If you haven’t invested in a solid networking device for your home, you are truly missing out. You may not even realize that your current router is actually hindering your ability to enjoy your content to its fullest. You may be paying for super fast internet but falling short of it due to an outdated, unreliable router.
It is now more important than ever to have a powerful router that can keep up with increasingly high internet speeds, along with the endless amounts of activities that we do while connected to the internet. It needs to be able to handle tons of devices, from your smartphones, tablets, and computers to your smart TV, gaming system, and beyond. Whether you use your internet primarily for gaming or just everyday browsing and watching content on your favorite apps, there’s a networking device for you.
Just like everything else, there are so many options on the market, and when you’re investing in a great networking device, you want to make sure that you’re getting the best bang for your buck. Will it last for years or no longer be relevant in the near future? Can it withstand all of the bandwidth that you currently use and plan to use in the future? Is it up-to-date with the latest technology?
When you’re looking into a great router for your home and home theater use, there are tried-and-true standouts like the NETGEAR Nighthawk line, as well as up-and-coming stars like the Google WiFi System. Take a look at our full list of recommended picks for networking devices.
The NETGEAR Nighthawk Line
NETGEAR has been a leading brand in routers for a very long time, and its line of Nighthawk routers are impressive, powerful, and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. When you are looking for the highest performing routers on the market, look no further than these choices.
Top of the Line NETGEAR Nighthawk
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 (link to Amazon)
The NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 Smart WiFi Router is everything you need to support your 4K HDTV and top gaming systems, including VR gaming, making it a router that is sure to last you for many years to come. Maybe you don’t currently have a 4K HDTV or VR gaming system, but you’ll likely be considering one in upcoming years. When that happens, your investment in the Nighthawk X10 will be even more valuable.
The Nighthawk X10 is a valuable router because it is compatible with the powerful Plex Media Server. It also has MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, multiple output) technology, which gives you the ability to stream tons of content without affecting the speed of your internet. These two features are priceless for performance and are the most advanced technology features you will find in a wireless router.
It comes with 4 external active antennas to amplify WiFi signals and maximize the range and throughput. It also includes with 6 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports to wire your devices, 2 Gigabit LAN ports for 4K HD streaming from a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device, and 2 USB 3.0 ports. It has a 1.7GHZ quad-core processor, 60GHz 11ad, and quad-stream architecture to bring wireless speeds of up to 7.2Gbps.
With the Nighthawk app, you can set up your router, manage your internet access, and run speed tests as necessary. It is able to be controlled by voice with any Amazon Alexa device, and you can utilize Amazon Drive Cloud to back up all of your content.
Our 2nd NETGEAR Nighthawk Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8 (link to Amazon)
At a slightly lower price than the Nighthawk AX10, the Nighthawk AX8 is a great, powerful alternative for a networking device that can handle all of your high-speed content. The Nighthawk AX8 lets you watch 4K/8K video on multiple devices without any bandwidth lag. It comes with WiFi 6, also known as AX WiFi, which can handle 20+ devices connected to one network at once.
There are 8 WiFi streams with OFDMA (orthogonal frequency-division multiple access), giving you more bandwidth to handle all of your devices. You have access to a 1-Gigabit WiFi connection with any device that supports 160MHz bandwidth. The Nighthawk AX8 comes with a quad-core 1.8 GHz processor and 6 wired gigabit ports for super fast, interruption-free connections.
The main differences from the AX10 are that the AX8 lacks Amazon Alexa and Plex Media Server compatibility, as well as MU-MIMO technology.
Our Budget NETGEAR Nighthawk Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk AX4 (link to Amazon)
At the lowest price on our highly recommended NETGEAR NightHawk line is the Nighthawk AX4. Like the AX8, it comes with the impressive WiFi 6, giving you the ability to have 20+ devices on one network without any downgrade in performance. Easily stream 4K movies and content on multiple devices without any problems in connection.
With the Nighthawk AX4, you get 4-stream WiFi with up to 600Mbps + 2.4 Gbps for super fast wireless speeds. You can have up to 16 simultaneous WiFi clients with OFDMA power, and it comes with 2 high-performing antennas to extend range and coverage. You also get access to more than 1-Gigabit WiFi, and there are 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports for top speed, uninterrupted connections.
Like the AX8, the AX4 also lacks Amazon Alexa and Plex Media Server compatibility, as well as MU-MIMO technology.
Wireless Mesh Routers
If you didn’t already know, wireless mesh routers are the next big thing in networking devices. While gamers may be scoffing at the idea, others are flocking to these unpretentious yet powerful systems. They are popular for a reason: they work great and they look great, so they should definitely be considered when you’re looking to buy a great router.
Google’s Mesh WiFi System
Google WiFi System (link to Amazon)
The Google WiFi System is changing the router game, and it is at the top of our list for an affordable, simple router solution. The Google WiFi System is a wireless mesh router system that covers up to 1,500 sq. ft. in your home, and a set of three Google WiFi devices covers a home with 4,500 sq. ft. Instead of relying on one device for full-home coverage, the multiple-point Google WiFi System eliminates dead zones and buffering.
It has a WiFi throughput of 1200 Mbps and with the Network Assist technology, you’ll always have the clearest channel and fastest band for your devices. With the app, you can see what’s connected, prioritize devices, and pause WiFi. There are 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports per WiFi point, and it comes with simultaneous dual-band WiFi (2.4GHz / 5GHz). From streaming 4K video to handling high speeds of internet, the Google WiFi System is a reliable choice for a router replacement.
While the Google WiFi System may not be the most advanced networking device on the market, it can be a solid replacement for older, outdated routers, as well as a simplified solution for minimalist folks. It is sleek, fashionable, and according to many purchasers: a great new alternative to traditional WiFi routers.
NETGEAR’s Mesh WiFi System
NETGEAR Orbi Whole Home WiFi System (link to Amazon)
Just like the Google WiFi Home system, the NETGEAR Orbi Whole Home WiFi System is a mesh WiFi router that extends room to room, wall to wall, and floor to floor without the need for traditional WiFi range extenders. If you aren’t sure if you can trust Google for your wireless mesh router purchase, you know that NETGEAR is going to deliver a great product in this category.
The NETGEAR Orbi Whole Home Mesh WiFi system comes with 1 router and 2 satellites to cover up to 6,000 square feet with up to 2.2Gbps of internet. You can easily set up the Orbi Whole Home WiFi system with the Orbi app, creating a guest network, accessing parental controls, and running speed tests. There are 2 Ethernet ports on the router and each of the satellites for the most reliable wired connection. It uses tri-band technology, as opposed to dual-band to maintain high speeds with multiple devices. It is also compatible with Amazon Alexa devices.
Since there are so many options on the market these days, we’d love to hear what your favorite networking devices are and why. Whether it’s a complex, high-end traditional router or a hot new wireless mesh network system, let us know why you’ve fallen in love with your router.