Even if you aren’t the most technically inclined person, by now you should understand how important it is to have a solid Wi-Fi router in your home or small office. However, not every SOHO (small office/home office) router was created equally. You need to keep in mind your goals for your home network. The average user wants a Wi-Fi signal with the best range and highest speeds and typically doesn’t care about some the extra software that comes with the package. Although, some of these extras provide great value for your home network.
Some models excel in the area of Wi-Fi while others are nothing short of awful. To save time and headaches, consider the following Wi-Fi router models that are the cream of the crop and the best routers for Wi-Fi. The following models have lots of extra features, but these reviews only compare their wireless speeds and capabilities as well as their firmware support for DD-WRT and Tomato firmware upgrades.
D-Link AC3200 – DIR-890L
The D-Link AC3200 model DIR-890L Tri-Band Gigabit router is a very attractive option for users who want to maximize their wireless speeds. This is without a doubt one of the best routers for Wi-Fi for two reasons. Firstly, it boasts a theoretical maximum of 3.2 Gbps (gigabits per second). To put it bluntly, this is obscenely fast. It can achieve these speeds with its tri-band Wi-Fi. Essentially, it uses two 5.0 GHz bands and one 2.4 GHz band. This model has 6 antennae to ensure one of the strongest consumer grade Wi-Fi signals on the market. Unfortunately, this model is not currently supported by DD-WRT or Tomato.
This model is a strong competitor to the D-Link AC3200, and as such, claims a 3.2 Gbps theoretical maximum transmission rate. It also has six omnidirectional dual band antennae and offers most of the features of the D-Link model. There are two ways the ASUS model outperforms its competitor. Firstly, it offers Trend Micro security software in the package. Trend Micro is a leader in the security market, and extra security is generally favorable provided you take the time to configure it. However, one area this model outperforms its competitors is its firmware. Though not supported by DD-WRT, this model is supported by Tomato should you decide to upgrade your firmware. The D-Link model lacks this ability.
Linksys brand is owned by the well-known telecom provider Belkin after being sold by Cisco Systems. Additionally, this model is their top of the line consumer product. The WRT1900 is well known for being among the fastest consumer grade Wi-Fi routers with excellent coverage due to its four dual-band omnidirectional antennae. Although, the Linksys model has two less antennae than the previously mentioned models and has a slightly less powerful signal strength.
It offers a top wireless speed of 1.3 Gbps, which is 13 times faster than your average hard-wired 100Mb Fast Ethernet connection. Unfortunately, to date there is no support for DD-WRT or Tomato firmware. Thought the above information doesn’t even scratch the surface on the technology contained in this wireless router, you would be hard pressed to find a better performing and more reliable wireless router with exception to the ASUS and D-Link models.
Netgear Nighthawk R7000
Like the two aforementioned wireless routers, this Netgear model uses the IEEE’s 802.11AC standard to provide a theoretical maximum of 1.3 Gbps and is backward compatible with other IEEE wireless standards. If you desire to update the firmware, this model is supported by DD-WRT and Tomato. Like other top speed wireless routers, this model is fitted with the Broadcom chipset for wireless speeds higher than a gigabit per second. However, the 802.11AC and 802.11N standards on this model only allow for a maximum wireless throughput of 1.9 Gbps. Other top models allow up to 3.2 Gbps because of an extra wireless channel. However, you will find that this model is more affordably priced.
SEE ALSO: VPNPick’s top choices on Best Routers for DD-WRT fitting all budgets.
Words of Caution
You need to be well informed what the theoretical maximum data transmission rates of these models means. Single users won’t likely experience these speeds when downloading or streaming from the Internet, even if you have a gigabit fiber connection. Though your wireless router will be capable of transmitting data wirelessly at jaw-dropping rates, your connection to your ISP will likely be a bottleneck. However, these extremely high maximum data rates are a real advantage when you have multiple wireless users connected to the same network and make LAN communication, like transferring large chunks of data to a Network Attached Storage device, much more feasible.
Additionally, due to TCP/IP window sizes, latency, and other technical details, a single user won’t reasonably achieve the maximum speeds claimed by the manufacturers when transferring data via the public Internet. The theoretical maximum transmission rate was determined by the IEEE 802.11AC standard. Since these manufacturers implement this standard, they can rightly claim the same theoretical maximum rate.
Furthermore, your laptop, tablet, or personal computer needs to have the 802.11AC wireless capability to transmit at these speeds in the first place. Although, having said that, if you own one of these models you won’t ever complain that your wireless router is too slow.