Best cheap wireless router deals for March 2021

For such an essential piece of equipment in today’s age of mobile tech and wireless networking, Wi-Fi routers don’t get much attention. Most people just use whatever cheap router was supplied by their ISP (and are likely paying additional monthly fees for it, no less), but a sub-par router is one of the quickest ways to bottleneck your connection and make your internet experience rather miserable, especially during bandwidth-heavy tasks like gaming and streaming. You don’t have to pay that much to get a good one, though, and this roundup of the best wireless router deals can help you find yours on the cheap. Read on:

Today’s best wireless router deals

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Speedefy K7 AC2100 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router

$79 $99
If you're looking for the best sub-$100 router with a gigabit throughput, then the Speedefy K7 AC2100 is a strong contender.
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ASUS RT-AC5300 Tri-Band Gaming Router

$256 $300
A stable internet connection is a must for any hardcore gamer, and with the ASUS tri-band RT-AC5300 gaming router, that's exactly what you'll get, capable of reaching speeds of up to 5334 Mbps.
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Meshforce M3 Suite AC1200 Mesh Wi-Fi System (Router + 2 Wi-Fi Dots)

$159 $199
With a dual-band throughput of 1,200 Mbps and two Wi-Fi extenders that plug right into any AC outlet, the Meshforce M3 suite is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to cover your whole home in Wi-Fi.
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rockspace Plug-In AC1200 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender

$34 $46
Get this Wi-Fi range extender if you're looking to boost the coverage of your current wireless network. Just plug it and follow some simple steps to give your home Wi-Fi a notable range boost.
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TP-Link Archer A5 AC1200 Dual Band Wi-Fi Router

$30 $35
When it comes to routers TP-Link is a respected name for delivering a lot of bang for the buck. This router offers speedy Wi-FI connections and four Gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting your devices.
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Asus Lyra Voice AC2200 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi Router and Alexa Bluetooth Speaker

$109 $180
The Asus Lyra Voice is one of the most unique devices on the market, and one that can pull double duty as a mesh Wi-Fi router and an Alexa-powered Bluetooth smart speaker.
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TP-Link Archer A9 AC1900 Dual-Band Router

$80 $100
If you want a decent smart router, the TP-Link AC1900 dual-band router is a great choice for any household that can't go too grand or too cheap, offering great functionality at an affordable price.
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Belkin AC1200 Wi-Fi Dual-Band Router

$25 $90
This dual-band 1,200 Mbps router from Belkin is a fine pick (and a super-affordable one) for smaller homes and networks with modest requirements.
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TP-Link Deco M5 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System (3-Pack)

$150 $190
If you have a large home, then a good mesh Wi-Fi setup like the TP-Link Deco router system can quite literally "blanket" an entire area in wireless connectivity and eliminate dead zones.
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TP-Link Archer A7 AC1750 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router

$57 $64
The Archer A7 from TP-Link is one of the best "cheap" routers, with its 1,750 dual-band speeds putting it head and shoulders above the majority of ISP-supplied units. It'll easily pay for itself, too.
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rockspace AC1200 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System (3-Pack)

$141 $170
Mesh routers like the rockspace AC1200 system blanket your home in Wi-Fi, eliminating dead zones. Grab this dual-band rockspace 3-pack if your standard router isn't giving you the coverage you need.
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TP-Link Archer AX21 AX1800 Smart WiFi Router

$90 $130
Take your home Wi-Fi to the next level with the Archer AX21, which delivers a combined dual-band throughput of 1800 mbps and four antennae for a smooth signal. It even works with Amazon Alexa.
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TP-Link Deco S4 Mesh WiFi System (3-Pack)

$130 $150
The TP-Link Deco S4 mesh router system is arguably the best way to cover your whole home in fast AC1200 Wi-Fi. It also works with Amazon Alexa, making it a fine choice for the smart home crowd.
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Netgear Nighthawk AX4 AX3000 Dual-Band Router

$92 $169
With a max 3,000Mbps throughput across four streams, the Netgear Nighthawk AX4 router puts the stream in extreme, providing a first-rate experience for gaming, streaming, and multi-user networking.
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Tenda AC1200 Dual-Band WiFi Router

$36 $50
For about the same price as cheap N300 and AC750 routers, this Tenda AC1200 dual-band router punches well above its weight and even features MU-MIMO technology to reduce network traffic congestion.
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Netgear Nighthawk M1 4G LTE Mobile Router

$272 $350
Capable of providing 4G LTE to up to 20 different mobile devices anywhere you are, the Netgear Nighthawk M1 mobile hotspot is a powerful little machine that can last all day, indoors or outdoors.
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TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender

$35 $50
If a single router isn't cutting it but you don't want to invest in a complete mesh system, extend your wireless network into those hard to reach places with this inexpensive AC1200 range extender.
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Asus Blue Cave AC2600 Dual-Band Wireless Router

$127 $180
With 2,600 Mbps dual-band bandwidth and MU-MIMO technology, the striking Asus Blue Cave is one of the best mid-range routers you can buy if you're willing to spend a bit more than a Benjamin.
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TP-Link AC750 WiFi Range Extender

$27 $35
While not the speediest range extender out there, this will help you get Wi-Fi into remote spots in your home.
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TP-Link AC2600 Dual-Band Router

$99 $140
With incredibly powerful dual-band Wi-Fi speeds, the TP-Link AC2600 router is an easy-to-use machine that can provide high speeds at an affordable price for any income.
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NETGEAR Wireless Access Point (WAC510) - Dual-Band AC1300 WiFi

$90 $100
Upgrade your wi-fi connection at home with the Netgear Wireless Access Point router. It can support up to 200 client devices and also includes an extra 1GB port for maximum internet speed.
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Asus AiMesh AX6100 Tri-Band Mesh Router (2-Pack)

$344 $400
The Asus AiMesh AX6100 tri-band mesh router bundle is an incredibly powerful router duo that can pump out up to 6100 megabits a second for nonstop high-speed connectivity.

A beginner’s guide to wireless routers

If you have the internet, then you almost certainly have a wireless router somewhere in your home. There’s also a good chance that it was the one supplied by your ISP, which means you’re probably paying a monthly fee to rent it. These ISP-supplied routers are, as you might expect, generally not the best — they’re often the same cheap routers you can buy yourself for $20 to $40 — but that doesn’t stop service providers from charging anywhere from $5 to $15 per month in “equipment rental fees” for the privilege of using one.

That alone is a big reason why it’s a good idea to find a good wireless router deal and buy your own, as even a solid midrange unit can easily pay for itself in a matter of months. Yet another reason is that a good wireless router can enhance your home or office Wi-Fi network by allowing you to enjoy the internet speeds you’re paying for. This is especially important if you frequently have multiple users connected to the internet at once, and even more so if you regularly stream or game online. Routers are relatively complicated and some of the specs and terminology can be a bit confusing to the uninitiated, however, so here’s what you should know before buying.

What does “dual-band” mean?

Most Wi-Fi routers you will see today (even cheap routers) are dual-band, meaning that they transmit data across two separate streams or “bands.” The 2.4GHz band is used for tasks with moderate bandwidth needs, such as web browsing, while the 5GHz band is reserved for bandwidth-hungry jobs like HD video streaming and online gaming where a lot of data is being transmitted at once. Dividing your wireless connection up between two “highways” in this manner prevents congestion, particularly when multiple people are using the internet at the same time, which can slow down your connection. Many newer routers also have a feature called MU-MIMO (multiple user, multiple input/multiple output) which divides the bands into separate channels to further mitigate congestion when the network is under heavy load.

What does “bandwidth” mean?

If a “band” is a data stream, the “bandwidth” refers to how much data can be transmitted across that stream at one time. Imagine something like an oil pipeline — the wider the pipe, the more can pass through it at once. Routers vary widely when it comes to bandwidth, and how much you need will depend on your network environment. A wireless router will typically have its bandwidth speed represented by a number — N450, AC1900, AC5300, et cetera – which tells you at a glance how many megabytes per second (Mbps) of data can be transmitted across all bands at once.

The routers that are typically rented out by ISPs are on the lower end of the bandwidth spectrum (which, as we said, is why you find a good wireless router deal so you can buy your own), but 600 to 2,400 Mbps is a good range for normal users and small families. Larger networks and more demanding users, such as gamers, will be better served by a router in the 3,200 to 6,700 Mbps range, while routers in the 7,200 to 9,600 Mbps range are deep into “professional” territory — think large offices and other bandwidth-heavy network environments. Note that this total bandwidth is divided between the bands; for instance, a dual-band AC1600 router with 1,600Mbps total bandwidth might commit 300Mbps to the 2.4GHz band and 1,300Mbps to the 5GHz band.

Can wireless routers provide wired connections?

Pretty much all wireless routers (again, this includes cheap routers) have Ethernet LAN ports on the back that allow for multiple wired connections where you want them. Depending on where your wireless router is installed, it might be worth it to use a wired Ethernet connection, as these will almost always be faster than a wireless connection. For instance, if your router is close to your PC or smart TV, it’s not a bad idea to take advantage of this wired connectivity. It will also free up some wireless bandwidth that your other devices are using for their Wi-Fi, preventing wireless traffic congestion, although your overall bandwidth will still be determined by your internet service.

Can a faster wireless router give me faster internet?

Your base internet speeds are capped by your service provider and depend on what internet plan you are paying for. A faster wireless router cannot increase the bandwidth limits set by your ISP; however, a faster router can allow you to more fully enjoy the speeds that you’re paying for if a slow unit — such as the cheap routers typically provided by ISPs — is bottlenecking your connection. If you’re paying for faster internet, make sure you get a router that won’t create a “choke point” that slows your Wi-Fi down to ensure you’re getting all the bandwidth that you’re already paying for. You’ll want a gigabit-capable router (that is, at least 1,000Mbps on the 5GHz band) if you have gigabit internet service, for example.

What are mesh routers?

If you have a large home or are looking for a router capable of sufficiently covering a similar large space (like a multi-story office), then you might want to consider investing in a mesh router system. In contrast to standard single-unit wireless routers, mesh router systems feature multiple “hubs” that you place throughout your network zone. These hubs amplify your internet’s wireless signal, essentially blanketing your home or office in Wi-Fi connectivity and thereby mitigating or eliminating dead zones in the network. This prevents you from losing your connection when moving about.

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