Decision aid: the 10 best routers of the moment (December 2020)

If you have an internet connection, you also have a router. A modern router is not only the heart of your home network, but also provides wireless coverage at home. The router that you get from your internet provider is certainly not always the most ideal device in the wireless field. What should you pay attention to if you want to buy a new router?

Top 10 Best Routers
  • 1. Netgear Orbi RBK50
  • 2. TP-Link Deco M4
  • 3. TP-Link Deco M9
  • 4. Netgear Orbi RBK23
  • 5. ASUS AiMesh AX6100
  • 6. Synology MR2200AC
  • 7. AVM Fritz!Box 7530
  • 8. TP-Link Deco M5
  • 9. D-Link Covr 1203
  • 10. Linksys Velop
Tips for your router
  • What do you need?
  • Fast, faster, fastest?
  • Mesh: simply perfect coverage
  • Set up and optimize
  • Extra security
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is a faster router better?
  • What is a WiFi Mesh System?
  • How many mesh points do I need?
  • What is Wi-Fi 5? And what is Wi-Fi 6?
  • How do I put a router behind router?
  • How can I set up my router?
  • What do numbers like AC1900 or AC5400 mean?
  • What is dual band and what is tri band?
  • Where do you put a router?

Top 10 Routers (December 2020)

1. Netgear Orbi RBK50

The Best Mesh Router 10 Score 100

+ User-friendly

+ Excellent performance

+ Excellent range

- High price

Netgear was the first to launch a Wi-Fi mesh system with the Orbi RBK50, but it did very well right away. Still, Netgear's first Orbi is the best Wi-Fi mesh system money can buy. This is because the RBK50 is still the only AC3000 system on the Dutch market. The range is excellent and the performance is impressive. However, due to the impressive technology (per node), the RBK50 is the most expensive system you can buy. Do you want to know more? Read our review here.

2. TP-Link Deco M4

Cheap and good 9 Score 90

+ Value for money

+ Good coverage and performance

+ User-friendly

- AC1300: limited capacity

The new TP-Link Deco M4 is by far the cheapest mesh system on the market, but together with its 'brother' Deco M5, it belongs to the best performing products in its class. The system scores where it counts: the installation is user-friendly and suitable for the most layman, and so is the app. Read our review here.

3. TP-Link Deco M9

Mesh with Zigbee 10 Score 100

+ Coverage, capacity and performance

+ User-friendly

+ Zigbee and bluetooth

- No

With the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus, a triband solution, TP-Link also tries to attract the more intensive user. And with success, because this is the fastest AC2200 mesh system on average. Only the AC3000 solutions are faster. The Deco M9 Plus has an access point mode, wired backhaul, extensive security options (antivirus, firewall), guest network and also slightly more advanced things such as port forwarding. The settings go through an app; a web interface is missing, although at most real prosumers will miss it. The average consumer will certainly appreciate the extensive options for parents and the extra layer of security, including the antivirus and firewall. Read our review here.

4. Netgear Orbi RBK23

Competitively priced powerhouse 10 Score 100

+ User-friendly

+ Achievements and Range

+ Competitive pricing

- No

Netgear has the best WiFi mesh system with the Orbi RBK50, but Netgear also impresses with the RBK23 in the slower AC2200 class. This set consists of three separate turrets, but one size smaller, with the only result that the satellites now have two instead of four LAN ports. Under type RBK20, this set is also available with a router and one satellite. The performance is excellent in the AC2200 class, but that also applies to, for example, the technically comparable TP-Link Deco M9 Plus. Do you want to know more about the RBK23? Read our review here.

5. ASUS AiMesh AX6100

First mesh with Wifi 6 9 Score 90

+ Wifi 6 lightning fast

+ Extended firmware

- Only one wifi6 radio

- Mesh range

ASUS product connoisseurs know where the manufacturer excels: when it comes to truly innovative products. The ASUS AiMesh AX6100 WiFi System (consisting of 2x RT-AX92U, should you want to expand) deserves the title of innovative without a doubt. It is in fact the first mesh system with 802.11ax, or WiFi 6. In short: potentially extremely fast. But is the AX6100 an obvious choice for mesh? We question that, because only one of the two 5GHz radios supports WiFi 6. If the AX6100 uses that faster WiFi6 radio as backhaul, then your client on another access point is still limited to WiFi5 speeds.

6. Synology MR2200AC

For nas fans 9 Score 90

+ Capabilities and management

+ Good performance

- Price

- Experience required

Synology's MR2200AC is a WiFi mesh system that you buy individually. That makes for a slightly higher price if you need two or three. A copy is also possible, because the MR2200AC is more than other mesh systems a traditional router full of possibilities. If you have a Synology NAS, everything immediately feels familiar. You can add all kinds of functions via apps. A great router or WiFi mesh system for Synology NAS owners.

7. AVM Fritz!Box 7530

Modem and router 8 Score 80

+ Extensive options

+ Dect support

+ Super vectoring (if available)

- As a router not competitive on price

Are you looking for a fast ADSL/VDSL modem router with DECT telephony? Then the selection is limited. With the AVM FRITZ!Box 7530, AVM is bringing this combination to the market for a modest price. If we focus on the router functionality, the FRITZ!Box 7530 appears to be a fairly standard 2x2 AC1200 class model. Two-stream WiFi AC, as we also found in the FRITZ!Box 4040, which costs about 90 euros, is an excellent basis for most uses. It is the extensive FRITZ!OS software that forms the basis of every AVM device where we look for added value. The kicker in this case, however, is the extensive DECT functionality for VOIP services, with which the 7530 doubles as a telephone exchange. Read our review here.

8. TP-Link Deco M5

Affordable, but with antivirus 9 Score 90

+ Price

+ Good coverage and performance

+ User-friendly

- AC1300: limited capacity

TP-Links Deco M5 stands out because of its competitive price. For relatively little money you get three nodes with which you can provide your entire house with a wireless network. In terms of speed, the Deco with its AC1300 hardware is not at the top as expected, but the Deco scores better than we would expect based on the specifications. As a bonus, you can also connect the nodes wired. In addition, TP-Link has built-in security from Trend Micro, making the Deco M5 worth considering. You can read more in our comparison test of WiFi mesh systems. Read our review here.

9. D-Link Covr-1203

The easiest installation 8 Score 80

+ The easiest installation

+ Neat performance and range

+ Charming compact design

- Competition faster and cheaper

D-Link seems to be the only manufacturer who understood that they had to do something to compete harder with TP-Link. D-Links system is even easier to install than TP-Links system. Where you have to connect the satellites with all other brands, the Covr does that automatically. Those kinds of details make all the difference. The appearance is also striking: the rose gold finish will probably have a higher acceptance factor for some ladies.

10. Linksys Velop

Lots of functionality 8 Score 80

+ Good performance

+ Good options

+ Beautiful design

- Too expensive

Linksys hasn't been sitting still: few systems have improved as much as the Velop tri-band. Last year, that system performed reasonably well, but it also clearly missed points. For example, the initially painfully slow installation procedure is now easy to do. Functionally, it has now also become a practically complete prosumer router and in this year's test the performance was even better than last year. The price of the Velop tri-band has dropped, but so has the competition. Despite the good performance, the price difference with the equally excellent Orbi RBK23 is difficult to justify.

Tips for your router

The router is the center of your home network and controls the connection between your home network and the internet. At home, the router is usually combined with a WiFi access point, we also call this a wireless router.

From your internet provider you often get a wireless router that also contains a modem, a modem router. You can use your internet provider's router as the basis for your home network, but this usually limits your options.

If you want control over all settings, you need your own router. Sometimes you can replace the router of your internet provider, but usually this is not possible because of the modem functionality and you connect your own router to the modem router of the internet provider.

What do you need?

Routers are available in all kinds of variants. So do not just buy the first router that you come across in a store, because there is a good chance that the device does not optimally meet your wishes and requirements.

Therefore, draw up a wish list that your router must meet. The specifications are of course important: they largely determine what the router can do. You can make an important first selection based on the speed of the network connections. Make sure that the router is equipped with gigabit network ports (1000 Mbit/s). Although routers with slower fast ethernet ports (100 Mbit/s) are becoming a rare sight, you still see them.

In addition to the network connections, some routers also have one or more USB ports. You can use this to share an external hard drive with your network, allowing you to use the router as a simple nas. Next, the wireless standard that the router supports is important. A few years ago, 802.11n was the common standard and you can still buy such routers. However, you're better off buying an 802.11ac router.

Fast, faster, fastest?

With that choice for an 802.11ac router you are not there, because ac routers are divided into different speed classes. Where we started with AC1750 and AC1900 routers, you can already buy AC5400 routers today. In principle, a higher number means more speed, but that does not mean that you should simply buy the fastest router.

Especially because the fastest routers are a lot more expensive than, for example, AC1900 routers that are also still for sale. Depending on your purpose of use, the question is whether you really notice the difference in speed. It is in fact not the case that an AC5300 router is in practice more than twice as fast as an AC1900 router. In fact, you probably won't even notice the difference with a limited number of clients.

A number like AC5300 expresses the total speed of the router where the speed of all radios are added together. Do you want to know what the exact difference between, for example, AC1900 and AC5300 is? We have analyzed all the numbers. Most routers have two or three radios while your client only connects to one radio at a time. The 'fastest' routers are therefore especially useful if you want to use a lot of devices at the same time. For most users, an AC1900 router is fast enough.

Mesh: simply perfect coverage

More and more often, one wireless router is not enough to have wireless coverage everywhere in the house. A new type of router, the so-called WiFi mesh system, offers a solution.

Instead of one router, when you buy a WiFi mesh system, you get multiple WiFi access points. Just like any other router, you connect the main router with a cable to your modem (router) of your internet provider. The additional Wi-Fi access points connect wirelessly to the main router and extend the wireless coverage.

You usually buy a WiFi mesh system in a package with two or three WiFi access points that cover your entire house.

Set up and optimize

Once you've found the perfect router, you naturally want to get the most out of your device. You can optimize your router via the web interface where you can adjust a large number of settings.

Incidentally, you can also (partially) set up more and more routers using an app for your smartphone. Some WiFi mesh systems, including TP-Links Deco M5 and Google Wifi, can even be configured with an app alone. You can optimize the wireless settings in the web interface. Not only do you set your own network name, you can also change the channel used if it turns out that the router itself does not choose the most optimal channel.

Extra security

Your router is literally the center of your network. At the same time, for example, due to the rise of smart home equipment, more and more devices are being installed in the home network of which you do not immediately know what information is being shared.

Router manufacturers are responding to this by building security capabilities into their routers. TP-Link and ASUS choose to partner with antivirus manufacturer Trend Micro. The reverse also happens: traditional security manufacturers such as Norton and F-Secure bring their products to the home network in the form of their own router. Whichever router is chosen: security and supervision will be one of the most important themes in the router field in the coming time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a faster router better?

Better usually means better coverage. In that case, the answer is no. Wi-Fi routers contain radios that must meet legal requirements in terms of transmitting power. A more expensive and therefore faster router usually contains more radios compared to a cheaper one. This means that more devices can be connected to the router at a high speed at the same time. However, it does not mean that the range of the router will increase. After all, the individual radios still have to meet the legal requirements. A more expensive router is therefore especially interesting if you want to be able to use a lot of devices (ten or more) in one place in your house. However, if you have coverage problems, for example in the attic, you will have to find a solution that uses multiple WiFi access points such as a WiFi mesh system, repeater, powerline adapter with WiFi or a wired access point.

What is a WiFi Mesh System?

Not so much speed, but coverage is increasingly becoming the main Wi-Fi problem these days. You cannot solve a coverage problem with one more expensive or faster router, you need multiple access points spread over your house. A WiFi mesh system is a wireless router that is supported by supplied WiFi access points. Those access points, which are also called nodes, are connected wirelessly to the router. This allows you to provide your entire house with an opaque wireless network without having to pull cables. Wifi mesh systems come in different price ranges depending on the radio configuration. The cheapest systems are AC1200/AC1300 systems where the mutual communication between the nodes is via the same radios as the communication with the clients. More expensive systems have a separate radio for communication with the nodes and can be recognized by the AC2200 or AC3000 typing. If you only want to surf a bit or if you don't have a large family, a cheaper system is enough. If you have higher requirements for your WiFi, it is better to choose a more expensive system.

How many mesh points do I need?

Wi-Fi mesh systems are sold in sets of two or three nodes. But how many do you need? Manufacturers often promise a certain number of square meters per node, but these American manufacturers usually do not start from Dutch housing construction. In terms of square meters, an average Dutch house is usually not very impressive, but the use of floors and reinforced concrete means that several nodes are still needed. A good rule of thumb in a house is one node per floor. Multiple nodes are also useful in a larger apartment, by cleverly spreading them you can achieve excellent coverage. Although in practice it appears that the most powerful system on the market, the Netgear Orbi RBK50, performs well in the standard set consisting of two nodes. With the cheaper AC1200/AC1300 systems, it is better to immediately opt for a set with three nodes. You can buy extra nodes with all systems afterwards, but they are relatively expensive compared to what you pay for the starting set.

What is Wi-Fi 6? And what is Wi-Fi 5?

Wi-Fi has been available since the late 1990s and since then new generations have appeared regularly, resulting in a significant increase in the speed of Wi-Fi. Until recently, the different generations of Wi-Fi were known by a number with letters. For example, 802.11n was succeeded by the current 802.11ac, which will soon be followed by 802.11ax. Instead of 802.11ac, the current Wi-Fi standard was also referred to as AC. The Wi-Fi Alliance that manages the Wi-Fi standard didn't think it was clear enough and came up with something new. In addition to the existing designations such as 802.11ac, Wi-Fi has recently been used followed by a number. Current 802.11ac is the same as Wi-Fi 5. The soon-to-be 802.11ax will be Wi-Fi 6 while Wi-Fi 4 refers to the older 802.11n technology.

How do I put a router behind router?

Usually you get a router from your internet provider and often it is not possible to replace that device with your own router. If you still want to have your own router, for example for more control over your network or better wireless coverage, you will have to connect this router to the router of your internet provider. There are two ways to connect one router to another router. In the first method, you connect the WAN or internet port of your own router to the LAN port of the router of your internet provider. Your own router then works as a router. You do have to connect all your devices to your new router to avoid getting two networks that prevent devices from communicating with each other. Because your router is connected behind another router, it does not have a direct connection to the internet, so you may have problems if you want to open ports, for example. To prevent problems as much as possible, you can add your own router to the dmz (demilitarized zone) of your internet provider's router.Even nicer is to set the router of your internet provider as a modem, this is also called bridge mode. However, this is often not possible.

There is a second method to connect your own router to a router from your internet provider. That is by setting up your own router as a WiFi access point. This method is therefore only suitable if you want to use your own router to improve your WiFi. You continue to use the router of your internet provider to manage your network. You can set all routers as access points by disabling the built-in DHCP server and giving the device a fixed IP address. You then connect a network cable to a normal network connection that you connect to a normal network connection on the other router. Some routers have an official access point mode that configures the router as an access point. You can then use the route's wan port to connect it to a lan port on your ISP's router.

How can I set up my router?

After you connect a router, the device will usually function immediately. However, you will have to dive into the settings, because you probably want to choose the name of your wireless network (ssid) and password yourself. To set up your router, use the web interface of your router. Usually this web interface can be reached by typing the IP address into your browser, but sometimes a different IP address is used. On the page that opens you can log in to your router with a username and password. If you have not set this up yourself, you will find the correct information on a sticker on your router. You can also set up more and more routers with an app. Such an app is useful, for example, to quickly switch on the guest network if you have guests.

What do numbers like AC1900, AC3200 or AC5400 mean?

Manufacturers classify their wireless routers into speed classes such as AC1900, AC3200 or even AC5400. We logically associate routers with a higher number with better performance. These numbers have to do with the radio configuration in a router. As a simplified rule of thumb, you can say that a higher number provides more radio capacity. However, most users have no problem with the capacity of their wireless router (how many devices can be fully used at the same time), but with the range of the wireless network (where you still have good coverage in the house). In most cases, an AC1900 router certainly offers enough capacity, while you will also get away with an even cheaper AC1200 router. If you want more coverage, you need multiple access points.

What is dual band and what is tri band?

Wifi works on two different frequency bands: the 2.4 and the 5 GHz band. Dual band means that a router contains both a 2.4GHz and a 5GHz radio. Nowadays both radios can be used at the same time, in the past this was not always the case. Logically, a tri-band router therefore contains three radios. However, no third frequency band is used, instead a second 5GHz radio is used that operates on a different channel than the first 5GHz radio. This way, more devices can be connected to the fast 5GHz band at a high speed at the same time. A tri-band router is therefore for power users with a lot of WiFi equipment.

Where do you put a router?

Nowadays we mostly use the 5GHz band which offers more bandwidth and speed, but has a smaller range. For good coverage, your router or access point must therefore be set up as centrally as possible. The commonly used meter cupboard is usually not a good place for this. If you have one router, try hanging it in the stairwell between the ground floor and first floor. Or put your router in your living room. After all, if you are looking for the best performance, you must be able to see the router or access point. A modern router is therefore designed to be visible, something that you see, for example, in the standing nodes of many WiFi mesh systems. If you want a good and fast network throughout your home, that is no longer possible with one device these days. The fast 5GHz band has too small a range for this, while the 2.4GHz band with more range is used so much nowadays that it is hidden, so that the coverage and speed via 2.4 GHz is also disappointing. The real solution is working with multiple access points. This is possible, for example, with a WiFi mesh system, repeaters or powerline adapters with WiFi.

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