After testing and evaluating 30 routers over 250 hours, we’ve determined that the best router for wirelessly connecting your laptops, your smart devices, and anything else your daily life depends on is the TP-Link Archer AX50.
The best Wi-Fi router
In our tests the TP-Link Archer AX50 created a speedy, responsive network even from across a medium house. You have to spend a lot more on a router—or a mesh kit if you have a very large home—to get anything even a little better. It’s our first WI-Fi 6 (802.11ax) router pick.
The TP-Link Archer AX50 is reasonably priced, yet it can handle a growing selection of laptops and smart devices while surpassing the performance of routers that cost twice as much. It’s generally speedy and able to reach long range, it has little lag even when the network is busy, and it’s a great choice if you have a high-performance internet service plan. It’s compatible with Wi-Fi 6, the latest wireless standard, and it comes with built-in security in the form of a lifetime subscription to updates.
The Archer AX20 offers fewer features than our pick for a slightly lower price, but in most cases it can keep up in throughput, responsiveness, and ease of setup.
If our pick is out of stock or its price is more than $30 higher, you should consider the TP-Link Archer AX20 instead. The AX20 looks like the AX50 and offers a strong, responsive network that’s nearly as good, especially if your house isn’t larger than our 2,300-square-foot-test home. But it’s not quite as fast at longer ranges, and TP-Link sacrifices a few advanced features and settings in its administration interface to meet the lower price.
Future-proofed, high speed, high price
If you have gigabit internet service or want to dig into the settings to fine-tune your network, the RT-AX88U’s extra features and improved speed and range are worth the higher cost. But it’s overkill in most homes.
The Asus RT-AX88U had the least lag of any router we tested, and it was faster overall than our top picks, but you pay twice the price for what constitutes a small improvement for most people. We think the upgrade is worth the expense if you’ve already invested in gigabit internet service and need a powerful router to work with all that bandwidth. This model is also a prime choice for your geekier side—if you want to spend an hour or five over the weekend tweaking your router settings to optimize a new smart device or your videoconferencing performance, this Asus model provides more options for customization than our other picks.
For smaller spaces or fewer devices
The TP-Link Archer A7 is an older router, but it still receives valuable firmware updates and performs better at close range than some newer, more expensive models. In a small home or apartment with few devices online, it’s a solid option, and it’s the cheapest one we recommend.
TP Link’s Archer A7 router is a relatively inexpensive, slightly older router that can still provide a good network for small homes or one- or two-bedroom apartments without many devices. At longer distances or on very busy networks, it’s noticeably slower than our more expensive picks. But TP-Link has improved the Archer A7 since we tested it in 2018, adding via frequent firmware updates features such as compatibility with TP-Link’s OneMesh extenders. The Archer A7 is typically less than half the price of the Archer AX50, and we think it’s the best router you can buy for less than $100.