In the current climate, due to the, many of us are being asked to stay away from company offices and work from home instead.
However, for those of us who are not used to this kind of setup, they may not have the equipment necessary to maintain home products -- such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices including smart speakers, lighting, and security camera setups -- streaming, and now work-related systems and software simultaneously.
You may find you need a way to control the internet during the day, with children suddenly required to be home-schooled. Your company may have demanded you use a virtual private network (VPN) to access corporate systems, and you may now need to use internet services that demand high bandwidth.
The backbone to manage many of these new requirements is a good router. With this in mind, ZDNet has created a list of our top picks for Wi-Fi routers suitable for a range of budgets and needs.
Disclosure: ZDNet may earn an affiliate commission from some of the products featured on this page. ZDNet and the author were not compensated for this independent review.
Best for: A budget-friendly Wi-Fi ecosystem
One of the most suitable devices on the market for Google ecosystem users is simply named Google Wifi. This budget-friendly router option aims to keep things easy to set up with "Network Assist," a system that works in the background to automatically select the best channels for your connected devices.
The Wi-Fi router offers coverage of up to 1500 sq ft.
Google Wi-Fi is Bluetooth-compatible and features AC1200 2x2 Wave 2 coverage, is capable of simultaneous dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz / 5GHz) supporting IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, and has two Gigabit Ethernet ports. The device is best suited to those with internet speeds slower than 250Mbps.
WPA2 security is in place. The router is powered by a quad-core ARM CPU and has 512MB RAM.
You can select a single pack which comes with one router and one additional Wi-Fi access point, or Google also offers a three-pack option. You will need a Google account and you will also need to download an accompanying mobile application.
Best for: Decent specifications at an affordable price
D-Link's EXO AC3000 is a powerhouse of a router for a mid-range budget. The router would suit users willing to spend a bit more on a range of features and tri-band capability.
The router is capable of Wi-Fi speeds of up to 400Mbps (2.4Ghz) + 866Mbps (5Ghz) + 1733Mbps (5Ghz) on its channels and utilizes mesh technology to wipe out coverage dark spots at home -- a handy feature if your office is in an area with a limited signal.
In addition, the EXO comes with inbuilt McAfee cybersecurity software, parental controls, and can be voice-controlled through both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Especially useful for a household on lockdown, however, are the included MU-MIMO antennae, which can help keep multiple users and their devices buffering without delay or disruption.
The router is powered by a dual-core processor and comes with 256MB RAM.
Best for: The power-hungry worker
If D-Link's wireless router does not provide enough streaming power for you -- whether for gaming or online work systems requiring hefty streaming -- the ASUS ROG Rapture is a flagship 10Gbps product designed with gamers and users that need high levels of bandwidth in mind.
The ASUS ROG Rapture comes with a 1.8Ghz quad-core processor, 256BM flash memory and 1GB RAM. It is possible to select an option to prioritize gaming traffic, which may be a useful feature for those employed in the gaming or review sector. A VPN and standard internet connection can be simultaneously employed.
The router is also compatible with ASUS' mesh Wi-Fi system, AiMesh, for expanded home coverage, and comes with AiProtection network security.
Best for: Those who need a VPN connection
If your employer requires you to use a VPN while working remotely, the Synology RT2600 Wi-Fi router may be a suitable option. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) makes internet connections more secure by employing encryption between your browser and a server, and so if workers are asked to connect to corporate resources, a VPN may be required to try and keep access secure while staff are out of the office.
To take the guesswork out, the Synology RT2600 is an MU-MIMO router already equipped with a VPN option, VPN Plus, to act as a VPN server or client, and support is also available for Synology SSL VPN, PPTP, OpenVPN, and L2TP/IPSec.
To facilitate the use of VPN servers and clients, the router is powered by a 1.7Ghz dual-core processor, 4x4 802.11ac wave 2 radios, up to 2.53Gbps wireless speeds, and has coverage of up to 3,000 sq ft.
Best for: Users who need a budget-friendly, reliable device
TP-Link's AC2300 Wi-Fi router is suitable for those on a budget who may need to replace existing, elderly home routers that are not up to the tasks of working from a home office.
Currently on offer, the AC2300 is a dual-band device -- 2.4Ghz (600Mbps) + 5Ghz (1625Mbps) -- capable of up to 2300Mbps AC speeds. The router is powered by a 1.8Ghz dual-core processor and has three MU-MIMO antennae.
It is also possible for more technical users to set up their own personal VPN server with an open client.
The TP-Link AC2300 has Trend Micro security in-built and has RangeBoost included, the vendor's answer to improving the router's capabilities in detecting Wi-Fi signals from multiple devices at a distance.
An interesting feature is Airtime Fairness, a mechanism that attempts to divide bandwidth equally between devices, new and old.
Best for: The security-conscious and a need for secure guest accounts
The Netgear Nighthawk series has been a popular option for home users, remote workers, and gamers for some time, and the R7000 does not disappoint. This Wi-Fi router, which is Amazon Alexa compatible, offers 1900Mbps speed (dual-band up to 600 + 1300Mbps) and 1800 sq ft coverage.
Netgear says that the router, powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor, is suitable for up to 30 devices connecting at the same time. An accompanying mobile application can be used to set up a personal cloud storage system, VPNs, and secure guest Wi-Fi.
The router's security is based on WPA2 and includes denial-of-service (DoS) protection and the option to sign up to Netgear Armor after a 30-day trial. The subscription service extends security beyond the router to include IoT devices, smartphones, and PCs.
If you need parental controls, you can also use the Circle App to limit internet access and screen time for your children.
Best for: A home mesh Wi-Fi network
Mesh home Wi-Fi networks are increasing in popularity as we adopt smart, connected devices and streaming services in our homes. Mesh topologies can increase the stability and interconnections between IoT devices by working with 'nodes' placed around the home, reducing blind spots and buffering issues.
While mesh Wi-Fi devices do not always offer the same advanced settings or features as some of the better, traditional routers, mesh devices can suit those who have a home office in an area with a weak Wi-Fi signal, for example, or who are competing for streaming capacity with multiple devices.
The Orbi's strength is its coverage -- up to 5,000 sq ft, with support for up to 25 devices. The tri-band, MU-MIMO router offers decent Wi-Fi speeds on the 2.4GHz (400Mbps) + 5GHz (866Mbps) bands -- and is powered by a quad-core ARM processor and comes with 512MB RAM.
The Netgear Orbi can be picked up with standard specifications or you can upgrade to the premium "Ultra Performance" range, which extends coverage and the number of devices connected via satellite bolt-ons; each of which expands coverage by up to 2,500 sq ft.
Parental controls and the option to adopt Netgear Armor are included.
Best for: Stability
The Asus AC1900 may be one of the older Wi-Fi routers available on the market, but this 802.11ac device is a worthwhile option to improve the stability of your internet connection.
In a time when home networks are likely to become busier, this dual-band router sports a 1Ghz dual-core processor and combined data rates of up to 1900Mbps through 5Ghz (1300Mbps) and 2.4Ghz (600Mbps) bands.
There are dedicated, separate lanes for Wi-Fi and USB data, and five Ethernet ports are included. ASUS has implemented AiRadar in the product, a feature that users wireless connectivity fine-tuning to improve signal stability and coverage.
An accompanying app can be used to monitor data usage. Renewed models are also available for a substantial discount.
Best for: IoT, voice assistant users
The TP-Link AX1800 is an intelligent router that has been equipped with the ability to support multiple IoT device connections and the Amazon Alexa voice assistant.
This mid-range router has proven popular with consumers and could be suitable for home offices that need to be up-and-running quickly. TP-Link's AX1800 is a dual-band model capable of speeds of up to 1.8Gbps -- 5Ghz (1200Mbps) and 2.4Ghz (574Mbps) and uses Wi-Fi 6 technology to successfully maintain connections with multiple IoT devices.
The router is powered by a 1.5Ghz quad-core processor and has a good range due to the vendor's Beamforming technology and four antennae.
A useful feature is the implementation of OFDMA, which allows multiple devices to share a single transmission stream, increasing efficiency and reducing latency rates.
Best for: Multiple device connections
Linksys' tri-band Max-Stream AC2200 router is focused on speed and enhanced coverage in your home. Capable of speeds of up to 2.2Gbps -- (5Ghz / 400Mbps, 5Ghz / 867Mbps, 2.4Ghz / 867Mbps) -- this is a device suitable for heavy online usage at home, which has likely ramped up if you are now a remote worker.
MU-MIMO technology has been implemented, improving support for multiple networks to be using bandwidth at the same time, and Linksys says up to 15 devices can be comfortably connected. Wi-Fi coverage is estimated at 2,000 sq ft and four Gigabit Ethernet ports are included for wired connectivity.
An accompanying app can be used to monitor device usage, create guest Wi-Fi accounts, and set parental controls.