The Gryphon series of routers has up to an enormous 6,000 square foot WiFi footprint and is surprisingly easy to use via a smartphone app. The parental controls and added security stand out most to us.
It’s expensive. Some people have had trouble with the app and getting set up.
Stable connection and excellent speed. Fast setup. Functions can be controlled remotely from another device.
Expensive, but its performance is worth the price.
Effective dual-band technology ensures a stable connection. Easily covers up to 2,500 square feet. Able to manage many devices at once. Simple setup. Great value.
Larger homes and offices will need a router with wider coverage.
Inexpensive. Dual-band connectivity ensures a solid connection. Straightforward setup. Designed to support an office space’s essential networking needs. 4 gigabit ethernet ports.
Its USB 2.0 ports are outdated.
There are a lot of different ways to set up WiFi in your home, but the most traditional method is to use a wireless router. Wireless routers, sometimes referred to as WiFi routers, take the internet signal from your cable modem and make it available wirelessly to your other devices — so it’s critical to get one that’s both fast enough for all of your gear and secure enough to keep all of your content safe.
Wireless routers are perfect for homes where they can be placed in a centralized location: most models include multiple antennas to increase their broadcast range. Many models also work with WiFi extenders, so you can add coverage to specific problem areas.
The wireless router market is pretty crowded, and picking the wrong one could slow down your entire network, so before you start shopping, read on for our best advice — and find the right router to keep all of your devices happy.
We don't want to leave anyone confused, so we'll start with the basics. If you're already comfortable with what a wireless router is and how it works, fell free to skip ahead to the next section.
A wireless router is a device that translates the internet signal from a cable modem into a radio frequency signal—aka WiFi. Your wireless router handles all of your WiFi traffic and allows you to configure specific settings like your WiFi password or WiFi network name.
Most internet service providers (ISPs) offer modem/router combo units, but monthly rental fees add up quickly, so we recommend buying your own cable modem and wireless router as separate devices.
Wireless routers are often described by a wide variety of terms, codes, and protocol names that are easy to confuse. Here’s a quick guide to what the key datapoints mean.
The Wi-Fi Alliance—a worldwide network of WiFi researchers and manufacturers—ratifies new WiFi standards as they become available. For example, the first mainstream WiFi technology was built based on the 802.11b protocol. Subsequent upgrades like 802.11g, 802.11n, 802.11a, 802.11ac, and the bleeding-edge WiFi 6 protocols have enabled WiFi to be faster and farther-reaching. Each new standard is backward-compatible with the ones that came before it. The bottom line: Most modern devices use the 802.11ac standard, and WiFi 6 adoption will be slow. In most cases, sticking with an 802.11ac wireless router is the best option.
Most modern wireless routers are dual-band, which means they broadcast at both the 2.4GHz and the 5.0GHz frequencies. That’s important because older devices and newer smart home devices will typically only work on the 2.4GHz band, and newer devices can take advantage of the less crowded 5.0GHz band. Some routers market themselves as “tri-band” routers, but that’s a bit of a misnomer; tri-band routers have an additional 5.0GHz broadcast. Tri-band routers are overkill for most people, but can be helpful if you’re supporting several users and dozens of devices.
Some wireless routers are mesh networking systems, which offer similar features using a different delivery model. With a wireless router, you’re broadcasting your WiFi signal from one piece of hardware. With a mesh networking system, you use multiple nodes placed in different locations to create your WiFi network. Both traditional wireless routers and mesh networking systems can deliver fast WiFi to all of your devices; if you’re not sure which to buy, make the decision based on which approach is best for your home’s layout.
The average wireless router covers about 2,500 square feet. If your home is larger than that, use a range extender or consider a mesh WiFi system.
If you want to connect computers or other devices directly to the router using an ethernet cable, make sure your chosen model has sufficient LAN ports.
Most wireless routers can be configured with a smartphone app. While you’re shopping, compare app store reviews of different companion apps to get a sense of what your experience will be like.
If your router has two external antennae, you'll get the best signal if one is pointed vertically and the other horizontally.
The cost of a wireless router depends on the features and network standard.
If you want a cheap router and you're not too concerned about speed, an 802.11n wireless router should cost between $20 and $50.
A basic 802.11ac router that will provide fast wireless connection and not much else will cost $40 to $80.
Expect to pay $80 to $150 for a mid-range 802.11ac wireless router, with a few added extras like apps for remote access or Alexa compatibility.
The price of a high-end 802.11ac wireless router is roughly $150 to $350. These models should have a range of extra features, like a boosted signal range, multi-stage protection, game acceleration, and more.
Q. How do I secure my wireless network?
A. There are a number of simple techniques that everyone should do to secure their wireless home network, such as:
Q. My WiFi connection keeps dropping. How do I fix it?
A. If your wireless router isn’t reliably emitting the WiFi signal that it should be, there are a few quick fixes to test out:
Q. What is the best way to restart my wireless router?
A. Restarting your router is a common fix for wireless and connectivity issues, but there is a right and a wrong way to do so. Unless you want to turn your device back to its factory settings, do not push the “Reset” button on the back of your wireless router.
To restart your wireless router, simply unplug both your router and modem, and wait at least one minute. Plug in your modem, and wait another minute. Finally, plug your wireless router back in, and wait another minute or two to see if resetting your network connection fixed your problem.
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