In today’s fast-paced digital age, a reliable internet connection is essential for both work and leisure. With the increasing demand for high-speed internet, selecting the right router has become more crucial than ever. This is also because multiple home devices have Wi-Fi functionality to stay connected with modern smart home systems for a more holistic and satisfactory experience.

Whether you’re streaming 4K videos, gaming online, or working from home, having a router that can deliver fast and stable internet connectivity is paramount. In this article, we’ll compare the top 5 router models known for their speed, coverage, and security features, helping you make an informed decision when choosing the best router for your needs.

TP-Link Archer AX21 – (Around $85)

The TP-Link Archer AX21 is an entry-level dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router that can be purchased for $85 (or less if there’s a discount). Its 5GHz band can offer peak rates of up to 1,201Mbps (1.2Gbps). It’s not fancy, but in our tests, it provided almost perfect performance for small- to medium-sized households. Moreover, TP-Link’s Tether app makes it very easy to set up and use. The best part is that the AX21 held its own in tests against other, comparable routers from brands like Asus and Netgear, offering better range, lower latency, and quicker download rates.

You can get a decent home networking upgrade that’s as easy and inexpensive as it gets with the addition of functional band steering mode, which automatically switches between the 2.4 and 5GHz bands within a single network. You can also get guest network controls and even a quality of service engine, which prioritizes traffic to the most important devices on your network. It can reach steady close-range speeds of about 700 Mbps, which is more than sufficient for the majority of homes.

Linksys Hydra Pro 6 (MR5500) – (Around $195)

If your network is currently being served by a low-cost router and you’re ready to switch to something more capable, the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 should be at the top of your list. With its dual-band AX5400 design, complete Wi-Fi 6 capability, and 160MHz channel support for faster data transfer, it performed admirably in my speed tests, even surpassing more ostentatious options like the outstanding Asus RT-AX86U.

When it comes to dual-band routers, the Hydra Pro 6 is a little costly, but its reliable, constant performance sets it apart. Look for a deal if you can, but if all you want is a dependable, feature-rich router that can support gigabit speeds, this is it.

TP-Link Deco W7200 – (Around $210)

For the best performance from your mesh router, you’ll want to prioritize getting one with support for Wi-Fi 6, plus a tri-band design that includes three separate bands of traffic: the usual 2.4 and 5GHz bands, plus an additional 5GHz band that the system can use as a dedicated wireless backhaul for transmissions between the router and its satellites. Most mesh routers like that cost at least $300 or even $400, but the TP-Link Deco W7200 gets you there for around $200.

That’s the best deal I’ve seen for a tri-band mesh router with support for Wi-Fi 6, and sure enough, it’s an excellent performer. In fact, the only system that managed to outperform it in our at-home speed tests is the AX6000 version of Netgear Orbi, which costs more than three times as much. On top of that, TP-Link’s setup process is about as easy as it gets, with satellite extenders that automatically join the mesh as soon as you plug them in.

Asus RT-AX86U – (Around $300)

For ardent gamers, gaming routers offer great performance and low latency, and they frequently retail for as much as $400. Although the Asus RT-AX86U dual-band router costs about $300, it’s a great deal when compared to other routers of that kind, and its gaming performance is outstanding. It is the router’s latency management that is most notable. It has the lowest average latency of any router I’ve ever tested, whether or not it’s for gaming.

You’ll also love that it provides a great combination of app-based features and controls, such as a mobile boost mode that lets you instantly prioritize gaming traffic to your phone. Aside from its gaming features, the RT-AX86U supports Wi-Fi 6 fully and has robust, consistent speeds and a good range. You can make it the hub of a mesh network by adding more Asus “AIMesh” devices to your home network if you require more range.

Netgear Orbi (dual-band, AC1200) – (Around $80)

Apart from not supporting Wi-Fi 6 and being less feature-rich than more expensive models, the Netgear Orbi mesh router in the mesh category is a great value for the money when it comes to the AC1200 model. It’s a reasonably priced system that kept up with both Nest Wifi and the Wi-Fi 5 version of Amazon’s Eero mesh router in our speed tests, and it’s currently priced below $90 for a three-device setup with the Wi-Fi router and two satellite extenders. It would be a great fit in homes with internet speeds of 300Mbps or less.

When we mapped those signals out at a Smart Home, we found that the Netgear Orbi system had the strongest signal strength and the fastest average top speed among those three systems. Even the design, with its stylishly venting heat-releasing curves on top, appeals to me. Try this inexpensive setup if you’re interested in mesh routers but deterred by their exorbitant price.

Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, selecting the right router for your high-speed internet needs can significantly impact your online experience. The TP-Link Archer AX21 stands out as an affordable Wi-Fi 6 option, offering reliable performance and easy setup. For those seeking premium features and Wi-Fi 6 capabilities, the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 delivers exceptional performance and reliability, albeit at a higher price point. Meanwhile, the TP-Link Deco W7200 offers excellent value for a tri-band mesh router with Wi-Fi 6 support, making it an ideal choice for expanding coverage in larger homes.

For gamers, the Asus RT-AX86U excels with its low latency and robust feature set, making it well worth the investment for those prioritizing gaming performance. Lastly, the Netgear Orbi AC1200 provides a budget-friendly option for mesh networking, delivering strong signal strength and reliable performance for smaller homes with moderate internet speeds. With these top router models, users can enjoy fast and reliable internet connectivity tailored to their specific needs and budget.


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