You all uploaded your thoughts on the best wireless routers this week, and four emerged from the packet to make the finals. Two of them are mesh systems, and two are more traditional routers, so we’re going to set up a firewall and have two distinct votes, and two champions.


Mesh Routers


Google Wifi

Google Wifi
Photo: Andres Urena (Unsplash)

Google Wifi. Even though my house is a typical ‘50s ranch style, it has some stubborn dead spots that no previous router has been able to reach. I’ve gone through top-of-the-range NetGear and Linksys stuff, AirPorts aplenty, and Google’s first attempt (Home), all without success.

Then I got a deal on three Google Wifi pods. Setup was simple and scattering them to the corners of the house gave me full coverage at very respectable speeds. My cable connection is 300 Mbps (I regularly get about 340 Mbps due to buying my own cable modem and using the full channel range - up yours, Spectrum). This translates to 250-300 Mbps in the room with the cable modem; 150-200 Mbps in the furthest bedroom (containing one of the satellite pods); and 50-100 Mbps in my office above the detached garage, where the other pod is located.

I compare these numbers with my previous (non mesh) routers, which barely topped 200 Mbps in the room with the cable modem; an intermittent 50ish Mbps in the bedroom (with lots of dropout), and nothing at all in the office.

In addition to providing great connectivity and speed, the Google pods are zero maintenance; I haven’t needed to restart them once in a year of operation.

On the downside, you won’t be installing DD-WRT on them anytime soon and configurability is a touch limited for those with complex networking requirements. for for basic home wifi that doesn’t get in the way, it’s fine. - Sorely Vexed

I’ve had so many different routers and even built my own pfsense firewall/router. I’m a network engineer and play on expensive hardware all day long and I cannot believe how simple and how rock solid Google Wi-Fi has been for me. It just works and you do it all from your phone! - MrGerbic

Put another vote down for Google Wi-Fi. I was using a Nighthawk, but after a few updates, things got wonky. Spent a few hours online with tech support, rolled back updates, etc. Google Wi-Fi has been a breeze. Just set it and forget it, like a Ronco food dehydrator. - Thurm

Advertisement


Netgear Orbi

Netgear Orbi
Graphic: Shep McAllister

Really love my Netgear Orbi system (RBK50 model). AC3000 WiFi speeds, 4 ethernet ports on EACH satellite. Ability to do Gigabit hardwired backhaul, which is great for large, older houses like mine that have unknown materials in the walls.

Been running for 2 months now on my 200Mb fiber connection. Zero issues. Fantastic speeds/range. - Ben McDonald

+1 on the Orbi! I also have the RBK50 pair, and love it. I live in a 3-story townhome, and regular routers have trouble reaching through the flooring. This thing eats through everything in it’s way, and I get blistering speed throughout my home (nowhere is less than 150-200 Mb/s). I even mounted a TV above the 3rd floor tub for my wife, and we can stream 4k on it no problem. - callmeivan

I’ll agree. I’ve gone the Asus with Merlin approach, I’ve gone the Linksys with Tomato approach, Netgears with 15 antennas, I even kicked around a reliable old Airport Extreme for a few years a while back.

But for my money and skill level (know just enough to tweak things without being an IT guy), the Orbi has been the best mix of easy, reliable and strong/consistent coverage. Could I do a “true” mesh network with Ubiquiti or the like? Probably. But I have a larger home, not a hotel and conference center. Nor do I want to be a dedicated IT manager just to make sure that kids can stream Netflix in the basement while I watch DirecTV Now on my upstairs AppleTV.

Orbi does that better than any solution I’ve tried. - desertbruinz

Advertisement



Traditional Routers


Portal

Editor’s note: Yes, you can technically set these up as a mesh network, but they aren’t sold in combo packs or typically marketed in that way, and the process isn’t as seamless as a true mesh system.

Advertisement

Portal Router
Photo: Amazon

Portal Mesh WiFi Router by Ignition Labs. It has 802.11ac, 9 internal antennae, 4 Gigabit LAN ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, works at DFS channels (less congested 5 GHz frequency spectrum) and it’s superfast and stable. It’s very easy to setup and has advanced features, so it should please most people. - Hugo37

It is smart, intuitive, easy setup and customize and is amazingly fast. After going through tons of routers to get one that works in my home with no fuss, this router did what non of the others could do. I get reception in areas of the house that no other router could provide. In other areas the strength of signal rivals anything other routers gave me. - SaintCurmudgeon

Advertisement


NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1750

NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1750
Graphic: Shep McAllister

Netgear Nighthawk AC1750. Dual band, up to gigabit speeds on the 5GHz band, can attach an external hard drive to make easy network storage, and has movable antennas so you can move them to direct the signals to meet your requirements. Super stable too; I haven’t had any dropped connections and it reaches the far corners of my house reliably. - justathoughtfromme

Fast, easy to set up, and extremely strong wireless signal thanks to excellent beam-forming. I own several - one for home use, and several more for controlling sound systems in locations awash with wifi, bluetooth, and 2.4GHz wireless microphones (I don’t have control of those).

I’ve run a number of other routers in each location, and the AC1750 is the only one that’s managed to keep a connection once the 2.4GHz wireless mics get turned on.

Tested to 250 megabit from the internet (while pushing 25 up), and the gig switch is wire-speed, regularly reaching 900+ megabit on my home network. - Alex

Advertisement


Advertisement