Best Wireless Routers of 2019

Nicholas De Leon

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

Your wireless router is responsible for handling all of the data that flows into (and out of) your house through your internet service provider.

The best wireless routers in CR's ratings will cover your whole house in a fast WiFi network, rushing data where it needs to go to keep Netflix movies and web pages humming along without a glitch. 

But not every router performs that well.

“If I’m paying for a 200-megabit internet connection, can I actually get that fast with my wireless router?” says Richard Fisco, who oversees electronics testing for Consumer Reports. If you experience problems with dead spots or slow connections, he says, it could be time to go shopping.

Wireless routers today can broadly be broken up into two categories: single and mesh routers.

A single unit is a traditional wireless router that plugs into your modem.

Mesh routers consist of one device plugged into the modem plus a few satellite units stationed throughout the rest of your home. The units talk to each other, creating a "mesh" WiFi network.

A single router is fine for many apartments and modest-sized houses. But if you happen to live in a larger home, you may do better with a mesh router.

Your home's size isn't the only factor, however. Thick concrete walls and even the water in fish tanks can interfere with WiFi signals. Mesh routers are handy because you can move them around until your wireless network reaches every corner. 

Whether or not you own a single or mesh router, it's important to update the firmware periodically to make sure you have the latest security patches. Getting updates used to be a bit of a hassle, but now many routers, including those listed below, can do it automatically.

Here are some of the best routers in CR's ratings, based not only on how fast they perform but also on how well they protect your privacy and security.

Single-Unit Routers

Synology RT2600ac
Synology may not be as well known to consumers as other wireless router manufacturers, but the RT2600ac is a clear standout in our ratings. It delivers strong performance at a range of distances; has two built-in USB ports, so you can plug in and share peripherals like printers; and supports easy setup using a mobile app. If you have a truly large home, you can even link several units together to create a mesh network.

Our testers also like that the RT2600ac supports automatic software updates, which means the router will routinely run the most secure software without you having to lift a finger.

Netgear Nighthawk X10 (AD7200)
This Netgear model combines strong performance across a range of distances with useful features such as automatic software updates and a handful of USB ports for sharing peripherals like printers between multiple computers on your home WiFi network.

Like many routers nowadays, it supports setup via a handy mobile app in addition to the traditional web interface. Other benefits include the advanced parental controls of Disney’s Circle and three free months of Plex Media Server, an app that lets you play videos that you download on your main computer on a smartphone, tablet, or smart TV, as well.

Mesh Routers

Netgear Orbi AC3000
Our testers gave this Orbi model, which comes with one base station and two satellite units, mostly high marks, noting strong performance across a range of distances, easy setup using a mobile app, and one USB port for connecting devices like printers.

The router does not provide automatic software updates, though, which means you’ll need to manually check for security patches.

Eero Pro Tri-band Mesh Network
This Eero model—also comprised of one base station and two satellites—was for a time the highest-scoring mesh router in our ratings. It offers effective WiFi coverage, even in large homes, but is not quite as fast as Netgear’s Orbi AC3000. It does, however, support automatic software updates, and Orbi does not.

Though Eero is a strong all-around performer, it lacks a USB port, which means you won’t be able to plug in a hard drive or printer to share with the other computers on your network.

Home WiFi Mesh Networks

Can’t get a decent wireless internet connection in your home? On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports’ expert Nicholas De Leon explains to show host Jack Rico how mesh networks provide faster speeds and better coverage.



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