WiFi 5 routers offer the best internet connectivity for homes and offices, and these are some ofthe best options on the market today.
If you are planning on a home internet upgrade and are on the search for the best router to meet your needs, you are in the right place. This article explores the world of WiFi 5 routers and what makes these routers the best options on the market.
Beyond looking at WiFi 5 and what is it all about exactly, we’ll highlight the best of these routers by looking at their overall value, their range, and performance. At the end of the day, our definition of the best WiFi 5 router points to a router that offers the best of these three elements.
But first, it’s important to note that the WiFi 5 routers are the routers that run on the 802.11ac wireless protocol. Most of the devices on the market today run on this protocol, and it is one of the fastest, most reliable wireless standards, compatible with numerous devices.
That said, you will be happy to know that the routers reviewed here all have the capacity to run and meet all your home internet needs, from streaming, browsing, setting up and running Zoom meetings, going through work and school tasks, and even gaming. These WiFi 5 routers promise great speed and excellent coverage.
Here are some of the best WiFi 5 routers on the market today.
Comparison table for the Best WiFi 5 Routers
Best WiFi 5 Routers
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700)
Best Overall WiFi 5 Router
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300
Best High-performance Router for gamers
TP-Link AC1200 Gigabit Smart WiFi Router
Best Affordable WiFi 5 Router
Google Nest WiFi
Best WiFi 5 Mesh Router
D-Link WiFi Router AC2600 (DIR-2680-US-W)
Best Smart Router with Reliable Internet Security
Reviews of the Best WiFi 5 Routers
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) – Best Overall WiFi 5 Router
- Recommended for up to 25 devices: Reliably stream videos, play games, surf the internet, and connect...
- Wired Ethernet ports: Plug in computers, game consoles, streaming players, and other nearby wired devices...
This AC1750 Netgear Nighthawk smart router is one of the best routers you could invest in, especially if you are working on a home internet upgrade. It offers fast internet access, good coverage, and it’s affordable – its wireless speeds reach 1750MBps (maximum throughput), and you can enjoy good internet coverage for all areas in your 1500sq ft space. At the same time, this router allows internet access for a maximum of 25 devices, which is pretty neat.
It sports a dual-band design, with each band offering reliable high speeds at 450Mbps and 1300Mbps on the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz bands, respectively. Thanks to these speeds and the fact that this router is loaded with a good number of advanced technological features like Beamforming+, a dynamic QoS, Smart Connect, and MU-MIMO, along with the three amplified antennas mean that this router is a reliable device for gaming, streaming, surfing the internet, etc. Note that the dynamic QoS function allows for device prioritization, while MU-MIMO allows for multiple device connectivity.
You also have the 4 Ethernet Gigabit ports that ensure reliable wired connection to your computer and gaming console for streaming games. There’s a single USB 3.0 port that offers high-speed file transfers, as well as smart parental control allowing your kids a safe online environment.
- High internet speeds
- Stable connections
- Great value for money
- Advanced technological features for improved performance
- Ideal for streaming and gaming
- Parental controls
- 4 Ethernet ports
- Dual-band connectivity
- Netgear Armor security for network security
- USB 3.0 port
- Smart Connect
- Large footprint
- It could use additional antennas
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 – Best High-performance Router for gamers
- Tri-band (dual 5 GHz, single 2.4 GHz) AC5300 wireless router with the latest 802.11ac 4x4 MU-MIMO...
- 1.8GHz 64bit Quad-Core processor maximizes data throughput from 8-ports and dual USB 3.0 for optimizing...
This ROG GT-5300 router is not only one of the fastest routers on the market, but it’s also the best designed router for gamers.
It is a beasty router that supports serious and heavy internet usage, which means that it is the ideal router for heavy streaming and gaming. It’s fitted with two LAN ports that allow you to enjoy network priority. What this means is that you can plug in your gaming unit to either of these ports, and you will be able to enjoy high-speed internet connection and access to enough gaming bandwidth always.
The router also matches a gamer’s needs thanks to the incorporation of the Gamer’s Private Network (GPN), which offers you access to a private and secure network connection to the gaming servers closest to your location. In addition to GPN, it also features GameBoost, another feature that ensures network prioritization to the gaming consoles.
This router works with Alexa, as well as the IFTTT Applets, and you can set up a guest network to enhance the level of security for your device. Regarding speeds, this Asus router allows you to enjoy maximum speeds of 5300Mbps.
- Fast wired connections
- High-speed connectivity
- Great performance and range
- Offers several features for gamers
- The user interface is sleek
- Works with Alexa and IFTTT
- 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports
- Powerful quad-core processor
- Large footprint
- The file transfer speeds are middling
TP-Link AC1200 Gigabit Smart WiFi Router – Best Affordable WiFi 5 Router
- Dual band router upgrades to 1200 Mbps high speed internet (300mbps for 2.4GHz ; 900Mbps for 5GHz),...
- Gigabit Router with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, ideal for any internet plan and allow you to directly connect...
This dual-band gigabit wireless router is one of the best 802.11ac routers on the market, and it might be the best option for you if you are looking for a high-performance router that will not break your budget.
It boasts an impressive coverage range that’s enhanced by the four external antennas, and this Archer A6 router offers good internet access speeds. The dual-band setup means seamless streaming and light gaming, while technologies like Beamforming ensure seamless and directed signals to specific connected devices for the best performance. MU-MIMO technology incorporated into this router allows you to enjoy high-speed internet access across multiple devices.
You also have the guest WiFi option, which offers a safe wireless environment and the AP mode that also boosts the wireless performance of the router. It also features parental controls.
The router boasts high internet speeds of up to 1200Mbps, with 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 900Mbps on the 5GHz band. These high speeds mean an end to buffering, and you can finally enjoy 4K streaming easily.
- Easy setup
- MU-MIMO and Beamforming promise high-speed multi-device connectivity
- Features an Access Point Mode
- Comes with 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired connections
- 1200Mbps maximum throughput
- Great range
- Stable wireless connections
- Great value for money
- Not suitable for heavy internet usage or heavy gaming
Google Nest WiFi – Best WiFi 5 Mesh Router
- This product includes one router unit.
- Nest Wifi is a scalable and flexible Wi-Fi system. These Nest Wifi devices work together to blanket your...
If you are looking for a mesh router that comes with a built-in smart speaker and support for Google Assistant, this Google Nest WiFi router might be the best option for you. The mesh router system means that you won’t have to deal with dead spots, and the smart system of the router means better control of your smart home.
Each of the Nest WiFi systems come with a built-in smart speaker that offers one of the most efficient voice assistants for your home.
It offers fast internet access, it boasts the easiest setup and management, and you might also like it because it works well with previously designed Google WiFi units.
It’s a dual-band wireless router that comes with four fixed antennas and two Gigabit LAN ports. All the features of the router allow you to enjoy high internet speeds of up to 2200Mbps or higher.
- Great performance
- Easy setup
- Built-in Google Assistant
- No more dead zones
- Easy setup
- The range could be better
D-Link WiFi Router AC2600 (DIR-2680-US-W) – Best Smart Router with Reliable Internet Security
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If the security setup of your home is an important feature for you, this D-Link router might be ideal for you. It comes with embedded McAfee security tools, all designed to ensure the protection of your network along with the connected devices.
It sports a unique design that ensures the best dispersion of wireless signals throughout your home. And the advanced technological feature like MU-MIMO ensures the best multi-device connectivity. The router’s smart security and the parental controls are top-notch, and you get to enjoy an added layer of security from the router.
The security from the McAfee security setup gives you the best blanket coverage for all your connected smart home devices. The best part is that this security setup features a 5-year security subscription for all the connected devices. So, if you have been wondering how you could possibly install antivirus for your baby monitor or the smart thermostat, this router has you covered. The other security features include the option to pause internet access for one use, online content filtering, and reliable parental controls.
But it’s not just winning in the security front – this gigabit router allows you to enjoy high-speed internet access thanks to its maximum throughput of 2600Mbps.
- Great parental controls
- Top-notch security features
- High-speed connectivity
- Solid performance
- Works with Alexa
- Easy installation and management
- File transfer performance is middling
Buying Guide for the best WiFi 5 Routers
No two routers are exactly the same, and you need to look beyond the brand name and more into the features and the performance of the router to determine that a router is ideal for you. This determination is not, however, the easiest, since you’d have to take into account a number of features incorporated into the router. It’s also important to keep in mind that the presence of some features in some routers and not in others will give that one router an edge over the other routers.
So, what exactly do you need to look out for in a WiFi 5 router?
WiFi 5 Routers
WiFi 5 routers, like all other routers, come assigned an 802.11 number followed by a letter, which could be a b/g/n/ac/ or ax. As confusing as these numbers can be, all you need to know is that these numbers represent the WiFi standard that the router runs on, and they codify the improvements incorporated into the router to ensure a boost in the device’s performance, specifically, the range, the throughput, and the frequencies.
So, what is WiFi 5? Well, this wireless standard goes by 802.11ac, and most of the wireless home routers on the market today are 802.11ac-compliant, and they run on the 5GHz frequency band. These routers are designed with a number of features that promise to enhance their performance, including the Multiple Input, Multiple Output, or MIMO technology, which means that the router comes with multiple antennas that send and receive signals to devices, boosting signal speed and range, while reducing errors.
This wireless standard is also designed to support high internet speeds of up to 3.46Gbps, and most support the 2.4GHz band besides the 5GHz band. As a result of the setup and the features of these 802.11ac routers, the routers are backward compatible with previous wireless standards (802.11b/g/n).
Note that there are newer wireless standards on the market today, and they include 802.11ax, 802.11ad, and 802.11ah. There also are pending WiFi standards, including 802.11aj, 802.11ak/ay/az, and 802.11ba.
How do 802.11ac routers work?
For starters, it’s important to remember that the 802.11ac is an improvement of the 802.11n standard, which means that it comes with better features than the older standard. For example, while the routers on the 802.11n standard only feature four spatial streams, hence the 4×4 MU-MIMO setup, the 802.11ac standard comes with eight spatial streams, and its channels are up to 80MHz (against 40MHz for its predecessor) wide, and they can be combined into a 170MHz channel setup. With these differences in the spectral bandwidth, it is obvious that the 802.11ac routers will allow you to squeeze in much more data across your airwaves in comparison to the previous wireless standards.
But these aren’t the only new features offered on this new wireless model. The other features that make for the top-notch performance of these 802.11ac routers include:
Showing a huge improvement from the 64-QAM modulation setup, the routers reviewed above are designed to effortlessly squeeze in as many as 256 varying signals via the same frequency through shifts and twists in each signal all in different phases. Theoretically, this setup will quadruple the total spectral efficiency of the 802.11ac wireless standard, aver the preceding standards.
The spectral efficiency of this wireless standard is a measurement of how well the selected wireless protocol or how the wireless multiplexing technique makes use of the available bandwidth. In the case of the 5GHz band and with the fairly wide channels that are up to 20MHz+ or more, spectral efficiency is not as important.
The other feature of the 802.11ac router is the introduction of the beamforming technology, a feature that allows for the transmission of radio signals in a more directed way, meaning that the connected devices access more directed wireless signals for increased efficiency. Beamforming increases the device’s overall throughput, and it results in an increased router/ device consistency, along with a reduction in power consumption by the devices on your network.
Note that the use of smart antennae results in Beamforming, with the smart antennae used capable of tracking connected devices while also modulating the network amplitude and the phase of the signals, hence interference-free beams.
Speed of the 802.11ac routers
The 802.11ac routers feature the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz frequency bands, but the 5GHz band is the reason for the top performance and the reliability of these routers. Along with the beamforming technology, the 5GHz band of these routers means higher speeds. Essentially, the 5GHz band has a low penetration power and a shorter range than the 2.4GHz. The 5GHz band has a bigger spectral bandwidth than the 2.4GHz band, which means that you will be able to enjoy faster internet from the 5GHz band, and overall positive performance, thanks to the 802.11ac setup.
So, just how fast is the WiFi 5 router?
Well, before we answer this question, we first need to note that you need to note the differences in router speeds between the theoretical and the actual device speeds. The theoretical speed is what is attained at the lab, while the actual speed is the router’s actual speed as it is used at home or in the office/real world.
As expected, the theoretical speed is higher than the actual speed, with a WiFi 5 router with 256-QAM channels and 8 spatial streams expected to offer high speeds of up to 7Gbps, and a very high data transfer speed of up to 900Mbps. However, the maximum throughput for the router in the real world will be a little slower than the theoretical numbers, and an 802.11ac router would offer maximum speeds of up to 2.5Gbps and a data transfer speed of up to 600Mbps. Even with the differences in the actual and the theoretical speeds, it goes without saying that the WiFi 5 router speeds are high enough to meet or even exceed your needs and expectations.
Before that router upgrade, you also need to take into consideration the security features of the router. Essentially, this means looking at the router’s security protocols.
There are a few wireless security protocols that you need to be aware of, and they include WEP, WPA, and WPA2. These are the basic security protocols for your wireless networks, but before you settle on one, you might want to opt for the best and the most robust security options. Today, the best wireless security feature is the WPA2+AES, while the worst security setup is the open network or WEP.
The best 802.11ac routers feature Ethernet ports for wired connections. These ports not only ensure fast file transfers (USB ports) but also allow for high-speed internet connectivity because you can use the Ethernet ports to connect your TV or gaming console to the router directly.
What is MU-MIMO?
MU-MIMO, specifically the MU-MIMO technology, refers to the robust technological set up that ensures the provision of adequate bandwidth to multiple devices in a simultaneous rather than a sequential manner. So, in case there are eight clients, they will access their data streams, and none of the clients would have to wait for their turn to receive their data packets from the router.
Should I buy a router with removable antennas?
Yes. While some routers come with high-performance routers and you wouldn’t have to worry about their performance, most routers could use a boost, and this is where the removable antennas come in. You could also remove the factory antennas, replacing them with the high-gain antennas that promise to boost the performance of the router. All you need to do is to make sure that the antennas you are planning to buy will not affect the router’s performance negatively.
Is QoS a good feature?
If you are shopping for a router and come across one that offers a QoS setting, it might be a good idea to buy that router, especially if you need the high-performance router for streaming or gaming. These activities require stable internet connectivity, and QoS ensures that through network prioritization for all clients. High QoS will eliminate overall gaming lag time and boost your gameplay if you are getting that router for enhanced gaming performance.
If you are looking for the best WiFi 5 router, the five routers recommended above are some of the best options on the market today. But before you settle on one of these routers, always look at the features of the router, how they will influence the router’s performance, and how well the router will meet your needs. Remember that you need to buy a router that will give you the best value for your money, and that means settling for the router that will offer the best connection while meeting your unique needs aptly.