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How do Wi-Fi extenders work?

If parts of your home or apartment don’t get a good Wi-Fi signal, a wireless extender can offer a boost. The Wi-Fi extender connects to your existing Wi-Fi at a location that does get a good connection and then rebroadcasts its own signal(s), improving the quality of Wi-Fi connections within its range. If you already own a decent router and simply want to improve Wi-Fi and boost the Wi-Fi signal in one or two extra rooms, an extender might be just the band-aid you’re looking for.

illustration showing optimal extender placement.

Despite the name, a Wi-Fi extender can’t extend your network much farther than it already goes. A good extender can lower the latency of your network within its current boundaries, improving your Web browsing experience—and it’s great for bouncing the signal around obstructions like elevator shafts, reinforced walls, or foundation slabs.

Extenders are a cheap(ish) and easy solution to a common problem, but rarely the best one. Before you buy a Wi-Fi extender, consider replacing your router with a newer, faster model—or going with mesh. If you already have a good 802.11ac router, make sure you’ve positioned it as high up and as close to the center of your home as you can. Plug computers, streaming devices, game consoles, and anything else you can into the router—or a network switch, if you need more ports—via Ethernet to reduce the number of devices competing for a wireless connection.

If you’ve done all that and still have trouble spots, a wireless extender could help. Cost is key, though—good mesh Wi-Fi kits start out just above $250 and offer more features, greater range, better roaming between access points, and generally higher performance. Replacing an older router while also adding a Wi-Fi extender costs enough that one of our mesh picks would be a much better choice.

In the past year or so, Wi-Fi manufacturers have been taking features from their mesh kits and applying them to Wi-Fi extenders. Usually, when you set up a Wi-Fi extender, you have to set up a different network name, or SSID (like “routername_ext”), and manually connect devices to it. You also likely have to choose which of the two networks to connect to when you’re walking around in your home. Mesh-compatible extenders use one name for your network, which allows you to roam around your home without having to manually disconnect from one network and join the next. It all happens automatically, so you don’t have to fiddle with settings once you’ve joined the network. Some mesh-compatible extenders work only with routers from the same manufacturer, while others work with any Wi-Fi router (even the one from your Internet service provider).

One final warning: Don’t even consider extenders that don’t use 802.11ac. Old, 802.11n extenders are even cheaper, but when such extenders are running, they significantly decrease the speed of all devices on your Wi-Fi; in addition, for devices connected by Wi-Fi to the extender, such models provide less than half of the base router’s speed.

How we picked the best Wi-Fi booster

two wifi-extenders we recommend.

We looked at a wide range of extenders priced between $25 and $150. We didn’t test any of the more-expensive extenders (up to $300) because at that point you should definitely buy a mesh kit. In considering models for this guide, we wanted each device to have the following:

  • 802.11ac support: Older, slower 802.11n extenders won’t cut it, even if they’re dual-band.
  • Performance: The extender must improve coverage and connectivity compared with the router alone—otherwise you’re just adding another device that sits on your network. Our testing takes into account the change in network performance when you’re adding an extender to a busy network, measuring both throughput (speed) and latency (the wait before a page loads).
  • Ethernet ports are handy for wired connections to entertainment devices.
  • Mesh compatibility: Whether the mesh-networking features are compatible only with routers from the same manufacturer (TP-Link, Asus) or with all routers (Netgear), they can simplify setup and ensure that your devices are connected to the router or extender with the stronger signal, improving the stability of your network.
  • Price: We didn’t consider anything over $150, and we paid special attention to extenders that cost $50 or less. The cost of the extender plus a good router needs to be less than that of a mesh kit.

Once we came up with a preliminary list of all the pure Wi-Fi and mesh-capable extenders offered by major vendors in our three price categories, we narrowed them down by looking at Amazon customer reviews and previous professional reviews from sites such as CNET and SmallNetBuilder. This step left us with a half-dozen devices from Asus, Netgear, and TP-Link.

How we tested Wi-Fi signal extenders

Instead of just testing for the maximum throughput from a single laptop, we used six laptops, spaced around our New York test facility, to simulate the real-world activity of a busy home network. The cellar of our office building has the luxury of space, as well as a mix of Wi-Fi challenges: masonry walls and drywall construction, open spaces, glass windows, and metal-framed doors. We used a TP-Link Archer A7 (our budget router pick at the time of our testing) as the baseline for our tests; it’s an excellent router in a small space such as a townhome or apartment, but its signals are stretched a little thin in our test space.

Because these tests simulated real-world traffic, they did a better job of modeling everyday performance compared with a tool like iPerf, an artificial testing tool that moves data from one machine to another as fast as possible. We did similar testing for the latest version of our guide to Wi-Fi mesh networks.

Test device placement

Putting devices in the right places is key to any mesh network’s success; you should space them out in a way that gives all areas of your home Wi-Fi coverage. We started by placing the router in our office’s prep kitchen, in the center of our testing space, connecting it to our Internet connection via Ethernet. We put each extender about 40 feet away from the router, in our lounge on the other side of the office’s main kitchen, well within the “bubble” of the Wi-Fi signal from the Archer A7. Remember, despite their name, signal boosters can’t extend the signal too far beyond where the router’s original signal gives out.

During testing, the six laptops, our wired controller laptop, and an Apple iPhone running the extender app (if needed) were the only devices connected to the test network. We didn’t disable any of the surrounding Wi-Fi networks or wireless devices like Sonos speaker systems; these kept doing their usual noisy things, just as they probably do in your home. The neighbors and our corporate network also kept their Wi-Fi networks going, which left somewhere in the vicinity of a dozen network names visible at any given time.

Upgrading your firmware to the most recent version before using your network devices is crucial for receiving both potential performance improvements and security patches.

We spaced the six client laptops so that they should naturally try to connect to the router or extender, whichever was closer, but we also grouped them close enough that some of the laptops could switch if necessary.

We updated the drivers on each extender, on the Archer A7 router, and on each client laptop (using Windows Update) before the testing sessions started. Upgrading your firmware to the most recent version after setting up your network devices is crucial for receiving both potential performance improvements and security patches.

Our six laptops ran the following tests:

  • One laptop downloaded a very large file.1 We wanted to see an overall throughput of 100 Mbps or better, to simulate the experience of an impatient person waiting for a device to complete an update. This test is a big challenge for the rest of the network—if this laptop gets all of the available airtime, the other tests suffer.
  • Two laptops each simulated a 4K video streaming session. They tried to download data at up to 30 Mbps, but we were satisfied if they could average 25 Mbps or better, which is what Netflix recommends for 4K. If either laptop can’t get at least 20 to 25 Mbps, that means a real video would be pausing and buffering.
  • Three laptops simulated real-human Web browsing by loading a “Web page” once every 20 seconds. Each “Web page” consisted of 16 separate 128 KB files, all requested simultaneously, and we measured latency from the time the requests went out to the time all 16 requests were fulfilled. This is the most important test—it accurately represents the thing that frustrates real users most (slow and inconsistent Web browsing)—and it usually fails before any of the other tests do.

We ran all these tests at the same time for a full five minutes to simulate a realistic overly active time on a home network. Although your network probably isn’t always that congested, it is that busy often enough—and those are the times when you’re most likely to get annoyed, so that experience was what we were modeling in our tests.

These tests simultaneously evaluated range, throughput, and the network’s ability to multitask. We connected each extender to the Archer A7 router via Wi-Fi and then created a separate Wi-Fi network with a unique SSID. If the extender was mesh-compatible, we used a single network name (or SSID) to enable roaming between the router and extender. We didn’t touch most of the other settings—you should be able to connect to your Wi-Fi and have it work without constantly fiddling with things.

Since we were testing extenders for your existing router, rather than a complete replacement, we measured our results by improvement rather than raw numbers. Before testing any extenders, we ran baseline tests in exactly the same way using only our Archer A7 base router. Then, as we tested each extender, we subtracted the value of our baseline test. This approach allows us to directly show you how much each device improved—or degraded—our test network’s performance from what we started out with.

Our Wi-Fi range extender pick: TP-Link RE220

The TP-Link RE220

TP-Link’s RE220 isn’t the fastest Wi-Fi extender on paper, but it boasts two advantages over its competitors: It measurably improved the performance of the Archer A7 base router in our tests, and it’s dirt cheap. It also offers a compact size, plugs directly into a power outlet, and has a 100 Mbps wired Ethernet port for nearby devices. The next best options to improve your existing Wi-Fi router’s performance—our powerline networking pick or our upgrade Wi-Fi extender pick—are faster and maintain more stable connections than the RE220, but either one costs roughly five times as much for a relatively small improvement in most homes.

The TP-Link RE220 measurably improved the performance of our network, particularly when it came to keeping six laptops connected and satisfactorily serving simulated video streams and websites. Without an extender, our router dropped connections nearly a dozen times during our tests, but the RE220 cut those drops to a rare few. The TP-Link RE300 and Netgear EX7700 never dropped their connections, but they didn’t offer enough of an improvement over the RE220 to justify their higher prices for most people. Network drops—such as when you add more devices like streaming media boxes to your network, and a phone or laptop subsequently drops off the Wi-Fi, with a reboot being the only “fix”—are probably the most frustrating Wi-Fi problem.

The RE220 plugged into a wall outlet

Even though most people think about making their Wi-Fi faster by increasing the throughput (or speed, generally measured in megabits per second, or Mbps), reducing latency is often more important. Latency (measured in milliseconds, or ms) is the delay you experience while you wait for something such as a Web page to start loading. When we compared the worst-case performance (that is, when you’re likely to be most annoyed at the wait) of the extenders we tested, the RE220 reduced latency by several seconds compared with what we saw while using only our test router. That’s enough of a difference to feel like a huge improvement in normal Web browsing. Even the best hardware we tested—including the Netgear EX7700—did only twice as well but generally for five times the cost.

Top view of the RE220

Like most extenders, the RE220 has an onboard Ethernet port, though it’s only 100 Mbps instead of Gigabit (1,000 Mbps). Where possible, it’s a good idea to plug devices such as media streamers or game consoles into the RE220’s Ethernet port rather than having them use Wi-Fi—if you have more than one thing to plug in, you can use a cheap network switch to make them all fit.

TP-link setup page

If you’re already using a compatible TP-Link router like the Archer A7, enabling OneMesh on the RE220 improves connectivity even further. Unlike the normal extender mode, which rebroadcasts your Wi-Fi network on a second network name, OneMesh integrates the two devices like a mesh-networking system. All you have to do is enter the common network name (SSID) on your phone or device, and your phone or device will automatically connect to the extender or router and choose between the 2.4 and 5 GHz channels based on whichever connection is the most efficient as you roam around your home. Plus, you can manage settings and firmware updates for both devices using the same interface on the Archer A7. In our tests, performance was excellent with OneMesh activated, with no disconnects. Running the RE220 without OneMesh was a bit slower, with a couple of disconnected sessions, but on the whole Web browsing was more stable than on the Archer A7 alone.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

As is generally the case with Wi-Fi extenders, adding the RE220 made Wi-Fi connections more reliable but slowed the speed a bit. Overall, though, the connection still felt more responsive and less frustrating than it did without the extender, so we think the increased stability is a good trade-off. If you have a compatible TP-Link router and enable OneMesh, the speed difference is less noticeable. But a mesh Wi-Fi kit or even our upgrade extender pick is a better choice if you want to maximize speeds.

You administer the RE220 (and other TP-Link extenders) through TP-Link’s Tether app or a Web interface. It’s easy to connect to if you have the manual—which informs you to browse to while connected to the extender—but if you forget that URL and want to reconfigure your extender a year or two down the road, you’ll have to hope your router offers a “Connected Devices” screen to help you figure out what IP address to find it on.

Once you’re connected, the Tether app or the RE220’s Web interface walks you through the process of attaching it to your base router’s Wi-Fi network. If you’re not using OneMesh, it offers you a chance to connect to the router on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands—though connecting just one band may be the better choice. You just need to choose carefully which band performs which task to relieve some of the load on the extender, because if you do so it will service your devices with the other band and won’t be bouncing back and forth between the two bands. If you have older devices that can connect only on the 2.4 GHz band, for example, you should use the 5 GHz band for the communication between the extender and the router. If all your devices are on the newer side, in contrast, you can reserve the 2.4 GHz band for the connection back to the router and have the extender broadcast the 5 GHz band instead.

Runner-up: TP-Link RE300

the TP-Link RE300

If the RE220 is out of stock, or if you don’t mind spending a little more, the TP-Link RE300 offers nearly identical benefits. In our tests, it never dropped a connection on our Wi-Fi network extended over a similar area. The RE220 dropped just a few, but individual setups will vary, and since the RE300 is more expensive and lacks a built-in Ethernet port for wired connections, we still think the RE220 is the better choice most of the time. Both TP-Link Wi-Fi extenders are compact plug-in models, and both offer OneMesh support for even better performance if you have a compatible TP-Link router.

When we added the RE300 to our test Wi-Fi network, all six laptops had rock-solid connections throughout our test period, without a single drop. That result was a little better than what we saw from the RE220, which showed marked improvement in network stability but still dropped a fewer than a handful of connections during our tests. Both models were noticeably better than the Archer A7 without extenders—alone, the router dropped connections time after time, in a way that would frustrate even the most patient Web surfers. Just like the RE220, the RE300 reduced latency—the time you’re waiting for Web pages to begin loading—by a significant amount, especially when our test network was at its most congested.

The RE220 plugged into the wall.

The setup process for the RE300 is identical to that of the TP-Link RE220, and using the TP-Link Tether app should make it easy enough for most people to have the extender up and running in under a half hour. If you have a compatible TP-Link router, both the RE300 and the RE220 work in OneMesh mode, giving you the benefits of mesh networking such as a single network name and improved performance. However, in OneMesh mode the RE220 actually proved a little more reliable than the RE300, so this is another reason we’d recommend the cheaper model for anyone with a compatible TP-Link router.

Pricier but much more capable: Netgear EX7700

The Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX7700

The Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX7700 costs several times as much as our other picks, but it’s worth the investment if you have larger dead spots in your home or if you want mesh features—such as a single network name—that can work with any router. Unlike the regular Wi-Fi extenders, which improved our test network’s reliability but gave up some speed, the EX7700 improved our Wi-Fi in every way. Because it adds mesh features without replacing your main router, it’s also the best option for problematic Wi-Fi if you have to use an ISP-provided router for TV functions. But if you’re thinking about buying the EX7700 as well as a new router, you’re better off just starting from scratch with a dedicated mesh-networking kit.

Netgear setup page

The EX7700 is typically five times more expensive than the RE220 or RE300, but in return the Netgear EX7700 outpaced both of those extenders in all of our testing. Whereas other extenders improved reliability in a small area at the cost of some speed, the EX7700 was able to improve the size, reliability, and speed of our network compared with using the Archer A7 router alone.

Paired with a good budget router, the EX7700 easily kept up with the performance of expensive Synology and D-Link Covr mesh kits we recommend. All six laptops reported above-average numbers on our tests, so even a whole family’s phones, tablets, and streaming boxes should have strong enough connections to keep everyone satisfied. Like our best mesh-networking kits, the EX7700 didn’t drop any connections during our tests. In contrast, our test router alone dropped the connection to our test laptops nearly a dozen times.

Even more than raw speed (in Mbps), high latency—basically just delays in the connection on your network—can cause slow browsing. Although cheap extenders like the TP-Link RE220 improved latency a noticeable amount in our tests, the EX7700 did an even better job, reducing latency by nearly 50 percent more than the RE220 when we compared worst case to worst case. And while the RE220—and the RE300—traded some speed in exchange for the better latency, the EX7700 improved both. We saw a 50 Mbps speed increase compared with the results of using our router alone; that kind of performance improves download times and helps reduce buffering times when you’re streaming audio or video.

The extra performance—and price—comes in part because the EX7700 is a tri-band extender, while the RE220 and RE300 are dual-band models. The Netgear has two 5 GHz channels rather than one, and that extra channel serves exclusively for communication between the extender and the router, freeing up the other 5 GHz channel and the 2.4 GHz channel to serve your laptops and other devices.

The Netgear EX7700 on a table.

That said, we still recommend buying a purpose-built mesh-networking kit if you’re also replacing an old router, or if you know you’ll need to expand your network even farther in the future. For the same price as a router plus the EX7700, a mesh-networking kit gives you even more value. Kits have a unified administration page or mobile app, which is a lot easier to manage than two separate ones (one for the extender and one for your standalone router). And because all the components of a mesh-network kit are designed to work together, they may be a bit better at juggling devices than a standalone router with an add-on extender. Also, finding and speaking with tech support for a dedicated mesh kit is more convenient. If you discover that the EX7700 and your existing router still can’t reach all parts of your home, it’s a less ideal option than an easily expandable mesh network from a manufacturer such as Synology or Eero.

An overview of the test results

In addition to evaluating extenders’ ability to tame dropouts, we tested to see how they improved the browsing experience, measured in latency. As mentioned above, latency refers to the time you spend between clicking on a link and waiting for the next Web page, streaming video, or file download to come through.

During our multi-client testing, we looked at how well a Web browser connected through the extender performed typically (the median) as well as how poorly it did in its worst moments (the 75th-, 90th-, 95th-, and 99th-percentile results). This procedure allowed us to determine how frequently and how much the experience may frustrate you.

chart showing latency changes in top performing units we tested.

The TP-Link RE220 improved latency compared with the standalone Archer A7, particularly when OneMesh was enabled. Browsing performance was also excellent with the Netgear EX7700 extender. Mesh technology optimizes the connections between the extender and the router; in our tests, it ensured that all six laptops got the best connection with the fewest dropoffs and the shortest wait.

chart showing latency changes in middle performing units we tested.

Browsing performance was a little worse when we disabled OneMesh to show how each TP-Link extender would work with other, non-OneMesh routers. The TP-Link RE300 was slightly better at our tests than the RE220 when OneMesh was off. However, the RE220 still improved the Wi-Fi connection stability in most situations, particularly as the network experienced its worst moments, as shown past the 80 percent mark in the graph above.

Stacked median latency graph for all tested units.

Our stacked median latency chart above shows the typical latency for every computer on our test network at once, giving some idea of how the whole network will usually perform when multiple devices are making requests at the same time. Each color bar represents someone waiting for something to happen after clicking a link, and longer bars mean more time staring at a spinning circle or pinwheel. It’s clear why the Netgear EX7700 is a lot more expensive than the RE220 or RE300: Because of its third wireless band and more powerful processor, it’s more efficient overall when the network is serving Web pages, streaming videos, and downloading files simultaneously. In total, we found that it was roughly as fast as the Synology and D-Link mesh kits, which were among the quickest contenders during our latest round of mesh-kit testing.

The RE220 with OneMesh enabled is next down the chart, with latencies that were seconds longer than those of the EX7700; the RE300 with OneMesh disabled performed a bit worse than that. All of the setups above were faster than the Archer A7 alone, a result that demonstrates how these extenders can help active networks with moderate traffic. The Asus RP-AC55 test results show that it favored the test laptops that were downloading large files and streaming 4K videos over the three test laptops that were browsing; if you were Web surfing on that network at the time, you’d complain of longer waits and “slow Internet.” The Netgear EX7300 was in last place, producing a generally unpleasant experience all around, as shown by its much longer than average latencies.

chart showing latency changes in bottom performing units we tested.

Although the TP-Link RE300 maintained rock-steady connections during our testing, it produced relatively long latency numbers once we turned OneMesh on. In that mode, It tended to use the slower 2.4 GHz band for communicating with devices and the 5 GHz band for communicating with the router, which kept connections stable but at the expense of longer latencies overall. A wait of under 1,000 milliseconds (or just under a second) for half the Web pages requested is not an eternity, but compounded over many sites, the experience would be perceived as being quite a bit slower than using the RE300 as a non-mesh extender. This result shows that mesh isn’t a panacea in all situations, and for now, we recommend using the RE300 with OneMesh turned off. As for other models, when we tested the Asus RP-AC55 and Netgear EX7300, both extenders’ browsing latency showed worse performance than the Archer A7 alone, rounding out the list of bottom performers.

What to look forward to

A lot of interesting Wi-Fi technologies are on the horizon. Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, also known as the 802.11ax protocol, will supersede 802.11ac just as 802.11ac superseded 802.11n. Wi-Fi 6 and 6E will bundle in lots of new features that should greatly improve networks with lots of active devices. However, just like the different standards within 802.11ac, such as Wave 1 and Wave 2 MU-MIMO or WPA2 versus WPA3 encryption, most of these technologies will work only when all or most of the clients on the network (as well as the router) support them.

In practical terms, this means you’d need both a new router and new extenders to take advantage of those technologies once they become available, and that probably won’t be practical in terms of cost. It’s already difficult to recommend investing in an extender when purpose-built mesh kits typically give you faster, farther-ranging connections and easier setup. We expect this trend will only continue as mesh becomes more mainstream and less expensive.

The Netgear EAX20 is a large router-shaped Wi-Fi 6 mesh extender priced around $100. It will work with any wireless router but will likely work best with a new Wi-Fi 6 router and Wi-Fi 6 devices.

D-Link introduced two mesh-capable Wi-Fi 5 extenders, the D-Link DAP-1755-US and D-Link DAP-1955-US. Both are priced in the $100 to $110 range. Like the Netgear mesh extenders, the two D-Link extenders are expected to be easier to set up and administer, with a unified network name.

Like the RE220 and RE300, TP-Link’s Archer RE505X Wi-Fi 6 extender can connect to other routers, but will work in a OneMesh network with compatible TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 routers.

Other extenders that we have on our radar include options from Asus (RP-AC51, RP-AC1900), D-Link (DAP-1820, DAP-1530, DAP-X1870, DAP-X1860), Linksys (RE7000), Netgear (EAX15, EAX80, EX5000), and TP-Link (RE603X, RE230). They are a mix of Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 5 options, most with mesh compatibility.

The competition

The TP-Link RE200 was our pick in a previous version of this guide. It has been replaced by the RE220 on stock lists and as our extender pick. Version 3 of the RE200 can be updated (via firmware) to work with OneMesh; you can check the label on the back of the extender to verify which version of the hardware you have. You may still be able to find the RE200 in some stores, but the RE220 is a few dollars less expensive.

The Asus RP-AC55, which supports Asus’s AiMesh, lagged in our performance tests. Also, it’s priced too high compared with the TP-Link RE300 and RE220.

The Netgear EX6250 showed promise as one of the least expensive (about $90) mesh extenders capable of working with all routers. In performance, however, it landed in the middle of the pack, and since it’s also expensive in comparison with our pick, we dismissed it.

At around $120, the Netgear Nighthawk X4 EX7300 is a mesh extender priced and positioned between the EX6250 and the router-like EX7700. It did poorly on our performance tests.

We also researched and considered over two dozen extenders from Amped Wireless, AmpliFi, Asus, D-Link, Edimax, Linksys, Netgear, Tenda, and Zyxel. These models either failed to meet our requirements, were discontinued by the manufacturer, or were dismissed in a previous version of this guide.

Jim Salter contributed to previous versions of this guide.

About your guide

Joel Santo Domingo

Joel Santo Domingo is a senior staff writer covering networking and storage at Wirecutter. Previously he tested and reviewed more than a thousand PCs and tech devices for PCMag and other sites over 17 years. Joel became attracted to service journalism after answering many “What’s good?” questions while working as an IT manager and technician.


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Wireless card in laptop: Intel Dual-Band Wireless-N 7260 Ethernet: Intel Ethernet I218-LM

Wireless I am getting 120 Mbps, wired I am getting 87 Mbps. On my desktop wired I am getting 81, it is behind one extra gigabit switch.

I guess the wireless in my phone does suck. 120 is still 50% more than 80, however, even though 80 is still markedly more than what I am paying for (~30 Mbps).

Maybe my ISP is just having an issue of some sort. I am certainly surprised my wireless is performing better than my ethernet connection, however. My modem is a Motorolla Aris Surfboard, and my router is a TP-Link Archer C5 ([link]).

The ports should be gigabit, but I am still getting better wireless speeds from my laptop.

Maybe I should wait a week to see if the "issue" resolves itself, because currently it seems both of my computers are getting higher than average speeds, and my Arch Linux speeds when wired roughly match that of my W10 desktop when wired. The wireless must just be a LAN issue.


TP-Link AC1200 PCIe WiFi Card(Archer T4E)- 2.4G/5G Dual Band Wireless PCI Express Adapter, Low Profile, Long Range Beamforming, Heat Sink Technology, Supports Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP

Below are the top discussions from Reddit that mention this Amazon listing.

Electronics Computers & Accessories Computer Components Internal Components Network Cards

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  • Lightning fast speed: upgrade your Wi Fi Card to 1200Mbps Wi Fi speeds
  • More stable performance: heat sink technology distributes heat away from core components to improve reliability and performance; Built for high performance computing, such as online gaming and 4K Ultra HD video streaming
  • Ultimate range: increased wireless range with 2x external antennas to ensure a greater range of Wi Fi connection and stability. Detachable antennas
  • Compatibility: Supports Windows 10 Please upgrade to 190108 insider preview build**/ 8.1/ 8/ 7/ XP
  • Industry Leading Support: 2 year warranty and free 24/7 technical support
  • To be eligible for TP Link's Warranty, please confirm and purchase from "Sold by Amazon"

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Reddit Posts and Comments

0 posts • 50 mentions • top 40 shown below

I haven't shopped for an adapter for 2 years, so I can't say for sure. Just a quick Google search and I came up with

Maybe I'm wrong in thinking that a pcie one would be better but idk.

Ideally being hardwired is best, but it's not always possible for some.

Is your motherboard advertised as having wifi capabilities? If so then you need to download the appropriate drivers to allow it to work. If not, you’ll need a wifi card. This will plug into your PCIE slot and stick out the back of the PC.

IDK about CA friend, but a popular choice here, and the #1 on Amazon seems to be

I'm not so well versed about vr and stuff but you should be able to connect vr to this PC through steam if it is wired, but if you want Bluetooth, you can add a wifi/Bluetooth card for about not too much more

Does your router support wifi 6? If not, then TP-Link AC1200 PCIe Wireless Wifi PCIe Card | 2.4G/5G Dual Band Wireless PCI Express Adapter | Low Profile, Long Range Beamforming Heat Sink Technology | Supports Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP (Archer T4E)

Okay I don't really know much about WiFi speeds but should 1000Mbps be enough for everything? Also why is wireless measured in hertz, like this:

The motherboard that I bought did not have WiFi on the motherboard so I bought this one and it worked flawlessly.

TP-Link AC1200 PCIe Wireless Wifi PCIe Card | 2.4G/5G Dual Band Wireless PCI Express Adapter | Low Profile, Long Range Beamforming Heat Sink Technology | Supports Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP (Archer T4E)

You do still have to connect to the Internet with a wired connection though to download drivers.

TP-Link AC1200 PCIe Wireless Wifi PCIe Card | 2.4G/5G Dual Band Wireless PCI Express Adapter | Low Profile, Long Range Beamforming Heat Sink Technology | Supports Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP (Archer T4E)

I'd never buy a 1080p monitor larger than 24". I've tried some and they're just too blurry. If you want a bigger monitor, get a 1440p one. Did your autocorrect turn GPU into "you" in that last sentence? If so, VRAM isn't the only determining factor when it comes to GPU performance. If you're talking about the RX 570, it's considerably worse performing compared to the 1660. It's behind the 1650 in performance.

And no, this motherboard does not have built in wifi. Didn't realize that was another requirement. You can pick up a wifi card for around $25.

It appears to have a PCIe x1 slot, so you can install any PCIe x1 WiFi card. Like Tp-Link Archer T4E

I think for a reasonable price you can get a WiFI card that will beat the performance of a USB adapter, assuming you have an available slot on your motherboard

for example

I wouldn't recommend changing that mobo. It has great vrm as well as being the best b450 mobo in that price range, feature list wise. Very little compromise (like no wifi)

You could just buy a pcie WiFi card to plug into your mobo.

Thats wifi 5. Also written as WiFi AC. Don't get the WiFi 4 (WiFi N). You could also get the WiFi 6 (AX) but unless your router is also WiFi 6, you will only be able to connect over WiFi 5.

TP-Link AC1200 PCIe Wireless Wifi PCIe Card | 2.4G/5G Dual Band Wireless PCI Express Adapter | Low Profile, Long Range Beamforming Heat Sink Technology | Supports Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP (Archer T4E)

Got this for my build been using for 2.5 moths stays pretty stable

Why do you need a wired connection? Does your WiFi reach where your computer is? You’d just need a WiFi card.

I have one of these in a computer now since 2016, no issues TP-LINK AC1200

This will serve you fine. Just make sure you install the drivers included in the CD.

This one is fine and supports both 2.4 and 5 Ghz bands.

Its cheap and gets you 802.11ac wifi. You should be covered for a long time and not have to worry about it again.

I hear people say that mobo wifi sucks and wifi cards are better. Is the wifi on the bazookah equivalent to this wifi card?

TP-Link AC1200 PCIe WiFi Card(Archer T4E)- 2.4G/5G Dual Band Wireless PCI Express Adapter, Low Profile, Long Range Beamforming, Heat Sink Technology, Supports Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP

TP-Link AC1200 PCIe Wireless Wifi PCIe Card | 2.4G/5G Dual Band Wireless PCI Express Adapter | Low Profile, Long Range Beamforming Heat Sink Technology | Supports Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP (Archer T4E)

Would this be a better choice?

You're better off just purchasing a wireless card for your computer they're super easy to install.Linked below is the card I went with until I changed to hard wire.

TP-Link AC1200 PCIe Wireless Wifi PCIe Card | 2.4G/5G Dual Band Wireless PCI Express Adapter | Low Profile, Long Range Beamforming Heat Sink Technology | Supports Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP (Archer T4E)

This is a pretty solid adapter with AC WiFi -

There’s a few things you can do but some involve money.

  1. Buy a WiFi network card. Make sure your computer has a free pci or pci-e motherboard slot and install it. Here’s how. Those USB WiFi adapters have very poor range. Even if you have a good router, the antenna on that little usb dongle just isn’t big enough.

  2. Buy a range extender. These don’t work very as they have the potential to only retransmit a weak signal.

  3. Buy an Ethernet over 120v / 220v set. This will let you connect two “extenders”, one near your router and one near your computer, and transmit internet connection over your power lines in your house.

  4. I think there is a deeper problem here. Perhaps it’s time to come up with a conversation with your parents about your necessities. Make a plan about what you need and what you want.

For needs such as shaving cream, razors, socks, etc: try to have a reason behind why you describe it as a need rather than a want Relate to their needs such as toilet paper, underwear, toothbrushes Create a sense of urgency and ask for a timeframe of when you will receive it

For wants such as expensive computer components etc... explain: how you would use it how grateful you are to receive it if you were to get it (but by no means demand) what you will do to show that gratefulness (chores, grades, etc) Promote why you think you deserve it for what you’ve already done( chores, grades, good behavior ) but do not go overboard.

I think a big worry for many parents is that a child spends too much time with a device (computer, phone, etc..). If you think this applies to you, and I am not saying it does, then you should address this issue as well.

Will I be able to use this WiFi PCIe card with this refurbished PC? A friend purchased it and didn't realize it didn't have pre-built WiFi and I was hoping to spare them the trouble of using a USB connector. If there is another PCIe card in that price range that is better, that would be great too. Thanks!

I would also get a WiFi card since it seems your motherboard doesn't have one integrated, as well as a USB 3.0 expansion card since your motherboard doesn't have enough USB 3.0 slots for proper tracking.

Links to parts:

WiFi card:

USB expansion card:

It is important that you get this USB expansion card because each port gets max power so that your tracking quality stays good. USB expansion cards that share power with each port don't get enough power in each port to support good tracking.




I avergae on 117 Mbs of Download Speed

Well, they're just USB devices - not "drives". But they generally work well. A lot will depend on how far away the desktop is from the Wi-Fi source (router). If it's in the same room, you can probably get one like this, that's the same size as a wireless mouse dongle. If the back is hidden, or the router is a couple rooms over, something like this would be better. For all around best performance on a desktop (and none of the downsides of USB), you should go for something like this - much more stable and reliable.

A wifi card can come in many different shapes and sizes.

It could be integrated into your computers mother board like thi:ASUS AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi) ATX Motherboard with PCIe 4.0, Dual M.2, 12+2 with Dr. MOS Power Stage, HDMI, DP, SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.2 Gen 2 and Aura Sync RGB Lighting

It could be a wifi add on card like this:TP-Link AC1200 PCIe Wireless Wifi PCIe Card | 2.4G/5G Dual Band Wireless PCI Express Adapter | Low Profile, Long Range Beamforming Heat Sink Technology | Supports Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP (Archer T4E)

Or it could be a USB wifi adapter like this:TP-Link USB Wifi Adapter for PC AC600Mbps Wireless Network Adapter for Desktop with 2.4GHz/5GHz High Gain Dual Band 5dBi Antenna, Supports Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP, Mac OS 10.9-10.14 (Archer T2U Plus)

Whatever it is you are using, they still use the same chip sets made by Realtek, Broadcom, Qualcomm etc. All you have to do is figure out which chipset it uses then type in the search bar "name of you wifi chipset" Linux drivers. This will result in many forum posts or tutorials demonstrating hoe to install those drivers.

For me, I use a wifi adapter that uses the Realtek 8812BU chipset. Searching for it online gave a comment post from ask Ubuntu. I was able to use that site and install the driver with only 3 terminal commands(copy pasted)

On this budget, you want to buy a used business PC and add a modern video card like the RX 570. To do this, we also need to buy a new PSU and add a PSU adapter to support the proprietary motherboard. This is an extremely cost-effective way to build a PC that can run any modern game at 1080p.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1080p

The Build

  • CPU, Motherboard, RAM and Case:$150 Dell Optiplex with i7-3770 and 8GB of RAM. I opted to go for a slightly more expensive i7 CPU rather than an i5 because the hyper-threading will make some modern games run noticeably better. You may want to add an extra 8GB stick of RAM, but don't do that until you can see what exact model of RAM is already in the PC (can't tell from the PC description). Ideally you want to buy a stick with matching speed and latency timings. That should cost you an extra ~$35.
  • SSD:$86 1TB TC SUNBOW. The Optiplex PC comes with an HDD,
  • Video Card:$105 RX 570
  • Power Supply:$70 Seasonic S12II 500W
  • PSU adapter:$11 Longdex adapter
  • Wifi Adapter:$30 TP-Link AC1200 PCIe adapter

Total Price: 150 + 86 + 105 + 70 + 11 + 30 = $452

(+$35 if you add the extra 8GB of RAM)


Ac1200 tp reddit link

What is reddit's opinion of TP-Link AC1200 Dual Band Router - Wireless AC Router for Home(Archer C50)?
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Sorry for not replying directly. I was asleep, just woke up out of nowhere and saw your message. So quickly replying before I head back to bed. 2:38 AM here! xD

> I noticed that those are all static pressure fans. Wouldn't I want to get AF fans for the top and rear of the case?

Correct, however I did forgot to mention "why" I picked those thermaltake fans.
I said that I "mostly" did it for the looks. The thermaltake fans are indeed SP fans, which means they work best on a radiator or cooler.
So why the heck do I still suggest to use 1 for the case?
Because airflow speed is really not extremely important anymore these days, because both the CPU & GPUs don't run extremely hot anymore.
This is why most fans can run at near silent levels (or if you have good fans & case, you won't hear them at all) because they simply don't need to run that fast or move a lot of air to keep the temperatures in check.
Only when the CPU & GPU need to work hard (when you game) the case fans need to spin a bit faster to "move" more air. The air movement is really important. Fresh or cool air needs to enter the case while the hot air that the CPU & GPU "expose" needs to be pushed out. This happens naturally by increasing fan speeds. The higher the CFM the more air they move, yes.

So why did I suggest such low CFM fans? Because even that low number, is enough to keep your card it's temperatures cool enough.
While a higher CFM would likely be able to lower the temperature of the card by about.. 2C, you're trading silence or cost or looks of the fan for it. Which I did not find worth it, which is why I suggested this fan.
Here is a good video about case fans and how many you need?

And here is an other great video that looks at my exact point as well. That case fan CFM or whatever, doesn't really make a huge difference in temperatures..

This video is hilarious.. It also shows you why case fans aren't super duper important anymore in terms of temperatures. As long as there is "some air" moving, the temperature won't change much.
The cooling performance is highly affected by the actually coolers on the GPU & CPU themselves!

> I think I'll hold off on buying the fans for the radiator since the Enermax ones seem to be good fans that also seem to push a little more air than the Thermaltake ones. I don't think color will matter there because they'll be hidden anyway.

The performance will roughly be the same, but the fans will just look cooler! You could technically place the fans like this. Both directions would work, push or pull. Meaning the way the air flows through the radiator. Temperature wise it won't hugely affect it, but when you place them in push (which is the way it is, in that picture) the temperature of the CPU will be a bit higher, while the GPU will be a bit lower.
When you set them in pull, the CPU will be slightly cooler and the GPU a bit higher.

In terms of the light, it's true that they're pretty much hidden, but the LED strips will provide the color pretty well if you place them the way I said above. Which will make them light up the other parts of your system pretty nicely. I mean, it's absolutely not required to buy for sure, I mean.. in terms of performance, it makes very little difference at all.
Which is again, why I said that I mostly did it "for the looks".

> For the cables, I think I'd rather get a basic kit than an extension kit and have to worry about cable management. Let me know if you know anywhere else to buy a basic kit in that red or white color.

I actually only know that you can buy them from EVGA, but those are pretty expensive and really, for the couple of cables that actually will be visible, it's probably not worth it.

In terms of extensions, I personally use them and.. my case got pretty much NO room for cable management, but I still managed somehow.. yes my side panel has a bit of a bulge, but fuck it my front looks awesome!

> I will also buy that wireless adapter. In the near future I will also be updating my modem/router.

Good news, a router is really not that expensive anymore! You can buy them extremely cheap, but I do recommend to spend a decent amount for at least something that is "good enough".

I am certain that both of these 2 routers would likely fix a lot of your troubles. They're also very easy to setup and you can kick your IPS in the butt for providing you with such garbage.

> I don't intend to spend a bunch of money on it either, as I'm the only one using it besides maybe my phone or my girlfriend's phone. So I don't need one that has tons of features to split the internet between people.

I highly recommend you to download the free app "WiFi Analyser". This app will very likely surprise you, but the network that you're using (you need to know the name of your WiFi), is very likely overlapping with other networks around the house from neighbours or other devices that send data, such as.. radios, TVs, washing machines, some fridges, microphones, etc. There are a lot more things in your home than you might expect that could potentially send out data and thus interfering with the connect of your device with the router.

This is why the 5GHz network will very likely solve this issue, right away. Because the 5GHz network (compared to the standard 2.4GHz) is not used very widely.. yet. Thus the chance of other devices interfering with the connection is very slim. Which makes the connection much stronger.

> I will also buy an anti-static wristband for assembly.

Good idea, those are cheap anyway. If you don't know how to "connect" them. You have to connect them to a point that is earthed to the ground for the best result.
How I generally do it, is by connecting a PSU cable into the wall socket directly, that I know is earthed. Us Europeans use an other socket, we have that pin sticking out which is our earth pin.
Then I plug the cable into the PSU and keep the PSU turned off, by doing this.. the PSU is now connected by earth and the "housing" is also earthed. Thus I can clip the anti-static wrist band to the PSU and be earthed as well.

> Anything else I may be forgetting? I believe the enermax cooler comes with thermal paste already so I think I'm all set to go!

Nope, perhaps a screwdriver (preferably magnetic!).
Don't worry about "magnets" for PC, the magnets inside screwdrivers are nowhere near strong enough to harm PC parts, not even a HDD. I've been using a magnetic screwdriver for my whole life when building PCs. Haven't had anything die yet by using it.
Of course, the stronger the magnet, the bigger the chance, but I don't think a screwdriver can kill it. I have some extremely strong screwdrivers (for work).. I could test it! I have a few HDDs that I don't care about anymore if they die!

Happy building and please, test the system before you build it inside your case!

Watch and follow the build guide video carefully and you should have no problem at all!

best gigabit router

Gigabit Internet represents the highest consumer tier of web service available in the United States. But those who are looking to concurrently stream 4K content, play online games, and initiate high-speed downloads need the appropriate gear to handle the web traffic. That includes a capable gigabit router as well as a DOCSIS 3.1 modem. Check out our picks for the best Gigabit routers and you’ll see why it pays to max out your Internet service plan.

  1. 1. Netgear Nighthawk AX8

    • 8×8 MU-MIMO connections provide efficient data streaming
    • WiFi 6 compatible
    • Supports multi-gig speeds
    • High price tag
    • App GUI could be better
    • Basic QoS

    Currently, the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 stands out as one of the best consumer routers for a device-heavy household for a number of reasons. First of all, it is a Wi-Fi 6 router (also called 802.11ax), which actually supports multi-gig speeds. It also has tri-band wireless, which means it has an additional 5 GHz band on top of the standard 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz combination, and therefore supports upwards of 40 devices at once with ease. It also supports MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output) for up to 8 devices without having to alternate streams, which eliminates one of the most common sources of local web traffic.

    The Nighthawk AX8’s antennas can broadcast to an area of 2,500 square feet but this doesn’t factor in physical impediments like walls and interference from neighboring devices. That said, this is still enough coverage for a medium-to-large home. The AX8 has two USB 3.0 ports for NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices, a 2.5 Gbps WAN port, and four 1 Gbps ethernet ports. The last two ethernet ports support link aggregation to support multi-gig file transfer speeds across your local network. Theoretically, the 2.5 Gbps WAN port could be used to stream multi-gig Internet but ISPs aren’t even offering these kinds of speeds commercially yet.

    This router is highly configurable under the hood, making it a great choice for the power user who likes to control how their home Internet traffic functions. It supports useful functions like parental controls, guest networks, DoS, firewalls, and VPNs. It supports QoS too but you have to manually choose which programs get prioritized. The biggest downside is that these are primarily accessed through the Netgear Nighthawk app, whose GUI leaves a lot to be desired from those who have known better.

    As impressive as this router is, it is likely to be overkill for most home networks. That said, if you stream or game hard enough to warrant buying a router this expensive, then you might as well futureproof yourself for the next decade and go with the Nighthawk AX8.

    Frequency bands: one 5GHz, one 2.4GHz
    Max throughput speed: 6 Gbps
    Processor: 1.8GHz 64bit quad-core
    Ethernet ports: 2 gigabit, 2 gigabit with link aggregation

    Find more Netgear Nighthawk AX8 information and reviews here.

  2. 2. Asus RT-AC5300

    • 2 USB 3.0 ports and 4 LAN ports
    • 4×4 MU-MIMO connections provide efficient data streaming
    • Game IPS monitors against suspicious network activity
    • High price tag
    • Requires firmware upgrades and configuration out of the box
    • Glitchy UI

    The Asus RT-AC5300 is designed to function in the most demanding situations. For most users, the Asus ROG RT-AC5300 is the definition of overkill. This Tri-Band router’s eight directional antennas make it look ridiculously similar to the Dark Tower that houses the Eye of Sauron.

    This router is powerful enough to broadcast through large homes. As long as your walls aren’t too thickly insulated, you should have no need for a range extender in 90% of home setups. The RT-AC5300 has two 5GHz bands and one 2.4GHz band, which allows power users to sequester themselves on the two higher bandwidth wireless frequencies, causing less network clutter. Carefully distributing streaming devices allows the slower 2.4GHz band to be kept clear for less demanding Wi-Fi devices like smart home accessories.

    This router also has MU-MIMO technology, which allows the router to establish separate unique connections to devices in your network. Normally, if two people are trying to stream video on the same network, a router will alternate between buffering both videos. MU-MIMO allows the RT-AC5300 to work more efficiently, creating four unique data streams for your heaviest users.

    With a whopping eight 1 Gbps ethernet ports, the RT-AC5300 is practically a LAN switch. You can connect an unreasonable amount of devices to your network, or pair the last four ports for link aggregation to deliver wireless signals that surpass gigabit speeds. If your ISP offers service higher than 1 Gbps, you’ll need to connect a link aggregation-compatible modem using several gigabit ethernet cables. If they don’t, then this just makes the RT-AC5300 more future-proof. This device also has USB 3.0 ports to connect NAS devices, making it perfect for hosting cloud services like Plex.

    It has all of your typical security features like WPA2 and WEP, but it also has Game IPS (Intrusion Prevention System) technology from Trend Micro. Game IPS monitors network traffic for suspicious activity and prevents intrusions into your network. Throw in the VPN Fusion software, which enables you to run a VPN and ordinary internet connection simultaneously, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a feature that this router is missing.

    However, its price is highly prohibitive, considering you’ll need to spend hundreds of dollars on a DOCSIS 3.1 modem to unleash the full potential of any gigabit router. Additionally, the GT-AC5300 does not ship with the latest firmware, nor does it come configured for optimal performance. The UI makes configuring this router easy enough, but it will sometimes glitch out. When it does, you are left with odd issues like some of your connected Wi-Fi devices disappearing from the network map.

    The plentiful feature set makes this a top pick for those seeking the most powerful home network, but if you are installing your own networking gear for the first time, you’re better off sticking to a more cost-efficient and simple router.

    Frequency bands: one 2.4GHz, two 5 GHz
    Max throughput speed: 5.3 Gbps
    Processor: 1.8GHz 64bit quad-core
    Ethernet ports: 4

    Find more Asus RT-AC5300 information and reviews here.

  3. 3. TP-Link Archer AX3000

    • WiFi 6 compatible
    • Easy setup
    • Supports multi-gig speeds
    • Wi-Fi 6 is not widely supported yet
    • Limited guest network settings
    • No MU-MIMO support

    If you are only now upgrading to gigabit Internet, then a future-proofed device like the Wi-Fi 6 compatible TP-Link Archer AX3000 might seem like overkill for your needs. But despite its tech being so new, the AX3000 has a price-to-performance ratio that makes it just as affordable as a midrange Wi-Fi 5 router.

    If some of this terminology sounds new to you, allow me to explain. Wi-Fi 5 is the new term for 802.11ac, which has been the standard for home Internet since 2013. But growing demands for bandwidth have prompted the creation of 802.11ax, henceforth known as Wi-Fi 6. The AX3000 is one of the first Wi-Fi 6 devices to hit the market, and it promises an impressive throughput of up to 3 Gbps through a medium-sized home. Just keep in mind that this speed assumes the router is communicating with a Wi-Fi 6 compatible device, of which there are currently few. The iPhone 11 and the Samsung Galaxy S10 families are among the first wave, though, so you may already have one without even knowing.

    Of course, this router is also fully backward compatible with Wi-Fi 5 devices, but its max throughput will be limited to only about 1.2 Gbps, which is still good enough for gigabit speeds. These speeds also assume your router is optimally placed and that you have a modem that supports the appropriate throughput as well. But no matter which Wi-Fi standard you are using, the AX3000 is able to support a decent amount of simultaneous traffic thanks to its dual-band antenna system and OFDMA technology. Unfortunately, this router does not support the superior MU-MIMO technology because that system is expected to be made obsolete by the transition to Wi-Fi 6.

    The Archer AX3000 is fairly easy to set up. You can use the TP-Link Tether app or a more classic web UI login and the whole process will only take a few minutes. The router has your standard suite of settings to create user profiles, parental controls, and monitor network traffic. These settings fall short in a couple places though, so power users who want to run both a guest network and a parallel home network for IOT devices will be out of luck when using the stock UI.

    As for connectivity, the AX3000 has four 1 Gbps LAN ports as well as a USB 3.0 port for use with a NAS device. It also has a 2.5 Gbps WAN port to support multi-gig Internet speeds where available. The lack of link aggregation means that you won’t get multi-gig speeds when plugged in but these are still useful to have. Flaws aside, the AX3000 is a powerful and affordable router that will future-proof your home network for years to come.

    Frequency bands: one AC 2.4 GHz, one AX 5 GHz
    Max throughput speed: 3 Gbps
    Processor: 800 MHz dual-core
    Ethernet ports: 4

    Find more TP-Link Archer AX6000 information and reviews here.

  4. 4. Linksys WRT3200ACM

    • 160MHz channels provide added bandwidth
    • 4×4 MU-MIMO connections provide efficient data streaming
    • Open source ready
    • Weak 2.4GHz signal
    • Limited settings in stock UI
    • Open source firmware is still not optimized for this model

    The Linksys WRT3200ACM is absolutely legendary among home network enthusiasts: one of the best gigabit routers to offer open source compatibility.

    What is open source software? If you’re asking that, you can pretty much scroll on to the next pick. If you’re curious and still reading, it is custom third-party firmware like OpenWrt and DD-WRT that can reprogram your router to enhance and unlock certain features of your router.

    This means you have the freedom to turn this router into a wireless adapter for a PC, or into a wireless bridge for another device. Or if a future firmware update causes a bug in your setup, you can revert to a whole new platform.

    That last situation isn’t likely to happen, but it is still a useful feature if you have complex needs for your home network.

    The stock UI is simple and clean, but somewhat limiting for those who are looking to perform these advanced features. Casual users will also appreciate the option to use the Smart Wi-Fi app for Android or iOS to control your home network settings.

    Settings include standard options like security features, guest network setup, and changing your network name and password. Without flashing new firmware, you won’t find more complicated features like limiting a device to a certain band or enabling QoS prioritization.

    Most users will be pleased with its performance out of the box, though. The 5GHz band of this router operates through 160MHz channels, effectively doubling its max throughput to 2.6Gbps. Conventional routers operate at 80MHz.

    For those streaming heavy content like 4K or VR video, 4×4 MU-MIMO support will ensure that your network activity doesn’t negatively affect others on your network by giving you and the next three heaviest users their own unique connection to the router.

    Its 2.4GHz signal, however, does not receive any special attention and is weak in comparison.

    The WRT3200ACM also supports a standard amount of hard-wired devices. It has four gigabit ethernet ports (aside from the WAN port that connects to the modem).

    It also has a USB 3.0 port and an eSATA port, granting extra flexibility in choosing a hard drive for use as a NAS.

    On the exterior, the WRT3200ACM is housed in a lifted body that encourages air flow, and it has a useful LED strip that can be easily turned off.

    Ultimately, there is a lot to like about this router. Its open source software support may still need some kinks ironed out, but you’d be hard-pressed to find an open source router that packs more power than this one.

    Frequency bands: one 2.4GHz, one 5 GHz
    Max throughput speed: 3.2 Gbps
    Processor: 1.8 GHz dual-core
    Ethernet ports: 4

    Find more WRT3200ACM information and reviews here.

  5. 5. Amazon eero Pro Mesh WiFi router

    • Tri-band wireless
    • Alexa and Apple Home Kit compatible
    • Easy setup
    • Only 2 ethernet ports
    • Not the best price-to-performance
    • Only supports one SSID

    If you value ease of use and straightforward setup above all else, the Amazon eero Pro Mesh WiFi router is a great option for you. This router is designed to work with easy mobile interfaces like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple HomeKit. That makes it perfect for networking neophytes who also want good enough performance for gigabit Internet.

    Its standout feature is its mesh network compatibility, which allows you to pair multiple eero Pro units to create a singular wireless network that is propogated throughout your house. For a more substantial explanation of mesh WiFi, check out this helpful article over at Tomsguide.

    Whichever app you use will help guide you through setup and placement and the router can even configure certain settings on its own too. But while this may be a boon to some, it will be the bane of others. This router will come off as incredibly feature-light to power users. It does not support VLAN or multiple SSIDs. And while the tri-band network is nice for dispersing device traffic, the router automatically assigns networks for each device so don’t expect comprehensive QoS.

    But if that last paragraph sounded like gibberish to you, then you will still likely get what you need out of this router. Features like guest networks and parental controls are easily accessible. The router also works with mesh systems so you can easily expand your network with another eero device. That won’t be too likely, though, as it covers an estimated 1,750 square feet on its own

    Frequency bands: one 2.4GHz, one 5.2 GHz, one 5.8 GHz
    Max throughput speed: 1.7 Gbps
    Processor: 700 MHz quad-core processor
    Ethernet ports: 2

    Find more Amazon eero Pro Mesh WiFi router information and reviews here.

  6. 6. D-Link DIR-3040-US AC3200

    • High-performance beamforming antennas
    • 2×2 MU-MIMO connections provide efficient data streaming
    • Tri-band wireless
    • High price tag
    • Runs hot
    • Glitchy UI

    It is easily one of the best routers for gaming, D-Link’s DIR-3040-US provides massive throughput speeds that compete with top brands like Netgear and Linksys. This tri-band router has a max throughput of 3 Gbps, combined across two 5GHz bands and one 2.4GHz band. It has 3×3 MU-MIMO support and offers low-latency streaming.

    Its QoS traffic prioritization is extensive and helps ensure that your bandwidth is used in the most efficient way. One of its best features is its powerful wireless signal. Its six adjustable antennas can cover a larger than average area thanks to the use of AC SmartBeam technology. With AC SmartBeam, the router can track the location of devices in your house (including other routers in a mesh system), and provide them extra signal in their direction. It’s basically their proprietary beamforming, and it kicks butt.

    The UI is about standard for this type of device and offers most of the settings that you need. Some will prefer to use D-Link’s Quick Router Setup (QRS) app, but this stripped down version is far less useful for advanced users.

    The DIR-3040-US has one USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 port to connect to a NAS device. It offers a standard four 1-gigabit ethernet ports. This router doesn’t do much to stand out from the competition, but its great wireless range and better than average UI may win you over yet.

    Frequency bands: one 2.4GHz, two 5GHz
    Max throughput speed: 3 Gbps
    Processor: 1Ghz dual-core
    Ethernet ports: 4

    Find more D-Link DIR-890L AC3200 information and reviews here.

  7. 7. Asus RT-ACRH13

    • 2×2 MU-MIMO connections provide efficient data streaming
    • Easy setup
    • Detailed QOS bandwidth prioritization
    • Does not support multi gigabit speeds
    • Slow to reboot
    • Shorter range than others

    You can leave it to the Asus RT-ACRH13 to prove why you don’t need a multi-gig router to get the most out of your Internet service.

    Setup is easy, whether you use the online UI or the Asus Router App on Android or iOS. You have access to a myriad of features for security, guest networks, QOS, VPN support, NAS configuration, and more.

    The budget-conscious Asus is a dual-band router with a 2GHz band and one 5GHz band. Technically, the 5GHz band on its own can only send about 800Mbps to connected devices, but less active wireless devices can glean an additional 400Mbps or so from the 2.4GHz band.

    Despite these not being the fastest achievable figures, you won’t hear many folks complain about 800Mbps down.

    And even with the value price this router comes at, it doesn’t skimp on extra features. It supports 2×2 MU-MIMO, providing a direct connection for the two biggest network hogs. No one has to share.

    The one downside is that should you need to power cycle your device, startup takes a ridiculously long time.

    The device has a single USB 3.0 port to connect a NAS drive, and four gigabit ethernet ports to connect other networked devices.

    Its wireless range is respectably large, and the device is wall mountable, allowing you to position it out of the way no matter what part of your house gets the best coverage.

    Frequency bands: one 2.4GHz, one 5 GHz
    Max throughput speed: 1.2 Gbps
    Processor: A7 quad-core
    Ethernet ports: 4

    Find more Asus RT-ACRH13 information and reviews here.

  8. 8. Google OnHub AC1900

    • High-performance internal antennas
    • Smart home integration support
    • Easy setup
    • Does not support multi gigabit speeds
    • Only one LAN port
    • No NAS support

    TP-Link’s OnHub AC1900 is a home router that is designed to work with the Google On.Here platform to give your router a more relevant place in your emergent smart home. However, with its cylindrical design, subtle lighting, and built-in Bluetooth speaker, the OnHub looks more like an entertainment device than a wireless router.

    Beneath its stylish casing, the OnHub houses thirteen internal antennas that propagate a powerful Wi-Fi network throughout your house.

    But these built-in oddities are more to demonstrate the versatility of the router than for actual use. Because seriously, who wants to play music off their router instead of their PC speakers?

    The real reason to draw your eyes with these features is to bring your attention to the fact that is a smart home hub as well as a router. The router is setup via On.Here, a feature of Google Wi-Fi networks that can be accessed by typing it into your URL bar.

    From On.Here you can connect smart home devices through the same interface that you would set up your router. You can also use the Google On app on Android.

    It’s all quite smart. And that’s the name of the game for the menu layout as well. You have a simplified display that allows you to adjust the device’s LED brightness, switch its wireless modes, prioritize device traffic, enable a guest network, and more.

    There are some things that this router doesn’t do as smart, however. One such example is the complete lack of ethernet switch on this device. There is one ethernet out port, which means you need a separate ethernet switch if you want to connect multiple devices.

    Another downside is that the device’s one USB 3.0 port is only for firmware updates and does not support a NAS device. Personally, I think they are just tricking you into using Google Play Music.

    However, if this lack of extra features doesn’t concern you, you will still have a high-performing router.

    This router is capable of handling over one hundred concurrently connected devices, so even the deepest apartment dwellers need not worry.

    If you are looking for an easy to setup router that can double as a smart home hub, then it will be a great while until you find something more suitable than the Google OnHub.

    Frequency bands: one 2.4GHz, one 5 GHz
    Max throughput speed: 1.9 Gbps
    Processor: IPQ8064 1.4GHz dual-core
    Ethernet ports: 1

    Find more Google OnHub AC1900 information and reviews here.

  9. 9. Medialink MLWR-AC1200

    • High-performance beamforming antennas
    • Easy setup
    • Great customer service
    • No USB 3.0 port
    • No 2.4GHz network
    • Does not support multi gigabit speeds

    The Medialink MLWR-AC1200 is a budget gigabit router with a highly functional UI that allows easy editing of features like VPN, port forwarding, dynamic DNS, and QoS optimization.  It offers the same basic feature set as our pricier picks, albeit with a less recognized brand backing these features.

    For starters, this router delivers as good of wireless range as the RT-ACRH13 if not better. It claims to broadcast at the max power allowed by the FCC, but this stat will be affected by the layout of your house and the material your walls are made from.

    It also offers the same max throughput across two wireless bands, one 2.4GHz, and one 5GHz. They also have the same selection of 4 gigabit ethernet ports and one USB 3.0 port to connect networked devices. Though I haven’t found a need to call, I’ve read multiple online customer reviews that state US-based Medialink support is really helpful.

    Frequency bands: one 5 GHz
    Max throughput speed: 1.2 Gbps
    Processor: Cortex-A7 CPU
    Ethernet ports: 4

    Find more Medialink MLWR-AC1200 information and reviews here.

  10. 10. Linksys Max Stream EA7300

    • 1×1 MU-MIMO connections provide efficient data streaming
    • High-performance beamforming antennas
    • Easy setup
    • Does not support multi gigabit speeds
    • Limited settings in stock UI
    • Shorter wireless range

    The Linksys Max Stream EA7300 is a well-rounded option for a home that requires some dedicated power for gaming and streaming, without going overboard.

    Its dual-band setup is best for the average household. It offers a baseline 2.4GHz signal across a wide connectivity area, thanks to beamforming technology that focus the signal where it needs to go. It also has a faster 5GHz signal for devices dedicated to gaming or streaming.

    The two frequency bands combine to offer a total max transmission rate of 1.7Gbps, with a 1×1 MU-MIMO line to streamline the buffering process for a single device.

    As for connectivity, this router has a standard four ethernet ports, plus a USB 3.0 for networked media.

    Setting up the router is easier than you would expect. It only takes a few steps to get started, and once you reach the web UI, you have easy access to features like parental controls, guest passwords, and firewall settings.

    More advanced features like VPN connections and bandwidth utilization are nowhere to be found.

    Should that happen to be a dealbreaker for you, there are plenty of other routers in this price range that will do the job. However, if they aren’t, then this should be a top consideration if you are looking for a midrange router.

    Frequency bands: one 2.4GHz, two 5 GHz
    Max throughput speed: 1.7 Gbps
    Processor: Dual-Core
    Ethernet ports: 4

    Find more Medialink MLWR-AC1200 information and reviews here.

  11. 11. Belkin AC1200 F9K1123

    • Boosted 2.4GHz range and speed
    • Self-healing feature automatically power cycles device
    • Low price tag
    • Requires firmware upgrades and configuration out of the box
    • Does not support multi gigabit speeds
    • Runs hot

    The Belkin AC1200 F9K1123 is a user-friendly budget router that delivers solid throughput speeds while keeping things simple for those who are new at managing a home Wi-Fi network. One unique feature is “self-healing”, which allows you to schedule automatic reboots to keep the device running smoothly. This may help prevent the unusual hangups that all wireless devices are prone to.

    In terms of throughput per dollar, it doesn’t get better than this one. This dual-band router has one 2.4GHz band for low priority devices and one 5GHz band to deliver true gigabit speeds. Its 2.4GHz band has increased bandwidth, which can be nice for devices that are far from your router. For closer devices, the 5GHz band is still optimal.

    This device has a serviceable UI, and it allows you to easily make changes to security, parental controls, QoS optimization, and more. This router doesn’t come perfectly configured, nor does it always ship with the latest firmware, but updates via its mounted USB 3.0 port are fairly painless. Though you shouldn’t expect miracles from it, the Belkin F9K1123 is one of the best cheap routers for gigabit Internet.

    Frequency bands: one 2.4GHz, one 5 GHz
    Max throughput speed: 1.2 Gbps
    Processor: (Not listed)
    Ethernet ports: 4

    Find more Belkin AC1200 F9K1123 information and reviews here.

How Did We Pick the Best Gigabit Routers?

Whether you are shopping to future-proof your home network or just looking for the best value, we’ve laid out the most important criteria for you to consider when picking the best gigabit router for you.

At the top of the list are a high max data throughput and a large wireless range. Our preference goes to routers that use MU-MIMO technology to create prioritized connections to the heaviest users.

A good router should also have a powerful processor. Equally important is a good selection of ports. A USB 3.0 port is a must-have if you want to use a NAS (network-attached storage) device. Additionally, you want a minimum of four ethernet ports if you plan to hardwire devices or do an old-school bridge setup.

One final note is that the routers we reviewed are cable modems, and won’t work for FTTH (fiber to the home) services. FTTN (fiber to the node) and cable services, however, will generally work with any of our picks regardless of your ISP.

Do You Really Need Gigabit Internet?

A wise person once said, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." And that is usually the case for buying new networking gear. But how do you know if you stand to gain from upgrading your wireless gear and Internet service?

To determine if you would benefit from gigabit internet, then you should start by taking inventory of your current network. How many devices do you have connected to your network and how many does your router support? Do these devices have a download speed that matches what you pay? How much time do you spend waiting for content to buffer?

Once you consider these questions the answer should be pretty clear. If you rarely encounter bottlenecks when browsing or streaming then you probably don't need gigabit Internet and could likely save some money by downgrading your internet plan. If, however, you do find your speeds coming up short, then it is definitely time to upgrade your service and/or equipment. 

Should You Rent or Buy Your Router?

If you are a networking neophyte, it can be tempting to just rent your equipment from your ISP and skip the whole shopping process. However, we can't come up with any good reason to rent a piece of equipment that you could own for cheaper.

Many gigabit services will charge you around $10 a month to rent a modem/router, which adds up to $120 a year. Getting a new modem and router would cost an average of $300, which is less than three years of equipment rental fees. (It could be done for less too, but cheaper routers will need to be upgraded sooner.)

Plus, rental equipment from companies like Xfinity, AT&T, and Charter is usually average at best. That means you are just as likely to improve your speed as you are to save money.

There are many great consumer wireless routers that can handle Gigabit Internet so it is in your best interest to ditch the monthly rental fee and buy your networking gear outright.


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