There are tons of wireless routers on the market these days, and few areas in consumer technology are more filled with jargon and buzzwords. If you want the fastest, most powerful router money can buy but you’re feeling lost in the sea of options and tech speak, your predicament ends here. We’ve done the hard work for you and rounded up four of the fastest routers on the market.
The Fastest Wireless Routers
The Fastest Wireless Routers
|Model||Speed||Antennas||Gigabit Ethernet Ports||Price||Get It|
|Best Overall||NETGEAR Nighthawk X10||7,200 Mbps||4||6||$$$$|
|Runner Up||TP-Link Talon AD7200||7,200 Mbps||8||4||$$$$$|
|Best for Gaming||ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300||5,334 Mbps||8||8||$$$$|
|Best on a Budget||TP-Link Archer C7||1,750 Mbps||6||4||$|
*Data current as of 12/05/2018. Prices and features are subject to change.
Whether you want the best of the best, a gaming-focused feature set, or just decent speed without draining your bank account, there’s a router out there for you. The important thing is knowing what you need to look for.
- Supports cutting-edge 802.11ad wireless standard
- Handles even the busiest households with a powerful processor
- Offers lots of Ethernet ports for wired connections
- Fewer antennas than other top routers
- Very expensive price
NETGEAR’s Nighthawk series already has a reputation for powerful performance, but the X10 takes that performance, turns it up to eleven, and rips the knob right off. Thanks to cutting-edge tri-band 802.11ad Wi-Fi, the X10 handles speeds up to 7,200 Mbps—that’s more than enough for heavy streaming, online gaming, and multiple simultaneous downloads. And if that wasn’t enough already, the quad-core processor prioritizes traffic and handles multiple requests with ease, so your connection never gets bogged down.
If we had to give a downside to the Nighthawk X10, it’s got to be the price. This is one expensive piece of gear. But if you need the absolute fastest wireless speeds and you’re willing to pay for them, the X10 will get you closer to that ideal than any other router on the market.
The NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 also happens to be one of the best long-range routers you can buy. Check out our roundup of the best long-range routers.
- Lots of antennas for directed signal
- Support for latest 802.11ad protocol
- Advanced router features for maximum signal strength and speed
- Higher price tag than the Nighthawk X10
- Only four Ethernet ports
This router offers similar features and speeds to the Nighthawk X10, but they come in a larger, uglier package. If that doesn’t bother you, the Talon AD7200 is a solid choice. Just like the X10, it also has the 802.11ad wireless standard on board, so you can see speeds up to three times as fast as 802.11ac routers (just as long as your devices are up to date).
The Talon is packed with other advanced tech, like MU-MIMO for handling multiple devices at once and beam steering technology. This means it can detect objects in the path between the router and connected devices and direct the Wi-Fi signal around them, maximizing signal strength. That’s pretty darn cool.
We have just two real gripes about the Talon. First, it has only four gigabit Ethernet ports. That’s fine for most routers—we just expect a little more for the price. That brings us to our second complaint: this thing is even more expensive than the Nighthawk X10, which is really saying something. This price jump is the main reason it’s the runner-up here and not the winner.
- Tons of gamer-centric features to maximize performance
- Powerful quad-core processor that handles requests rapidly
- Plenty of gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting game consoles and PCs
- Gothic looks are a hit-or-miss with people
- Lacks the newest 802.11ad Wi-Fi standard
Gamers looking for a fast router will find just what they’re seeking in the ASUS GT-AC5300 Rapture. Part of the Republic of Gamers (ROG) line, this router is designed specifically to maximize internet performance for competitive gamers. It packs eight gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting devices directly, plus a powerful quad-core processor to prioritize traffic and handle requests.
This router doesn’t have the newer 802.11ad standard, but that’s not a huge deal—few devices support the standard yet anyway. It also has a fairly short range, so gamers would probably be better off using a wired connection. Despite lacking the newest standard, it can still handle up to 5,334 Mbps, so it’s not exactly slow.
Lastly, this router is more affordable than the top two picks, which means it might be an enticing buy even if you’re not a gamer. Overall, there’s a lot to like about this futuristic-looking box.
- Very affordable price
- 4 gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting devices directly
- 3 external and 3 internal antennas for maximizing range and signal strength
- Lacks the raw speed of the other routers on this list
- Doesn’t have all the advanced features of more expensive options
Not everyone needs the outrageous performance or truckload of features our top picks offer. If you just want a reasonably fast router at a great price, the TP-Link Archer C7 is the way to go. This router has dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi on board for speeds up to 1,750 Mbps—that’s plenty fast for most users. It also has four gigabit Ethernet ports for plugging in your devices directly.
The best thing about this router is just how affordable it is, especially compared to our top pick. You could buy six of these TP-Link Archers for the price of a single Nighthawk X10. Of course, there are trade-offs. You’re not going to get the same performance out of this router as you would with the Nighthawk—the Nighthawk is expensive for a reason. But if budget is a major concern, you can’t go wrong with the TP-Link Archer C7.
What to Look for in Fast Wireless Routers
1. The Latest Wireless Standards
Wi-Fi devices operate on a set of standard protocols that ensure all devices can communicate with each other. These are the 802.11 numbers you see in device spec sheets. The current standard in popular use is 802.11ac, which offers speeds up to 1,300 Mbps on a single band.
There is also the newer 802.11ad, with speeds up to 4,600 Mbps, but it isn’t widely used yet. So even if your router supports it, you might not see the full benefit for a few more years. Still, buying a router that supports the newest standards will keep your router sharp for years to come.
In short, for future-proofing, get a router with the 802.11ad standard, but for maximum performance today that comes at a cheaper price, go with 802.11ac.
2. Lots of Gigabit Ethernet Ports
- Streaming TV boxes
- Gaming consoles
- Your primary computer
It does reduce mobility, but plenty of available Ethernet ports means you won’t have to prioritize devices as much. For that reason, we recommend having at least four on your router.
3. Powerful Processor
If someone asked you what features you thought were important in a wireless router, you probably wouldn’t say “processors.” That’s because processors are typically associated with computers and smartphones. However, they’re also important for routers—if you want the best performance possible, that is. Router processors are pretty important. They handle incoming requests and route devices to the right bands and antennas.
Processors consist of several “cores” that work together to make the device run. While it’s not an absolute rule, generally more processor cores are better. Look for a quad-core processor for peak performance, though dual-core processors can also get the job done.
4. Specialized Features
There are some advanced router features that you’ll want to keep an eye out for. These are common in high-end routers, and they make a big difference in day-to-day performance. They’re also starting to trickle down to more affordable models as the tech becomes cheaper to produce.
- MU-MIMO: Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO) is a multi-tasking feature that makes a router much better at handling more than one device at a time. Nearly every home will have more than one device connected at once these days—laptops, tablets, phones, streaming TV boxes, security cameras—so this feature should be on any router you purchase for speed.
- Beamforming: Beamforming is a feature that directs the wireless signal toward the connected devices rather than just spreading it around a room evenly. This can significantly improve signal strength, which in turn improves speed and reliability. Most high-end routers like the ones on our list will have beamforming, but it’s something to double-check.
FAQs about Wireless Routers
What’s the difference between a modem and a router?
A modem takes the signal from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and translates it into something your devices can understand (if they’re plugged in directly through an Ethernet cable). For wireless connections, the router takes the translated signal from the modem and broadcasts it as a Wi-Fi network. Both are vital to bringing complete internet access to your home.
Will a better router improve my internet speed?
Well, yes and no. Your router can’t make the internet service from your ISP any faster—if you’re paying for 300 Mbps, your router won’t magically help you get 400 Mbps. What a router can do is make your Wi-Fi network operate more efficiently by cutting interference, targeting the signal, and using other advanced features to speed up the process of getting the signal to your devices.
If your current router is old or lacking features, a newer, better router can make your network faster. If you purchase a faster router and your connection is just as slow as before, it may be time to upgrade your internet plan. Use our Zip Finder to see what plans are available in your area.
What’s the best router for gaming?
For gamers, the ASUS ROG Rapture is our pick. With gaming, raw speed is a little less important than efficiency because online game speeds are often capped by the game’s servers. It’s usually more useful to ensure the signal has minimal delays on your network’s end since that’s all you can really control anyway. The ASUS ROG Rapture excels at this, with a powerful processor and features that get your signal to your devices with prime response times.