Best Wi-Fi Routers for 2023
In this article:
- Best Wi-Fi routers
- How to shop for a Wi-Fi router in 2023
- How we test Wi-Fi routers
- Wi-Fi router FAQs
Your internet speed is only as fast as the router it’s going through. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune. For most homes, the TP-Link Archer AX21 is the best router choice based on our testing — and it’s a Wi-Fi 6 model that costs less than $100. But the best fit for your network depends on a few factors, from the size and layout of your home to the content you stream. We’ve tested dozens of the latest models to help find plenty of picks for every situation.
It’s a particularly good time to make sure that your router is up to snuff. Even as things have opened up again since the early days of the pandemic (and the surge in home internet use that came with it), reliable Wi-Fi at home remains a necessity. The good news is that routers have come a long way in the past few years, with a number of today’s best Wi-Fi router options boasting impressive speeds and features worth investing in.
For starters, there’s a new and improved version of the Wi-Fi standard called 802.11ax — or Wi-Fi 6 — and it boasts faster, more efficient home network performance. On top of that, there’s a growing number of mesh router options that are well worth considering, too, particularly since many of them are far less expensive than the router combo systems that came before them.
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Shop around, and you’ll also find new Wi-Fi 6E routers capable of sending signals using newly opened bandwidth in the 6GHz band. Just don’t expect routers like those to come cheap.
All of that means that you’ve got a lot to think about if you’re currently in the market for an upgrade. That’s where we come in. Whether you’re interested in gaming routers, mesh systems, Wi-Fi 6 routers or if you just want something decent that won’t break the bank, we’re here to simplify things and point you in the right direction so that you can find the best Wi-Fi router to manage your needs.
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Expect regular updates to this post as we continue testing networking devices periodically. When we find a new router that merits strong consideration, we’ll add it to this list with links to our most recent test data so that you can always find the best router.
Read more: Best Internet Providers for 2023
Best Wi-Fi routers of 2023
How to shop for a Wi-Fi router in 2023
At this point, Wi-Fi 6 is well-entrenched as the de facto standard for the latest Wi-Fi gadgets, so it’s worth getting a Wi-Fi 6 router if you’re looking for something new. Wi-Fi 5 routers will continue to get the job done, and there are a few that stand out as worthwhile budget picks, but you’ll want Wi-Fi 6 for the latest features and fastest speeds.
For smaller homes and apartments with internet speeds of 500Mbps and less, an entry-level Wi-Fi 6 router like the TP-Link Archer AX21 will do a fine job handling your everyday network traffic. If you live in a home with faster, gigabit level speeds, or if you have multiple power users on your network, then it’s worth stepping up to a more powerful midrange model like the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 or the Asus RT-AX86U.
The Eero Pro 6E mesh router is one of a growing number of routers that support Wi-Fi 6E. Devices like those can send signals in the 6GHz band, which offers lots of bandwidth and very little interference.
If you live in a larger home or one with multiple stories, then stepping up to a mesh router that can offer better reliability at range makes a lot of sense. You can find a full slate of top picks in my mesh router rundown, but the TP-Link Deco W7200 stands out as an affordable option that tested well. Meanwhile, the Eero Pro 6E is my top mesh pick for homes with a gigabit connection.
That Eero Pro 6E system is one of a growing number of routers that support Wi-Fi 6E, which adds in access to the ultrawide 6GHz band. The only devices that can connect over that band are other Wi-Fi 6E devices, which means that it’s largely free from interference. Wi-Fi 6E is more than most homes probably need, but it’s worth considering if you’re looking for something future-oriented, as the number of home Wi-Fi devices that can connect over 6GHz is expected to grow.
That said, at this point, the smarter play for future-focused shoppers might be to hold out until 2024, when we expect to see the full ratification of Wi-Fi 7, the next big generational update for Wi-Fi. Some manufacturers like TP-Link are jumping the gun with Wi-Fi 7 router releases in 2023, but buying in now seems premature given that the standard isn’t fully ratified yet and there isn’t a Wi-Fi 7 device certification process yet.
How we test Wi-Fi routers
Like a lot of people, I spent the majority of 2020 and 2021 working from home, and that included my router tests. Last year, in 2022, I relocated my home test setup back to our product testing facility in Louisville, Kentucky.
My operating procedure is largely unchanged — I start by setting each router up in a fixed location in our lab, and once it’s up and running, I run a multitude of speed tests from five different rooms nearby. I start in the same room as the router, I run multiple speed tests on a Lenovo ThinkPad laptop with full support for Wi-Fi 6, I log the results in a spreadsheet, then I move to the next room and repeat. Once I’ve run tests in all five rooms, I repeat the entire process, but this time, I start with a fresh connection in the room farthest from the router. Your distance from the router when you first connect will make a difference in how the router handles your connection, so running a split of front-to-back and back-to-front tests helps to keep my averages rooted in real-world results.
I run the entire process detailed above (a front-to-back round of speed tests, followed by a back-to-front round) three separate times: once during morning hours, again in the early afternoon, and once again during evening hours. I also run a separate round of tests to a Wi-Fi 6E device (a Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone). If the router allows me to separate each band into a separate connection, then I’ll run separate rounds of tests for each band to see how they perform when isolated.
After all of that, I’m left with a comprehensive look at how the router’s speeds hold up to different devices across different distances, as well as how the router handles other considerations, like latency. From there, I make sure to evaluate each router’s features and its ease of use, as well as considerations like security standards, smart home compatibility, and overall value relative to the competition.
I’ll post the answer to commonly asked router questions below — if you have any others, feel free to reach out on Twitter (@rycrist), or by clicking the little envelope icon on my CNET profile page. Doing so will let you send a message straight to my inbox.
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Linksys Hydra Pro 6 Review: An Excellent Wi-Fi 6 Router With No Frills
$248 at Walmart
$250 at Best Buy
- A bit expensive
- Dual-band design not ideal for use in a mesh network
- Doesn’t support incoming wired speeds faster than 1Gbps
With a boxy, plain-looking design, the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 (model MR5500) is a much more understated router than the admittedly cool name might suggest. At an asking price of $300 — more than you’ll pay for some tri-band routers or multidevice mesh setups — the dual-band AX5400 Hydra Pro 6 even seems a bit overpriced.
But there’s more to this unassuming router than meets the eye. Most notably, it cruised through my at-home speed tests, with faster average speeds than noteworthy top picks like the budget-minded TP-Link Archer AX21 and the gaming-centric Asus RT-AX86U, the latter of which is one of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers I’ve tested.
Couple that with the consistency of the Hydra Pro 6, which never once faltered at range, dropped my connection, or routed me to the slower 2.4GHz band when it shouldn’t have, and you’re looking at a pretty tempting pick for medium-sized homes in need of a better, faster Wi-Fi signal. Though $300 is too much for it, Linksys currently has it on sale for $250, as do other retailers, and a quick look at the handy new CNET Shopping extension shows that you can find it for far less on sites like eBay. Catch a deal like that, and this simplistic dual-band router becomes an absolute steal.
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Design and specs
With a name like “Hydra Pro 6,” you might expect that this Linksys model would sport an ostentatious, design-forward build similar to routers like the Batman-approved Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500, the spacey, spidery Asus GT-AXE11000 or the robotic, self-adjusting TP-Link Archer AXE200 Omni. It does not.
Instead, the Hydra Pro 6 is just a black rectangle with two fold-up antennas in the back. That’s all well and good if you just want a decent router that won’t take up too much space or draw too much attention to itself, but if you’re shopping for something you can show off, the Hydra probably isn’t for you.
In addition to the WAN port, the Hydra Pro 6 offers four spare Ethernet LAN jacks, along with a USB 3.0 port.
A dual-band AX5400 router with a 1GHz dual-core processor, the Hydra Pro 6 features full support for Wi-Fi 6 (that’s what the “AX” part means), and top theoretical speeds of 574Mbps on the 2. 4GHz band and 4,804Mbps on the 5GHz band (add those up to get the “5400” part). Turn the thing around, and you’ll find the WAN port that you’ll connect to your modem plus four spare Ethernet jacks in the back, all of which cap incoming wired speeds at a single gigabit per second. That means that you’ll want something else with faster jacks if you’re planning to upgrade to a new, multi-gigabit internet plan anytime soon.
There isn’t much else of note to the build, but it’s worth pointing out that you can use the Hydra Pro 6 as the centerpiece of a mesh setup by adding other compatible Linksys devices to your network. For instance, if you’re already using another Linksys device like that and looking to upgrade, you could swap in the Hydra Pro 6 and relocate the old router somewhere else in your home for use as a mesh extender.
I’d like that pitch a little better if this were a tri-band router we were talking about, as a dual-band mesh setup won’t be able to silo off the backhaul transmissions between satellite devices on a separate band. That said, we’ve seen dual-band mesh setups like the Eero 6 Plus, Nest Wifi and Asus ZenWifi XD6 that have performed perfectly well, so it isn’t a deal-breaker by any stretch.
Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET
The recently refreshed Linksys app (pictured above) has a clean, easy-to-use interface, and it does a fine job of guiding you through the setup process. Once it’s up and running, you can use the app to tweak network settings, toggle the parental controls or the guest network, or keep track of connected devices. You’ll also enjoy automatic overnight firmware updates, which is great.
That said, just about every other router on the market comes with an app that does those exact same things. A lot of those alternatives will do more, like the gaming-minded latency management features in the Asus app, or the ability to sync with Amazon for simplified smart home device setup in TP-Link’s Tether app. You won’t find unique features like those with the Linksys app, and you’ll find fewer advanced networking controls, too. The app won’t even let you turn off bandsteering to split the 2.4 and 5GHz bands into two separate networks.
It’s mostly a moot point if you’re the type of user who prefers a set-it-and-forget-it approach to your router, but even if you have no desire to mess with your network settings, you’ll still likely want a more robust set of controls for troubleshooting purposes (even if you’ll be handing the app over to someone more tech-savvy than yourself).
The Linksys Hydra Pro 6 averaged faster upload and download speeds on my home’s gigabit fiber network than top-rated alternatives like the Asus RT-AX86U.
Performance and speeds
Like every router I review, I tested the Hydra Pro 6 at my 1,300-square-foot home in Louisville, Kentucky, where I have a fiber internet plan from AT&T. I recently upgraded that plan to a gigabit connection after spending the last few years testing with top speeds set at 300Mbps. Doing so gives me a much better look at the capabilities of each router I test, but it also means that I have fewer models to compare it to, since the old 300Mbps data won’t make for a fair comparison.
To account for that, I tested the Hydra Pro 6 against a couple of top picks from my Wi-Fi router best list — the budget-minded TP-Link Archer AX21 and the Asus RT-AX86U gaming router — plus a handful of other Wi-Fi 6 models I had on hand. In the end, the Hydra Pro 6 finished with both the fastest average download speeds throughout my home (536Mbps) and the fastest average uploads, too (467Mbps).
Each dot in these graphs is the download speed during a single speed test in my home. Along with being relatively fast, the Hydra Pro 6 was more consistent than similarly powerful routers such as the Asus RT-AX86U and the TP-Link Archer AX73.
Among those other models, the Asus RT-AX86U (dual-band AX5700) and the TP-Link Archer AX73 (dual-band AX5400) offer the closest comparisons to the Hydra Pro 6. Linksys beat them both outright in terms of average speeds, but perhaps more importantly, it was also the most consistent of the three, as well. To see what I mean, go ahead take a gander at the graphs above. Each dot in those graphs is the download speed during a single speed test, so you want them to be as high up and as close together as possible. The Hydra Pro 6 delivered, with tight speed ranges in each room I tested it in, and solid bandsteering that didn’t leave me on the slower 2.4GHz band when it shouldn’t have (just look at the TP-Link graph for an example of what that looks like — it isn’t pretty).
This was an especially encouraging result for Linksys, which hasn’t always brought its bandsteering A-game to my speed tests. A few years back, I tested and reviewed the Linksys MR7350, which is a similar but less powerful version of the MR5500 reviewed here. The bandsteering was awful on that budget model, with speeds collapsing across the board whenever I’d start my connection far from the router, in the back of the house. That wasn’t a problem at all this time around.
With impressive speeds and performance, the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 is a compelling upgrade pick for anyone looking for a little more oomph from their router. $300 is too much for it given that you can find good tri-band and mesh models at that price, but catching it on sale for less doesn’t seem too challenging. At the very least, it’s definitely a good model to bookmark ahead of Black Friday and other prime sales periods.
With relatively few noteworthy features and an easy-to-use but underwhelming app, the Hydra Pro 6 probably isn’t the best fit for intermediate and advanced users looking for deep controls over their network. But if you’re looking for a fast, dependable router for someone who doesn’t want to think about their router too much (if at all), give the Hydra Pro 6 a close look, because the combination of speed, simplicity and consistency makes it tough to beat.
D-Link DI-804V Broadband Access Router allows LAN users to share one ISP account while protecting users from unauthorized access by blocking ports, packet filtering, firewall operation. Support for static addressing, built-in DHCP, PPPoE allows you to connect it to almost any provider, whether it’s xDSL or access over cable operator networks, while ensuring ease of installation and maintenance of a local network.
The DI-804V has two levels of security. The first is the users’ local IP addresses, which are different from those used on the Internet, making it difficult for a hacker to find your machine on the network. The second is blocking and reassigning certain ports for outside access. Certain ports can be opened for the user to access games and other Internet applications.
Unlike a proxy server or a software network address translator using additional software, no local computer will be visible from the outside when using the DI-804V. In this case, you do not need to constantly run and maintain special software. Customers do not need to use special software to connect to the DI-804, and any operating system is supported on computers connected to the network.
The DI-804V provides a special filtering mode according to the standard VPN VPN implementation. The virtual server allows you to open HTTP, FTP, game servers and other services for access by external users from the Internet. The User-Definable Application Sensing Tunnel feature allows you to define attributes to support applications that require multiple access such as Internet gaming, videoconferencing, VoIP. The DMZ settings can be set for a single client behind the router, ensuring that it appears on the Internet and is fully Internet compatible.
Up to 253 users can share a single Internet connection, providing full security and firewall functionality. Support for static IP addresses, built-in DHCP server allow you to connect to the global network as easily as to the local one.
Network Address Translation (NAT):
Many users can work at the same time, having only one account with the Internet provider.
Software Update Server (TFTP):
Using the server and the software version upgrade utility, you can install a new version to enhance functionality.
Web Management (HTTP):
Any browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Communicator can be used to configure the DI-804V.
For most applications linking two remote LANs, RIP is used to exchange information between routers to select a data transfer path.
Telnet Terminal Server:
The Telnet User Interface (TUI) is an efficient way to configure and manage routers. The Telnet interface is a traditional command line interface for advanced configuration, management, and troubleshooting.
WAN Port DHCP Client:
DI-804V supports WAN port DHCP client. This allows you to automatically obtain an IP address from your ISP.
Point-to-Point over Ethernet (PPPoE):
For users of xDSL channels, the router has a built-in PPPoE client to establish a DSL connection with an Internet provider. No software is required on the client side of the installation.
wireless broadband Internet access, Tele2 – Moscow and the region
Wireless broadband access (abbreviated as BSBA) is becoming more and more widespread in enterprises from various sectors of the economy, in everyday life. The English version of the system name is BWA (Broadband Wireless Access). It provides access to the Internet, supports VoIP and VPN, is used for organizing video surveillance, broadcasting a television signal. BSPD opens up the possibility of fast transmission and reception of a large amount of information. That is why the technology attracted large corporations and began to be used to build multiservice communication networks.
April 27, 2023
7 minutes to read
Communication systems based on WWAP
WWAP is a technology for transmitting data to subscribers that provides high quality in a dedicated frequency range. It is based on the use of broadband signals, which are used to increase immunity to interference that occurs when information is transmitted through a source with low power. In this case, a wide range of frequencies is involved. The signal is converted in the receive path, resulting in excellent signal-to-noise performance. Due to this, BBPD equipment is characterized by compactness, low power and quite attractive cost.
Important: the technology under consideration is used when you are at a considerable distance from the core access network, there are moving means of signal reception, and also when it is impossible to lay a cable in a given settlement, area or if such installation is unprofitable.
One bandwidth is capable of carrying different types of broadcasts. For this purpose, each system is provided with a separate part of the range. To organize reception and transmission, that is, sending data in two directions, two channels are organized.
Modern BBBA technologies include:
- WiMax, which is a technology based on the IEEE 802.16 standard. Allows you to transfer data over long distances;
- satellite communications between fixed and mobile earth stations;
- Wi-Fi – IEEE 802.11 based wireless LAN technology;
- LTE is a standard used on devices that transmit information at high speed.
Multimedia Wireless System is becoming more and more popular. Short for MWS. They are characterized by a minimum level of interference that occurs when exposed to other electronic devices.
There are three types of MWS worth mentioning:
- SME/SOHO corporate fixed access, implemented in the range from 18 to 40 GHz. The disadvantage is the significant limitation of the frequency range both in Russia and in foreign countries;
- provision of lines for telecommunication needs. It is relevant for the cellular network when operating in conditions of high density of subscribers. Range – up to 500 m;
- service organization for a single user. It is implemented by asymmetric data transmission in different directions – on the Internet, telephony, video.
The capabilities of BWA systems are as follows:
- ease of installation of subscriber equipment;
- providing access throughout the coverage area;
- organization of bilateral data exchange;
- implementation of broadcasting TV signals, ranging from simple multi-program to HD quality;
- implementation of the integration of various types of services at the request of users.
The interest in high-quality and fast data transmission has accelerated the development of wireless local high-speed networks and prompted the search for alternative solutions.
Benefits of WWAP
Wireless broadband speeds can reach up to 450 Mbps. 5G networks have surpassed this milestone by setting the bar at 7Gb/s. They not only allow you to exchange information, but also broadcast television programs, organize corporate and private video conferences, and stream video. The systems are also used for organizing mobile communications, connecting objects for special purposes or located in remote areas.
Wireless networks have other advantages:
- do not require a huge amount of time to develop a project;
- allow you to implement the development and commissioning in the shortest possible time;
- provide cost optimization – the laying of an expensive cable, excavation and construction work is excluded;
- guarantee a high degree of protection against unauthorized access by third parties, which is what cable systems suffer from;
- are suitable for carrying out operational modification of the system when changing location, connecting new users;
- maintain the quality of service at a high level, including in hard-to-reach areas where cabling is impractical.
Important: BBBA networks are often used as the so-called “last mile”. First, the laying of highways is carried out. Further, on the segment on which communication with a specific subscriber is established, a repeater is mounted. It provides communication with devices and gadgets using modern technologies.
To organize a wireless network, devices are used that differ from each other in functionality and purpose. These include:
- antennas. This equipment is used to increase the range of signal transmission. The maximum indicator is up to 20 km;
- wireless repeaters. They are used to amplify the signal, help to increase the transmission distance;
- adapters. They play the role of adapters that allow you to connect the user’s device to the router;
- switches. Devices optimize and distribute the load, perform constant scanning, and perform other functions;
- routers. Equipment that distributes data streams and, in the event of a change from one standard to another, performs signal conversion.
- routers supporting ADSL modem technology or 4G standard. These are devices that are used when pairing in another way is not economically feasible or impossible. Used to organize wireless access to the Internet, digital television.
Important: when connecting, you need not only to familiarize yourself with the terms of the tariff plan, but also to clarify whether the router supports network parameters.
BBPD equipment in industry
For the use of devices in the area under consideration, it is necessary to verify their properties:
- fault tolerance;
- maintaining stability under the influence of dynamic loads;
- protection against the negative effects of electromagnetic waves, power surges;
- resistance to temperature changes within the declared range;
- protection from access by third parties, the rights to which they were not granted;
- explosion proof.
Since the operation of the equipment is carried out in special conditions, the stability of production processes and the safety of employees also depend on its reliability. Devices are necessarily subjected to additional preparation. Testing for the presence of marriage, hidden defects. Contacts are varnished to prevent rust or corrosion. The boards used are resistant to various influences – shocks, the action of caustic substances. This approach ensures stable operation of the equipment.
Implementation of redundant systems is possible. It is an alternative to increasing reliability and does not require the commissioning of expensive equipment. Duplication increases the fault tolerance of the system.
Important: the use of additional devices can lead to an increase in the cost of the entire WWAP system.
Information security in industrial enterprises
The implementation of digital storage of data containing confidential information and the introduction of information networks increase the risk of data leakage. Unauthorized interference in the internal processes of the company, violation of communication chains is also possible. To do this, it is necessary to provide high-quality and reliable protection, and effectively repel cyber attacks.
Among the most effective measures in this direction is the use of special devices with additional protection against intrusion. They are equipped with authentication systems that allow access to a limited number of pre-specified addresses and equipment. An additional measure is specialized software. It allows you to configure modes, create accounts and allocate certain rights, and check users.
As an additional protection, the automatic reaction of the equipment is used in the event of unauthorized access by third parties to important information. Among the measures taken by the system may be blocking:
The above measures can be used in combination. It will not be superfluous to instruct employees on the rules for using certain types of communication.
The use of BSPD. How do wireless networks make it easier to work in industrial, remote, and hard-to-reach locations?
Such networks, when implemented at facilities with a special regime, help improve the quality of internal processes, reduce costs and optimize the LAN infrastructure, and implement point control over work. They increase the degree of automation, help maintain operational communication between management and subordinates. The last point is especially important if one of the parties is located in an area where there is no possibility to organize other communication channels.
The use of systems increases mobility and provides users with constant access to communication. This is relevant for police, medical, security and fire organizations, at production facilities, when it is important not only to find the right person at any time, but also to prevent an emergency, to respond to events in a timely manner.
Wireless networks are also used in the installation of remote video surveillance, so you can access the broadcast from anywhere in the world. With their help, constant monitoring and recording of events in a particular territory is implemented.
The introduction of wireless broadband access allows you to increase the coverage area, organize high-speed data transmission and reduce the cost of installing expensive equipment. In addition to the usual options (satellite, Wi-Fi or LTE), new standards are being developed and implemented. One example is MWS.
Devices can be used in all areas, as well as on industrial sites. In this case, additional requirements are put forward to them. They are quite justified, since the operation is carried out in special conditions. This means that the equipment must withstand temperature extremes, be protected from both mechanical stress and corrosion.
The use of wireless systems helps:
- organize video surveillance in the area of interest;
- provide communication for employees who work remotely or in hard-to-reach areas;
- to prevent the occurrence of emergency situations and quickly respond to them.