The 4 Best Long-Range Wi-Fi Routers for 2018
We talk a lot about Wi-Fi network speed and fast routers, but Wi-Fi range is just as important. A gigabit network isn’t much good if it can’t reach your devices when you’re in the upstairs bedroom or cuddled on the basement couch. We’ve rounded up the best long-range Wi-Fi routers to get the most out of your connection wherever you are.
The Best Long-Range Wi-Fi Routers
Specs and Features Comparison
|Model||Speed||Ethernet Ports||Range||Price||Get It|
|Best Mesh Router||NETGEAR Orbi||3,000 Mbps||4 per unit||Up to 5,000 sq. ft.||$$$$|
|Best Traditional Router||ASUS RT-AC88U||3,100 Mbps||8||Up to 5,000 sq. ft.||$$$|
|Most Powerful||NETGEAR Nighthawk X10||7,200 Mbps||6||Up to 3,000 sq. ft.*||$$$$$|
|Easiest to Use||Google Wi-Fi||1,200 Mbps||2 per unit||Up to 4,500 sq. ft.||$$$|
Data current as of 10/23/18. Pricing and features subject to change.
*NETGEAR doesn’t provide specific numbers for the X10’s range. Instead, they rate the range as Ultimate, meaning it’s intended for very large homes. User reports indicate excellent coverage in homes of 3,000+ sq. ft.
If you live in a mansion, an estate, a castle, or just a house that’s pretty darn big, you’ll want to hook yourself up with one of these nuggets. (They’re also highly relevant for homes of any size with nooks and crannies that swallow your Wi-Fi signal before you can even taste it.)
- Excellent range and coverage
- Several different configurations available
- Great speed
- Large size, especially compared to other mesh routers
- Not many configuration options
If long range and thorough coverage are your top priorities, a mesh router is the way to go. NETGEAR Orbi offers an excellent mesh system. Not only do you get a huge range of up to 5,000 square feet, but you also get plenty of speed, which is something other mesh systems fall short on.
The Orbi is available in several configurations, including outdoor units and small outlet-sized extenders that take up as little space as possible. The one featured here is a two-piece kit with a primary router and one extender. You can add additional extensions as needed at any time, so don’t feel too stressed about making the right choice up front.
- Fast speeds
- Plenty of Ethernet ports
- Some great gaming features
- Lacks the ease and extensibility of a mesh system
- Costs a lot for a single router
If you want to go with a traditional router—especially if you’ll be using it for gaming—this ASUS model offers a fantastic combination of power, range, and price. It extends up to 5,000 square feet, which is the same range as the NETGEAR Orbi, and it packs similar speeds. It doesn’t distribute the coverage as evenly as the Orbi, but it gets the job done.
There are several gamer-focused features on board, including something ASUS calls “Game Acceleration” that should result in lower latency and ping times. It also packs eight gigabit Ethernet ports for plugging devices in directly if your wireless gets spotty.
- Incredibly fast speeds
- Powerful processor
- Tons of advanced tech to deliver the strongest signal possible
- High price
- Lower range than other options
The NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 is our pick for a long-range router that doesn’t compromise on power. This speed demon can handle speeds up to 7,200 Mbps while still reaching a range of around 3,000 square feet. It’s also packed with technology like beamforming and adjustable antennas to extend your signal.
Of course, all that power is going to cost you. This is one of the most expensive routers on the market. But if you want a Wi-Fi network with no compromises, we highly recommend it.
- Discreet with easy-to-hide units
- Super simple to get started
- Slower speeds than other long-range options
- Not many ways to customize your network
Google Wi-Fi is a router you can truly set and forget. This mesh system has a ton going for it. It’s easy to set up using a smartphone app, the units are small enough to tuck away behind your room decor, and it’s very affordable for what you get.
The range is a little lower than the Orbi, but it will still cover all but the largest homes. The biggest downside of the Google Wi-Fi system is that it isn’t as fast as many other mesh systems—in fact, it’s by far the slowest setup on our list. That’s not to say it isn’t fast enough though—1,200 Mbps is plenty of speed for most users.
What to Look for in a Long-Range Router
When shopping for a router with some serious range, it’s not all just speed capacity and fast processors. There are a few important features to look out for and understand.
Mesh networking is the latest Wi-Fi trend, and it’s taking off like a storm. It sounds complicated, but it’s really just two or more routers working together to spread your Wi-Fi signal throughout your home. It’s similar to adding a Wi-Fi range extender to your network, though it tends to be much simpler to set up.
Mesh networking isn’t a new technology. It’s been used in commercial applications for quite a while. But it’s new to the consumer space, and it’s quickly becoming the go-to for people with a lot of square footage to cover. They’re a bit more expensive, but they’re worth it if you want to kiss dead spots goodbye forever.
Beamforming is a router technology that focuses the signal toward connected devices, which creates a greater range and stronger signal. Some manufacturers have their own proprietary names for beamforming, typically with the word “beam” in them. Don’t let the different names confuse you. The technology is built on a standard that’s part of the 802.11ac wireless protocol, so beamforming is beamforming—regardless of what they call it.
If you go for a traditional router with external antennas, check if they can be adjusted. Adjustable antennas allow you to direct the signal toward either a specific device or a specific area of your home.
They also give you the flexibility to adjust as needed and without digging into any complicated settings menus.
However, mesh routers don’t have external antennas because they aim to saturate the home evenly with Wi-Fi, which is just a different approach to the same issue.
FAQs about Routers
Still got more questions about routers? We don’t blame you. Routers are one of those things that nobody wants to pay attention to until they have to. Here are some of the most common questions we get about routers.
Is a modem the same as a router?
- A modem is a device that receives the signal from your Internet Service Provider and translates it for your devices.
- A router takes that translated signal and broadcasts it wirelessly to create an in-home Wi-Fi network.
You can also find these two in a single unit, known as a modem/router combo or gateway. That still doesn’t mean they’re the same thing though—just two different devices in one box.
Will a better router improve my internet speed?
It can! While a router won’t make the connection from your ISP any faster, a better router can help you make better use of that connection. So, if you’ve got an older unit that lacks the latest technology—for example, going from a dual-band router to a tri-band router—you could see better speeds in your home (especially if you have multiple devices on your Wi-Fi network at the same time).
What’s wireless router has the best range?
For maximum Wi-Fi range and signal strength, you want a mesh router. Our pick for best mesh router is the NETGEAR Orbi, with an easily extended 5,000 square-foot range. The Orbi and other mesh routers are perfect for spreading your internet connection to every corner of your home, like a perfectly frosted cake.