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Best wireless router 2023: Get faster Wi-Fi at home from £60

Best wireless router

Find the best wireless routers to help improve your speed and coverage

If your Wi-Fi connection is constantly dropping, or if Netflix keeps juddering and buffering, the culprit is probably your wireless router. Choose from our selection of the best wireless routers, however, and you can improve your wireless coverage and ensure you’re getting the most out of your broadband connection.

There are plenty of options for you to choose from. Below, you’ll find our buyer’s guide, followed by a selection of the best wireless routers on the market, from low-cost models to the latest superfast Wi-Fi 6 speed demons, alongside links to our full-length, in-depth reviews.

Best wireless router: At a glance

How to buy the best wireless router for you

Before investing in a new router, think about how it will work with your internet connection. A few models have built-in ADSL2+ or VDSL2 modems, allowing them to connect directly to DSL or fibre broadband services. Most however just offer a WAN port, and expect you to provide your own modem.

If you don’t have a standalone modem, check whether your ISP-supplied router offers a “modem mode” that will let it do the same job. If it doesn’t, you can connect a new router to a spare Ethernet port on the old one, and use this as your main home network. However, in this configuration your new network will technically be a subnet of the old one: this could cause issues with communications between devices, or if you want to set up port forwarding.

READ NEXT: The best mesh Wi-Fi routers for the ultimate in coverage

Should I upgrade to Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 – or 802.11ax, to give it its proper name – is the current wireless standard that gives you a faster connection than older Wi-Fi 5 networks. It also has better penetration, so that all corners of your home or office can get a decent signal. And since it’s designed for the connected age, it gets bogged down much less than 802.11ac when lots of devices want to connect at once.

Although 802.11ax routers may be more expensive than older models, it’s now very widely supported, and we’d suggest it’s the right choice for most people. And don’t worry about your older devices: they’ll still be able to connect, as all 802.11ax routers are backward-compatible with 802.11ac.

What’s the difference between dual-band and tri-band?

All modern routers can transmit and receive on two radio bands at once. The 5GHz band is fast, but some older devices don’t support it; the 2.4GHz band is slower, but it has a longer range so it can be good for big old houses with thick walls.

So far so good, but when multiple clients try to connect to the same radio, contention and interference can slow things down. This applies especially to 802.11ac – so a tri-band router contains two separate 5GHz radios, allowing twice as many devices to communicate simultaneously at full speed.

As we’ve mentioned, though, 802.11ax copes much more elegantly with simultaneous connections, so tri-band technology is generally unnecessary with the new standard.

What’s the difference between a wireless router and a mesh system?

A mesh system does the same basic job as a router, but alongside the main unit it comes with additional “satellites”, which you place around your home to help distribute the wireless signal more widely. A mesh kit will be more expensive than the average router, but if you’re struggling to get a decent connection in the far reaches of your home, it could be the perfect answer. If that sounds good, check out our guide to the best mesh Wi-Fi systems on the market.

How to use two routers to extend range Step 3

What speeds can I expect to see?

Router manufacturers advertise some very fast transfer speeds, but these are theoretical maximums: you’ll never get close to them in real life.

They also have a misleading habit of adding up the speeds of different radios to come up with a total data rate. For example, if a router has a 2.4GHz radio that supports speeds up to 400Mbits/sec, plus two 5GHz radios rated at up to 867Mbits/sec, the manufacturer may tot these up to advertise a total speed of 2,134Mbits/sec. In reality, no single device will get a connection faster than 867Mbits/sec, and the real-world transfer speeds you see will probably be less than half of that.

Don’t get too hung up on extreme speeds: it’s nice to be able to quickly copy big files around your personal network, but when it comes to downloads and video streaming, the limiting factor is usually your internet connection rather than the router.

READ NEXT: The best Wi-Fi extenders to buy

How many wired Ethernet ports do I need?

Ethernet ports are far from obsolete. Many “smart” home devices come with low-power hubs that need to be wired into your router, and if you plan on adding a NAS drive to your network at any point, that’s also going to occupy a port. We’d suggest you look for a model that has at least four ports – although if need be, you can buy a low-cost Ethernet switch to attach more wired devices to your router.

Some high-end routers let you aggregate two ports into a single 2Gbits/sec connection, or may even have special high-speed ports rated as high as 10Gbits/sec. In practice, you’re not likely to find much use for these abilities: sure, you can give your NAS box a super-high-speed link to your router, but when you want to actually access your files, the connection from the router to your laptop will act as a bottleneck.

What other features should I look out for?

If you have kids, you might want to choose a router with built-in parental controls. Some let you restrict access to the internet on a per-device basis at certain times of day, or limit it to a certain accumulated amount of time; some even provide category-based web filtering. There are software packages that can do the same thing, but router-based controls are easier to keep on top of and administer.

Finally, a USB 3 socket makes it easy to share a hard disk or flash drive with your whole network. It’s a cheap alternative to a NAS drive for easily sharing files, although it won’t give you the security of a properly configured RAID array. USB 2 works too, but it’s a lot slower.

Looking for more advice on extending and improving your Wi-Fi signal? Check out our guide to increasing wireless speeds and fixing problems

The best wireless routers to buy

1. Asus RT-AX82U: The best mid-priced router

Price: £195 | Buy now from Amazon

You normally have to pay top dollar to secure exceptional wireless performance, but the Asus RT-AX82U proves the exception to the rule. While it isn’t quite a match for more exotic hardware, it gets pretty close and offers a keen balance of price and performance.

In testing, this Wi-Fi 6 router delivered a strong, fast signal in almost every part of the house, getting close to matching its more expensive sibling, the RT-AX88U. Despite that, and the reasonable price, Asus hasn’t cut back on the features, which include outbound VPN support, a built-in VPN server, comprehensive parental controls and more.

It isn’t the cheapest router around, but the Asus RT-AX82U is more than competitive. It’s a brilliant all-rounder at a very tempting price.

Read our full Asus RT-AX82U review for more details

Key specs – Modem: None; Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6); Stated speed: 5,400Mbits/sec; USB ports: 1 x 3.2 Gen 1

2. D-Link EXO AX1800 (DIR-X1860): The best budget Wi-Fi 6 router

Price: £122 | Buy now from Amazon

Low-cost Wi-Fi 6 routers are beginning to appear but, so far, there still aren’t that many about. The absolute cheapest is the Honor Router 3 but it’s now all but impossible to buy online. The D-Link EXO AX1800 is still basic but at least offers a more rounded feature set, albeit at a slightly higher price, with firewall and VPN support as well as 4×4 MIMO and dynamic DNS. It isn’t the fastest over Wi-Fi 6, but it is reasonably priced and puts in an impressive performance over Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac).

Read our full D-Link EXO AX1800 review for more details

Key specs – Modem: None; Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6); Stated speed: 1,800Mbits/sec; USB ports: None

3. TP-Link Archer AX10 (AX1500): The cheapest Wi-Fi 6 router

Price: £60 | Buy now from AmazonBest wireless router

In the absence of the Honor Router 3, which is now out of stock in most places, the honour of cheapest Wi-Fi 6 router falls to the TP-Link AX10.

For less than £60 it has support for the latest Wi-Fi standard, is easy to set up and use and it delivered a solid performance in our testing, besting the more expensive Netgear Nighthawk RAX40 for speed.

But it’s a bit basic when it comes to core features. There are no USB ports and no MU-MIMO, which leads to slightly slower long-range performance than the outgoing Honor Router 3. Overall, though, we can’t complain for the money, especially since it’s recently been reduced to a tempting £58.

Key specs – Modem: None; Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6); Stated speed: 1,500Mbits/sec; USB ports: None

4. Linksys MR7350: The fastest sub-£100 wireless router you can buy

Price: £91 | Buy now from Amazon

It might not be the prettiest wireless router you’ve ever seen but the Linksys MR7350 is seriously quick and seriously good value thanks to a price drop.

Even at the original price – £157 – you’d struggle to find a faster router but at a price of £91, nothing gets close. At this price, we’d have considered given it a 5-star Best Buy rating.

The only problem we had with it was with its usability and the sluggishness of its web interface and a rather limited feature set but if you don’t mind putting up with that, it’s a fabulous router for very little cash.

Read our full Linksys MR7350 review for more details

Key specs – Modem: None; Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6); Stated speed: 1,200Mbits/sec; USB ports: 1 x USB 3.0

5. Asus TUF Gaming AX5400: The best Wi-Fi 6 router for gamers on a budget

Price: £168 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re a gamer on a budget, the Asus TUF Gaming AX5400 is an interesting proposition. It’s much cheaper than most gaming-specific routers but still comes with some enticing specifications and performance is impressive.

Speeds over Wi-Fi 6 are rated at up to 4.8Gbits/sec, which matches the most expensive routers we’ve tested, and up to 4.3Gbits/sec for Wi-Fi 5 devices. The only place where costs have been cut is the 2.4GHz radio, which maxes out at 574Mbits/sec.

This combines with solid performance in our testing and a handful of useful gamer-centric optimisations to make the AX5400 a tempting buy for value-focused gamers and regular folk alike.

Read our full Asus TUF Gaming AX5400 review for more details

Key specs – Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6); Stated speed: 5,400Mbits/sec; Ethernet ports: 5 x Gigabit Ethernet; USB ports: 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbits/sec)

6. TP-Link Archer AX90 (AX6600): The best value tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router

Price: £216 | Buy now from Amazon

We don’t see many tri-band Wi-Fi 6 routers, simply because dual-band is usually enough for this latest technology to deliver strong, fast results to all parts of your home. But there are still reasons why you might want a tri-band – if you have lots of computers using your network simultaneously or you want to dedicate one connection to your gaming PC, for instance, and don’t want to share the bandwidth with other members of your household.

That’s what the TP-Link Archer AX90 gives you, and for a surprisingly reasonable price as well, although there is a significant caveat. In order to hit that low price, one of the 5GHz radios is high speed and one is low speed, with the third, a legacy 2.4GHz radio, in place for compatibility. Performance is super impressive – on a par with our favourite Wi-Fi 6 routers, including the Asus RT-AX82U, and although this router is a touch more expensive than that device, it does give you the extra flexibility of an additional router.

Combined with built-in parental controls, network scanning and QoS capabilities, plus the ability to expand the router into a mesh system using TP-Link’s OneMesh system, the AX90 offers a fantastic all-round package for the money.

Read our full TP-Link AX90 review for more details

Key specs – Modem: None; Wi-Fi standard: Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax); Stated speed: 6,600Mbits/sec; USB ports: 1 x USB 3, 1 x USB 2

7. Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500: The fastest wireless router we’ve ever tested

Price: £465 | Buy now from Amazon

Wireless router speeds have come on a lot in recent times and nowhere is this clearer than in the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500, which is hands down the fastest standalone router we’ve ever tested.

It employs the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard to transfer data over the new 6GHz band and has an enormous total bandwidth of 11Gbits/sec. It supports 4×4 MIMO on each of its three frequency bands and can reach rated speeds of up to 4.8Gbits/sec on its 5GHz and 6GHz networks and 1.2Gbits/sec on 2.4GHz networks.

Coupled with multigig Ethernet, the router delivered the fastest Wi-Fi transfer speeds we’ve ever seen, reaching mind-boggling downloads of 152MB/sec at close range.

The only catch is that it’s hugely expensive, so you’re definitely paying for that phenomenal performance, but if you want the very best of the best this router is the place to get it.

Read our full Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 review for full details

Key specs – Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6E); Stated speed:11,000Mbits/sec; Ethernet ports: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x 2.5Gbits/sec; USB ports: 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbits/sec)

8. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX6000: The best router for gamers

Price: £340 inc VAT | Buy now from Amazon

Keen gamers can get along with any kind of router but Asus’ ROG models come with a host of features that are designed to boost your experiences.

The Asus ROG is the newest model in the line-up and it’s a fantastic choice. It’s cheaper than the top-of-the-line GT-AXE11000 and so doesn’t support the latest 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E band, but it has almost all of the rest of the features that Asus’ top model has and it performs brilliantly as well.

Rated speeds reach 4.8Gbits/sec over 5GHz and 1.1Gbits/sec over 2.4GHz and the router performed very speedily in our network testing at close range, although it did fall off at longer distances.

With a host of tools designed at optimising gaming traffic, including a LAN port that automatically gives priority to devices connected to it, a “Game Boost” mode that prioritises internet traffic going to and from recognised game servers, and built-in port-forwarding rules for over 70 games, this is a fabulous all-rounder.

You even get parental controls and security included in the price.

Read our full Asus ROG GT-AX6000 review for more details

Key specs – Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6); Stated speed: 6,000Mbits/sec; Ethernet ports: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet, 2 x 2.5Gbits/sec; USB ports: 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbits/sec), 1 x USB 2

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