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Best long-range Wi-Fi routers for 2021

While there are many routers capable of delivering fast speeds and the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology, some homes or small offices are simply too large to cover. In general, a whole-home mesh networking solution will be able to blanket larger spaces with a reliable, speedy Wi-Fi signal, but for those who don’t want to install satellite receivers and nodes, having a robust Wi-Fi router will also do the trick. These are some of the best long-range Wi-Fi and mesh Wi-Fi systems that can cover homes in varying sizes from 5,000 to even 8,000 square feet.

Best long-range Wi-Fi routers

Netgear Nighthawk RAX200

Netgear's Nighthawk router uses a futuristic design.

Why you should buy this: The Nighthawk RAX200 boasts a unique router design, Wi-Fi 6 support, and speeds up to 10.8Gbps with a coverage area of up to 2,500 square feet.

Who’s it for: Gamers, streamers, and home users who don’t want to compromise on speed.

Why we picked the Netgear Nighthawk RAX200:

Whereas traditional routers use unsightly antennas to help extend coverage to your home, Netgear’s futuristic take on the humble Wi-Fi hub is based on the wings of a jet. The design isn’t as minimalist as some of the home mesh network systems — a few of which are also on this list — but the Nighthawk RAX200 isn’t overly aggressive with its design like the octopus-like designs of some of the best gaming routers.

To cover properties as large as 2,500 square feet, the Nighthawk RAX200 relies on eight antennas concealed in the wing-shaped design, and signals are broadcasted on the 2.4GHz and dual 5GHz bands. With MU-MIMO and beamforming support, the company claims that you’ll get speeds up to 10.8Gbps. As advertised, that’s 4x more capacity and 40% more data throughput, which means that active homes can stream multiple 4K video feeds, game, and browse the web at the same time no matter where you are in the home.

Keeping things running smoothly is a quad-core processor under the hood. Though you likely would not experience any drop in coverage with the Nighthawk RAX200, gamers and streamers can also opt for a more stable wired connection through the built-in Ethernet ports.

Netgear Orbi 5G Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System NBK752

Netgear's Orbi 5G broadcasts your mobile broadband connection over Wi-Fi 6.

Why you should buy this: Netgear’s latest Orbi 5G allows you to connect directly to a 5G network in areas where there isn’t DSL, fiber, or cable service, and you can connect multiple satellites together to build an expansive mesh network.

Who’s it for: Rural residents who need access to fast mobile broadband or anyone who wants access to 5G Internet for failover.

Why we picked the Netgear Orbi 5G Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System NBK752:

Though the Orbi 5G WiFi 6 Mesh System resembles many of the company’s previous Orbi designs, this latest router comes with a clever new trick. In addition to being able to hook up this system to your existing DSL, cable, or fiber modem to use as a whole-home mesh network, you can also pop in a nano SIM card and use your favorite wireless carrier’s 5G network. This makes it the perfect solution for rural residents and small businesses who may not have access to fast wired broadband access as well as anyone else who wants a failover network in case your regular Internet goes out.

Currently, Netgear states that the AT&T and T-Mobile networks are supported, and the company will add support for Verizon’s 5G network soon. While the Orbi 5G sounds more like a mobile hotspot than a home router, you’re getting all the latest features, including tri-band Wi-Fi 6 support, up to 5,000 square feet of coverage, and speeds of up to 4.2Gbps for up to 40 devices to connect. The company admits that its router stands taller than competing mesh network products, but the bulk is to house all the antennas to improve coverage and signal performance. Just add an Orbi satellite to eliminate dead zones or expand coverage by another 2,500 square feet, and manage the mesh network with Netgear’s dedicated Orbi app on iPhone and Android smartphones. The biggest downside with this solution is finding a compatible mobile broadband plan that’s affordable enough to take advantage of Orbi’s latest features.

Linksys Velop MX12600

Linksys Velop AX4200 router and satellites.
Linksys

Why you should buy this: Linksys’ Velop MX12600 can blanket properties as large as 8,000 square feet with Wi-Fi 6 coverage and allows up to 120 devices to connect.

Who’s it for: Residents of large homes who need their Wi-Fi signal to travel further.

Why we picked the Linksys Velop MX12600:

Linksys’ Velop MX12600 is another mesh networking solution with three nodes that can stretch your Internet connection over properties as large as 8,100 square feet. Highlights of this mesh networking system include Apple’s HomeKit support for smart home connectivity, Wi-Fi 6 on-board, and the ability to connect more than 120 devices simultaneously, making it the ideal hub for large IoT-enabled homes. The compact square-shaped tower with its white-clad design helps the nodes fit in with your home decor.

Linksys claims that the whole-home mesh network is capable of delivering 4x more capacity and 3.5x faster speeds compared to older Wi-Fi 5 systems. The Velop is capable of speeds up to 4.2Gbps, making it perfectly suited for bandwidth-intensive tasks, like multiple 4K streaming, downloading large files, and gaming. A convenient app makes setup easy and gives you access to features like guest network access as well as establishing device priority to ensure buffer-free, lag-free streaming.

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000

Asus ROG Rapture is a solid gaming router.

Why you should buy this: The Asus ROG Rapture delivers speedy performance, comes with Wi-Fi 6 support, and has adaptive QoS to prioritize gaming traffic.

Who’s it for: Gamers who need speedy traffic in larger homes.

Why we picked the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000:

The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is one of the best Wi-Fi routers around and has been a beloved choice for gamers for good reason. In addition to supporting Wi-Fi 6, the ROG Rapture comes equipped with adaptive QoS, which helps prioritize gaming traffic during periods of congestion, and a dedicated 2.5Gbps gaming port, ensuring that gamers never suffer from dropped frames due to home network speeds. What makes the ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 a solid pick is that this router, with its eight antennas, can cover homes as large as 5,000 square feet with its beamforming tech.

Asus promises speeds as fast as 11,000Mbps with this router, and OFDM support means that a single channel can transmit data from several devices at the same time, making it speedy and efficient. VPN Fusion technology intelligently routes traffic from your computer, tablet, and smartphone through a VPN while keeping your gaming traffic connected directly for latency-free connectivity. The router also supports Asus’s Auro RGB lighting, making it a perfect complement to gamers with other compatible ROG devices and components.

TP-Link Archer AX6600

Why you should buy this: TP-Link’s Archer AX6600 is an affordable alternative to Asus’ pricier router while still delivering all of the gaming-centric features over Wi-Fi 6.

Who’s it for: Gamers on a tight budget who don’t want to compromise on speed and performance.

Why we picked the TP-Link Archer AX6600:

Gamers who want all the advanced features of the ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 on our list but don’t want to pay Asus’ premium price tag will find lots to love with TP-Link’s more affordable alternative. Like its ROG counterpart, the TP-Link Archer AX6600 is designed for gamers. Features such as QoS support, eight dedicated beamforming antennas, and support for tri-band frequencies show that this is a router that’s been thoughtfully designed for gamers.

All this adds up to having robust Wi-Fi 6 coverage with speeds that top out at 4.8Gbps. For even larger spaces, you can add range extenders to form a mesh Wi-Fi network with the company’s OneMesh solution. TP-Link didn’t give a rating for the Archer AX6600’s coverage area, but the prior model is capable of blanketing spaces up to 3,500 square feet, while the company’s mesh Deco AX 6600 can blanket up to 6,000 square feet.

Where the Archer AX6600 excels is in the number of advanced features covered under the company’s HomeCare security suite. Unlike competing products, HomeCare doesn’t require a recurring monthly subscription, making the Archer even more affordable in the long run. You get enhanced parental controls with sophisticated traffic filtering, anti-malware support, and more.

Eero 6

Eero 6 Wi-Fi Mesh Router
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: Amazon’s Eero 6 brings Wi-Fi 6 coverage to homes in a compact, attractive design with an intuitive app, automatic software updates, and plenty of controls.

Who’s it for: Home users needing a no-fuss home mesh network that delivers Wi-Fi 6 performance.

Why we picked the Eero 6:

Arguably the first company that brought the idea of mesh networks into the homes of consumers, Amazon’s Eero 6 maintains the company’s philosophy in creating an easy-to-use product in a compact design that’s made to blend in with your home. Though the simplicity makes the Eero 6 extremely attractive to general home users — the companion smartphone apps makes setup easy and updates are seamlessly delivered during off-peak times — the limited number of Ethernet ports on the main router and lack of ports on the satellite nodes may frustrate advanced users, those with smart home bridges, and gamers who may want a dedicated wired connection to their console or PC rig.

Where the Eero 6 excels is that it can blanket homes up to 5,000 square feet with a multi-unit package consisting of a main router and two satellite add-ons. Surprisingly, the more premium offering with three routers instead of satellites covers a slightly smaller 4,500-square-foot living space. The Eero 6 comes with advanced features like OFDMA technology to reduce and avoid congestion, beamforming antennas, dual-band support, and the company’s proprietary TrueMesh technology to avoid disruptions. Eero promises speeds up to 500Mbps on the Eero 6 mesh system, and the router comes with a built-in Zigbee smart home to connect compatible IoT devices. Users with faster connections will want to upgrade to the slightly pricier Eero Pro 6, which is more suited for gigabit connections.

Asus AX6000 RT-AX88U

The Asus AX6000 RT-AX88U is a more affordable and less aggressive gaming router.

Why you should buy this: The Asus AX6000 FT-AX88U delivers speeds up to 2.3x faster than an 802.11ac router using its 4×4 dual-band antennas.

Who’s it for: Home users who need Wi-Fi 6 speeds but don’t want the ostentatious designs of a dedicated gaming router.

Why we picked the Asus AX6000 RT-AX88U:

While the Asus AX6000 RT-AX88U is a router made for gamers, it comes with a less aggressive design, making it the perfect addition to any household. With four antennas instead of the usual eight on premium gaming routers, the RT-AX88U’s design is considered to be more discrete, and the router’s black-clad body with gold accents attracts less attention than the black and red designs on gaming-forward solutions. Still, this Wi-Fi 6 router packs quite the punch, delivering speeds up to 6000Mbps, which is up to 2.3 times faster than a typical Wi-Fi 5 router, according to Asus. For gamers, the router’s built-in tech allows you to maintain a fast connection with little latency, and ping times have been reduced by as much as 75% with tech like adaptive QoS to help prioritize traffic.

Beamforming antennas, AiMesh technology to create a whole-home mesh network, security controls, and plenty of gigabit Ethernet ports round out the list of features that make this router so attractive. The RT-AX88U can blanket homes up to 5,000 square feet, ensuring that you have even the most remote rooms in your house blanketed with Wi-Fi signal for gaming, 4K streaming, or casual web browsing. It’s a powerful router that comes at an affordable price. For even larger homes, you can connect additional Asus routers to form your own mesh network.

Google Nest Wi-Fi

Google's Nest Wi-Fi incorporates a built-in smart speaker.

Why you should buy this: Google’s Nest Wi-Fi mesh system incorporates a built-in smart speaker and can blanket homes up to 7,000 square feet in size.

Who’s it for: Home users who want a compact, aesthetically pleasing mesh system that’s non-obtrusive and reliable.

Why we picked the Google Nest Wi-Fi:

You’ll be partially correct if you mistook Google’s latest Nest Wi-Fi for a smart speaker. The compact cylinders — roughly the same size as Apple’s HomePod mini speakers — is just as capable of playing music and answering queries as it is at broadcasting Wi-Fi signals to cover your entire home. As a mesh networking system, coverage depends on how many receivers you have, and you can blanket homes as large as 7,000 square feet with a Nest Wi-Fi router and three additional nodes spread across your home. Google recommends keeping five access points at most to any home to reduce interference.

Google’s setup process is just as simple as the competing Eero system made by Amazon, and the best part about the Nest Wi-Fi is that by bundling in smart speakers, you can eliminate the clutter and cost of having separate devices here. Sadly, though, its features fall somewhat short of all the other products on our list, as it is limited to dual-band Wi-Fi 5 signals rather than the latest Wi-Fi 6 tech. In general, this will work fine with most American households, and you generally won’t benefit from speed promises from Wi-Fi 6 unless your broadband plan is fast enough anyway. Speeds top out at 2.2Gbps when connected directly to the router or 1.2Gbps when connected to the satellite nodes, so the system will work with homes with up to gigabit cable or fiber connections.

Long-range Wi-Fi router buying guide and FAQs

Should I invest in a mesh network?

There are plenty of advantages to getting a mesh network, and many routers on our list allow you to pair an additional router from the same manufacturer to create your own smart mesh home network. A mesh network achieves a similar purpose of blanketing a larger living space by allowing you to seamlessly hop between the satellite nodes without having to switch between different network names and passwords. Choosing a node can also help in more difficult situations where a single Wi-Fi router’s signal may be hampered by thick walls or metal doors.

What should I look for when choosing a long-range router?

Most manufacturers advertise coverage in terms of square feet. You’ll want to choose one with a coverage area that’s as large or larger than your living space to ensure that your home will be covered from corner to corner. Our list contains routers with coverage from 5,000 to 8,000 square feet, and you can even go farther by adding satellite mesh nodes.

That said, there are other factors that can affect Wi-Fi coverage. Hiding a router behind a shelf or behind an entertainment center can weaken the signal that’s being broadcast. Signals may not be able to easily penetrate thick walls, concrete, or metal, so keep that in mind as well. If your home is constructed with brick and concrete, a whole-home mesh system that’s expandable may be a better option.

Do I need Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E coverage right now?

Wi-Fi 6 is also known as the 802.11ax standard. In general, most American homes won’t benefit from any promised speed boosts from Wi-Fi 6 unless you have gigabit or faster Internet. The new protocol, however, provides benefits that may not be tangible or as visible, like lower latency for gaming, allowing more devices to connect for IoT-filled homes, and improved security. Be sure to check the speed of your broadband plan with your ISP to see if it will be covered with your router. If your ISP speeds are faster than what’s advertised by your router, you won’t be getting the maximum benefits from your plan. In general, choose a router that provides faster speeds than your ISP to future-proof your investment.

I am not a gamer. Should I buy a gaming router?

If you don’t mind the gaming-forward aggressive aesthetics of a gaming router, opting for a router made for gamers can provide you with plenty of tangible benefits. First, gaming routers tend to optimize and prioritize traffic for games and videos. If you stream a lot, you can benefit from this adaptive QoS feature that’s found on many gaming routers, especially if you have a larger household with a congested network. This way, you’ll experience less buffering.

Is it complicated to set up a new network when I upgrade to one of these long-range Wi-Fi routers?

Historically, the user interface to access the settings on a router required a bit of technical knowledge. Many of these routers, especially the mesh networking systems, now come with a simple, easy-to-use app to adjust the settings, create guest networks, and change the security protocols used. Some routers come with parental controls built-in, and enhanced security features can be obtained through an optional subscription package.

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