Five Best Wireless Routers for 2021 – Our Picks for This Year (So Far)
Amid the yearlong coronavirus pandemic, having reliable internet service has become crucial for work, education, health care, and staying in touch with your loved ones. And the best way to take advantage of an internet service plan is to make sure that you have a router powerful enough to handle all of your data-intensive needs.
Keep in mind that the rollout of Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, provides more speed and lower latency to all of our Wi-Fi 6-enabled devices—and quickly has become the industry standard. With its noticeable boost in overall performance, this next-generation Wi-Fi is armed with the ability to send information to multiple devices at once with a single transmission, not to mention better energy management for battery-powered devices like laptops and smartphones.
If you’re using a Wi-Fi router with only a single device, the maximum potential speeds should reach 40 percent higher with Wi-Fi 6 compared to Wi-Fi 5—it is able to accomplish this via more efficient data encoding, which results in higher throughput. In short, the chips that encode and decode these data signals only continue to get more powerful and efficient and can handle the extra work.
In order to take advantage of these blazing-fast speeds, you need to choose the right router. And to make the process a bit easier, we have taken the initiative to do the homework for you. Here are five outstanding router options for you to strongly consider.
Asus ZenWiFi AX
If you’re seeking a simple setup and fast speeds throughout your entire home, look no further than the Asus ZenWiFi AX. With a top speed of over 825Mbps at a close-range distance, this is a steady, reliable mesh that automatically steers you from band to band and routes your connection without any of those annoying drops. It also boasts a tri-band design featuring a dedicated backhaul for transmissions between the router and satellites. Coverage can be extended up to 5,500 square feet or six-plus rooms.
TP-Link Archer AX6000
If you’re solely focused on speed, make sure to take a gander at the TP-Link Archer AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Router. Reasonably priced at under $300, this next-generation device features a 1.8GHz quad-core processor and 8GB of RAM to deliver combined speeds of up to 4,800Mbps on the 5GHz band. Even more exciting, transfer speeds have been shown to register 1,500Mbps at close range.
The Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Router is said to be fast enough to sustain gigabit wireless speeds, along with top transfer rates of up to 2,400Mbps on the 5GHz band. This premium high-end system also comes with a second 5GHz band that the router uses for a dedicated backhaul connection with a satellite. Budget-conscious folks might shy away from this router, but keep in mind that prices can fluctuate during sales events.
Arris Surfboard Max Pro
If you’re in the market for a solid Wi-Fi 6 mesh setup, be sure to check out the Arris Surfboard Max Pro. Available as a standalone router or a multi-unit mesh system, it will set you back $400, but it boasts top combined transfer speeds of 8Gbps to 11Gbps. If you choose the two-piece Max Plus mesh setup, you will get about 6,000 square feet of home coverage.
The Eero Mesh Wi-Fi Router is a solid play if you want to enter the mesh-networking ecosystem on the cheap. If you do decide not to add any more units, that is totally okay, as it works great as a standard router. It offers both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies and boasts wireless speeds of up to 550Mbps. A single Eero unit can easily cover 1,500 square feet of your home. Moreover, setting up the device is a breeze thanks to the brand’s smartphone app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.