Best Wireless Router 2018

Tips for buying Wireless Router

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Our editors hand-picked these products based on our tests and reviews. Even at ft, the Asus still delivered Mbps and managed Mbps on the busier 2. All but the cheapest current routers support communications over the 2. However, things can slow down if multiple users gulping down lots of data are accessing the router simultaneously. Wireless Router Features to Look Out For Before and after you buy your next router, educate yourself to some of the top features and terms associated with a wireless router. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. For the client list, the router defaults to showing the manufacturer of each client's network interface.

The Best Wireless Router

Top 10 Best Wireless Routers 2017

You need two MU-MIMO devices to get any benefit from it and you're unlikely to see any benefit unless both devices have strong signals and you make actual throughput measurements. Combining channels, aka channel bonding, has been a technique used to boost throughput since the introduction of We explored this back in when Only 40 MHz wide channels are allowed in 2. This isn't so big a deal in routers, which have plenty of room and power. But adding antennas gets a lot of pushback in mobile device design, so the attraction of MHz is pretty clear.

Of course, like many of And it requires devices to also support MHz mode and, you guessed it, there aren't a lot of those in the wild. This requires it to use DFS channels, which it is also certified to do. More on DFS below. This, plus the Mbps 2. This unfortunately will cause the product to be confused with "tri-band" AC class products that have two 5 GHz radios.

For most buyers, this is a 3x3 AC class router because devices that also support contiguous MHz aren't available.

Like MU-MIMO, MHz support in devices is highly dependent on mobile network operators, who seem to be in no rush to move to these newer Wi-Fi technologies, or even clearly describe Wi-Fi capability on the phones they sell.

DFS has been around since the introduction of It hasn't been supported in many consumer routers, however, because it requires frequent monitoring of 5 GHz for radar signals and separate FCC certification.

This adds to router design complexity and cost. But the increasing dependence on 5 GHz see the MHz discussion above has lit a fire under consumer router makers, pushing them to add DFS support. It probably helped that startup Ignition Design Labs fired a shot across the incumbents' collective bow at CES with the demonstration of its "Zero wait" DFS technology , using an early prototype of its Portal router.

This should also enable fast channel reuse if radar is detected. DFS is a feature you should definitely put on your router shopping checklist. The 5 GHz spectrum is only going to get more crowded and you'll need as many channel selection options as you can get.

The main caveat here is that some older dual-band devices may not support DFS channels. The first draft 11ax routers are almost here. Take a little time to know what you might be buying into.

Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes when Wi-Fi devices roam, or more likely don't? We'll show you why the "seamless" roaming Wi-Fi gear makers promise is still as elusive as a Yeti. Updated - Our roundup of 2x2 Updated - Think Wi-Fi analyzers that can show network activity are expensive? Like every other website on the planet, SmallNetBuilder uses cookies. These routers comply with the They use the 5 GHz band and support faster speeds and more connections than previous-generation routers.

They also use the 2. If you have multiple devices that connect simultaneously to the Internet, or if you regularly do things such as competitive online gaming or streaming video on multiple devices, a wireless-AC router is your best choice. For those with minimal connectivity needs, and with older gear that does not support the wireless-AC standard, a wireless-N Most wireless-N routers support both the 2. Wireless-N is slower than wireless-AC by about a factor of 3 , however, and supports fewer simultaneous connections.

These routers offer the fastest speeds of all on the 60 GHz band and are backward compatible with older wireless protocols. That's a good thing because the 60 GHz band has a very short range compared to the other Wi-Fi frequencies and its signals won't penetrate walls at all. However, if you need to move tons of data between devices in the same room, they are worth considering.

That said, there currently are only a handful of wireless-AD routers available, and relatively few compatible client devices such as laptops, tablets, etc. Because of those factors, we don't think that wireless-AD routers make sense for typical users, at least at this time, so they are not covered in this report. To build a computer network in your home or office without running wires everywhere, you need a wireless router to create a Wi-Fi access point.

Wi-Fi clients such as laptops, tablets and smartphones can connect via radio signals from anywhere within the router's range to share data. Attach the router to a modem, and those same clients can also wirelessly access the Internet.

Wireless routers usually have Ethernet ports, so they can simultaneously support hard-wired networking, and some have USB ports for sharing a printer or an external hard drive over the network. Many factors can interfere with your wireless network, including nearby electronic devices, other Wi-Fi networks and even the layout of your house. Manufacturers don't take these real-world scenarios into account when touting a router's performance, and experts say the best routers deliver about half of their claimed throughput.

Another factor that can slow performance is the large and growing number of devices that can connect wirelessly to the internet. All modern wireless-N and wireless-AC routers support MIMO multiple input, multiple output technology, but only to one device at a time.

That's not as much of a handicap as you might imagine as the distribution of data to multiple devices happens so quickly that users are unlikely to be even aware that it is happening, even when streaming video to a couple of devices. However, things can slow down if multiple users gulping down lots of data are accessing the router simultaneously. This is an optional feature of the The catch is that it's only compatible with client devices that also support MU-MIMO, and at present, there's not a ton of those available.

These are a good option for some -- such as a competitive gamer who doesn't want his online fun slowed down an instant just because someone else in the household wants to stream 4K video -- and does make a router at least a little more future proof as more MU-MIMO client devices become available.

All but the cheapest current routers support communications over the 2. Of the two, 2. It can also support fewer connections and lower speeds than the 5 GHz band. However, 5 GHz signals have a shorter range in general, and a harder time passing through floors and walls. Wireless-AD routers add support for the 60 GHz band. However, 60 GHz signals are short range and can't penetrate walls, ceilings and floors very well, limiting it to same-room use, but it offers the fastest connection speed of all.

Some wireless routers support beamforming technology. Normally, wireless signals from a router are omnidirectional, travelling with equal strength in all directions. Instead, with beamforming, a router can focus the signal in specific directions to improve range. There are two types of beamforming. In explicit beamforming, introduced with the wireless-AC standard, compatible clients can relay location information to the router.

In implicit beamforming, the router will analyze client locations on its own and boost signals in those directions. While implicit beamforming provides some benefits in networks with older devices, explicit beamforming is the more effective technique.

The most expensive wireless-AC routers are tri-band devices. These have three radios, one for 2. Though these are marketed as having higher speed, their true advantage is that the extra band allows for more connections. If you have a ton of devices all trying to access your router simultaneously, the added connections will make things appear to move more swiftly.

If, on the other hand, you only have a handful of devices trying to make a connection, adding the extra band won't affect throughput in any meaningful way. You can spend more for a router, and certainly less -- a lot less, in fact -- but if you want a top-performing, feature-equipped router, the Asus RT-AC88U Est.

It also been around for a few years -- more than long enough to accumulate a good track record with owners. Furthermore, as a brand, Asus has either shared or won outright as it did in PCMag's Readers' Choice award among routers.

Reviewer Dong Ngo calls it "The Lexus of wireless routers," and adds, "If you have the money, this is the router to get. The wealth of features and management options could go on for pages -- it has "by far the most to offer among all home routers I've reviewed," Ngo says.

Fortunately, the RT-AC88U has what PCMag calls a "user-friendly Web interface and mobile app," that makes use relatively easy, and set up is "a snap" thanks to a setup wizard that's described as "intuitive. Adaptive Quality of Service QoS lets you prioritize bandwidth for specific applications and devices. Up to six guest networks can be enabled, allowing visitors to access the Internet but not gain access to things such as files on another computer. There's a built-in VPN server.

Oh, yeah, it's fast, too. Different testers using different benchmarks and testing protocols come up with differing results but largely similar conclusions -- the Asus RT-AC88U is among the fastest wireless-AC routers they had tested to date. Things aren't so sparkling at 2. Other testers also put performance at or near the top compared to other routers they had tested so far.

It's an especially good choice for situations where there are lots of simultaneously connected devices as it automatically steers connections to either the 5 GHz or 2.

Tweaktown's Tyler Bernath isn't sold on this router's value compared to other routers in its class, but says that "the RP does perform slightly better than most AC class solutions in real-world testing. Ease of set-up and use are well liked, and the automatic band steering feature called Smart Connect means you don't need to mess around with manually selecting whether to link a client to the 5 GHz band for faster throughput, or the 2.

Like the RP, it features band steering to maximize connection performance.

The Linksys WRT3200 ACM Smart Wi-Fi Router

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