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Best Router 2017: Top 6 Best Wireless Routers for the home, office and gaming

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Having internet or Wi-Fi problems? You may need to buy a brand new wireless router. The best routers will help you get the most out of your internet connection, and unfortunately the free ones you get as part of ISP deals often aren’t very good.

We don’t salivate over great routers in the same way we do over new smartphones, tablets or TVs but, as the brain of your home network, they’re incredibly important. Ditching your bundled router in favour of one of the routers on our list could save you a whole load of headaches and tantrums.

However, there’s more to the decision than just picking the name you can remember best. We’re going to take you through the best home routers on the market, including cheap routers and the best router for gaming.

Hit the ‘Next’ arrow above to see our first recommended router, browse our list below or scroll down for more buying advice.

Video: How to improve your home's Wi-Fi

This Week's Best Router Deals

BT Smart Hub at Amazon.co.uk | Was £100 | Now £53

TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 at Amazon.co.uk | Was £135.99 | Now £91

Linksys WRT1900ACS at Amazon.co.uk | Was £229 | Now £149

ASRock G10 AC2600 Gaming Router at Amazon.co.uk | Was £284 | Now £223

Linksys WRT1900ACS at Amazon.com | Was $249.99 | Now $169

ASRock G10 AC2600 Gaming Router at Amazon.com | Was $300 | Now $235

What should I look for in a router?

We’ve taken one of the key choices out of your hands. Previously, picking between a Wi-Fi ac-grade router or one that only subscribes to the slightly older a/b/g/n standards was an important decision, but all of our recommended models are of the new-age type.

Related: Best desktop PCs

The biggest advantages of ac are that it offers better range and maximum theoretical speeds. You can sometimes get better n-grade performance for less if you stick to the old standard, though ac is future-proof and a/b/g/n is not. In short, nothing other than ac will do. For more information, read our 802.11ac vs 802.11n feature.

The next thing to consider is how much you’re willing to spend. The cheapest entry in this round-up costs under £100, though if you’re willing, you can shell out more than £200 and get your hands on a range of advanced features, such as one with a built-in VDSL2 modem so you don’t need plug your new router into the one provided by your ISP.

Related: What is Mesh Wi-Fi and is it right for you?

Good range is especially important if you live in a house rather than a flat, and would ensure all rooms pick up the same strong Wi-Fi signal. Thanks to the integration of USB ports, the best routers can now cater to printers and external hard drives, while cloud support enables you to even use your mobile to quickly tinker with settings.

Related: Best Wi-Fi Extenders

For many, ease of use is a major selling point. There aren’t too many things more frustrating than trying and failing, and then failing again, to get your home network up and running.

Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream MU-MIMO
Key features:
  • AC1900 speeds
  • MU-MIMO
  • Four Ethernet ports, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • Review price: £100

It may not be the flashiest router around, but the Linksys EA7500 (sometimes known as the EA7500-UK) is a great value piece of kit. Not only do you get up to 1300Mbps over 5GHz and 600Mbps over 2.4GHz (your mileage may vary), you also get MU-MIMO, which works wonders for houses with multiple bandwidth-hungry devices. It's a big step up from non-MU-MIMO routers, which slow down significantly when lots of users are connected.

You get two USB ports, one of which is a fast USB 3.0 connector for connecting storage devices, as well as four gigabit Ethernet ports. Our tests found good reliability and range.

Key Features:
  • Wave 2 AC wireless connectivity
  • Seven antennae
  • Four Ethernet ports, 1 x USB 3.0
  • Review price: £100

BT's broadband packages are what might be called "reassuringly expensive," compared to some budget offerings. But with that higher monthly/yearly expenditure comes a better class of router.

While the likes of PlusNet and TalkTalk provide a pretty barebones experience with their routers, BT's new BT Smart Hub is an impressively capable device.

It provides the latest AC WiFi standard and includes four Ethernet ports, a USB 3.0 port for sharing files and printers as well as seven antennae.

BT claims that all allows for up to 500m range or up to 350m with a wall in the way. In reality it's nowhere near that powerful but it does provide good overall WiFi speed and range, plus it comfortably bests BT's previous effort, the BT Home Hub 5.

As such, if you're an existing BT customer it's well worth the £50-£70 upgrade.


TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900
Key Features:
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • Four Ethernet ports, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0
  • About the cheapest AC1900 router you can get
  • Review price: £135.99
The TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 is plain and simply one of the cheapest true AC1900 routers you can buy, and it doesn't compromise on performance or features to achieve this.

A smart design and decent build quality are joined by all the usual physical features such as four Ethernet ports and a couple of USB ports for printer and file sharing.

As with any other AC1900 router, the actual speeds you'll get from this thing are theoretically up to 1300Mbps using the 5GHz band and 600Mbps over the 2.4GHz band. Combined, that's of course 1900Mbps.

Real world performance is seldom anywhere close to that but this router still delivers the sort of speeds you'd expect from AC1900. Plus range and reliability are good, too.

It's certainly not the fastest, but considering it costs almost half of what many other AC1900 routers cost, it's a great buy.

Linksys WRT1900ACS
Key Features:
  • 4 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x eSATA/USB 2.0
  • OpenWRT support
  • Robust build
  • Review price: £229

The Linksys WRT1900ACS isn't quite the company's flagship router in terms of raw speed and technology. It is, however, specifically designed with enthusiasts and demanding users in mind.

A robust build is joined by a very practical design that includes things like individual lights to indicate the status of every connection and feature of the router.

Moreover, you get OpenWRT support, which is the equivalent of Linux for routers. The open source firmware allows you to completely tinker with and customise the router's functionality.

Alternatively you can use the impressively powerful but easy to use OS that's pre-installed. It has all the latest software features, including things like printer and file sharing and much more.

With 'only' four aerials and limited to 'just' AC1900 WiFi, it doesn't match the very latest for pure WiFi features - most notably MU-MIMO is missing - but this is still among the fastest AC1900 routers you can buy. Plus it's rock solid stable and reliable.

Asus RT-AC5300
Key Features:
  • The fastest router we've ever tested
  • AC5300 with MU-MIMO
  • Four Ethernet ports, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0
  • Ethernet link aggregation
  • Review price: £400
The Asus RT-AC5300 is quite simply the fastest router we've ever tested. Equipped with the latest in WiFi technology, it boasts AC5300 speeds (that's two 5GHz bands at 2167MBps each, plus a 2.4GHz band at 1000MBps), MU-MIMO and NitroQAM.

To pack in all that technology Asus has also had to make this the largest router we've ever tested, with it measuring over 30cm square and 17cm tall with all its eight aerials attached. Plus it weighs 1.7kg. This is a hefty thing.

It's therefore a bit of a shame that you only get one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port and four Ethernet ports. At this price and size I'd have hoped for two USB 3.0 and eight Ethernet. You do get Ethernet link aggregation, though, so you can combine two ports for up to 2Gbps speeds.

As such, if you simply must have the best, then the RT-AC5300 certainly delivers.

ASRock G10
Key Features:
  • 4 x Gigabit Ethernet, 2 x USB 3.0
  • IR transmitter
  • Gaming Boost network traffic management
  • H2R travel router and media streamer
  • AC2600 WiFi
  • Review price: £184
The ASRock G10 is the most feature rich router we've ever seen. As well as all the usual trappings of a high-end router you also get an IR transmitter for controlling AV devices from your router, a gaming boost network management feature and a separate travel router.

Called the H2R, the travel router docks into the main unit but can be pulled out and taken with you on your travels. It will convert a wired network connection into a wireless hotspot, plus it's also a media streamer. Just plug it into your hotel's HDMI port and you can play a pretty huge variety of multimedia files.

Joining that little lot you also get AC2600 WiFi (that's 1733 Mbps at 5 Ghz and 800 Mbps at 2.4 Ghz), four gigabit Ethernet ports and two USB 3.0 ports for sharing files and printers.

Overall performance is impressive too, with this comfortably beating most AC1900 routers.

All those extras do make this a pricey option, but if you might find them useful this router delivers where it counts.

schriss

July 16, 2013, 12:11 pm

Why no Asus RT-AC66U 802.11ac Dual-Band Wireless router? It's one of the best routers, often the best in some other reviews.

Tony blair

July 16, 2013, 9:35 pm

Basically what you said,I find it a bit of a joke that it isn't on this "best routers to buy" list and the likes of apple airpoddy is.

DSL Slaphead

July 16, 2013, 10:49 pm

So the Apple Airport gets a mention even though it has weak wireless range and performance !! surely those 2 criteria are the top things that a wireless router should have great performance on yet you still give it 8 out of 10.

andyvan

July 17, 2013, 9:41 am

We haven't reviewed it yet, but we'll get it on the list to get in.

Gordon Kelly

July 17, 2013, 1:37 pm

Sample due in this week. As with any "Best of" is it a continually evolving list and will be updated.

Gordon Kelly

July 17, 2013, 1:40 pm

Fair points, but you're missing the argument we made in the review. The benefits of the AirPort Express are its simple setup, ability to act as a range extender and add AirPlay streaming to any audio device. In fact the £50 - £100 premium attached to AirPlay equipped speakers would pay for the Express in itself.

It isn't alone either as there are similar merits behind our scoring of the Securifi Almond.

Speed is the biggest consideration with routers, but with feature laden models not the only one.

DSL Slaphead

July 17, 2013, 4:33 pm

Yes but this is meant to be BEST ROUTERS of 2013 not best Airplay or wireless extender. Pointing out that the Airply intergrating is top dollar is fine but surely a wireless router that has poor wireless performance should not be getting 8/10 and considered one of the best routers of 2013

Gordon Kelly

July 17, 2013, 4:45 pm

That's making the assumption that only speed matters when ranking a router - some have different priorities. The Express' primary aim is to extend wireless networks and to offer an seamless AirPlay experience. It does both very well and is highly intuitive to setup.

For this it scores highly (though not the very highest marks) and is recommended for users with different needs to those focused on the very fastest speeds. Again the Securifi Almond is another example of how a router can have other attributes than pure speed.

The best laptops wouldn't be a list of only the fastest either.

Whether the Express is still on the list after the latest D-Link, Western Digital and Asus ac wireless routers we have coming in are tested is probably doubtful.

As I said Best ofs change regularly in tech.

freemangeoff3

July 19, 2013, 8:02 pm

I like mine somewhere between ‘overkill’ and ‘not having to mess with it’. Going for the AC upgrade while the timing is right (for me)

David H

August 30, 2013, 1:45 pm

I have just moved house and signed with Sky to supply phones and broadband. It is a copper connection, not fibre.

I will receive a Sky Hub, but I also have a BT 3 Hub and BT 4 Hub from my last house.From your reviews the BT 4 hub looks best. Is it a problem to use a BT hub on a Sky connected line? I will use wireless in the house, not hard wiring.

amp323

November 7, 2013, 7:02 am

What would be the router with the best range? I have a RT-N16 and the connection drops from my Xbox which I'd around 50 or so feet with a door closed in between at times. I'm looking for a router that would be able to maintain network speeds at that or maybe even wider range...

Vitaly Gurevich

November 13, 2013, 8:47 pm

Asus tr-56u, tr-65u, tr-66u. If you want great connection. I tried MANY router netgear, d-link, linksys and i stopped on asus. taking it out of the box gave me a better signal, never once had to reboot it. I use tr-56u and my friend got tr-66u because of more ram and external antennas. On tr-56u and tr-65uyou can download custom firmware from google project that lets you play with the router a bit more and if the the power goes out the router reboots with in 10 seconds unlike other outer and stock firmware that takes 60 seconds or so... AC is for 2014/2015.

Rover in Az

December 30, 2013, 2:52 pm

Whats the best router for a large 3 storey London victorian house with thick walls for wireless signal strength please? I don't need fast download/gaming/streaming speeds just lots of internet browsing via laptop and mobile and occassional you tube/i player use. At the moment my Virgin Media Superhub WMDG480 router is in the back bedroom but I can't browse the internet from my laptop in the front lounge when i close the door in winter! Very annoying. Your 13 metre 2 walls test - is that based on the reality of a large victorian house?

Jordan

February 11, 2014, 1:58 pm

If you don't want to drill holes etc. for ethernet cables I'd strongly recommend you look into powerline networking. If you order a kit online and don't get the speeds you expected due to the wiring in your house you can easily send them back under the distance selling regs.

I recently got a TP-LINK powerlines wireless N extender kit for similar reasons and I now have perfect wireless reception in the bedroom for my tablet and phone via powerline connection to my free-from-my-ISP router.

In the end it worked out a LOT cheaper than buying one of these high-end routers that might not even have fixed my wireless troubles, and meant I was 'recycling' my existing router. That's assuming you don't need/want the extra features of one of these top end devices though.

justchuck69

February 17, 2014, 12:32 am

your best bet might be to get two routers ( should be of the same model but does not have to be ) and set the second one up as an access point in the opposite of your house !

Stoatwblr

February 18, 2014, 6:47 pm

No mention of the AVM Fritz range?

andyvan

February 19, 2014, 9:07 am

We have reviewed one AVM router, but it wasn't good enough. It has only recently begin selling routers in the UK.

Austerus

March 28, 2014, 6:51 am

So in your EA6900 AC1900 brief for spot #1 you say that it goes head to head with the Asus RT-AC68U and wins, but the AC68U isn't in your top 5. How come? If the RT line from asus is represented only by the AC66U (8/10 score), why say that?

But then again the AC68U is scored at 9/10 by you so having the AC66U but not the AC68U is a puzzle and makes me question your own reviews.

andyvan

March 28, 2014, 9:29 am

The round-up is overdue an update. We're working on it.

Nate

March 28, 2014, 8:43 pm

From what I've read on Amazon and Newegg, the Linksys EA6900 AC1900 802.11ac has a lot of issues.

JohnD

March 28, 2014, 9:54 pm

Will the Linksys EA6900 work well in a two story house/ 2500 Square feet?

Tony Thisonetimeatbandcamp Pea

April 20, 2014, 4:08 pm

I have a Home hub 5, and what they do not tell you in the small print is it has SERIOUS issues streaming videos wirelessly to PS3 via Netflix / love film and BBC IPlayer. I'm not sure about other devices / medias, bit even though my PS3 is DMZed, and has 100% wifi strength, after a while it has to rebuffer the video, and sometimes literally reloads every second, taking upto 5 minutes to do so. And apparently is a reasonably common problem, that has been recorded by a lot of home hub 4/5 owners. Whereas the home hub 3 never had this issue.

Justin Berkovi

May 6, 2014, 2:50 pm

This router is terrible - it continues to lose WIFI signal every day (Due to over heating) and is being returned. It would be nice to review routers long term, not just out the box

Em

May 6, 2014, 7:55 pm

Hi folks. we have great broadband speed, but are trying to connect so many wireless devices that our current router keeps keeling over on us. We are connecting: laptop, ipad, iphone (x 3), xbox (x 2), apple tv, hive, pc, printer, wii, sky box. Does anybody know of a home router that will cope with this lot without wheezing and keeling over? Recommendations much appreciated.

Eyal

June 8, 2014, 10:04 pm

Get a decent enough (hardware wise) router and replace the o/s with open source, most hardware is decent enough - mostly the problem is with the software behind the curtains.

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