- Routers connect devices to the internet and come in various types, including wired, wireless, and virtual routers.
- Considerations when choosing a router include price, speed, range, security, and wireless bands.
- Reddit’s top router recommendations include the ASUS RT-AX3000, TP-Link Omada Controller, ASUS RT-AX68U, TP-Link Deco Mesh Router, MikroTik hEX S, and TP-Link Archer AX11000.
Looking for a new router can be daunting as many different brands and models have differing use cases. You might be looking for a router for basic home networking, or you might have more advanced ideas in mind and are looking for the best router for a home lab.
Fortunately, there are several Reddit threads in which users ranging from IT professionals to home networking enthusiasts have shared the best routers worth checking out. We’ve gone ahead and done the research for you, and here’s everything you should know!
What Does a Router Do?
Routers are the physical device that connects your computers and other network-capable devices to the internet, all while ensuring the packets of information take the fastest route to where they need to go. These routers come in all shapes and sizes. You’ll find several different types of routers, from broadband routers and edge routers to wired and wireless routers. There are even virtual routers.
Most people think of the typical black box with antennas coming out of it when they think of routers. This is the standard style of home Wi-Fi router. However, there are other use cases for routers, such as within data centers, office networks, or home labs.
What Should You Look for When Choosing a Router?
When it comes to buying a router, there are a few considerations you should keep in mind before settling on a particular model. Here’s what you should know when looking for a router:
Routers vary widely in price. A simple home Wi-Fi router may cost only $30, while the best of the best routers may cost upwards of $1,000. It ultimately comes down to your specific needs. For the everyday user who wants to connect a laptop, a TV, their phone, a gaming console, and maybe another PC to the internet, you can expect to pay around $100 to $200.
On the other hand, if you are looking for the absolute best Juniper networking router, a high-end professional IT device, you can expect to pay around $10,000. One of the main factors determining a router’s price is its performance. Performance refers to how fast and reliable a router can transmit data over the network.
Performance is measured by bandwidth, throughput, latency, and range metrics. Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred per second, throughput is the actual data transfer rate, latency is the delay between sending and receiving data, and range is the distance a router can cover. Generally, the higher the performance, the higher the price.
The speed of a router is typically measured in megabits per second (Mbps) or gigabits per second (Gbps), and it indicates how fast the router can transfer data between your devices and the internet. The higher the speed, the better the performance, and the more expensive the router.
You should look for a router that matches your Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) speed for the plan you pay for. You’ll want to ensure you find a router that can handle multiple devices streaming content, gaming, or working online simultaneously.
The range of your router will determine the distance it can cover with its wireless signals (note: many enterprise or high-end routers are not designed for wireless use). The range will depend on various factors, including the size and layout of your house, the number and material of walls, and potential interference from other household devices.
You will want to look for a long-range router that can cover your entire space with a stable signal. Look for routers that mention mesh technology and beamforming. These features can pinpoint connected devices with accuracy to ensure they get the best possible signal. Another thing to keep in mind is external antennas — you will often see high-end routers with multiple large antennas to help extend the range.
The security of a router is the level of protection it offers against cyberattacks, malware, and unauthorized access to your network. The router’s security depends on the router’s own encryption standards, firewall settings, parental controls, or other security features supported by the router. You will want to look for a router that, at the minimum, comes with the latest encryption protocols, such as WPA3, and has a robust firewall to block unwanted traffic.
When you are searching for a home router, you will see dual-band and tri-band routers. A dual-band router operates on two wireless frequency bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. A tri-band router can operate on three frequency bands. The 2.4 GHz wireless band is typically more crowded and prone to interference but has the longest range.
The 5 GHz band is less crowded and faster but has a shorter maximum range. Dual-band and tri-band routers can automatically switch between the bands to optimize the router’s performance and avoid congestion. If you are planning to have a lot of devices on your network, a tri-band router will give you more room to work with.
Reddit’s 6 Best Routers
Now that you know more about routers and what to look for when buying a router, let’s dive right into Reddit’s most talked-about options.
Best for Everyone: ASUS RT-AX3000
- Maximum range: 3,000 sq. ft.
- Next-gen Wi-Fi 6 technology
- 575 Mbps on the 2. 4GHz band, and 2402 GHz on the 5GHz band
- AiMesh technology lets you establish a stronger mesh Wi-Fi system
- AiProtection Pro protects all the connected devices on your home network
Several threads we saw kept mentioning the RT-AX3000 router from ASUS as one of the best routers under $250 you can get for the everyday user. Firstly, the ASUS RT-AX3000 supports the Wi-Fi 6 standard, which means it can deliver the fastest theoretical speeds, lower latency, and more channel capacity than older routers.
Wi-Fi 6 is especially useful if multiple devices are connected to your network, such as laptops, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and gaming consoles. The ASUS RT-AX3000 can handle up to 30 devices simultaneously without compromising performance.
Secondly, the ASUS RT-AX3000 features its own onboard quad-core processor and 256MB of internal RAM, which enables the router to process data more efficiently and smoothly. The router also features four external antennas that provide a wide coverage area and a strong signal. You can easily set up and manage a wireless network with the included ASUS Router app, which allows you to monitor traffic, adjust settings, and control parental controls.
There are also some advanced features with the ASUS RT-AX3000. ASUS has included its AiProtection Pro feature, a built-in security system that protects your network from malware, hackers, and other cyber threats. It also features AiMesh support, which is a feature to streamline creating a mesh network with any other compatible ASUS routers.
Best Home Lab Networking Router: TP-Link Omada Controller
If you are looking for the best home lab router, you might want to consider the TP-Link Omada Controller. The Omada Controller is a software-defined networking (SDN) platform that allows you to manage and configure your TP-Link devices — things like access points, switches, and routers — from a single interface.
The Omada Controller offers a wide range of benefits for home lab networking enthusiasts; you can monitor and control all your devices from a single GUI dashboard and apply settings and policies across multiple sites. You can create VLANs, firewall rules, VPN tunnels, and access control lists to isolate and protect your network segments.
There are also wireless optimization features with the TP-Link Omada Controller. You can create multiple SSIDs, adjust the transmit power and channel, enable band steering and load balancing, and apply bandwidth limits and hotspot authentication for your wireless clients.
Best Simple Home Router: ASUS RT-AX68U
- Speeds up to 2700 Mbps with WiFi 6
- ASUS AiProtection Pro
- Features parental controls
- Lets you create a mesh network with AiMesh-compatible routers
If you are looking for a simple router that can handle your home network needs without breaking the bank, you should take a look at the ASUS RT-AX68U. We found this to be recommended in several Reddit threads as one of the best home routers. It supports Wi-Fi 6 and delivers a theoretical maximum speed of 2700 Mbps.
The RT-AX68U is a dual-band router that supports Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and offers a sleek and elegant design that will fit into any home or office setting. The router has four antennas that provide a strong and stable signal for your devices. The router also comes with four Gigabit Ethernet ports, one Gigabit WAN port, and a few USB-A ports for connecting wired devices, printers, storage solutions, and other networking peripherals.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use and simple router that offers much value for your money, check out the RT-AX68U. You can’t beat the price for such a feature-rich router with Wi-Fi 6, commercial-grade security features, a VPN app, and mesh network support.
Best Mesh Wi-Fi Router: TP-Link Deco Mesh Router
If you’re looking for the best mesh router to improve your home’s Wi-Fi coverage, take a look at the TP-Link Deco Mesh Router. This router uses multiple units to create a seamless wireless network that TP-Link claims can cover up to 5,500 square feet. It also supports Wi-Fi 6.
The TP-Link Deco Mesh Router uses a tri-band design, which means it has three separate Wi-Fi bands: one 2.4 GHz and two 5GHz bands. One of the 5 GHz bands is dedicated solely to communication between the units, while the other two bands are used for your devices. This ensures that there is no interference or congestion on your network, and you get the best possible mesh performance.
If you are new to mesh Wi-Fi networking, the TP-Link Deco Mesh Router is easy to set up. It comes with the Deco smartphone app, which guides you through the process of connecting the units, finding the best locations in your space for them, and customizing all of your network settings.
You can create a single Wi-Fi network with a single admin name and password, so you don’t have to switch between different networks as you move through your space with the TP-Link Deco Mesh Router.
Best PoE Router: MikroTik hEX S
Suppose you are looking for a powerful, versatile router to handle your wired connections. In that case, you might want to consider the MikroTik hEX S. The MikroTik hEX S is a five-port Gigabit Ethernet router offering several benefits and features for enthusiasts and networking professionals.
The hEX S is a series of small, affordable, easy-to-use, yet still feature-rich routers from MikroTik. The MikroTik hEX S is the most advanced model in the series, with a few features that make it stand out. As we mentioned, this router has five Gigabit Ethernet ports, with one of the ports being available as an Internet port, and another can be a PoE output port.
This will allow you to power another device, such as a WAP or a security camera, while using the same cable that connects the device to the router. There’s also an SFP port on the front. An SFP module is a device that provides different types of network connections, such as fiber optic, copper, or wireless. Using an SFP port allows you to extend your network’s range and speed beyond Ethernet cables’ limitations.
Best Router for Gaming: TP-Link Archer AX11000
The TP-Link Archer AX11000, with its wild red antennas, gives you a ton of standard features for a Wi-Fi 6 router. Reddit is pretty vocal in how it views routers marketed as specifically for gaming: they are simply marketing speak. Since there is nothing that really makes one router better for gaming than another, it might seem strange that many companies claim to offer the perfect gaming router.
But the truth is that features like a powerful CPU can make a difference, and an aggressive design can make a router fit into a gamer’s setup more fluidly. Unlike cheaper routers, the TP-Link Archer AX11000 comes with an overpowered 1.8 GHz quad-core CPU, so it won’t hiccup under demanding tasks. This aggressive-looking router also offers expansive coverage, reinforced by its eight external antennas.
Beyond its core capabilities, it’s the additional features that make it shine. For instance, its built-in QoS engine adapts the network to deliver the best video and music streaming experiences. Moreover, the Game Accelerator technology is a boon for gamers, minimizing latency for smoother gameplay.
Connectivity isn’t a concern, with nine Ethernet ports and two USB 3.0 ports at your disposal. Notably, the Archer AX11000 employs MU-MIMO technology, ensuring that multiple devices can connect seamlessly and simultaneously. This is further enhanced by its OFDMA technology, optimizing performance when multiple devices are connected.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Casezy idea/Shutterstock.com.