Wireless Router, huh?
Before starting this post about which one is the Best WiFi router for 2017, let me brief you about routers and what a wireless router actually is - in case you don't know.
Best Wireless Routers Comparison
What is a Wireless Router?
The crux of a wireless router are these:
- A Router - Well, think of a Router as a Traffic warden. It manages/directs the traffic between different clients connected to your network. In more specific terms, it forwards Data Packets, from your Network to other Networks out there.
- A Network Switch - It connects your WiFi devices, no matter how much they are, to wired devices through Ethernet cables.
- A Wireless Access Point - This last part, also called wireless AP, is a station and antenna that does nothing more than receiving/transmitting WiFi signals.
Why you need a Wireless Router?
Wireless Router is apparently a boring device which sees through internet transmission in a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), that’s why it is also called a WiFi Router. The main advantage of wireless routers is that they connect your internet with multiple devices, without even plugging into Modem. Now, these devices can be anything from your Xbox one/PlayStation to iPhone 6s, and from Printer to your PC/SmartTV etc.
How Much a Wireless Router Costs?
A WiFi router can cost you as low as 50 bucks to as much as $400 — the more you pay more you’ll get (not always actually). But that’s not the point, what I’m saying is that many people among us don’t bother much when buying a Wireless Router – by many I mean most. For them, a $50 router and a $250 one have all the things common except the price tag. Due to this, they can’t watch 4K videos, play heavy games over LAN, make VoIP calls over the internet etc.
In short, they suffer from a disease, I call it LOSS (Lack Of Satisfaction from network System). In my dictionary, any good router is supposed to do following tasks efficiently.
Functions A Modern Wireless Router Do (or Should Do)
- It provide you a unique local IP address - which is not visible on the internet -- for every device you've connected. In this way, it protects your network from hacking.
- You can connect all your connect through and move from one room to another in you house - without attaching any type of cable.
- For Network Storage and Backup drives, some modern Wireless Routers give you External Hard Drive support. It means you can plug your External Hard Drive in it for storage expansion.
- Some high-end routers offer you DLNA support. Through it you'd have control over how Audio/video and another Media is distributed over your network. You can also use it for managing file sharing permissions of your network Hard Drive.
- Some other goodies you can expect are Network Prioritization, Shared Printing over USB connectivity, Backup servers, and Parental control etc.
So, a good decision you’ve made if you want to buy a new/your first WiFi router. But if you go out in Market to buy one, you’ll probably be lost in all those types that are available right now. Some years ago we had N600, N900 etc. routers. Come 2017, and we’ve got 802.11ac routers and DD-WRT routers too. There are some options on Band-type too. One is Dual-Band whereas other is Tri-Band. So there is a chance that you may get overwhelmed by all those types.
Choosing a single nice Wireless Router for yourself shouldn’t be that hard, right?
That’s why we’ve tried to demystify most of the types/standards you’ll probably encounter while choosing a wireless router.
Different WiFi Routers' Types and Categories
- dual bAND rOUTERS
- tRI band routers
- dd-wrt cAPABLE rOUTERS
These routers have two frequency bands of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Many types of routers such as N600, N900, AC1750, and AC1900 belong to Dual-Band Category.
- n600 wIfi rOUTERS
- n900 wIfI rOUTERS
- ac1750 wIfi rOUTERS
- ac1900 wifi rOUTERS
- AC3100 RouterS
These routers have a combine speed of 600Mbps, 300Mbps for each of its 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Bands. They are a bit old routers but also very cheap. That’s why we haven’t included them but they are still good if all you do is web surfing and your clients are Wireless-N only. In case you want to give them a try, ASUS RT-N56U is the best option.
As their name applies, N900 routers are a notch better than N600 ones. They provide 450Mbps speed through each of their 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency Bands.
These are Dual-Band routers that have a total speed of 1750Mbps (1300Mbps for GHz and 450Mbps for 2.4 GHz).
These are similar to AC1750 routers, except their lower 2.4GHz Band gives them 600Mbps speed.
These routers are the new talk of town. Their 5 GHz band gives them 2166 Mbps speed while they also have 1000 Mbps for slower clients through their 2.4 GHz band (Total = 3166 Mbps).
- ac 3200 rouTERS
- ac5300/ac5400 rOUTERS
Now, these routers have three bands, two 5GHz and one 2.4GHz, which makes their combines speed up to 3200Mbps (1300 + 1300 + 600). But they are very expensive and very few clients can utilize that much speed. You can call it AC1900 with an extra 5GHz Band. The real strength of AC3200 lies in handling more than one device, rather than giving all speed to a single device.
Just like AC3200, these routers have an extra band of 5 GHz. Simply put they can give a top speed of 5.3 Gbps (2166 + 2166 + 1000), making them the fastest wireless routers at the moment.
Instead of a standard/speed, DD-WRT is a Linux-based third-party firmware which can boost your router’ performance through daemon-based services, IPv6, Wireless Distribution System, advanced QoS (quality of service) and overclocking capability. Think of DD-WRt like Rooting your Android Device. But not every router supports DD-WRT, so we’ve mentioned whichever router does. The routers that are DD-WRT capable, can also support other firmware such as one from Tomato.
The main purpose so far was to prepare you for what you can expect later in this post e.g. terminologies, types of routers etc. So having read that much, let’s dive head first into this 2017 buying guide about the comparison of top rated wireless routers you can get.
But here’s one last thing before this review.
A quick comparison between these routers
So that's it folks!
Best Wireless Routers 2017
11. Asus RT-N66U - Best Wireless N Router
Upon its release RT-N66U was the first N900 router from Asus, and even after more than 3 years it is still best. From its looks, you can’t say that it was released way back in 2012. Its diamond-black sleek design is still liked by many. The main design is borrowed from its previous version RT-N56U. On top of its case-like design, you will see 3 antennas raising up from its back. You can actually detach these antennas if you want, but you will need to plug them back in order to work.
On its back, you will find its 4 LAN ports and 1 WAN port too. These are Gigabit Ethernet ports and if you don’t want a wireless connection, you can connect Network cable in it. Besides these, there are 2 USB ports, a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button and a power button etc. All these are nicely aligned. As a result, its front side has no buttons.
Since it is a Dual-band N900 router, both of its 2.4 GHz and 5Hz frequency band are capable of giving you 450Mbps each. As all routers support backward compatibility, RT-N66U works with pre-N wireless standards. In order to get most of it, you will need to tweak its settings and set encryption methods to support both AES and TKIP methods.
For any Wireless routers, a Web interface is very important. A complex-looking Web interface can be overwhelming for beginners or even old users. However that was not the case with RT-N66U, its web interface is fairly simple and easy to use. It has 3 main parts: Setup Wizard, General Items, and Advanced Settings. From General menu, you can view Network Map which shows you currently connected devices.
To interact with any device, simply click on it. Other things you can do in General tab are adding/modifying Guest Networks (three for each band), manage traffic/USB ports and Parental Control etc.Now talk about these USB ports. You can do many tasks with them. Some of are, connecting external storage/ printers with them and host storage on the cloud etc. You can also make RT-N66U as a Mobile Hotspot.
Well, there are some problems in it. Its USB ports are not 3.0, no wall-mounting and its 2.4 GHz is very slower than 5.0 GHz Band. But still, it can do most of what modern routers do. That too in a much affordable price.
10. Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station - A Router with Gorgeous Looks
Many people simply don’t know which Apple 802.11ac router they should go for: AirPort Extreme or AirPort Time Capsule. Apple plays its part in confusion by making them as different as two identical Twins. On hardware side too, there is only one difference. Time Capsule has internal storage while Extreme does not. The other thing which differentiates between them is the price. You will have to pay 100 bucks more, for a 2 GB Time Capsule, than what you pay for an Extreme Base Station and 200 Bucks more for a 3 TB version. Now that is too much asking for basically an additional internal Hard Drive. That’s why we preferred Extreme Base Station over Time Capsule.
The first thing to notice in Extreme Base Station is its elegant look and sleek design because this is the least you can expect from any Apple device. Both Time Capsule and Extreme have a new design and now boast a tube-shaped all-white body. It has no physical antennas, but six inside. On back, you will find 3 LAN ports (for wired connections with devices e.g. MacBook Pro), 1 WAN port for internet source and only 1 USB 2.0 port.
Setting up Extreme would be a breeze if you have previously owned any AirPort device. Even if it is not the case, AirPort Utility software is there to help you. This software is available in all major platforms such as Mac, Windows and IOS too. But as much as simple and easy this is, it won’t allow you any sort of customization. So if you are an experienced user, you may find this virtually no customization, hard to digest.
Now coming on its features, it is true dual-band router which offers both 2.4 GHz band (for lighter tasks such as web surfing) and 5 GHz (for heavy tasks like streaming, gaming etc) frequency simultaneously. AC clients can get a speed up to 1300 Mbps whereas Wireless-N clients will be limited to 450 Mbps. Its main features are IPv6, print serving, file sharing, Traffic Prioritization and VPN server among others.
Some things to keep in mind, before buying it
But there are some things you must consider this before buying it. Extreme Base Station offers Guest Networking only on 2.4 GHz Band. Since it lacks internal storage you will have to buy an external one. However, this router only accepts HFS+ or FAT-formatted drives, NTFS is not allowed. Even if you can live with these, don’t even think about backing up your Mac’ data on external Drive using Time Machine feature or Streaming data through Network’s other devices – you’re not allowed to do so. All these things makes that external drive look like a waste. You can do wireless printing however, it requires the printer to plug into that same single USB port occupied by external Hard Drive. Therefore, you can use both printer and External HDD, but not simultaneously.
So now you’ve read all of Apple Extreme Base Station’ Pros and Cons. My advice is that if you’re the one who is looking for a lot of customization + features, simply forget it and keep reading this post. However, if you’re surrounded by Apple-products, Extreme Base Station might suit you.
9. Trendnet TEW-812DRU - Best Wireless Router Under 100
Costing you just more than a hundred Bucks, TEW-812DRU from Trendnet is arguably the most affordable 802.11ac router in the market. It is clearly aimed at people who want more performance in a relatively smaller budget. Its design is a bit different from most of the current routers. Instead of having 3 or 5 antennas in as many directions, it has a rather square-shaped body. If you hold it vertically, it would look more like a Booklet due to its black front/back color which blends well with white color in the middle. Like Asus RT-N66U, it also doesn’t offer you wall-mounting.On the front side, there is LED-indicators + internet/power options. 4 LAN, 1 WAN port, a USB 3.0 port, and a WPS button – all are on the back side.
It is an AC1750 Dual-band router which means it has 1750 Mbps speed, 1300 Mbps on AC network from 5 GHz band and 450 Mbps of Wireless-N from 2.4 GHz Band. Of course, your smartphones and other clients have to be 802.11ac-enabled (like Samsung Galaxy S5) to get most out of this speed. For PCs, there is an 802.11ac Adapter to utilize that fast speed.
Like Asus RT-N66U, TEW-812DRU is very easy to setup. You just have to go to your local IP address from a connected PC and give your username/password and it is done. From its web interface, you can create 4 WiFi networks and up to 8 Guest Networks (Both Bands combined). Above all, it’s web interface is very intuitive and you can see all changes you’ve applied and their progress. You can share External Hard Drive through its USB 3.0 port. One important thing is that it is DD-WRT open source firmware compatible. To secure your network, it supports WPS, WPA/WPA2 security standards.
8. D-Link DIR-880L - Best Range Wireless Router For Home
D-Link has come late in AC 1900 routers party. Other manufacturers are Asus, Trendnet and Netgear etc. have already started to establish. Regardless of how late it comes, D-Link has thrown a very affordable option towards us, and its low price can be a real cracker. By looking on its 880L first word that might come from your mouth is Whitewash. The reason is White color-coating on literally every part of it, including antennas and Ethernet Cable. D-Link has also made some design improvements such as replacing its traditional cylindrical shape design with the square form factor.
On its back, it features usual ports for a WiFi router such as 4 Gigabit LAN ports, 1 USB 2.0 port, 1 WAN port, a Reset Button and a Power Button, all are separated by its 3 detachable antennas. There is a USB 3.0 port too, to host a storage device perfectly, on its left side. Overall, Dir-800L seems very stylish and may appeal Apple Fanboys – apart from their own Apple AirPort Extreme.
D-Link 880L combines a 1300 Mbps AC with 600 Mbps 802.11n speed. Hence, it is an AC1900 router. To achieve 600 Mbps speed over 2.4 GHz Band, it uses a technology called ‘Turbo QAM’. However, you will need Turbo QAM compatible wireless receiver for maximum utilization. Its antennas are also technically different than most, 5dBi dual-band compared to 3dBi from others. Its other features are Guest Networking, Firewall, Web filter, port forwarding and QoS. To be honest, QoS is not as advanced as in other routers, you can only assign priority to connected devices. Being an 802.11ac router means it supports Beamforming technology.
You can use any FAT32 or NTFS-formatted Hard Drive as a shared storage and even share that Drive’s data on D-link’ cloud. You will also like its Quick VPN support, SIP (VoIP traffic) and RTSP (the streaming protocol) settings. Its signal range is effective up to approx. 60 meters making it one of the best long range WiFi router. and also for large homes. Its Web interface is also redesigned and very simple. So we would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a solid 802.11ac router while remaining in a budget.
7. NETGEAR Nighthawk R7000
In terms of design and performance, Nighthawk R7000 is opposite to Apple’s Extreme Base Station. R7000 emphasis much more on substance rather than style. It demands attention even if its bulky size doesn’t permit it. At the time of release, it packed Broadcom’s latest chip – BCM4709. Being wall-mountable can also be turned on its favor.
As we said, Nighthawk R7000 won’t get any prize over its size. Some of us may find it bulky because it doesn’t stand vertically and takes up that much space. 3 detachable antennas only add to that bulkiness. To compensate this R7000 is made wall mountable. Weighing 750g means it is one of the heaviest routers around us.
In terms of specifications, though, it doesn’t give you any chance to doubt. Being AC1900 routers means a combines the speed up to 1900 Mbps. One advantage having Broadcom’ latest chipset is TurboQAM technology, it enhances Wireless-N clients’ speed from 450 Mbps to 600 Mbps (3 spatial streams now give you 200Mbps each, instead of 150Mbps). But its most impressive hardware components are its dual-core 1 GHz processor, 128 MB of flash storage memory and even a 256 MB RAM. It also has a USB 3.0 port in front of it.
Common features include Guest Networking (one for each) and OpenDNS-based Parental control. These were also present in previous Netgear routers. More advanced features are Web-filtering (up to 5 levels), builtin-OpenVPN server, SMB protocol, QoS features such as managing both up and downstream. You can use its USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports to connect printer or External Hard Drive with it.
In Hard Drives, R7000 supports FAT32 or NTFS formatted drives. To backup your data on a connected drive, it has features such as Time Machine and ReadyShare Vault. You even support your Media content on its connected Drive because it is DLNA-supported. For managing/monitoring and repairing it, Netgear has a Genie App. It also supports third-party firmware support such as DD-WRT.
With so many features, good processor/RAM, DD-WRT support, better QoS, Time Machine + DLNA support and no apparent issues, there isn’t much you can ask more in $200. We know it is A LOT for a wireless router but it is totally worth it, and it is still less expensive than some high-end routers.
6. Synology RT1900ac - A Router with NAS touch
This is the first wifi router from Synology. Even making NAS devices for quite a time, Synology alienated itself from making WiFi devices for home users. Like its name suggests, it’s an AC1900 router. This ensures its theoretical top speed of 1300Mbps on its 5GHz and 600Mbps on its lower frequency band of 2.4GHz.
Its overall design is very simplistic but one thing I like about this device is that it’s wall mountable. Inside this device, you’ll get a 1GHz dual-core processor and 256MB DDR3 memory. This speed-memory combo is the most-powerful one among all AC1900 wifi routers except Linksys’ latest WRT1900ACS
USB 3.0 and SD-card Slot
On its left side, you’ll get a USB 3.0 slot for attaching any external Hard Drive. Alongside this 3.0 slot, there is a SD-card adapter slot. You can place your SD card in a card adapter and place that in this slot to use it as internal storage.
On its rear side, you’ll find 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 WAN port and a power button.
Unlike other routers in this list, this one uses the Synology’ own Synology Router Manager (SRM). Simply put, SRM is a linux-based firmware, which is also put in NAS servers by Synology. It is web-based console. The good thing about SRM is that it’s very easy to configure and customize its features -- more about it below
Variety of features
There are many other easy-to-configure firmwares.
So what makes SRM stand apart?
Well it has a module called package centre. You can think of package centre as an ‘App store’ where you can install add-ons to further enhance the capabilities for routers. There are many features out-of-box too like Download station, VPN server and media server.
Some of the other things you can do with this router is to configure DNS/VPN settings, change connection type, Port forwarding, Port triggering, Parental control and DHCP settings etc.
Synology’s DS Router mobile app can also be used for managing this router. It’s available for both iOS and android. One downside of this app is limited functionality than SRM web-console.
What Others Say About It
Synology RT1900ac is a networking nerd’s dream. Having all that data at your fingertips is incredibly useful when it comes to tracking down what device or service is using the lion’s share of data in your home network — especially if you’re stuck on a restricted ADSL2+ connection, where both upload and download speeds are precious. Within your house, it’s rock solid when it comes to 802.11ac Wi-Fi, with good speeds and equally good coverage. The RT1900ac comes highly recommended -- Gizmodo Australia
Its performance on 2.4 GHz is pretty average but that’s the only flaw you can find in this router. Not to forget its NAS-capability, lots of features, MU-MIMO support and intuitive software. So I would recommend it to anyone who want to taste the NAS flavor in a wireless router.
5. Linksys WRT1900ACS
WRT1900ACS is an upgraded version of WRT1900AC which was released last year. 1900AC was declared the best wireless router from both DDWRT and NAS -- before we update this list. Let’s find what its upgrade version has to offer us.
Design wise, linksys didn’t change anything. This router features the same blue-black retro design like its predecessor. 1900AC, in turn, borrowed that design from the legendary WRT54G. Like 1900AC, its successor is also wall-mountable and have 4 detachable side-ways antennas. Only one change is made in design area. So no internal fan this time.
Specs wise, this the most powerful wireless router you can have in AC1900 area. A 1.6 GHz dual-core processor with 512 MB RAM and 128 flash memory. Even some AC3200 routers don’t have this deadly hardware combo. Flash memory is very important considering the fact that this router is made to be used with firmwares such as Open WRT, tomato firmware etc.
On its rear side,it has 4 gigabit LAN ports, 1 WAN port. Besides these, there is one USB 3.0 port and one other that can act like both USB 2.0 or eSATA slot. This way there is a possibility of you connecting two external hard drives with it at one time.
This device is a 3×3 AC1900 router. This may seem average since we now have as fast routers as AC5400 ones but practically most laptops, smartphones can only utilize speed up to 1900Mbps.
This device practically requires no setup. Just plug it in, put an internet source into its WAN port and boom, you’re good to go. You can use its web-based interface to customize it further. If you want to manage this router remotely then you have to log into your Linksys account first. If you want even more freedom, you can use Linksys Smart Wi-Fi mobile -- for iOS and android -- to manage it. But by using app, you’ll only have access to main settings and functions only.
There are a number of different features this router boasts. To start with, it gives you the option to have a single-specific type of connection like AC-only, N-only etc. Other features of WRT1900AC are also present like Tweaking QoS, UPnP and DLNA, and other WiFi encryption schemes. Parental control is also pretty useful, it allows you to block specific types of connections and websites.
Its USB and eSATA port can be used to have an external storage. All popular file storage formats like FAT32, NTFS and HFS+ are supported by this router. Since it also supports UPnP and DLNA, you can play back the content of that attached Hard Drive.
Well, there are some minor hiccups in this router like No Time Machine Backup and No MU-MIMO. MU-MIMO can be useful in handling multiple clients. But still, these problems can be a very small issue comparing to the goodies you’re going to have with this wireless router. Not to forget about its Open-firmware support and enhanced NAS functionality.
4. Netgear Nighthawk R8000
Netgear's Nighthawk X6 is a great solution for users with many devices, each using different wireless technologies. This router will give you the best of all worlds in one package, without sacrificing performance. - Tyler Bernath from TweakTown
Netgear R8000 was released before some other AC3200 routers like Asus RT-AC3200 . On design, it is basically and enlarged-R7000 we reviewed earlier in this post. One main difference is the six-collapsible antennas you can fold for compactness. However, you will need to open them for maximum signal reception. The angle of these antennas can make ’em look like legs of a spider. So I wouldn’t be surprised if you imagine it as a large insect on flipping it down.
Specs wise, it is a usual affair for an AC3200 router. 600Mbps on 2.4GHz for 802.11b/g/n clients, 1300Mbps on 5GHz for old 802.11n devices and one 5GHz Band left – in the case of further 802.11ac-only devices. Therefore, forget about a slow network. Inside this router, you will find a dual-core 1GHz processor with three offload processors coupled with 128MB of flash memory and 256MB RAM. On the back of there, it is one WAN port and 4 LAN ones. It also carries 2 USB 2.0 ports along with a USB 3.0 port – for fast data transmission. Talking more about specs, R8000 boasts the Latest Broadcom 5G WiFi Router Platform. It is an MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output) router that features 6 802.11ac streams and 3 802.11n streams.
Web-based Interface and Mobile App
As far its interface/setup is concerned, they are same features from R7000. You can either use Netgear Genie Mobile app or Web-based interface. Now you may get mixed with two options. Simply put, Mobile app is for basic tasks, for more advanced tasks like Port Forwarding or DNS, head towards web-console.
Very Good NAS (Network Added Storage) Functionality
YOU CAN CONNECT AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE TO ITS PORTS, THEN USE ITS READYSHARE FEATURE FOR A BIT OF NAS. WHILE LINKSYS WRT1900AC BEATS THEM ALL, R8000 IS ALSO ONE THE BEST FOR NAS FUNCTIONALITY.
Well, to buy it or not, completely depends on what you need. If all you do is 720p video streaming, then it would be a dry-run for it. In case, you should go for cheaper options like Netgear R7000. But if you want some intensive real-time heavy-duty gaming over LAN or watch 4K video streaming, then you must give it a try.
3. Asus RT-AC3200
This is an Asus’ Tri-Band router. Along with Netgear X6, and D-Link Dir-890, Asus RT-AC3200 completes the trio of best Tri-Band routers. Its design would give you same deja vu of Asus AC87U because these two feature the same grayish-black angular design. It is also very huge, thanks to its six detachable antennas.
Its ports’ scene is pretty usual, 4 LAN ports with 1 for WAN and 2 USB ports (1 each for 2.0 and 3.0). Since it is an AC3200 router, you can also call it an AC1900 router with an extra 5GHz Band. Rather than increasing band-speed, Broadcom decided to increase its Band size of its Dual-Band WiFi chip. This 5GHz extra Band is only used when you will have more than one 802.11ac clients.
From inside, this routers pairs a Broadcom BCM4709 dual-core 1GHz with 256MB DDR3 RAM and 128MB flash storage – good to be even called a small server. This is the most powerful combo we have in router’s market right now. Tri-Band features such as SmartConnect are also available. Its web interface is not great, but still very easy and robust. From Network map, you can view the connected devices in real-time. Other network map-based features are Dynamic DNS, Wi-Fi settings, and WAN settings etc.
Other two worth-mentioning features of its web-based interface are Adaptive QoS and AiProtection. Adaptive QoS can do things like Bandwidth Prioritization, that too in the basis of categories like Surfing, VoIP, gaming, streaming etc. If you don’t like this auto-QoS, it has Manual QoS for Experts where you can define your criteria for Bandwidth allocation. The AiProtection protects your system from viruses and malware. Even if your connected client is malicious, this router will stop it from sending your personal info. But one thing, you must remember, is that enabling it may cause conflict between other features such as UPnP and Port forwarding etc.
If you want Guest Network, at its best, then it surely is best for you. Because it can support 3 Guest Networks for each of its Band, so 9 Guest Networks overall. You can attach External HDD through USB ports, to make it work as a powerful NAS server. Asus’ AiCloud lets you share, stream your data on the cloud, through any connected device.
Besides these, you can also connect a printer or a Modem to its ports. You can even make one of its LAN ports work as a WAN one. You can use its Time Machine feature of backing up your data. Then we have an ‘apps analysis”, a feature which shows you download/upload bandwidth of any connected client in real time. At last, we have its built-in PPTP VPN server through which you can host up to 10 remote clients.
In our testing, we found this wireless router to be best for 4K UHD video streaming.
DONG NGO FROM CNET CONCLUDED: "..OVERALL, THE RT-AC3200 (ALONG WITH OTHER 802.11AC ROUTERS FROM ASUS) HAS THE MOST TO OFFER BY FAR IN TERMS OF WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH THEIR BUILT-IN NETWORK STORAGE FEATURE."
2. D-Link DIR-890
Last among AC3200 Router is the DIR-890L/R from D-Link. Its design is not like other routers, it resembles more of a sci-fi car, instead of a router. It features 6 adjustable antennas and shiny apple red color, really makes it look it an angry Beast ready to take all down.
All is usual is ports’ area. You will get 5 ports (4 for LAN and 1 for WAN) on the back side. 1 USB 2.0 port and a 3.0 one on front area. Inside there, it has 1GHz dual-core processor as its heart with 256MB of DRAM and 128MB of NAND memory. As it is an AC3200 router, you can enjoy a total speed of Jaw-dropping speed up to 3200Mbps (1300Mbps for each of its 5GHz Band and 600Mbps for 2.4). GHz Band supports 802.11a/ac/n clients whereas 2.4GHz Band supports WiFi 802.11n/g/b clients.
However, a client can only connect with one Band at a point. That means you enjoy a top of 1300Mbps, like in AC1900 routers. But AC3200 routers are good in a scenario when you have more than one 802.11ac clients. In that case, each of those clients can connect to a compatible Band, without disturbing the other one. So you can call it a future-proof router. It also supports Beamforming and SmartConnect technology. While former improves signal reception by sending a direct signal to its source, the latter decides which Band is better for which Client and implements that decision.
For monitoring and easy setup you can use its web-console. Its web interface is quite simple. From the homepage, you can view connected devices, your IP address, and Internet Status. If you go on the Internet page, you can change its MAC settings, IPv6 DNS server, device mode and connection type etc. In case you want to make other tweaks like changing DHCP server settings, IPv4 and IPv6 stream settings and UPnP settings, go on Network page. You can also use its mobile app, in case you don’t want to use web interface. In short, its web interface is quite easy to learn, though it may not excite the geeks.
Its QoS feature is also worth mentioning. It performs all the usual functions like website filtering, guest networks up to 3 (one for each Band), anti-spoof checking, IPSec and PPTP security settings, port forwarding and changing bandwidth priority (you can’t prioritize on categories e.g. downloading, browsing and VoIP however) etc. DIR-890′ USB ports can connect FAT32 or NFTS-type external Hard Drive. You can save that Drive’ data on the cloud through D-Link’ Cloud feature. You can also use it for QuickVPN, all you need is a QuickVPN client and Dynamic DNS know-how). On a downside, it doesn’t support Time Capsule Backup.
Other’s Opinion about it
…A BIT MORE EXPENSIVE THAN THE COMPETITION, BUT IF YOU WANT THE FASTEST TRI-BAND MODEL ON THE MARKET, THE DIR-890L/R DELIVERS. IT’S OUR NEW EDITORS’ CHOICE CONSUMER ROUTER. SAYS JOHN R. DELANEY FROM PCMAG.
Well, it has shortcoming like Lack of customization and no Time Capsule support but its performance is the best among tri-band wireless routers.
1. Asus AC-88U -- Editor's Choice
AC-88U is the big brother of AC87U which we liked pretty much. It was an AC2400 router and one of our recommendations as best wifi router for gaming -- until they released AC-88U. Although this router was released in end of 2015, we decided to not include it in this list. Our point was, that we should test it personally. Now it’s time to find out what we found out in this WiFi router.
Design wise, this is little up-sized version of its predecessor. Like AC87U, this router too has mainly black design with some red color on its antennas. Speaking of which, there are 4 antennas -- 1 on each right and left side and 2 on rear. AC87U had all on its rear side. Due to this single reason, this router some a little bit of extra space than the 87U. These antennas are removable too and it is also wall-mountable.
Thanks to Asus’ setup wizard you only need to have an internet connection, plug it and power it up. Doing this, you’ll be directed on a web-based console and configure you router. You can also setup these things but for this, you’ll need to have know-how of technical things such as Dynamic IP, DHCP, Static IP etc.
Asus AC-88U is a dual-band AC3100 router. Its single 5GHz can give you a theoretical top speed of 2166 Mbps -- same is offered by an AC5300 router -- and its 2.4GHz has a maximum of 1000 Mbps. For this matter, let me notify that asus also makes a router called RT-AC3100 which is complete replica of this one. Except that RT-AC3100 has 4 LAN ports VS 8 LAN ports by AC-88U. Yes you’ve read right. 8 LAN ports when most of today routers have only 4. Not only this, but you can also make one of its LAN ports as a WAN one.
So you potentially have 2 WAN ports in one wifi router. Apart from this, you can combine two LAN ports to have a single super-fast connection. At last, one major advantage of extra LAN ports is that you can connect more printers, NAS drives without having to buy a separate network switch. Other than this, there are 2 USB ports. USB 2.0 port on back while a USB 3.0 port on front side.You can use these USB ports to host a USB cellular Dongle.
Other Hardware Specs
Ac88U boasts the same NitroQAM chipset which is used by other AC5300 routers like Netgear 8500 and Asus own AC5300. Since AC88U -- being a dual-band router -- doesn’t have that extra band, it lacks performance when there are more than 10 devices that utilize its single 5GHz band. Inside this router, you’ll get a Dual-core 1.4GHz processor + 512 DDR3 RAM and 128 MB flash storage. It’s also MU-MIMO supported.
As I said, its Web console is pretty easy to configure your router for the first time. After this, you’ll be shown a network map. From this map, you can view all of your connected clients at any given time and click on them to find information about them. You can also change settings such as Dynamic DNS and WAN settings etc.
There are some other cool stuff you can do with there web console. Apart from network map, you can go to QoS and Guest Network pages. It supports 6 Guest Networks. There is a special treat for online gamers. This router uses WTFast aka. Gamers Private Network (GPN), which uses its proprietary software for a better and stable online gameplay.
Then there is Asus AiProtection. This feature blocks malicious software and websites. It also offers parental controls and app-filtering. Some other advanced settings let you have URL filtering, Denial of Service protection, and keyword filtering etc.
And now you would say how on earth a dual-band router can out-perform tri-band routers? Right.
Don’t let the numbers fool you. A router can give you as fast connection as its highest frequency band can. If we consider that argument, an AC-1900/3200 routers can have speed as fast as 1300 Mbps. On the other hand AC3100/5300 can have 2166 Mbps speed through their 5GHz band.
According to testing done by Cnet, its performance matched with that of its pricier brother Asus AC- 5300. This makes it perfect wireless router for gaming, 4K streaming, and wireless printing etc. Yet, NAS and file read/write performance isn’t excellent, which, considering its price, should have been.
With the Asus RT-AC88U Dual-Band Router, you get very fast throughput performance, …... With eight LAN ports and two USB ports, this router is an excellent choice for users who want to connect multiple peripherals and wired clients, such as gaming consoles, NAS devices, printers, and home-automation hubs -- PC Mag
Bonus: Linksys EA9500
There is one more router that, according to me, is worth a mention. Earlier this year, Netgear released R8500 and Asus launched RT-5300. I intended to include either one of the them,when I would update this post because these two are AC-5300 routers. But two months ago, Linksys released its own beast EA9500 – which happens to be an AC5400 wireless router. That’s why I decided to include it, instead of the former two.
On aesthetics, EA9500 looks more of a UFO/ large spider (depending upon which way you look at it), rather than a wireless router. This is not an insult but even one of the biggest routers such as Nighthawk R8000 look smaller when compared with EA9500. Such is its size. On top of its large base, we have eight vertical antennas. Yes, you’ve read correctly. 8, no more, no less. One more thing, you can detach these giant antennas. But remember one thing, whether a router is beautiful or not, it should give good performance.
In technical terms, this wireless router is the one with tri-band, quad-stream technology – like Netgear R8500. Since it is a Tri-band router, it has 2 bands of 5 GHz and 1 band of 2.4 GHz. But one difference is worth mentioning. Unlike other tri-band routers such as Asus RT-3200 which has 2.4 GHz and 5Ghz bands of 600 mbps and 1300 respectively, 2.4 GHz of this router can give you speed as much as 1000 mbps and 5 GHz can have a top speed of 2166 mbps. In real-environment however, even the most advanced laptops, tablets consume data at only 1900 mbps rate.
Setup and Interface
This video will guide you through the interface and setup of this wireless router. If you don’t like its web console, you can use Linksys WiFi mobile app.
It is also capable of MU-MIMO technology. This technology enables devices with different bandwidth to allocate on different grades. Most of the wireless routers in the market have 4 gigabit LAN ports. This one has 8 of them — maximum of a wireless routers alongside Asus AC88U.
Media Prioritization is its most prominent feature. Through this feature, you can drag and drop all of your connected clients to form a priority list. This router has parental control too but one of its USP is this parental control can even block sites with HTTPS protocol. This means that you can block sites like Facebook, Youtube etc — a major distraction source for many people.One more standout of this router is Seamless roaming. Simply put, this feature enables you to connect from one WiFi Client to another without disconnecting.
Below image will help you compare this router with AC5300 routers of Asus and Netgear. Courtesy of Cnet
As you can see, this router clearly beats the other two. Even at 150 m of distance, this device is capable of giving strong signals.
This is the Best Wireless Router for you — if money is not a problem for you. However for most people, money is a problem. This device is quite expensive and kinda useless until you don’t have a very large house. That’s why I didn’t included it in original list. That being said, I am pretty sure that this will be one of the best WiFi routers for 2017