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Best WiFi Router of 2022

We tested WiFi routers from Asus, Linksys, Netgear, TP-Link, and more to find the best
Best WiFi Router of 2022
The NetGear Nighthawk X10 (R9000).
Credit: Jenna Ammerman
By Austin Palmer and David Wise  ⋅  Mar 25, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

We researched over 100 different products, then bought the 10 most promising WiFi routers on the market in our quest to find the best one for your networking needs. We extensively tested the performance of these products head-to-head, rigorously measuring performance through a series of objective tests. We also compared and scored how convenient and easy to operate each router is and tried out all the different features. Read on to find out which router is the best of them all, which is the best bargain option, and which one excels for heavy-duty applications.

Many of us are working from home offices these days. In addition to this WiFi Router review, you might also be interested in our comparison of the best WiFi Extenders as well as the results of our testing of multipoint WiFi Mesh Systems. For those who work with hard-copy documents, we have tested printers, scanners, and paper shredders, and even cordless phones. If you keep your business paperless, staples like chromebooks and smartwatches keep you consistently connected, and a quality WiFi thermostat keeps your office comfortable. When it comes time to give a presentation, we also have you covered with the market's best projectors.

Editor's Note: We updated this review for WiFi Routers on March 25, 2022, with additional information on our in-depth testing process and a section that highlights products we would recommend to a friend (that includes you!)

Top 10 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10
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Awards Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $270 List$450 List$130 List
$98.99 at Amazon
$130 List
$93.76 at Amazon
$200 List
$114.54 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
68
62
57
57
57
Star Rating
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Pros Extremely easy to use, packed with featuresTons of features, easy to useRelatively inexpensive, exceptional rangeVery easy to use, more affordable, solid set of featuresSuper easy to use, decent set of features
Cons Average range, throughputExpensive, mediocre throughputSparse on features, average throughputUnimpressive throughput and rangeBelow average throughput, somewhat expensive
Bottom Line Easy to use with lots of features, this is the best of the best when it comes to routersThis expensive product failed to impress with its lackluster range and throughput scoresGood for those with a larger home who are shopping for an upgrade pick on a budgetGreat for budget-conscious shoppers that are willing to spend a little bit more to upgrade performanceWhile this router did alright, it seemed a little expensive relative to its results
Rating Categories ASUS RT-AC88U Wirel... NetGear Nighthawk X... NetGear AC1750 (R6400) NetGear Nighthawk A... ASUS RT-AC68U (AC1900)
Features (25%)
8.0
8.0
5.0
6.0
6.0
Ease of Use (20%)
9.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
2.4 GHz Throughput (20%)
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
4.0
5 GHz Throughput (20%)
6.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
4.0
Range (15%)
5.0
5.0
7.0
5.0
5.0
Specs ASUS RT-AC88U Wirel... NetGear Nighthawk X... NetGear AC1750 (R6400) NetGear Nighthawk A... ASUS RT-AC68U (AC1900)
MU-MIMO Yes Yes No Yes No
Wireless Specification 802.11ac 802.11ad 802.11ac 802.11ac 2.4 GHz: 802.11n
5 GHz: 802.11ac
LAN Ports Available 8 6 4 4 4
Security WPA2 Personal, WPA Auto Personal, WPA2 Enterprise, WPA Auto Enterprise WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA-PSK + WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA/WPA2 Enterprise WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA-PSK + WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA/WPA2 Enterprise WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA-PSK + WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA/WPA2 Enterprise WPA2 Personal, WPA Auto Personal, WPA2 Enterprise, WPA Auto Enterprise
Wall Mountable? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Beamforming Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Frequency 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2.4GHz, 5GHz, 60GHz 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2.4GHz and 5GHz
USB Ports 2: 3.0 and 2.0 2: 3.0 2: 3.0 and 2.0 1: 3.0 2: 3.0 and 2.0
Dimensions 11.8" x 7.4" x 2.38" 8.81" x 6.61" x 2.91" 7.2" x 11.22" x 2.4" 7.26" x 11.22" x 1.97" 6.3" x 3.3" x 8.6"
Antenna 4 external 4 external 3 external 3 external 3 external
Processor 1.4 GHz dual-core 1.7 GHz quad-core 880 MHz dual-core 1 GHz dual-core 1 GHz dual-core processor
Memory 128 MB Flash
512 MB DDR3 RAM
512 MB NAND Flash
1 GB DDR3 SDRAM
128 MB Flash
256 MB RAM
128 MB Flash
256 MB RAM
128 MB Flash
256 MB RAM
2.4 GHz Short Distance Throughput - Line of Sight 51 Mbits/s 49 Mbits/s 47 Mbits/s 48 Mbits/s 45 Mbits/s
2.4 GHz Short Distance Throughput - Obstructed 39 Mbits/s 46 Mbits/s 37 Mbits/s 47 Mbits/s 44 Mbits/s
2.4 GHz Medium Distance Throughput - Line of Sight 39 Mbits/s 47 Mbits/s 39 Mbits/s 43 Mbits/s 29 Mbits/s
2.4 GHz Medium Distance Throughput - Obstructed 38 Mbits/s 45 Mbits/s 40 Mbits/s 37 Mbits/s 23 Mbits/s
2.4 GHz Long Distance Throughput 27 Mbits/s 10 Mbits/s 22 Mbits/s 25 Mbits/s 13 Mbits/s
5 GHz Short Distance Throughput - Line of Sight 212 Mbits/s 186 Mbits/s 220 Mbits/s 211 Mbits/s 186 Mbits/s
5 GHz Short Distance Throughput - Obstructed 211 Mbits/s 157 Mbits/s 184 Mbits/s 201 Mbits/s 161 Mbits/s
5 GHz Medium Distance Throughput - Line of Sight 204 Mbits/s 198 Mbits/s 196 Mbits/s 211 Mbits/s 153 Mbits/s
5 GHz Medium Distance Throughput - Obstructed 186 Mbits/s 145 Mbits/s 181 Mbits/s 194 Mbits/s 167 Mbits/s
5 GHz Long Distance Throughput 37 Mbits/s 46 Mbits/s 17 Mbits/s 11 Mbits/s 35 Mbits/s
Video Playback Range Test 158 ft. 144 ft. 204 ft. 155 ft. 144 ft.


Best Overall Router


ASUS RT-AC88U Wireless-AC3100


68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Features 8.0
  • Ease of Use 9.0
  • 2.4 GHz Throughput 5.0
  • 5 GHz Throughput 6.0
  • Range 5.0
MU-MIMO?: Yes | # of LAN ports: 8
REASONS TO BUY
Very easy to use
Tons of features
Great 5 GHz throughput
REASONS TO AVOID
Pricey
Average range

Of all the WiFi routers we've tested, the ASUS RT-AC88U Wireless-AC3100 is the cream of the crop. This router is a high-quality model with a comprehensive assortment of functions and features and is simple and intuitive to operate to boot. Regarding 5 GHz throughput, it tied for first place and made it to the second spot for our 2.4 GHz series of tests.

One downside to this router is that its capable range is average, which can be disappointing considering its higher price tag. Still, if you don't mind paying top dollar for a router that will offer you exceptional streaming performance, and don't need a device with exceptional range, look no further than the ASUS.

Read review: ASUS RT-AC88U Wireless-AC3100

wifi router - best overall router
The ASUS RT-AC88U is a highly capable Wifi router, perfect for any home that supports an office space.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Best Mesh Network System


NetGear Orbi WiFi System (RBK50)


56
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Features 5.0
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • 2.4 GHz Throughput 5.0
  • 5 GHz Throughput 5.0
  • Range 5.0
MU-MIMO?: Yes | # of LAN ports: 3 on primary, 4 on satellites
REASONS TO BUY
Very easy to use
Good throughput
Excellent parental controls
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
No Quality of Service (QoS) network prioritization

For a premium network that can provide a good range throughout your whole house, check out the NetGear Orbi WiFi System (RBK50). This router is an intuitive device and one of the easiest to use right out of the box, delivering impressive range with its series of auxiliary transmitters. It includes robust parental controls and performed well in our range and data throughput testing.

Unsurprisingly, this performance comes at a somewhat high cost. The Orbi carries one of the highest price tags of all the routers we tested. Also, data throughput can fall off at the edge of its range, and you cannot prioritize specific network traffic. For us, these weren't dealbreakers. If you're shopping for a mesh network's expanded coverage, we think you'll have difficulty finding one better than this.

Read review: NetGear Orbi WiFi System (RBK50)

wifi router - best mesh network system
The NetGear Orbi is one of our all-time favorites when it comes to mesh network wireless routers.
Credit: Laura Casner

Best Upgrade Budget Pick


NetGear Nighthawk AC1750 (R6700v2)


57
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Features 6.0
  • Ease of Use 7.0
  • 2.4 GHz Throughput 5.0
  • 5 GHz Throughput 5.0
  • Range 5.0
MU-MIMO?: Yes | # of LAN ports: 4
REASONS TO BUY
Easy to use
A decent set of features
REASONS TO AVOID
Average throughput
Outdated interface

If you want a router that delivers excellent performance but you get sticker shock from the high-end models' price tags, check out the NetGear Nighthawk AC1750 (R6700v2). It stands up to the premium products for data throughput on its 5GHz and 2.4 GHz networks, and it's intuitive to boot. The range it provided was also quite impressive, allowing our computer to stream video without issue during testing from the farthest distance, performing the best out of our entire testing group.

However, this router doesn't have all the bells and whistles that the premium models feature. Despite that, this is our favorite product to recommend anyone shopping on a budget but is willing to pay a little extra for better performance.

Read review: NetGear Nighthawk AC1750 (R6700v2)

wifi router - best upgrade budget pick
The R6700 has a solid set of features, especially considering its bargain price!
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Best Budget Mesh Network System


eero Mesh WiFi Router


49
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Features 5.0
  • Ease of Use 6.0
  • 2.4 GHz Throughput 5.0
  • 5 GHz Throughput 4.0
  • Range 4.0
MU-MIMO?: Yes | # of LAN ports: 2 per node
REASONS TO BUY
Easy to configure
Expandable
Minimal and unobtrusive design
REASONS TO AVOID
Throughput could be better
Lackluster range with a single node

The eero Mesh WiFi Router is a great choice if you want to improve the WiFi coverage area in your house while keeping your spending in check. This small, sleek, and stylish router is simple to set up and use, thanks to the companion app that easily guides you through the whole process. It comes with a solid set of functions and features, and the data throughput proved good as well.

The eero Mesh WiFi Router is limited regarding wired connections due to its petite nature — it lacks USB ports and only has one pair of LAN ports per transmitter. The range was also somewhat limited for a single node. Despite that, the network's entire range was pretty powerful. We think this router is a great choice for those seeking a straightforward and budget-friendly wireless mesh router system.

Read review: eero Mesh WiFi Router

wifi router - best budget mesh network system
The eero is one of the most compact routers we have tested so far.
Credit: Laura Casner

Best for Extended Range


NetGear AC1750 (R6400)


57
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Features 5.0
  • Ease of Use 7.0
  • 2.4 GHz Throughput 5.0
  • 5 GHz Throughput 5.0
  • Range 7.0
MU-MIMO?: No | # of LAN ports: 4
REASONS TO BUY
Exceptional range performance in our test
Very easy to use
REASONS TO AVOID
Not the best for tons of devices
Limited features

The NetGear AC1750 (R6400) is a good option for those who struggle to get sufficient connectivity at the furthest reaches of their homes. This router did quite well in our tests overall, but its range made an impression on us. Our test laptop was able to stream a video with over 200 feet separating it from the router, compared to other models that started buffering with as little as 65 feet between them and the computer. The AC1750 (R6400) also did well in our throughput tests and is one of the more user-friendly routers we have tested so far.

On the downside, we did notice that the AC1750 (R6400) has a limited selection of features than some of the other top-tier products, notably lacking MU-MIMO functionality. The QoS service also is far from our favorite. Regardless, the AC1750 (R6400) is our top recommendation if you need to send a signal to the far-flung reaches of your home.

Read review: NetGear AC1750 (R6400)

wifi router - the netgear ac1750 &amp;#40;r6400&amp;#41; is one of the easier routers to...
The NetGear AC1750 (R6400) is one of the easier routers to use and operate.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price Our Take
68
$270
Editors' Choice Award
For those that want a top-notch router, look no further than the feature-rich and supremely easy to use Asus RT-AC88U
62
$450
The main thing that made the X10 stand out from the rest of the pack is its exceptionally high price
57
$130
Top Pick Award
For those that need range above all in their router, look no further than the NETGEAR AC1750
57
$130
Best Buy Award
If you are looking for an upgrade pick while shopping on a budget, then this router is a great option
57
$200
There are some far less expensive routers that perform comparably to the RT-AC68U
56
$370
Editors' Choice Award
We strongly recommend this product if you are looking to set up a mesh system for your home network and are looking for the best of the best
54
$160
While it did impress us with its unmatched 2.4 GHz. throughput, it isn't very well-rounded and performed poorly in other tests
49
$100
Best Buy Award
If you are shopping for a mesh network on a reduced budget, then we highly recommend this device
48
$80
For those looking for a decent router and don't want to spend a ton of cash, check out the TP-Link Archer C7
46
$75
If you don't need a ton of range from your router, then this is actually an alright option

wifi router - some of the top routers in our review.
Some of the top routers in our review.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Why You Should Trust Us


Our lead WiFi router testing team of Austin Palmer and David Wise have both made a career out of reviewing tech and smart home products and have tested and reviewed hundreds of these products for TechGearLab. On top of their professional experience, Austin also brings his expertise as an avid PC gamer. He has extensively played PC games for over a decade, giving him a deep understanding of what factors contribute to the performance of WiFi routers.

Our testing of WiFi routers is comprised of five rating metrics:
  • Features (25% of overall score rating)
  • Ease of Use (20% of overall score rating)
  • 2.4 GHz Throughput (20% of overall score rating)
  • 5 GHz Throughput (20% of overall score rating)
  • Range (15% of overall score rating)

Through extensive online research, we examined the most popular products on the market before settling on and testing more than 12 of the best WiFi routers. We did extensive range testing, seeing just how far away you can be from the router and still receive acceptable streaming speed. We measured the throughput of each one on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz to compare their performance quantitatively. We also examined the ease of use, setup, and features of each of these routers. Our expert team conducted more than 200 individual tests to help you find the perfect one to match your particular needs and budget.

Analysis and Test Results


We purchased all of the routers tested here and never accept any free evaluation units to include in our reviews. By singling out the most promising products and then testing them side-by-side, we can directly compare products to see which ones are truly the best. Each metric consisted of a handful of tests, with the performance of each product ranked and scored against the field. In our review, you'll find the detailed results for each metric, highlighting which products performed well and which ones dropped the ball. We hope that this comprehensive testing process will help you decide on the best WiFi router for your needs and budget.


Value


Balancing performance and price, the NetGear Nighthawk AC1750 (R6700v2) is the best value if you are shopping on a tight budget but want to upgrade your home or office network. The eero Mesh WiFi Router is our recommendation if you eventually want to get a mesh network throughout your home but are working on a tight budget. While this router is a little on the pricey side if you buy the 3-pack all at once, we like that you have the option to buy each node separately and build up your network as your budget allows.

wifi router - the led indicator lights on the rt-ac88u.
The LED indicator lights on the RT-AC88U.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Features


Accounting for 25% of each product's overall score, we compared the feature sets of each router. First, we looked for the presence of three key features: MU-MIMO, Beamforming, and how many LAN ports each product has. MU-MIMO, or "multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output" (we know, it's quite a mouthful!), simply means the ability for the router to talk back-and-forth (multiple inputs, multiple outputs) with multiple devices (multi-user) simultaneously. For example, an MU-MIMO router could be sending data back-and-forth between an iPhone, a laptop, and a Smart TV much faster than a SU-MIMO, or non-MU-MIMO router, essentially making your network faster overall and leading to less buffering and lag issues.

Beamforming refers to how the router shapes the WiFi field. WiFi routers that support beamforming don't send out the same WiFi signal strength in every direction. Instead, the router communicates with each device to get the relative position and concentrates the signal strength in that direction. This design leads to better overall signal and reception for each device on your network. We also noted if you could turn the indicator lights on and off, turn the router on and off remotely, and the number and type of USB ports available.


Tied for the top spot was the ASUS RT-AC88U Wireless-AC3100 and the NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 (R9000) for their impressive suite of features. They're both MU-MIMO and have beamforming capabilities and the ability to be remotely reset and toggle the indicator lights on and off. The ASUS RT-AC88U has eight LAN ports, whereas the X10 only has six. The ASUS RT-AC88U has a slight edge over the Nighthawk X10in terms of hardwired connections. Both have a pair of USB ports, but the ASUS RT-AC88U has one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0, compared to the pair of USB 3.0 ports on the X10.

wifi router - the rt-ac88u has 8 lan ports!
The RT-AC88U has 8 LAN ports!
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The ASUS RT-AC68U (AC1900), the NetGear Nighthawk X10, and the Linksys AC1900 (Max Stream EA7500) all have an above-average set of features. The NetGear Nighthawk X10 and the Linksys Max Stream have beamforming and MU-MIMO capabilities, whereas the ASUS RT-AC68U only has beamforming. However, all three of these products will allow you to turn off their indicator and network traffic LEDs through the web interface, although the Linksys Max Stream leaves the power indicator light on regardless.

wifi router - the led indicator lights can be turned on or off to match your...
The LED indicator lights can be turned on or off to match your preference.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

This trio each has four LAN ports, but only the ASUS RT-AC68U and the Linksys Max Stream have a USB 3.0 and a USB 2.0 port. The NetGear Nighthawk X10 only has a single USB 3.0 port. We have to note that the Linksys Max Stream cannot be power cycled remotely. When troubleshooting, you're forced to manually reset it, which can be a huge pain if you keep the router in a hard-to-reach location. You can reset the other two remotely.

wifi router - the max stream is quite easy to use.
The Max Stream is quite easy to use.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

As far as we could tell, the NetGear AC1750 (R6400) does not have MU-MIMO, but it does support beamforming. This lack of feature hurt its score considerably, effectively preventing it from a shot at an award. However, it does have a remote reset and the ability to turn the indicator lights off, and four LAN ports. It also has both a USB 3.0 and a USB 2.0 port.

Ease of Use


Our second series of assessments deal with how much work it took to set up and use each router, comprising 20% of each product's final score. We paid specific attention to the initial setup process of each model — the time it took to get the network going, whether or not you needed to update the firmware, and how extensive the documentation is. We also looked at the scope and ease of use of the parental controls and Quality of Service (QoS) and the overall intuitiveness of each product's interface.


Taking home the top score are the ASUS RT-AC88U and the ASUS RT-AC68U. Both are essentially identical in terms of ease of use, relying on the same interface. We were impressed with how little effort it took to get both of these routers set up and configured. Though each required an update to their firmware upon unboxing, it wasn't particularly difficult to do.

wifi router - the step-by-step wizard for asus routers made the setup process very...
The step-by-step wizard for ASUS routers made the setup process very easy.

For the most part, it was a problem-free setup process, with both a helpful web interface and a step-by-step wizard that guides you through configuring the network name and password. The wizard did give us some slight issues changing the network name one of the times that we tried to set it on the ASUS RT-AC88U, but aside from that, everything was a breeze. Both of these routers have an exceptionally approachable user interface.

wifi router - we liked that you can restrict access to inappropriate content by...
We liked that you can restrict access to inappropriate content by device with this router.
Credit: Austin Palmer

This device also gives you the option of enabling parental controls so that you can block websites by genre or by specific addresses. These blocks can also be set on a schedule or programmed to only apply to certain devices. Finally, both of these ASUS routers support QoS, allowing either adaptive, traditional, or bandwidth-limited. Quality of Service or QoS allows you to prioritize bandwidth allocations for devices and customize your network to best suit your needs, whether streaming media, gaming, or just surfing the web casually.

wifi router - you have a handful of different qos options with this router.
You have a handful of different QoS options with this router.
Credit: Austin Palmer

The TP-Link Archer C7 (AC1750) required a firmware update out of the box, but we easily accomplished this. You can complete the initial setup process for these routers through either a smartphone app or a personal computer. It is a super easy process whichever way you choose, but the smartphone setup provides prompts for every step. The browser-based setup through the computer isn't as helpful when leading you through the process, but you also have pretty extensive written documentation to consult if you need it.

wifi router - the tp-link has one of the easiest setup processes of the entire...
The TP-Link has one of the easiest setup processes of the entire group.

The TP-Link Archer C7 has QoS, but it only allows you to sort priority by devices, not by content like some of the other routers in the group. This pair has identical parental controls, allowing you to filter out websites by keywords and set a schedule for internet access.

wifi router - the qos on the archer only allows you to sort by devices.
The QoS on the Archer only allows you to sort by devices.

Equally easy to set up with a very helpful app that guides you through every step of the process is the NetGear Orbi WiFi System (RBK50). It helps you set the admin password, network password, and SSID, and then walks you through adding in additional transmitters. We did have to update its firmware, but it was a painless process, and we liked how intuitive, and user-friendly the interface and app layout is. This router also has some of the most extensive parental controls that we have tested, though it is through a separate app. It lets you select preset profiles based on the age you want to filter for and lets you block content by categories or specific sites. Additionally, you can set these filters to work on a schedule.

You have plenty of control when it comes to fine-tuning content...
You have plenty of control when it comes to fine-tuning content censoring with the Circle app.

Except for the NetGear AC1200 (R6230), all of the NetGear routers that we have tested required firmware updates upon unboxing. Linksys routers were all ready to go right out of the box; none of them required a firmware update. However, the network settings of these routers are not particularly easy to configure compared to the rest of the group. They each had myriad problems when we attempted to set the network name and password — with the NetGear AC1200 (R6230) being an exception. The AC 1200 (R6230) is one of the easiest models for the entire group to set up, with an intuitive mobile app and a user-friendly interface. However, it is lacking in terms of features.

Minus the NetGear AC1200 (R6230), the NetGear WiFi routers have the most sophisticated parental control options. It can be a little more labor-intensive to set up but allows you the finest level of control. The AC 1200 (R6230) is pretty limited in letting you customize which content to block, leaving you with the preset lists already in the app. It is decent for blocking a wide spectrum of content but isn't very good at blocking specific things. We found the Linksys parental controls ineffective for filtering content, as it can only filter by the website address. You are forced to create an itemized list of all the questionable content that you want to block — an impossible task. However, you can filter by time, cutting off access to certain devices at certain times.

wifi router - the parental controls took a bit more work to setup, but are much...
The parental controls took a bit more work to setup, but are much more sophisticated than some of the other models.

2.4 GHz Throughput


Worth 20% of the overall score, we looked at each router's throughput, that is, how fast each router and a test computer can exchange data, on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency ranges. We conducted five different tests for each bandwidth, averaging the results of three trials. We used the iPerf3 software running on our test client computer connected to each router, so the test was independent of the ISP speed in our area.


Reigning supreme was the Linksys Max Stream, earning the top score for its 2.4 GHz speed. The Max Stream delivered an excellent performance in our first assessment, having the average fastest throughput speed in our line-of-sight, short distance test — about 10 feet away. It clocked in at an average of 57 Mbits/second.


The Linksys Max Stream continued its stellar performance in the obstructed version of the test, again delivering the highest throughput of the entire group with a comparable 57 Mbits/sec. The results of the routers drastically changed in the obstructed version of our assessment, with the performance of the ASUS RT-AC88U and the NetGear AC1750 (R6400) decreasing notably. However, the other routers were relatively unaffected, though the eero Mesh weirdly did a bit better in this test.


The Linksys Max Stream also delivered the best results in the line of sight, medium distance test — about 35 feet away. We saw some movement in the rankings from the short distance test, with the NetGear Nighthawk X10 and the NetGear Orbi delivering some of the best results.


The Linksys Max Stream was finally dethroned in the obstructed medium distance evaluation, dropping to third place. For the obstructed test, the NetGear Orbi did the best of this group, followed by the NetGear Nighthawk X10.


For the long-distance test, the ASUS RT-AC88U outperformed the rest of the group, measuring at 27 Mbit/s. The Max Stream's performance dropped again in the longest distance version of this test — with about 70 feet separating the computer and router. It still scored close to the top of the pack, but it was overshadowed by the stellar performance of the ASUS RT-AC88U.


The TP-Link Archer C7, the NetGear AC1200 (R6230), and the ASUS RT-AC68U all did a fair job with the short and medium-distance tests, but their throughput fell off for the long-distance test. These routers averaged in the 30-50 Mbits/s range in the short distance tests and dropped to the 20-40 Mbit/s in the medium distance. This performance is a stark contrast to their performance in the 70-foot test, with the TP-Link models averaging around 9 Mbits/s, the ASUS RT-AC68U averaging 12.7 Mbit/s, and the NetGear AC1200 (R6230) only measuring an abysmal average of 2.3 Mbits/s.

wifi router - we run diagnostic tests on all of these routers to verify...
We run diagnostic tests on all of these routers to verify manufacturer claims for throughput distances.

5 GHz Throughput


For our next metric, we repeated the above set of tests for each router, using the 5 GHz network. As a quick refresher: we conducted five tests for this bandwidth by running iPerf3 software on our test client computer connected to each router (so that the test was independent of our local ISP speed) and then averaged the results of three trials.


Tying for first place overall in this metric were the ASUS RT-AC88U and the NetGear (R6230).

The data rate is usually much faster over a 5 GHz network, but the signal attenuates rapidly, meaning the speed decreases as the distance between the router and the server increases.

While the NetGear Nighthawk X10 ultimately delivered the overall fastest 5 GHz performance at a distance, it wasn't nearly as impressive in the short and medium-distance tests, dropping it out of the running for a top score in this metric.


The NetGear AC1200 (R6230) proves its worth in the short distance, obstructed test.


The NetGear AC1200 (R6230) did very well in the short and medium-distance versions, while the NetGear Nighthawk AC1750 (R6400) excelled in the obstructed and unobstructed medium-distance tests.


The NetGear Orbi did just a bit better than the Nighthawk in the line-of-sight test but didn't handle the interference quite as well.


The ASUS RT-AC88U impressed us with its great performance at a long distance, but the NetGear Nighthawk X10 reigned supreme in the long-distance 5 GHz test, recording an average throughput of 46 Mbits/s.


The NetGear AC1750 (R6400) — impressive in other specific tests — showed a middle-of-the-road performance for throughput at long distances.

wifi router - the asus rt-ac88u is capable of producing a strong signal at both...
The ASUS RT-AC88U is capable of producing a strong signal at both 2.4 GHz. and 5 GHz. frequencies.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Range


For this metric, we compared and scored the range of each WiFi router. We measured out various distances then streamed the same video to see if there were any buffering issues. We noted the distance the video playback was interrupted for each WiFi router then used that to determine the scores.


The NetGear AC1750 (R6400), delivering uninterrupted playback at a distance of over 200 feet, earned the top score in this metric. We successfully watched a 5-minute YouTube video in 720p without buffering or interruptions.

Despite their other accolades, the ASUS RT-AC88U, the NetGear Nighthawk AC1750, and the NetGear Orbi all displayed a mediocre performance. The range of all of these products dropped dramatically, with the video stream cutting out about 50 to 60 feet closer than the NetGear AC1750 (R6400).


The eero Mesh and the TP-Link Archer C7 performed slightly below average. At the back of the pack, the Linksys AC1900 Max Stream had a meager range of just over a hundred feet, and the NetGear AC1200 (R6230) had an even more disappointing 65-foot range.

wifi router - the mesh network abilities of the netgear orbi allow you to greatly...
The mesh network abilities of the NetGear Orbi allow you to greatly expand the coverage compared to a single-point router.
Credit: Laura Casner

Conclusion


There is a lot to consider when looking for the best WiFi router for your home or office. The lists of features and technical jargon can sometimes be overwhelming, and we try to make all those things much clearer for you in this review. Hopefully, this review has answered some of your questions about WiFi routers and helped you find the perfect model to suit your needs and budget.

Austin Palmer and David Wise

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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

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