The Best WiFi Routers of 2021 for Any Budget

best wifi routers

A WiFi router is your gateway to the internet, and a good one can boost your WiFi speed and range. While it might be convenient to just use the router provided by your ISP (internet service provider), they usually don’t have the same features as newer models. Here is our list of the best WiFi routers you can get, from budget WiFi 6 models to mesh WiFi systems for large homes.

Do You Really Need a New Router?

Your internet speeds are ultimately limited by the internet service plan you pay for. So, getting a new router that delivers speeds up to 2,000 Mbps (megabits per second) won’t necessarily make your WiFi faster if your internet service plan only supports a max speed of 100 Mbps.

But, even if you don’t have the fastest service, upgrading your router can still strengthen your existing WiFi signal and improve your coverage. Plus, newer routers usually feature better technologies that allow you to connect more devices at once, improve the security of your devices, and more.

To find out if your current router is slowing you down, you just need to do a simple WiFi speed test. Then compare the speed test results with the speeds advertised in your internet service plan. If the speeds are drastically different, it might be time to upgrade your router.

Read More: How to do a WiFi speed test, and what the results mean?

However, it is important to note that ISPs usually advertise the theoretical maximum speed of a plan. For example, you might probably only get max speeds of around 180 Mbps if you pay for a 200 Mbps plan.

Finding the right router can be confusing. To help you out, take our short quiz to find the perfect router for you and your home. Click the button below to give it a try:

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TP Link Archer A7
(Image Source: Amazon)
  • Speed: 1,750 Mbps

The TP-Link Archer A7 has everything the average person needs, and it costs well under $100. This dual-band router can simultaneously broadcast on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands, which means you essentially get two different WiFi networks to choose from.

The Archer A7 can reach speeds of 450 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band, which is more than enough for all your low-bandwidth devices. On the other hand, the 5 GHz network can reach speeds of 1,300 Mbps, which is more than enough to stream 4K video on multiple devices at once.

Read More: What’s the difference between the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands?

For its price, the Archer A7 comes with lots of advanced features, like QoS (quality of service), which lets you prioritize traffic to certain devices, like your laptop. But while it’s fast enough for most users, the Archer A7 won’t retain those speeds at long range. So, you should look for a next-generation router if you live in a large home or have lots of connected devices.

TP Link Archer AX50
(Image Source: Amazon)
  • Speed: 3,000 Mbps

If you’re looking to upgrade your router, the TP-Link Archer AX50 is one of the best WiFi 6 routers you can get on a budget. With next-gen WiFi 6 technology, this router isn’t just faster than a traditional WiFi 5 router, it can also support more connected devices without slowing any of them down.

Read More: What is WiFi 6, and is it really worth it?

The Archer AX50 can accommodate up to 40 devices at once. And, with its built-in Beamforming technology, this router will send WiFi signals directly to your devices instead of just spreading your WiFi signal in every direction. This means your devices will have a stronger, more reliable connection.

This dual-band router can deliver speeds up to 2,400 Mbps on the 5 GHz band and up to 574 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band. It also provides 2,000 square feet of WiFi coverage, and it doesn’t experience as much lag as routers that are twice the price.

While this router gives you access to parental controls and other security features, some of the more advanced features require a subscription to TP-Link Homecare. However, the company assured us that this service is “provided for free for the first three years and is available in all TP-Link Homecare routers.”

tp link Archer GX90
(Image Source: Amazon)
  • Speed: 6,579 Mbps

The TP-Link Archer GX90 is one of the best WiFi 6 routers for anyone who wants to boost their gaming speeds on a budget. Unlike most routers, which divide the WiFi signal into two bands, this tri-band router has an additional 5 GHz band that is dedicated exclusively for gaming.

While the first 5 GHz band delivers speeds up to 1,200 Mbps, the other 5 GHz “gaming band” can reach speeds up to 4,800 Mbps. But, even if your internet service plan isn’t that fast, this router will still give you one band that is faster and separate. This way, your games won’t be interrupted if any other devices connect to your network or start to use more of your bandwidth. 

The Archer GX90 has eight “streams,” as opposed to most routers, which only have four streams. These additional streams allow your router to send data to up to four devices on the 2.4 GHz band and four devices on the 5 GHz band at the same time.

With its ultra-fast 2.5 Gbps (gigabit per second) WAN (wide area network) port, this router supports the fastest internet service plans. And with its super-fast quad-core 1.5 GHz processor, the Archer GX90 can handle the most intensive games without dropping a frame. 

ASUS RT-AX88U: Best WiFi 6 Router

ASUS RT AX88U best WiFi router
(Image Source: Amazon)
  • 6,000 Mbps

The Asus RT-AX88U is one of the fastest and most reliable WiFi 6 routers you can get. Even if you don’t pay for a gigabit internet service plan, this router can still improve your signal. Plus, there are lots of settings that you can tweak to fully customize your WiFi network.

When you buy this router, you also get a free lifetime subscription to AiProtection Pro, Asus’ own network security software. This built-in feature prevents malware from infecting your devices, blocks malicious sites, and lets you set parental controls. And, unlike most routers, which only give you some of these features for a few years, Asus offers you these features for as long as you own the device.

This dual-band router can deliver speeds up to 1,100 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and 4,800 Mbps on the 5 GHz band. Based on real-world tests, you can actually expect to get speeds of around 400 Mbps when you’re 50 feet away from this router. Also, its adaptive QoS technology will automatically prioritize the devices that get the most bandwidth. For example, you can set your laptop to always get the strongest signal, so you will never experience any lag when you’re on an important video call.

Unlike most routers, the RT-AX88U comes with eight gigabit Ethernet ports to connect all your devices instead of just four. Plus, it has eight streams, a quad-core processor, and 1 GB of RAM, so you know it’s fast enough to handle anything you throw at it. In fact, the RT-AX88U was one of the first routers to be certified by the WiFi Alliance to “deliver the full benefits of WiFi 6,” and it still remains one of the only routers to be officially recognized as WiFi 6 compliant by the group.

Google Nest WiFi: Best Mesh WiFi System for Smart Homes

Google Nest WiFi best WiFi router
(Image Source: Walmart)
  • Speed: 2,200 Mbps (router) 1,600 Mbps (nodes)

If you have any WiFi “dead zones” in your home, you might want to consider getting a mesh WiFi system. Unlike traditional routers, a mesh WiFi system comes with a router and at least one “node.” These nodes work just like a traditional router, and you can place them anywhere in any room to blanket your entire home in a strong, reliable WiFi signal, no matter how large it is.

Unlike other mesh WiFi systems, the nodes in the Google Nest WiFi system also act as smart speakers. So, if you set up nodes around the home, you will also get multi-room music, and you can ask Google questions or control your smart home devices with voice commands from anywhere in your home.  

Read More: Where is the best place to put your router?

The router in the Google Nest WiFi system gives you 2,200 square feet of WiFi coverage, while each of the nodes gives you an extra 1,600 square feet. Google recommends that you only add five nodes in a single network, which means you could get nearly 10,000 square feet of coverage from this WiFi system.

However, since it still uses the older WiFi 5 standard, this mesh WiFi system only delivers speeds up to 1,700 Mbps on the 5 GHz band and 400 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band. Still, the Google Nest WiFi system does support advanced technologies like beamforming, advanced security, and automatic updates from Google.


ASUS Zen XT8: Best Mesh WiFi 6 System for Large Homes

ASUS Zen XT8 best WiFi router
(Image Source: Amazon)
  • Speed: 6,600 Mbps

If you want to upgrade your network’s speed, range, and everything else, the ASUS RT-AX92U is one of the best mesh WiFi 6 systems you can get. This tri-band router can deliver speeds up to 4,800 Mbps on one 5 GHz band, 1,200 Mbps on the other 5GHz band, and 574 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band.

While this two-pack provides up to 5,500 square feet of coverage, you can add more nodes to expand your WiFi coverage even more. In fact, what really sets this WiFi mesh system apart is its AiMesh technology, which lets you create your own mesh WiFi system using almost any Asus router as a node.

This allows you to create a single WiFi network for your entire home using your old routers, so you don’t have to throw them away when you upgrade. And, since most routers these days are usually more powerful than the nodes in mesh WiFi systems, AiMesh will give you the speed of a traditional router, plus the coverage of a mesh WiFi system.

The Zen XT8’s router and node both feature three high-speed Ethernet ports. And while the router is small, it features a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor and 512 MB of RAM. This mesh WiFi system also features AiProtection Pro, adaptive QoS, parental controls, and other Asus features.

Read More: 20 ways to boost your WiFi signal

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