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Smart homes need a router that delivers a fast, reliable flow of data between devices to efficiently operate. While a lot of smart home devices utilize Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth or Thread protocols, a large percentage of devices utilize 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi to communicate.

This is especially important for high-bandwidth devices like smart TVs, streaming sticks, laptops and wireless security cameras. You also need to eliminate signal black-spots in the far reaches of your home, typically through the use of a Wi-Fi mesh.

Here's out top picks for the best Wi-Fi router for the modern smart home.

Best Mesh Wi-Fi Routers
9.3 TP-Link Deco Whole Home Mesh WiFi System (2 Pack)
Runner UpWhole-home coverage
9.1 ASUS ZenWiFi Whole-Home Tri-Band Mesh WiFi 6E System (ET8 2PK), Coverage up to 5,500 sq.ft & 6+Rooms, 6600Mbps, New 6GHz Band, AiMesh,Instant Guard
Wi-Fi Router System with Highest Coverage
Best Standalone Wi-Fi Routers
9.3 TP-Link WiFi 6 AX3000 Smart WiFi Router (Archer AX50) – 802.11ax Router, Gigabit Router, Dual Band, OFDMA, MU-MIMO, Parental Controls, Built-in HomeCare,Works with Alexa
Top PickFlexible parental controls
9.0 Synology RT2600ac – 4x4 dual-band Gigabit Wi-Fi router, MU-MIMO, powerful parental controls, Threat Prevention, bandwidth management, VPN, expandable coverage with mesh Wi-Fi
Runner UpExpandable coverage
8.7 ASUS AX5700 WiFi 6 Gaming Router (RT-AX86U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, NVIDIA GeForce NOW, 2.5G Port, Gaming & Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security
Great Router for Gaming

Best Mesh Wi-Fi Routers for a Smart Home

The NETGEAR Orbi Tri-Band Whole Home Mesh is a Wi-Fi router and extender.

Top Features
  • The coverage of this Wi-Fi router spreads all the way to 5000 feet, covering every inch of your home.
  • The router is acclaimed by publications such as Forbes, CNET, Wirecutter, and PC Mag.
  • The tri-band technology allows your Wi-Fi to maintain its speed even as more devices join the network.

This router by NETGEAR has a very high coverage reaching 5000 feet. That is some of the highest coverage on the market. The speed reaches up to 30 Gbps. The router can maintain a good speed of Wi-Fi with over 25 devices connected to the network simultaneously due to its tri-band technology.

The setup process is very quick and easy. The device comes with a manual that tells you exactly how to install and use it. The mobile app allows you to control the router, turn on parental controls, perform network tests, and more. For extra protection, you can purchase NETGEAR Armor. It is an anti-virus software that works on all smartphones and computers. 

What we liked
  • The setup is very easy. You just have to follow the instructions on the manual and download the Orbi mobile app.
  • The router comes with built-in antivirus software that will protect all of your devices from cyber attacks. There is a 90-day free trial.
  • The router can handle 25 and more devices at the same time without losing speed.
What we didn't like
  • Some users have complained that customer support can be a bit slow.

The TP-Link Deco Whole Home Mesh is a Wi-Fi system from TP-Link.

Top Features
  • This set from TP-Link uses two Wi-Fi units for whole-home coverage.
  • Both units are used to create one unified network. As you move through the house, you switch devices seamlessly.
  • The device is suitable for homes that measure up to 3000 feet.

The Deco set from TP-Link comes with two Wi-Fi routers. The routers are very easy to set up. All you have to do is plug them in, install the mobile app, and follow the step-by-step directions in the app. It won’t take more than a couple of minutes and you won’t need any professional help. 

Range

The coverage of this Wi-Fi system is fairly high, reaching 3000 feet. And it doesn’t stop there! If you need more coverage, you can simply buy more Deco routers to add to your home. The system offers great signal strength that reaches through walls and floors.

Connectivity

The connectivity is quite fast and strong. TP-Link promises that you won’t experience lags when you’re streaming or gaming online. You can connect up to 100 devices at the same time.

What we liked
  • Even though this set is recommended for areas that are no larger than 3000 feet, you can increase your coverage by adding more Deco devices to your home.
  • The manufacturer promises fast connection without lags.
  • The network should be able to handle up to 100 devices at the same time.
What we didn't like
  • People have experienced difficulties communicating with customer support.
9.1
Wi-Fi Router System with Highest Coverage

The ASUS ZenWiFi Whole-Home is a Wi-Fi system with high coverage.

Top Features
  • This Wi-Fi system from ASUS covers up to 5500 square feet.
  • The manufacturer promises a stable connection.
  • This model is an upgrade from the previous models released by the brand.

This ASUS router set offers coverage of 5500 square feet. With that coverage, you can enjoy speedy internet without lags or latency. The router also boasts parental controls, which is a useful feature for parents who want to protect their children from inappropriate content on the internet. The device comes equipped with security tools.

What we liked
  • Instant Guard technology allows you to enjoy security whenever you use the internet.
  • The router also comes with lifetime free ASUS protection.
  • Use parental controls to guard your children against inappropriate content on the internet.
What we didn't like
  • Some users complained about the response time from ASUS support

Best Standalone Wi-Fi Routers for a Smart Home

9.3
Top Pick
Flexible parental controls

The TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 AX3000 is a dual-band Wi-Fi router with parental controls.

Top Features
  • The Wi-Fi router is compatible with Amazon Alexa, so you can use voice commands to control it.
  • The router claims to be 3 times faster and has 4 times more capacity due to its usage of the 802.11ax protocol.
  • The router allows for gaming and streaming at a very fast speed.

This router from TP-Link is a great option that follows the 802.11ax protocol. It boasts MU-MIMO technology that allows multiple people to use the network simultaneously. It also boasts parental controls and Alexa compatibility. 

All in all, this is a good option for those who are looking for a strong router that would support online gaming, streaming, video chatting, and other activities that often induce lagging. 

Subscription

Some features of Home Connect might require a subscription. So, when you are buying the device, make sure that the manufacturer is giving a lifetime subscription to Home Connect, or you might wind up with monthly fees!

What we liked
  • The new OFDMA technology allows you to connect more devices than before with ease.
  • The router promises to reduce lagging by 75%, whether you’re gaming, streaming, or video chatting.
  • The manufacturer of this device increased its battery life.
What we didn't like
  • Some features of Home Connect might require a subscription, so make sure when you buy the device, you get a lifetime subscription with it.
  • You need to install an app on your phone in order to configure the device.
9.0
Runner Up
Expandable coverage

The Synology RT2600ac is a dual-band Wi-Fi router with parental controls.

Top Features
  • The router also boasts threat prevention, bandwidth management, and expandable coverage.
  • The coverage area of the Wi-Fi router is 3000 feet.
  • The Wi-Fi router also boasts MU-MIMO technology and high-speed connection.

This router from Synology offers everything in terms of connectivity and speed. As with any other dual-band router with MU-MIMO, this one promises high speed and fewer lags. 

Parental Controls

The parental controls feature allows you to shelter your kids from inappropriate content on the internet. You can pick specific websites that you want to hide from their view. 

It is easier than ever when you can create a custom profile for each member of your family. Let the router do most of the work for you.

Security

The manufacturer promises to keep your security at the heart of everything. Because of that, the router uses security tools like firewall management, intrusion prevention, and denial-of-service protection. 

What we liked
  • The router is suitable for homes and even small office spaces.
  • The setup process is very simple and beginner-friendly.
  • With the help of parental controls, you can filter out certain content from your children and create a custom profile for each member of your family.
What we didn't like
  • In order to set up your router, you need to download the manufacturer’s app and create an account.
8.7
Great Router for Gaming

The ASUS AX5700 is a dual-band gaming router.

Top Features
  • This router from ASUS is perfect for online gaming and streaming.
  • ASUS promises lifetime internet security to all of its customers.
  • This router is a new-generation Wi-Fi 6 router with ultrafast speed.

This Wi-Fi router from ASUS is marketed as a gaming router. If you’re a gamer or like to stream movies using services such as Netflix and Hulu, you will appreciate the high speed rate offered by this device. With every router purchase, you get free lifetime protection from the manufacturer.

Mobile App

What makes this router special is that you can manage it using a mobile app. The app allows you to analyze your traffic and run network diagnostics whenever there is a problem. 

This might be a bit of a niche product, as an average user is highly unlikely to understand the reports presented by the app. Nevertheless, it’s a nice touch. At the same time, the app takes some of your personal data, which isn’t ideal.

What we liked
  • The router promises to minimize lags and latency when you’re playing games online.
  • The gaming port on the router will prioritize any device that is connected to it, ensuring the highest speed.
  • You can manage your traffic and network using a mobile app.
What we didn't like

Decision Factors when choosing a Smart Home Wi-Fi Router

Plenty of Ports

The first thing you should consider when picking a router for your smart home is the number of ports. To put it simply, the more ports your router has, the better. There should be some Ethernet ports, as these are the most important. It should also have one or two USB ports, and/or a cable port. Before you purchase your router, consider how many ports you actually need.

Don’t disregard the capacity of each port, as that’s also quite important. (10, 100, and 1000 Gb).

Parental Controls

The parental controls feature is used to manage the usage of your Wi-Fi network. It allows you to decide how you want your Wi-Fi network to be used, which sites should be restricted, and so on. This feature allows you to limit access to the internet on certain days and at certain times. Most routers will give you the opportunity to use basic parental controls features, while some are much more advanced.

Wireless Protocols

The 802.11ac wireless protocol is the most commonly used wireless protocol by routers today. In theory, this Wi-Fi protocol can allow data rates for up to 5400 Mbps. This protocol is also known for featuring Multi-User MIMO technology. This technology allows up to four users to have their own data streams at the same time instead of waiting in line. There are different types of routers within the 802.11ac protocol.

802.11ax is another common protocol. It features a newer and supposedly better technology that can increase the speed of connectivity. With this protocol, up to 30 users can share one network.

Wi-Fi Bandwidths

Today, most Wi-Fi routers offer two bandwidths: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The former is good because it works at a lower frequency, which allows it to penetrate walls and other heavy structures without much distortion, thus giving it a bigger range. It also has to go against other devices in your home that may operate on the same frequency, like your microwave or wireless phone. It still works perfectly for simple tasks such as surfing the web. 

The latter, however, offers quicker access and a larger pipeline. It allows you to connect to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu with ease and shelters you from signal interference. 

The Verdict

Let us know what your favorite Wi-Fi router in the comments below!

The NETGEAR Orbi Tri-Band Whole Home Mesh is a Wi-Fi router and extender.

Top Features
  • The coverage of this Wi-Fi router spreads all the way to 5000 feet, covering every inch of your home.
  • The router is acclaimed by publications such as Forbes, CNET, Wirecutter, and PC Mag.
  • The tri-band technology allows your Wi-Fi to maintain its speed even as more devices join the network.

Sources

https://www.tp-link.com/

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