How good of a router do you need?

Basically, the more devices that you have, the higher transfer rates that you want on your internal network, if you stream video (especially 4K!), the better your router needs to be to keep up.

Do you want high transfer rates on your wireless network? (not to be confused with your Internet speed, this depends on your ISP mostly) ?
If you want to transfer files wirelessly between different devices or if you want to stream video wirelessly from one computer to another, make sure to choose a router that is fast enough for your needs.

For a few people and a few devices in a location with no or few other wireless networks and just want to browse the Internet, an entry-level or mid-range router is fine.

802.11n, 802.11ac and 802.11ad, Range and speed: 2.4GHz vs 5GHz vs 60GHz
– 2.4GHz (802.11n) offers a longer range (longer waves), at the cost of lower throughput (Connection speed, in Mbps) than 5GHz (802.11ac) and 60GHz (802.11ad)
– The 5GHz band offers a shorter range, but higher throughput, with less risk of interference.
– The 60GHz band cannot penetrate walls, but offers even higher throughput, with no interference.

2.4GHz (802.11n) is also more subject to interference from other devices such as other routers, Bluetooth, cordless phones and microwave ovens, which will reduce both throughput and range. This is especially problematic in urban environments, with many routers within range of each other.

Dual-band routers: Support for 2.4GHz (802.11n) and 5GHz (802.11ac) spectrums
Tri-band routers: Support for 2.4GHz (802.11n), 5GHz (802.11ac) and 60GHz (802.11ad) spectrums

Dual-band routers are the ideal solution if you want both a high-performance 5GHz network and a longer range 2.4GHz network. This means that the router can transmit, to different devices, on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrum, simultaneously. This does not mean that it can communicate with a single device on both bands at the same time.

Basically, you’ll have two networks, with two SSIDs: One that operates on the 2.4GHz band and the other on the 5GHz band.

That way, if you have devices that don’t support the 802.11ac 5GHz standard, they can still access the router through the 2.4GHz network (in 802.11n or 802.11g mode), without slowing down your other devices on the 802.11ac connection.

Tri-band routers work the same way, but with an additional 60GHz band (802.11ad).

The Best WiFi routers:

This article recommendations are based on the prices that I’ve seen on November 5th 2016.

Best Entry-level Router

TP-Link TL-WR940N

Get the TP-Link WL TL-WR841N
Click here to get the price on Amazon
$29.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$29.99 at Newegg

Maximum throughput 802.11n 2.4GHz network: 300Mbps
4 LAN ports: 100Mbps
No USB ports

A highly reliable, inexpensive 802.11n 2.4GHz router, capable of a maximum throughput of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz spectrum.

Note that LAN connections are limited to 100Mbps.

Best $70 Router

Get the TP-Link AC1200 Archer C1200

Click here to get the price from Amazon
$79.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$79.99 at Newegg

Maximum throughput 802.11ac 5GHz network: 867Mbps
Maximum throughput 2.4GHz network: 300Mbps
4 LAN ports: 1000Mbps
2 x USB 2.0 ports

An affordable dual-band 802.11ac wireless router.

Up to 867Mbps data rate on the 802.11ac/5GHz network

Up to 300Mbps on the longer range 802.11n/2.4GHz network.

USB ports are only 2.0, which is fine for printers, but slow for storage drives.

Best $85 Router

Get the TP-LINK Archer C7

Click here to get the price from Amazon
$85.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$85.99 at Newegg

Maximum throughput 802.11ac 5GHz network: 1300Mbps
Maximum throughput 2.4GHz network: 450Mbps
4 LAN ports: 1000Mbps
2 x USB 2.0 ports

Mid-range router, capable of faster data throughput on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks.

USB ports are still limited to 2.0, which is fine for printers, but not for storage drives.

Best $130 Router

Get the TP-Link Archer C9

Click here to get the price from Amazon
$129.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $129.99 at Newegg

Maximum throughput 802.11ac 5GHz network: 1300Mbps
Maximum throughput 2.4GHz network: 600Mbps
4 LAN ports: 1000Mbps
1 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 2.0 ports

Higher-end mid-range model, capable of even faster transfer rates on the longer range 2.4GHz network

This model is equipped with a USB 3.0 port, which is useful if you want to connect a storage drive to it and benefit from optimal transfer rates.

Best $230 Router

Get the Netgear R7800 Nighthawk X4S

Click here to get the price from Amazon
$229.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$229.99 at Newegg

Maximum throughput 802.11ac 5GHz network: 1733Mbps
Maximum throughput 2.4GHz network: 800Mbps
4 LAN ports: 1000Mbps
2 x USB 3.0 and eSATA ports

High-end model, capable of even faster transfer rates on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz network.

4 antennas, Four-stream (4×4) WiFi Architecture and Multi-user MIMO technology for more throughput.

Equipped with two USB 3.0 and an eSATA port, which is useful if you want to connect a storage drive to it and benefit from optimal transfer rates.

Best $350 Router

Get the TP-Link Talon AD7200

Click here to get the price from Amazon
$349.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$349.99 at Newegg

Maximum throughput 802.11ad 60GHz network: 4600Mbps
Maximum throughput 802.11ac 5GHz network: 1733Mbps
Maximum throughput 802.11n 2.4GHz network: 800Mbps
4 LAN ports: 1000Mbps
2 x USB 3.0 ports

One of the best wireless routers, this model offer support for the latest 802.11ad network, with throughput of up to 4600Mbps.

Note that the 802.11ad network operates on the 60GHz spectrum, which cannot penetrate walls, meaning that it only work in the same room.

9 antennas (8 external, 1 internal), Four-stream and Multi-user MIMO technology for more throughput.

This model is equipped with two USB 3.0 ports, which is useful if you want to connect a storage drive to it and benefit from optimal transfer rates.

Best $500 Router

Get the NETGEAR R9000 Nighthawk X10 AD7200

Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $499.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$499.99 at Newegg

Maximum throughput 802.11ad 60GHz network: 4600Mbps
Maximum throughput 802.11ac 5GHz network: 1733Mbps
Maximum throughput 2.4GHz network: 800Mbps
– 7 LAN ports: 1x 10G, 6x 1000Mbps
2 x USB 3.0 ports

Top of the line wireless router, this model offer support for the latest 802.11ad network, with throughput of up to 4600Mbps.

It is the first consumer router to sport a 10G network interface, and it is the first router capable of running Plex with transcoding capabilities in a standalone manner.

This model is equipped with two USB 3.0 ports, which is useful if you want to connect a storage drive to it and benefit from optimal transfer rates.

The best WiFi adapters:

Best 150Mbps WiFi adapter

Get the Edimax EW-7811Un


Click here to get the price from Amazon
$7.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$7.99 at Newegg

Maximum throughput 802.11n 2.4GHz network: 150Mbps

Tiny, reliable and inexpensive 802.11n adapter that offers performance (up to 150Mbps) that’s good enough for a regular Internet connection.

That said, if your Internet connection is above 75Mbps or if you want to transfer files over your network, it is not fast enough.

Compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10, Linux, Mac OS and even the Rasberry Pi!

Best 300Mbps WiFi adapter

Get the TP-Link TL-WN823N


Click here to get the price from Amazon
$13.50 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Maximum throughput 802.11n 2.4GHz network: 300Mbps

Small, reliable and inexpensive 802.11n adapter that offers performance (up to 300Mbps) that’s good enough for the majority of Internet connections.

That said, if your Internet connection is above 150Mbps or if you want to transfer files over your network quickly, I’d get something faster

Compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10, Linux, Mac OS and the Rasberry Pi.

Best 600Mbps WiFi adapter

Get the TP-Link Archer T2UH

Click here to get the price from Amazon
$24.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$24.99 at Newegg

Maximum throughput 802.11ac 5GHz network: 433Mbps
Maximum throughput 802.11n 2.4GHz network: 150Mbps

Entry-level 802.11ac adapter, capable of transmitting at up to 433Mbps on a 802.11ac 5GHz network.

It’s also a great 802.11n adapter if you need more range, thanks to its large antenna.

Best 1200Mbps WiFi adapter

Get the Rosewill RNX-AC1200UB

Click here to get the price from Amazon
$32.99 at Newegg

Worldwide Shipping alternative:
TP-Link Archer AC1200: $32.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Maximum throughput 802.11ac 5GHz network: 866Mbps
– Maximum throughput 802.11n 2.4GHz network: 300Mbps

If you want a reliable, high performance adapter. It can offer a throughput of up to 866Mbps when used on a 5GHz 802.11ac network or up to 300Mbps when used on a 2.4GHz network.

Make sure to connect it to an USB 3.0 port to take advantage of its full speed, USB 2.0 is limited to 480 Mbps! Compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 PCs and Linux.

Best 1750Mbps WiFi adapter

Get the Edimax EW-7833UAC

Click here to get the price from Amazon
$53.95 at B&H
$56.99 at Newegg

– Maximum throughput 802.11ac 5GHz network: 1300Mbps
– Maximum throughput 802.11n 2.4GHz network: 450Mbps

If you want a reliable, high performance adapter. It can offer a throughput of up to 1300Mbps when used on a 5GHz 802.11ac network or up to 450Mbps when used on a 2.4GHz network.

High performance with 3T3R MIMO technology: three transmitter antennas and three receiver antennas MIMO technology for optimized performance

Make sure to connect it to an USB 3.0 port to take advantage of its full speed, USB 2.0 is limited to 480 Mbps. Compatible with Windows 7/8/10, macOS and Linux.

Best 1900Mbps WiFi adapter

Get the ASUS USB-AC68

Click here to get the price from Amazon
$86.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$86.99 at Newegg

– Maximum throughput 802.11ac 5GHz network: 1300Mbps
– Maximum throughput 802.11n 2.4GHz network: 600Mbps

If you want one of the best wireless adapter that’s still small and portable, this is it.

It offers a throughput of up to 1300Mbps when used on a 5GHz 802.11ac network or up to 600Mbps when used on a 2.4GHz network.

3×4 MIMO design, beamforming, with two external foldable and two internal antennas. Included USB 3.0 cradle provides additional placement options to optimize coverage.

Make sure to connect it to an USB 3.0 port to take advantage of its full speed, USB 2.0 is limited to 480 Mbps! Compatible with Windows 7/8/10 PCs and macOS.

Alternative
TRENDnet TEW-809UB

Click here to get the price from Amazon
$94.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$107.38 at Newegg

– Maximum throughput 802.11ac 5GHz network: 1300Mbps
– Maximum throughput 802.11n 2.4GHz network: 600Mbps

The TRENDnet TEW-809UB is bigger, less convenient to move, slightly more expensive, but offers four 5 dBi gain antennas that you can move to optimize signal reception.

Ideal if your router is far and you need the best adapter possible to get a strong signal.

Four reasons why I only recommend USB adapters:

  1. Easy to install
  2. Compatible with most computers, not only large desktop computers.
  3. You can easily swap it to another computer.
  4. If you use it with a desktop computer, you do not need to worry about having a free expansion slot on your motherboard, now or in the future if you decide to change your motherboard at some point in time.

Recommended Bluetooth USB adapter:

Get the Plugable USB Bluetooth 4.0

Click here to get the price from Amazon
$12.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$14.95 at Newegg

Simple, inexpensive and reliable: That’s what you want in a Bluetooth and that’s what you get here.

Compatible with Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10, as well as Linux.

Note that if you also plan on using WiFi as well as Bluetooth, most definitely go with a 802.11ac router and adapter, as they run on the 5GHz spectrum, to avoid interference from Bluetooth, which operates on the 2.4GHz spectrum.

Need help picking the right WiFi router and/or adapter?

Read this article, but can’t figure out what’s best for your needs?
Leave a comment below, with as much details as possible about what are your needs and what you’re trying to do and I’ll get back to you.