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Best Linksys Routers

Updated December 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 6 Models Considered
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 162 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best Linksys routers

    Last Updated December 2018

    Wireless internet has gone from being a feature that would be nice to have to a practical necessity for daily life. We all love our WiFi, and we rely on it for just about everything. If you want faster speeds on your wireless devices, or if you just want to make sure everyone in your house can stream movies in 4K, you’ll need a wireless router that can handle everything. Linksys has routers that are ideal for everyone.

    At BestReviews, we’re on a mission to provide our readers with trustworthy, unbiased reviews of the products that power our daily lives. That’s why we never accept any free gear or compensation from product manufacturers. We talk to professionals and assess customer feedback, as well as test products ourselves.

    Read our shopping guide to Linksys routers to gain an understanding of the WiFi features you shouldn’t live without – and the ones that are pure hype. Once you’ve determined your individual router needs, check out the top models we recommend.

    Many of Linksys’ different models feature the same exterior design but have different internals. Pay close attention to the model numbers to differentiate among them.

    Linksys router features

    Most wireless routers offer the same core feature: WiFi access. Beyond that, Linksys has managed to become one of the biggest names in home networking by perfecting a few features and innovating new functionality, such as the following.

    Coverage

    Linksys’ WiFi networks aren’t just fast – they stretch far and wide. As each generation of WiFi has further extended its range, Linksys has built hardware that pushes the limits. (It’s not uncommon for Linksys router owners to see their WiFi coverage extend well beyond the walls of their homes.)

    Most Linksys routers provide data usage analytics, so you can measure which devices on your network are consuming the most data. This can help users with ISP data caps avoid going over the limit.

    MIMO connections

    Linksys routers leverage multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) technology to maintain connectivity between devices. That means that each antenna on the router is working to deliver internet to your devices instead of just one. If you have more than four users in your home (or more than one person who wants to stream video at the same time), MIMO is a must.

    WiFi devices typically use one of two broadcast frequencies: 2.4GHz or 5.0GHz. Whenever possible, use the 5.0GHz channel, as it’s less likely to suffer problems due to interference.

    User-friendly administrative controls

    Linksys has been a hit among the nontechnical crowd for years, mainly due to the equipment’s overall ease of use. Linksys’ administrative tools, which include everything from parental controls to port forwarding, are clearly explained in the tools themselves. Linksys routers are great for non-techies and even better for people who want to learn more about home networking.

    EXPERT TIP

    Linksys “Smart WiFi” wireless routers are designed to work with digital assistants like Amazon Echo or Google Home, allowing you to use voice commands to ask your router to do things like set up a guest network.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Wireless routers vs. mesh networking

    One of the newest trends in home WiFi is an approach known as “mesh networking,” which takes a different approach to delivering WiFi than traditional wireless routers. Both wireless routers and mesh networking devices have their pros, cons, and ideal-use cases, so make sure you know which is best for you and your living environment before you invest.

    • Wireless routers make your home internet connection wirelessly available for all of your devices. A wireless router will act as the only source of WiFi (unless you buy separate network extenders or wireless access points). It is responsible for load-balancing all of the different WiFi devices on your network. Wireless routers are ideal for small homes and apartments.

    • Mesh networking systems are based on multiple endpoints (“nodes”) that work together to deliver WiFi signals to your devices. Where a router is a single device sending data to you on a point-to-point basis, a mesh networking system uses multiple nodes to all deliver data to you at once. Mesh networking systems are perfect for homes that need wide coverage throughout the home.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Linksys dual-band routers are capable of running multiple WiFi networks simultaneously. This can be especially useful for users who need to separate their internet traffic.

    Stock firmware vs. custom firmware

    Linksys is well-known in the technical community for producing wireless routers that can be used with third-party firmware (a device’s operating platform that dictates how the hardware can be used). In fact, some Linksys routers are branded as “open-source” routers, meaning they are explicitly compatible with third-party firmware (although by default they do include the standard Linksys firmware).

    As you’re shopping for a Linksys router, it helps to know the difference between Linksys stock firmware and your third-party options.

    • Stock firmware is what ships with Linksys routers. Stock firmware is your best choice if you’re new to network administration or simply want a “set-it-and-forget-it” router. Perhaps most importantly, Linksys stock firmware is officially supported, so if you’re running stock firmware and run into problems, you can contact the company.
    • Custom firmware can be manually installed on select Linksys wireless routers. Custom firmware often unlocks unique features only found on much more expensive equipment. For example, some custom firmware allows you to block all incoming ads. Keep in mind that running custom firmware is unsupported in most cases, so if you need help, you’ll have to rely on the Linksys user community.
    EXPERT TIP

    Video applications consume a large amount of data. If you’re having problems with slow WiFi, turn off any video applications (ranging from Skype to Xbox) to allow other devices more bandwidth.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Linksys router prices

    Linksys router prices range from $99 to over $250. Consider the following guidelines when choosing the best equipment for your home.

    • Inexpensive: Linksys offers bare-bones wireless routers and legacy products for $99 and under. While it can be tempting to grab a hot deal on a Linksys router, many of their most affordable options rely on outdated technology. These routers can be useful for temporary situations but are generally to be avoided.

    • Mid-Range: Linksys offers its most popular wireless routers – models that are solid performers, deliver current-generation speeds, and offer luxurious features like Quality of Service (QoS) controls – at prices between $100 and $250. If you seek a solid performer that will last a few years or more, look in this price range. As the price increases, expect faster speeds and improved coverage.

    • Expensive: Linksys offers their most powerful, fully featured wireless routers for $250 and up. Routers in this category are for those who absolutely must have the most current available technology they can afford. If you have an exceptionally large home or more than 10 regular users on your network, consider spending the extra money on a Linksys premium router.

    Tips

    Before you purchase a Linksys router, consider these tips.

    • As you set up your home WiFi, also create a guest network. A guest network is a separate WiFi signal that you can provide to others so they can use your internet connection without accessing any other information on your network. Even if you trust your friends, you never know when someone’s device could be infected with malware. By isolating others to your guest network, you can protect your digital life while still providing them with WiFi.

    • Run network speed tests in your home before situating your router. Every house is different, and you never know where your dead zones are until you experiment. Download a speed-testing app to your smartphone, then use it to determine which parts of your home have the weakest signal. Use the information to guide where you place your Linksys router.

    • Take WiFi security seriously. Your wireless router keeps your data safe – everything from your personal information to your browsing history passes through it at some point. Treat it accordingly by prioritizing security: update your WiFi password regularly, keep your router’s firmware up to date at all times, and don’t allow WiFi access to any individuals or devices you don’t know.

    Most Linksys routers are administered using a web browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Some newer Linksys routers also allow you to make administrative changes via the Linksys mobile phone app.

    FAQ

    Q. Will a new Linksys router work with my older WiFi devices?
    A.
    Probably. Most Linksys routers are backward-compatible with older network protocols (like 802.11g), although some will only support the prior-generation protocol. If support for legacy WiFi standards is important to you, check each model’s specifications before you buy.

    Q. Are Linksys routers okay for people who aren’t technically inclined?
    A.
    Yes! Linksys routers are designed to be accessible to both novice and expert users. All of the company’s wireless routers feature step-by-step walkthroughs to help you get started. Most nontechnical users are able to set up their Linksys routers in less an hour.

    Q. What if my Linksys router doesn’t provide enough WiFi coverage?
    A.
    For instances where WiFi coverage needs to be improved, Linksys sells WiFi range extenders to increase the size and speed of your wireless network.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jaime
      Jaime
      Writer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Samantha
      Samantha
      Writer

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