What is the Best Router Under 150 Dollars?

What is the Best Router Under 150 Dollars?

Sadly, $150 doesn’t buy you a lot these days, but it will still get you a nice Wi-Fi Router. If you are shopping for a new router in this price range, read on.

The team here at Infravio HQ has reviewed many of the top consumer-grade routers on the market today, and based on current prices, has picked the best router under 150:

100 dollar bill and 50 dollar bill

Introducing the ASUS RT-AC68U

ASUS RT-AC68U Wi-Fi Router
  • Dual band with the latest 802; 11 AC 3x3 technology for combined speeds of up to 1900 Mbps
  • 1 GigaHertz dual core CPU enables smart multitasking by dedicating separate lanes for Wi Fi and USB data; Network standard: IEEE 802; 11a, IEEE 802; 11B, IEEE 802; 11G, IEEE 802; 11N, IEEE 802; 11AC, IPv4, IPv6
  • Effortless router setup with the ASUSWRT web based interface; Dual band connectivity for compatibility and performance
  • Monitor and manage your network with ease from your mobile device using the intuitive ASUS router app
  • A protection powered by Trend Micro provides multi stage protection from vulnerability detection to protecting sensitive data; Please refer the installation manual and the user manual before use which is highly essential; Dc output: 19 Volt with maximum 1; 75 a current; Guest network: 2; 4 GigaHertz x 3, 5 GigaHertz x 3

Note: Pricing on Amazon fluctuates daily. This router was priced below $150 at the time of this writing and is likely (but not guaranteed) to stay below that mark. We aren’t able to keep up with the price changes, so we recommend clicking the Check Price button, which will send you over to Amazon to see the current price and review the product further.


The RT-AC68U won our top pick for several reasons including reliability, range, speed/throughput, features, and cost.

Good Value is defined as something that is worth the cost. While all routers can’t make this claim, we certainly feel that the RT-AC68U is a good value. Actually we feel that it is an excellent value!

Things we love about the ASUS RT-AC68U

Build Quality

Handling this router, you can tell that it is well made and not a cheap piece of junk. The external antennas are removable, and overall the router is pleasing to the eye.

The router features status LED’s on the front, indicating Ethernet 1-4 + WAN port status and activity, USB port status, 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio status, and a power indicator.

Having this indicators clearly identified and located right on the front is handy, especially since some manufacturers put the LED’s on the back, requiring you to move or pick up the router to get a visual check on it.

Speaking of LED’s, there is a button on the back to shut them off in case you are using the router in your bedroom and the bright light generated by the LED’s keeps you awake. Bonus!

I know aesthetics don’t matter to some people, but they matter a whole lot to other people, so I always include it in my reviews.

RT-AC68U front

Good handling of large numbers of devices

The RT-AC68U easily handles a large number of Wi-Fi clients. 50+ concurrent client support has been reported with no noticable slowdown.

If you have a large number of wireless devices in your home, (such as cameras, smart home devices, tablets, phones, and laptops) then you should definitely consider buying a router that can handle a large number of simultaneously connected devices – because not all routers can do so without experiencing performance issues.

ASUS RT-AC68U Wi-Fi Router
  • Dual band with the latest 802; 11 AC 3x3 technology for combined speeds of up to 1900 Mbps
  • 1 GigaHertz dual core CPU enables smart multitasking by dedicating separate lanes for Wi Fi and USB data; Network standard: IEEE 802; 11a, IEEE 802; 11B, IEEE 802; 11G, IEEE 802; 11N, IEEE 802; 11AC, IPv4, IPv6
  • Effortless router setup with the ASUSWRT web based interface; Dual band connectivity for compatibility and performance
  • Monitor and manage your network with ease from your mobile device using the intuitive ASUS router app
  • A protection powered by Trend Micro provides multi stage protection from vulnerability detection to protecting sensitive data; Please refer the installation manual and the user manual before use which is highly essential; Dc output: 19 Volt with maximum 1; 75 a current; Guest network: 2; 4 GigaHertz x 3, 5 GigaHertz x 3

Signal Strength

The signal strength on this router is excellent, allowing to to reach devices in the deep corners of medium sized homes.

The 3 external antennas also offer adjust-ability and maximum reliability compared to models with fewer or internal-only antennas.

Advanced ASUS-WRT Firmware

Stability

This router runs and runs without needing a reboot very often. Of course, pretty much any consumer-grade router will need an occasional therapeutic reboot from time to time.

The solution to that problem is scheduled reboots. This router’s ASUS-WRT firmware allows you to schedule reboots to take place automatically at a time of your choosing.

For example, mine is set to reboot daily at 2AM. Since everyone in the house is sleeping, we never notice the reboot.

Know what we do notice though? A router that is always freshly-booted and never has to be manually rebooted!

Consistency between other ASUS Router firmware

The ASUS-WRT interface on this router will look familiar to someone who has used other ASUS networking products in the past.

ASUS does a great job of maintaining consistency between their products, which means some users aren’t starting from scratch with the RT-AC68U since they are already familiar with the firmware interface.

Dual WAN capability

The RT-AC68U also includes the capability to configure one of the LAN ports as a WAN port, giving you two WAN ports.

ASUS WRT Firmware

This is nice, because it allows you to connect the router to two different internet connections, define primary and backup connections, and have the router automatically failover to the backup Internet connection if the primary connection fails.

You can also use one of the USB ports as a second WAN port, allowing you to use a 5G modem as your backup internet service if you wish. Very cool.

Most people don’t have two Internet connections and won’t use this feature, but it’s nice to know it’s there. It’s disabled by default, which allows all 4 LAN ports to be used as such.

Built-in VPN Server

If you are on the road and need access to your home network, ASUS has your back. Simply configure and enable the VPN server on the router, and you will be able to login from anywhere on the Internet to access your network as if you were at home. Just make sure you know what your public IP address is before you leave the house.

Time Machine support

If you have a USB hard drive connected to the router, you can set up the router as a Time Machine target disk. Very cool.

Things we don’t like so much about the ASUS RT-AC68U

AiMesh Feature is flakey

Many ASUS routers come with a proprietary feature called AiMesh.

AiMesh is designed to allow you to connect another ASUS router to your current router via wireless, and then place the second router somewhere else in your home or business with the goal being to bolster your Wi-Fi coverage in spotty areas.

Sounds cool, especially considering the fact that you don’t have to run a Cat5 cable to the new router. This is also marketed as a good way to re-use older routers that you may have just replaced with a new model… also a cool idea.

In practice, the AiMesh feature can be difficult to get working and once it is working, can be somewhat unreliable.

QoS Functionality doesn’t work correctly

Some users have reported issues configuring QoS in order to prioritize bandwidth for certain users or applications. This is an advanced feature and is frequently mis-configured, so we’re not sure if this is an actual bug in the firmware, or user error.

Ethernet port failures

Some users have reported certain Ethernet ports on the router failing, requiring them to either stop using those ports (you could add a basic switch if you need additional ports), or RMA the router with ASUS.

ASUS RT-AC68U Wi-Fi Router
  • Dual band with the latest 802; 11 AC 3x3 technology for combined speeds of up to 1900 Mbps
  • 1 GigaHertz dual core CPU enables smart multitasking by dedicating separate lanes for Wi Fi and USB data; Network standard: IEEE 802; 11a, IEEE 802; 11B, IEEE 802; 11G, IEEE 802; 11N, IEEE 802; 11AC, IPv4, IPv6
  • Effortless router setup with the ASUSWRT web based interface; Dual band connectivity for compatibility and performance
  • Monitor and manage your network with ease from your mobile device using the intuitive ASUS router app
  • A protection powered by Trend Micro provides multi stage protection from vulnerability detection to protecting sensitive data; Please refer the installation manual and the user manual before use which is highly essential; Dc output: 19 Volt with maximum 1; 75 a current; Guest network: 2; 4 GigaHertz x 3, 5 GigaHertz x 3

Wrapping Up

Overall, we really like this router. True, it does have some shortcomings, but every router does.

We really like the performance, good signal coverage, and reliability that you get for the price with this router. If you are looking for a new router under $150, definitely check this one out!

Does a better router improve Internet speed?

Question: Does a better router improve internet speed?
Answer: Sometimes. It depends. It’s complicated!

Allow me to elaborate…bandwidth speedometer

There are at least three factors that impact someone’s perception of how fast or slow an internet connection is. To help make my point, think of your internet connection as a pipeline.

The three factors that affect your speed as it relates to your pipeline are:

  1. The size of your pipeline (the amount of bandwidth you have)
  2. How quickly things flow through your pipeline (the amount of latency you have)
  3. Whether or not there are leaks in your pipeline (is data being dropped somewhere in the middle)

1. The size of your pipeline

Think of the amount of bandwidth you have. This is the number advertised by your ISP in Megabits per second (Mbps).

Some people have 1 Mbps, others have 1000 Mbps. This is the size of your pipeline.The more bandwidth you have, the more data that can flow through it at the same time and the less it gets clogged up.

Remember to also consider upload speed as well as your download speed, as they can both make a difference.

The amount of bandwidth you have is certainly important, but it is not the only factor in determining the speed of your internet connection.

2. How quickly things (data) flow through your pipeline

internet pipelineThis is referred to as latency – it is a measurement of the time it takes data to go from your computer, through the internet to a remote server (Facebook, Netflix, etc), and then all the way back (round trip).

Is the data moving slowly like sludge through the pipeline, or is it moving quickly like pure water?

If data moves back and forth quickly (low latency), it is likely that someone would perceive that connection as very fast, even if it were only a 10Mbps connection.

The reverse of this is also true – someone could have a large pipe with slow flow and they wouldn’t feel that it is a very fast connection. The best example of this is Satellite Internet, such as HughesNet.

Many satellite internet plans provide decent bandwidth (usually somewhere around 25Mbps) but are still known to be quite slow. The reason for this, is due to the added time it takes the signal to go all the way up into space and then be bounced back down to earth.

This results in a large pipe/slow flow scenario, and as such, many people with this type of service are generally unhappy with it.

3. Are there leaks in your pipeline?

This is referring to the reliability of your internet connection and all of the pathways your data takes through the internet on its way to/from a remote server.

If there is an issue, either with your ISP or somewhere upstream from them, you may experience packet loss. Packet loss will definitely slow down your internet connection.

See, your computer is very intelligent and can sense when packet loss is occuring. When this happens, it has to re-request the missing data and wait for it to arrive again.

This delay, depending on its severity, is typically noticeable to the user as lag/slowness. Alternatively, if there is no packet loss, then there is no need for data to be re-transmitted. This can result in favorable speeds and saved bandwidth.

Factors that impact your speed

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the three of the ways that speed is observed, lets discuss factors that will actually impact your speed.

router with lan cable

Congestion/Oversubscription

This is what happens when your pipeline gets full. It simply can’t move any more data simultaneously until either the size of the pipeline is increased, or the amount of existing data in the pipeline is reduced.

We’ve all noticed this before – a sudden burst of lag that occurs because someone else in the household is suddenly downloading or uploading a lot of data, like a movie or a game. This creates data contention issues, which is noticed as a slowdown.

Keep in mind that oversubscription could occur in your household (too many family members or roommates using the internet at the same time) or it could also occur at the ISP level – where there are too many customers eating up large amounts of data (usually during peak times of the day) and it ends up affecting other customers.

How well is your ISP connected to other networks/providers

cables in a datacenterThe internet is made up of thousands of pathways that connect various networks. In some instances, your data has to go through 20-30 routers before it reaches its intended destination (that is considered a lot of routers).

In other cases, maybe it only has to go through 8-10 routers. Generally speaking, the shorter the path your data has to take to reach its destination, the faster and more reliably it will get there.

These pathways are decided upon by your ISP.

If they have many connections to various upstream providers, including some direct connections (called peering arrangements) with major companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon etc – you will likely have a better experience than an ISP that only has one connection out to the internet.

Other miscellaneous issues that can impact your speed:

  • Equipment problems at your ISP or one of their upstream providers
  • Issues on the server side – if the remote server you are accessing is oversubscribed or malfunctioning, you will notice slowness
  • Local issues with your computer or your router, or perhaps a Wi-Fi issue

Here are some things that a new router could solve:

Wi-Fi environmental issues

Perhaps there are environmental issues impacting your Wireless performance. Maybe there is interference from too many people nearby on other Wi-Fi networks.

Maybe the guy next door uses a cordless phone or runs his microwave frequently (both of which can affect Wi-Fi). Or maybe the materials that your home is built out of is negatively impacting your signal.

There are technologies featured on newer routers such as beamforming, additional bands, etc that can overcome some of these environmental issues and deliver a better user experience.

New features and standards

Perhaps your old router only supports an older/slower wireless standard such as 802.11G or 802.11N, so upgrading to a newer standard such as 802.11AC will definitely give better data throughput and better range.

Additionally, many newer routers have quality of service (QoS) features that would make the internet connection feel faster/more reliable when data contention is in play.

The bottom line:laptop wired to router

You won’t know if a better router will improve your internet speed unless you do some testing:

  • You could just go out and buy a new router, plug it in, and hope everything improves
  • You could connect your computer directly to your router with a network cable to see if there is a performance issue related to your Wi-Fi (connecting directly will bypass your Wi-Fi)
  • Or you could bypass your router altogether – in some cases, you can plug a computer directly in to your modem to test

Whatever type of test you run, just make sure that you are consistent in your testing. Run speed tests before and after each change and document the results.

Be sure to use the same computer and same browser each time you test. Use the same speed test website/server each time, and try to test at the same time each day, since speeds with some providers differ depending on the time of day.

If you are testing a wired connection, make sure your computer is disconnected from the wireless network before you start testing.

Results:

If your internet speeds are identical when you bypass your router, it is unlikely that upgrading your router will have any noticeable effect. Perhaps you should contact your ISP instead to see if there is a problem with your connection.

But, if your internet speeds improve when you bypass your router, there is a good chance that a new router will give you the better performance you are craving.

Good Luck!

Best Router for Brick Walls

Best Router for Brick Walls

Looking for a good wireless router to go with your high speed Internet connection but live in a house or apartment made of brick or concrete?

Look no further – let’s discuss the best router for brick or concrete walls.

What is the best router for brick walls?

Here are the best routers for brick or concrete walls:

Our Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Amazing Router, but Pricey!
ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router (AC3100) with MU-MIMO, supporting AiProtection network security by Trend Micro, AiMesh for Mesh WiFi system, and WTFast game Accelerator (RT-AC88U),Black
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AD
Speed Rating
AC1750
AC1900
AC3100
AD7200
Processor Cores
2
2
2
4
Number of Antennas
3 (external)
3 (external)
4 (external)
4 (external)
Prime Status
-
Our Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
Router
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC1750
Processor Cores
2
Number of Antennas
3 (external)
Prime Status
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC1900
Processor Cores
2
Number of Antennas
3 (external)
Prime Status
Amazing Router, but Pricey!
ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router (AC3100) with MU-MIMO, supporting AiProtection network security by Trend Micro, AiMesh for Mesh WiFi system, and WTFast game Accelerator (RT-AC88U),Black
Router
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC3100
Processor Cores
2
Number of Antennas
4 (external)
Prime Status
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Router
Adequate signal strength to penetrate brick walls
WiFi Standard
802.11AD
Speed Rating
AD7200
Processor Cores
4
Number of Antennas
4 (external)
Prime Status
-

What’s the deal with brick or concrete?

The composition of materials used to construct a building can absolutely make a difference in the range, reliability, and performance of your wireless network.

If your house, condominium, flat, or apartment is primarily make up of brick or concrete, you have more challenges than someone living in a building composed of traditional materials such as wood and drywall.

This has do with the fact the the Electromagnetic Waves of the Wi-Fi signal get absorbed (or even reflected) more or less by different materials in the environment. In the case of brick or concrete, these materials absorb the signal much greater than wood does, resulting in decreased range and speed, and generally less reliability than the same Wi-Fi network in a wood environment.

What can I do about it?

This is where the selection of your router and it’s configuration comes into play.

Most routers nowadays are dual-band routers, which is a good thing. However, in the case of EM-absorbing materials being present in the walls, ceilings, and floors of your residence, (and therefore being present between your router and your phone/tablet/laptop) it is best to connect on a lower-frequency band if possible.

What does that mean?

Most routers can operate at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Generally 5GHz is preferred because of the greater availability of clear (non-overlapping) channels and fewer devices and interference to compete with.

However if you are dealing with brick or concrete, your primary concern is the ability for your Wi-Fi signal to penetrate the materials in your walls.

Lower frequencies penetrate better and are attenuated less by brick, so you should use 2.4GHz over 5GHz.

This logic is the opposite of what I usually recommend. As I said before, people living in brick or concrete environments have special challenges!

So I should just scrap my dual-band router?

Now, hold on. I’m not necessarily saying you shouldn’t use the 5GHz band on your router. In fact, for wireless devices that are close to your router such as in the same room, or perhaps just one room away – you should try sticking to 5GHz.

For the rooms that are further away than that, you may need to use 2.4GHz.

Overall what I’m trying to say, is that you should be prepared to test both frequencies and see which works better for you.

Best Router for Brick Walls – Netgear R6700

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
  • Fast Wi-Fi performance: Get up to 1500 square feet wireless coverage with AC1750 speed (Dual band up to 450 plus 1300 Mbps)
  • Recommended for up to 25 devices: Reliably stream videos, play games, surf the internet, and connect smart home devices
  • Wired Ethernet ports: Plug in computers, game consoles, streaming players, and other nearby wired devices with 4 x 1 gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Loaded with advanced technology: Designed with a 1GHz dual core processor, 3 amplified antennas, Beamforming plus, Dynamic QoS, Smart Connect, and more
  • USB connections: Share a storage drive or printer with any connected device or create a personal cloud storage to access from anywhere, using the 1 x 3.0 USB port

The team here at Infravio really likes the R6700 and recommends it to our readers frequently. This router is feature-rich, highly stable, and offers excellent performance without breaking the bank.

Connecting your devices to the 2.4GHz band on this router should provide some of the best performance you can hope to attain in a brick/concrete environment.

If you are still having trouble, you may want to think about deploying one or more wireless access points in your home, which will serve to decrease signal attenuation by bringing the source closer to more devices.

Which security option is best for a wireless router?

Wi-Fi security is paramount – without it, there are many things that someone could do on your wireless network – things that range from minor or barely noticeable all the way up to flat out illegal – and everything in between.

A case for security

arm coming through computer screen

Honestly, most people that are looking for Wi-Fi networks with no security or weak security are simply looking for free internet access. These people just want to check their email, surf the web, or download something without paying for internet access.

They don’t really have any hostile intent for your network.

However, there are also more sinister people looking to gain access to a wireless network for unsavory uses, such as:

  • To steal your data – perhaps they can get your credit card number or tax information to use it for fraud, or maybe they want to steal photos or other personally identifiable information and use it to blackmail or otherwise expose you
  • To invade your privacy, search for risque photos, or access sensitive financial information
  • To download or upload illegal content online without being traced back to them – things like copyrighted material, illegal software, or child pornography
  • To hack or attack other systems without being traced
  • To download or upload large amounts of data without it slowing down their own internet connection

Ultimately, it comes down to this – someone is using something of yours without paying for it and without your permission. Is that really something you are okay with?

You could be liablemasked computer hacker

Furthermore, if the perpetrator does something illegal online using your internet connection, the authorities can investigate the source IP address. This will lead them to your ISP – upon which they can subpoena your ISP to provide the associated subscriber’s name and address.

Guess whose door they will come knocking on next? Yours.

The scary part is, it could be the guy next door, someone parked in the street, or a neighbor down the road. It is very difficult to physically locate the person.

Isn’t it easier to just set up ample security from the start to ensure that you are keeping all potential unwanted guests out?

Security Methods

iphone wifi encryption selection

There are several different modes and methods you can use to secure your wireless network. The easiest, most common, and most effective solution is to enable the proper type of security and encryption protocols on your router.

This will not only prevent someone from joining your network who doesn’t have the password, it will also prevent anyone in the area from eavesdropping on what you are doing online.

The main security protocols are:

  • Open/None (AKA, no security)
  • WEP (weak security, very easily cracked)
  • WPA (better, but still weak)
  • WPA2 (best for home use)
  • WPA Enterprise (ok, for business)
  • WPA2 Enterprise (best, for business)

Can you use the Enterprise versions at home?

I can see why you would want to – the enterprise versions of each protocol renew/update their keys at a set interval, whereas their non-enterprise counterparts simply use a pre-shared key. This key update makes the enterprise versions rock-solid secure, since the key is always changing.

A typical user would not want to attempt using an Enterprise protocol at home due to the advanced knowledge required to set it up. Additionally it requires setting up a dedicated server to make everything operational.

The vanilla WPA2 protocol is enough for most users and is much easier to set up and manage.

The best security option

For home users, WPA2 is currently the best choice. If your router gives you the choice of using TKIP or AES with WPA2, choose AES.

 

wireless security signAdditional security settings

Utilizing WPA2 on your router with a strong passhrase provides plenty of security for most users. If you are extra paranoid, you can also employ some additional security methods.

Here are some additional security settings that can optionally be enabled to enhance security on your wireless network. These features are not as robust or as easy to implement as enabling WiFi security/encryption – they are intended merely to be supplements to the security of your network.

Basically, you should not enable these options without security/encryption and expect your network to be secure.

Disable SSID broadcast:

 

With the SSID broadcast disabled on your router, people won’t be able to see your Wi-Fi network, or they will only see an “unnamed network” in their list of available Wi-Fi networks. Connecting to a network with SSID broadcast disabled is more difficult – you will have to manually define your SSID in your computer’s network settings before it will connect.

Fewer people will notice your network, but advanced users can still easily find your network using the right tools. Simply disabling the SSID broadcast also does nothing to protect your privacy as information is transmitted through the air – you need security/encryption for that.

If you are connected to an Open Wi-Fi network (one that does not use encryption), anyone that knows what they are doing can intercept your traffic and view what you are doing online without you knowing it.

MAC address filtering:

 

Like disabling the SSID broadcast, utilizing MAC address filtering will also do nothing to protect your information from eavsdroppers.

It will, however, make it more difficult for an unauthorized user to access your network. MAC filtering works like a whitelist – where only MAC addresses that are defined on the list can communicate on the network.

That said, advanced users can ‘sniff’ for a valid/authorized MAC that is currently in-use on the network, and then spoof their MAC to use an authorized one.

Enabling MAC filtering also makes managing your own wireless network very cumbersome – any time you want to connect a new device to your wireless network, you first have to log in to your router and add the new device’s MAC address to the whitelist.

How to tell if a Router is bad

A broken router is no fun! After all, everything on your network depends on it – streaming, gaming, schoolwork, and real work all get impacted equally when your router stops working. Here are some steps to take (ordered from simple to advanced) to determine if your router is bad.

broken router

Start Simple:

Why do you think your router is the problem? Just because you can’t access the internet? The first, and often overlooked step, is to isolate the issue. Are all of the devices in your house affected, or just your computer? If only your computer is affected, the problem is likely not the router.

It is best to figure this out before spending time troubleshooting the wrong issue. If the problem is affecting your entire house, perhaps it is the router and you should continue troubleshooting.

Look at your router and start by checking the obvious things. Is it still plugged into the power outlet and is the outlet supplying power?

If the outlet is wired to a light switch, check to make sure that the switch is in the ‘on’ position. The same goes if the router is connected to a power strip or surge protector – make sure the power switch is on there too.

Also, check your breaker panel and verify that the breaker for that outlet hasn’t tripped.

Now check the indicator lights on the router? Do they look normal? Most routers’ lights will flash to indicate activity on the network – are they flashing?

Are the status lights for the ethernet ports on your router lit up? You should see a ‘link’ light when a device such as a laptop or printer is plugged in to a specific port only. You shouldn’t, however, see port ‘link’ lights on ports that are not plugged in. Seeing a ‘link’ light on all ports, regardless of whether or not they are plugged in, is a classic sign that the router is having issues.

Is the router generating heat? Does it seem like a normal amount?

What about noise? Generally, consumer routers don’t make any noticable noise.

These types of observations may assist you in determining the health of your router.

Intermediate Troubleshooting:router status lights

Is your router functioning (passing traffic)? Try opening up a command window and seeing if your computer currently has an IP address. This can be done by running the ‘ipconfig’ command on Windows, or the ‘ifconfig’ command on Mac and Linux.

Most networks are configured to provide IP addresses from the router, so if your computer has a valid IP address, your router might be functioning okay. Now that you have your IP address, try pinging it (ping yourself). This should always be successful – if it’s not, it could indicate that your computer’s networking components aren’t functioning correctly and, again, is not the router’s fault.

Now, try pinging the IP address of your router (this is the gateway address listed in the ‘ipconfig’ or ‘ifconfig’ commands you ran earlier). See this article for more help with finding your router’s IP address.

If that is successful, try pinging another device on your network. If that works, your router seems to be passing traffic okay. Maybe the problem is isolated to your internet service?

Try pinging Google’s primary DNS server, 8.8.8.8. If that is successful, try pinging google.com. If you can ping 8.8.8.8 but not google.com, you are experiencing a DNS issue – but if you can also ping google.com, your internet should be functioning normally.

If your router seems to be okay but your internet service isn’t working, try rebooting your DSL/Cable modem or contact your ISP for assistance.

 

broken router

Ruling out the router for good:

If you still haven’t tracked down the problem, here is a good way to test your router: bypass it and connect your computer directly to your ISP’s device (typically a DSL modem, cable modem, or fiber ONT).

To do this, unplug the cable connecting to the WAN or Internet port on your router and connect it to your computer. Can you access the internet now?

If so, your router is almost certainly the issue since bypassing it got you back online.

Keep in mind that this test method will only work for some people – it depends on how your ISP configures your service. If your ISP uses static IP addressing or PPPoE, you would need to take additional steps to use this test method – simply plugging in directly will not work.

Advanced Troubleshooting:

router with heartbeat

If at this point you’ve established that the router is bad, you can either cut your losses and replace it, or you can attempt some advanced procedures that might possibly allow you to recover your router.

If you decide to continue troubleshooting the router, the next step would be to attempt to reset the router to defaults. This will wipe the current config from the router and reboot it into the factory-default state that it was in when you first opened the package.

The process for this operation differs from router to router, but typically involves pressing and holding the ‘reset’ button on the router down for up to 40 seconds. Sometimes, you have to power cycle the router while you are holding the reset button down – be sure to check your router’s documentation.

Be advised that if this procedure is successful, you will need to re-configure your router from scratch: set up your wireless network name, password, channel setting (if previously configured), administrator password, port forwarding (if applicable), etc.

Console Cable

Some routers have a special port (called a console port) that can be accessed with a cable like this. In many cases, the router casing has to be opened in order to access the console port, so this is not for the faint of heart.

Using the console port allows you to access the routers’ pre-boot/loading environment, which can sometimes be used to fix a router that won’t boot.

Since every router is different, I recommend doing some research to see if your router brand/model is equipped with a console port and what recovery techniques can be accomplished using it before you purchase a cable.

Flash It:

If a factory reset doesn’t work, the next step would be to attempt reloading the router’s firmware, aka ‘flashing’ it.

The concept of reloading firmware is usually used to replace a bricked router that has been broken due to being tinkered with. If your router failed in service (you weren’t doing anything to it when it failed), this probably won’t work, because the router is probably broken at the hardware level, not the software level. Still, you may want to continue – what do you have to lose?

The process for reloading the firmware differs from model to model and brand to brand – the procedures are too different and vast to name them all here. I’d suggest searching for something like “reload firmware brand_name model_number router” into your favorite search engine.

This should help you find specific instructions to follow. Keep in mind that attempting to “flash” your router’s firmware can cause your router to completely stop working – again, you might not have anything to lose, but I wanted to give that disclaimer none the less.

The basic jist of reloading the firmware involves uploading a new firmware file from your computer to the router. This can either be done via TFTP, or serially by connecting a special cable to the router. In some cases, you have to partially disassemble the router in order to get to the serial port.

Again, check your router’s documentation for this process, or online. Once the new fimware file has been uploaded, reboot the router and hope that it comes back to life!

Need a new router now?

Our current pick for the best router (for most people) is the ASUS RT-AC68U. This router provides fast, stable performance, is loaded with features, and is available at a reasonable price.

ASUS RT-AC68U
  • Dual band with the latest 802; 11 AC 3x3 technology for combined speeds of up to 1900 Mbps
  • 1 GigaHertz dual core CPU enables smart multitasking by dedicating separate lanes for Wi Fi and USB data; Network standard: IEEE 802; 11a, IEEE 802; 11B, IEEE 802; 11G, IEEE 802; 11N, IEEE 802; 11AC, IPv4, IPv6
  • Effortless router setup with the ASUSWRT web based interface; Dual band connectivity for compatibility and performance
  • Monitor and manage your network with ease from your mobile device using the intuitive ASUS router app
  • A protection powered by Trend Micro provides multi stage protection from vulnerability detection to protecting sensitive data; Please refer the installation manual and the user manual before use which is highly essential; Dc output: 19 Volt with maximum 1; 75 a current; Guest network: 2; 4 GigaHertz x 3, 5 GigaHertz x 3

Best Router for Frontier FiOS

frontier logo

FiOS service from Frontier Communications is a high-speed internet service brought into your home via fiber optic cabling.

If you are luckly enough to live in an area where FiOS is available, congratulations. Fiber-based internet service such as FiOS is far superior to the other broadband technologies most Americans’ get to deal with. It is generally both faster and more reliable than cable, DSL, or fixed wireless technologies.

As great as FiOS service is, however, the included router is not-so-great. Many people report that the included router does not perform well, especially when Wi-Fi is in use.

This leaves many people wondering what the best router for Frontier FiOS is?

Well, don’t sweat. We’ve reviewed the current offerings available on the consumer networking market, and will detail our pick here.

What is the best router for Frontier FiOS?

Here are the best routers for Frontier FiOS, listed in order of our preference:

  1. ASUS RT-AC86U Dual Band AC2900 Router
  2. Netgear R6700 Dual Band AC1750 Router
  3. Linksys EA7500 Dual Band AC1900 Router
  4. ASUS RT-AC68U Dual Band AC1900 Router

Our Top Pick: Asus RT-AC86U

ASUS RT-AC86U
  • Dual-band (2. 4 + 5 GHz) AC2900 wireless router with the latest 802. 11AC MU-MIMO technology for data transfer speeds up to 2900 Mbps
  • 1. 8GHz 32bit dual-core processor optimizes network traffic and connectivity speeds from the USB 3. 1 Gen1 and 4x Gigabit LAN ports
  • Designed for lag-free online gaming and flawless 4K UHD streaming with WTFast game Accelerator and adaptive QoS; Product Segment: AC2900 ultimate AC performance: 750+2167 Mbps
  • A protection powered by Trend Micro provides built-in 24/7 protection from external attacks and threats, neutralizing them before they reach your network or connected devices.DC Output : 19 V with max. 1.75 A current
  • Manage your network with the ASUS router app – setup your network, manage usage and parental controls, even get instant notifications about important network-based events. Connected devices must be 802. 11 ac-compatible for best results. Ac input: 110v240v(5060hz)

Why the RT-AC86U is a good choice for FiOS

The team here at Infravio loves the RT-AC86U and recommends it to our readers frequently. This router is loaded with features, boasts excellent speed and reliability, and sells at a semi-affordable mid-range price point.

It excels for Frontier FiOS customers for several reasons:

  • It supports the latest 802.11AC wireless standard for superior range and bandwidth
  • Super-fast dual-band AC2900 rated with multiuser MIMO
  • It supports all of the features commonly supported in a Wi-Fi router, plus several unique features
  • Its’ WAN port supports a Gigabit Ethernet connection to the Frontier FiOS ONT – this is especially important for customers with the 150Mbps and 500Mbps plans, to ensure that you actually get the speeds you are paying for
  • It features a 1.8GHz dual core CPU to support multitasking and ensure fast throughput

Additional unique features not found on all routers

  • Ability to monitor and manage the router from a smartphone app
  • AiMesh technology support – able to connect with other ASUS routers to create a whole-home mesh network for better coverage and throughput
  • Range Boost technology for increased range and signal stability
  • Additional advanced features including IPv6 support, VPN server, and ability to create additional SSID’s
fiber spelling fiber

Why not use the included FiOS router?

Most FiOS installations are completed using the Frontier-issued Actiontec gateway or FiOS Quantum gateway (or equivalent).

These devices do not match the performance level of many aftermarket consumer-grade routers available today. Many people complain about insufficient Wi-Fi range, inability to support multiple devices very well, limited speeds over Wi-Fi, and limited customization options of the included routers.

Many people also don’t like the idea of being forced to pay a monthly lease fee to Frontier for one of these devices. Others simply wish to use features that may not be supported by the FiOS-provided box.

Fiber service is superior to Cable, DSL, fixed wireless, or other types of broadband because it is a very high capacity, very low latency, and a highly reliable medium. If you are lucky enough to have it in your home, you should make sure your router is up to the task as well.

Think of it this way – someone that drives a Station Wagon probably isn’t going to notice a difference if they fill it with premium fuel. But someone with a sports car definitely will notice a difference.

Bottom line: You are paying for a high speed, premium service – you have a sports car. Don’t put cheap fuel in it by settling for a sub-par router.

Things to know before you replace your FiOS-issued router

router with lan cable

Before you buy a new router, you should know a couple of things about your existing FiOS router:

  • If you have bundled FiOS television or voice services with your internet, you should pay special attention. These services generally rely on the FiOS-issued router in order to function. Replacing the provided router without considering this may result in certain services or features not working.
  • Also, you’ll need to check the connection type between your ONT and the router, as this may need to be changed before you upgrade your router.

Bundled services generally still depend on the FiOS router

Based on discussions and experimentation by other subscribers, FiOS voice services still require the original router in order to operate. You can usually either:

  • Connect the original router to a LAN port on your new router – thus voice/TV service would still operate through both routers and your Internet service would only use the new router.
  • Place the original router in ‘bridged mode’ and connect the new router through it – Internet traffic would pass through both routers, but it wouldn’t face the performance drawbacks or complications of being double-NAT’d since the original router wouldn’t be performing any routing duties. This requires first logging into the original router and reprogramming it from routed to bridged mode.

If you are an internet + TV subscriber only (no voice service), you may be able to utilize an Actiontec MOCA adapter to remove the original router completely, as documented here:  https://www.cnet.com/forums/discussions/simplify-fios-dump-actiontec-and-use-your-own-router/.

Basically, this procedure involves connecting the MOCA adapter to a LAN port on your new router, and then connect the Coax cable that was connecting to your FiOS-issued router to the MOCA adapter. This allows the set top boxes to still access the internet via the MOCA adapter + your new router.

Your router’s connection to the ONT may not be Ethernet

fiber cable exploded view

This generally only applies to customers that joined FiOS when it was still Verizon-branded, as new installations are no longer provisioned this way.

Originally, FiOS installs used a Coax (MOCA) connection from the ONT to the router. ONT stands for Optical Network Terminal and is the box that terminates the fiber signal coming into your house and converts it to a signal the router can understand.

If your install is configured this way, you will need to change it to an Ethernet (Cat5e) handoff before you install a new router, because none of the popular consumer-grade routers available today feature a Coax port.

There are two steps to this procedure:

  1. Run a new Cat5e cable between the ONT and router. This may be a piece of cake if you have an Indoor ONT. If your ONT is exterior (usually mounted on the outside of your house), running a new wire from the inside (where your router is located) to the outside of the house (where your ONT is located) can be substantially more work.
  2. Once the wiring is ready, you will need to contact Frontier Communications technical support (1.800.921.8101) and request that they  re-provision your ONT to use an Ethernet port instead of the Coax port. The Alcatel or Motorola ONT you have should already have an ethernet port, so they just need to re-configure the device to deliver your services over this port. Once this is done, they will tell you to plug in the new wire. Connect the other end to your new router, and you’re done.

More Great Choices

If you’re not interested in the ASUS RT-AC86U, (it is a little pricey, after all!) here are a few other models we would recommend for use with Frontier FiOS:

The best router for Verizon FiOS

In select parts of the country, Verizon FiOS still exists and hasn’t (yet) been acquired by Frontier Communications. If you are one of these customers, our recommendations here apply to you as well – since the Frontier FiOS and Verizon FiOS services are so similar.

The bottom line – pretty much any router will work

As long as your ONT is set up to provide an Ethernet handoff (as discussed above), pretty much any consumer-grade wireless router will work with your Frontier FiOS service. Just make sure it is a new enough router to allow you to get the speeds you are paying Frontier for. Many older routers only have a 10/100 WAN port, meaning that they aren’t capable of running any faster than 100Mbps and thus would limit a 150M or 500M Frontier customer to 100M.

Best Router for 75Mbps Internet

For those with a 75Mbps Internet connection, it is important to buy a high performance router that is able to keep up with your speedy Internet service.

After all, 75Mbps is substantially faster than 46Mbps, which is the worldwide average Internet bitrate for fixed broadband as calculated by Ookla, one of the major players in the bandwidth and performance measurement space.

The study, which was conducted in 2018, is available here https://www.speedtest.net/insights/blog/2018-internet-speeds-global/.

Since you are paying probably $50 to $100 per month for 75Mbps Internet service (this obviously differs greatly depending on where you live), it is in your best interest to ensure that you are taking full advantage of the speed you are paying for.

router with lan cable
A typical consumer-grade router

In many cases, users may not be able to take full advantage of the speed they are receiving from their provider because their router is a bottleneck. In some cases, this is due to a license restriction, but in most cases it is simply due to old hardware that can’t keep up.

Regardless of reason, not being able to use the speed that you are paying your provider for month after month and year after year, is criminal.

In my opinion, it is a mistake to cheap out on the one-time expense of a router, which could result in wasted money month after month depending on how long you stick with a bad router.

Best for 75Mbps: Introducing the the TP-Link Archer AC1750

This router wins our recommendation for 75Mbps Internet users because it is the right mix of price and performance, and it is appropriate for those levels of throughput. I wouldn’t suggest this router for gigabit connections, but for 75Mbps it will do a great job without breaking the bank.

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router (Archer A7) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control and QoS
  • JD Power Award ---Highest in customer satisfaction for wireless routers 2017 and 2019
  • Router for wireless internet, works with Alexa, compatible with all WiFi devices, 802.11ac and older
  • Dual band router upgrades to 1750 Mbps high speed internet(450mbps for 2.4GHz, 1300Mbps for 5GHz), reducing buffering and ideal for 4K streaming
  • 3 external antennas for long range WiFi
  • Gigabit Router with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, fast access to multiple connected wired devices, Ideal as a gaming router

The TP-Link Archer-AC1750 is a cost-effective router specifically designed for home users. It has multiple features like USB support, parental controls, multiple (4) LAN ports, guest Wi-Fi capability, and more.

Typically priced under $100, the device is definitely a good value for the money, and perfectly meets the needs of midrange bandwidth users (50Mbps-500Mbps).

What we like and what we don’t like:

A word on the ‘Cons’

Most of our dislikes regarding this router involve the optional additional features such as the USB ports (used to connect external storage) or support for a 3rd party Firmware such as DD-WRT or Tomato (which is a topic for advanced users only). We don’t feel that these cons will affect most users, since many people won’t use these additional optional features.

Dual Band? Check.

The AC1750 is a dual band router, which is a basic necessity in any router nowadays. Originally, WiFi devices only used the 2.4Ghz spectrum, but starting with Wireless-N, the 5Ghz spectrum was opened up. As a result, the 5Ghz spectrum is much less crowded and also features increased channel capacity.

The 2.4Ghz spectrum tends to penetrate walls a little better and thus reaches a little further, but the 5Ghz spectrum is higher frequency and thus (theoretically) allows for higher throughput.

Additionally, many devices still ONLY support 2.4Ghz, so buying a router that includes 2.4Ghz support is still mandatory. Thus, a dual band router that supports both bands is strongly suggested.

This router features support for the current WiFi standard – 802.11AC. It sports a fast processor, six antennas, multiple USB ports, and a host of other features. It was even named PC Magazine’s “Editor’s Choice” and J.D. Power ranked the TP-Link brand highest in customer satisfaction for routers in 2017.

Easy to setup and manage

The “Tether” app from TP-Link can be used to setup and manage the router in minutes.

This provides the capability to monitor your network and make changes either from home or remotely via the Internet.

It can literally be “plug and play” if you like. Depending on your Internet provider, you can generally just plug the “Internet” port into your modem, power up the router, and be online within minutes without configuring the router.

To be fair, most routers operating this way, however (thanks to the fact that most ISP’s provide configuration via DHCP.

Additional Pros

Latest Standards

wifi logo

The router supports many of the latest networking standards such as IPv6 and 802.11 AC. Though this product is primarily a home router, you can easily use it for a small office as well.

Integrated 4-port Ethernet switch

I was looking for the perfect router for my home, the one that suited my budget and my requirements. As I had multiple devices like the desktop PC and the laptop in addition to the mobile devices, I was looking for a router that had multiple LAN ports. To be fair, many home/small office routers come equipped with an integrated 4 port switch like this one.

Mobile Application & Quality Customer Support

One thing that I found exceptionally well is the way TP-Link treats customer support. They have a dedicated round-the-clock support team who are always ready to assist you in case you have an issue with the product or its operation.In addition, it also comes bundled with a free mobile application. I used the app for the initial setup of the device. I just connected the router to power and most of the other complex things were configurable via the app.

Guest Network Capability

I often have guests and students coming to my home and asking for the password to use the internet. On my previous router, I had no option to differentiate a guest user from a home user.

The TP-Link comes with a unique solution to this issue. A guest user can login using the guest credentials and can easily access the internet but not my private network, its devices and its data. Now, that’s very innovative of the company to include this feature at this price point.

Parental Controls

Children are increasingly getting exposed to technology. This is definitely a boon considering the usefulness it offers. However, it also brings along with it negatives.

Child abuse and other sensitive visuals need to be kept away from children. The parental control feature allows you to blacklist potentially harmful websites.

USB Ports

This is definitely one of the highlights of the product and one of the main reasons that I decided to go with this. You can easily connect two peripheral devices like printers or external hard drives and make them accessible from the network.

6 Antennas (3 external and 3 internal)

Connectivity is the core of any router and TP-Link understands that like no other. The router comes with three adjustable and removable antennas at the back and three internal antennas within the device.

This ensures better range and reception, resulting in the ability to use Wi-Fi at longer distances more reliably.

16MB Flash Memory

You can easily skip this part as a technical detail. However, believe me it does bring a lot to the table. The additional flash memory has enabled the company to add more features to the first version that was launched
way back in 2014.

Price

bandwidth speedometer

I tried hard to exclude this, but come on! For a sub $100 product, the TP-Link Archer-AC1750 does pack a punch. Years of experience and understanding the customer has enabled TP-Link to come off with a real gem at an affordable price point.

Cons

Documentation isn’t exactly user friendly

The user manual is somewhat difficult to understand and can overwhelm a newbie. I recommend using the mobile app to setup the router.

USB Ports

The USB indicator is at the back – the front panel is overloaded with potentially less useful information. However, when a device is connected via USB, the indicator is on the back side of the router, making it harder to see.

Also, thanks to USB 2.0 (instead of the newer 3.0 standard), I found the file transfer a bit on the slower side. If you are using the USB ports for a printer, however, you don’t need to worry about this.

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router (Archer A7) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control and QoS
  • JD Power Award ---Highest in customer satisfaction for wireless routers 2017 and 2019
  • Router for wireless internet, works with Alexa, compatible with all WiFi devices, 802.11ac and older
  • Dual band router upgrades to 1750 Mbps high speed internet(450mbps for 2.4GHz, 1300Mbps for 5GHz), reducing buffering and ideal for 4K streaming
  • 3 external antennas for long range WiFi
  • Gigabit Router with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, fast access to multiple connected wired devices, Ideal as a gaming router

Wrapping Up

As you can see, the pros outweigh the cons. We feel the AC1750 from TP-Link is a great fit for 75Mbps Internet users. You get the performance and speed that you need, without paying more for an over-the-top router with performance and features you likely don’t need.

Best Router and Modem Combo

woman working on laptop

 

For most people, their cable modem and router are two separate devices, however this isn’t always the case. You can also get integrated “combo” devices, which feature a cable modem and a router in the same box.

Before we go any further – a brief note: In this article, we are referring to router and cable modem combos, not router and DSL modem combos. We will cover DSL modem combos in a future piece.

2-in-1cable modem plus router

So why would anyone want a router and cable modem combo in the first place?

Pros:

  • Saves Space
  • Uses less electricity
  • Simpler: Only one device to manage, only one IP address to remember
  • Many combo devices are very robust and feature the same features as their standalone counterparts, such as DOCSIS 3.x support on the cable modem side and 802.11 AC Wi-Fi on the router side – so you aren’t necessarily giving anything up by going with a combo device
  • Saves you money on your cable bill – no more needing to pay monthly for a modem rental
  • Fewer cables, less mess

Cons:

  • They are typically expensive since they are effectively two devices in one
  • If it fails, you either have to buy another combo device (expensive) or ditch the combo and buy a separate router and modem (two devices, also expensive)
  • Doesn’t always provide all of the features that a separate cable modem and router setup would provide – especially on the router side

 

What is the difference between a router and a modem?


Duties of a router:

A router performs many functions, however the primary purpose for a router in the home is to share your internet access among all of the people and devices in your home. Without a router, you would only be able to connect one computer at a time to your internet connection.

The router further enables sharing of your internet connection through the integrated switch ports and built-in wireless radios. Most home routers have an integrated 4 port switch for wired devices, as well as a built in wireless access point for Wi-Fi devices.

The router also enhances the security of your internal network within your home through technologies such as firewalling, packet inspection, and network address translation.

Duties of a modem:

The word “modem” originates from two words (modulator-demodulator) shortened and crammed together. Modems basically allow a provider to convert digital data into a waveform for transmission over a wire, with a set of modems on each end converting digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital again.

Many people are familiar with dial-up modems, which were primarily used in the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s to send data over voice-grade telephone lines. Today, cable modems function in a similar manner, sending modulated RF data over coaxial wiring.

The modem is what enables your internet service provider to actually deliver service to your home. Ultimately, a router is an optional accessory, since your internet service will function without one – however a modem is always required.

netgear router modem combo

A note from a Nerd:

Personally, I am not a fan of combo devices as they tend to be a “Jack of all trades and master of none”. I like having a lot of choices when it comes to my cable modem and router.

If I am selecting a combo device, my choices are much more limited because of the much smaller selection of them available on the market. However, I am an advanced/power user. For the typical user, these devices are an excellent choice.

That being said, here is our pick:

 

NETGEAR C7000 (Old model)

 

NETGEAR C7000 (Old model)

What we like about it:

  • Supports DOCSIS 3.0 – This thing absolutely screams and supports data transfer speeds up to approximately 1 Gigabit per second
  • The wired ports are all 10/100/1000 “Gigabit” ports
  • Simple to install (some of the installation is dependant on your Internet Service Provider, so results may vary)
  • Supports dual bands – it can be configured to operate on both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz spectrums
  • Excellent Wi-Fi coverage for small to medium size homes (up to ~2500 square feet)
  • Includes a USB port for network storage or network printing
  • The management web interface is consistent with other Netgear routers – if you have owned a different Netgear router in the past, you will likely be familiar with this one right out of the gate

What we dislike about it:

  • As with any cable modem swap, your Internet Service Provider may have to send a tech out to install it – however, most ISP’s can make the change remotely, and Comcast even lets you make the change on their website
  • The management interface is somewhat clunky and slow – this will only affect you when you are actually making changes to the router, not during regular internet use
  • One year warranty is a bit short – we would have liked to have seen a three year warranty

NETGEAR C7000 (Old model)
  • Old Model** See newer C7000 model

What is the best WiFi Router for Comcast?

What is the best Wi-Fi router for Comcast?
Top Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Amazing Router, but Pricey!
ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router (AC3100) with MU-MIMO, supporting AiProtection network security by Trend Micro, AiMesh for Mesh WiFi system, and WTFast game Accelerator (RT-AC88U),Black
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Gigabit Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AD
Speed Rating
AC1750
AC1900
AC3100
AD7200
CPU Cores
2
2
2
4
Number of antennas
3 (external)
3 (external)
4 (external)
4 (external)
Prime Status
-
Top Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
Router
Gigabit Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC1750
CPU Cores
2
Number of antennas
3 (external)
Prime Status
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC1900
CPU Cores
2
Number of antennas
3 (external)
Prime Status
Amazing Router, but Pricey!
ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router (AC3100) with MU-MIMO, supporting AiProtection network security by Trend Micro, AiMesh for Mesh WiFi system, and WTFast game Accelerator (RT-AC88U),Black
Router
Gigabit Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC3100
CPU Cores
2
Number of antennas
4 (external)
Prime Status
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Router
Gigabit Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AD
Speed Rating
AD7200
CPU Cores
4
Number of antennas
4 (external)
Prime Status
-
comcast xfinity logo

I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say this:

Finding a good Wi-Fi router is hard.

I mean, there are so many different brands, models, technologies, and standards to think about, it’s enough to make your head spin.

On top of that, few things are as frustrating as when technology doesn’t work right. You can never really be sure how a router is going to work until you buy one and plug it in at your home.

In this article, we’ll go in depth to review our pick for the best router for Comcast, and explain why we think it’s the best choice for you to spend your hard-earned dough on.

Do you really need a router?

It’s important to recognize that you may not need a router. Comcast may be providing you with a router already.

At a bare minimum, you need a cable modem. This is the box that the coaxial cable plugs in to and it will have an RJ-45 network connection as well, which feeds your router. This connection looks like a phone plug, only it is about twice as wide.

Some of the equipment provided by Comcast is just a cable modem, and some of is a combo device, featuring a router and a cable modem in the same device. How to tell?

back side of a cable modem
The back side of a typical cable modem – notice the single Ethernet jack at the top.
The back side of a typical cable modem + router – notice the quantity and variety of ports.

Locate the cable modem/router in your home. If it only has a coaxial connector plus a single network plug, it is likely just a modem. If it has a coaxial connector plus multiple network plugs, USB ports, antennas, or Wi-Fi symbols or branding, it is a combo device.

Comcast-provided equipment

Unfortunately, Comcast’s standard equipment provided at installation seems to vary widely depending on where you live and when you signed up, so it can be difficult to guess what equipment they provided to you. I recommend looking at your monthly bill to see if you are paying a lease fee for equipment. This will likely show a description of what the equipment is such as “modem” or “router with integrated modem”.

A word on equipment lease fees

If you are renting or leasing equipment monthly from Comcast and aren’t planning to move to an area without a cable internet option. you should consider buying your modem and/or router, instead of leasing it.

This can result in significant cost savings over time and has the bonus convenience of not needing to return anything to Comcast when you eventually disconnect service.

If all you have is a cable modem, you will generally be able to only get online on one computer at a time, and you will not have Wi-Fi. Of course, there are ways around this, but most people prefer to just buy a good ole Wi-Fi router so that they can share their Internet connection with all of the devices in their home and also have Wi-Fi.

Even if you determine that Comcast is already providing a router to you, you may still wish to buy a router so you can make your own choice on the best equipment and not be locked into what they think you should have.

Most frequently, a modem/router combo is installed – which spares the customer from having to provide a router if they don’t want to. We generally don’t like modem/router combos, since they are typically a “jack of all trades and master of none”.

If your cable modem also has router functionality, and you are planning to buy your own Wi-Fi router, I strongly suggest configuring your modem for “briged mode”.

This effectively disables the built in router functionality so that your new preferred router can perform those duties. It is best to avoid connecting routers back-to-back after all, to prevent configuration and performance issues associated with double NAT.

So what is the best router? Our recommendation is the NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security:

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security

We like that it is a Tri-band router that supports the newest wireless standard, 802.11AC. It has the capability to handle the speeds that you can get from Comcast.

With Comcast, in some areas, you can get Gigabit service (and beyond) via fiber, but the majority of consumers are still on their cable network with service being delivered via the DOCSIS standard on traditional Coax cable. Speeds available to these customers usually top out around 300Mbps currently, which is still smoking fast!

Many routers that are more than a couple of years old will still have a Fast Ethernet WAN port on them, meaning that they top out at 100Mbps. You wouldn’t want to use this type of router with a 300Mbps service for obvious reasons – you simply won’t get anywhere near the speeds you are paying for, since your service will only be running at 1/3 of its potential.

The R6700 has a gigabit WAN port and is built to actually provide a Gigabit worth of actual throughput. Not all routers can make this claim.

The wireless radio on the R6700 can also support full Gigabit – under the right environmental conditions, of course (which applies to all routers, regardless of brand).

What else?

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security

A few other things we really liked about this router: It supports several additional features that you may or may not want to take advantage of, including Quality of Service (QoS). QoS can prevent bandwidth hogs (such as large downloads) from ruining the experience of any real time applications such as VOIP calls or video streaming that is going on at the same time.

After all, no one likes it when their Netflix stops to buffer. This router can prioritize streaming traffic so that the large download doesn’t affect anyone else in the house, for example.

The router also has excellent range for larger homes, has parental controls to help keep your kids safe online, and supports all of the current common WiFi security standards. It is also very reliable and doesn’t need to be rebooted frequently.

Additionally, it sports four wired Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as a USB 3.0 port – which can be connected to an external hardrive and then used as a NAS device to share files over the network.

You can also connect a printer to the USB port, granting the ability to print over the network. This is especially handy if your printer doesn’t already have network capability.

Again, any recent router should work fine with Comcast, but the Netgear R6700 is our choice based on the features, performance, reliability, and price.

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
  • Fast Wi-Fi performance: Get up to 1500 square feet wireless coverage with AC1750 speed (Dual band up to 450 plus 1300 Mbps)
  • Recommended for up to 25 devices: Reliably stream videos, play games, surf the internet, and connect smart home devices
  • Wired Ethernet ports: Plug in computers, game consoles, streaming players, and other nearby wired devices with 4 x 1 gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Loaded with advanced technology: Designed with a 1GHz dual core processor, 3 amplified antennas, Beamforming plus, Dynamic QoS, Smart Connect, and more
  • USB connections: Share a storage drive or printer with any connected device or create a personal cloud storage to access from anywhere, using the 1 x 3.0 USB port

Why do I need a dual-band router?

Dual-band routers are all but standard nowadays (Tri-band routers even exist now), but many people don’t stop to think “why is a dual-band router is worth having?”

Some history

The FCC (and most communications authorities worldwide) have set aside certain frequencies for local area high speed wireless transmissions, aka Wi-Fi. These frequencies are 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

The original Wi-Fi standards released in 1999 – 802.11b and 802.11a (now also known as Wi-Fi version 1 and Wi-Fi version 2) only operated on single bands. 802.11b operated at 2.4GHz and 802.11a operated at 5GHz

As technology matured and Wi-Fi become more prevalent, it become obvious that using additional frequency bands was an effective way to provide additional bandwidth, support additional devices, and reduce interference.

Starting with the 802.11n (Wi-Fi version 4) standard released in 2009, both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands were included in the standard, paving the way for the first dual-band routers to be produced.

radio channel frequency

Benefits of dual-bands

Prior to the ratification of 802.11n, we had two standards (802.11b and 802.11g) using the 2.4GHz spectrum, and one standard (802.11a) using the 5GHz spectrum.

802.11b/g ended up being much more popular and widespread, likely due to the fact that it was cheaper. As a result, the 2.4GHz spectrum was much more crowded.

Compounding the issue, the following non-WiFi devices also operate (or create interference) in the 2.4GHz spectrum:

  • Microwave Ovens
  • Wireless Microphones
  • Bluetooth
  • Car Alarms
  • Baby Monitors
  • Garage Door Openers

This resulted in the 2.4GHz band being really crowded. Having the ability to use the 5GHz band with the newer 802.11n and 802.11ac standards really alleviates this congestion issue.

wifi logo

Differences between 2.4GHz and 5GHz

Aside from the obvious difference (Look, different numbers!), there are some technical differences between the two spectrums.

Range

The first difference, is range. Lower frequencies can penetrate objects better than higher frequencies, so the 2.4GHz spectrum generally results in better range than 5GHz. The difference, although noticeable, is not huge.

Speed

5GHz can generally transmit data faster (better modulation schemes) than 2.4GHz.

Number of channels, channel width

2.4GHz only has 11 channels in North America, only 3 of which are non-overlapping. Non-overlapping basically means they are channels don’t have as much interference from nearby networks, assuming everyone is playing by the same rules.

5GHz has 23 channels in North America, and all of them are non-overlapping. This makes it much easier to avoid interference in dense environments. Less interference = better speed and reliability.

Bringing it all together

So what exactly is a dual-band router?

A dual-band router is a device that is equipped with two radios operating simultaneously – one that operates at 2.4GHz, and another that operates at 5GHz.

Devices connecting to the router will then have the choice of which band to use. Some devices only have a 2.4GHz radio equipped and thus will have to connect via 2.4GHz, while others can use either band and will generally choose the 5GHz band due to the fact that it is less crowded and has more clear channels.

The main point is this: offloading some devices onto the 2.4GHz spectrum and others onto the 5GHz spectrum increases the performance for everyone.

Make sure your next router or access point is dual-band!