6 Best Router under $250 in 2020 (Reviews and Guide)

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router under $250

You don’t have to break the bank for the best router for your home but a cheap router may not have all desired features. Here are the best routers under $250

Sometimes, the best investment you will make is to invest in a router that costs more now, but promises the best performance for years to come.  Depending on your budget and needs, it might be a good ideal to splurge in a mid-range router, especially if you are looking for more reliability.

If you have been struggling with WiFi dead zones, slow and inconsistent WiFi speeds for some time, getting a new router can feel like a slice of heaven on earth, especially if you are smart about the features of the router. And the interesting bit is that you don’t have to direct most of your savings to this purchase because, with only $250 or less, you will find yourself a good performance router that is more reliable.

You only need to know what matters for you, the size of your home, the type of controls you need, and the maximum throughput the router yields. Of course, just having this list isn’t enough, and you will still find numerous options to choose from. Understandably, the confusion that arises from a raw internet search might leave you feeling that you could have done better. But that doesn’t have to be the case, hence this review. In it, we introduce you to good-performance routers worth your money.


Comparison Table for the Best Routers under $250

If you don’t want to read the complete review, this comparison table will give you a brief overview of the features of the router you are interested in.

Best Router under $250
Best For
Speed
WiFi Protocol
Price
ASUS RT-AC5300 Tri-band WiFi Gaming Router
Best Gaming Router
5.3Gbps

Tri-band

802.11ac
NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S Smart WiFi Router (R7800
Best Performance Router Under $250
2.53Mbps

Dual-band

802.11ac
NETGEAR Nighthawk R6700 AC1750
Best Overall Router Under $150
1750Mbps

Dual-band

802.11ac
Linksys EA7300 AC1750 Dual-Band Smart Route
Best NETGEAR Nighthawk R6700 Alternative

 

1750Mbps

Dual-band

802.11ac
ASUS RT-AC68U AC1900 Router
Best Value for Money
1900Mbps
802.11ac
NETGEAR 4-Stream WiFi 6 Router (RAX15)
Best WiFi 6 Router
1800Mbps
802.11ax/ WiFi 6

 

Reviews of the best budget-friendly routers under $250

  1. ASUS RT-AC5300 Tri-band WiFi Gaming Router – Best Gaming Router

ASUS RT-AC5300 AC5300 Tri-band WiFi Gaming Router, MU-MIMO, AiProtection Lifetime Security by Trend Micro, AiMesh compatible for Mesh WiFi System, WTFast game accelerator,Black
  • Tri band (Dual 5 GHz, single 2; 4 GHz) with the latest 802; 11AC 4x4 technology for maximum throughput...
  • Mu memo technology enables multiple compatible clients to connect at each client’s respective maximum...

If you are looking for a high-quality, mid-range router that will offer not only the best gaming experiences but also the best buffer-free HD streaming, this Asus RT-AC5300 would be an excellent fit for you.

Besides being within your price range, it boasts extensive coverage, and you will enjoy excellent wireless coverage to all the rooms in your house.

It is a tri-band gaming router with one 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands that yield a maximum throughput of 5300Mbps. Though oversized, it comes with some of the best technological features that ensure that it yields its maximum throughput. The 2.4GHz band delivers speeds of up to 1000Mbps, and each of the 5GHz band gives you access to speeds of 2167Mbp.

One of these technologies is MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output), a technology that allows for multi-device connectivity and 4×4 data transmissions for the best wireless performance across the connected devices. MU-MIMO makes it possible for you to stream your favorite shows in HD from different rooms, and you wouldn’t have to worry about poor connections or to have to sit next to the router. The 4×4 MU-MIMO system means that the router makes use of four individual data streams to receive and deliver data. Thanks to MU-MIMO, the wireless connections to multiple devices will take place simultaneously rather than sequentially.

It also supports beamforming, the technology that allows the router to send focused wireless signals directly to the connected clients/ devices. Then there’s the Smart Connect function that will automatically select the best band boasting optimal throughput.

The other features that boost the performance of this router include the four gigabit Ethernet ports that allow for wired connections. As a gamer, you understand all too well the pain that comes with heavy gaming and multiplayer streaming over WiFi. But with one of the best Ethernet cables connected to the device’s Ethernet ports, you will enjoy a more stable and lag-free gaming experience. The other ports include the WAN port (one) and the USB 3.0 port, which allows for ultra-high-speed file transfers, especially for large files.

Further enhancing the performance of this router is ASUSWRT, the management console that gives you access to the network settings. Here, you get to map your entire network, and the best part is that you get access to the most important components of this router. From the management dashboard, you can set up the Guest WiFi access, and fiddle with AiProtection that includes Trend Micro’s malware protection, as well as a comprehensive set of parental controls.

Adaptive QoS is also featured in the router’s firmware. This is a nifty piece of technology that allows for device prioritization – it has a bandwidth monitor that helps delegate and prioritize bandwidth where it is needed the most.

You might also like the Traffic Analyzer, which gives you real-time access to network traffic statistics. AiCloud 2.0 allows for access to USB-connected storage devices, from anywhere, as long as you are connected to the internet.

And for gaming, you have the game-acceleration service (online), WTFast, that will router gaming data for you to enjoy optimal bandwidth. This technology works with QoS settings for the prioritization of gaming traffic, while Game Boost further enhances gaming traffic prioritization.

Pros

  • A high-speed tri-band system that allows for throughput maximization
  • Ease of setup
  • Network management enhanced by ASUSWRT
  • MU-MIMO and Beamforming-enabled
  • QoS for gaming traffic prioritization
  • WTFast and Game Boost for the best gaming experience
  • Advanced security features
  • Impressive gaming and 4K streaming performance
  • Advanced administrative settings for system security and management

Cons

  • Bulky
  • File transfer speeds are middling

View Price on Amazon

  1. NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S Smart WiFi Router (R7800) – Best Performance Router Under $250

NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S Smart WiFi Router (R7800) - AC2600 Wireless Speed (up to 2600 Mbps) | Up to 2500 sq ft Coverage & 45 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet, 2 x 3.0 USB, and 1 x eSATA ports
  • Fast wifi performance: Get up to 2500 square feet wireless coverage with AC2600 speed (Dual band up to...
  • Recommended for up to 45 devices: Reliably stream videos, play games, surf the internet, and connect...

Powered by a powerful 1.7GHz dual-core processor, this router boasts an incredible level of performance, and you get to enjoy maximum throughput speeds of up to 2.53Gbps on its dual-band system (speeds of 800Mbps on its 2.4GHz band and 1733Mbps on the 5GHz band.

To ensure that you enjoy the best performance, whether you are gaming, multiplayer streaming, 4K streaming, or video conferencing, the router sports some of the most advanced technological and performance-enhancing features.

These features include the MU-MIMO, which supports 4×4 streaming of data, and the subsequent delivery of 4 data streams for each band, hence the highest possible throughput speeds. It also features four Ethernet ports that allow for stable wired connections and lag-free/ buffer-free gaming or streaming. The other feature that enhances the performance of this router is the Quality of Service (QoS) function, which allows for traffic prioritization to the devices that need it the most.

It has two USB 3.0 ports, which allow for high-speed file transfers, as well as an eSATA port that connects to eSATA devices. The ReadySHARE features further enhance file/ media sharing.

And you get to install/ control/ manage your network settings easily from Netgear’s Web-based application, Genie whose management console allows you to set up parental controls, guest WiFi access, and in the system’s advanced settings, you can enable site blocking, check logs, configure the port forwarding feature, create schedules, and allow for remote network management.

Pros

  • Excellent overall performance
  • Excellent file transfer speeds
  • 4 Ethernet ports for wired device connections
  • Great system management from Genie
  • MU-MIMO 4×4 simultaneous streaming
  • Solid performance from the 5GHz band
  • Great port selection

Cons

  • Middling speeds with file transfers
  • No beamforming

View Price on Amazon

  1. NETGEAR Nighthawk R6700 AC1750 – Best Overall Router Under $250

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
  • Netgear Armor protects your network and connected devices from Internet threats; Get peace of mind...
  • Fast wifi performance: Get up to 1500 square feet wireless coverage with AC1750 speed (Dual band up to...

Netgear is a staple household name when it comes to routers and other Wireless home solutions, and this particular model is designed to meet all your internet needs without breaking the bank. And the best part is that it is ideal for smaller and medium-sized homes thanks to its 1500sq/ft. range coverage.

Its setup will take a little under 5 minutes, and you might like how it allows you two setup options – you can place it on stand thanks to the wide base with rubber feet which prevent slipping, as well as the wall-mounting option which works if you want to keep surfaces neat or if you have limited space. The three amplified external antennas boost the signals’ range.

Then you have the best-in-class technological features which reduce interference for unbridled connections across your devices. One of these features is the downstream and upstream QoS or Quality of service for device prioritization. This technology first recognizes then prioritizes different applications automatically, for the best performance across devices.

It also features the Airtime Fairness technology, which helps prevent lags. The other technological feature present is Beamforming+, which boosts the speed, range, and the reliability of the WiFi connections at all times by focusing the wireless signals directly to the devices that really need it.

In terms of speed, this dual-band router allows you to enjoy speeds of up to 1750Mbps, with speeds of 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1300Mbps on the 5GHz frequency. The robustness of the router can be attributed to the powerful 1GHz dual-core processor.

It boasts impressive security features too, thanks to Netgear’s Armor security feature, which prevents malware and virus attacks. It also offers the best data-protection features.

Regarding file sharing, there is a USB-3.0 port which works along with the ReadySHARE Vault technological application to give you the necessary backup you need for your devices.

If you need more power and reliability for streaming or gaming, the four gigabit Ethernet ports allow for the best wired connections. Overall, it has a device capacity of up to 25 devices.

Pros

  • VPN support
  • Great for gaming and HD streaming
  • Setup complete in 5 minutes or less
  • Rubber feet prevent slipping
  • Dual-band
  • Beamforming+
  • QoS for device prioritization
  • Maximum throughput of 1750Mbps
  • 4 Ethernet ports
  • ReadySHARE Vault for fast and safe media sharing

Cons

  • Bulky
  • The firmware could be better
  • 4GHz speeds too low

View Price on Amazon

  1. Linksys EA7300 AC1750 Dual-Band Smart Router – Best NETGEAR Nighthawk R6700 Alternative

Linksys EA7300 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1750 MU-MIMO Fast Wireless Router)
  • Provides up to 1,500 square feet of Wi-Fi coverage for 10+ wireless devices
  • Works with existing modem, simple setup through Linksys App. Minimum system requirements-Internet...

The sleek design of this Linksys EA7300 router makes it stand out from the rest, and if your home is 1500sq.ft or less, then this router with a maximum throughput of 1750Mbps will be a good option for you. And with its dual-band design offering speeds of 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz frequency and 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band, the router promises excellent wireless performance throughout your home.

It features four Ethernet ports at the back of the device, and one of these ports allows for the best wired networking for data-hungry activities like 4K streaming and gaming. You will have the rest of your devices connected to the high-speed AC wireless network.

For enhanced multi-device connectivity, the router features MU-MIMO technology, which creates sub-channels out of the existing channels for the best simultaneous internet connectivity throughout your home. It also boasts intelligent traffic shaping functions for the reorganization of the network connections, hence improved performance.

Setup is simplified by the Linksys Smart WiFi application, and all the devices connected are managed thanks to this app easily.

Pros

  • Excellent lag-free wireless connections
  • Fast internet speeds
  • Ideal for 4K streaming and gaming
  • MU-MIMO for reliable multi-device connectivity

Cons

  • Occasional signal drops

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  1. ASUS RT-AC68U AC1900 Router – Best Value for Money

Asus AC1900 Dual Band Gigabit WiFi Router with MU-Mimo, Aimesh for Mesh WIFI System, Aiprotection Network Security Powered by Trend Micro, Adaptive Qos and Parental Control (RT-AC68U),Black
  • Dual band with the latest 802; 11 AC 3x3 technology for combined speeds of up to 1900 Mbps
  • 1 GigaHertz dual core CPU enables smart multitasking by dedicating separate lanes for Wi Fi and USB data;...

If you are looking for an elegant router designed to offer the best internet access at high speeds just under 2Gbps, then this router would be a great option for you, with its setup lasting less than 10 minutes, and it’s smart features giving you better control over the network.

It boasts blazing speeds of 1900Mbps on the N and AC frequencies at 600Mbps and 1300Mbps, and the three antennas boost its range significantly. The four Ethernet Gigabit ports ensure wired connections for high gaming and streaming performance.

Setup is simplified by the ASUS Quick Internet setup menu that will pop up when you connect a device to the network, and also the interface that’s easy to navigate. It works with Android and iOS devices.

It features a USB 3.0 and a USB 2.0 port for file sharing and storage that works with 4G and 3G dongles. It’s compatible with AiMesh, and Asus offers elegant security features through the AiProtection function that’s powered by Trend Micro, sealing off-network vulnerabilities.

Pros

  • Powerful hardware
  • High signal range and stability
  • Powerful 1GHz dual-core processor
  • No signal drops
  • Simple setup
  • Guest network WiFi
  • AiProtection
  • Parental controls
  • Adaptive QoS for device prioritization

Cons

  • No wall-mounting option

View Price on Amazon

  1. NETGEAR 4-Stream WiFi 6 Router (RAX15) – Best WiFi 6 Router

NETGEAR 4-Stream Wifi 6 Router (RAX15) - AX1800 Wireless Speed (Up to 1.8Gbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 20+ Devices | Ideal for iPhone 11, Samsung Galaxy S20
  • Compatibility: Works with existing WiFi devices and new WiFi 6 devices like iPhone 11, Galaxy Note 10,...
  • 4 simultaneous streams: Provides more capacity so more devices can use WiFi at the same time.

WiFi 6 is the future of wireless networks, and if you want to experience tomorrow’s technology today, then this router will be a good option for you.

Yielding a maximum throughput of 1800Mbps on its dual-band system, a capacity for at least 20 devices, and a coverage of up to 1500Sq/ft., this router might be exactly what you need. It is 100% backward compatible with older wireless standards, and it boasts a large device capacity thanks to its four simultaneous streams.

Then you have four Ethernet ports for wired connections to computers or gaming consoles, as well as two USB 3.0 USB ports for data storage and file access.

It’s also loaded with advanced technological features powered by a quad-core processor, for example, OFDMA, which is behind the multi-stream design of the router, Beamforming+ for focused signals to devices, and two amplified antennas for a larger signal range.

For security, you have WPA2, Guest WiFi access, VPN support, DDoS, and Firewalls.

Pros

  • WiFi 6
  • Large device capacity
  • OFDMA and Beamforming+
  • Amplified antennas
  • Two USB 3.0 ports
  • 4 Ethernet ports
  • Alexa voice controls
  • Secure connections

Cons

  • Few WiFi 6 clients
  • Speed could be higher
  • No MU-MIMO

View Price on Amazon


Buying guide for routers under $250

Just because you have a cut-off budget to work with doesn’t mean that you get to choose whatever goes, as long as it is within that budget. There are numerous important considerations for you to keep in mind always, whether you are looking at a high-end or an affordable router.

In this section, we are breaking down the components and features that make the best of these routers.

Wireless Protocol

The WiFi protocol that the router runs on is crucial as it dictates and guides how your devices will communicate with your network. New protocols get standardized after about five years or so, and the most common standard on the market today is the AC/ 802.11ac standard.

If you are buying a new computer or other types of electronics, you will find that they have an 802.11ac label specified somewhere, and this means that the device in question will be compatible with your router if it runs on the AC protocol. But even if you have older devices, you will be happy to know that AC has been around us for some time now (long enough, really), meaning that as long as your devices are updated, the router will work well with them.

AC routers are backward compatible with 802.11b/g/n systems, which is why you don’t have to worry about compatibility with the older devices. You only need to bear in mind the features of new devices.

Now, in as much as 802.11ac is pretty much the standard wireless protocol around, there is a new protocol on the market today – 802.11ax or WiFi 6. This new protocol is backward compatible with previous protocols, including AC, but there aren’t enough AX clients on the market yet.

Even so, the market is now a buzz with WiFi 6, just as it is the 5G network; primarily because it is the fastest wireless protocols available, it reduces congestion, and it boasts a larger client capacity – albeit at a higher price tag. This technology/ standard is future-proof, which means that if you are a tech enthusiast and wouldn’t mind investing in the industry’s best innovation, then a WiFi 6 router would be a good option for you.

Dual-band frequency

For years, the routers on the market only ran on a single frequency, 2.4GHz, which meant lower speeds, a lot of interference, and network congestion. Perhaps you are still using a single-band router, which is why you are struggling with your home’s WiFi.

Today, there are dual-band routers, and these promise the best experiences by giving you access to two frequencies – 2.4GHz and 5GHz, one with a long-range/low speed and shorter-range/ higher speeds, respectively. The 5GHz band is an excellent addition because it means less network congestion, and if you need faster speeds for gaming or streaming, then this 5GHz band will do the trick.

Tri-band routers are also making their place on the market – these have an extra 5GHz band, also for improved speeds and overall performance. But these tri-band routers cost more.

  • Security

One of the crucial security features you need to look out for when buying a router is WPA/ WPA2/ WPA3. These security protocols offer encryption features to enhance your devices’ or network security at all times. You also need this security protocol for password setting.

Advanced security features to look out for include VPN, malware and cyber threat protection, as well as parental controls and guest WiFi access.

Technological features

All the features above make good routers, but we can all agree that your router needs a little oomph for the level of performance you seek. Having extra features is, therefore, a big win because you will have an extra bargaining chip that will help you choose one router or the other. These features have been shown to improve the overall performance of routers significantly.

  • Quality of Service or QoS

QoS is an important feature that allows you to easily designate devices or apps to the router’s bands so that they either get a lower or a higher WiFi priority. Thanks to QoS’ device prioritization, you will have an easier time managing the performance of the connected devices in your network, with your wireless system automatically detecting and delegating WiFi, determining what gets the best wireless network access for streaming or gaming, and what activities don’t need much data.

  • Beamforming

This technology is common with top-rated routers on the market today, and it plays the important role of enabling WiFi signals to beam or focus on specific devices more, instead of the wireless signals being directed to space. Thanks to Beamforming, stronger signals will reach your devices, hence the fastest internet connections.

  • MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output)

MU-MIMO is the features that enhance multi-device WiFi access simultaneously, rather than sequentially. Since routers would normally communicate with only one device at a time, but at higher speeds, the rest of the connected devices will be unable to communicate well or run as well as they should. The simultaneous WiFi access by all connected devices ensures excellent performance throughout, and MU-MIMO makes that possible.

  • Extra Ports

And not just any extra ports, but the best Ethernet ports and high-speed USB ports for wired connections between the router and your devices, as well as fast media transfers. A good router will feature at least four Ethernet Gigabit ports. For media transfers and storage, your options include USB 3.0 and USB 2.0.

  • Parental controls

If you have kids, you must set boundaries or in the very least, have control over the content they consume. For the level of restrictions you seek, get a router that allows you to set parental controls for the type of content they can access, number of hours they are allowed online, and you could also restrict them from access specific websites.

Other considerations

  • The layout of the land – you’ll need stronger, perhaps mesh routers if you live in a large, dense-walled house because walls, floors, and other obstacles reduce wireless speeds.
  • Speed of your internet plan – it’s one thing to buy one of the best high-speed routers on the market, but is the plan you’ve subscribed to capable of reaching the speed limits of the router? For example, to enjoy gigabit speed, you have to subscribe to a gigabit internet plan from your ISP.
  • Typical use – if you are a heavy internet user who needs very high traffic for simultaneous 4K video streaming, real-time gaming, large file downloads, or video conferencing, you’ll need a router offering speeds of at least 100Mbps.

FAQs

Should I rent a router from my ISP?

No. You’d rather buy your own router. This purchase will save you good money in the long run, and the best part is that it will enhance your internet speeds.

Where is the ideal place for my router?

The positioning of the router is crucial. Place it close to your devices, in an open area, and away from obstructions. Also, keep it as central as possible. If it has antennas, place them either vertically or horizontally, depending on where you struggle with weak signals.

How are WiFi signals released?

The signals’ release is in an almost spherical shape. Place the router in a spot that gives the signal a bubble-like release for maximum coverage.


Conclusion

Wireless routers have changed the way we do things, offering high internet speeds through large spaces, easy file sharing, and good wireless performance for high-traffic activities. The routers in this review are not only affordable but promise high and reliable speeds. If you are thinking of an upgrade, any of the five wireless routers with Ethernet ports would be a great option for you – they fall in different price ranges, and you get to buy what you can afford.

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Mathew Blake
Hi my name is Mathew Blake. My love for technology stemmed from a curiosity and fascination is small gadgets ever since I could remember. The Globe is a hotbed for rapidly advancing technology that has brought us a multiple gadgets, appliances and devices and I am here for it. Techprojournal.com is a blog that is very enjoy writing and researching for. My passion for tech led me to specialize in several technology-related fields, the main being IT. As an IT specialist, my main job is to cater to technical needs in many businesses. I enjoy working all tech related- fields especially ones that allow me to interact with the consumer.

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