful enough to handle up to 30 devices at the same time, so you can share Netflix across an entire household with ease.
But its true value comes with the five ethernet cables integrated into its chassis. Wired ethernet ports will let you incorporate computers or TVs into the router, ensuring a smooth TV streaming performance that is unhampered by the limitations of purely wireless connections. Essentially, this router is the best for streaming because it A) provides great speed regardless and B) has lots of opportunities for groups to connect and stream at the same time.
There are also two USB ports to add further versatility, plus several software suites that let you wirelessly connect to different services, such as Amazon Alexa voice controls. Parental controls are included, as well. Add to that the proprietary Netgear Armor software, which protects your network from Internet threats, and it’s impossible to understate the value of this router.
How we test
Although more people use the Internet than ever before, few understand what separates a great router from a mediocre one. We put our substantial technical knowledge to the test as we examined a wide variety of wireless routers for your consideration. To test their capabilities, we used each router below with both a desktop and a laptop computer, then ran several download speed tests using third-party providers. This is how we determined the actual speed every router and figured out which router would be best for each need.
Best Routers FAQ
What is a Router?
Put simply, a router is a piece of hardware that allows devices on your local home network (which can include your computer or mobile devices) to wirelessly communicate with the Internet. Think of it as a bridge between your home network and the greater Internet beyond. The technical term for a router is a “residential gateway”.
Additionally, routers are often responsible for the security of your home network and for issuing unique IP addresses for your computer and any other devices on that network.
What is the Difference Between a Modem and a Router?
You’ll recall that a router worked to wirelessly connect your computer or local home network to the Internet. A modem does the exact same thing, except it connects your computer to the Internet via a wired connection. Modems use ethernet cables to jack your computer to the Internet and are in turn connected to a port located in most modern homes. Prior to this development, most modems had to be plugged into your phone or used the same line as a home phone.
This is what caused the 1990s phenomenon where people couldn’t talk on the phone and connect to the Internet at the same time.
What to Look for in a Router
You might have wondered, “What router do I need?” One of the best ways to determine the best router for your needs is to know what to look for.
For starters, pay attention to the number in a given router’s name. The number after AC dictates the maximum bandwidth that a router can provide. More bandwidth allows for potentially higher top speeds. For instance, the TP-Link AC4000 Smart WiFi Router has a maximum bandwidth of 4000mbps.
Next, consider whether your wireless router is dual-band. Dual-band routers can broadcast on two frequencies, which can allow you to surf the Internet onto networks or use two passwords for added security. More bands extend this capability.
Also consider a router’s processing power and RAM, or random-access memory. Both of these determine how fast it will be able to update and allow Internet traffic, as well as, handle potential security violations. The D-Link Exo Wi-Fi Router AC2600, as an example, has a wonderful processor to improve its performance.
Finally, get a router with at least one USB port if you plan to connect other devices besides your computer to the router at some point. USB ports are very versatile and are great for families or for shared routers. The NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router R7000 has two, which is part of what makes it so great.
What is the Difference Between a Bridge Mode and Mesh Mode Router?
Wi-Fi bridges and mesh tech both help your router to connect to the Internet without the use of ethernet cables. But they go about it in different ways.
Wi-Fi Bridges are appliances that set up a fixed configuration for Internet access from one point to another. They are usually used outdoors but can be used to bridge an outdoor location to an indoor location. Bridges are great for carrying lots of data across vast distances.
Wi-Fi Mesh tech, on the other hand, allows a computer to wirelessly connect to a cabled Internet access point. Wi-Fi mesh tech doesn’t just bridge your computer to the Internet but also allows for multiple connections to a single cabled access point.