After hours of research and in-depth review of twenty models, I made my selection of the top 10 WiFi routers currently available on the market.
Among these, it is the Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream that wins my preference. It is, in any case, the best quality/price ratio.
At the end of this comparison, you will find a buying guide to help you better understand the stakes of this market and the selection criteria to consider before investing in the router that will satisfy your broadband.
The best entry-level WiFi routers
In this category, I limited myself to routers not exceeding 100$. But that does not prevent them from being of quality!
Thus, I remained uncompromising on certain points: it was necessary that these routers are certified compatible with the new 802.11ac WiFi standards, they have at least 2 bands (this is the minimum vital if you want to connect multiple devices at the same time without losing too much speed) and they have good ergonomics.
TP-Link Archer C7: the best cheap
- Excellent price/quality ratio
- 6 antennas for proper network coverage
- Some basic but interesting options
- Medium quality finishes
TP-Link is undoubtedly one of the major players in the market. Present in all price ranges, it offers WiFi routers recognized for their reliability. Their strength: competitive prices. Their weakness: a management interface much lower than competitors. Nevertheless, for an occasional and domestic use, this last point rarely raises real problems.
Despite its small price, it is a dual-band router (2.4 and 5GHz), which offers a combined maximum speed of 1750 Mbps. This is enough to get a smooth and fast connection both in gaming and streaming.
It has 6 antennas: 3 internal and 3 external. This gives it a comfortable reach and allows to direct antennas as needed (direct the antenna to your garden to enjoy the WiFi during your barbecue for example).
In terms of connectivity, we welcome the presence of two USB 2.0 ports – which connect a Bluetooth key or a printer for example – and four Ethernet ports.
In terms of the options provided by this router, we are not outdone despite the price. It is thus able to function as NAS (network storage server) although its power at this level is not exceptional; it allows parental control (to manage which device can access when to the Internet); and it is connected to the application Tether (available on Android and ios), which facilitates its configuration and allows the creation of a WiFi Guest.
Be careful though! With its plastic finishes, this entry-level router is not the strongest. Be careful not to drop it or put heavy objects on it, it probably will not survive.
If we selected this product in particular, it is with six antennas it provides coverage and stability much higher than that of the router built into your modem.
Afoundry EW1200: the small WiFi router with 6 antennas
- Affordable price
- Good performance
- The less efficient network manager
With this model, Afoundry manages to provide a dual-band router that, although imperfect, is very competitive. With its solid appearance, its very neat metal coating, and no less than 6 ANT Omni antennas, it actually inspires confidence.
Hardware level, he defends himself well. If its theoretical performance is lower than the TP-Link (1200 instead of 1750), do not warn. Thanks to three processors, its signal enjoys a quite admirable stability – about 12m without difficulties. And this data is in any case constrained by the modem at the base, and really only affects the users of the fiber.
The manufacturer indicates that it is suitable for small businesses. I will not go that far: it remains an entry-level WiFi router that offers very satisfactory performance, even on large spaces, but a factor is getting in its way. The standard connection offered by this router is provided with AES encryption in WPA / WPA 2. It is, today’s, a rather insufficient protection compared to a TKIP, which is a mode of protection much superior. It also does not offer the ability to change the network administrator.
The configuration is fluid thanks to a simple and clear operating system. But it is unfortunate that it is devoid of some interesting features like parental control. In short, it is a slightly less efficient network manager than the TP-Link, but a WiFi router still powerful, stable and reliable.
The best mid-range WiFi routers
What to expect from a router sold between 100$ and 200 $? A stable and powerful connection is understood. But we can also require a fluid and complete management interface, with many features.
Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream: the best midrange
- Easy to configure
- Competitive price
- No advanced configuration options
Admittedly, the ease of configuration is double-edged. If the most seasoned of you are frustrated by the lack of flexibility of the operating system, those who are quickly intimidated by the complexity of the process will be reassured.
Indeed, almost everything can be managed in one click – and without an installation CD – from your smartphone, thanks to the good optimization of this Linksys router.
Connectivity is complete and shows a real care in the design of this router: 4 RJ45 Ethernet ports, a USB 2.0 port – for printers for example – and a USB 3.0 for network file sharing via a space storage.
This dual-band promises up to 1900Mbps of theoretical throughput, and if it offers effective and stable coverage, it is thanks to the WRTMax-Stream technology – also called Beamforming. Instead of broadcasting the waves randomly, the router identifies the connected objects and directs the signal directly to them. This is the first product of our top to offer this technology, which changes a lot to the effective power of the flow.
In practice, we have seen that several 4K videos can be streamed at the same time, even at an average distance. Several tools still make it possible to optimize its use, such as network priority control. They can be changed in one click and increase the throughput on a particular device.
In addition, there is access to a detailed network map, a parental control easy to set up, a storage service, a parallel network manager (limited to two simultaneous signals, one at 2.4GHz and one at 5GHz), and several security tools.
An ergonomic option, easy to use and powerful for less than 150 $? I say yes!
Netgear Nighthawk AC1900: The most powerful dual-band on the market
- Quality of Services
- Integrated VPN
- Interface not very intuitive
Among the best-selling WiFi routers in France, the Nighthawk has become a flagship of mid-range Netgear products. It happens almost equal to the Linksys I just spoke to you and would be first if it were not for some black spots.
The first is that it is noticeably more bulky, with a width of not less than 30 cm (as much to say that you can not miss it). The second is the less intuitive configuration interface. The last is the slightly weak results obtained on the 2.4 GHz band.
It has 4 RJ45 Ethernet ports, a USB 2.0 and another 3.0 giving access to 128GB of memory.
The quality of the signal is reinforced by the presence of the Beamforming, which I explained to you just before. It is basic, very satisfactory in 5 GHz: with up to 5 devices connected, even through a wall or floor, the connection remains stable and powerful, with 1.3 Gb / s theoretical performance. However, in 2.4 GHz, the results promised by Netgear (highlighted by the presence of technologies such as the TurboQam, which provides 50Mb more than all other WiFi routers) does not follow.
The interface is not the most intuitive, but it is nonetheless very complete. Beyond an extensive control on the network (with a priority manager thanks to QoS, Quality of Service, a manager of several simultaneous WiFi networks …), we have a parental control and even an integrated VPN. Everything can be managed from a computer or a smartphone.
This NetGear model is the best value in the Nighthawk range, but there are variations. I invite gamers to take a look at the Nighthawk Switch Gaming, and the fans of the tri-band to consult the Nighthawk X6, for fifty euros more, only.
The best high-end WiFi routers
Beyond 200 $, we reach a semi-professional range. This is where we begin to meet tri-band routers, which will be better suited, for example, to large families or small businesses.
In software, we want only the best: total flexibility of use and an intuitive and complete network control. Unfortunately, it’s not as common as one might think …
Linksys WRT3200ac: the best high-end
- USB / eSATA
- Results of the disappointing 2.4 GHz band
Four antennas, three bands including two 5 GHz, a futuristic design and a WRT operating system: this Linksys router promises great things.
But before continuing, what is DD-WRT? I detail a little more in my shopping guide. In the meantime, just remember that this is an open-source firmware based on Linux and that it is more important and exciting than it seems. On the few models of routers that are equipped, the gain in performance and safety is undeniable.
In addition to this software aspect, the Linksys WRT3200ac offers excellent results on its two 5 GHz bands. We recorded a bitrate of 530 Mb / s at a short distance and 280 Mb / s in long distance (10 meters), which is slightly higher than most routers sold around the € 200 mark. The 2.4 GHz band offers results that are slightly below the market average, although it captures a reasonable distance.
Connectivity is very complete, with 4 Ethernet ports, a USB 3.0 linked to a 256 GB flash memory, and a USB / SATA, which is a port a little more rarely used. In short, it combines the functionality of an eSATA port (a transfer mode slightly faster than USB 3.0) to that of a USB port.
Since he is OpenSource (Free Lawyer called at the bar), he is one of the most complete. Of course, you can manage network priorities, privacy, integrated VPN settings, confidentiality … The list of options is so long that I would not have the opportunity to talk about it here without barb!
Asus RT-AC88U: A three-band gaming alternative
- Impeccable design
- WTFast software
- Fewer configurations than Linksys
I admit, I hesitated for a long time between this model and another proposed by Asus. If I finally decided on the dual-band AC88U, I advise the Asus RT-AC5300 to those who, for a comparable quality, would like to benefit from a tri-band router.
The design of the Asus routers, in this range, is impeccable, with a futuristic aspect that will appeal to gamers who care gaming setup. And there is more than just design: nine ethernet ports and a USB 3.0, and four new generation antennas.
The theoretical flow displayed by the manufacturer is 2167Mb / s in 5 GHz and 1000Mb / s in 2.4GHz: it is the most powerful that I presented in this top. In practice, this means a network bandwidth largely optimized by beamforming – this time filed by Asus under the name of AiRadar. The quality of the signal is affected, and it is possible to run four streams Full HD simultaneously without any problem.
The transfer rate of files via USB 3.0, it is significantly worse than that of the Linksys but remains correct with 30Mb / s.
One of Asus’s arguments for putting this WiFi router forward is the wide variety of options, especially in terms of security. Network control is touted as easy and complete. The integrated AiProtection software allows controlling the performance/safety ratio in an intuitive and fluid way via the PC or smartphone interface. Different connection profiles can be created and given priority or bandwidth limitations – which is ideal for allocating a fixed portion of the rate to a “guest” network.
For gamers, there’s something new: not only does Multi-user Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO) provide optimal bandwidth distribution for network games, but the WTFast software, a data accelerator of play, allows to obtain an ideal ping.
In the end, we note that the Linksys and Asus are tied for the top of the range but in different contexts. If the Linksys is more for a connoisseur or amateur of this type of configuration and offers immense freedom of use, the Asus offers an optimal play experience.
The best WiFi systems
Since these systems can not quite be related to routers, I decided to create a separate section to introduce them.
It is a system that replaces the WiFi network (not replace it). It consists of boxes (you place as many as necessary) that broadcast frequency bands (always 2.4 and 5 GHz) so that all devices recognize only one network to connect. The idea is to cover a larger area evenly.
We determined that, despite its high price, the Netgear Orbi 50 was the best WiFi system available to date.
TP-Link Deco M5: the compact and efficient WiFi system
- Affordable price
- Easy installation and use
- A possibility of connecting each module to the Ethernet network for better speeds
- No dedicated channel for communication between modules
It is the newest WiFi system on the market among the three models that I selected, but also the cheapest. At what price?
Contrary to what is often done, the TP-Link Deco M5 offers identical modules. None is the main module, to which the others would be connected. And if, usually, WiFi systems use a dedicated channel to connect each module together, here the TP-Link Deco 5 works rather like a WiFi repeater: part of the band is reserved for dialogue between modules. Suddenly, the brand has created the Advanced Routing Technology: it is a technology that allows to examine in real time which broadcast channel offers the best bandwidth (since it is a dual-band system). If it works well when you have two or even three devices, it is less the case when you multiply the modules, compared to the efficiency of a dedicated channel.
When we restrict ourselves to two or three modules (which would, according to the manufacturer, cover up to 400 m² – this is obviously a little utopian), we still get very good averages of 330Mb / s in 5GHz and 250 in 2.4GHz.
Connectivity level, I regret a few options provided, since only two RJ45 Ethernet and micro-USB are offered per unit.
We find a network management via Android and iOS exclusively. Several important options are available, especially in terms of security thanks to the Homecare pack. Antivirus, Parental Control and Intuitive Network Flow Control … The basics are there.
Nevertheless, like many products of this type, the settings available to the user are very limited.
In the end, the TP-Link Deco M5 is a pretty interesting Wi-Fi system and a great simplicity of installation. The only real regret is the drop in speed that can sometimes be due to the lack of a dedicated channel, which undermines the concept of WiFi system to cover your entire home uniformly.
Google WiFi: The very own dual-band
- Ubiquitous and stable network
- Easy configuration and management
- Need to have a Google Account
The Google WiFi, available alone or in pack of two or three, was released in summer 2017 and it was presented by the brand as the system that would cover your entire home with a single network, all with a simple management like hello and better flows. What about reality?
Normally, three units can cover as many floors of 70m². Not bad at all ! Especially since they are quite small, very design, and hardly noticed in a room.
The installation is very simple: you download the application and you scan the QR code on the main unit. The application guides you through setting up the network and assigning it a password. Then there is only to connect the secondary units and connect it to the application to manage them.
If the quality of the signal is at the rendezvous, with a system Dual-band quality, I regret, however, a few points.
The first is that the software is intrinsically linked to a Google account. All orders are made through this account – essential to use any feature – and he does not recognize that Android phones.
Proprietary software is normal on some products, but an informed user will not be happy that Google controls its Internet, from the flow to the GUI.
Finally, the connectivity, alas, is very limited: a WAN and LAN per unit, and a micro-USB.
Despite this, it has several very interesting features: parental control rather advanced, the ability to define priority devices on the network at specific times, the ability to create a guest network.
Given that the brand offers frequent updates, it can be assumed that some functions that are currently absent will gradually be able to emerge (eg an integrated firewall).
The fact remains that Google, with its Google WiFi, keeps its promise of a ubiquitous and stable network … as long as you invest well in a sufficient number of units to cover your entire home!
ORBI 50: the best of our selection
- Easy installation and handling
- Suitable for beginners and more confirmed
- Excellent performance
- The price
Netgear is one of the forerunners of the WiFi system technology. He is also the one who provided us with what is undoubtedly one of the best WiFi systems that exist, with Orbi.
Its units, although a little larger than other competitors, are very design, with a neat finish. Their large size, however, allows them to offer more options than TP-Link or Google since there are four Ethernet connectors and a USB (2.0, which provides access to 4GB of flash storage).
Orbi’s great strength: each unit is tri-band. His weakness? A price at the height of its performance, that is to say high.
And that’s a shame. The installation is one of the fastest and easiest. A light on the top indicates a possible problem. Network monitoring is done via the computer – which I prefer, on a personal basis. Simplified mode allows novices to access a wide variety of options, but you can still change almost any setting in advanced mode. It is one of the most flexible routers from this point of view: VPN, parental control, simultaneous networks … The configuration is one of the most complete in the field of WiFi systems, too often limited.
The throughput is very satisfactory and comfortably exceeds the competition (obviously, the tri-band is not foreign): up to 867 Mb / s on the 5 GHz band and 400 Mb / s on the 2.4 GHz!
This is without a doubt the most powerful WiFi system of my selection, and the freedom of configuration led me to consider it the best WiFi systems.