The Best Router You Can Buy Today: Budget, mainstream and best overall

By Jos · 21 replies
Oct 5, 2015
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  1. Routers may not be the most exciting piece of technology out there, but with the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, streaming boxes, smart TVs and more, the need for a good wireless router in modern homes is undeniable. Streaming services and online gaming can put a lot of strain on your local network and router, and if you’re sticking with the free option you get as part of your ISP deal, you might notice your connection slowing to a crawl when multiple devices are fighting for bandwidth.

    We've gone through dozens of expert reviews and long-term usage impressions from actual owners to bring you the best routers in three unique price points.

    Read the complete guide.

  2. dustin_ds3000

    dustin_ds3000 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 887   +19

    Too bad DD-WRT or OpenWrt support wasn't covered. That's the first thing I check when I'm looking to upgrade, along with the router's CPU model and speed.
  3. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 7,671   +988

    DD-WRT has an extensive product compatibility database and apparently all three routers can run it, even the $20 TP-Link TL-WR841N:

    We appreciate your feedback and will try to integrate more of it as we move forward with more "best of" articles. We are making it less about the spec sheet and more about the reviews, testing, and owners' feedback that has been gathered in the hundreds or even thousands depending on the product.
  4. MoeJoe

    MoeJoe TS Guru Posts: 711   +381

    This is a really bad article as it reflects a lack of someone doing their homework. It doesn't even address the multi-network top echelon products that have been out for months.

    The RT-AC68U is actually old and tired compared to a whole slew of products released since it's introduction. Something else missed by many sites performing recommendations and/or reviews ... the ability for a router to fully support IPv6 out-of-the-box. The RT-AC68U has problems maintaining that, along with USB 3.0 issues that Asus hasn't remotely addressed.

    That said, the TP-Link Archer C3200 is a product totally ignored in this article, along with 'second from the top' Netgear Nighthawk. The C3200 product, IMHO, blows away anything currently out there. It's GUI fresh & straightforward to configure, not to mention that it is pretty much state-of-the-art in terms of capability and performance.

    So at the end of day, this article reads like a loss-leader advertisement with no real research behind it.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2015
  5. Slappy McPhee

    Slappy McPhee TS Enthusiast Posts: 59   +20

    Why would the bulk of people care if a router can support IPV6 on the LAN? There is not real benefit still to using that protocol on a LAN. It will not become relevant for the masses for 5-10 years. I deal with small, medium, and large customers to which very few have even implemented it. As long as the WAN can use it then routing tables can do the rest. As for the article itself this is just a quick and dirty for folks that may need to be looking for a replacement or perhaps a quick look to do an upgrade. They even cite other reviewing sites as well as a place to purchase if you want to follow up on your own. There hasn't been enough movement forward in the segment to quantify spending an inordinate amount of time on a full blown in-house review for the site. If you want the nerdism review then go ahead and do a search for each that are mentioned.
    agb81 and madboyv1 like this.
  6. Proud owner of ASUS RT-AC68U. Best router in the market. The presence of a dedicated stealth mode button at the back is a huge bonus.
  7. Quick question. I'm looking towards the TP-Link AC1750 for TWC as I'm going from 50mbps to 300mbps tomorrow. Should I stick with that modem, as that's the best certified router shown on the list? Or are there uncertified modems that I can use that may provide better performance?

    Or maybe I'm just asking for too much, because I want the best connection to even League of Legends and my servers. :p I know the connection is 680Mbps, but I really just want thee perfect modem until Google Fiber finishes their construction. I plan on streaming on Twitch, YouTube and more at the same time with my gaming on PC and Xbox.
  8. I have the Archer C7, too, and it works great. The software is just okay, but it gets the job done.
  9. hitech0101

    hitech0101 TS Guru Posts: 451   +34

    I have the TL-WR841N it is worth considering, I found its performance satisfactory, there was a even a cheaper model available from TPlink but decided to go with this one. Good budget buy.
  10. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 7,671   +988

    This is the first in a series of "best of" features we have planned for the coming weeks and the theme behind them is to go straight for the stuff we would buy ourselves. Going through all the reviews, the user opinions and experiences, our own with several different devices.

    What this is not: calling the theoretically fastest/more expensive product "best" if we wouldn't buy it ourselves.

    @Slappy McPhee nailed it on his comment above (on different words), an educated quick and dirty is what this is :cool:

    Coming up next: Cases, Smartphones, Laptops, and more.
  11. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 3,000   +1,318

    Can vouch for the TP link as I use it wirelessly with my Xbox one and wired with my PC. PC gaming over wireless had some lag but Xbox works fine. Not as good for streaming my Xbox to windows 10, and loses a lot of strength through walls, but a solid router for a small area.
  12. nismo91

    nismo91 TS Evangelist Posts: 930   +31

    I installed a WR841ND (D stands for detachable antennas) for a client's home network that uses 5pcs wireless ip cameras. The router transmits the images from those cameras to the laptop which also uses wireless and averages 10Mbit/s bandwidth for 24/7 operation. No WAN connection attached to this router though. Three years and counting, the router seldom sees a reboot and for a sub $20 wireless router, it definitely is worth mentioning.
  13. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,265   +436

    You are missing one of the best routers on that list.

    I'm running the Netgear NightHawk R7000 which I paid $175 for.

    Have the Asus merlin firmware running on it router is rock solid.
  14. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,155   +985

    There's always a problem with the qualitative term best - - seldom does the reviewer state the criteria or tests used in the evaluation, eg:
    • feature list
    • price
    • performance (thruput)
    • price/performance
    • adherence to standards
    • WiFi RF strength and possible adjustment thereto, MIMO options and antennas
    • ease of user configuration
    • max concurrent device connections
    • max address reservations
    • access and configuration of QoS settings
    • bandwidth control of specific MAC addresses
    • MTBF (that's Mean Time Between Failures:: ie reliability in the hardware)
    There's a lot to be said for DD-WRT and OpenWrt, but those are firmware alternatives to the OEM delivered versions (btw, the major difference between routers is the firmware).

    Personally, I disdain Linksys and much prefer Netgear - - but that's another qualitative, non-objective opinion :grin:
  15. MoeJoe

    MoeJoe TS Guru Posts: 711   +381

    In no particular order:

    "Quick and dirty" is the understatement of the year.
    This article is both quick (no research) and dirty (lots of words, thin on value-add).

    Your fall-back to the "nerdism" is a typical emo move,
    so the general context of your comment is virtually discredited.
    Most of us expect more from TS. You should too.

    Ineffectual shotgun recommendations with such a lofty title is obvious to even
    the most casual of readership. And for what's it's worth, IPv6 is relevant
    today and enhances the web experience, from the LAN to the WAN. What
    I won't succumb to is feeble attempts to side-line argue the pros & cons of
    IPv6; the fact of the matter is - if a mfg is going to promote their product as
    being IPv6 capable ... then it should perform as advertised ... you're understanding
    of the merits of IPv6 notwithstanding. Netgear and Asus products have well
    documented IPv6 issues and the USB 3.0 disconnect/throttling/wifi confliction
    problems inherent in the RT-AC68U are too-late/never solved at this point.
    You chose to focus on IPv6 whilst ignoring these other intrinsic points.
    The RT-AC68U has a significant list of long-standing problems
    that are not addressed, nor will they be addressed by Asus.
    Not even Merlin s/w can fix that barely mediocre product.
    Speaking from 1st hand experience here btw ...
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
  16. MoeJoe

    MoeJoe TS Guru Posts: 711   +381

    Says the editor-in-chef.

    Journalism school much?
    "educated" and quick & dirty is oxymoronic.
    The headline is what it is ...
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
  17. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,155   +985

    I guess the community here has grown to expect a higher standard from at least the staff articles . . .
    dustin_ds3000 likes this.
  18. Prosercunus

    Prosercunus TS Booster Posts: 166   +40

    I have the TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 and it is great.
    j05hh likes this.
  19. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,265   +436

  20. Kenrick

    Kenrick TS Evangelist Posts: 570   +372

    Proud user of Asus AC-68U.

    I'm sorry to say but DDWRT or OPENWRT are buggy and cant support dual core processors. You can install it but you are crippling the performance of the router. Go for DDWRT router if it is factory installed or go to old router models that don't have dual core or more cpus.

    If you own the Asus AC-68U, I encourage you to install merlin firmware. It is updated regularly, no need for third party drivers/access. It is built from the stock firmware and has a lot of extra features. You can even set the G band to be a VPN Router at the same time set the N/AC band to be a regular router. Trust me, I was also a DDWRT fan before and now a very fan of merlin firmwares for Asus.
  21. dustin_ds3000

    dustin_ds3000 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 887   +19

    DD-WRT hasnt been bugy on my netgear r7000 which has a 1GHz Dual Core Processor. I been using DD-WRT on it for the past year and updating it regularly. My network isnt the simplest with 1 server on LAN, ps4 on LAN, ps3 on LAN, 2 laptops on WIFI, 5 phones on WIFI, 1 desktop on LAN. no issues on WIFI, LAN or my 24/7 100mbps OpenVPN connection.
  22. Kenrick

    Kenrick TS Evangelist Posts: 570   +372

    ask the ddwrt team if they can use the full potential of the dual core of your r7000. Of course ddwrt is working on r7000 but performance is severely crippled. Ask Merlin about that what is advantage of using modified stock vs ddwrt. Sorry but ddwrt support has no future unless all router manufacturers will open their routers for ddwrt compatibility.

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