In this day and age, everyone needs a WiFi router in the home. I?d even go as far as to say it?s become as important as your furnace!
The question is, what WiFi router do you need?
With so many products out there, it?s hard to find the best one for you. So, I?ve made life easier by reviewing five routers that could be ideal for your home.
What is a WiFi router?
Most people confuse WiFi routers with modems. As it happens, there?s a considerable difference between the two.
I?m only going to focus on the router because that?s what you?re here to see!
Effectively, a router is a device that connects to your modem. It will link up through an ethernet cable and then sends all the network data through to other devices. You can do this by wired connections again, or over a WiFi network.?
Without a WiFi router, you have no way of using the internet. Whenever you bring a new device into your home, it needs to connect to the router to get online – simple!
How do you choose the best WiFi router?
This is where things get tricky.
The main problem with routers is that there are too many. They come in so many varieties; standard routers, gaming routers, and ones with all kinds of technical specifications.?
Consequently, it?s hard to sift through all the jargon and pick out the features that actually matter. To make everything more straightforward, I?ve listed the essential things to look for when choosing your new router:
You?ll see the word ?band? thrown around a lot when searching for WiFi routers. In layman?s terms, a band is pretty much like a data highway. It helps to move everything along and avoid any jams. All of your internet data moves through these bands when you?re online.
Right now, there are three band options:
The more bands a router has, the faster it can be. Imagine a one-lane highway compared to a two or three-lane one. The ones with more lanes are free-flowing as cars have more options to drive down. With only one lane, there will be congestion if lots of cars are on the road at the same time.
The same applies to WiFi routers; if lots of people connect to the same router at the same time, then there?s a risk of ?congestion?, which leads to slower connection speeds. Opening up multiple bands can stop this.
All routers come with WiFi speeds to tell you how fast your internet can be delivered. These speeds are represented as Mb/s – or megabytes per second. All you need to know is that the higher the figure, the faster the router will be.
Signal Strength & Coverage
Obviously, you need your router to reach all four corners of your home. Otherwise, you may struggle to get a good internet connection in some rooms.
So, pay attention to anything that mentions signal strength or coverage. Most manufacturers will say how far the router can cover. One top tip is to look at the antennas. Ideally, you want them to be protruding outside the router. You also want to have as many as possible. More antennas mean your router can achieve better coverage. If the antennas are hidden inside the router, then you?ll struggle to get a solid connection throughout your house.
Your router needs to be easy for you to use. I hate trying to set things up and having to go through loads of complex steps before everything is ready. Some routers are like this, and they?re also impossible to manage as well.
Try and buy a router that?s easy for you to set up and look after. The best ones come with apps that you can log into whenever you like.
Furthermore, pay attention to the face of the router. Can you clearly see when issues arise? Are the icons on the router clearly labeled and easy for you to see? The best routers make it clear when something is wrong and will tell you the problem through the icons.
What to be cautious of when buying a WiFi router
Before I jump into the reviews, I want to say a few words on what to be wary of before you buy.
The main concern is that you overspend on your router. Think about why you?re buying the router and what your needs are. Do you really need a supercharged router with exceptional speeds and huge coverage for your one-bedroom flat?
Figure out your main needs, then you can start looking at routers that tick all the right boxes for you. This stops you from buying something that goes way over your budget just because it?s flashy and fast!
On that note, let?s look at five of the best WiFi routers on the market today:
I?ll begin with a budget option for people that don?t need a super expensive router. The AC1750 is a dual-band router that can reach speeds of up to 1750Mb/s – which is more than satisfactory in a typical family home.
You should be able to stream HD movies and play online games without any buffering or lag issues. There are three external antennas too, which helps to broaden the coverage of this router. However, you don?t quite get the full coverage you need for large or extra-large houses. It?s fine in small homes or flats, but keep this in mind if you own a big home.
The interface is very clear and easy to understand, and there?s a TP-Link tether app to help you control everything remotely. I love these features as it makes the router so easy for you to control, and you can alter the settings from anywhere.
For a budget-friendly option, you get a lot of bang for your buck. The performance reflects the price, and it?s a very solid WiFi router to consider.
- Excellent price
- Very impressive dual-band performance speeds
- Comes with plenty of ethernet ports
- Two-year warranty and 24/7 customer support
- Fantastic app to manage the router
- Lacks any considerable features
- You can?t really customize the router in any way
- The range can be limited
When I looked at all of these products, the eero stood out amongst all the others. It?s a very compact and futuristic looking router that pairs with Amazon Alexa devices to give you total control over your WiFi network.
I?ve mentioned how usability is a big thing for me, and this set up took less than 10 minutes. It?s frighteningly easy to manage everything from anywhere in your home – or even outside. I personally think this router suits families with young children as you can disable internet access for devices via the app, and there are fantastic parental controls.
There are different eero products, but this one is dual-band with internet speeds up to 550Mb/s. So, not the fastest around, but that?s still enough to satisfy most families internet cravings. Amazon also claim this has a coverage of up to 1,500 sq. ft. By my estimations, that?s enough coverage for an average-sized family home.
It?s a unique product, and I think you?ll get the most out of it if you have Amazon Echo devices in your home already. If not, then you?ll need to buy one to utilize the Alexa functions, which ends up doubling the router price.
- Compact design can fit anywhere
- Really intuitive controls through a detailed app on your phone/tablet
- Alexa-enabled for hands-free WiFi management
- Wonderful parental controls
- Decent range
- Lacks any customizable features
- Doesn?t possess the most impressive internet speeds
- May not offer ample coverage for larger homes
- Doesn?t boast any features to maintain optimal WiFi performance with multiple connections
Next up is another funky option that looks more like an air diffuser than a WiFi router! The Netgear Orbi comes with a lot of impressive specs, most notably tri-band capabilities. As a result, it?s capable of reaching speeds up to 3,000Mb/s. If you have loads of people using devices at the same time, then I think this router could suit you well as it has more than enough speed and bandwidth to deal with all the data.
Again, I was really overjoyed by the set-up process and controls. I would say this was the fastest router to set up, and the smartphone app to manage all the settings is a breeze to use. You can customize a fair few things, such as curfew times and parental controls.
While it may not possess external antennas, there?s still superb coverage with the Orbi. In fact, it covers up to 5,000 sq. ft. and can connect over 25 devices at once. I like the fact that you can buy extenders to broaden the coverage as well.
You only get one ethernet port to connect a device to the router, but this isn?t that big of a deal considering the sheer brilliance of the WiFi performance. All in all, there?s not a lot wrong with this router!
- Incredible WiFi coverage
- Very fast internet speeds
- Tri-band for optimal efficiency & speed
- Simple set up process
- Easy-to-use smartphone app
- Brilliant performance all-round
- Very bulky compared to other routers
- Is one of the most expensive WiFi routers around today
- The smartphone app is good but could be improved
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) AC1750
Here?s another option for people that don?t want to spend too much on their WiFi router. The Netgear Nighthawk is a dual-band router with speeds up to 1,750Mb/s. For an affordable option like this – and for a dual-band – this is pretty impressive.
As far as the coverage goes, there are three external antennas that are designed to amplify the signal. Still, you only get coverage up to 1,500 sq. ft. However, you can use up to 25 devices on this router at the same time, so you shouldn?t suffer from any connectivity issues.
Netgear has also packed this full of brilliant safety technology to protect you while you?re online. Your network will be secure from external threats and there is anti-virus and anti-malware software installed too. I will point out that all of these safety features come as part of a 30-day free trial for Netgear Armor, so keep that in mind.
Personally, I think this functions well as a standard WiFi router for the average household. You get above-average performance specs, decent coverage, and smart parental controls.
- Can handle up to 25 devices
- Comes with great controls for parents
- Offers fast internet speeds
- Provides a decent range for most households
- Not the most intuitive set up or management system
- The coverage may not reach some areas of a very large home
- Lacks a lot of customizable features
Google WiFi System
Lastly, I looked at the Google WiFi System. This is a small and portable router that you can place anywhere in your home. I can admit, I was a bit skeptical at first, but I grew to enjoy a fair few things about this router.
For one, I like how easy it is to set up. Everything happens in a few minutes, you barely need to do anything. Then, it connects to an app on your phone where you have total control over your home WiFi system.
Let me talk about this app because it?s very good. You can prioritize devices on your network, which basically lets you make them faster than others. This is great if you?re streaming a movie and someone else is just browsing the web. Divert more speed to your device so the movie streams in higher quality! You also see all the connected devices and can pause the internet on any one at any time – an excellent parental control feature.
It offers around 470Mb/s WiFi speed, which is probably the main drawback. Also, the coverage isn?t great and you?ll need to buy more than one to cover a medium or large home.
- Compact design
- Excellent app controls
- Very simple to set up
- Easy to connect devices
- Performs very well
- Has pretty bad coverage
- The speed could be improved
After reviewing all of the products, I have to say that the Netgear Orbi is my overall favorite. I feel like it has all the features you need for a home WiFi router. The only downside is the price, but think of it as an investment. You?re still getting great bang for your buck, and it?s still cheaper than some of the other WiFi routers out there.
Of course, I appreciate you still may not want to pay for an expensive router, and that?s fine. There are still some wonderful options on my list that fall under the budget-friendly heading.