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Best Router 2020: Top eight wireless routers you can buy

What’s the best router in 2020?

Buying the best router possible is important for getting the most out of your broadband package, whether you fancy blazing speeds for gaming or enough coverage to provide constant signal across your four-bedroom house.

The arrival of Wi-Fi 6 makes it a great time to invest too, offering increased speeds and improved efficiency when provisioning for multiple compatible devices. Not every device supports Wi-Fi 6 right now, but the majority of modern laptops and smartphones now benefit from the new technology, so it’s advisable to ensure your router is future-proofed. 

Related: What is WiFi 6?

There are good reasons to wait if you’re not in a hurry though, as Wi-Fi 6 routers are still fairly expensive and are bound to come down in price. A new batch of routers with the newest Wi-Fi 6E standard that can take advantage of the faster 6Ghz band are also on the horizon. However, compatible Wi-Fi 6E routers and devices likely won’t start arriving until 2021, so it’s understandable if you don’t want to wait that long. 

If you’re planning on buying the best router in your budget, have a look below at our quick-fire summary:

  • Best router overall: Asus ZenWifi AX
  • Best value performance: Netgear Orbi Wifi 6 (RBK752)
  • Best performance: Netgear Nighthawk RAX200
  • Best budget: Netgear Nighthawk Mesh
  • Best value for close range: Nighthawk AX8
  • Best for coverage: TP-Link Deco x60
  • Best mesh system performance: Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852)
  • Best for features: Google Nest Wifi

For a more detailed look at each review, keep scrolling down or hit the links above. 

Best router 2020 - Asus ZenWifi AX hero

1. Asus ZenWifi AX

Best overall Wi-Fi 6 router

Pros:

  • Excellent price
  • Flexible configuration
  • Quick performance

Cons: 

  • Cluttered app

The Asus ZenWifi AX is one of best routers you can buy, offering a speedy performance without and generous feature sets without the price reaching silly heights. At £400 it’s still undoubtedly expensive, but undercuts the £450 Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 (RBK752) to make it the best value router currently available

The Asus router comes bundled with a satellite, so you can get good coverage for sizeable homes. And if you’ve a tiny flat, it’s also possible to buy the router separately. It’s not quite as fast as it’s cloest rival, the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 (RBK752), but the inclusion of parental controls makes it a more complete package.

There are a couple of other great features here too, including network-level malware scanning and Quality of Service (QoS) settings, which lets you prioritise specific types of traffic whether than be gaming, streaming or more work-focused tasks. Our only significant criticism is the cluttered smartphone app used for tweaking settings and setting up the mesh system, but it’s a very minor blemish. 

Netgear Orbi Wifi 6 System (RBK752) hero

2. Netgear Orbi Wifi 6 System (RBK752)

Best balance between price and performance

Pros:

  • Fast
  • Excellent app
  • Good array of ports

Cons: 

  • No parental controls

The Netgear Orbi Wifi 6 System (RBK752) is a fantastic entry point for those looking for a Wi-fi 6 mesh upgrade. It’s not quite as powerful as its identical twin, the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852), but we reckon it offers the best balance of performance and price for home network.

The lack of parental controls is the biggest issue here, making the Asus a better option for families. That said, we’re confident parental controls will eventually arrive with future software updates, which could boost this mesh system right to the top of this ranking at a later date.

Netgear also offers lots of satellites so you can improve the coverage at a later point. Alternatively, you can buy the the RBK753 for instant wide-spanning coverage, as it comes bundled with an additional satellite.

Netgear Nighthawk RAX200 antennas in place

3. Netgear Nighthawk RAX200

The fastest Wi-Fi 6 router we’ve tested

Pros:

  • Tri-band Wi-Fi 6
  • Exceptionally fast
  • Brilliant coverage

Cons: 

  • Expensive

The Netgear Nighthawk RAX200 is the fastest router we’ve ever tested, featuring 12 streams of Wi-Fi 6 spread across three network bands. With a 742.14Mbps average throughput at a two-metre range, it absolutely decimated the widely respected Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852).

The biggest issue with Nighthawk RAX200 is that its a standalone router rather than a mesh system, which means its coverage is limited. This will be problem for large homes and those who want connectivity in their garden shed, but the long range performance is still nothing to be sniffed at.

Still, a standalone WiFi 6 router for plus £400 is very expensive, so you should only really consider buying the Netgear Nighthawk RAX200 if you need the absolute best speeds possible, whether you’re a gamer or frequently download lots of files.

Best router 2020 - Netgear Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System

4. Netgear Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System

Best budget Wi-Fi 6 router

Pros:

  • Extremely cheap
  • Easy to expand
  • Stable coverage

Cons: 

  • A little slow at range
  • Few additional features

The biggest issue with Wi-Fi 6 routers right now is their price, often costing £400 upwards. The Netgear Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System is a very tempting option then, as it costs a far more reasonable £230. 

It’s not the fastest router, and lacks features such as parental controls and the security found with pricier alternatives, but it still gives you access to the Wi-Fi 6 standard for boosted speeds and more reliable connections without having to pay over the odds. You can also cheaply add more satellites to the system at a later date, allowing you to slowly improve coverage and spread the cost rather than paying a huge fee upfront. 

If you want the speediest performance possible or would prefer to have additional features for finer control, you’re best looking elsewhere. But if you want to benefit from the new Wi-Fi 6 standard while paying as little as possible, the Netgear Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System is your best bet. 

Best router 2020 - Netgear Nighthawk AX8 hero

5. Netgear Nighthawk AX8 

Best value Wi-Fi 6 router for small homes and flats

Pros:

  • Very fast
  • Fastest Wi-Fi 6 speeds yet
  • Neat interface and management app

Cons: 

  • Quite expensive
  • No bundled sattelites
  • Lacks parental controls

Unlike the majority of routers on this list, the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 is not a mesh system. This means that you only get one router without satellites, proving less efficient at providing network coverage for large homes. Fortunately, the AX8 makes up for that with incredibly fast network speeds. 

The Nighthawk AX8 is only second to the Netgear Nighthawk RAX200 in terms of throughput, and is over £100 cheaper than it’s speedier twin. However, with only eight streams compared to the RAX200’s 12, the AX8 isn’t as effective when dealing with large numbers of devices. 

With such high speeds, the AX8 proves a good option for gamers and those streaming 4K video. But since you don’t get any satellites bundled in, the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 is only really worth using in small homes and flats. For those with larger homes, you’re better off opting for a mesh system instead. 

Best router 2020 - TP-Link Deco X60 hero

6. TP-Link Deco X60

The best router for large homes

Pros:

  • Three satellites
  • Excellent parental controls
  • Robust performance

Cons: 

  • Few Ethernet ports on main satellite
  • No dedicated backhaul

The TP-Link Deco X60 has the best coverage of all the Wi-Fi 6 routers we’ve tested, not because it excels at range, but because you get three satellites in the default bundle for a fair price. With the likes of the Asus ZenWifi AX and Netgear Orbi only shipping with two, they’re not quite as efficient at providing for large households. 

That said, the TP-Link Deco X60 isn’t the speediest Wi-Fi 6 router available, with the lack of dedicated wireless connection seeing a negative impact on the ranged performance. Fortunately, the close-range performance was fantastic.

If you want the best speeds possible throughout your house, then this router may not be the best choice. But if you’re more concerned with coverage, that extra satellite really helps to prevent blind spots, with the TP-Link Deco X60 proving great value for families with large homes. 

Best router 2020 - Netgear Orbi Wifi 6

7. Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852)

The best Wi-Fi 6 mesh system performance

Pros:

  • Exceptionally fast
  • Excellent app
  • Tonnes of Ethernet ports

Cons: 

  • Misses features available from older system
  • Expensive

The Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 offers the best overall performance for a mesh system, thanks to scintillating up-close and range speeds. Only the Netgear Nighthawk routers offer better speeds on this list, but the Orbi packs in an additional satellite which makes it the superior option for larger homes. 

There’s one big issue with the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 though: it’s very expensive. With an original retail price of £700, the Orbi is far more pricey than its rivals, even after recent price cuts. That price is even harder to stomach once you realise the Wi-Fi 6 Orbi is missing a number of features seen in the previous iteration, including parental controls and security services. 

Considering the price, most people will be better off going for cheaper alternatives, but the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 is still a worthwhile purchase (albeit an expensive one) for those who want the best network speeds possible throughout their home. 

Best router 2020 - Google Nest Wifi hero

8. Google Nest Wifi

The best feature set, but lacks Wi-Fi 6 support

Pros:

  • Consistent speeds
  • Points are smart speakers
  • Looks great

Cons: 

  • Few Ethernet ports
  • No Wi-Fi 6

First of all, it’s important to point out the Google Nest Wi-Fi lacks Wi-Fi 6 support, using the older Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) standard instead despite seeing a similar price point to other routers on this list. This means the Nest Wifi doesn’t offer the fastest speeds and is the least adept here at handling multiple devices simultaneously. 

That said, Wi-Fi 5 is still comfortably fast enough for most people, and the majority of households probably don’t see enough Wi-Fi 6 compatible devices to make the jump to the new standard worthwhile. If you’re going to buy a router right now though, we still think it’s worth future-proofing for the inevitable influx of Wi-Fi 6 compliant gadgets. 

The Google Nest WiFi remains a tempting option however, with each satellite doubling up as a smart speaker, while also packing lots of additional features such as parental controls, devices priorities, security and integrated speakers for radio and music playback. If you’re more excited by these features opposed to faster Wi-Fi 6 speeds, then the Nest WiFi is a superb option. 

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