Once you get your gigabit connection, we recommend you skip using the router given to you by your service provider. The brands they tend to hand out are low quality and typically won’t give you the throughput for which you’re paying, plus you’ll have to pay a monthly fee to rent it from them. It’s definitely worth it to invest in a wireless router that’s right for you and your needs. Choosing a wireless router for your home can be challenging; it feels like there are thousands of routers to choose from and it’s hard to quickly know which one is best for you.
There’s no need to worry because we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of routers and highlight a number of routers that would be excellent options for your home.
First, let’s quickly go over what a router is and why you need it. A router is hardware that connects your home devices such as your computer, phone, TV, or tablet to the Internet. Routers also help protect your devices from security attacks. In order to have Internet in your house, you’ll most likely need a router. (Your Internet provider might also give you a modem, which is a different device; you can learn about the differences between a router and modem here.)
There are several different types of routers, but the most common household router is wireless, meaning the router uses WiFi to connect your devices to the Internet. In other words: no need for a cable. Wireless routers come in frequencies of 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Both have their pros and cons. 5GHz can hold more data and is typically faster, but it does not have a large range; 2GHz is slower but has a large range. Many routers come with both. This is called dual-band. Another thing you should know: Many wireless routers allow you to create guest WiFi. Guest WiFi allows a visitor in your home to access your Internet through a unique password. This means your visitor can easily access the Internet without compromising your security.
If you’re in the market for a wireless router, here are some of our favorites:
Google WiFi: Google is tech royalty for a reason—they make fast-performing, affordable products. Not only is Google WiFi inexpensive—around $100—it’s also well loved by customers. We love this dual-band router because it shares data fast, is easy to set up, and one router covers up to 1,500 square feet. If your house is bigger than that, you can buy a three-pack at a discounted rate of $250.
Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500: For those of you who are gamers, the dual-band Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 is one of the fastest on the market. While it’s a tad more expensive than other routers—it runs around $300—it’s known for having no lag time with WiFi speeds up to 2.53Gbps. According to Netgear, the XR500 has coverage in very large homes, and it offers four external antennas and five gigabit Ethernet ports. On a related note, if you’re interested in using your high-speed connection to stream your gameplay for others to see, we have some tips for getting started.
ASUS Blue Cave: The sleek-looking dual-band ASUS Blue Cave pairs seamlessly with Alexa and Echo. This means you can command Alexa to turn on your guest network, pause the Internet, turn on game mode, match a new device, and more. Customers with houses around 2,000-3,000 square feet say they get excellent coverage, and data speeds go up to 2600 Mbps. Routers are typically not design-focused, but this device looks great sitting just about anywhere in the house. It also comes with advanced parental controls and free antivirus protection for one year.
Netgear Orbi: The tri-band (2GHz + 5GHz + 5GHz) Netgear Orbi has won numerous tech awards for a reason—it’s very, very fast and convenient. However, this impressive device will cost you. Orbi runs around $400 for a router unit and satellite unit. Here is why it’s so good: Users can connect 25 devices or more without running the risk of slowing down the network, and it offers coverage inside and outside of houses up to 5,000 square feet. It’s also known for improving network efficiency up to 40 percent. For those with larger houses or more devices, Netgear offers addition satellite units and gear to keep you covered.