The technical revolution of the XXI century burst into our homes gradually. With the advent of high-speed Internet, the number of all kinds of equipment that requires access to the network began to increase rapidly. From TVs and set-top boxes to smartphones and computers, the average family today can have up to 10 gadgets that require the Internet to function properly.
Such a possibility can be provided by a device called a router among professionals, but in everyday life a different, shorter name is assigned to it – a router.
And although the prefix Wi-Fi is usually added to this name , routers, even the simplest ones designed for home use, offer both wireless and wired connection of devices. Today on the market there are a huge number of models of such boxes, with antennae of external antennas or without them, when the signal amplifiers are hidden inside. It is not surprising that when choosing a home router, many have difficulties – after all, those models that were considered the best two or three years ago are no longer mentioned in various ratings today, and there is no way to buy them due to the cessation of production.
The main criteria when choosing a router for home use
Like any electronic device, the router has a processor, random access memory and non-volatile memory, which stores specialized software. The main task of any router is to distribute the flow of binary information coming from the outside between many users, and in a reciprocal direction. In the presence of many gadgets that exchange data with the outside world, such a task becomes nontrivial, because the incoming traffic must be distributed more or less evenly among all users.
Cheap NoName devices do not do it so well, there are crashes and freezes, which, of course, is not good. But products from well-known manufacturers, as a rule, do not suffer from such diseases.
But in order to choose the best home router in 2020, you need to know what to look for first when choosing a device.
Connection type used by your ISP
ADSL routers that use a telephone line to transmit Internet traffic do not provide an acceptable speed. But if there are no other Internet providers in your area of residence (usually in the countryside), then this is one of the possible solutions. An alternative is to use routers with a built-in LTE modem or the ability to use an external modem connected via a USB connector. In the latter case, it is necessary to ensure the compatibility of the equipment. But here, too, one cannot count on high speed. The best solution is to carry traffic over a wired Ethernet line. Many providers provide signal delivery to the house / entrance via fiber optic, installing intermediate equipment to be able to connect the router in a standard way, via an RJ-45 connector.
Number of devices connected via cable
Before buying, calculate how many gadgets can be wired to the network. It is believed that such a connection is faster and more reliable than wireless. The standard for home routers is four of these ports, but there may be fewer or more.
And one moment. Check with your provider for the maximum data transfer rate they provide. If it is more than 100 Mb / s, it is better to choose a router with gigabit ports, upstream WAN and downstream LANs.
The outdated 802.11n standard, operating in the 2.4 GHz frequency range, with a large number of consumers and the presence of interference from other devices (for example, a microwave oven) will work unstable, so it is better to choose devices that support the 802.11ac protocol, which has a 5 GHz operating frequency.
Pay attention also to the numbers that are usually found in the name of the router – they indicate the maximum possible output speed: from 600 Mb / s for single-band 802.11n devices to 3000 Mb / s and more for dual-band 802.11ac capable of operating on two channels.
If an external antenna has not taken root in cell phones, then such a solution is preferable for a router – it is a stationary device tied to the installation site with wires. The advantage of external antennas is their size. The more antennae a router has, the better. Pay attention also to the gain, focusing on an indicator of 5 dB or more. There are models with removable antennas, allowing the use of non-native, but more powerful signal amplifiers. With regard to the orientation of the antennas, it is recommended to install them vertically, although you can tilt them towards the largest number of consumers.
Where to install the router
Here you need to take into account, firstly, the ability to extend the cable from the provider, and secondly, ensuring coverage of all premises. It is recommended to install the device in the center of the apartment / house, as high as possible. Walls degrade the quality of reception, but not critical, but metal surfaces can reflect the Wi-Fi signal.
If you cannot install the router in this way, and the signal is weak in the far corners of the room, you can use a repeater. But usually such Wi-Fi repeaters reduce the reception speed by half, or even more.
And now let’s go directly to the ranking of the best Wi-Fi routers of the 2020 model year for home use.
TP-Link Archer C3150
Although this dual-band router is considered a premium device for more than home use (it is eagerly installed in small offices), it is not the most expensive router in the manufacturer’s lineup.
Excellent technical characteristics make it the best router for an apartment: a dual-core processor with two additional coprocessors, gigabit bandwidth at 2.4 GHz and 2.167 Gb / s at 5 GHz. In addition, the use of 4×4 MIMO technology allows for better distribution of the digital stream to four wired devices. Smart Connect automatically selects the most suitable frequency band when only one network is visible. Finally, 4 antennas provide good range even for a large house, plus they are removable and can be replaced with more powerful signal amplifiers if necessary.
All four LAN ports, as well as the input one, are gigabit. In a more recent model, which can be recognized by the presence of the toponym “ver.2” in the name, you can use the link aggregation function, that is, use the second cable to use the NAS and increase the bandwidth to 2 Gb / s.
The router has two USB 2.0 / 3.0 ports, which allows you to connect a network printer / scanner or media server to it without using a VPN server. There is also support for 3G / 4G modems, as well as a built-in antivirus. Router settings are carried out in a standard way, via the web interface. You can also do this on your smartphone using the Tether app. If you don’t like the bright glow of the LEDs at night, there is a button to turn them off. The cost of the device is about 14,000 rubles (if not tied to the course, then around $ 230).
Note that such a powerful and expensive router is an overkill for a small apartment.
TP-Link Deco M5
For rooms with a complex layout, one router, even a powerful one, is not enough. In such cases, the ideal solution is to use so-called Mesh systems, which consist of several small routers spread throughout the house. A striking representative of this family is the Deco M5 from TP-Link.
The router looks elegant – it is a small, not very thick circle with one LED in the middle, with two gigabit LAN ports, one of which (any) is used to connect the provider. Additional devices can be connected both by wire (increase in speed, but loss of one wire connection), and by air. Additional modules are connected automatically. You can control devices through a proprietary application from Android and iOS gadgets. There is also a built-in antivirus with parental control function. The only drawback is the lack of band management and VPN functionality, which is not often used at home.
The theoretical throughput of the device is 0.4 Gb / s for the 2.4 GHz range and 0.867 Gb / s for the 5 GHz range, but the exchange between nodes slightly reduces these indicators.
Each of the devices has 4 built-in antennas, no USB ports. Estimated coverage of a set of two nodes – 350 m 2 , of three nodes – 510 m 2 . One module costs about 8000 rubles, if several are required, it is more profitable to buy a kit.
Asus RT-AC66U B1
If you ask yourself which router is better for a house or apartment from among the not the most expensive ones, you can recommend this particular product. But this does not mean that it is weak: its functionality is at its best, there are two operating ranges, the ability to receive data on three devices at 2.4 GHz and the same at 5 GHz, the total router speed is 1.75 Gb / s.
It is possible to connect additional devices, but the proprietary Mesh system cannot be called extremely reliable. Two USB 2.0 / 3.0 ports allow you to connect network devices. There is both a web interface and a mobile application for managing the router with a large number of settings.
Users note the ability of the Asus RT-AC66U B1 to get very hot, so the device should not be installed in a confined space, it is better to be well ventilated. The cost of the router is from 8500 rubles ($ 125). Supports work with flash media and 3G / 4G modems.
If you need the best router in the absence of high-speed Internet, the best solution would be a router that was originally designed to support traffic from mobile operators. The model is equipped with a slot for SIM-cards, no settings need to be made – the network is detected automatically. Unfortunately, operators broadcasting in the CDMA standard are not supported by this router, it only accepts in GSM / LTE / UMTS networks.
The guaranteed coverage area is 250 m 2 , which is more than enough for a country or country house. A speed of 300 Mb / s for cellular operators is quite acceptable – for 4G Internet, the standard is 150 Mb / s for reception and 50 Mb / s for transmission. In 3G networks, the speed is even lower – up to 42 Mb / s. The antenna is built-in here, but there is a socket for an external one. True, whether it is needed is a big question: you are unlikely to achieve a large increase in speed.
There are three LAN ports and the fourth one is combined, that is, it is not forbidden to use wired Internet either. There is a USB port, as well as an RJ-1 telephone jack, to which you can connect a regular telephone set. This pleasure costs about 7000 rubles.
TP-Link Archer C5 V4
In fifth place in our rating of Wi-Fi routers is a reliable gigabit device of the “archery” series from TP-Link. With a cute design with four antenna towers, USB port, 300 Mbps at 2.4 GHz and 0.87 Gbps at 5 GHz, a budget router has everything you need to work successfully at home. There is no built-in antivirus, but there is a WPS button that can be used to connect peripherals.
The work of flash drives and 3G / 4G modems is supported. At a cost of about 3200 rubles, the model can be considered a good budget-level workhorse.
TP-Link Archer C20
Another good Wi-Fi router for your home from the same manufacturer. Like most other models in the Archer line, it features a fashionable design. There are only three antennas here, there is no USB port, but this is a full-fledged dual-band router. The total throughput of the device is 750 Mb / s: 450 at 5 GHz and 300 at 2.4 GHz. The input and four LAN ports are 100 Mbit, the web interface is not burdened with a lot of settings.
Forget about the built-in antivirus, but there is a parental control function with non-standard settings.
If you have a tariff of less than 100 Mb / s, then such a router will be an excellent solution – why spend on a gigabit model if this is not available to you? The cost of the Archer C20 is about 2,000 rubles.
It just so happened that in many ratings of Wi-Fi routers for home, the leading positions are occupied by devices of this particular brand. This model is focused on ADSL technology. Although it is considered outdated, it is the only wired alternative to fiber for settlements where it is not profitable for providers to enter.
The dual-antenna router provides up to 300 Mb / s bandwidth, which is enough for multi-streaming video data, not to mention less resource-intensive tasks. The router is equipped with four 100-megabit LAN ports, there is a WPS mode, a Wi-Fi off button. Unfortunately, there is no Ethernet WAN port, so if it suddenly becomes possible to use a more progressive type of connection, you will have to purchase another device.
The TD-W8961N costs around 1,600 rubles.
This is far from the most powerful Wi-Fi router for the home, but for its price category it is not bad and deserves to be in our rating. In addition to wired connection, it supports modem via USB port, catches LTE, 3G / 4G networks. Three hundred megabit LAN ports are usually enough for an average family, the total bandwidth of the Wi-Fi subnet is 300 Mb / s. Built-in 2×2 MIMO support allows up to 3 high-speed air connections to be supported simultaneously.
Strictly speaking, such a router is able to satisfy the needs of most of the customers when it comes to a provincial provider that does not spoil users with speeds over 100 Mb / s.
The processor cannot be called high-speed (MediaTek at 575 MHz), but for traffic distribution tasks this is enough, as well as two non-removable antennas with a gain of 5 dBi each. The cost of the device is 2200 rubles.
We have included this budget device among the best routers for the home. The Tenda brand, although it has been on the market relatively recently, has already managed to prove itself from a good side, offering reliable and inexpensive routers.
This model is one of them. Providing Wi-Fi access in a single band at a speed of 300 Mb / s, it is equipped with three external antennas, thanks to which it has a large coverage area (up to 200 square meters). The device breaks through walls pretty well. Three 100-megabit ports are available for wired devices.
All settings are carried out via the web interface, they are quite simple and even allow you to limit the transmission speed of individual users of the home network. Bridge mode is supported for connecting repeaters, the router supports IPTV. At a cost of 1000 rubles or more, this is one of the best solutions for undemanding users with extended functionality.
The top 10 routers of the 2020 model year are closed by a router from a not too well-known manufacturer, but in its price category it is a strong mid-range. If the Internet is used from two wired devices (PC and laptop) and a pair of smartphones, then its capabilities will be enough for you. If a more serious load is required, see the options above, but there are corresponding prices.
Two external 2.4GHz antennas, 300 Mb / s input, 2 output 100 Mbps LAN ports – what else is needed for an average family of 2-3 people who actively use the Internet?
There is even advanced functionality, which looks impressive for a router worth 750 rubles – this is the bridge mode, the parental control function and the ability to create a guest network.
The attentive reader will notice that our review is compiled in order of reducing the cost of routers, that is, the most worthy representatives of all price categories are presented here. Of course, new models appear on the market every month, which may push our favorites, but such is life. Progress does not stand still, despite any troubles.