In contrast, less expensive routers are limited to much slower data transfers over USB 2.0 (the Archer AX20, for example) or lack USB connectivity entirely (the D-Link DIR-X1560, for instance). The upstream speed is 123Mpbs which is par the course. We’ll evaluate them as they become readily available. We also tested or evaluated the Asus RT-AC86U and Asus Blue Cave, the D-Link DIR-2680, the Linksys MR8300, the Motorola MR1700 and MR2600, and the TP-Link Archer A5, Archer A6, and Archer A10 for previous versions of this guide. Access point: An access point provides a Wi-Fi connection to your devices but passes all its data back to the main router via an Ethernet cable to be sorted. The company confirmed to us that the hardware was “almost identical” but that “the available firmware features on each model may vary.”. Dual-band kits like the Netgear Nighthawk MK62 took fairly significant hits to performance, as the 5 GHz radios in those kits have to split time between connecting local clients like the laptops and communication with the base units. If your house is wired for Ethernet, you don’t need a mesh-networking kit. TP-Link has announced the Deco X90 mesh system at CES 2020, but it still has not been released. At its best, the A7 is capable of speeds of about 430 megabits per second, a figure that conveniently matches some midtier and “performance” internet service plans. As of this writing, COVR-2202 stocks are low, so it shouldn’t be too hard to avoid it. Joel became attracted to service journalism after answering many “What’s good?” questions while working as an IT manager and technician. In an addendum to our mesh-networking guide, we found that a Ubiquiti setup with wired UAP access points outperformed a top mesh-networking kit in wireless-only mode. These tests simultaneously evaluated range, throughput, and the router’s ability to multitask. The tri-band kit was a strong competitor, but it was (and still is) too expensive. We tested for speedy throughput (streaming simulated 4K video and file downloads), long range (downloading a huge file), and short latency (simulating two simultaneous browsing sessions). We encountered this issue once during our previous testing: One of our laptops, an Acer, would connect to a router’s wireless-ac network but drop the speeds to almost nothing. TP-Link WDR6320 Wireless Router. If Ethernet is an option in your home, you should use wired access points rather than mesh. Motorola MH7023 And make no mistake, the Asus RT-AX88U is pricey, about double the cost of the TP-Link Archer AX50. The Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) looks like our top pick, but it adds compatibility for the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, along with extra WPA3 network security. Photo: Michael Hession. We don’t think the Archer A7 would be as robust as the AX50 or AX20 for a larger home with dozens of devices—it has less RAM and a weaker processor, and it’s only Wi-Fi 5 compliant—but this router is certainly sufficient for a starter home or an apartment with fewer smartphones and PCs. If the A7 works pretty well for you, but you have a stubborn dead zone it can’t reach, you can extend its range with compatible TP-Link OneMesh extenders. Safer: Most modern wireless routers provide a unique IP address for all your Internet-connected devices.Because IP addresses are unique and undisclosed, your network is not vulnerable to hackers. But the only router that was notably faster is also notably more expensive: Our upgrade pick, the Asus RT-AX88U, was more than 20% faster but typically costs as much as double the price. This isn’t an unusual use case in homes that would particularly benefit from a mesh setup, but only 4 of the 11 mesh kits tested well in this situation, with the CT8 on top. Here are the top wireless routers you must consider when shopping around for one this 2020. In addition to being one of the most expensive mesh kits here, the Orbi RBK752 failed one of our 4K streaming tests while the network was crowded. The best router 2020 has to offer boast the best range and speeds necessary for everything we do online. The ZenWiFi AX (XT8) is almost a clone of our CT8 pick, but with significant upgrades in the form of future-proof technologies like Wi-Fi 6 and WPA3. A range extender will generally create a second network name (SSID) when you set it up, and you’ll need to change networks on your phone or other devices manually when you switch from the standalone main router to the extender in your home. While many recent reviews tout Wi-Fi 6 as the solution to all your wireless problems, our tests and research led us to continue to recommend a Wi-Fi 5 (aka 802.11ac) mesh kit as our pick. The Linksys Velop AX4200 (MX12600) is another tri-band kit that shows excellent performance on our latency and throughput tests, finishing just behind the Asus ZenWiFi AC and ZenWiFi AX, and just ahead of the Eero Pro 6. Among the parental controls, it offers basics such as time limits, content filtering, and bedtime settings. At longer distances or on very busy networks, it’s noticeably slower than our more expensive picks. It has support for WPA3 security, but that’s one of the few settings you can change beyond network name and password. The UniFi software on the UDM (or a controlling PC with the app) lets you administer the UAP access points. The Google Nest Wifi is available as a 2-pack or a 3-pack. A deep dive into why Wi-Fi kind of sucks, Serious flaws leave WPA3 vulnerable to hacks that steal Wi-Fi passwords, What is WPA3? Joel became attracted to service journalism after answering many “What’s good?” questions while working as an IT manager and technician. It did fail one of our 4K streaming tests and one of the browsing tests when the network was fully loaded. Arris has released the SURFboard mAX mesh Wi-Fi system based around three models with increasing speed promises (and prices). One thing to note is that while most of our competitors were able to download at 25 Mbps or better at long range, the Linksys MR7350 and D-Link DIR-X1560 failed to break the 10 Mbps barrier. You can trust our veteran journalists, scientists, and experts to find the best stuff The best mesh WiFi routers offer a solid, unified WiFi network no matter where you are. From The Wirecutter: The best Wi-Fi router (for most people, anyway) The Wi-Fi 5 version of the Eero mesh kit is compatible with previous Eero hardware, so you can use them to expand an existing Eero mesh network. This 1200M dual-band wireless router may be the best choice within $50. A deep dive into why Wi-Fi kind of sucks, Ars Technica, March 4, 2017, Dan Goodin, Serious flaws leave WPA3 vulnerable to hacks that steal Wi-Fi passwords, Ars Technica, April 11, 2019, Eric Geier, What is WPA3? Overall setup with TP-Link, either through the Tether smartphone app or the administration website, is quick. Now that working from home is just as important as gaming and streaming, defeating Wi-Fi dead zones is more important than ever. This makes the budget-priced Eero 6 less of a bargain. One notable feature is that it keeps a historical log noting when it has blocked malware sites; you can monitor this log and use it to warn family members that the bad sites they’re visiting are trying to phish them, for example. Why we chose it Best-in-class performance. If a kit rockets off the chart at the 75th percentile, for example, that means one frustratingly slow page loads out of every four. For the tests in our 2017 house, the UAP-AC-Lite access points were in the same sites as our multi-hop configured mesh kits—one in the network closet, one atop the living room TV island, and one downstairs in the den. Whether you’re dealing with slow speeds or Wi-Fi dead zones, a new router can significantly improve your internet experience. See the How we tested section below for more details on our testing method and results. The TP-Link Archer AX6000, the company’s top-of-the-line home router, has eight retractable antennas that make it look like an upside-down spider. The COVR-2202 did well in our tests against the new contenders, but we have also read reports that some folks have had technical issues with the COVR mesh kit. If your router is more than a couple of years old and is struggling in more places than not, a new router or a mesh-networking kit will improve your Wi-Fi’s range, stability, and speed all over your home. Which Building Materials Can Block Wi-Fi Signals? Wi-Fi 5 (and some Wi-Fi 4) laptops, phones, and other devices will continue to dominate your home for the next few years, and the premium that Wi-Fi 6 demands just isn’t worth it yet. (Though it is available on the XT8, our upgrade pick.) Your internet service plan acts as a speed limit on your connection to the internet. TP-Link is one of the best router companies in the world and has been leading the industry in technological development and technological innovation. Jesse Hollington is a tech writer with 10+ years' experience. In addition, we consulted customer reviews on Amazon and Newegg, plus professional router reviews and performance rankings from CNET, Dong Knows Tech, PCMag, PCWorld, SmallNetBuilder, and Trusted Reviews, to generate our list of contenders. From mesh to gaming to Wi-Fi 6, these are the best we've tested. Compared with our top pick, the Asus RT-AX88U has far more RAM (1 GB versus 256 MB) and a faster, quad-core processor, so we’d wager it would be faster than the AX50 if we were to add more devices to the network. The CT8 mesh units aren’t the largest in our roundup, but they’re close. Again, the Asus RT-AX88U was able to speedily serve each client simultaneously, with a minimal wait between each request. We could surmise that installing one of Ubiquiti’s access points or its UniFi AP BeaconHD mesh node near the garage could improve its signal and therefore its performance; we’ll test that arrangement for our upcoming update to our mesh-networking guide. It was just behind its more expensive sibling, the ZenWiFi AX (XT8), at close range and in the attic where the test laptop was all but guaranteed to connect through a mesh point. The TP-Link Archer AX50 is reasonably priced, yet it can handle a growing selection of laptops and smart devices while surpassing the performance of routers that cost twice as much. Plume’s prime selling point is also its greatest drawback: you are locked into paying for an ongoing $99 annual subscription for cloud-based, active network optimization. Tri-band routers have an extra 5 GHz band in addition to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands of a dual-band router. But the more devices you cram onto a single radio, the more problems you’ll encounter. Wirecutter is reader-supported. The biggest improvements in Wi-Fi 6 concern how routers handle simultaneous connections to multiple devices—an increasingly common cause of wireless problems in busy households. Most people, however, don’t need mesh Wi-Fi and can do just fine in smallish homes and apartments with a regular router. The majority of the routers were able to top 500 Mbps at close distances, with the best-performing router, the Asus RT-AX88U, reaching over 640 Mbps. Putting devices in the right places is key to any mesh network’s success. If you want to make the leap to a Wi-Fi 6 router, it's important to learn what these wireless internet routers can (and can't) do for you, as well as some of the best ones to consider. It has a lifetime subscription to Plume, and has a built-in SmartThings hub, but it finished close to the bottom of the pack in 2019. WPA3 is the newest WPA security standard, but lack of WPA3 isn’t a dealbreaker yet, since devices with WPA3 security are still rare. You can see that in the “one jump” results in the attic. Your router won’t send you an email or automatically pop up an alert when a new firmware update is available. It also means that you can connect the second CT8 to the first with an Ethernet cable for quicker speeds between mesh nodes (aka “wired backhaul”), if your home is wired for that. Here's what you need to build the best home network along with reviews of our top-rated routers for a range of needs and budgets. D-Link doesn’t sell individual COVR-2200 nodes, so the kit has limited expandiability, beyond buying multiple kits. We started by placing the main router or node in the living room, in the center of our testing space, and connecting it to our cable modem via Ethernet. In particular, the UDM was less responsive on a vital test—long-distance latency on a busy network—than the Asus. And it actually topped the XT8 in one of the bedrooms that proved a particularly tough testing spot. These include routers from Asus (RT-AX56U, RT-AX58U, RT-AX86U), D-Link (DIR-L1900, DIR-X5460, DIR-X1870), Edimax (BR-6473AX), Netgear (RAX20, RAX50, RAX70), QNAP (Qhora-301W), TP-Link (Archer AX21, AX3200) and Zyxel (Armor G5). FAQs. We evaluated the tri-band Linksys Velop WHW0303 and dual-band version of the Linksys Velop router kit in a previous version of our guide. The TP-Link Archer AX50 wasn’t far behind. At short range, the advantage of Wi-Fi 6 was less pronounced, as the AX50 roughly tied with a handful of other routers in speed at a little over 500 Mbps. Linksys EA6350 AC1200 + Dual-Band Smart Wi-Fi Wireless Router The Linksys EA6350 is a dual-band router that offers blazing 5GHz throughput speeds, four Gigabit LAN ports, and a fast … To do that, we needed multiple laptops, simulating a busy little real-world network; you can read more about how we set up the network and what tests we ran above. If you don’t have Ethernet wiring or can’t install it, you can’t use UAP. During testing, the six laptops, our wired controller laptop, and an Apple iPhone running the router app (if needed) were the only devices connected to the test network. If you need (or like) to tweak your network settings for specific cases such as gaming or content streaming, or because you need to give critical devices priority over others, the RT-AX88U offers lots of switches and sliders to change those settings in its administration console. Instead of using a single router, mesh-networking kits use multiple access points spread around your house to improve the range and performance of your Wi-Fi. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. What about using those extra streams to connect to another device at the same time? These kits promised more performance, added range, extra capacity, and more powerful radios. 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