In most homes, Wi-Fi router is probably not a device that people think for its capabilities beyond reliable Wi-Fi signal. However, I strongly believe that router is the most important tool, in fact, a center point, of your home network. It can do a lot of heavy lifting if right model is used and setup strategically.
In my home, my router is a media server, VPN server, Download manager, has small network storage, act as a hardware firewall, used for parental control and of course provides very reliable Wi-Fi signal for my personal home network and a secure Guest network. So, if you are still using an old cheap router, please do me a favor and upgrade your router. There are too many great routers in the market today. Below are my top choices that you can use depend on what you like, what you want to get out of your router and at what cost.
Why I like ASUS routers: I am a big fan of ASUS routers due to its powerful firmware that is almost comparable to DD-WRT open source firmware in terms of advanced features. It is very regularly updated and has very active and enthusiastic user base to help you find a solution to your issues online. No wonder why these routers are near and dear the heart of a lot of power users.
Please note that I have no affiliation with ASUS. My recommendation in this post are purely because it’s my personal favorite.
Here are my wireless router recommendations to unleash true potential of a home network:
The best all-around router that is powerful, feature-rich, and a terrific value today (Being a bit old model)
This Asus router is my personal favorite. RT-N66U and RT-N66R both are an identical model so you can choose to get whatever has a lower price.
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. It has 4 LAN ports and 1 WAN port. These are Gigabit Ethernet ports and if you don’t want a wireless connection, you can connect Network cable in it. 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”. There are plenty of other features that I love. Earlier, I have posted a tutorial on how to setup your own personal VPN server at home using this router.
If you want to upgrade your 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.
If you are ready to pay more for upgraded version of the router that comes with lot more speed over RT-N66 version, go for Asus RT-AC88U. RT-AC88U comes with the speed rating of 2100Mbp and a host of other features. Please keep in mind that these speed improvements will not make any improvements in your web browsing and internet download speeds over N66U/ N66R routers. It can primarily affect local LAN speed.
This is probably one of the best Prosumer routers but I believe it is overkill for normal use or less active home user. It also cost a lot more over RT-N66R and RT-N66U. Check out the ongoing price for Asus RT-AC88U on Amazon.
The Asus RT-AC3200 is a Tri-Band Wireless Gigabit Router with powerful hardware and superb performance. I think this is too advanced router for most home use. No doubt it’s a top of the line router from the Asus. The router has the ability to keep malware from entering your home network, and it can also work as a powerful VPN/NAS server. However, for most homes, I think this is an overkill and cost too much more over RT-N66R and RT-N66U. Check out the ongoing price for Asus RT-AC3200 on Amazon.
Although I have listed three Asus router in my post, there are many other great routes from competitors. Check below routers that have very high rating and user recommendations. Although I have not yet reviewed them personally, I don’t think you can go wrong with them. However, you may need to do more research on your own about capability and features. You would need to weigh your need, cost, and features carefully to make an informed choice.
To summarize, if you are still using cheap Wi-Fi router, I highly recommend you to upgrade your router. Asus RT-N66U or N66R offers best value in routers today and is plenty for most users. If your need power and features beyond what RT-N66U offers (I think it’s unlikely for most users), pick alternatives.