Best Cheap Wireless Routers: 3 WiFi Budget Routers Review For 2021
It seems a bit hard to trust that the best cheap wireless routers can offer a reliable and faster WiFi connection. However, it was not possible until 2019. But, in 2021, best budget routers are capable of providing enough WiFi coverage, range, and advanced technology such as MU-MIMO and Beamforming.
Now, you know how WiFi technologies have evolved a lot, especially in the networking industry. And, things become more challenging when we have a large array of routers’ option available on the market. Therefore, I have compiled a list of the best cheap/affordable routers for 2021.
- TP-Link Archer A7 – Best value wireless router
- Netgear Nighthawk R6700 – Best low cost router
- Asus AC1300 RT-ACRH13 – Best for streaming
1. TP-Link AC1750 (Archer A7) – Best Budget Pick
- AC1750 dual-band (1300Mbps + 450Mbps)
- 802.11ac wireless standard
- Maximum WiFi speed
- 3 External undetachable antennas
- 2,500 sq.ft. coverage
Tp-Link Archer A7 AC1750 is powerful yet one of the best budget-friendly routers available on the market. Having worked on two frequencies 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz, It offers maximum possible WiFi speeds of up to 1750Mbps. The Archer A7 is using Qualcomm QCA9563 chipset with a clock rate of 750Mhz and 128MB of RAM. The CPU is capable of providing enough power to the router in order to handle multiple devices at the same time.
The overall design of the router is quite elegant with a wide range of connectivity options. Similar to C7, it shares the same design, thus comes in a black body with three external adjustable antennas. It also features mounting brackets when it comes to hanging on a wall – it comes in handy when your desk runs out of space.
Moreover, Archer A7 is not a beast in terms of dimensions or size; it is quite compact. In addition, its backside includes some of the essential ports and buttons, including a reset toggle, a WPS button, a Power button, four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, one USB 2.0 port. When it comes to set up and management of the router, it wins everyone’s heart as it is super easy and painless to install and set up. In order to do that, you can choose either its app or a web browser.
Pros & Cons:
- It is compatible with Unifi and allowing Amazon Alexa integration.
- Very affordable with the fastest throughput performance.
- It is easy to set up and configure. Plus, it offers plenty of settings for the installation process.
- It allows you to create a guest network with parental controls feature.
- It ensures a stable WiFi connection for up to 20 devices.
I don’t like:
- It has only one USB 2.0 port.
Compared to the previous model Archer C7, Tp-Link made two significant changes in Archer A7. The very first is they removed one USB-A port from the back, and the second is they came up with the Amazon Alexa integration feature. Other than that, the router is entirely similar to the previously launched model Archer C7 – a model that used to be my one of the favorite cheap routers until 2019.
However, after using the newer Archer A7 for a couple of days, now I can say that it deserves the first position on my list as it is more affordable and having more features than C7. With the coverage of up to 2,500 sq.ft., it is going to be an ideal option for small to medium homes with around twenty devices connected.
2. Netgear Nighthawk R6700 – Best Option for Large homes
- 802.11ac wireless standard
- Maximum WiFi speeds up to 1750 (1300Mbps + 450Mbps)
- Beamforming+ supported
- Four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports
- Three external detachable antennas
The Netgear Nighthawk AC1750 — the second cheap router on my list, a bit expensive than Archer A7 but offers more features — is a dual-band smart WiFi router. It has a robust dual-core processor with a clock rate of 1Ghz and 256MB of RAM. Being equipped with the powerful chipset, it delivers the fastest combined WiFi speeds of up to 1750Gbps. It uses two frequency bands, such as 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz. Where the high-frequency band, which is 5Ghz, provides speeds of 1300Mbps while 450Mbps on 2.4Ghz band.
The R6700 is from Netgear Archer’s series; therefore, it is sharing the same design and looks quite attractive. On the backside of the router, it houses some necessary ports and buttons, including a WAN port, four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports (for making multiple wired connections), one USB 3.0 port, a reset toggle, power On/Off button, and three external detachable antennas.
When it comes to the security of the router, the R6700 can easily beat any high-end routers. Netgear is offering best-in-class cybersecurity called Netgear Armor. After testing its security, I do believe that it adds an extra layer of security for our home network and prevents cyber threats and malware.
Pros & Cons:
- It offers NETGEAR Armor cybersecurity for all your connected devices and other cyber threats.
- With reduced interference, it ensures a more reliable and stable WiFi connectivity.
- It allows you to prioritize the bandwidth — you can connect multiple devices up to 25 at once — using its QoS feature.
- The Circle Smart app is an innovative way of managing time and content. It also lets you set times limits for particular apps and websites.
- You can control the home network using voice commands as it works with the Google Assistant.
I don’t like:
- It doesn’t support MU-MIMO technology.
As an ‘ac’ wireless standard router, you can expect the fastest possible next-generation Gigabit WiFi speeds while HD media streaming and gaming from the router. With the help of the QoS feature, you can take your gaming experience to the next level as it lets you allocate WiFi as per your devices that require the bandwidth most.
That being said, the router is ready to handle heavy-duty tasks with ease. In this price range, you can’t get better than this. It will be the perfect choice for those who have a large home as its range is outstanding.
3. Asus AC1300 RT-ACRH13 – For Streaming
- 802.11ac wireless standard
- 2×2 MU-MIMO supported
- four external antennas
- USB 3.0 port
- Maximum WiFi speeds up to 1300Mbps
The third best budget router on my list is from ASUS. The RT-ACRH13 is one of the popular routers from ASUS. Despite being very cheap, it offers lots of advanced features and technologies such as MU-MIMO and beamforming. In addition, it is a dual-band router and provides the fastest maximum combined WiFi speeds of up to 1267Mbps. For that, it uses two frequency bands, such as 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz. On the 2.4Ghz band, it delivers WiFi speed of up to 400Mbps while 867Mbps on the 5GHz band.
When it comes to design, it is a black and grey diamond pattern kind of router. Unlike a typical router, the RT-ACRH13 looks a bit different as it houses two antennas on the side. In addition to the case, the RT-ACRH13 has enough ventilation in order to be cool. Moreover, you will also find some holes on the bottom and sides.
Pros & Cons:
- The RT-ARCH13 supports ASUSWRT web-based interface; it makes its setup easier.
- The ASUS App works perfectly and lets you manage and monitor the network.
- Excellent WiFi coverage and stability as it uses four external antennas.
- USB 3.0 port is quite fast and allows external drives sharing with your network.
- MU-MIMO (2×2) and beamforming supported with four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports.
I don’t like:
- Storage performance is not up to the mark.
My list of best budget routers ends with Asus RT-ACRCH13. Comparatively, it is a better router in terms of features and performance. Moreover, it is the least expensive router on the list. The only reason for taking this router in the third position is its combined WiFi speeds, which is 1267Mbps. While the other two can reach up to 1750Mbps.
On the other hand, when it comes to technologies, it is far better than the two as it features MU-MIMO and Beamforming. And, you can expect such advanced technologies only from high-end routers. So I would love to recommend this router to those who want an entry-level router for a medium home to a large home without investing much.
Buying Guide: How do you find the best WiFi wireless router that is cheap, affordable, and budget-friendly?
Whatever we expect – a reliable, consistent, more secure, faster WiFi, from our internet. We only think of buying a good wireless router, whether it is cheap or high-end model. In other words, in 2021, we can expect all the high-end router’s features from a budget router too. However, the only problem is how will it be possible for us to find out which is the best. Therefore, I am going to share with you some of the most critical features. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
The LAN ports of a router is one of the most important factors to consider as these ports are responsible for creating multiple wired connection via Ethernet cables, including gaming consoles, PCs, smart home devices, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, and many other networking devices – which we connect using an Ethernet cable to a router’s LAN port.
The most high-end routers include four Gigabit LAN ports to eight or ten Gigabit LAN ports. On the other hand, cheap wireless routers can offer up to four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, which, I think, are enough for an average user.
USB ports of a router are used for connecting various devices, such as flash drives, external hard drives, USB printers, or other storage devices. These days, we can expect at least two USB ports: one USB 3.0 & one USB 2.0 port.
Wireless Standards: 802.11(a/b/g/n/ac)
You should definitely consider this factor as the wireless standards of a router make a huge difference. However, it might be a bit confusing for some people. Let’s see all types of wireless standards.
802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g:
The ‘a’, ‘b’, & ‘g’ wireless standards are the older ones. Thus, their speeds were also slower than ‘ac’ and ‘n’ wireless standards. Being older technology of wireless standards, we should avoid them and their compatible routers. Comparatively, the only 802.11g wireless standard available on the market; thus, it is considered the least expensive router’s option in 2021.
The 802.11n is a better and considerable wireless standard as it has improved speeds than the older ones. After the arrival of this standard, a lot of things have changed in the router’s industry in terms of speeds, features, and technologies.
The 802.11n wireless standards routers – even cheap wireless routers, may offer some advanced technologies such as MU-MIMO and Beamforming. An 802.11n standard wireless router can deliver the fastest combined WiFi speeds up to 900Mbps as it works on two bands or frequencies: 2.4Ghz & 5Ghz, depending on the router.
The 802.11ac standard is the only standard that we should consider in 2021 as it matches today’s network requirements. It is faster than ‘n’ and thus delivers the fastest maximum WiFi speeds up to 5.4Gbps. However, ‘ac’ wireless standard’s compatible routers are expensive than ‘n.’ Don’t worry! Still, they are cheap routers. All the budget routers listed up above are from 802.11ac wireless standard.
RAM & Processor:
As you know, a single-core processor is always slower than a dual-core and quad-core processor. However, there is no doubt that a single-core processor can handle small tasks such as web browsing and media streaming.
But when it comes to multiple devices at once, things become very annoying as a single-core processor can’t handle them. So always select a router that offers a dual-core processor and higher with a good quantity of RAM in order to meet your requirements.
FAQs: The most commonly asked questions about cheap wireless routers.
1. What is the MU-MIMO technology in routers? A low budget router can offer such technology?
The MU-MIMO (Multi User-Multi Input Multi Output technology) is an advanced technology. It allows your router to transmit wireless data to multiple devices and users simultaneously. However, a very few low budget routers offer MU-MIMO technology. The third router on my list is ‘Asus AC1300 RT-ACRH13‘ supports MU-MIMO. You can also check out my list of best multiple devices WiFi routers that are compatible with MU-MIMO technology.
2. What is Beamforming technology?
Beamforming technology transmits a WiFi signal in a specific direction only where WiFi is needed. Unlike older routers, your router doesn’t waste signals, resulting in a more reliable, faster, and stronger wireless connection.
3. Are cheap WiFi routers capable of providing good WiFi coverage throughout your home?
Of course, you can expect excellent WiFi coverage from a cheap router as well. For example, the very first router listed up above ‘The Archer A7‘ is capable of delivering exceptional WiFi coverage up to 2,500 square feet throughout your home and office.
However, for better WiFi signals make sure your router is in a central location of your office or home. Always remember – the better the coverage, the more stable connection it is.
4. How much WiFi speeds can I expect from a cheap router?
A cheap router can offer theoretical the fastest combined WiFi speeds up to 1.75Gbps as long as your router supports ‘ac’ wireless standard. For example, The Archer A7, the first router on the list, offers such speeds.
5. How to get the most out of any cheap routers available on the market?
In order to get the most out of your router, make sure you’re not hiding it behind things such as walls and furniture. Your router should be center-positioned.
Without any doubts, after going through the article, you can say the best cheap wireless routers are also capable of providing high-speed network connections and excellent WiFi coverage throughout your home.
So, with one of my best budget routers, you can enjoy a reliable, faster, and more stable WiFi connection. You can choose as per your needs.