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Home / Technology / The best Wi-Fi routers in 2021: Nest, Asus, TP-Link and more

The best Wi-Fi routers in 2021: Nest, Asus, TP-Link and more



First introduced a few years ago, Wi-Fi 6 is the latest generation of Wi-Fi and it boasts faster and more efficient performance on home networks. Now there is an increasing number of new 2nd gen mesh router options It’s worth noting too – especially since so many of them are so much cheaper than the systems that came before them. After all, a quality connection is very nice to have if you spend a lot of time worker or attend school from home due to pandemic.

Between mesh and Wi-Fi 6, you will find a number of interesting new options if you are currently in the market for an upgrade. Whether you are interested in game routers, mesh systems, Wi-Fi 6 routers ̵

1; or if you just want something decent that will not break the bank – we are here to point you in the right direction. And look at this room, because we expect to see new Wi-Fi 6E routers able to access recently opened bandwidth in the 6 GHz band very soon, including several who were teased at this year’s virtual CES tech showcase.


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Expect regular updates of this post as we continue our testing on new devices like them. When we find a new router that deserves strong consideration, we will add it to this list of links back to our latest test data.

Read more: Best high speed internet providers in 2020

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Wi-Fi 6 is the latest, fastest version of Wi-Fi, and we expect to see many new models supporting it soon. And if you want, you can upgrade to a Wi-Fi 6 router from a budget router right now to get faster and more efficient Wi-Fi performance from connected devices that support the new standard (iPhone SE and Samsung Galaxy S20 are two high-profile wireless devices that are examples, but the list is growing). Wi-Fi 6 is backward compatible, so your older devices can still connect – but your new wireless router won’t do anything to speed them up.

All this is to say that it is probably still too early for most of us to get a new Wi-Fi 6 router (and do not forget that you need a very, very fast internet connection to notice the difference in the first place).

That said, if you want to do the upgrade now, or if you need a new wireless router and you want something future-proof for the next generation of devices, then go to TP-Link Archer AX6000. Initially, we achieved our performance tests, delivering the fastest peak transfer speeds we have ever recorded, plus excellent range and low latency.

The AX6000 debuted at a price of $ 350, but it is currently down to $ 300, and we have seen it markedly as low as $ 270. It is definitely not cheap even at that price, but if you can get it on sale, it’s a worthy way to upgrade to a robust Wi-Fi 6 network. Read our list of the best game routes.

Chris Monroe / CNET

With fast wireless speeds, easy setup and useful, easy-to-use app controls, Google Wifi has been our top network router choice for the past three years. 2nd generation follow-up, Nest Wifi, are faster, less expensive networking and just as easy to set up and use. In addition, the range-expanding points that Google Assistant-smart speakers now double. That, combined with a new design that comes in several colors, is aimed at getting you to keep these things out in the open, where they will perform better.

It does not support Wi-Fi 6 (and Nest’s range-enhancing satellite devices do not have Ethernet ports, which means you can not connect them to the Wi-Fi router), but Nest Wifi adds a few nice, current generation upgrades, including support for new WPA3 security standards and 4X4 MU-MIMO connections, which means it can deliver faster top speeds to devices that use multiple Wi-Fi antennas. All of this helps Nest’s mesh router beat the weight and surpass most other mesh routers with similar specifications.

At $ 269 for a two-device setup that can cover Wi-Fi of up to 3,800 square meters (a requirement that checked out when we tested it in both a small home and CNET Smart Home of 5800 square feet) Wifi is the most rounded mesh router on the market right now, and the first one I would recommend for people who are not ready to jump to Wi-Fi 6. Read the Nest Wifi review.

Ry Crist / CNET

It’s not as fully equipped as systems like Nest Wifi, and the app controls you want to set up everything are not so smooth – but apart from that, the new, budget-friendly Netgear Orbi the system stands out as a clear value choice for your WiFi signal in the mask category. At just $ 150 for a two-device setup with the Wi-Fi router and a single-range WiFi extender, it’s about as cheap as a network gets, and it came with both Nest and Eero in our speed tests. From now on it is for sale for even less – only $ 130.

In fact, of these three systems, Netgear Orbi clocked in at the fastest average top speed up close – and when we tested that area with smart devices on CNET Smart Home, it edged out the two Wi-Fi systems at a faster speed yet again. I even like the new design, with smart contours on top that give off warmth in style. Read our Netgear Orbi review.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

From $ 700 for two-piece setup seen here, the Wi-Fi 6 version of Netgear Orbi (which I call Netgear Orbi 6) is far more expensive than the dual-band version listed above, but it is also much more powerful. With a second 5 GHz band that serves as a dedicated backhaul for system transmissions between the router and its satellites – with full Wi-Fi 6 speeds, mind you – the system managed to get our performance tests.

To be precise, the system returned average speeds of 289 Mbps when I spent a few days testing the speeds and signal strength in different rooms at home, where I have a fiber internet plan of 300 Mbps. It is an almost perfect result, and one that no other mask system I have tested has been able to match.

Is that kind of fast performance worth $ 700? I think most people will find better value with something cheaper – and you have an increasing number of options hitting the market this year. Still, if you are buying right now and just want the best online performance that money can buy, this is the system you are getting. Read our Netgear Orbi 6 review.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

It is not pretty as fast as the Netgear Orbi AX6000, however Asus ZenWiFi AX The mesh router was close – and at $ 450 for a two-pack, the price tag is much easier to swallow. For the money, you get just about everything you get with Netgear, including a multi-gig WAN port and a dedicated backhaul band to keep transmissions between the router and the satellite separate from your network traffic.

$ 450 is still a lot of money, but this easy-to-use Asus router system proved to be very skilled and reliable in our performance tests. That puts it right in the sweet spot for a future-proof network router that feels a bit like part of an advanced upgrade.

If your home is large and you think you will benefit from having a network with more than one extension, you can also consider the Eero Pro 6, another triband network router that supports Wi-Fi 6. It does not have a multigig jack , and it did not work as well as Asus when I tested it at home – but it was close, it hit higher top speeds in our lab, and at $ 599 for a three-pack, it’s cheaper for large homes with plenty of room to cover. Read our Asus ZenWiFi AX review.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Gaming routers promise high performance and low latency for hard gamers, and it’s not uncommon to find those that sell for $ 300 or even $ 400. At around $ 250, the Asus RT-AX86U Dual-band router is not cheap either, but it is a strong value compared to routers like them – and the performance it provides is flat out.

Most notable is the router latency management. In fact, it carries all the routers I have ever tested, play or otherwise, with the lowest average latency across all my tests, something online players will definitely appreciate. Something else you will appreciate: An excellent mix of app-based controls and features, including a mobile boost mode, that lets you prioritize game traffic to your phone at the touch of a button.

Despite gaming features, the RT-AX86U offers full support for Wi-Fi 6, with strong, stable speeds and good range. If you need extra range, you can add other Asus “AIMesh” devices to your network to make it the center of a network.

It ticks all the boxes that most people want from a good gaming router, and it gets you there at a price that is not so painful for us to recommend. Even if you are not a player, this is still one of the best Wi-Fi 6 routes you can buy right now. Read our list of the best game routes.

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