Best Wireless Routers 2016: In-depth reviews and buying guide

A wireless router is an integral part of our life and mostly the one that we pay very little attention to. In my earlier post, I described a need to upgrade your home Wireless router and suggested my favorite three Asus routers for my readers who are looking for value and not the greatest in the tech.

As promissed, this post is about unbiased all-inclusive best routers for every needs. I have researched and created a list of Best Wireless Routers in 2016 and provided my review on each one of these. Please note that since these are not the purely value-driven choice, some of the routers in this list are expensive and may not be the best pick for all users. You will need to again check the price and make a call on how much you are ready to spend for the features you are looking for your router. All of the routers in my list are “Above Average” and I am confident that if you are not sure of your need, pick the one that is least expensive or most attractive to you, it will be more than good enough.

In the list below I have used an unusual approach to providing you with the Amazon rating and Review numbers. I think it is in itself an important marker of router’s popularity and reliability that I myself find it very useful when researching for a new product.


LAN Ports

Wireless Band

Amazon Rating

Amazon Price

Asus RT-AC88U Dual-Band (Best Choice)


802.11 b/g/n

4 (> 4,700 reviews)

Check Price

D-Link DIR 890L Tri-Band (Best Choice)



4 (> 760 reviews)

Check Price

NETGEAR Nighthawk R8000 Tri-Band (Best Gaming)


802.11 b/g/n/ac

4.5 (> 10,000 reviews)

Check Price

ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band (Top of the consumer line)


802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

4 (> 535 reviews)

Check Price

Linksys WRT1900ACS (Best for DD-WRT)



4 (> 4,000 reviews)

Check Price

NETGEAR Nighthawk R7000 Dual-Band (Better value under $200)



4.5 (> 10,000 reviews)

Check Price

Asus RT-N66U (Best Value under $100)


802.11 b/g/n

4 (> 6,070 reviews)

Check Price

Apple AirPort Extreme (For Apple user or fans)



4.5 (>2100 reviews)

Check Price


Before I go into more details of router’s review, here are the two popular routers that are not on my list and the reason for it:

TP-Link Archer C7: A solid router but I think my best value pick- Asus RT-N66U is a better choice in same price range.

Netgear R8500: A solid router but is extremely expensive and do not justify the price tag for what it offer and is available for lower. Maybe a year or later, the price is expected to decrease and then it may be a worthy router.


Asus RT-AC88U – The best wifi router to buy in 2016-2017

asus-rt-ac88uAsus routers are my personal favorite. ASUS RT-AC88U, the router is priced under $300 and it is one of the best wireless routers you can buy right now.

The RT-AC88U is an AC3100 router and is a feature loaded, dual-band router capable of NAS. It comes with a total of 8 Gigabit LAN ports capable of delivering high-speed internet without any issues. Asus also has very well made web interface, super intuitive and easy to use. The WiFi performance of the router on both 2.4 gigahertz and the 5 gigahertz bands are as best it can get.

RT-AC88U offers a stylish sleek look and it aesthetically pleasing with its complete black construction with red accents along the antennas that mix well with products of gaming lineup by Asus.

The installation process of RT-AC88U is a very easy because of the amazing web interface. When you connect the router to the PC and internet for the first time and power on the PC, the Asus Web Interface will automatically launch and give you two options to configure the router. Either you can continue with the wizard or you can configure it manually. The Quick Internet Setup wizard, will check your internet connection and configure your router. After that, it allows you to set a name for each SSID, and then create a network encryption key for each band and it’s all done and running.

The Asus RT-AC88U provides multi-client MU-MIMO data streaming, is extremely fast on both bands (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) and File reading/writing and transfers were smooth. The router is perfect if you are ready to spend a little more money over my value pick and it has plenty of features to brag about that makes it a worth higher price. 

Pros: 8 Gigabit LAN ports; Reliable WiFi performance; Asus web interface that’s one of the best

Cons: Slightly higher price but still justifiable

D-Link DIR 890L – Best Range


The next in the list is a top tier wireless routers from D-Link. D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi DIR-890 is very attractively designed wireless router with an overall red build with black accents that can be appealing to gamers out there. The DIR-890 has amazing speed and functionality. It is a tri-band router so it can be too much for the regular consumer.

The router is fast, easy to setup and use, and has a superb speed and Wireless range. This router can be doubled up as a NAS by adding an external hard drive.

DIR-890 manages to give you a respectable performance with incredibly fast and problem free Wi-Fi with decent range, outstanding build quality, and pleasing design. It is easy to setup and easy to use. One drawback is that the antennas can’t be detached.

Pros: Easy setup; Build quality and design; WiFi performance and speed

Cons: The antennas cannot be detached

Netgear Nighthawk R8000 X6 – Excellent for Gaming


Netgear Nighthawk R8000 is upgraded from earlier model Netgear Nighthawk R7000 and you will pay a hefty price for it. R8000 is a compliant, tri-band router, and comes with enough features that will make you ignore the price point and get it anyway.

The Nighthawk AC3200, although has a similar color scheme as of R7000, it is comparatively larger. It has beautiful six antennas that can be collapsed with ease. The design and antennas make the router look epic. The Nighthawk AC3200 manages to give the superb performance as its younger sibling did. You might rightly think that then it’s a waste of money in that case. It can be doubled up as a NAS if you attach an external hard drive and the performance of NAS is quite good compared to other routers in this price range. It has superb speeds over the 5 GHz band but on the 2.4GHz band is it can be better.

The Netgear R8000 Nighthawk X6 AC3200 gives you amazing performance over the 5 GHz band and has a stellar performance as a NAS due to one of the most powerful hardware in a wireless router.

Pros: Best for gaming- Powerful hardware for fast WiFi and best NAS performance

Cons: WiFi range on 2.4GHz is not the best; Software

Asus RT-AC3200 – One of the best Tri-Band Router


If you are ASUS fan or just looking for a classy design in the router that is packed with features and loaded as it can get, get the Asus RT-AC3200.

Asus RT-AC3200 is a tri-band router with a hefty price tag but has lot of unique features that can justify the heavy price tag. The router sports 6 antennas that can be detachable and replaced by more capable ones. The router is a bit lacking on the LAN ports as it only happens to have 4 of them. The router comes with incredibly powerful hardware and the speed on all the bands is flawless. Moreover, the router can work as a NAS server as well as OpenVPN server- I love it.

Two key features that I like the most are; (1) Smart Connect that automatically selects the fastest band for all devices individually, based on their demands and capabilities, (2) Protection with Trend Micro with triple-strength total network security, plus robust parental controls and privacy protection. AiProtection with Trend Micro for complete network security

Pros: Powerful hardware; Unique and useful features that can justify the higher price

Cons: Price

Linksys WRT1900 AC – Best DD-WRT WiFi Router


The Linksys WRT1900 is a dual-band wireless router. It has 5 GHz band with a speed of 1,300 megahertz and the 2.5 GHz band with a speed of 600 megahertz. This router has classic design and color scheme found on Linksys routers for quite some time and is bulky with only 4 antennas.

The best appeal of this router is the firmware that it doesn’t have but can support (DD-WRT)! The router also is one of the fastest, easy to set up, and loaded with features. It also has a capability of NAS and the NAS performance is superb. The wireless performance on both bands is amazing, and the router performs without any hiccups.

The software is confusing for new users but it comes with an incredibly powerful hardware, amazing WiFi range, and speed as well superb NAS support. Not to forget the DD-WRT as this router is Open Source Ready and users can gain unprecedented access to customize the router.

Pros: WiFi Range; DD-WRT firmware support;

Cons: Price; Software

NETGEAR Nighthawk R7000 – AC1900 Dual-Band Router (Best Router under $200)


This Netgear router is PCMAG’s Editors’ Choice. The Nighthawk R7000 is AC1900 with 1,300 Mbps speed in the 5 GHz band and a 600 Mbps speed on the 2.4 GHz band. The Netgear Nighthawk R7000 looks awesome as well. R7000 is also more affordable over R8000 and easy to install.

The Nighthawk AC1900 comes with 3 detachable antennas and overall, it’s an impressive router that offers a lot for the price you are paying for it. However, it is very bulky, heavy on weight and has some performance issues on the 2.4 GHz band. The software is adequate but can be better.

On the 5 GHz band, the Nighthawk gives an amazing, unparalleled performance, has a slew of features that are usually not expected in affordable routers.

Pros: Performance on 5GHz; Features

Cons: Software; 2.4GHz wifi

ASUS RT-N66U- The best all-around router under $100


This Asus router is my personal favorite. It was the first N900 router from Asus, and even after more than 3 years it is still best. Its diamond-black sleek design still looks classy. It has 3 detachable antennas raising up from its back sending the signal to all areas of your home.

This is a Dual-band N900 router, both of its 2.4 GHz and 5Hz frequency band are capable of giving you 450Mbps each and is very reliable. It has 4 LAN ports and 1 WAN port. Besides these, there are 2 USB ports, a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button, and a power button. You can also make these routers a Mobile Hotspot. Asus also has a very good web interface that is easy to navigate and feature rich.

My favorite features of this routers are “Download Manager” and “VPN Server” that adds terrific value. There are plenty of other features that I love.

If you want to upgrade your cheap router or need a replacement and don’t want to keep researching. I recommend you stop here and just get this router. You can never go wrong with it and I believe there will not be a feature that most user will miss.

Pros: Great features to price ratio; VPN server support

Cons: N900 router is now a bit old

Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station – A router for Apple fans



This router is especially appealing to Apple fans or to the people heavily invested in Apple ecosystem! However, as typical of Apple, the design is sleek and performance is pretty good.

AirPort Extreme is a dual band router and supports the latest Wi-Fi standards. The router is fast in all aspects and reliable. On the other hand, if you are looking for feature pack router, this is not one of that and you may also not get the latest and best in the upgrades for the amount of money you pay. Overall the design and performance are outstanding but it's the lacking in terms of features.

Pros: Design; WiFi performance

Cons: Features; Flexibity; Price


Wireless Routers: Terminology

Buying appropriate Wireless router for your need and preference is not as simple as it may look.

A wireless router: A router is consists of the router, a network switch, and a wireless access point. It is responsible for sending data from all of the devices in your network to the other networks. A network switch connects all your devices that are running on WiFi to other wired devices using Ethernet cables. The wireless access point is a station that has an antenna and is responsible for transmitting and receive wireless signals.

Dual Band Routers: This is the most common type of routers. It refers to the capabilities of a router to operate on 2 different frequencies; 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.

Tri-Band Routers: While dual-band routers broadcast two separate signals, tri-band routers broadcast three different signals. They can host three different Wi-Fi networks at once. A tri-band router actually hosts a 2.4 GHz signal and two separate 5 GHz signals. Why do you need a separate 5 GHz Wi-Fi signal? Well, because Wi-Fi networks suffer congestion. A tri-band router host two separate 5 GHz networks, and it automatically sorts devices into different networks. This offers more speed to share among your devices. Note that it won’t actually speed up a single device — that device is only connected to one of those networks at a time — but it will offer more speed to additional devices you add.

N600 Routers: For those who don’t know, the N600 routers are the routers that have a combined speed of 600 Mbps evenly divided between the 2.4 and the 5 gigahertz bands.

N900 Routers: These routers are an upgrade over N600. They have a combined speed of 900 Mbps that is evenly divided between the 2.4 and the 5 gigahertz bands.

AC1750 Routers: These routers offer a combined high speed of 1750 Mbps, however, the speed of these routers isn’t evenly split. The 2.4 GHz band gets a speed of 450 Mbps, and the 5 GHz band gets the remaining 1,300 Mbps speed.

NAS: NAS refers to Network Attached Storage. Many flagship wireless routers come with the support for external hard drive, this means that you can easily plug in your external hard drive to the port that is available on the wireless router and the content you store over there will be available for all of the network attached devices to consume.



Considering how the market of wireless routers is very competitive and plenty of options to choose, you will need to work a little hard to find the best router for your need and list provided can help you sort out the possible candidates.


Good luck!

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