The Best Wi-Fi Routers for 2024 Wi-Fi 7

The Best Wi-Fi Routers for 2024 Wi-Fi 7 | Wi-Fi Technology Leave a comment

Best Wi-Fi Routers for 2024 Wi-Fi 7 Technology

If you’re happy with your Wi-Fi, you don’t need a new router—it’s as simple as that. If you’re having problems with range, speed, or reliability, though, and your router is more than a couple of years old, it might be time for an upgrade. An older router that doesn’t support Wi-Fi 5 (also known as 802.11ac) or Wi-Fi 6(802.11ax) and drops connections constantly, needs frequent reboots, or is slow even when you’re just in the next room can hold you back significantly.

This guide covers standalone Wi-Fi routers.Our top picks easily outperform most routers more than a few years old and are likely to save you money if you’re currently renting a basic router from your internet service provider. These routers are a good fit for apartments or small to medium-size houses with three or four people on the network.

If you have more people or a large house—more than 2,300 square feet, or more than one floor—take a look at our mesh-networking guide . A good rule of thumb is that if you’ve considered adding a wireless extender or an extra access point to an otherwise satisfactory router,get a mesh system instead.

If you’re happy with your Wi-Fi, you don’t need a new router—it’s as simple as that.

What you shouldn’t do is blindly buy either the cheapest route for the most expensive router you can find. Quality doesn’t necessarily scale with price, and a router with a bigger number on it or a plethora of antennas may not actually solve your Wi-Fi problems.

How we picked

For every round of testing, we research routers from each of the major router manufacturers, including Asus, D-Link, Linksys, Netgear, and TP-Link. We also look for routers from lesser-known manufacturers.

Instead of solely testing for maximum speed, we position five laptops around a 2,300-square-foot, two-story suburban home to simulate the real-world activity of a busy home network. We test for speedy throughput (simulated 4K streaming and file downloads), long range, and short latency (wait time on a busy network). See the How we tested section below for more details.

We’ve found that the following features matter the most:

Current-generation technology:Since we’re looking for routers that can improve your Wi-Fi, we consider only routers that support the Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6,and Wi-Fi 6E standards. Any phone or laptop that you can buy today or may have bought in the past few years relies on one of these standards.

Good speed-test results: In our tests, network speed, or throughput, varies from “this YouTube video will never finish loading” to “you can download a video game update in an instant.”

Good range-test results: You should be able to connect to a well-placed router from anywhere in an apartment or a small house. We test each router to confirm whether it can stream high-quality videos on the far side of a living space.

Low latency-test results: Slow internet sucks, and latency—or lag—is the time you have to spend waiting for the next thing to happen. A great router minimizes that wait even if the network is busy.

Multiple Ethernet ports: Ethernet ports give you unfettered access to the internet bandwidth you’re paying for.

Fast processor and RAM: A router with a speedy multi core processor and extra RAM can handle more connected devices and offer improved performance. The slow processors found in cheap routers can drag things down.

Nice-to-have extras: Fast, reliable Wi-Fi is what matters the most, but more expensive routers add features that bring other benefits. The things we like to see that justify spending more include built-in security utilities, extra Ethernet and USB ports, and parental filtering.

In addition, we consult router-owner reviews, plus professional router reviews from CNET , Dong Knows Tech, PCMag , and SmallNetBuilder , to generate our list of contenders. After identifying every model that meets all of our criteria, we thoroughly test the most promising routers ourselves.

The TP-Link Archer AX55 , the successor to our previous top pick, the Archer AX50, is a Wi-Fi 6 route that hits the sweet spot between price and performance. For $100 to $125, it performs well enough and remains responsive when several devices are connected and using the Wi-Fi network at the same time. The Archer AX55’s improvements over its predecessor include WPA3 security and OneMesh expandability. Compared with the Archer AX50, the Archer AX55 also provided better throughput speed at a distance, when the Wi-Fi signal had to penetrate several walls.

It uses the reliable Wi-Fi 6standard. Wi-Fi 6,also known as 802.11ax, has proven to be dependable and makes a noticeable difference in how most home networks perform. Wi-Fi 6 routers handle simultaneous connections to multiple devices better than older Wi-Fi 4 or Wi-Fi 5 routersdid. Older routers simply switched back and forth between devices, albeit at an imperceptible rate; put one relatively slow device on an older router,and the whole setup would grind to a halt. But technologies such as OFDMA and MU-MIMO make it possible for the Archer AX55 and similar newer routers to keep more speedy connections active even with slower devices in the mix.

Green means good. This Archer AX55 is powered on, broadcasting on two frequencies, and connected to the internet. The lights that are off indicate the absence of Ethernet and USB activity.

The Archer AX55 produced an excellent long-range result, running close behind router that usually cost twice as much and delivers fast Wi-Fi. The Archer AX55 performed better than competitors at long range with the signal passing through several walls. The Archer AX90, for example, costs two to three times what our top pick costs but delivered speeds that were only 50% faster than what we saw from the Archer AX55. Also at long range, the benefits of the Archer AX55’s better Wi-Fi radios were clear: While the Archer AX55 averaged 140 megabits per second, our budget pick, the Archer A8, was relatively slow at 42 Mbps.

The TP-Link Archer AX55 kept its Wi-Fi network responsive, even when it was busy.

It exhibited very little lag. Many networks are prone to lag and delays, making you wait for sites to even start loading. In our latency test, which shows how routers handle the added stress of multiple devices accessing the network simultaneously, the Archer AX55 posted lag times similar to those of the Synology RT6600ax and TP-Link Archer AX75, even though it’s considerably less expensive than both of those routers.Based on these tests, we can say that the Archer AX55 won’t keep you waiting, even when multiple members of your family are using the Wi-Fi at the same time.

A gigabit WAN port and four LAN ports are standard for most home routers.On the Archer AX55 you can hook up a portable SSD to the USB 3.0 port for simple file sharing.

Its dual-core processor and memory allowed it to excel in our tests. Just as in a laptop, the processor and the amount of memory in a router affect its overall performance. The Archer AX55 had the power to keep multiple streams chugging along successfully in our performance tests. More cores aren’t a guarantee of success, however: The Archer AX20, for example, has a quad-core processor, yet it performed similarly to the Archer AX55 in our tests.

It has all the wired connections you need. The Archer AX55 provides five Ethernet ports: one WAN internet port for connecting your cable modem or fiber terminal, plus four network ports for wired devices. That’s enough for you to hardwire your most demanding gear—streaming set-top boxes, TVs, and game consoles—if you keep your router close by.

The Archer AX55 also has a USB 3.0 port for connecting a shared portable hard drive or SSD . This setup can’t replace a full-featured NAS, but it could help you backup your laptops regularly. In contrast, less expensive routers are limited to much slower data transfers over USB 2.0 (the Archer AX21, for example) or lack USB connectivity entirely (the D-Link DIR-X1560, for one).

It’s easy to set up. All routers walk you through initial setup, but TP-Link’s administration page for the Archer AX55 is neither too simple nor too complicated. The overall setup, whether you handle it through TP-Link’s Tether smartphone app or the administration website, is quick. Note that you have to sign up for a TP-Link Cloud account if you want to use Tether.

TP-Link’s smartphone app lets you quickly configure settings. Tether for iOS and Android allows you to customize the router parental controls, security, and performance. Among the parental controls are basics such as time limits, content filtering, and bedtime settings. (I’ve written about how I used parental controls, among other tools, to stop my teen from gaming all night .) If you want to prioritize functions such as streaming over gaming or vice versa, QoS (quality of service) settings are also included and easy to adjust.

You can expand its reach with TP-Link’s OneMesh Wi-Fi extenders. We recommend the compatible TP-Link RE315 . However, you might want to upgrade to a mesh-networking system if you have more than one or two dead spots in your home.

Its warranty is longer than others. TP-Link covers this router with a two-year warranty, which matches the coverage period for our other picks. D-Link, Linksys, Netgear, and Ubiquiti routers have one-year warranties.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

It isn’t exactly aesthetically pleasing. The Archer AX55 has four adjustable but non-removable antennas connected to the back panel. On top of that, the design of this model and its TP-Link siblings is noticeable, and not necessarily in a good way: The router’s body is vented for cooling, making it look as if it has stripes, and the asymmetrical steps molded into the body are guaranteed to clash visually with nearly any decor.

It requires an online login for setup through TP-Link’s Tether app. You can kind of get around that by using the built-in website to set up the router.Some shoppers actively look for routers that don’t have any online logins because they’re worried about companies mining their data and tracking them . However, more router companies are requiring onlineaccounts for convenience, remote monitoring, and paid subscription services. If you’re concerned about such things, we suggest moving up to our upgrade pick , which you can set up and administer without an online account.

Still, a lot of the functionality and some of the Archer AX55’s settings are found only on the Tether app, so if you want to have parental controls or monitor Internet of Things security, for example, you need a TP-Link Cloud online account. You can set up a burner email address for this purpose if you don’t want the account connected to your primary email.

It doesn’t have the most robust control-panel settings. We suggest our upgrade pick, the Synology WRX560, if you’re a networking whiz and you want to set up multiple SSIDs and tweak your router’s radio strength, its channel selections, and the threshold where the band steering switches clients from 5 GHz to 2.4 GHz. If that last sentence sounded like incoherent technobabble to you, the Archer AX55 would be more than sufficient for your needs.

Some features are locked behind an optional paid subscription. You need the $7-per-month or $55-per-year TP-Link HomeShield Pro subscription for parental-control software, network protection, and IoT security. If you don’t pay, you still get some basic functionality , but advanced settings, most protection, and reporting are disabled after the one-month free trial.

Our budget pick, the TP-Link Archer A8 , uses Wi-Fi 5 (aka 802.11ac), but it worked well with our mix of Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 5 laptops in our tests, and it’s the router we recommend if you want to spend less than $80 or so or have a smaller space such as an apartment or a compact home. Our top pick and upgrade pick were faster and more reliable at range than the Archer A8, but at shorter ranges it still outperformed some routers costing two to four times as much. Improvements such as WPA3 for additional security and MU-MIMO to better handle multiple devices at the same time make the Archer A8 a better pick than the venerable Archer A7, which we recommended for over three years.

Among the routers we tested, the Archer A8 held its own despite being much less expensive. The Archer A8’s performance at a distance was almost twice the speed of our previous budget pick, the Archer A7. 

It’s speedy at a shorter range. We tested the Archer A8 with a mix of Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 laptops, and it produced an excellent throughput of 482 Mbps on a Wi-Fi 6 laptop, more than enough for the average cable broadband connection (around 200 Mbps in mid-2023, according to Speedtest ). The Archer A8 couldn’t keep that pace at long range in comparison with our top pick and upgrade pick, so we’re recommending it for smaller spaces. Still, in our tests it posted throughput over 41 Mbps at long range in the test house’s garage, a result that would be fast enough to stream a 4K workout video smoothly. That’s fine for a single TV or streaming box, but if you regularly use multiple devices far from your router,we recommend a more robust router or a mesh network.

The TP-Link Archer A8 has four Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired devices.

You can expand it with extenders. If you find that the Archer A8 works pretty well but can’t quite reach a stubborn dead zone, you can extend its range with compatible TP-Link OneMesh extenders. Few budget routers support mesh extenders this way, so this feature makes the Archer A8 stand out.

However, since it uses the same wireless radios as every other device on your network, it’s not as adaptable as a mesh-networking kit, which lets you use either wired connections or dedicated wireless radios. We tested OneMesh networking for our Wi-Fi extenders guide , and our top-pick extender, the TP-Link RE315 , is compatible with the Archer A8.

In comparison with the Archer AX55, the Archer A8 would not offer robust results for a larger home with dozens of devices—it has less RAM and a weaker processor, and it’s only Wi-Fi 5 compliant—but this routeris certainly sufficient for a compact home or an apartment with fewer smartphones and PCs.

Other good Wi-Fi Routers:

If you want a simpler router and are willing to wait for a sale: The Linksys Hydra 6MR20EC exhibited very little lag or latency on our tests, landing right behind the chart-topping TP-Link AX90 and Synology WRX560 in that regard. It posted mixed results on the throughput tests, as it wasn’t the fastest at close range but surpassed more expensive routers when we moved farther away. When we tested the Hydra 6,it was at a low price of around $150 and was a top-pick contender. We decided not to award the Hydra 6that title this time around because it is a relatively new model with scant third-party reviews, and because its price subsequently bounced back to its suggested retail price of $180. We’ll keep an eye on the Hydra 6 price and reputation. It has the potential to claim the top spot, but for now we can recommend it only if it’s on sale for $150 or less.

If you hate antennas sticking out of your router and shop at Walmart: The Netgear RAX5 is a relatively inexpensive Wi-Fi 6 router that produced very good numbers on our latency tests, particularly on a busy network. Better yet, it’s one of the few routers that don’t have ugly antennas. Though it’s priced in between our budget pick and top pick, it doesn’t offer quite enough advantages to dethrone either model. It’s another alternative, if you can live with its Walmart exclusivity and can tolerate (or ignore) drawbacks common to Netgear’s standalone routers,namely a lack of mesh support, a mere one-year warranty, and an optional Armor network-security subscription.

What about Ubiquiti?

Every time we do a router review or a mesh-networking guide, readers ask usabout enterprise-level networking options such as Ubiquiti’s UniFi networking line. Although its rack-mounted models are decidedly overkill for most homes, we were intrigued by the Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine (UDM) and UniFi Dream Router(UDR), a Wi-Fi 6 follow-up to the UDM, both of which are tailor-made for home offices and small businesses. Their control panels are more complicated than that of the Synology WRX560, our upgrade pick; if you’re an IT tech,that level of control may be appealing to you. Both routers performed well in our tests but finished in the middle of the pack. We’ll be updating our review of the UDR soon.

How we tested, plus the results:

Testing for most Wi-Fi router reviews consists mostly of connecting a single device to Wi-Fi at various distances, trying to get the biggest throughput number possible, and declaring the router with the biggest number and the best range the winner, at least in raw performance. The problem with this method is that it assumes that a big number for one device connected to the router divides evenly into bigger numbers for all connected devices. This is usually a valid assumption for wired networking, but it doesn’t work well for Wi-Fi.

We’ve labeled this top-down sketch of our test house with the locations of our router and our four main clients for our latest testing setup. The drawing isn’t perfectly to scale, but it is a close approximation of the various rooms, closets, and walls that our router’s signals needed to pass through. Illustration: 

Because we were testing in the real world, external variables—competing signals, walls, network traffic—affected our results, just as they’re likely to affect yours. The purpose of our testing was not to choose a router that was slightly faster than others; it was to see which routers could deliver consistently strong performance without encountering major issues in real-world conditions.

Instead of running just a single speed test, we used multiple laptops at different distances from the router in a 2,300-square-foot, two-story suburban home to simulate the real-world activity of a busy home network.

We used a mix of 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) USB Wi-Fi adapters and 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6 and 6E) internal Wi-Fi adapters to simulate a home network serving 4K video streams, browsing the web, and downloading a large file, such as a game update, all at the same time.

Our laptops ran the following tests:

One sat in the downstairs master bedroom and simulated a 4K video streaming session. It tried to download data at up to 30 Mbps, but we were satisfied if it could average 25 Mbps or better, which is what Disney+ recommends for 4K UHD .

The second sat in the garage and simulated a web-browsing session. Once every 20 seconds or so, it downloaded 16 files of 128 KB each simultaneously to simulate loading a modern web page; ideally pages should load in less than 750 milliseconds.

The third laptop sat in the living room across the house, simulating a second browsing session. It also downloaded 16 128 KB files simultaneously, and on this laptop we looked for the same quick load times.

One laptop sat in a spare bedroom downstairs at close range and downloaded a very large file. For this large-file download, we didn’t care about latency—the amount of time between when the computer made a request and when the router responded to it—but we did want to see an overall throughput of 100 Mbps or better.

One laptop, dedicated to Wi-Fi 6E testing, sat in the same room as the router.This laptop also downloaded a very large file. This test allowed us to measure the router’s best-possible speeds while also stressing high-end routers more strenuously than the other models.

We ran all of the above tests simultaneously to simulate a realistic extra-busy time on a home network—after all, those busy times are when you’re most likely to get annoyed.

This mix of tests and devices allowed us to evaluate each router speed (throughput), range, and ability to multitask (latency or lag). We placed one of our test laptops approximately 15 feet from the router,with one interior ceiling between router and laptop; we also performed a long-distance test at about 50 feet, with four interior and two exterior walls in the way. If Wi-Fi 6E was available, we tested from a 5-foot distance and in line of sight so that we could find its best potential speed. We tested throughput using a real HTTP download, the same protocol you use to view websites and download files, to better expose differences in general performance.

We characterized speed by looking at the combination of performance when downloading a large file at short and long range. The majority of the routers were able to top 500 Mbps at close distances, with some of the best-performing routers,such as the Synology WRX560, reaching over 640 Mbps in this test. Only a couple of stragglers, the TP-Link Archer AX10 and D-Link DIR-X1560, fell far behind at 100 Mbps.

Synology, Linksys, and TP-Link routers were our overall speed leaders at both long and short distances.

Note that we saw these speeds on a connection between two PCs on each router’sWi-Fi network. Your internet service plan acts as a speed limit on your connection to the internet. For example, if you’re paying for a 50 Mbps service plan, 50 Mbps is the best you can expect when you’re downloading from the internet. If you’re on a gigabit (a 1,000 Mbps connection) or multi-gig (faster than 1,000 Mbps) plan, you’re more likely to max out your connection speeds using any of the top routers.

Speed isn’t everything, so in addition to evaluating throughput, we measured latency on a busy network. Latency refers to the time you spend between clicking a link and waiting for the next web page, streaming video, or file download to come through. We ran this test concurrently on two laptops while other laptops were downloading files and simulating a 4K video stream, further stressing the Wi-Fi network.

Most of the top performers ran through our tests with few delays, except in the worst instances.

During our multi-client latency testing, we evaluated how well a router performed when everything was working as normal, as well as how poorly it did ramping down to its worst moments. This process allowed us to determine how frequently and how much the experience may frustrate you.

The top routers passed this test with flying colors; any of them will give you good to great responsiveness while you’re browsing, even while other family members or devices are using your network’s bandwidth. The routers near the bottom of this ranking, such as the TP-Link Archer A8 and Archer A7, still performed admirably but petered out quicker than the leaders. One notable outlier, the TP-Link Archer AX21, performed poorly on a congested network.

The Synology WRX560 speedily served each client simultaneously, with a minimal wait between requests; the TP-Link Archer AX55 wasn’t far behind. At the other end of the chart, the higher numbers for the TP-Link Archer AX21 show that you’re likely to be sitting there waiting for a few seconds (or more) if other devices are stressing the network at the same time. If you always have to wait a few seconds for something to happen, it’s the definition of slow internet.

What is a Wi-Fi router?

A typical home network today doesn’t look like networks of a few years ago. Without even getting into the explosion of smart-home devices (everything from smart light bulbs to doorbells to washing machines now relies on a decent Wi-Fi connection), most homes these days have two or more personal Wi-Fi devices (phone, laptop, tablet) per person, as well as smart TVs or a media streaming box such as a Roku or an Apple TV.

A busy evening in a typical home could have one person downloading game updates in a bedroom, a second listening to music from a smart speaker, a third watching TV in the living room, and a fourth browsing the web while sitting on the couch—and all of that traffic demands a router that can provide fast performance for lots of devices at once. The resulting network congestion that such homes experience has made us a lot pickier about what routers we accept as the best for the most people, as well as a lot more interested in features such as Wi-Fi 6 support and mesh compatibility. These features cost more, but they’re worth the expense.

What is the difference between a modem and a router?

As mentioned in our article explaining modems versus routers, a modem is a box that connects your home network to your internet service provider (ISP). A routeris a box that allows all of your wired and wireless devices to use that internet connection at once and lets them talk to one another directly. Think of the modem as the box that deals with all the data packets to and from the outside world, and the routeros the one that deals with all the communication inside your home or business.

What are dual-band routers and tri-band routers,and what’s the difference between them?

Although all modern routers are at least dual band—offering one slower but longer-range 2.4 GHz band and one faster but shorter-range 5 GHz band—taking full advantage of both bands isn’t easy. On most cheap (or old) routers,you have to create two separate network names, such as “my network 2.4” and “mynetwork5,” and then decide which of your devices should join which network. If you don’t give your networks different names, or SSIDs, in practice all your devices end up piling onto the one 5 GHz band,and you experience slower speeds, delays, and even dropped connections when several of them are online and busy at the same time.

Tri-band routers have an extra 5 GHz band or 6GHz band in addition to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands of a dual-band router.That third bank allows more devices to connect and be busy at once without slowing the network down so much.

Right now, you don’t have to buy your own router if you subscribe to 5G home internet.

What’s the difference between a regular router and a mesh router?

A regular or standalone routeris just that: It stands alone, and it sends data packets (streaming videos, music, Slack messages, and so on) from a central location in your home to all your wired (Ethernet) and wireless (Wi-Fi) devices. A mesh network is a system of two to four boxes —usually sold in a package—that work together to relay the Wi-Fi signal around your house or business. Those boxes might be called mesh routers,mesh extenders, satellites, or nodes, depending on the manufacturer. We advise using a mesh network if the Wi-Fi signals from a single router are too weak to reach all the corners of your home, causing dropouts.

What are Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6,Wi-Fi 6E, and Wi-Fi 7? And how does anyone choose between them?

Wi-Fi 6 brings improvements that help routers and mesh networks better handle the increasing number of wireless devices, using technologies such as OFDMA (orthogonal frequency-division multiple access) and TWT (target wake time). However, devices must be Wi-Fi 6 compliant to take full advantage of them.

Wi-Fi 6E, an extension of Wi-Fi 6,uses many of the same technologies but adds them to the 6GHz radio band(PDF) . As with Wi-Fi 6,you can use Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 4 devices with Wi-Fi 6E routers.However, unless you just upgraded to top-of-the-line Android phones, MacBook Pros, and Windows laptops, you probably don’t have Wi-Fi 6E devices in your home to take advantage of these premium routers’6GHz connectivity features.

Wi-Fi 7(aka 802.11be) is the newest of the Wi-Fi technologies.Like Wi-Fi 6E, it uses the 6GHz radio band in addition to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radio bands.Wifi 7 promises to improve throughput and bandwidth by widening the radio channels (320 MHz channels), more efficiently packing those channels with data (4K QAM), allowing connections on two separate channels simultaneously (MLO), and transferring data in unused portions of an otherwise congested channel (Multi-RU puncturing). We’ll of course test all those claims when Wi-Fi 7laptops become available, but suffice to say, Wi-Fi 7 is engineered to increase speeds and function efficiently in an increasingly crowded wireless environment.

In 2023, most people should buy a Wi-Fi 6 router or a mesh-networking kit. Wi-Fi 5 routers are totally usable if you want to save some money, but Wi-Fi 6 has reached the mainstream saturation point and now gives you the best performance for a moderate amount of money.

Wi-Fi 7 Routers:

WiFi 7 routers, also known as 802.11be routers, represent the next generation of wireless technology, offering significant improvements over previous versions. Here are the main types of WiFi 7 routers:

  1. Standard Wi-Fi 7 Router: This is the basic WiFi 7 router that supports the latest 802.11be standard, offering faster speeds, improved efficiency, and better performance in dense environments.
  2. Mesh Wi-Fi 7 Router: Mesh routers use multiple nodes to create a seamless WiFi network throughout your home or office. WiFi 7 mesh routers enhance coverage, reduce dead zones, and maintain high speeds across multiple devices.
  3. Gaming Wi-Fi 7 Router: Designed for gamers, these routers prioritize gaming traffic, reduce latency, and offer advanced features like customizable QoS (Quality of Service) settings and gaming-specific optimizations for a lag-free gaming experience.
  4. Enterprise Wi-Fi 7 Router: These routers are designed for businesses and organizations, offering advanced security features, support for multiple VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks), guest networks, and scalability to handle large numbers of concurrent users.
  5. Travel Wi-Fi 7 Router: Compact and portable, these routers are ideal for travelers who need to create a secure WiFi hotspot on the go. They often come with built-in VPN (Virtual Private Network) support for added security.
  6. Smart Home Wi-Fi 7 Router: Designed for smart homes, these routers prioritize IoT (Internet of Things) devices, offer easy setup and management through mobile apps, and support advanced features like voice control and automation.
  7. Outdoor Wi-Fi 7 Router: These rugged routers are designed for outdoor use, such as in outdoor venues, construction sites, or outdoor events. They are weatherproof, offer extended range, and often come with specialized mounting options.

Each type of Wi-Fi 7 router caters to specific needs and environments, providing users with options to choose the best router for their requirements.

Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 router are forward-looking and may be relevant for a longer period of time, but to make the most use of either technology,you have to upgrade your laptops, tablets, and phones, as well. Wi-Fi routers,which were introduced this year, are particularly expensive, and you’ll have to wait to reap their benefits fully.

Wi-Fi routers are currently running on so-called draft versions of Wi-Fi 7.They should work, but they’re being released before the standard has been fully certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance , a group that guarantees that wireless devices work with each other and can use all the functions advertised. Wi-Fi 7’s time will come, but it’s not here yet.

What is a 5G router?

“5G” is a sometimes-confusing term because people use it for two different and separate wireless technologies.First, it can refer to the 5 GHz band in your dual- or tri-band router(see above); just about every Wi-Fi router sold today has a 5 GHz band.

It also refers to 5G cellular technology,which is faster than 4G LTE. 5G cellular is used for current smartphones, as well as for 5G home internet service from ISPs such as T-Mobile and Verizon. 5G home internet can bridge that “last-mile” connection between the ISP and your home, potentially replacing the coaxial (cable TV) or fiber connection drilled into the side of your apartment building or house. Right now, you don’t have to buy your own router if you subscribe to 5G home internet; T-Mobile and Verizon each provide a 5G home router with Wi-Fi 6 support so that you can use the service right away.

What to look forward to:

The Wi-Fi Alliance has officially approved the Wi-Fi 7 standard, and new routers are on the way. Wi-Fi 7 delivers faster speeds, lower latency, and improved simultaneous connections, but routers that support the new standard are extremely expensive, and few devices are capable of taking advantage of the new features — yet. New Wi-Fi 7 routers such as the Asus RT-BE96U , Netgear Nighthawk RS700S , and TP-Link Archer GE800 for gaming are on our shortlist, along with TP-Link’s Archer BE550 , Archer BE800 , Archer BE900 , and Archer BE9300 . We’re also looking forward to testing the Acer Predator Connect X7 5G CPE , which was announced at CES 2024 and has 5G cellular backup built in in case your primary internet goes down. Prices range from about $300 for the TP-Link BE9300 up to $700 for the Asus and Netgear gaming routers.

The TP-Link Archer AX50 and Archer AX20 , our previous top pick and runner-up, respectively, were recently discontinued. They may still be available via third-party sales, but we recommend that you not buy either model. If you already own one of these models, keep in mind that it will continue to provide solid Wi-Fi service, but future firmware updates are not guaranteed.

The Asus RT-AX88U was our previous upgrade pick. Though it’s still an excellent router,the Synology WRX560 outpaced this model on our throughput and latency tests. The WRX560 also has a 2.5 GbE port, an important future-proofing feature that the RT-AX88U lacks.

We tested several Wi-Fi 6E routers,including the Asus RT-AXE7800 , the MSI Radix AXE6600 , the Netgear Nighthawk RX300 , and the TP-Link Archer AXE75 and Archer AXE300 . Though they performed well, at this time we don’t think 6E routers are worth the additional investment. Aside from the Archer AXE75, at the time of our testing these 6E routerswere $60 to $280 more expensive than our upgrade pick, the Synology WRX560. The Archer AXE300 did top our tests in comparison with the other Wi-Fi 6 E and Wi-Fi routers,but it was also extremely expensive at almost double the price of our upgrade pick. Other 6E routers we tested during previous sessions include the Netgear RAXE500 and the Linksys Hydra Pro 6E MR7500 , and while both performed well, they are also too pricey to recommend at this time. Wi-Fi 7 is entering the arena now, too, and it has more features with the potential to increase speeds on the 6GHz radio band.

The TP-Link Archer AX5400 Pro includes a single 2.5 GbE port for connections to a faster modem. It tested well, but the Synology WRX560 was better on every measure. And unlike TP-Link, Synology doesn’t require a subscription for advanced network security on its routers.

The TP-Link Archer A7 was the budget pick in a previous version of this guide and has been serving strong networks in the homes of several Wirecutter staffers, but it’s starting to show its age in comparison with newer options. Our current budget pick, the Archer A8 , provides better performance overall for about the same price and adds features that the Archer A7 lacks, such as WPA3 and MU-MIMO.

We’ve tested dozens of routers for previous versions of this guide but dismissed them because they lacked features, cost significantly more, or lagged behind our picks in some way.

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