The Best Wireless Routers 2017 – Review

Maximize Your Home Network Performance with These Top Performing Wireless Routers

wireless routers

Do you have a fast internet plan, but cannot seem to get the high speed data throughput that you expect? If the problem is not with your connection provider, then there is a strong possibility that your Wireless Router is holding you back.

You will definitely want to get the most out of your high bandwidth (and expensive) internet connection so a fast and reliable router should be in your upgrade list this coming New Year. If you are looking for the best wireless router for 2017 then these are the top 10 that you will surely want to include in your short list.

These picks come from varying price brackets so whether you want money-is-no-object performance or you are after a more bang for your buck option, you should be able to find one here.

Top 10 2017 Wireless Routers

Let’s get this list started with a general spec overview of the best wireless routers shall we?

Router NameLAN PortsWireless CompabilitySignal StrengthCoverageData Transfer
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 R9000
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7802.11 n/ac/adExcellentVery Large Houses7.2Gbps
NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 R8000
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4802.11 n/acExcellentVery Large Houses3.2Gbps
ASUS RT-AC88U
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8802.11 a/b/g/n/acExcellentVery Large Houses3.2Gbps
D-Link DIR 890L/R
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4802.11 a/g/n/acExcellentLarge Houses3.2Gbps
TP-Link Archer C9
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4802.11 n/acGoodMedium Houses1.9Gbps
NETGEAR R6300V2
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4802.11 n/acGoodMedium Houses1.75Gbps
TP-Link Archer C50
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4802.11a/b/g/n/acGoodSmall Houses1.2Gbps
ASUS RT-AC52U
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4802.11 n/acGoodSmall Houses750Mbps
Buffalo AirStation WZR600DHP
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4802.11 a/b/g/acGoodSmall Houses600Mbps
Tenda F3 N300
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4802.11 b/g/nGoodSmall Houses300Mbps
Now that you have a good idea of the general specifications of each router, lets delve deeper into what makes these the top choices for your home network.

1. NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 R9000 – Best High Performance Router

NETGEAR Nighthawk Wireless Router

If you are buying a router for 2017 and money is no object, then this should definitely be at the top of your list. NETGEAR is a company that specializes in computer networking equipment, so when they release their latest flagship high performance product, you can expect that not only does it perform well, but it also comes with all the latest bells and whistles that are currently available in router tech.

First Impressions

Looks wise, the Nighthawk X10 is one sexy router. In my opinion, it is the perfect mix of an aggressive gamer design and a sleek, professional look, and is probably the best looking of NETGEAR’s Nighthawk series. This is spiced up by the router’s 4 large antennas that have LED lights embedded inside. This is certainly a device that you will be proud to place on your table. Also, the X10 is the heaviest router in this list, coming in at 4.11 pounds. This added heft adds stability to the product when placed on a table. This also reinforces the feeling that you are getting a quality device when holding it.

Setup

The X10’s setup is handled by the NETGEAR Up application. It is very simple to use and should allow you to have the router up and running in just minutes. The program also gives you access to the numerous advanced functions that this R9000 offers, complete with How-To guides and links to video tutorials so you should not have any difficulty with controlling the device’s functions.

Performance

Being NETGEAR’s latest and greatest, you can expect a lot of performance from this device. In fact, it is touted as the fastest wireless router in the world today with a max throughput of 7.2Gbps. This is achieved through the use of the reliable 802.11 ac and n bands along with the latest 802.11 ad. The X10 is so fast, there is currently no device that can push the throughput to its limits. With this router, I was able to have a 4k video streamed to my living room TV, fully buffered in under a minute. This was completed while playing an online game to my PC and I experienced no hitches whatsoever.

Aside from the X10s 6 Gigabit LAN ports, it also features a 10G fiber port, allowing you to integrate a fiber connection in the future if you wish.

Also notable is that the X10 features USB 3.0 ports, which you can use to connect external hard drives to the router, giving it ultra-fast NAS capabilities.

The router also comes with additional software features like Amazon Cloud storage and the PLEX media center program, for fast and easy streaming of your media content to WiFi capable devices in your home.

Signal Range and Strength

The X10 features 4 of NETGEAR’s patent pending active antennas which gives it great coverage capabilities. My house is not that large but does have thick walls. Despite this, I was able to get fast and reliable WiFi connection wherever I happened to be in my home. I was even able to enjoy an internet connection out in my yard with no drops whatsoever.

Pros Cons
  • Fastest Router in the World with 7Gbps Throughput
  • 6 LAN Ports + 1 Fiber Port for Ultra-Fast Wired Connections
  • Comes with Amazon Cloud, PLEX
  • Wide Coverage with Strong Signal
  • Great Look, High Quality Build
  • Expensive
  • Large Size May Take Up a Lot of Desk Space

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2. NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 R8000 – The Ideal Solution for a Large Home Network

NETGEAR Nighthawk Wireless Router

While the X10 features jaw-dropping performance and numerous add-on features, the fact is that even most power users cannot maximize the capabilities of the router. If you are looking for a more affordable alternative that still offers a very high degree of performance then the smaller brother to the X10, the X6, is what you should be looking at.

First Impressions

The X6 sports a similar aesthetic to the X10, but I would consider the X6 to be the more aggressive of the two, with its cooling vents more exposed than that of the X10. However, the blacked out look of this R8000 still gives it a sleek and clean appearance, which should allow it to mesh well with a variety of desk setups. You will also most likely find the device’s 6 antennas to be quite unique. You can choose to fold the antennas into the device for sleeker look.

The X6 is much lighter too at only 2.43 pounds, which is almost half of the top of the line X10.

Setup

Setting up the X6 is done through the use of the NETGEAR Genie application. The whole process was fast as the interface was intuitive and really simple to follow. The application also provided access to advanced features if tweaking settings for optimal performance is your thing.

Performance

NETGEAR advertises the device as “Tri-Band”, though this is not really the case. Instead of operating at 3 different frequency ranges to get the true “Tri-Band” designation, this router only operates at two: the 2.4Ghz and the 5Ghz frequencies. However, it can support two networks on the 5Ghz range. This all combines to a maximum throughput of 3.2Gbps which is still plenty fast for most home users.

When it comes to servicing a single device, there are actually lesser priced routers that are faster than the X6. However, if you need to provide wireless connections across multiple devices in your home network including smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop PCs; the X6 definitely flexes its muscles, providing fast and stable wireless connections without a hitch.

This R8000 also features a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 port which makes it useable as a home NAS solution.

Signal Range and Strength

Thanks to its 6 antennas, the X6 provided a strong and stable connection. Coverage in my home was really great as I had reliable wireless internet wherever I was inside the house when using this router.

Pros Cons
  • Fast and Reliable Even with Multiple Devices Connected
  • Amazing Range and Signal Strength
  • Aggressive Aesthetic
  • More Affordable Options May Be Faster in a Small Network Setup

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3. Asus RT-AC88U – The Gamer’s Choice

Asus RT-AC88U Wireless Router

Asus is most well-known for its high-quality, high-performance motherboards but over the years, the Taiwan-based company has expanded to producing a host of other devices and products, with high end routers being some of the more recent additions to its portfolio. The RT-AC88U is a router that embodies the company’s commitment to producing fast and reliable devices.

First Impressions

Asus’ ROG lineup of devices is synonymous with top-end PC gaming, and it is a great decision by the company to give the RT-AC88U the ROG aesthetic treatment. Its sharp angles give the product a stealth bomber-esque look, while the red accents on the device’s 4 large antennas add a subtle yet great looking break to the otherwise all black look.

Setup

As with the other higher end routers in this list, Asus also has a program to handle the setup process of the RT-AC88U called Setup Wizard. With this tool, you have the option of prepping the router by clicking through pre-set menus or you can fiddle with more precision through the intuitive manual interface available. All in all, my setup experience of this router was really easy.

Performance

The Asus RT-AC88U is a dual band router, and while other routers in this list are tri band, this does not mean that the RT-AC88U is a slouch in the performance department. Thanks to beamforming tech being used in this router, it is able to deliver a max throughput of 3.2 Gbps. One standout feature of this Asus router however, is that it features 8 LAN ports; the most out of all the routers included in this list. What this means is that aside from fast wireless connectivity, you have the option to hook-up more wired connections if that is what you prefer.

The RT-AC88U features one USB port for connecting an external hard drive, but testing shows that the router’s read/write performance is not as fast as other routers using the same drive.

Thanks to Asus’ extra focus on gaming, users will be able to access Game Boost functions at the device’s web interface. Features like WTFast and LAN Boost can help speed up data delivery and preserve packet integrity while Real-Time Network protection gives your home network enterprise-class security while gaming.

Signal Range and Strength

Pros Cons
  • Great Wireless Throughput
  • 8 LAN ports for Versatile Connectivity
  • Gamer-Centric Optimization Features
  • Red and Black Color Scheme to Match Your ROG Theme
  • Lackluster File Transfer Speeds

The RT-AC88U’s 4 large antennas are not just for show, they actually do a really great job of providing a strong and stable signal in my home. I was able to get great WiFi coverage in all areas of my place.

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4. D-Link DIR 890 L/R – A Sexy Router with Performance to Boot

D-Link DIR 890 Wireless Router

D-Link is another top name in the networking realm and while the 890 L/R is not their top of the line offering, it still has a lot to offer that makes it a great option if a high end router is what you are after.

First Impressions

There is no denying that of all the routers in this list, the DIR 890 L/R is one of the loudest in terms of its looks. Thanks to its bright red color scheme and very angular design, you could mistake this router as a next generation drone from afar. Thankfully, this is not an all-show-no-go device, which we will be discussing in a bit.

The router features 6 large antennas, but unfortunately, they are not removable.

Setup

For this router, D-Link offers its web interface as a means to get this device up and running. What’s great about the interface is that it is cleanly laid out with practically all functions very easy to find. However, I found that there are some limitations to the tweaks that can be done, which I did not expect for a high end router. However, for most users, the available options should be more than enough.

Performance

Along with its great looks, the DIR 890 L/R brings awesome performance to the table. Just like the X6 R8000, this D-Link router features a single 2.4 Ghz network and two 5 Ghz ones, which total to 3.2Gbps of throughput. This ensures that the router works great on home networks where there are a lot of devices connected, and the router can even decide which network to connect a certain device to. This allows for hassle-free optimization of your wireless network’s performance. My experience with this router has been very positive as I was able to stream 4k videos, play online games without a hitch even with a number of smart phones and laptops also connected.

The 890 L/R sports 4 Gigabit LAN ports along with a USB 2.0 and 3.0 port, which allows the router to support NAS functionality.

Signal Range and Strength

The range is probably one of the biggest caveats of the D-Link DIR 890 L/R. While still very good, is not as far-reaching as the other high-end routers in this list. That said though, the trade-off is that when you are within the router’s coverage area, you are guaranteed to have a fast and stable wireless experience.

Pros Cons
  • Eye-catching Looks
  • Fast Transfer Rates
  • Stable Signal
  • Shorter Range Relative to Other High End Routers
  • Available Settings May be Lacking for Power Users

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5. TP-Link Archer C9 – Mid-Tier Price for High Performance

TP-Link Archer Wireless Router

This router from TP-Link may not be at the same high end level as the routers in this list that were discussed prior, but this does not mean that this product is a slouch in any way. In fact, this router offers a lot of performance for the money.

First Impressions

The device is one of the cleanest looking out of the selection in this list. It sports a smooth, white glossy finish along with 3 white antennas and a silver stand. If you have a number of Apple devices in your home like Macs and iPhones then this aesthetic that the C9 has will most certainly match with them. The router is also fairly compact and lightweight, so it should not take up a lot of space on your desk.

Setup

If you like to mount your routers on the wall, then the C9 may not be adapt for this type of use as it does not offer wall mounting points. So this is something that you should keep in mind. With regards to the actual setup of the router, TP-Link’s web interface it very intuitive, as you can expect with most modern routers. Also, TP Link offers a mobile app that allows you to easily see the different devices connected with the router, and block them through the app when needed, which is quite convenient.

Performance

The C9 offers a 1.9Gbps throughput which should be enough for most home setups. The router’s 5Ghz network delivers great speeds at around 70% of my internet speed even when I am in a room that is quite far from the router. The 2.4 Ghz network is where this device lags a bit in comparison to other routers.

It is also a positive aspect to see that the device offers USB ports despite being at the mid-tier in the router hierarchy. While you can also use these ports for a network printer and for NAS functionality, read and write speeds are not the fastest, with my transfer speeds capping at around 11 MBs. While this may not be ideal for streaming media content from your NAS to your other devices, this should work well if you just want to store or retrieve data from the USB hard drive that you have attached, though it may take a while sometimes.

Signal Range and Strength

The 3 antennas of the C9 are able to do a good job of providing a strong WiFi signal to the different parts of my home. However, in those rooms that are far from the router and have thick walls, the signal may drop at times.

Pros Cons
  • Really Fast 5 Ghz Performance
  • Easy to Setup
  • Has High-End Features at A More Affordable Price
  • Subpar 2.4 Ghz Performance
  • Signal Strength May Not Be Sufficient for Large Homes with Thick Walls

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6. NETGEAR R6300V2 – Compact but Capable

NETGEAR R6300V2 Wireless Router

While having the fastest and most feature packed router can be a good thing, it can be a waste of money if you cannot utilize all the features that it offers. If you are looking for a fairly priced router that can give you rock solid wireless performance, then this is a solid choice.

First Impressions

The R6300V2 is a relatively compact and lightweight router when compared to the heavy hitters in this list. It also does not have antennas which may hurt its signal performance. Also, this router is more vertical in its design rather than horizontal, so it should easily fade into the background of your desk with ease. Also, I like that the product has a lot of ventilation holes at the back, which, and as I have observed, does a very good job of helping this router stay cool.

Setup

As with the other NETGEAR products in this list, the web interface for this router is very clean, simple and easy to use. However, there are a lot less tweakable options compared to the Nighthawk models, but this is to be expected from a lower priced router.

Performance

The R6300V2 is a dual band router that offers 450 Mbps at the 2.4 Ghz band and 1300 Mbps at the 5 Ghz band for a total of 1750 Mbps throughput. Actual wireless performance for this router, while lower than other routers in this list, is not too far off. In comparison to the C9 for example, the R6300V2 performs at around 70% to 80% when using the same test metrics. Considering the R6300V2 is a bit cheaper, this should not be a deal-breaker for regular users.

Signal Range and Strength

Despite not having an external antenna, the R6300V2 was still able to deliver good results, at least in my home. WiFi coverage on the other hand, was not very good in the rooms of my home that had thick walls, but in the living room or out in the yard, the R6300V2 was able to deliver a stable wireless connection.

Pros Cons
  • Good Performance on Both Available Bands
  • Thin and Lightweight
  • Lack of Antenna May Result in Choppy Signal in Certain Homes

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7. TP-Link Archer C50 – The Budget-Plus Router

TP-Link Archer Wireless Router

The C50 is a step-down from the TP-Link C9 that is higher up in the list. This model does not have as many of the features or the performance of its bigger brother, but it is able to deliver well in terms of the basics that you may need from a home router.

First Impressions

The C50 sports a more traditional router look compared to the C9’s more vertical orientation. This gives the C50 the advantage of being wall-mount capable, which may be a necessity for some users. The rear of this router is dominated by its 2 large antennas and a single USB 2.0 port, along with its LAN and WAN ports. While this does not give the C50 the potential to be a NAS router, this USB port is still handy for adding a network printer or for transferring the occasional file from a USB thumb drive to your mobile devices.

Setup

Despite being a basic router, TP-Link’s web interface actually offers a number of settings that you can tweak with the C50 which is always welcome. The interface also uses a rather simple wizard that can really help to get the router up and running with minimal manual adjustments needed. In my case, I just set a password and the interface did most of the setup for me.

Performance

The C50 is a dual band router that offers 300Mbps at the 2.4Ghz network and 867Mbps for the 5Ghz one. This totals to a 1.2 Gbps throughput. While this may not be ideal for streaming large files over the home network, this allowed me to enjoy snappy transfers of pictures, music and HD video which is what most users will probably need from this router. Online gaming with this router was also a pleasant experience, but there were some instances where I felt some lag which were not present on the other routers that I have tested. If you play competitively online through a wireless connection, then this may not be the best router for you. For general use purposes however, this router is more than adequate.

Signal Range and Strength

Thanks to the 2 antennas of this router, I was able to get a pretty good signal in most areas of my home. However, on those areas surrounded by thick walls, signal strength dropped sharply and I was experiencing frequent disconnections. If you pick this router, then be mindful as to where you will be mounting this.

Pros Cons
  • Dual Band with Okay Throughput
  • Comes with 1 USB Port Despite Low Price
  • Great Coverage in Open Areas
  • Signal May Drop Sharply in Rooms with Thick Walls
  • No Gigabit LAN

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8. ASUS RT-AC52U – Thin Form Factor, Decent Speed, Great Price

ASUS RT-AC52U Wireless Router

With this Asus router, we are now at the more budget part of the list. Despite its low price however, the RT-AC52U still offers a number of features that makes it a compelling choice if a budget router is what you need.

First Impressions

Probably the one quality of this router that you will surely notice when you get it out of the box is its thinness. This is the thinnest router in the list which makes it great for those who have very limited space in their home or room. This router also does not have an antenna which helps it achieve its compact size, yet may also cause its signal output to suffer.

I should note however, that the glossy black plastic face, along with the diamond design makes this router shine. The device is actually quite eye-catching.

Setup

As with other routers in this bracket, this device’s web setup is also very simple, with minimal tweaking options available. However, this was also one of the fastest wireless setups that I have experienced out of all the routers in this list.

Performance

This router is dual band, which features 802.11 ac support, yet does break the gigabit throughput mark. Its 2.4 Ghz network offers a max speed of 300 Mbps while the ac 5Ghz network reaches speeds up to 433 Mbps. Also, while the RT-AC52U does have 4 LAN ports, none of them are gigabit so certain wired connections may be limited. Despite these low performance ceilings, the RT-AC52U still delivered respectable and more importantly, stable performance which is something that most users are after.

Signal Range and Strength

Despite being antenna-less, the RT-AC52U’s coverage was surprisingly good. However, its signal drops sharply in rooms that have even thin walls, so it would be best to place this router within line of sight to maximize the performance that it is capable of delivering.

Pros Cons
  • Really Affordable
  • Dual Band (supports 802.11 ac)
  • Small Footprint
  • Good Looks for the Price
  • Relatively Slow 5Ghz Performance
  • No Gigabit LAN
  • Signal Not That Strong

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9. Buffalo AirStation WZR600DHP – Tried and Tested on a Budget

Buffalo AirStation Wireless Router

When it comes to budget routers, a lot of users consider them to be really flimsy and don’t expect them to last a long time. Despite these initial assessments, the fact is that this low price router from Buffalo, which has been around for quite a while, is still able to deliver good performance while offering a number of extra features that still do appeal to the user’s preferences.

First Impressions

When I got this router out of the box, I thought it looked quite cute thanks to the antennas on both flanks of the vertically oriented device. Despite its funkier appearance, I really liked that the device was stable on its base and that I could easily push the router against the wall to save space, due to the ports located on the side of the router instead of the back.

Setup

The initial setup process was rather uneventful. It was really fast and simple to do so.

Performance

This router supports 802.11 ac, which is definitely a great feature to have, being that this network is able to deliver throughput speeds that most users today find to be acceptable. The total throughput of the R600DHP is at 600Mbps, a speed that is good enough for standard internet connections, along with some wireless file transfers within the home network. What really sets the AirStation apart from other wireless routers in this list is its DD-WRT firmware, which gives it some enterprise functionality. This makes the router great for use in small business setups.

Signal Range and Strength

Aside from giving the device its cute look, the AirStation’s antennas provide the router with decent range capabilities, and this factor should be adequate in terms of the device providing reliable coverage to a small home.

Pros Cons
  • Dual Band Despite Low Price
  • DD-WRT Firmware for Enterprise Capability
  • Speed at the Lower End of the Spectrum

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10. Tenda F3 N300 – If You are On A Tight Budget, This is the One to Get

Tenda F3 N300 Wireless Router

If you want to spend as little as possible on your router but still want great performance relative to its price then this device from Chinese manufacturer Tenda is the one to get.

First Impressions

At a street price of around $30, I really was not expecting much from this router in terms of build quality. It sports a clean, all-white look with a glossy finish. It’s 3 antennas are also in white and as a whole, should go well with an Apple setup.

Setup

Since this router is as barebones as it gets, there are no extra features or tweaks to fiddle with. I simply plugged in the router, accessed the device through its web interface, added a password and it was ready for use.

Performance

This router only features the single band wireless standard 802.11n which tops off at around 300Mbps, so this product will surely not win any speed awards. Despite the slow speed however, the router was able to deliver a stable performance with minimal data drops. If you only need a router to feed your smartphones and laptops with standard definition streaming content and smaller packets of data, this should cover the bases pretty well.

Signal Range and Strength

As with its performance, the F3 N300’s signal range was middle of the road. While the signal that this router produces cannot penetrate thick walls very well, it was able to give great coverage in the more open areas of my home, which I consider to be very good for the price. This router is ideal for a room network setup or a small house at best.

Pros Cons
  • Very Affordable
  • No Hassle at All to Setup
  • Stable Data Delivery Within Effective Range
  • Slow Throughput
  • Signal Does Not Penetrate Thick Walls Effectively

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Wireless Router Buyer’s Guide

Currently, the market for wireless routers is huge. Not only are there hundreds of models available, but prices can vary widely, making the choice as to which router to purchase really difficult to make.

To help you out, here are some considerations that you will want to put in mind before buying a router.

Examine Your Typical Wireless Network Usage Scenario

This is probably the most important thing that you will need to think about and analyze. Will you simply be using the router to provide a wireless internet connection to your smartphones? Will you be doing competitive online gaming? Is 4k media streaming, VR streaming and large data transfers over your wireless network what you will be doing frequently? Once you have identified what your usual wireless network usage will be, picking a router to fit your needs should be much easier to do.

How Many Devices Will You Be Connecting to Your Network? What Types of Devices Are They?

Aside from the data throughput and wireless stability that routers can provide, the number of connections that they can hold and the devices that they support are also of equal importance. If smartphones and tablets are what will connect to your home wireless network, then a basic router should suffice, a mid-tier one at most.

With 4k media streaming or using the router as part of your NAS network, it would be ideal to get a high end router with fast 5 Ghz throughputs for the best data transfer rates.

If there are a number of desktop computers in your home and you want a wired connection to the router, then pick one that has Gigabit LAN ports and enough of them to support all your desktop machines.

Consider Your Budget

This may already be a given for most, but there are a lot of buyers that go either over or under budget when it comes to the routers that they pick.

If you have a lot of bandwidth heavy, speed-sensitive needs from your wireless network then you will need to spend more on a higher end router. Skimp on the router for such a setup and you will most likely experience abysmal performance, which may necessitate the need for you to spend more in the future.

However, if you will only be doing basic internet stuff using your home WiFi, then there is no need to spend too much money on your router purchase. Just pick one that can provide you with good speed, great coverage and a stable signal.

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