Best WiFi Routers 2021: 5 Top Wireless Routers Review & Buying Guide
More efficient, better WiFi performance, excellent coverage, more secure, more reliable, consistent WiFi connection, a wide range of connectivity and compatibility options, and future-proof, can be possible from a typical WiFi wireless router? No chance, right? However, the best WiFi Routers 2021 can give all of them.
In 2021, trust me, the bandwidth of a router is like oxigen, and you have to agree when I said – our dependence on the wireless router is growing each day. And you will also agree that our home are getting smarter and smarter, and we use tons of devices in our home – can you guess how many devices in your home which are connected to your WiFi wireless router?
If you ask me the same, there are 22 devices hooked up to my home WiFi. I also use some other networking devices as well, including range extenders, Mesh WiFi systems, wireless access points, PCI-E WiFi wireless adapter cards, ETC.
That being said, let me help you in buying the best wireless router for your home. I’ve reviewed the top five routers, after researching, comparing, and putting them into the testing, for 2021. Unlike others, I didn’t include more than five WiFi routers on my list in order to skip the confusion and to get a better idea. So choose one that matches your needs. I’ve also included buying guide and FAQ section below, which will help in your buying.
At A Glance: My Five Best Wireless Routers Of 2021
- ASUS AC3100 (RT-AC88U) – My Choice
- Netgear Nighthawk X4S AC2600 – Runner Up
- Linksys Max-Stream AC2200 – Budget-Friendly
- ASUS RT-AC5300- For Large Area
- TP-Link AC1750 Archer A7 – Best Priced
- Maximum WiFi speed Up to 3100Mbps
- Eight Ethernet Gigabit LAN Ports
- Up to 5000Sq. Ft WiFi Coverage
- 4×4 External Antennas With AiRadar Beamforming
- AiMesh Supported
The Asus AC3100 RT-AC88U is a dual-band router and comes with MU-MIMO compatibility. It also offers the AiProtection feature, which is powered by Trend Micro. Moreover, it has built-in game accelerator by WTFast chip, which ensures smooth gameplay during the multi-player online gaming. The RT-AC88U lets you connect multiple devices at the same time as it features MU-MIMO technology.
On the hardware side, the RT-88U is a feature-packed router. It is equipped with a 1.4Ghz dual-core processor, which is robust and power efficient. The RT-AC88U includes eight Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports; these ports lets you create multiple wired connections. In addition, With the help of the Link Aggregation feature, it doubles the wired network speeds up to 2Gbps.
The Netgear nighthawk AC RT-88U delivers the fastest maximum combined WiFi speed up to 3167Mbps using both bands. The 2.4Ghz band delivers 1000Mbps, whereas the 5Ghz band delivers 2167Mbps WiFi speed. Additionally, its USB ports transfer data with the fastest rate up to over 100Mbps.
Pros & Cons:
- An excellent coverage up to 5000 sq.ft. With 4×4 external antennas for a better WiFi range.
- It has eight Gigabit Ethernet Ports for multiple wired connections and extensive connectivity for gaming.
- The Link Aggregation feature allows you to create a wired network up to 2Gbps. As a result, faster access to connected devices.
- It features the AiRadar Universal Beamforming and MU-MIMO technology, meaning multiple devices at once.
- It is compatible with the AiMesh feature, which allows you to create a whole-home Mesh WiFi network after connecting multiple AiMesh supported ASUS’ routers together.
I don’t like:
- Its dimensions are (14x12x6); thus, a bit big and bulky router compared to other models by ASUS.
With the coverage of 5,000 sq.ft., It is an ideal option for those who are looking for a router that can provide excellent coverage throughout a huge home.
Moreover, it features Eight Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports; these ports allow you to enjoy 4K streaming & low-latency Ultra-HD online gaming experience. However, it might be a bit expensive router for some people, but it is worth the money because of being a feature-packed router.
- Maximum WiFi speed Up to 2600Mbps
- Four Ethernet Gigabit LAN Ports
- Up to 2500 sq.ft WiFi Coverage
- Dual-band, MU-MIMO with Beamforming
- Personal Cloud Storage
The Nighthawk Netgear X4s is a dual-band smart WiFi router. It features MU-MIMO and Quad Stream technology; thus, it handles multiple devices simultaneously. With the bandwidth of 160Mhz, it ensures excellent stream quality and the next-level gaming experience with the possible low-ping.
It is equipped with the fastest dual-core processor at 1.7Ghz, along with a 512MB of RAM. It provides the lowest-latency experience when it comes to playing online games and streaming on Twitch. Furthermore, it also supports Beamforming+ technology that works with powerful in-built amplifiers in order to eliminate WiFi signals’ dead spots of your house.
Compared to the previous model X4 R7500, this version is must faster and offers advanced features such as two USB 3.0 and one eSATA port. However, it shares the same design, which is still bulky.
Pros & Cons:
- It features Quad-Stream technology for delivering faster WiFi speeds to multiple devices simultaneously.
- The parental control feature is excellent. Using the Nighthawk app, we can manage website access and set a web filter.
- It can be set up within five minutes using the Nighthawk app, which is available for both Android & iPhone users.
- It offers the next generation Wave2 WiFi technology that works on 160Mhz with MU-MIMO Quad-stream.
- It is equipped with Beamforming+ and has four high-performance external antennas to eliminate signal’s dead spots.
I don’t like:
- Firewall Configuration is a bit tricky.
The Netgear Nighthawk x4s is an excellent option for those who want multiple devices to be connected simultaneously and an excellent WiFi solution from a medium to a large home. It is possible for X4s as it boasts a Quad Stream Gigabit technology with MU-MIMO.
The best thing about the router is its range; it can reach anywhere in your house without any signal drop. However, its software interface requires some work as it is slow with a weak storage performance.
- Maximum WiFi speed Up to 2200Mbps
- Four Ethernet Gigabit LAN Ports
- Up to 1,500 Sq. ft WiFi Coverage
- 4×4 External Antennas With Beamforming & MU-MIMO
- A Tri-band Router
The Linksys MR8300 is one of the best routers from Linksys. Unlike the previous model EA8300, the MR8300 is quite popular because of its capability of building a whole-home WiFi system – A mesh network using Linksys Velop nodes. Being Equipped with Velop Mesh technology doesn’t mean that we can’t use it as an individual unit. In other words, it works as a typical router and offers tons of features.
The MR8300 is a tri-band router that offers a combined maximum WiFi speeds up to 2.2Ghz. It is an ‘AC’ wireless standard router and equipped with a Quad-core CPU, 256MB flash memory, and 512MB of RAM. On the back, the MR8300 includes all essential ports and buttons such as four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, a WAN port, reset and power buttons, a USB 3.0 port, and a power port.
When it comes to 4k streaming & gaming, the MR8300 uses MU-MIMO simultaneous data streaming technology. Moreover, it delivers the fastest possible WiFi speeds to multiple devices simultaneously. Furthermore, you don’t need to update its firmware manually as it automatically receives firmware updates from Linksys. It means your router will be secure and up-to-date.
Pros & Cons:
- With the Tri-band technology, it delivers the fastest combined WiFi speeds and allows up to 20+ devices.
- The setup of the router is easy; it doesn’t require any CD for installation.
- 4K HD streaming & gaming on multiple devices is possible through MU-MIMO technology.
- The setup of the router is quite easy, which is browser-based. It requires you to install the Linksys app.
- Four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports allow you to connect multiple devices and transfer data between them.
I don’t like:
- It doesn’t include Malware protection, and the ‘parental controls’ feature is limited.
The MR8300 provides an excellent WiFi Coverage for your home. Its built-in Mesh WiFi technology makes this router better than its competition. Plus, the setup of the router is easy and straightforward; it can be done in no time using the Linksys app.
In addition to the app, it allows you to manage and monitor your home WiFi remotely. It includes features such as Guest Access, Parental Controls, Device prioritization, speed test, and many more. However, some features are limited, and some are disabled by the Linksys.
- Tri-band (2x5Ghz + 1x 2.4Ghz)
- MU-MIMO & AiRadar Beamforming supported
- NitroQAM technology
- Adaptive QoS
- Eight Antennas 4T4R (four-transmit, four-receive)
The Asus RT-AC5300 is a tri-band router, which is quite obvious as it is primarily designed for gamers than home and office users. It is a big and bulky router because of equipped with an eight-gigabit external antenna, which includes a four-receive and a four-transmit antenna (4T4R). As a result, improved signal stability and WiFi range – an excellent WiFi coverage. Moreover, it supports AiRadar beamforming technology – The technology that focuses a WiFi signal directly to your devices or narrows the signal’s focus.
Unlike typical routers, the ASUS RT-AC5300 looks quite different. The design of the router is similar to a spider. Despite being heavy, it is mountable. The dimensions of the router are 2.6×9.6×9.6 inches (HWD). As far as the router’s body is concerned, it comes in a matte-black finish with red trim edges.
On the front edge, it houses small LED indicators for 2.4Ghz & 5Ghz band connectivity, Power, WAN, and WPS activity. On the left side, it contains extensive connectivity options, including USB 2.0 & 3.0 ports, a Power button, one WAN port, four Gigabit LAN ports along with some buttons for enabling/disabling the LEDs, and Power On/Off button.
When it comes to performance, it is equipped with a powerful 1.4Ghz dual-core processor. It offers three radio bands, where two bands are dedicated to 5Ghz and one for 2.4Ghz. The router is capable of delivering the fastest maximum WiFi, theoretical, speeds up to 5.3Gbps using both the bands. A 5Ghz band delivers up to 2167Mbps, while the 2.4Ghz band delivers up to 1,000Mbps.
Pros & Cons:
- It uses the latest 802.11ac 4×4 WiFi technology, thus delivers maximum WiFi speeds up to 5.3Gbps.
- It offers excellent coverage up to 5,000 sq.ft.
- The AiRadar Beamforming and MU-MIMO technology allow you to connect multiple devices at once.
- It is compatible with AiMesh, meaning other Asus’ AiMesh compatible router can be used to create a whole-home WiFi network.
- The RT-AC5300 has built-in GPN from WTFast for the smoothest, more reliable online gaming with a lower ping time and minimal packet loss.
I don’t like:
- It is an expensive router.
- The USB speeds are not up to the mark. However, it can be improved by installing DD-WRT firmware.
The Asus RT-AC5300 is an excellent router, especially for gamers. It has a great ability to support Ultra-HD streaming and multiple devices at the same time. The RT-AC5300 is an excellent choice for those who are looking for a beast for their large home.
In addition, the router is completely DD-WRT compatible. If you want to get the most out of this router, you should install DD-WRT firmware on it.
- 802.11ac WiFi standard
- 4 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports
- IPv6 Internet Protocol
- 2,500 sq.ft coverage
- A two-year warranty with 24/7 Tp-Link support
The TP-Link’s Archer A7 is one of the best budget-friendly routers on the market. The router is capable of delivering the fastest maximum combined speeds up to 1750Mbps (1300Mbps on 5Ghz band + 450 on 2.4Ghz band). Resulting in, excellent wireless performance while playing HD game online and HD streaming.
The Overall design of the router is similar to the older model Archer c7. It has the same standard black body and the three external adjustable antennas. On the front, it contains some LED status lights. In addition, the router can be mounted on the wall as it has mounting brackets on the backside. Moreover, there are four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, One Gigabit WAN (internet port), a reset button, a WPS button, and Power On/Off button.
Being a dual-band router, it handles tasks separately too. For example, the 5Ghz band handles heavy tasks – streaming, gaming, and creating a network, while the 2.4Ghz band provides processes simple tasks such as web browsing, sending-emails, ETC. Plus, the setup and installation of the router is painless as it is possible by its app (Tp-LINK Tether app) and web browser.
Pros & Cons:
- It allows easy files and media sharing options with USB 2.0 port and FTP server.
- It works with Amazon Alexa, or your voice can control it after combining it with an Alexa device.
- Its setup and management is easy; it can be done using its Tether app and web browser interface.
- It allows you to set up a VPN connection; plus, the ability to change the connection type from L2TP to PPTP.
- An excellent TP-Link’s us-based 24/7 support with a two-year warranty.
I don’t like:
- It doesn’t support MU-MIMO and Beamforming technology. Still, it allows multiple devices, up to 50+, to be connected at once.
The Archer A7 is an ideal option for an average home as it provides excellent coverage up to 2,500 sq.ft. Furthermore, parental controls, Quality of Service, IPv6 support, and WPA/WPA2 wireless encryption, are a huge plus.
That being said, don’t forget that – It is an affordable, cheap, and budget-friendly router. Unlike the previous model Archer c7, the A7 is Amazon Alexa supported.
Note: If you’re having any issues with the router’s range, you should move the router to the centralized location than any corner of your home. Once you do that, you’ll undoubtedly see more consistent, more reliable, and improved WiFi range throughout.
Buyer’s Guide: How to choose the best wireless router on your own?
We spend most of our time at home – this what a typical family does. That being said, it becomes essential for us to have a good wireless router in order to enjoy the latest web series, gaming, streaming, tons of apps, and of course, sharing HD content through WiFi.
Moreover, a router distributes internet connection to multiple connected devices throughout your home, such as PCs, laptops, smart TVs, media devices, tablets, a variety of dongles (Apple TV, Google Chromecast, ROKY, Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, ETC). These things only possible if we have the best WiFi Wireless router that can match our Internet speed.
However, there is no doubt that Wired connections are considered more secure, reliable, and faster compared to a wireless connection. Don’t worry! I’ll let you know – how you can secure your wireless connection, what factors you should consider before buying a WiFi router, what are essential key features and technologies, types of wireless routers, tips, and other important considerations, through this guide. In addition, there will be a ‘FAQs section,’ at the bottom of the article, helping you clear all of your doubts about a wireless router.
Here are some important features & technologies to consider: Let’s get into them one by one.
LAN ports are used to create a wired connection between a computer and a router via Ethernet cable. Most Wireless routers include eight Ethernet ports until they are high-end routers. On the other hand, standard routers include four Ethernet ports. For example, the first router, on my list, ASUS AC3100 (RT-AC88U), has eight Gigabit Ethernet ports.
The included LAN ports on the router are either ‘Gigabit Ethernet’ or ‘Fast Ethernet.’ The main difference between them is their speeds. Gigabit Ethernet caps speeds at 1,000Mbps while Fast Ethernet tops out at 100Mbps. Now, you know the difference – always look for Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Some high-end routers also support the link aggregation feature, it lets you combine two ports to get a 2Gbps wired connection.
With the help of USB ports, we can connect an external hard drive for data backup, a flash drive, a USB printer (it requires a built-in printer server). It can also be used to access shared files and allows you to access your downloaded digital video, photos, from any network device. However, there are two types of USB ports: A USB 2.0 & USB 3.0. A USB 3.0 ports are the most popular and capable of transferring data at up to 640MBps. On the other hand, a USB 2.0 port can deliver at up to 60MBps.
QoS (Quality of Service)
The QoS feature is responsible for controlling the traffic on your network. It is also called media prioritization over the traffic on the network. This feature is very important and must be included by all the routers these days as it allows you to identify which types of data and devices are necessary for you.
For example, if you’re streaming and another member of your family is downloading files at the same time, so you can use the QoS feature and tell your router to ensure streaming gets more bandwidth. In this way, you can optimize the performance of the router.
If your router offers app-based management, meaning you can easily adjust the WiFi network and make other tasks more straightforward. The app-based management of a router is far better than browser-based management because of being limited to some points.
One of the best features of the router’s apps is that they let you monitor which devices are recently connected and which are using the most bandwidth on the network. Moreover, these apps can also help you in updating the firmware as they alert when the update is available for your router.
Bands (dual-band or tri-band)
There are some simple facts about bands of the routers, such as a tri-band router more expensive than a dual-band, a tri-band router broadcasts three signals (two 5Ghz bands and one 2.4Ghz) while a dual-band router broadcasts two signals (one 5Ghz & one 2.4Ghz band). Now you know the primary differences between them. Both of the bands receive and transmit data, while working simultaneously, from different devices in order to run your network smoothly.
Additionally, the third band of a router can be used as a dedicated band. Mesh WiFi systems mostly do it; they use the third band as a dedicated backhaul channel in order to communicate with other units on the same network.
You can expect the MU-MIMO technology only from 802.11AC standard’s router. The MU-MIMO technology stands for Multiple-input, multiple-output, and it is an antenna technology. It offers the fastest possible WiFi connections to multiple devices.
In addition, the MU-MIMO technology follows some numbers, such as 4×4, 3×3, 2×2, and 1×1. For example, if a router MU-MIMO is equipped with 4×4, it has the capability of handling four 1×1 MU-MIMO devices or two 2×2 MU-MIMO devices simultaneously. Earlier routers used to support the SU-MIMO technology that only sends and receives data from one device at a time.
The Beamforming technology focuses a wireless signal directly towards connected devices. Older routers used to send the signal in all directions. As a result, strength loss. On the other hand, Beamforming compatible routers create reliable, stronger, faster, and consistent wireless communication while sending the signal in the direction of the client. Therefore, You should definitely look for this technology in a router while purchasing any WiFi router from the market.
The last considering factor is the security of a router. Modern routers offer apps for protecting your network from many social attacks and viruses, including Malware, ransomware, Trojan, and many others. However, some routers may require a paid subscription in order to provide additional security. It is worth the money if safety is your primary concern.
FAQs: Most Commonly Asked Question About Wireless Router
1. Is this possible to expand the LAN ports available on the router?
Yes, you can expand the LAN ports by using an Ethernet Switch. It looks like a router, but it doesn’t. Once you connect an Ethernet switch to a router via Ethernet cable, it shares a single port of your router among multiple Ethernet devices, depending on the ports available on the Ethernet switch.
2. A top-speed router can improve the performance of your network?
No, the slowest connection with a top-speed will not improve your router’s network performance. In other words, you can’t expect any see any improved streaming performance while watching your favorite web series.
3. What features should we expect from the best wireless router?
A wireless router can be responsible for handling and providing you things, including a combination of speed, better coverage, excellent WiFi throughout your home, better connectivity, a wide range of compatibility, extra security with a consistent connection.
4. How many devices can be connected to a router at once?
Well, there is no limit to the number of devices or computers connecting to a router. Nevertheless, the router performance can be drastically hindered, especially if its a large number of devices connected at the same time and with a thirst for bandwidth.
The new tri-band routers are designed to handle multiple devices simultaneously without interfering with the device’s performance. If you need your router to handle numerous devices, you will be in good hands if you have a tri-band device that is supported by MU-MIMO technology.
5. What Is WPS? How To Disable Or Enable WPS Button?
The WPS simply means WiFi Protected Setup. It is a standard that helps in making connections between wireless devices and router – easier and faster. Disabling or enabling the WPS button on your router is an easy task, depending on the model that you are using.
You can find a related button on the router, or you can do this by finding the correct settings on the configuration interface. Disabling is equally as simple, just from the press of a button, you can quickly turn off WPS.
In this article, I tried to include the five best wireless routers keeping all types of users in mind. However, if you haven’t read this correctly, then let me give you a brief idea.
The very first router, ‘ASUS AC3100 (RT-AC88U)‘, is for those who are looking for the best long-range WiFi router. The second router, ‘Netgear Nighthawk X4S AC2600‘ on my list, is for those who are looking for ‘best multiple devices router.’ The third router, ‘Linksys Max-Stream AC2200‘, is for those who are looking for the best streaming WiFi router.
I want you guys to pick any one of these that fits your budget and needs. You should also understand that there is no such thing as the ‘best.’ In other words, Manufacturers build networking devices keeping all types of consumers in mind.