You need a good dual band WiFi router, and here’s why: if you live in a dense neighborhood, chances are high that you’ll experience channel conflict or signal overlapping. In English, your WiFi setup might be very similar to that of your neighbor’s — so similar that everyone’s signals are getting congested (i.e. slow). It’s an issue people are experiencing a lot these days because they are using a router they bought several years ago — usually one that only operates on the 2.4 GHZ band.
With a dual band router, however, you have the ability to make use of the 5 GHZ band. Using a WiFi heat mapping tool (Mac users can give WiFi Explorer a try) it’s fairly easy to see what kind of setups your neighbors have. In my neighborhood, EVERYONE is on 2.4 GHZ and nobody is one 5 GHZ. So for me, switching to 5 GHZ would be like driving on the Interstate with zero other cars to slow me down (whereas the 2.4 GHZ band might be more akin to taking a crowded city street, at least for this illustration).
But newer routers are also just inherently capable of faster wireless Internet speeds. Older 802.11g routers top out at around 54 Mpbs whereas newer, more powerful routers can reach speeds of 1,300 Mpbs — that’s 3x faster!
It’s a common misconception that you’ll get whatever Internet speed you are paying for on all of the devices in your home. If you’re paying for faster Internet speeds — say 50 Mpbs or higher — but have a slower, older router, there’s just no way wireless devices like iPhones or iPads, Roku or Apple TV boxes, Internet radios or other devices that rely on WiFi to connect to the Internet are going to reach top speed.
Before I upgraded to a dual-band router, I had a 50 Mpbs Internet connection but, because I had an older router, could only pull about 15 Mpbs speeds on my phone. So, while I did have a 50 Mpbs wired Internet connection, that didn’t hold true for my wireless connections. Hope that makes sense.
Finally, newer, better routers can handle connections to more devices simultaneously which is important if you are trying to be as future-proof as possible. Over the next few years, the amount of devices connecting to your network wirelessly is only going to grow. As smart home devices and the Internet of Things revolution heats up, it’s best to be prepared. So, if you can, don’t cheap out — getting the best router you can is worth the splurge.
Now lets get on to the best home WiFi routers we recommend this year to get the best wireless Internet connections in your house.
Apple Airport Extreme
Apple’s Airport Extreme tops this list because design matters here at DailyTekk and there simply isn’t a better looking router on the planet. But the great style also comes with great features. Capable of reaching speeds of up to 1.3 Gpbs (with simultaneous dual band support), the Airport Extreme is as impressive inside as it is out. But don’t forget about it’s “beamforming” capabilities which knows where your WiFi capable devices are and sends more signal to them (rather than emitting signals in all directions equally). There’s also no getting around the fact that this router just has a smaller footprint than rivals; if you want to save space and don’t want crazy antennas sticking out every which way this is definitely the way to go.
Linksys EA8500 Max-Stream AC2600
The big draw to the Linksys EA8500 Max-Stream AC2600 router is it’s MU-MIMO technology. This stands for Multi-User — Multi-Input, Multi-Output. Essentially, it means that every device on your network functions almost as if it has it’s own dedicated router. In the end, a person playing on a gaming console, a person streaming Netflix on a smart TV and a person surfing the Internet on their phone won’t be slowing each other down. You can also manually aim the antennas for coverage adjustment. Plug a hard drive into the USB port to wirelessly share files.
Get this: the Asus RT-AC87U is capable of 5 GHZ speeds of up to 1.7 Gbps. That’s fast. If you’re wanting to do some 4K video streaming, this might be the router for you. Like the Linksys above, this Asus router’s 4 antennas give you more coverage which is good for larger houses and the MU-MIMO technology keep everyone in the house connected and happy. Like the Apple router above, you’ll also benefit from beamforming. Apple has the upper hand when it comes to setup and maintenance amongst all the routers listed here, but the Asus RT-AC87U does have a very nice, slick interface — something not all routers have to say the least.
By now I’m running out of new things to say about each product as they have many of the same features. The Linksys WRT1900AC has a bit of a different design than the one listed above (in case you like a splash of color). You’ll get simultaneous dual band, beamforming, a USB 3 port and a couple of gigabit ethernet ports. You might also like the Linksys Smart WiFi app for iOS and Android devices which lets you view your home network from anywhere, setup a guest network or turn on/off WiFi access for any connected device.
TRENDnet AC1900 TEW-818DRU
The TRENDnet AC1900 router is our budget router pick. It basically gives you most of what you’ll see in terms of features from the routers listed above — including beamforming — but it obviously lacks the same manual antenna adjustment found on the Linksys and Asus routers. One benefit you might enjoy — and something that sets it apart from the pack — is that it comes pre-encrypted for your privacy.