About Samuel Contreras
Samuel has spent years writing about mobile carriers and their networks following a stint working as a technician in a carrier phone store. Whether it's helping people avoid 36-month payment plans, or just getting the right 5G coverage, Samuel wants you to be on the best network for your needs without spending a fortune.
If you're using Spectrum internet, you can get rid of rental fees by using your own router. You may even get better performance and coverage.
Many of us rely on cable companies like Spectrum for our internet needs, and typically, there’s plenty of speed to go around. Spectrum offers internet download speeds up to 1Gbps on cable or fiber, but many people will be perfectly happy with a slower and cheaper package. Unfortunately, if you want Wi-Fi, you’ll need to rent a router from Spectrum or buy you own. Luckily, there are a lot of routers to choose from whether your need coverage in a large house, or just want reliable gigabit speeds on Wi-Fi.
The Asus RT-AX57 is a compact AX3000 Wi-Fi 6 router with enough speed for a small family with up to gigabit internet speeds.
I love fast hardware and exploring the bleeding edge of what’s possible in computing with some of the fastest Wi-Fi routers in the world, but that gets expensive fast. Most people just want their internet connection to work reliably without wasting a bunch of money on hardware they don’t really need. That’s where the Asus RT-AX57 comes in with its modest AX3000 connection and simple software, making it easy to get set up in minutes. This router looks like a good fit for a lot of families, but can it really keep up with a fast connection and a demanding household?
Free VPNs give you enough data to get connected in a pinch but fall short of paid options in speed, server section, and data caps.
Whether you want to protect your privacy online or just want to cover your security bases while using public Wi-Fi, virtual private networks (VPN) put another layer between your device and the internet. The best VPNs work by routing your internet connection through a VPN server before accessing the rest of the internet, putting a secure tunnel between your device and the servers from which you’re pulling data. VPNs are a good way to give yourself some peace of mind online.
Want to connect to a VPN without installing apps or configurations on every device? Get a router with VPN support and get them all connected at once.
VPN support on a router can mean a few different things, but to most people, it means using an encrypted VPN service to add a layer of protection between your device and the internet at large. For this, you need a router with VPN client support, and luckily, a few of the best Wi-Fi routers have this feature by default. TP-Link, for example, has even been adding VPN client mode to its routers, even the cheap ones, with firmware updates.
Take control of your home network by upgrading your home network with your own router. You'll also gain access to many more advanced settings.
Millions of Americans rely on Xfinity as one of their only internet options, and with some of the best average download speeds in the country, it’s also one of the best options for many people. Xfinity uses copper coaxial cables for most of its customers meaning you’ll need a DOCSIS compatible modem in order to use your own modem. While you can get a router-modem combo that does it all, a standalone router and modem gives you the most flexibility moving forward.
Whether you're looking for more control or better Wi-Fi coverage, upgrading to your own router puts you in control of your network.
CenturyLink is a large ISP with fiber and copper-based internet service across the country. Its fiber gigabit internet service is the fastest it offers with up to 940Mbps download and upload speeds. CenturyLink also still offers DSL and fixed wireless internet solutions for rural customers, which is a lot slower than fiber, but still a solid option for many people. While CenturyLink will happily rent a decent router to you, the costs add up quickly.
If you want Wi-Fi coverage for a large home without losing any speed, you'll want a fast Wi-Fi 6 router with plenty of capacity.
One of the main reasons someone looks for a new router is coverage, but finding out just how far a router will reach can be extremely difficult, with multiple bands and generations of Wi-Fi to consider. Upgrading to a fast mesh system is one option, but finding a router that can cover your entire home is likely cheaper and easier. Router manufacturers have shied away from providing square foot estimates, and really, there are so many factors at play, so those figures can rarely be trusted.
If your Wi-Fi speeds aren't keeping up with your Verizon Fios plan, you likely need a better router.
Fios is a fiber optic internet service from Verizon with strong speeds and low pings that are excellent for gaming and streaming. Verizon’s Fios service now comes with free router rental, but these routers may lack some of the advanced controls customers are looking for. Verizon makes it easy to use your own router by simply plugging it into ONT box that’s already installed or will be installed by the tech. Since it’s a fiber connection with up to 2 gigabit speeds (if it’s available), Verizon Fios is likely the best internet option available.
Get a fast Wi-Fi 6 mesh router to keep speeds high all over your home
If your Wi-Fi isn't giving you excellent coverage with consistent and reliable speeds, you're missing out. Even one of the best Wi-Fi routers can struggle on its own if you have thick walls or a big house. Mesh systems can work around these obstacles with multiple nodes instead of having to use brute force in every direction.
The Deco BE85 is a fast tri-band Wi-Fi 7 mesh kit with more capacity than most families will ever need and support for 10Gbps networks.
Wi-Fi 7 is genuinely incredible with massive speed increases over previous generations with new wider channels and multi-link operation modes. But there’s a problem. Nearly all of your wireless devices will need to be upgraded or replaced to get the full benefits of Wi-Fi 7, right? Actually, one of the best and most immediate uses for all of this extra speed is a mesh system with the extra bandwidth enabling ultra-fast backhaul connections. That means you’ll likely see improvements on your older tech, like a PS5, that can connect to a much closer access point maximizing its 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 connection.
VPNs have become extremely common these days, and there are almost too many options for both free and paid VPNs.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) puts another layer between you and the internet at large to help keep your home network safe, but VPNs can also be used to bypass geographic blocks on things like Netflix that have different content for different regions. With a VPN, you can hide your location by disguising your IP (internet protocol) address and encrypting all the data you send and receive over the internet. Of course, VPNs won't protect you from every threat (for more on that, check out our piece on common VPN misunderstandings), but working in tandem with security software like firewalls included with your router and devices, can help keep you safe online.
If you want to eliminate rental fees or are just ready for an upgraded router, getting a router-modem combo gets it done with a single purchase.
For millions of people, the best way to get connected to high-speed internet is through a local cable provider. While the companies are happy to provide a router-modem combo unit, often called a gateway, for a monthly fee, you’re stuck using their hardware and software, which may not be a match for your needs. If you’re looking to get rid of modem rental fees and don’t want the hassle of setting up a separate modem and router, getting a combo is the way to go.
Netgear is known for building fast and reliable routers and it continues that trend with its latest Nighthawk and Orbi options.
Netgear and its Nighthawk line have earned a reputation for delivering fast and reliable Wi-Fi speeds with little fuss, and it still makes some of the best routers you can buy. Netgear's Orbi line keeps mesh Wi-Fi simple with stylish and cable standalone routers while Nighthawk is more focused on enthusiasts. Netgear is also pushing its software subscriptions hard with Netgear Armor and Smart Parental Controls both requiring a monthly or yearly subscription to get the most of them. Luckily, most of the Netgear routers you buy today come with a month or a year to try out these services to see how they fit into your life.
Upgrade your home Wi-Fi so your speeds are fast and consistent in every room of your house.
Whether you have just a handful of online devices or a house packed with smart home tech, Wi-Fi has become the center of our connected lives. Competition and necessity have pushed ISPs to increase their internet speeds, but many people will need a newer router and modem to take advantage of it. Even so, ISP-provided gateways are a one-size-fits-all solution to WI-Fi when just about every home has a different set of needs. Whether you're looking to get the best speeds possible in a suburban home or are looking to make the most out of your network in a congested apartment building, upgrading your home network with the right router has never been easier.
ASUS makes some of the best WI-Fi routers you can get with basic routers, ZenWiFi mesh systems, and even ROG gaming routers.
While Asus is well-known for its PC and gaming components, it also makes some of the best Wi-Fi routers and mesh systems you can get. Asus routers range from basic dual-band models with enough speed for a small house, to the fastest gaming routers with the latest tech. Asus also makes mesh Wi-Fi easy with mesh support in software for most of its routers, as well as a line of ZenWiFi kits with clean and compact designs. Asus manages to stand out thanks to its software giving customers full access to advanced settings, even on ZenWiFi, with an easy-to-use app for those that want to set it up and forget about it.
Picking the right carrier ensures you have the coverage your need with plenty of speed for your phone.
If you've ever been to a cell phone store, you know how overbearing and confusing all the pricing and plans can get with add-ons, accessories, and multi-year payment plans for phones. You also want to make sure you're on the right network so you have the kind of coverage that works for your needs. For example, if you want the best 5G speeds in a suburban environment, T-Mobile is the way to go. If you live in the country, however, you'll likely see better results with AT&T or Verizon.
The Archer BE800 is one of the first Wi-Fi 7 routers to market with a tri-band BE19000 connection and 10Gbps Ethernet.
TP-Link was one of the first to market with its Wi-Fi 6 routers and had some of the lowest prices to boot. TP-Link is also one of the first with Wi-Fi 7 with the Archer BE800, which is looking like one of the best values. With a BE19000 connection, dual 10Gbps Ethernet ports, and four 2.5Gbps Ethernet ports, this router is ready for a big family with plenty of speed for multi-gig internet and local networking.
Upgrade your home network with a TP-Link router or mesh system.
There’s a lot to like about TP-Link's current crop of routers between strong speeds, easy-to-use software, and modern designs. TP-Link’s routers are easy to recommend thanks to their relatively low prices without giving up any real-world performance. With Wi-Fi 6, TP-Link has consistently offered some of the best values in terms of price to performance with its software and user experience equaling the best in the business in many areas.
The Asus RT-AX88U Pro is an AX6000 router with dual 2.5Gbps Ethernet ports, plenty of power for gaming, and software for work.
Asus has a strong reputation for manufacturing computer components, portable computers, monitors, and more. But they've also been hard at work building out its networking side, and it's been impossible to ignore with Wi-Fi 6 routers like the Asus RT-AX88U Pro. While this router’s dual-band AX6000 connection may not seem like much, especially with tri-band and quad-band Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 routers entering the market, it makes a lot of sense for many home users.
Keep pings low and consistent with a router designed for gaming.
For the most part, a gaming router is just a powerful router with enough speed and capacity to handle all the devices in your home without big latency spikes. Even so, gaming-specific routers add more value for gamers with customized quality of service (QoS) features and specialized hardware. For a competitive gamer, the overall goal is getting the lowest pings possible to the game server, but these days, gamers may also want the capacity to stream 1080p 60fps video to Twitch.