Powerful and smart, this router is a great value, offering strong and well-targeted signal strength. Three high-performance antennas power multiple devices at the same time. Good security features.
Doesn’t support certain common options. Isn't as easy to customize as some models.
Lightweight but capable of handling multiple devices throughout the home. Built-in firewalls and simple management and control features. 4 ports for versatility.
Not as powerful as some models. Best for smaller homes.
This dual-band router can support 4K streaming and gaming throughout the house. 3 external antennas help boost connectivity. Multiple ports and easy set-up. Includes firewalls and parental controls.
Some owners have reported problems with dropped connections.
This router offers dual-band transmissions for strong signal strength. Equipped with 3 detachable antennas. Easy to manage and monitor through a phone app, with built-in firewalls for security.
Problems with a malfunctioning power button have been reported.
Dual-band transmissions ensure high-speed performance even in congested areas. 6 antennas help deliver a solid connection. Includes parental-control features and firewalls.
Some owners say the range is more limited than advertised.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Shopping for an affordable router that meets your internet needs means taking several factors into consideration, including the size of your home or office, the number of devices you intend to connect, and your speed requirements.
The primary purpose of a router is to connect multiple devices to a modem which in turn acts as a digital translator to the internet. But will you connect your devices via WiFi, Ethernet cable, or a combination of the two? Single-band, dual-band, and tri-band routers offer different WiFi frequencies, and each is suited to a different sized space.
You should carefully consider the bandwidth of a router to find one that meets the needs of everyone in your home or office.
There are pros and cons to either scenario. Renting from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) typically costs around $10 per month. If you buy a router and a modem for under $100 each, you will most likely recuperate the cost within two years, so you are incurring a higher expense up front, but potentially enjoying significant savings in the long run.
However, if your rented equipment fails or needs upgrading at any point, your ISP will likely replace it at no cost. That won’t be the case if you own your equipment.
Finally, a modem or modem/router combo provided by your ISP may be outdated and may not have the same security features as a new router. Conversely, some ISPs may have difficulty or reluctance to troubleshoot equipment other than that provided by them.
Before you start your hunt for an affordable router, you should ask yourself what your minimum needs are and what type of router will best suit your home or office.
Wireless or wired
Will you need a router that provides a WiFi signal? WiFi allows you to wirelessly connect devices such as laptops, smartphones, game consoles, and media streaming devices to the internet. If you don’t need to connect any devices via WiFi, Ethernet or wired routers are available and are often fairly inexpensive, and because of the physical cable connection can be more reliable and secure.
If WiFi is a must, finding the right WiFi router for under $100 means weighing your criteria. Be aware that most WiFi routers include several Ethernet ports so you can still connect devices via wired connections.
Single-band, dual-band, or tri-band
The number of “bands” a router has is the number of WiFi signals it sends out and thus, the number of networks it supports. The more networks you have, the less likely you are to encounter signal interference — which may be an issue if you have several devices attempting to connect to the router at once.
Single-band routers send out a 2.5 gigahertz (GHz) signal, which is compatible with nearly all devices and is the best signal for reaching all corners of your home and passing through obstacles. However, it transfers data at a slower speed than a 5GHz signal.
Dual-band routers send out a 2.5GHz signal and a 5GHz signal. Older devices may not be able to connect to the 5GHz signal, but it will provide a faster — albeit shorter range — signal.
Tri-band routers offer more bandwidth with one 2.5GHz signal and two 5GHz signals. This leads to a faster speed but shorter range overall. The extra bandwidth makes this the best choice for a home or office with a high number of devices.
Many single-band and dual-band routers are available for under $100, but it can be more difficult to find a tri-band router in this range. Most will cost right around the $100 mark or above.
The transfer speed, measured in megabytes per second (Mbps), determines the best possible connection offered by your router.
Most routers will list their Ethernet, 2.5GHz, and 5GHz speeds. Faster is better, but only if your ISP’s internet speed (the rate at which data travels between the web and your connected devices) approaches the transfer speed of your router. Otherwise, you are generally paying more money for a feature you won’t make use of. You can easily test your internet speed through your ISP’s website or by using an independent test site by searching for “internet speed test.”
Routers for under $100 typically offer transfer speeds in the range of 300 to 1900 Mbps. Bear in mind that some dual- or tri-band routers measure their speed as the combined totals of their 2.5Ghz and 5GHz bands. The individual speed of each bandwidth is a more realistic estimate of the maximum speed.
These speeds also assume perfect conditions with no barriers between your device and the router and no additional devices connected.
Routers typically offer four Ethernet ports with WiFi, or eight Ethernet ports with no WiFi. Both varieties can be found for under $100.
Ethernet ports typically offer maximum speeds of either 100MBps or 1GBps.
“Coverage” is the area a router is capable of supporting. Most WiFi routers below $100 can cover from 1,000 to 2,500 square feet.
While factors like the speed and bandwidth of a router are important, you should also consider additional features such as additional connectivity and appearance.
Protection is a necessity for WiFi routers, as others may connect to your WiFi and possibly access sensitive information if you don’t have adequate protection. WiFi Protected Access (WPA and WPA2) is a security standard that uses data encryption and passwords to keep your network private. However, WPA2 is considerably more difficult for thieves to crack. Both WPA and WPA2 are common in routers under $100. WPA3 may be available in some models, but these will be found closer to (or above) the $100 mark.
Most routers, including those for under $100, have one USB port, but some may have two or more. A USB port allows you to connect a flash drive to access shared files across your network or to connect a printer that can easily be used by connected devices. For the best speed, look for routers with USB 3.0 ports.
Since the best placement for a router is usually in the center of your home or office, there’s a good chance it will be visible, so look for a small router that complements your aesthetic and decor. Many routers priced under $100 are fairly compact, and some may even have antennae-free designs.
A mesh router creates a network of separate signals, allowing you to improve coverage and connect to the internet via WiFi over a larger area. If you have a large office or home in which multiple devices must connect to WiFi simultaneously, a mesh router may be your best option. Only a few mesh routers are available for less than $100.
A smart router is can be controlled with a mobile app and is designed to integrate with other smart devices. If you are creating a smart home network of devices, there are several smart routers available for under $100.
Routers for $15 to $25 are typically single-band, though some dual-band routers may fall in this range.
For $25 to $50 there are single-band or dual-band routers that may have up to four Ethernet ports. A few smart routers can be found in this price range.
Routers between $50 and $100 are typically dual-band, but some tri-band routers may be available. Some models in this range may be smart routers or mesh routers.
Antennae should be positioned so that they are at right angles to one another.
The router should be as close to the center of your home as possible.
If it’s possible to place your router away from walls, you should. If it must be placed near a wall, ensure that there are no mirrors or metal objects on either side of the wall.
If your modem is not in a central location, you can use an Ethernet cable to reposition your router for a more central signal.
Having a clear line-of-sight isn’t vital, but it’s a good predictor of whether you will get a strong signal. Remove as many objects as you can between your devices and the router.
Despite the low price, there are plenty of routers packed with features that fall below $100. One customer favorite is the Securifi Almond Touchscreen WiFi Router, which stands out with its touchscreen display and easy setup. We love that this can be used as your main router or as a WiFi extender. For a powerful smart router, the D-Link Wireless WiFi Router offers a combined dual-band speed of 1750GHz, making it well-suited to spaces with multiple devices. Customers praise this router for its strong signal and impressive range. If you are looking for a simple Ethernet-only router, the Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X Advanced Gigabit Router has four 1GBps Ethernet ports for a high-speed LAN network.
Q. Do routers come with Ethernet cables?
A. In most cases you will have to provide your own Ethernet cable.
Q. Is it faster to connect to the router via Ethernet or WiFi?
A. Ethernet is usually the faster option, especially with 5GHz routers but this is dependent on the Ethernet ports in that particular router.
Q. Do I have to let my ISP know when I get a new router?
A. No, but you should let them know if you wish to return a rented router/modem to ensure that you you are no longer charged on your monthly bills.