Best Wireless Routers of 2022

Say goodbye to WiFi dead zones and hello to easier setup and stronger security

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Testing wireless routers Photo: John Walsh/Consumer Reports

Your wireless router is responsible for handling all the data that flows into and out of your home through your internet service provider (ISP).

And though the best routers in Consumer Reports’ ratings keep things humming along, relaying content from Netflix, Disney+, and Xbox Live without a hitch, some models do a better job than others.

“If I’m paying for a 200-megabit internet connection, can I actually get data that fast with my wireless router?” says Richard Fisco, who oversees electronics testing at Consumer Reports. A good router can help you make sure the answer is yes. But if you experience problems with dead spots or slow connections, Fisco says, it could be time to go shopping.

There are dozens of models in our ratings, split across two categories: multi-unit mesh routers and single-unit wireless routers. 

A single-unit router plugs directly into your modem. 

Mesh routers feature one unit that plugs into the modem, plus one or two additional units, referred to as “satellites” or “beacons,” that can be stationed in other parts of your home. The units “talk” to one another, creating what’s known as a mesh network.

More on Wireless Routers

A single router is generally fine for apartments and smaller houses, but if you live in a larger home, say, larger than 2,000 square feet, a mesh router might be a better fit. That’s especially true if you work from home or have children who learn remotely, and have more than one person at a time trying to videochat or upload large files. You can move the satellite units around to maximize coverage—steering the WiFi signal around common obstacles such as doors, walls, and appliances.

On the other hand, if you’re merely trying to get better WiFi coverage in a single room, as opposed to wanting better uniform coverage throughout your whole home, a WiFi extender may be a better alternative.

Many of these wireless routers are now compatible with the latest WiFi 6 standard, which supports faster speeds and larger numbers of connected devices than WiFi 5. Note that in our ratings we refer to WiFi 6 by its more technical name 802.11ax.

And given the big role that WiFi now plays in our lives, we spent the past few months refining our testing methodology to better reflect real-world conditions. As ever, the goal of these tests remains the same: to provide accurate, scientifically rigorous data so you can make better-informed buying decisions.

While the majority of routers in our ratings score quite well in our labs, indicating that it’s somewhat hard to buy a truly “bad” router, here are the ones that stand out with strong Overall Scores based on a variety of criteria, including how well they perform at a range of distances and how well they protect your privacy and security.

Mesh Routers

Netgear Orbi AC1200

This model, which comes in a pack of three, combines speedy performance with a price that’s among the lowest in our ratings, but it’s a WiFi 5 model, so it might not be ideal for those who surround themselves with lots of state-of-the-art gadgets.

Our testers give it high marks for throughput (more commonly referred to as “speed”), ease of setup, and data security. You’ll also find handy features like smartphone-based setup and management, automatic firmware updating (which helps keep your data safe), and a single built-in Ethernet jack. WiFi is plenty fast, but a wired Ethernet connection offers even faster speeds for, say, downloading large games to your video game console.

There are, however, no built-in USB ports, which can be useful for connecting and more easily sharing peripherals such as printers and external hard drives among the various devices in your home.

Google Nest Wifi

Google currently makes two WiFi routers: This Nest-branded one and another, lower-end model simply known as Google WiFi. The Nest model, which is a three-pack, ranks higher in our ratings in part because of its faster performance. Both are WiFi 5 routers.

Beyond fast speeds, this three-pack also offers smartphone-based initial setup and management, and automatic firmware updates. 

The model has two built-in Ethernet ports but zero built-in USB ports.

Eero Pro 6

This model, the latest in Amazon’s higher-end mesh router lineup, supports WiFi 6, which lets you future-proof your home network, receiving the full benefit of WiFi 6-compatible devices as they become available.

In addition to fast speeds, the model offers smartphone-based setup and management, and automatic firmware updating. It also doubles as a smart home “hub.” When combined with, say, an Alexa-powered smart speaker, such as the Amazon Echo or the Sonos One, you can use voice commands to control select smart lights and surveillance cameras.

The models has two Ethernet ports and one USB-C port for peripherals.

Single-Unit Routers

Netgear Nighthawk AX6

This Netgear model is a strong performer even in larger homes, offering four Ethernet ports, one USB port, and support for WiFi 6. It features nice-to-haves like smartphone-based setup and automatic firmware updating, too.

Oddly for a model this powerful, though, it doesn’t support quality of service (QoS), a feature that lets you choose which devices get priority access to WiFi so that, for example, the Zoom call on your laptop stays stutter-free when the kids are playing Xbox.

Asus AC3100

This WiFi 5-compatible model is marketed to gamers (which might explain the aggressive design aesthetic), but it will perform well for anyone who wants fast speeds and lots of Ethernet ports (eight in total) for connected devices aimed at maximizing those speeds.

The device features smartphone-based setup and management, and a single USB port. It does not support automatic firmware updates, though, so it’s up to you to routinely make sure you have the latest security patches installed.

Linksys AX5400

This WiFi 6 model, new to our ratings, ticks off many of the boxes you want to see in a router nowadays: fast speeds and the usual assortment of bells and whistles.

You’ll find smartphone-based setup and management, automatic firmware updates, and four built-in Ethernet ports and USB port.

Home WiFi Mesh Networks

Can’t get a decent wireless internet connection in your home? On the “Consumer 101” TV show, Consumer Reports expert Nicholas De Leon explains to show host Jack Rico how mesh networks provide faster speeds and better coverage.

Headshot image of Electronics editor Nicholas Deleon

Nicholas De Leon

I've been covering consumer electronics for more than 10 years for publications like TechCrunch, The Daily (R.I.P.), and Motherboard. When I'm not researching or writing about laptops or headphones I can likely be found obsessively consuming news about FC Barcelona, replaying old Super Nintendo games for the hundredth time, or chasing my pet corgi Winston to put his harness on so we can go for a walk. Follow me on Twitter (@nicholasadeleon).