Wireless technology is something that we truly take for granted these days. It was the stuff of science fiction up until recently, and it has become the norm today.
Just try to imagine your day without Wi-Fi.
Chances are that you can’t.
Indeed, a bad Wi-Fi signal at home is enough for anyone to become annoyed with their Internet service provider, but you’d be surprised just how much Wi-Fi quality relies on the router itself.
If you want the best wireless experience, you will need the best router, which is exactly what we will be addressing here: the very best wireless routers of 2020!
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Top 7 Wireless Routers For 2020
Without any further ado, here is a comprehensive review of the best WiFi routers for 2020!
|802.11ac||11.22 x 7.26 x 1.97 in (285 x 184.5 x 50 mm)||1.65 lbs (750 g)|
|802.11ac||9.6 x 6.4 x 1.3 in (243 x 160.6 x 32.5 mm)||2.2 lbs (997 g)|
|802.11b/g/n||7.48 x 4.9 x 1.45 in (190 x 125 x 37 mm)||0.6 lbs (300 g)|
|802.11ac||10.12 x 7.24 x 2.2 in (257 x 184 x 56 mm)||1.29 lbs (558 g)|
|802.11ac||4.1 x 4.6 x 7.5 in (104 x 116 x 190 mm)||1.9 lbs (861 g)|
|802.11ac||6.7 x 3.1 x 8.89 in (170 x 78 x 225 mm)||3.9 lbs (1769 g)|
|802.11b/g/n||3.56 x 1.02 x 5.02 in (90 x 26 x 127 mm)||0.26 lbs (117 g)|
Now that you’ve seen our overview, shall we move on over to our detailed reviews of each router we’ve decided to include?
NETGEAR Nighthawk R6700
About the Router
Netgear is a California-based tech company founded in 1996. As the name implies, they are focused on equipment such as routers, modems and other types of networking equipment. These include both personal and business solutions, and a wide price range as well.
The Nighthawk R6700 sports an unusual design somewhat reminiscent of the stealth plane that bears the same name. It is made of high-quality black plastic, with three antennae attached to the back of the device. All in all, it is a powerful and well-made wireless router, but what does it offer in practical terms?
- Wi-Fi – The Nighthawk has a maximum Wi-Fi speed of 1750 Mbps. It is a dual-band router, meaning that it broadcasts the Wi-Fi signal at two frequencies – 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz – the lower supporting speeds of up to 450 Mbps and the higher one going as far as 1300 Mbps. Moreover, it utilizes beamforming technology in order to ensure the highest possible coverage.
- Ports – The Nighthawk includes 4 LAN ports and a single WAN port on the back, as well as one USB 3.0 port on the front.
- Software – Coming with the router is Netgear’s genie app. What this handy piece of mobile software does is allow you to fully control the router remotely. On top of that, it makes connecting other wireless devices much simpler through the use of QR codes.
Ultimately, Netgear’s Nighthawk R6700 is a fast and powerful wireless router for home and office use alike. It provides a stable signal that covers plenty of space and offers gigabit speeds to boot. This makes it ideal for gaming and streaming HD quality content, or just if you intend to have multiple devices connected wirelessly.
- Unstable firmware – Netgear’s stock firmware has proven to be quite unreliable when dealing with heavy workloads, resulting in random connection dropping, unstable signal etc. This is an issue that may easily be fixed by Netgear in the future, but until then, users who want to get the most out of the Nighthawk’s powerful hardware will have to resort to custom firmware for now.
- Unusual design – While this is not necessarily a downside and some would actually find it to be a good thing, there’s no denying that the Nighthawk’s bending sides are quite conspicuous, which may not always be a good thing. Granted, it looks powerful and futuristic, but some users may prefer their routers in a more minimalistic package.
- Excellent coverage owing to beamforming technology
- Gigabit speeds
- Easy management via genie app
- Firmware is not the best and can negatively affect Wi-Fi signal
- Design will not work for everyone
TP-Link Archer C1200
About the Router
TP-Link is a very recognizable name in the world of networking equipment. That’s no wonder, seeing as this Chinese giant had excelled in its field since 1996, and has also expanded into other areas later on. Today, in addition to a variety of networking devices, they have even created their very own smartphone brand, Neffos.
The Archer C1200 is one of TP-Link’s currently most popular solutions, and for a good reason. It is a sleek and compact device, with a glossy black exterior and subtle green LED lights that will blend well with almost any interior.
- Wi-Fi – The Archer C1200 has a namesake maximum speed of 1200 Mbps, which is achieved via dual-band technology. The higher frequency band handles up to 867 Mbits, while the lower frequency band covers the remaining 300. The signal is broadcast via the three antennae which are attached to the back of the device, and it is capable of providing a stable signal over a wide area.
- Ports – The Archer C1200 uses the standard configuration of 4 LAN and one WAN port, in addition to one USB 2.0 port, all of which are located on the back of the router.
- Software – This router uses TP-Link’s tether app, which allows for easy remote router management and even easier connecting using QR codes that can be scanned with the press of a button.
All in all, the Archer C1200 is a decent and versatile solution which balances price and quality quite well. Not only that, but it is also easy to set up and use while being relatively compact and stylish to boot. All of this makes it one of the best (if not the best) affordable routers available.
- Exterior prone to getting dirty– Even though people tend to agree that glossy black surfaces look aesthetically appealing, they also tend to agree that such surfaces are also fingerprint and dust magnets. This router’s top is no exception, and you will need to wipe it clean regularly or it can become quite unsightly.
- Gigabit speed
- Good coverage
- Great value for money
- Gets dirty easily
About the Router
Asus isn’t a company known for selling networking equipment. For the most part, this tech giant produces cutting-edge hardware but also has its sights on other secondary markets, and so wireless routers just happen to be a part of their inventory.
The RT-N12 is a compact, cheap and fairly simple device, far from what Asus has come to be renowned for. However, don’t think for a moment that you’re dealing with a poor quality router! Indeed, it may be small and nowhere near as powerful as some of the pricier competition, but it can definitely pull its weight.
- Wi-Fi – The RT-N12 is a single-band router that supports speeds of up to 300 Mbps. This signal is boosted by the two external detachable antennae that insert into the back of the device, and they can cover significant space thanks to a built-in signal amplifier. Moreover, the device uses 802.11b/g/n technologies, not including the latest 802.11ac.
- Ports – The router has 4 LAN and 1 WAN port on the back. Unfortunately, it does not support any means of USB connectivity.
- Software – There is no particular software accompanying the RT-N12, and all parts of the setup are done via a console that can be accessed through any web browser.
The Asus RT-N12 is a compact and sleek looking router that comes at quite a low price tag, without sacrificing much in terms of performance. Its main drawback is the speed which is limited by its single 2.4GHz band, but it can still maintain excellent coverage, so this shortcoming is not a big deal unless you also have a very fast Internet connection or need a large area covered with optimal signal strength.
- Limited speed – As said above, the router’s speed caps out at 300 Mbps, which would only be a problem for people who have high-speed fiber-optic Internet connection or need a number of devices connected.
- Flimsy build – Seeing as this is a 30$ router, an average all-plastic build was to be expected. Because of this, the device feels quite cheap and is prone to getting damaged, but this is more of a taste issue rather than a practical one.
- Compact size
- Decent Wi-Fi coverage
- Easy to install and use
- Detachable antennae
- No gigabit speeds
- Mediocre build quality
About the Router
Linksys is a long-standing American networking hardware company that was originally founded in 1988 and has come to be a subsidiary of Belkin in 2013. Today, their efforts are focused on the production of some of the best routers, modems, network switches and other related products and accessories.
The EA7500 is one of their premium quality routers. It is an impressive looking piece of tech, with a dark grey exterior and glossy black center, as well as three prominent external antennae. But looks aren’t everything, so how does this product fare in practice?
- Wi-Fi – With the EA7500, you’re looking at a dual-band signal that can go almost as far as 2 gigabits. The lower frequency band covers speeds up to 600 Mbps, while the higher frequency band can go as far as 1300 Mbps. On top of that, it uses beamforming technology to ensure optimal signal coverage.
- Ports – The router is quite flexible in this regard. The back of the device hosts the standard 4 LAN and 1 WAN port, while also having one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port.
- Software – The Linksys EA7500 is ready to work as soon as it is connected, and any customization is done either via the desktop or mobile versions of the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi app.
All things considered, the Linksys EA7500 is a very powerful router capable of covering large areas with a stable Wi-Fi signal, in addition to maintaining high speeds over the entire said area. It may be on the more expensive side, but the general quality offered by this product makes it more than worth the extra expense.
- Only one USB 3.0 port– This is far from a serious flaw, but given that the device comes with a high price tag and has two USB ports to start with, making one of those ports a USB 2.0 one just makes it seem like Linksys is holding out on their customers.
- High maximum speed
- Wide and stable coverage thanks to beamforming
- Good accompanying software
- Only one of the two USB ports is 3.0
About the Router
OnHub isn’t actually a company, but a product brand. Namely, it is a series of wireless routers which are a result of the collaboration between TP-Link and Google, neither of which need any formal introduction.
The OnHub AC1900 is a memorable piece of networking gear, as its design deviates greatly from the norm. Whereas wireless routers usually sport a blocky rectangular design which is quite common for such products, this OnHub router has a unique cylindrical exterior which allows it to blend well with almost any space.
- Wi-Fi – The router supports a total speed of up to 1900 Mbps, and the signal is broadcast using a total of 13 internal Wi-Fi antennae. On top of that, it also uses 1 Bluetooth and 1 Zigbee antenna, both of which serve some of the router’s additional functions.
- Ports – Seeing as it is a very Wi-Fi focused router, the OnHub AC1900 comes with fewer ports than what is commonly seen in other routers. They come down to 1 LAN and 1 WAN port, as well as a single USB 3.0 port, all of which are placed inconspicuously on the device’s lower back.
- Software – Using Google’s software, this router is one of the smartest routers currently on the market. It regularly scans for environmental and signal changes and also has advanced bandwidth allocation capabilities. To top it all off, it can be controlled easily with Google’s companion app.
It’s quite obvious that the OnHub AC1900 is a serious router for demanding users. Its stable and hefty signal coverage is only overshadowed by the dynamic smart capabilities which can greatly optimize the user’s Wi-Fi experience, be it in a home or office environment.
- Expensive – The router comes at quite a hefty price tag, which is understandable when considering the technology that goes into it.
- Only supports management via app – While you can connect a single device via an Ethernet cable, the router can still only be managed through Google’s mobile app. What this means is that only Android and iOS devices can access the control panel and that a desktop or laptop computer running on Windows cannot be used to configure the router.
- Inconspicuous minimalistic design
- Great signal coverage and stability
- Smart bandwidth allocation
- Easy to use and manage
- High price tag
- Can’t be managed via computer
About the Router
As we have previously introduced Netgear in the first entry on this list, they are a highly specialized manufacturer of networking equipment. One of the highly impressive and most noticeable parts of their arsenal is the Orbi wireless router.
The Orbi is one of those futuristic-looking pieces of equipment that many would only expect to see in movies. It is a sleek router with a pearly white exterior that strives to provide as much Wi-Fi coverage as possible, which it does by creating a sophisticated and responsive network in your home or office space by utilizing several routers and/or add-ons at once.
- Wi-Fi – The Orbi uses a highly advanced tri-band signal which can reach speeds as high as 3000 Mbps. Speed benefits aside, operating on three different frequencies allows for a much more reliable and stable connection, especially when a large number of devices are connected to the network.
- Ports – Similar to many other routers, the Orbi has 1 WAN and 3 LAN ports which are placed on the lower back of the device, in addition to a single USB 2.0 port.
- Software – The Orbi relies on the official Orbi app that is available both on Android and iOS devices. There is no need for user registration, and the router can be accessed as soon as it is set up.
There is no denying that Orbi is an amazing way to ensure that the entirety of your apartment is covered by a stable signal, with no dead zones, connection dropping or hindered speeds that are so common with other routers. And, as mentioned above, it uses several devices to create this web. Based on how many you use, you can easily cover an area as large as 7500 square feet.
- Expensive – As you might have expected, a tri-band router is not going to be cheap, least of all two or more of them. Because of the extremely high price tag, this solution will hardly be appealing to anyone but those with the highest performance requirements.
- Lack of in-depth control – While the mobile app is quite convenient and easy to use, it lacks some of the more powerful features that demanding users might require. And, since we’re dealing with a highly expensive router, some would definitely find that the Orbi leaves a lot to be desired in this department.
- Unprecedented signal quality over large areas
- Appealing minimalistic design
- Easy to set up and use
- Smart bandwidth allocation
- Very expensive
- Few customization options
About the Router
Unlike most of the others on this list, Tenda is hardly a household name. This Chinese company was founded in 1999, and they specialize in networking technology. And just because they are not as popular as some of the big names doesn’t mean that they are not delivering quality products!
The Tenda N301, however, is not so much a showcase of superior technology as it is an example of how a product can be extremely cheap and highly reliable at the same time. This small, simple-looking and affordable router is equipped with two antennae and is a great and inconspicuous home Wi-Fi solution.
- Wi-Fi – The N301 uses the now-dated 802.11b/g/n technologies to deliver wireless speeds of up to 300 Mbps. Moreover, it can maintain good signal strength thanks to the two antennae placed on either side of the device.
- Ports – Due to its compact size, this router is naturally limited in regard to how many ports can be incorporated into its design. Regardless, it still manages to offer 1 WAN and 3 LAN ports.
- Software – The router comes without any accompanying software. It has plug-and-play compatibility and all customization and management is done via a console accessible using any Internet browser.
In the end, what makes the Tenda N301 worthwhile? First and foremost, it is a highly affordable solution. More importantly, it doesn’t sacrifice lots in terms of quality. And lastly, its compact and inconspicuous frame make it ideal for smaller apartments.
- Not many customization options – As you may have expected from a budget router, it doesn’t have all the customizable features that the more advanced models would.
- Limited maximum speed – Seeing as it doesn’t use the latest 802.11ac technology, the wireless connection speed can only go as high as 300 Mbps. Because of this, those who intend on connecting many devices or those with a very powerful fiber optic connection would likely find it restrictive.
- Great value for money
- Easy setup
- Compact frame
- Limited customizability
- 802.11n speeds are capped at 300 Mbps
What to Keep in Mind When Making Your Pick
The Wi-Fi Technology
As you have most likely noticed, the majority of the routers listed here use 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology. To explain it without getting overly technical, the key difference between all of the different technologies is the maximum supported wireless speed.
Over the years, a number of technologies have been used, the most important being:
- 802.11 – The first and oldest form of Wi-Fi that appeared in the late 90s, it had a maximum transfer speed of 2 Mbps.
- 802.11b – The second generation with a maximum speed of 11 Mbps
- 802.11g/a – The third generation that pushed the maximum speed limit to 54 Mbps
- 802.11n – The fourth generation that took introduced 600 Mbps speeds
- 802.11ac – The fifth, latest and most powerful Wi-Fi technology that supports speeds of over 1 Gigabit.
Now, you would expect there to be some weighing of the pros and cons between the newest few of these technologies, but there is hardly any need for that seeing as 802.11ac dominates the modern market.
The only reason you may want to go with some of the older model routers that still use the older technologies is if you’re on a really tight budget. Otherwise, there is no need to do so, as the newer 802.11ac routers will decisively win both in terms of signal strength and coverage, in addition to having better up-to-date support.
The Area You Need Covered
Obviously, when you’re buying a wireless router for either your home or your office, you will need to keep signal coverage in mind. Needless to say, you’ll want to keep it optimal throughout the area, so what are the factors to consider?
- The size of the area
The first and most obvious is just size itself. The newer generation routers can all cover roughly 230 square feet (around 70 square meters) of space in the least, but some of them can cover even more, with or without the help of additional hardware.
Consider how big the area you wish to cover is, as well as whether you need to have the maximum possible signal strength throughout said area.
- Potential obstacles in the area
If you live in a small apartment or house, router placement is hardly a big deal. However, if it is a bigger house or office that you’re trying to cover, you’ll need to keep in mind the factors which might have a detrimental effect on the signal’s strength.
Pretty much every kind of physical obstacle will affect the signal, but the only ones that will affect it to an extent that it leads to a visible loss of signal strength are walls. Moreover, if the signal has to go through more than one wall, then this negative effect will be even more noticeable.
Therefore, if you think that this might be a problem in your case, prioritize routers that broadcast powerful, high-frequency signals. This will ensure that even areas separated with two or more walls will get a good signal.
The Best Wireless Router – Linksys EA7500
All things considered, the Linksys EA7500 is the best wireless router on this list without a doubt. And why is that?
Unlike most other entries on this list, it has no glaring or deal-breaking downsides. It is, all in all, a powerful 5th generation router that can provide a stable signal and Gigabit speeds in any environment.
Not only that, but the EA7500 model we have listed here is merely the most popular and best-balanced one. Linksys, however, also offers several more powerful and expensive solutions for the more demanding users that require even higher speeds and even better coverage.
The Best Budget Wireless Router – Asus RT-N12
It may be lagging behind the newer routers both in terms of speed, signal strength, and coverage, but the Asus RT-N12 is everything a decent budget product should be: affordable, reliable and more than capable of meeting most average users’ needs.
Oh, and the Asus RT-N12 can be used as a gaming router as well.