A router is an essential piece of hardware that serves as a bridge between your modem and the device or devices that you connect to the internet at home. You can choose between a wired connection and a wireless one, but do you know the difference between the two other than being plugged in? A wireless connection tends to be slower, so you may not have the connection level that you need for games. What other features affect how connected you are? This guide is designed to get down to the details and help you figure out which features are important to consider before purchasing a router; specifically a router that has a price point of under $100. We have also researched a few routers on our own to give you an in depth look at some of the most logical options available.
Let's Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
#1. TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router
Our gold pick, which is the TP-Link Archer C7, is a great wireless router that offers dual band connectivity. It is a small unit that will not readily be noticed in your home, with dimensions that are 9.6 inches in length, 6.4 inches in width, and 1.3 inches in height. In addition, it weighs less than two pounds, so moving it should be convenient.
As the name of the device indicates by showing off the AC1750, any tech savvy individual will tell you that this is a top of the line high speed 802.11 ac1300 Mbps router. It is backed with 450 Mbps 802.11n capabilities from the newly designed 3x3 broadcast options. The dual band design offers a fast reliable connection that supports both a 2.4 GHz and a 5GHz band. If you have issues setting up the router, the set up assistant is available in multiple languages to help walk you through the process.
Aesthetics-wise, this router is designed with a sleek all black look that will look great in any home. It is fitted with a silver bar in the center of the router to give the unit a flat area to sit on. It has three external antennas to support the 5GHz frequencies as well as three internal ones to support the 2.4 GHz ones. On the back of the unit, there are four Gb LAN ports, one Gb WAN port, two USB 2.0 ports, and buttons for the power. There are also wireless options that can be utilized if you desire.
To better help you connect and configure your Wi-Fi, you can make use of the TP-LINK Tether App, which is available for both Android and iOS devices. This router has a read speed of 50 MB/s, which is great for a router in this price range; however, it has a write speed of only about 15 Mbps, which is actually rather slow when compared to similar routers. It does nave printing capabilities, and it comes with a great fire wall and parental control options that you can use to protect your family from a cyber invasion. The purchase of this router comes with a two year warranty as well as unlimited technical support that’s available for 24 hours a day.
When it comes to the reviews for our gold pick, 77 percent of those posted on Amazon have rated this device with a positive four or five star rating. Here is an example of one five star testimonial: “This router exceeded my expectations in every way. Setup was incredibly easy using the instructions provided. I was able to set up the 2.4Mhz and 5Mhz connections in about 5 minutes ... Speaking of speed, it's blazing fast- I pay for 50MBps download speeds with my ISP and I get 58MBps with this router on my devices in my house on the first floor where the router is located. I also have great coverage upstairs; even at the furthest reaches of my house on the second floor, I get 12MBps download speeds.”
#2. NETGEAR N750 Dual Band 4 Port Wi-Fi Gigabit Router
NETGEAR is a company that has been manufacturing quality products to improve the way our technology runs for over 20 years. They strive to provide durable cutting edge technology for their customers at a low price point, so it is no surprise that the NETGEAR N750 router was selected as our silver pick. It is 11.4 inches in length, 10.2 inches in width, and 2.7 inches in height, so it will easily fit on a shelf on your computer desk or in another location that is out of the way. It only weighs slightly over two pounds, so it is easy to store in any location. In addition, it can easily be set up in either a vertical or a horizontal position, or if you prefer, it can be mounted on the wall out of the way.
This router is great for medium sized homes, as it has a great distance to accommodate the area. It supports dual- band capabilities, with speeds of 300 Mbps at 2.4GHz as well as 450 Mbps at 500GHz, which means that it is capable of speeds that go up to 750 Mbps. This unit also features a NETGEAR Genie App that is effectively a dashboard that is designed to give you the ability to monitor, manage, and repair your network any time you need. It allows you to easily connect devices to the network, adjust the parental controls, or set up the router to connect to the printer. It is also capable of enabling and disabling the firewall, which is a great way to protect your home form hackers, as the unit is designed to block all DoS attacks.
Insofar as the design of this router, it is a sleek black square that is actually very good at attracting fingerprints, which is why it is best to be mounted in a position and left there. The back sports four LAN ports as well as one WAN port for your convenience. It also has a visible power button, a USB port, and several LED displays to let you know which function is occurring. Since this router was designed with a sleek aesthetic, there are no external antennas that you need to worry about. If you do not want your guests to know your password, there are two channels that they can utilize; one on the 2.4GHz signal and the other on the 5GHz one.
Both the write and the read speed of this device are great for a router in this price range. It writes at 51.8 Mbps and it reads at 57.6 Mbps. In addition to these amazing speeds, the router can support up to ten simultaneous connections, which is plenty for an averaged sized household. This router comes with a 90 day limited warranty that will replace any part and cover any labor required in the first three months of ownership.
The reviews for the N750 are impressive to say the least. On Amazon, there are over 5,200 reviews posted, and 71 percent of them have been given a four or five star quality level. Here is an example of a five star testimonial where the customer has shared their experience with the router: “I had the same, trusty Netgear router for at least five years, but it inevitably needed to be upgraded. I am finding the N750 to be an excellent choice- a clean, speedy connection with some really nice features I didn't have with my older model like the ability to set up a guest network. The installation and setup was the easiest I've experienced and only took about 10 minutes total to get it set up and configure my settings, passwords, etc. I stream a lot of video and music from my TV, and the performance has been so much better with this new router.”
#3. ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router
Asus has been a cutting edge hardware and electronics manufacturer since 1989. They are dedicated to producing durable products that are able to bring you the innovative technological advances that you need. With all of their dedication and commitment to the products they manufacture it is no surprise that the Asus RT-N66U came in as our bronze pick. This router is 14 inches in length, 11 inches in width, and 3.5 inches in height, so you can see it is designed to be small and compact. In addition, the unit weighs less than two pounds, which is hardly a noticeable weight.
This Asus router is designed with a dual band connectivity option that supports both a 2.4GHz as well as 5GHz. This router has a black matte exterior that features a diamond pattern to give it a little flair. It has three antennas that are positioned on the back of the device, but they are designed to be easy to remove if you want. Removing the antenna may make it easier to place the unit on a small shelf. It can be positioned vertically, horizontally, or if you prefer, it can be mounted to the wall.
The back of the device sports a WAN port, four additional LAN ports, and a USB port that can be utilized for file sharing and connecting to a compatible printer. The front has several LED lights that are designed to inform you of what is occurring with the unit. If your connection is low or lost, this is the location to look and see what has happened to it. Typically, this router will have a strong signal that will give you great connection rates and speeds of up to 900 Mbps.
There are several features included with this router that may be a draw for some. There are six different guest networks available to use; three of them are located on the 5GHz frequency, while the other three can be found on the 2.4GHz one. There are also parental controls that allow you to limit the amount of bandwidth that is available at certain times. It can also allow you to utilize other parental functionalities and manage the traffic traveling across each frequency. In addition, the purchase of this router comes with a two year warranty that is designed to cover the cost of any parts and labor that may be needed.
When it comes to reviews, you will find that there are almost 6,000 testimonials available on Amazon from customers who have purchased this router. 80 percent of the reviews that have been posted have been given a positive four or five star rating. Here is one example of a rave five star testimonial: “I had the Dlink DIR-655 for many years which was a good router until it started to get flaky, but the Asus RT-N66U is a MUCH better router. The range of this router is incredible. I have it in the basement of a 4000 sq. ft. home with two upper floors and the signal strength is excellent throughout the house and backyard.”
#4. TP-LINK Wireless N300 Home Router 300Mbps
Any gamer will tell you that having network lag as you are playing can be the difference between living or dying in the game that you are playing. To make sure that this latency does not occur, it is imperative to find a good router that has all of the features that you need. If you are looking for a more budget friendly option than our first three picks, then take a look at the TP-LINK N300 home router, which is our budget selection. This router was manufactured from the same company as our gold pick, so the quality level is not lacking.
This unit is a compact router that is 7.6 inches long, 5.1 inches wide, and 1.3 inches tall. In addition, it only weighs two pounds, so it is a lightweight option as well. The exterior design of the router is white, which is a unique color choice that most other routers do not offer. The top sports an LED display to let you know which devices are connected, and it has two antennas that are able to be detached when they are not needed. The back of the unit has a WAN port and four LAN ports, but it does not offer a USB port to make file sharing simple.
This is only a single band unit, so it operates on a 2.4GHz frequency, and it has a top speed of 300 Mbps, It can be used by placing the device on a flat surface or it can easily be mounted to the wall if you prefer. Bandwidth controls and parental controls are available for your convenience. The purchase of this router comes with a two year warranty that covers any mishaps in the first 24 months as well as 24 hour technical support.
Insofar as reviews, there are an outstanding number on Amazon. Out of the 12,522 reviews posted to the site, an amazing 77 percent of the customers who purchased the router have given it a positive review. Here is one such testimonial: “So far, this is fantastic. Easy to install, works like a charm. We have a 1400 square foot house and get clear signal anywhere in the house for all devices. My husband is an avid gamer, and he can play games and I can stream movies at the same time. Good choice for us.”
Single-Band or Dual-Band
A 2.4GHz band is also known as a single-band. A dual-band device can utilize both a 2.4MHz frequency as well as a 5GHz. The old system that was becoming overcrowded had a lot of rules and regulations associated with them, but the new dual-band system is much more lenient when it comes to speed. This faster speed can reduce your overall range, as they can limit the frequency from going through walls and other obstacles, so a router with dual functionality will use both at the same time to ensure that you have a fast router that has a large range of connectivity.
If your router has been performing below average recently, then there may be too many Wi-Fi networks in your area that are using the same channel. A Wi-Fi channel is the frequency that your information travels on, but there are only so many available to use. The main issue that many people come across is that the channels overlap, so there are only so many options to use and get a channel that is not too over populated. Choosing a 5GHz band over a 2.4GHz band offers you a lot more options to select a channel that is free from interferences.
Signal Strength and Range
The signal strength of your router will determine how far away from the router you can be while still being in range of the Wi-Fi connection. Range can fluctuate based on obstacles, the antenna, and the location of the router. Most routers offer 150 to 300 feet of coverage. Before you settle on a router, make sure to test the range and verify that it is sufficiently meeting your distance needs. Obstacles in the home may decrease the range, so testing your devices is always a good option.
Router Speed and Transfer Rates
Determining how fast your router is can be an important aspect of finding a new router. With a high end router, you should expect speeds of up to 650 megabits per second. When we talk about speeds with our routers, we are often indicating the download speeds and the upload speeds. These are important for uploading images from the web and downloading new content for a game that you are playing. The higher the speed your router performs at, the faster you will have the information transferred to the location that you need it to be in.
Number of Possible Connections
How many devices can connect to your router at one time? Of course, on an average day you will not use the maximum amount of connections, but when you have guests visiting, having the television, three game systems, two computers, and eight or nine tablets and cell phones can add up rather quickly. In that scenario, if your router only accommodates 20 points of connection, then someone will have to sacrifice a device or two. Consider how many simultaneous connections you want to have in use before settling on an amount that will annoy you later.
If you are a parent or someone who guards the type of information that is made available to your family, then you may want to find a router that has features to protect your home like a firewall. Some routers offer parental control options that give you the ability to set the amount of time that your child will have access to the internet. Limiting their internet usage assures that other activities are done as well. To secure your router, you will have to set a username and password to limit who uses your connection, but it also will provide a guest access option so that you do not need to share your password with others. Decide how secure you want your network to be before you choose a new router.
Easy to Set Up
Setting up a new router should be an easy task. It should be simple to plug the modem and your computers up to the unit as well as install the drivers or software that corresponds to the router you selected. Make sure that you select a router that is easy to set up and get connected. If you think you will have difficulty, try to find a router that has good customer support that can help you along the way.
Having a warranty that covers the router you buy and guarantees that it will work or be replaced for a certain amount of time is a great consideration to make. If the router that you are considering does not have one included, is it beneficial to spend a little more to make sure that it does?
Why to NOT buy a Wireless Router below the 802.11 AC1200 Standards?
Technology is developing everyday and just after a few years, you may not be able to use anything lower than the 802.11 standards. This standard of router was introduced way back in 1999 and there are almost 3 upgrades to it available now. With the development of a new generation, the speed is also increasing. Bands such as A, G, B, N and AC are quite compatible with better results. However, the main reason on which everyone gets confused is because of the data rates.
Data rates refer to what speed you are using the router. Internet speed has become a bigger factor in the frame. It was mainly used by the professionals to bring in faster web speed. According to research and theory the average daily use of the internet around the USA is 160 Mbps which is much lower than that of AC1200. It is because most of the people are still purchasing routers below the 802.11 standards and not being able to use the internet.
So, what's the fuss all about?
AC1200 symbolises that you are able to receive 1200 megabits per second. This is the standard data rate for having such a router which also includes speed of dual bands. It is basically a combined speed of both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands that are present within the router. In realty, this speed drops down to almost 10% of the theoretical value. There can be several reasons for this low speed and one of them being slow bandwidth support from your ISP.
Of course, choosing a router with 802.11 will only deliver you around 120 Mbps. This calculation is based on the point blank range when the distance is roughly 4 feet. As you gradually move further, the speed of the internet may decrease up to 60 Mbps or lower. This is not enough for your 4K smart tv to work properly, says Maria from techiepassion.com. You can choose above 802.11 standards wireless router under 100$ from the multiple options we have mentioned for you.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
A WiFi router is an important aspect of your local area network that many people are not technically savvy about. Many individuals take the router that is given to them by their network provider and simply accept the speeds and the stability that they get from it, but once you know you can have better connectivity, you will never be able to accept less. Take a look at the pre-purchase considerations as well as the products we reviewed to see if one of them is right for you. Once you select a powerful router, you will be playing your games without lag in no time.