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Remote work and home offices are becoming common fixtures in our careers, with permanent work-from-home options available, as well as hybrid flextime models.
Companies may require you to show that you have the necessary equipment at home to work. While a microphone for remote meetings and a space to work on your laptop are necessary, hybrid and fully remote roles also demand one critical component: connectivity.
You might already have internet connectivity and a wireless router good enough to support mobile devices, smart home products, and content streaming services like Netflix. However, you may also need to add work-related systems and software to the mix to create a high-end network with minimal dead spots. If this sounds like what you are looking for, then consider getting a new router or modem to keep up with the square footage of your home.
I have listed my top picks for Wi-Fi routers suitable for different budgets and needs. Here are a few of the best Wi-Fi routers and wireless routers available on the market today.
Also: Mesh networking vs. traditional Wi-Fi routers: What is best for your home office?
Netgear Orbi tech specs: 3 Gbps speed | tri-band | coverage up to 5,000 sq ft | Netgear security and parental controls | 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands
Mesh home Wi-Fi networks are increasing in popularity as we adopt smart connected devices and streaming services in our homes. Mesh topologies can improve 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 traditional routers, they can be suitable for those who have a home office in an area with a weak Wi-Fi signal, or those competing for streaming capacity.
The Orbi's strength is its coverage, which can extend up to 5,000 sq ft, supporting up to 25 devices. The tri-band, MU-MIMO router offers decent Wi-Fi speeds on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. It is powered by a quad-core ARM processor and comes with 512MB RAM on Wi-Fi 6. The included Ethernet port provides 1GB connectivity.
The Netgear Orbi can be purchased 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.
The Netgear Orbi should be considered when more than one person is competing for broadband resources, such as when multiple occupants are working from home, or children need stable connections for learning. It also includes parental controls and the option to adopt Netgear Armor.
See the review: Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 AX4200 hands-on
Google Nest Wi-Fi tech specs: Coverage of up to 2,200 sq ft | Network Assist selects best channels for devices | Manages up to 200 connections | Dual-Band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
One of the most suitable devices on the market for Google ecosystem users is the Google Nest Wi-Fi router. This 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 2,200 sq ft. As a mesh Wi-Fi device, however, the more access points you add to the router system, the better the coverage will be on your home network. You can select a single pack that comes with one router and one additional Wi-Fi access point, or Google also offers multipack options, with an estimated coverage area of up to 4,400 sq ft.
Google Nest Wi-Fi can manage roughly 200 connections per access point, and each router has two Gigabit Ethernet ports included. Additionally, each access point has an integrated smart speaker with Google Assistant.
At the time of writing, Amazon has a sale on the Nest router, making it one of our top choices for those on a budget.
Synology RT2600ac tech specs: 4x4 dual band | VPN | 1.7GHz processor | up to 2.53 Gbps | traffic monitoring
If your employer requires a Virtual Private Network (VPN) while you work remotely, the Synology RT2600ac Wi-Fi router may be a suitable option. A VPN makes internet connections more secure by encrypting communication between browser sessions and servers -- and can also be used to mask your original IP address. Therefore, if workers are asked to connect to corporate resources, a VPN can keep access secure.
To take the guesswork out, the Synology RT2600ac is a dual-band, MU-MIMO router already equipped with a VPN option, VPN Plus, to act as a VPN server or client. 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 1.7 GHz dual-core processor, as well as 4x4 802.11ac wave 2 radios.
The router is capable of speeds of up to 2.53 Gbps. Additionally, this product has a useful feature for streaming, as it can connect to storage cards or USB 3.0 drives to stream content to TVs and other devices.
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 tech specs: Tri-band | 1.8 GHz processor | 2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz channels | Internet security | 5 LAN ports
If Google's Nest Wi-Fi router does not provide enough streaming power for you -- whether for gaming or online work systems that require quick and stable connectivity -- the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 could be your solution. It is a tri-band router optimized for heavy use, making it optimal for gamers who require high levels of bandwidth.
The Asus ROG Rapture AX11000 is a tri-band 10-gigabit Wi-Fi 6 router. It comes with a 1.8 GHz quad-core processor, port forwarding, 256MB NAND flash, 1GB RAM, and has a range of up to 2,500 sq ft. You can also select an option to prioritize gaming traffic, which can be a useful feature for those employed in the gaming or review sector.
Asus has also implemented dynamic frequency selection (DFS) to automatically select the least-congested 5GHz bands for streaming. A VPN and support for Asus AiMesh are included for expanded home coverage.
Tech specs: Tri-band | 2.5G WAN | 8 Gigabit LAN Ports | VPN | speeds of up to 10 Gbps | 5 GHz & 2.4 GHz,1024-QAM and 160 MHz channels | 2 USB 3.0 | 1.8 GHz processor
The TP-Link Archer AX10000 is a high-performance router that stands out as a Wi-Fi 6 model. Choosing a Wi-Fi 6 device now is an investment for future-proofing your home connectivity, as this standard provides the capacity for devices to send more data during transmissions, which increases speed.
The TP-Link Archer AX6000 is a valuable option for remote workers, gamers, and those who want to have stable, extremely fast connectivity. This dual-band device supports 2.4GHz/5.0GHz frequencies and is equipped with a 1.8GHz CPU, 1GB RAM, and a variety of ports. TP-Link OneMesh is supported.
Based on extensive research, the Netgear Orbi is the best Wi-Fi router, combining price, scalability, speed, and coverage. This table shows how each of the best Wi-Fi routers compare based on pricing, range, and Wi-Fi 6 capabilities.
Best Wi-Fi routers
Wi-Fi 6 capable?
5000 sq. ft.
Google Nest Wi-Fi
2200 sq. ft.
3000 sq. ft.
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000
2500 sq. ft.
TP-Link Archer AX10000
2500 sq. ft.
When you decide to either upgrade your existing router setup or replace the bog-standard device your ISP gave you -- which are often poor and don't allow consumers to enjoy the full potential of the speed they are paying for -- you first need to decide what your connection priorities are.
If you're at home with multiple occupants and many devices, a mesh network is probably the best way to go, especially if you are on a large property. However, if it is more important to you to have speed and reliability over coverage potential, then a traditional router might be the best option.
Choose this best Wi-Fi router
If you want or are…
Google Nest Wi-Fi
Best VPN router
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000
A gaming router
TP-Link Archer AX10000
Best Wi-Fi 6 router, power
I examined popular and new options on the market, selecting products with budgets and intended use in mind. With hybrid and remote working practices now becoming a permanent feature of day-to-day activities for many of us, dedicated and solid routers are now necessary for both business and home life.
It was important to include both traditional and mesh products. Despite the recent changes in work environments, we can't forget that family and friends also need stable connections for entertainment, education, and gaming.
Traditional Wi-Fi routers provide a single access point for your broadband/fiber connections. However, if there are too many connections made at the same time, this can cause bottlenecks and may impact the reliability of a connection.
It is often the case that standard routers offer improved power and speed when the number of connections is manageable in comparison to mesh, but mesh offers extended, blanket coverage and more access points. As a result, wired and traditional routers are often better for gaming and streaming, whereas mesh is a solid option when you have multiple people and connections in a home.
Yes, if you are willing to front the expense for a better connection. With our world now dominated by smartphones, IoT devices, and streaming services, an upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 gives you access to more streams and potentially faster services.
To get the best range and coverage from your Wi-Fi router, you'll want to choose a somewhat central location in your home. Along with ensuring better coverage, a central location reduces the number of walls and obstacles it has to send the Wi-Fi signal through.
You'll also want to avoid placing it next to other electronics, as their signals can interfere with one another; so avoid putting your router in the kitchen or your home theater.
The more connections there are, the greater the risk of connectivity drops and congestion on your home network.
A bottleneck occurs when there is too much demand for bandwidth from too many devices and this impacts data transmission and requests. Delays in servicing requests can happen when there is too much load on available computing resources.
Basic routers supplied by your ISP and older models may not be enough now that you spend more time at home and connect even more devices, as they were not designed to deal with too many endpoints. While modern routers are now often able to handle more requests, mesh networking systems are an alternative to reducing the risk of delays and bottlenecks.
There are lots of options out there if you're shopping for a new Wi-Fi router. Here are other recommendations you might want to explore if none of the above appeal to you.
Dual-band, speeds of up to 5.4 Gbps, 2,500 sq. ft. coverage
An affordable dual-band MU-MIMO router
A high-spec router perfect for gamers