For a long time, routers have been a necessary evil at best. Fast speeds are cool, but, not even the most ardent tech geeks among us really get excited about routers. They’re just sort of utilitarian-looking and…there. Thanks to some bold new options, that’s starting to change. While they may not be cheap, these routers offer power and quality that you won’t get from other options. From beautiful appearances to unique features, these are some of the best routers on the market.
Google Wi-Fi Home System
Google’s continued foray into the hardware world led them to unveil this gem last year. Anyone who has tried to provide Wi-Fi to an entire house knows how frustrating it can be. Walls and floors can block the signal and create dead zones. Google Wi-Fi provides a full wireless network for your entire home at an affordable price due to its mesh feature. A single unit can cover up to 1,500 sq. ft., but it can link up with other Google Wi-Fi units to create a web capable of ccovering much larger buildings. Google sells a three-pack that covers 4,500 sq. ft., but you can actually go up from there. Plus, it’s easy to set up for even the most inexperienced.
Netgear creates some of the best routers, and the Orbi is among the most unique. This tri-band router offers a similar mesh to Google Wi-Fi, but it’s a little less flexible. Which each Google Wi-Fi unit can stand alone, Orbi comes with a main router and “satellites” that extend the range. However, Orbi gives you the option to set up a guest network for visitors. Perhaps most excitingly, Netgear Orbi was designed to work with Amazon’s Alexa. (Though it doesn’t require it.) If you have an Amazon Echo product, setup couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is say “Hey Alexa, meet my router.” From there, you can control your router using voice commands through your Amazon device. You can buy a router by itself, or you can buy it with one or two satellites to cover 2,500, 5,000, or 7,500 sq. ft. of home.
The new Norton Core definitely is a statement. It looks unlike any other router you’ve ever seen. But there’s more to Norton’s router than just good looks. It supports speeds of up to 2.5 Gbps, which is perfect for lag-free gaming or even 4k streaming. But what really sets the Norton Core apart is security. This router protects your network and all devices connected to it from cyber-attacks and malware. There’s a $100/year subscription for the security feature, which seems steep at first. But that fee not only protects the network itself, but eliminates the need for your other security subscriptions for all devices on that network.
Nothing looks more out of this world than the Starry Station router. The attractive appearance may make you want to show it off, but that’s not the only benefit. It also has a touch-screen, which makes it easy for nearly anyone to use. Parents will especially love this device because it puts a modern spin on grounding. With just a tap, you can block a child’s device from connecting. You can even set bedtimes. You can control your network and the parental features from a smartphone app. And if you ever have an issue with the Starry Station, you can even tap to request that their customer service call you – no more waiting on hold! That almost makes Starry Station worth it by itself.
Linksys WRT AC3200
The Linksys WRT AC3200 doesn’t have an attractive name or appearance, but the performance speaks for itself. It has Tri-Stream 160 technology, which doubles bandwidth, giving you incredibly fast 2.6 Gbps speeds on one band – even while you get 600 Mbps on the other band. That’s a total speed of 3.2 Gpbs, which Linksys can handle even with heavy traffic because of its enterprise-grade 1.3 GHz processor. Lagging in gaming is never an issue, and multiple people can stream 4K video at the same time.