Your router might just be the most under-appreciated but essential part of your home. Without it, you couldn’t stream Netflix or HBO Now to your smartphone, tablet or laptop without cumbersome Ethernet cords or weird workarounds. When it’s doing its job well, you never give it much thought, but when it isn’t… well, you notice.
Thankfully, routers have come a long way, and the best can easily cover the largest home. Whether you’re looking to jump into the Google Home ecosystem, or blast unencumbered high-speed Wi-Fi through your home or office, chances are we know a router that will get the job done.
Why you should buy it: You’re not just looking for a high-end router, you’re looking for a long-term investment.
Who it’s for: Anyone looking to supercharge and future-proof their home network.
How much will it cost: $200
Why we picked the Google OnHub:
It works, and it works well. Your router should be something you can plug in and forget about, and the Google OnHub delivers on that promise by offering up rock-solid Wi-Fi connectivity and a fully-featured Wi-Fi ecosystem. The OnHub replaces those awful 192.168.1.1 menus you used to have to navigate with a slick, easy-to-use app that offers complete control over your Wi-Fi router.
Sure, the OnHub is a little spendy. But it’s a good investment. Earlier this month, Google unveiled another Wi-Fi router, the aptly named Google Wifi. Immediately, users who had purchased the first generation Google OnHub were worried that the router would be abandoned.
Google reassured those users by rolling the OnHub into the new Google Wifi family. That’s right, the OnHub can act as a node in the Google Wifi mesh network. So if you find you need more Wi-Fi coverage someday, you’ll be able to pick up a Google Wifi node and set it up with your existing Google OnHub router – right through the same app, Google On.
That means you get a future-proof device when you invest in the OnHub. Not only are you getting one of the best routers on the market, you’ll be in a position to take advantage of Google’s future plans for its Google Wifi line of products.
The OnHub does, however, only feature one Ethernet port, so it might not be the best choice if you need a bunch of wired connections alongside wireless connectivity. If you do, you might be interested in something a little more… heavy duty.
The best high performance router
Why you should buy it: You have a big house, or just really need 5.4Gbps Wi-Fi blasted in every direction.
Who it’s for: Families, small businesses, cattle ranchers, anyone who needs to blanket a large area with fast Wi-Fi.
How much will it cost: $350
Why we picked the Linksys EA9500:
Sometimes you need more than just a router. Sometimes you need the Wi-Fi equivalent of a neutron bomb, and that’s what the Linksys EA9500 offers. It looks more like a heavy-duty octocopter than it does a router. It blasts out 5.6Gbps of high-speed wireless connectivity, and on the backside it boasts nine Ethernet ports, and two USB ports.
This router is not cheap. Coming in at $350, it’s the most expensive router on this list. But it’s worth every penny if you need to have Wi-Fi in every corner of your house. It’s a little overkill for your average three-bedroom apartment or house, but if you’re trying to network your mansion, well, here’s your pick.
The Linksys also offers massive compatibility. It supports 802.11ac/n/g/a/b wireless connectivity, which ultimately means that if you have a Wi-Fi device, it can connect to this router without any issues or difficulties.
And it’s the only router on this list that can offer multi-band capabilities. You can essentially partition off your bandwidth, setting up two wireless networks under separate SSIDs (just like those coffee shops that have Guest and Private wireless networks). That means you can separate your gaming bandwidth from your streaming bandwidth, so you can be watching Netflix in one room, and playing Battlefield 1 in the other, without much impact on your up/down speed.
Despite its impressive technical chops, this router is not all that hard to set up. With Linksys’ Smart Wifi setup, getting this guy up and running is a breeze. But if you’re looking for something a little more plug-and-play, we have you covered.