Best Wireless Router
$249.95 at Amazon
|$450 List||$130 List|
$111.92 at Amazon
$94.15 at Amazon
$116.89 at Amazon
|Pros||Extremely easy to use, packed with features||Tons of features, easy to use||Relatively inexpensive, exceptional range||Very easy to use, more affordable, solid set of features||Super easy to use, decent set of features|
|Cons||Average range, throughput||Expensive, mediocre throughput||Sparse on features, average throughput||Unimpressive throughput and range||Below average throughput, somewhat expensive|
|Bottom Line||For those that want a top-notch router, look no further than the feature-rich and supremely easy to use Asus RT-AC88U||The main thing that made the X10 stand out from the rest of the pack is its exceptionally high price||For those that need range above all in their router, look no further than the NETGEAR AC1750||If you are looking for an upgrade pick while shopping on a budget, then this router is a great option||There are some far less expensive routers that perform comparably to the RT-AC68U|
|Rating Categories||ASUS RT-AC88U...||NETGEAR Nighthawk...||NETGEAR AC1750...||Nighthawk AC1750...||ASUS RT-AC68U...|
|Ease Of Use (20%)|
|2 4 Ghz Throughput (20%)|
|5 Ghz Throughput (20%)|
|Specs||ASUS RT-AC88U...||NETGEAR Nighthawk...||NETGEAR AC1750...||Nighthawk AC1750...||ASUS RT-AC68U...|
|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 [TKIP] + WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA/WPA2 Enterprise||WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA-PSK [TKIP] + WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA/WPA2 Enterprise||WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA-PSK [TKIP] + WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA/WPA2 Enterprise||WPA2 Personal, WPA Auto Personal, WPA2 Enterprise, WPA Auto Enterprise|
|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
To date, the ASUS RT-AC88U is one of our all-around favorite wireless routers that we have tested. This model is top-notch and has one of the most comprehensive sets of features and functions, all while being one of the most intuitive and easy to operate routers of the entire group. On top of all that, it tied for the top spot when it came to 5 GHz. throughput and in the runner-up position overall in our series of 2.4 GHz. tests.
Unfortunately, the effective range on this router is more average than amazing, and it is expensive. However, we think that it's the best of the best and is the perfect option for someone who needs exceptional streaming performance from their router — as long as they are willing to pay a premium for it.
Read review: ASUS RT-AC88U Wireless-AC3100
Best Mesh Network System
NETGEAR Orbi Wifi System (RBK50)
If you are looking to create a top-tier network but struggle trying to get adequate signal across your entire home, then we highly recommend the NETGEAR Orbi RBK50. Out of all the models we tested, this router is one of the easiest and most intuitive to use, all while offering expansive coverage with its series of auxiliary transmitters. It did well in our data throughput and range tests and has very full-featured parental controls.
All of this performance does, unfortunately, come at a bit of a price. The Orbi is one of the most expensive routers of the entire group. It also doesn't give you the option to prioritize one type of network traffic over another, and the data throughput can drop off at the furthest extent of its range. These flaws are minor in our minds and are easy to overlook. We think it's hard to beat this product if you are on the hunt for the expanded coverage a mesh network provides.
Read review: NETGEAR Orbi Wifi System (RBK50)
Best Upgrade Budget Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1750 (R6700v2)
If you are looking for a high-performance wireless router, but the thought of a high price tag like those of the top-tier models is giving you a headache, the Nighthawk AC1750 (R6700v2) by NETGEAR is one you should consider. It is still quite easy to use and holds its own with the top products when it comes to throughput on its 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks. Its range is also phenomenal, with our test computer able to effectively stream video at one of the furthest distances of the entire group when connected to the Nighthawk.
However, this router does have a reduced set of features and functions when compared to the top-of-the-line products. Despite that, this is our favorite product to recommend to someone shopping on a budget who is willing to pay a small premium for better performance.
Read review: NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1750 (R6700v2)
Best Budget Mesh Network System
eero Mesh Wifi Router
If you are looking to increase the area of WiFi coverage around your home without breaking the bank, then we would suggest the eero Mesh WiFi Router. This exceptionally small, sleek, and stylish router is one of the easier models to use and set up, with a handy companion app that walks you through the entire process. The throughput was solid in most of our tests and has a decent set of features and functions.
The eero Mesh WiFi Router is a little limited when it comes to wired connections due to its petite nature, lacking USB ports entirely, and only having a pair of LAN ports per transmitter. We also found the range to be a little limited for a single node. However, the range of the entire mesh network can be quite impressive. We think this router is a great choice if anyone wants an easy to use a more budget-friendly wireless mesh router system.
Read review: eero Mesh Wifi Router
Best on a Tight Budget
TP-Link Archer A6 (AC1200)
If the price point of the previous two routers is far too high for you, then you may want to consider the Archer A6 by TP-Link. This router pairs a decent performance with a much more affordable price tag than the top models. This router has a surprisingly impressive set of features and is one of the more intuitive and easier to use routers.
However, the A6 isn't the most impressive of the group when it comes to throughput performance or range. It isn't terrible, but if you have a household with tons of bandwidth-intensive devices or a particularly far-flung network configuration, we would recommend other routers over this one. Still, the A6 is a fantastic option if you are on a very tight budget.
Read review: TP-Link Archer A6 (AC1200)
Best for Extended Range
NETGEAR AC1750 (R6400)
The NETGEAR AC1750 (R6400) is a good option to consider if you struggle to get sufficient connectivity at the furthest extent of your home. Overall this router did quite well in our tests, but we were thoroughly impressed when it came to range. Our test laptop was able to stream a video with over 200' separating it from the router, compared to other models that started buffering with as little as 65' between them and the computer. The R6400 also did well in our throughput tests and is one of the more intuitive and user-friendly routers we have tested so far.
On the downside, we did notice that the 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 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)
Why You Should Trust Us
All of the routers in this review were purchased by us. We never accept any free evaluation units to include in our reviews. 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 wireless routers.
We looked at existing reviews of products to find out which models top the list, as well as various forum posts and other information to assemble a list of almost 75 different routers that looked like they might have the potential to claim an award. Next, we singled out the most promising products on the list and bought them to test side-by-side to see which ones are truly the best. We did extensive range testing, seeing just how far away you can be from the router and still receive acceptable streaming speed. We also measured the throughput of each one on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz to quantitatively compare their performance.
Related: How We Tested Wireless Routers
Analysis and Test Results
Our comprehensive testing process was broken down into five weighted metrics: Features, Ease of Use, 2.4 GHz Throughput, 5 GHz Throughput, and Range. Each metric consisted of a handful of tests, with the performance of each product ranked and scored against the field. Below you'll find the detailed results for each metric, highlighting which products performed well and which ones dropped the ball.
Related: Buying Advice for Wireless Routers
The TP-Link Archer A6 is the best value if you are shopping on a tight budget. If your streaming needs exceed the capabilities of the Archer A6 and you're willing to pay a bit more for an upgrade, the NETGEAR Nighthawk R6700v2 is a great deal. The eero is our recommendation if you eventually want to get a mesh network throughout your home and are shopping on a 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.
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, which is the second feature, refers to how the router shapes the WiFi field. Wireless routers that support beamforming don't send out the same signal strength of WiFi in every direction. Instead, the router communicates with each device to get the relative position and concentrates the signal strength in that direction. This leads to better overall signal and reception for each device.
Additionally, 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 and the NETGEAR Nighthawk X10, both earning an 8 out of 10 for their impressive suite of features. Both the ASUS RT-AC88U and the X10 are MU-MIMO and have beamforming capabilities, as well as the ability to be remotely reset and toggle the indicator lights on and off. The ASUS RT-AC88U has a slight edge when it comes to LAN ports having 8 compared to the 6 on the X10.
In terms of hardwired connections, the ASUS RT-AC88U has a slight edge over the Nighthawk X10. 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.
Next, each meriting a 6 out of 10 for their above-average set of features is the ASUS RT-AC68U, the NETGEAR Nighthawk, and the Linksys AC1900 Max Stream. Both the Nighthawk and the Max Stream have both beamforming and MU-MIMO capabilities, whereas the ASUS RT-AC68U only has beamforming. All three of these products, however, 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.
We have to note that the Linksys Max Stream cannot be power cycled remotely. When troubleshooting, you're forced to manually rest it — a huge pain if you keep the router in a difficult to reach location — while the other two can be reset remotely.
This trio each has 4 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 Nighthawk only has a single USB 3.0 port.
Possessing an average set of features, the NETGEAR AC1750 (R6400), the eero Mesh WiFi Router, the NETGEAR Orbi, and the TP-Link Archer A6 all a 5 out of 10. As far as we could tell, the R6400 does NOT have MU-MIMO, but it does support beamforming. This hurt its score considerably, effectively preventing it from a shot at an award. However, it does have remote reset and the ability to turn the indicator lights off, as well as 4 LAN ports. It also has both a USB 3.0 and a USB 2.0 port.
The Archer A6 has a little more functionality than the R6400, supporting beamforming and MU-MIMO — which, for a budget router, is a rarity. Unfortunately, that's about all that stood out on the positive side of this model's feature set. You can't turn the LED status lights off, and it lacks any USB ports at all, so you won't be able to use the A6 for direct file transfer. However, the A6 can be reset remotely and has four Gigabit LAN ports, which at this point are standard features.
The eero has both MU-MIMO — of the 2x2 variety — and beamforming abilities, as well as a remote reset. However, you can't turn the network on or off with a button, nor can you turn the network status LEDs off. It also doesn't have any USB ports and only 2 LAN ports per node, with one of those ports occupied by the modem on the main transmitter.
The NETGEAR Orbi is also capable of MU-MIMO network management and beamforming like the eero but it has a few more LAN ports, with 4 on each satellite and 3 on the main router. It also can be remotely reset for troubleshooting but doesn't let you turn off the lights, have any USB ports, or have a button to disable the wireless network.
For their limited suite of features, the TP-Link Archer C7 and the NETGEAR AC1200 (R6230) were next, each earning only 4 out of 10. Neither have beamforming or MU-MIMO capabilities, which means if your router isn't centrally located or if you have a large number of devices using the network, your network will be quite a bit slower than it would be if you went with the top-tier routers.
Unfortunately, you can't turn off any of the status indicator LEDs on these routers, but they do have the typical four gigabit LAN ports.
The NETGEAR AC1200 R6230 has a single USB 2.0 port for direct file transfer, while the Archer C7 has a pair of ports. Both models can be reset remotely through their companion apps.
Finishing at the back of the pack, the D-Link AC1200 earned a 3 out of 10 for its meager set of features. This router lacks the majority of the features that the top products have: there is no remote reset, MU-MIMO, beamforming, or the ability to turn the LEDs off. It has the typical 4 LAN ports but lacks any USB ports at all.
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, if you needed to update the firmware, and how thorough the documentation is. We also looked at the scope and ease of use of the parental controls and Quality of Service (QoS), as well as the overall user-friendliness of each product's interface.
Taking home the top score of 9 out of 10 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. While each did require an update to their firmware upon unboxing, it wasn't particularly difficult to do. 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. This device also gives you the option of enabling parental controls, so you can block websites by genre or by specific addresses.
These blocks can also be set on a schedule or programmed to only apply for 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, letting you customize your network to best suit your needs, whether you are streaming media, gaming, or just surfing the web casually.
Up next, both of the TP-Link Archer Models — the A6 and the C7 and the NETGEAR Orbi earned an 8 out of 10 for their excellent ease of use.
Both Archers did require a firmware update out of the box, but this was easily accomplished. 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 doesn't do as much to lead you through the process, but you also have pretty extensive written documentation to consult if you need it.
The TP-Link Archer C7 and the Archer A6 both have 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 each have identical parental controls, allowing you to filter out websites by keywords, as well as set a schedule for internet access.
Equally easy to set up with a very helpful app that guides you through every step of the process is the NETGEAR Orbi. It helps you set the admin password, network password, and SSID, 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 out of any 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, as well as letting you block content by categories or specific sites. Additionally, you can set these filters to work on a schedule.
In the next tier, the Linksys AC1900 Max Stream EA7500, the Linksys AC1900 WRT1900ACS, NETGEAR AC1750 R6400, NETGEAR Nighthawk, the NETGEAR Nighthawk X10, and the NETGEAR AC1200 R6230 all earn a 7 out of 10 in this metric.
With the exception of the 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 AC1200 R6230 being an exception. The R6230 is one of the easiest models for the entire group to set up, with an intuitive mobile app with a user-friendly interface. However, it is lacking in terms of features.
Both Linksys models, the NETGEAR AC1750 R6400, and the NETGEAR Nighthawk were easier to set up than the Nighthawk X10, but still much more difficult than the ASUS RT-AC88U or the TP-Link Archer.
The Linksys models both took about 30 minutes for us to get set up. Both gave us an error or froze, forcing us to start over. We found these to be a little finicky when it came to using the browser interface, so switching browsers is a good idea if you are running into issues.
The NETGEAR Nighthawk and AC1750 both were about the same as the Linksys models, with a wizard to help you set an admin password and network login. This can be a bit more problematic if you have other existing networks. Mid-setup, our computer kept trying to switch to a different network, causing some difficulty.
Unfortunately, we found the initial configuration and setup process for the Nighthawk X10 to be a harrowing process. The wizard would immediately open but would freeze up and fail to load, forcing us to try again multiple times with a different browser until it worked.
In terms of the interface, we vastly preferred the Linksys routers to the NETGEAR models, making them second only to the ASUS RT-AC88U for being easy to navigate and user-friendly. The NETGEAR browser interface is about average and looks a little outdated.
Minus the R6230, the NETGEAR wireless routers have the most sophisticated set of parental control options. It can be a little more labor-intensive to set up but allows you the finest level of control. The 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 to be 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.
The Linksys models both have QoS (which they call media prioritization) which proved to have average performance. The NETGEAR routers also had QoS, but it was mediocre and, compared to other models, appeared to be very outdated. Again, the R6230 differentiated itself from the other NETGEAR models, completely lacking QoS as far as we could tell.
Rounding out the group, the D-Link AC1200 and the eero merits a 6 out of 10. While the D-Link AC1200 didn't require any immediate firmware updates and was one of the easiest routers to set up, we found the interface to be very difficult to use. It isn't particularly easy to adjust settings or enable parental controls, though the QoS features are fairly easy to navigate. Overall, the AC1200 paled in comparison to the top models when it comes to user-friendliness.
The eero did impress us with how easy it is to set up, but you do need to have a smart device that can run the companion app. It walks you through the whole process of setting up the main transmitter and then any additional nodes. The interface can feel a little cluttered at times, and it can take some time to get used to where things are when trying to adjust settings. The parental controls also don't offer a ton of customization or finesse when blocking content.
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 of 6 out of 10 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' away. The Max Stream clocked in at an average of 57 Mbits/second.
The 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. It also delivered the best results in the unobstructed, medium distance test — about 35 feet away. However, it was dethroned in the obstructed medium distance evaluation, dropping to third place.
Finally, the Max Stream's performance dropped in the longest distance version of this test — with about 70' 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.
Finishing next, the ASUS RT-AC88U, Linksys AC1900 WRT1900ACS, NETGEAR AC1750 R6400, Nighthawk AC1750, the NETGEAR Orbi, the eero, and the Nighthawk X10 all earned a 5 out of 10. The ASUS RT-AC88U, the Linksys AC1900 WRT1900ACS, and the NETGEAR Orbi were the top scorers in the short distance, line of sight test, respectively clocking in at an average 51 Mbits/s, 53 Mbits/s, and 55 Mbits/s. They were followed by the 49 Mbits/s of the X10, 48 Mbit/s of the standard Nighthawk, and the 47 Mbits/s of the NETGEAR. The eero followed up with an average of 39 Mbits/s.
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 decreasing notably. However, the other routers were relatively unaffected, though the eero weirdly did a bit better in this test.
Moving on to the medium distance tests, again, we saw some movement in the rankings, with the X10 and the NETGEAR Orbi delivering some of the best results. These products were followed closely by the normal Nighthawk, the eero, and then the Linksys AC1900 WRT1900ACS. For the obstructed test, the NETGEAR Orbi and the Linksys AC1900 WRT1900ACS did the best of this group, followed by the Nighthawk X10.
For the long-distance test, the ASUS RT-AC88U not only outperformed the rest of the group, measuring in at 27 Mbit/s. The Nighthawk AC1750 did the next best.
Next, the TP-Link Archer C7, the A6, the NETGEAR R6230, and the ASUS RT-AC68U each earn a 4 out of 10 for their overall so-so performances.
These routers all did a fair job with the short and medium-distance tests, but their throughput fell off for the long-distance test. All of 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 is a stark contrast to their performance in the 70' test, with the TP-Link models averaging around 9 Mbits/s, the ASUS RT-AC68U averaging 12.7 Mbit/s, and the NETGEAR R6230 only measuring an abysmal average of 2.3 Mbits/s.
At the back of the pack, the D-Link earned a 3 out of 10 for its lackluster performance. It failed to impress us in the short and medium tests and essentially was unusable at long distances, dropping to a throughput rate of essentially 0 Mbit/s.
5 GHz Throughput
For our next metric, we repeated the above set of tests for each router, using the 5 GHz network. The data rate is usually much faster over a 5 GHz network, but the signal attenuates rapidly, meaning the speed rapidly decreases as the distance between the router and the server increases.
Tying for first place overall in this metric, the ASUS RT-AC88U, the NETGEAR R6230, and the Linksys AC1900 WRT1900ACS earned a 6 out of 10. The ASUS RT-AC88U impressed us with its great performance in the long-distance test, while the results from the Linksys WRT1900ACS were relatively disappointing. The NETGEAR R6230 did about average.
While the X10 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 R6230 did very well in the short and medium-distance versions, while the Linksys AC1900 WRT1900ACS just did alright in the medium-distance line of sight test.
Next, the D-Link, the TP-Link Archer A6, the Linksys Max Stream, the NETGEAR AC1750 R6400, the NETGEAR Orbi, the Nighthawk, and the Nighthawk X10 all earn a 5 out of 10 for their middle-of-the-road performance. As mentioned above, the X10 reigned supreme in the long-distance 5 GHz test, recording an average throughput of 46 Mbits/s. However, it delivered an overall uninspiring set of results in the other four tests.
Of this group, the D-Link did the overall best of this group at the short distance obstructed test and the A6 did the best at the line-of-sight short distance test. The normal Nighthawk excelled in both 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.
Finally, at the back of the group, the TP-Link Archer C7, the eero, and the ASUS RT-AC68U each earned a 4 out of 10. The TP-Link did above average at the line of sight, short-distance test, but was relatively unimpressive in the others. The eero and the TP-Link Archer C7 performed similarly in the short-distance, interference-free test, but the eero consistently did just a bit better in the other 5 GHz. throughput tests.
The ASUS RT-AC68U was underwhelming in both the short-distance and obstructed medium-distance tests and did exceptionally poorly in the line of sight, medium-distance test compared to the rest of the field. However, the ASUS RT-AC68U redeemed itself slightly in the long-distance test, doing extremely well compared to the rest of the group and finishing not far off from the top products.
For this metric, we compared and scored the range of each wireless router. We measured out various distances, then played the same video to see if there were any buffering issues. We noted at what distance the video playback was interrupted for each wireless router, then used that to determine the scores.
The NETGEAR AC1750 R6400, delivering uninterrupted playback at a distance of over 200', earned the top score of 7 out of 10. We successfully watched a 5-minute YouTube video in 720p without any buffering or interruptions.
Next, the ASUS RT-AC88U, the ASUS RT-AC68U, the Nighthawk X10, the Nighthawk, the NETGEAR Orbi, and the Linksys AC1900 all earned a 5 out of 10 for their performance. The range of all of these products dropped dramatically compared to the top wireless routers, with the video stream cutting out about 50'-60' closer.
Next, the D-Link, the eero, the TP-Link Archer C7, and the Archer A6 all merit a 4 out of 10 for their efforts. They have an effective tested range of about 145', 135', 135', and 135', respectively. At the back of the pack, the Linksys AC1900 Max Stream earns a 2 out of 10 for its meager range of just over a hundred feet, and with a disappointing 65' range, was the NETGEAR R6230 that earned a 1 out of 10.
Hopefully, this review has answered some of your questions about wireless routers and helped you find the perfect model to suit your needs.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise