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          The best wireless routers for 2020

          Upgrading your router can improve your wireless speed, especially if you stream high-definition videos or play games online. Buying a newer model may also improve wireless coverage, so you can watch and play anywhere in the home or office. Our current favorite is Netgear’s Nighthawk RAX50 AX5400, namely because it packs a ton of great features into a device that remains extremely affordable.

          Along with our favorite, we reviewed and compared some of the latest models to select the best wireless routers you can buy right now. Take a look at the recommendations below to get a better idea of which device matches your needs. Whether you’re looking for a Wi-Fi 6 Router, a budget-based alternative, or the best router for gaming, we’ve got you covered.

          Shopping on a budget? We’ve also rounded up the best wireless router deals ahead of Black Friday sales.

          The best wireless routers at a glance

          The best wireless router: Nighthawk RAX50 AX5400

          Why you should?buy this: It’s fully featured, priced competitively, and provides great speed.

          Who’s it for: People wanting the best new router for their homes.

          Why we chose the Netgear Nighthawk RAX50 AX5400:

          If you want a new router that will last for years, it needs to be ready for Wi-Fi 6 — formerly known as Wireless AX and 802.11ax — which delivers many new benefits and important changes. It’s a huge step up from Wireless AC (now Wi-Fi 5) and is backward-compatible with all your current devices. As our devices become W-Fi 6 capable, our routers need to upgrade, too. However, upgrades can be rather expensive.

          Fortunately, this six-stream Nighthawk router combines the latest Wi-Fi compatibility with a more affordable price than many alternatives. You can get a better version of the model, but this option is perfectly suitable for the average home while still providing excellent dual-band speeds. Four Gigabit Ethernet ports are included, along with a 1.5GHz three-core processor, USB connections, and WPA3 compatibility for the latest in Wi-Fi security.

          The Nighthawk RAX50 AX5400 is also a very smart router: It offers beamforming and Smart Connect to make sure your devices get the attention they need without dead zones, plus OFDMA tech for the most efficient signals possible. It’s even compatible with Amazon’s Alexa if you ever want to control Wi-Fi connections via voice commands — something parents may find handy when making sure their kids are studying, for example.

          The best high-performance router: TP-Link Archer AX6000

          TP-Link Archer AX6000

          Why you should?buy this: It offers Wi-Fi 6 connectivity without compromising performance.

          Who’s it for:?Those ready to invest in the latest Wi-Fi technology.

          Why we chose the TP-Link Archer AX6000:

          Like our first pick, this model supports Wi-Fi 6 — but offers a performance upgrade for those who want to push their routers to do even more.

          The Archer AX6000 is an excellent dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router dishing out speeds of up to 4,804Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 1,148Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. It’s compatible with important new technologies like OFDMA and MU-MIMO. Port-wise, it provides a USB-C port for charging and high-speed data transfers, along with nine Gigabit Ethernet ports.

          This router includes proprietary technology as well, like software that moves devices between bands if one band gets too crowded. There’s Alexa compatibility, too, so you can perform basic network management actions with voice commands.

          Many router manufacturers already offer Wi-Fi 6 models, but the TP-Link Archer AX6000 is particularly versatile.

          The easiest wireless router to use: Google Nest WiFi

          John Velasco / Digital Trends

          Why you should?buy this: It creates a powerful mesh network, perfect for larger homes.

          Who’s it for: Anyone who needs a large, uniform network.

          Why we chose the Nest WiFi:

          Google’s Nest WiFi is an excellent example of a mesh network router, where multiple nodes link together to form a wireless network with bigger, better coverage. The router alone covers 2,200 square feet, but you can bundle it with either one or two “points” to cover up to 5,400 square feet. It’s ideal for large spaces or homes that struggle with heavy interference and dead zones.

          The real selling point is its ease of use, however. Unlike many other routers, Nest WiFi makes setting up and managing a home network extremely simple. More than that, each Google Wi-Fi unit also functions as a Google Assistant smart speaker that can play music and control smart home devices.

          The $169 router unit includes two Ethernet ports tucked away in a compartment on the bottom — one for the modem and one for other wired devices, like a switch or desktop. The $149 points do not have an Ethernet port, so all wired devices must reside near the router. This also means you can’t wire the router and point together for better throughput.

          You can buy a combo pack with the Google Nest WiFi and one point for $269 or the router and two points for $349. You can get the points in white, Mist, and Sand colors.

          The best budget wireless router: TP-Link Archer C1200

          TP-Link AC1200

          Why you should?buy this: Few routers can compete with the TP-Link Archer C1200 at this price.

          Who’s it for: Anyone wanting to expand their network on a budget.

          Why we chose the TP-Link Archer C1200:

          Looking for a budget router? This $68 model has everything you need without breaking the bank. It’s a perfect fit for a home that only needs a simple net connection for checking email, browsing, and light media streaming.

          TP-Link’s Tether app is one of the better router apps for mobile, meaning setting up and managing the router shouldn’t be a hassle. The router itself features AC1200-class dual-band speeds (300Mbps at 2.4GHz and 867Mbps at 5GHz), two USB ports, and Gigabit Ethernet ports. While these specifications aren’t earth-shattering, they are the important basics you need for good wireless connectivity.

          If you plan to stream 4K content or perform other data-heavy tasks, then you may want to consider a more powerful model, but the TP-Link Archer C1200 is an excellent choice for saving money while providing Wi-Fi for all basic tasks.

          The best gaming router: Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500

          Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500

          Why you should buy this: It prioritizes game services and game data for the best results.

          Who’s it for: Gamers and anyone who wants the fastest network possible.

          Why we chose the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500:

          This AC2600-class router supports speeds of up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1,733Mbps on the 5GHz band. To reach those maximum speeds, you’ll need a device that supports four streams.

          The XR500 includes a 1.7GHz processor and four Gigabit Ethernet ports. It prioritizes gaming connections and optimizes connections for low-ping gaming on more twitchy shooters. It also helps you connect with a gaming VPN for additional security or regional options. And that’s just the beginning.

          The XR500 allows for more direction customization and connection monitoring. You can choose even more options like geo-filtering to pick your favorite servers (where the VPN comes in handy again). App options to monitor your ping and network status in real-time, device by device, is another highlight.

          While the XR700 is a newer and, therefore, better model, its cost is almost twice the expense of the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500. The XR500 is a solid choice, but we recommend getting the XR700 instead if you have deeper pockets. After all, if you need a gaming upgrade and price is not an issue, going big is a no-brainer.

          When it comes to upgrading your router, knowing what to look for is crucial. Our guide covers the latest models for home use, business applications, and gaming, whether you’re on a budget or have a bit more to spend. Pick the best match for your needs (and your wallet) for an upgrade you won’t regret.

          Editors' Recommendations

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