It may not be something a lot of people spend their time thinking about, but your choice of wireless router has a distinct effect on the quality of Internet browsing people in your household experience. Despite this, the majority of people are happy to continue using the router given to them by their ISP (Internet Service Provider). So why should you be any different?
The truth is, you can have the best, fastest Internet connection in the world, but if you don’t have a wireless router capable of handling it, you’re losing out. For example, paying £50 for a 100mbp connection is a waste of money if the router you are using can only output speeds up to 50mbps. And you can be sure that your ISP will be happy with that situation!
Upgrade your wireless router is quick and easy!
Upgrading to a newer wireless router really isn’t too difficult either. You can hugely ameliorate your Internet experience on all of your devices, just by choosing the right one. And with more devices than ever demanding their share of your precious bandwidth, now is definitely the time to consider upgrading!
To make it easier for you, we’ve assembled a Top 10 of 2017’s best wireless routers for UK, Malta (or any other European country) so far, based on their technical specifications and ease of use – read on and take your pick!
Google Wifi 2019 Review
The tech giant’s entry combines intuitive features with simple user experience.
Starting with the big boys. The latest wireless router offering from tech giants Google is very much in line with their other products such as the Chromecast – minimalist, unobtrusive, and user-friendly. Google have definitely adopted an Apple-like approach to both software and hardware in recent years, keeping things as simple as possible with features like step-based user onboarding, and limiting the amount of physical interaction with the device that is required.
Setting up is a snap – you simply plug the cylindrical wireless router into your modem using an ethernet cable, and scan the QR code on the wireless router with your smartphone. Right away, you are able to give your network that funny name you thought of (‘pretty fly for a wifi’ or ‘FBI surveillance van’ anyone?) and set the password. Just like that, you’re online and broadcasting!
Onto features – the Google Wifi wireless router is easily as well-equipped as its competitors. Offering download speeds of just over 100mbps on its 5ghz band, it’s not the fastest in the world, but makes up for this with its emphasis on coverage. Through use of its ‘wireless mesh system’, you will be able to ensure wifi coverage throughout your home or office without needing to resort to typically unreliable wifi signal boosters or extenders.
Another flagship feature for the Google Wifi wireless router is its automatic bandwidth prioritisation, which intelligently directs limited bandwidth resources to where they are needed most – so for example the games console running online multiplayer matches will be given priority over the iPad being used to browse eBay. The experience should be optimal on both devices, as they will both get the bandwidth they need (assuming your connection has enough bandwidth to go around).
Pros of Google Wifi
✓ Wireless mesh system means larger coverage area
✓ Easy to set up and configure
✓ Automatic bandwidth prioritisation
Netgear Nighthawk R700 Wifi 2019 Review
Big names usually mean quality products, and this is no exception.
As a highly trusted brand name in the wireless router industry, Netgear have a big reputation to protect every time they release a new product. They made their name by making fantastic wireless routers, and it is still by far the largest part of their operation.
The Nighthawk R7000 is certainly a worthy addition to Netgear’s already large catalogue of excellent wireless router options.
Named for its cool, angular design which resembles a miniature, futuristic jet fighter plane, the Netgear Nighthawk R7000 is sturdy and doesn’t look out of place, wherever you put it. It is on the larger side of the wireless router size spectrum, however that is not saying much when most routers are nowadays very small. Besides that, portability in wireless routers is rarely, if ever, an issue.
As well as being cheaper than the R8000, its big brother model, the Nighthawk R7000 is also lauded for being generally easier to use and not lacking in any crucial features. It boasts three antennas for improved signal amplification, although these are detachable, allowing you to remove them if you so desire. Built in parental controls come as standard thanks to OpenDNS.
The speed of this model is one of its crowning features. Devices able to tap into the 5ghz band are able to access massive speeds of up to 1300mbps, with the 2.4ghz band offering a still impressive 600mbps. It is important to remember however that wireless routers, even ones as impressive as the Nighthawk R7000, cannot create bandwidth out of thin air. Speeds like those advertised will be accessible only on the fastest connections provided by your ISP.
For the more technical-minded among you, the Nighthawk R7000 wireless router also provides DD-WRT support. This allows you to run Linux-based third-party firmware on your router – however this is only advisable if you are certain you know what you are doing! The Nighthawk R7000 also offers OpenVPN support.
Pros of Netgear Nighthawk R7000
✓ Lightning-fast download speeds
✓ Attractive and robust
✓ Easy to use with enough features for advanced users
Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 Wifi 2019 Review
Top choice for hardcore gamers and filthy casuals alike.
Looking like it has come straight from outer space with its cleverly designed fan vents and antennas, the Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 (let’s just call it the AC2600 from this point on shall we?) is an excellent partner to have when taking on the world at online gaming. Whether you are an uber-competitive CS:GO fanatic, or a sofa-dwelling FIFA casual, or any combination of the two, no-one wants lag in their online gameplay.
The AC2600 has definitely got you covered in that respect, with its gigantic offering of over 2000mbps on the Quad- stream 802.11ac channel. Although the 802.11ac is still to be adopted on a number of devices, industry consensus tells us that it will become the standard sooner rather than later – good news if you are into future-proofing your hardware so it doesn’t become obsolete within six months like most technology does!
But it’s not like you’ll need to wait to get to the top speeds; the more commonly accepted 802.11n channel still cranks out a whopping 800mbps. Ably assisted by its Streamboost feature which intelligently analyses traffic, allocating extra bandwidth where it is needed most, this should be more than enough to see you owning newbies on your game of choice to your heart’s content.
Brilliant for gaming though it is, there is little doubt that the AC2600 is also a very solid all-rounder, and well worth the money even if you are not into online gaming or streaming 4k movies through Netflix. It offers an impressive FOUR ethernet outputs, and is superb and handling multiple devices which are concurrently downloading and uploading – also known as MU-MIMO. And thanks to the web-based interface and the 1.7ghz processor the AC2600 has under its flashy exterior design, the setup can be dealt with very swiftly.
Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 Pros
✓ Solid all-rounder, but ideal for gaming due to huge speeds
✓ Handles MU-MIMO really well; multiple devices uploading and downloading concurrently is no problem for this beast
✓ Streamboost feature, which intelligently allocates extra bandwidth
✓ Quad stream 802.11ac is wicked-fast and future proof, but not many devices use it yet
TP-Link Archer C7 Wifi 2019 Review
Entry-level model for the wifi connoisseur operating on a tight budget.
Another networking industry giant, TP-Link provide this wireless router in order to cater to the more budget-conscious wifi connoisseur. The router itself is large yet stylish in appearance, although the build quality is not perfect, being made exclusively from plastic. Despite being very much an entry-level model, the TP-Link Archer C7 is still a solid option that will do almost anything that is asked of it.
Able to simultaneously handle multiple large tasks with ease, and offering a superb top download speed of 1750mbps, this wireless router certainly offers great value for money when it comes to the important stuff. The TP-Link Archer C7 is dual-band, and sports six antennas; three internal and three external. This gives it a highly respectable range within which it can pump out those excellent top speeds.
Although extra features are lacking due to being an ‘entry-level’ model, this wireless router will still get the job done when it comes to streaming and online gaming. It can’t compete with some of the other wireless routers on this list when it comes to pure technical specifications and sheer power, but then again, it isn’t trying to. Regardless, the TP-Link Archer C7 will likely offer a significant upgrade on the router provided by your ISP at the time of installation.
Pros of TP-Link Archer C7
✓ Great value for money, entry-level router
✓ Can handle multiple large tasks with ease
✓ 1750mbps is a great speed for a device with such low-end pricing
✓ Good range provided by multiple antennas
Asus RT-AC88U Wifi 2019 Review
Asus have outdone themselves again with this fantastic offering.
As well as being known for making very solid, top of the line PCs, Asus are also well established in the high-end wireless router market. The Asus RT-AC88U is no exception; by all accounts it is considered to be one of the best options on the market right now if you are looking to get a high-quality, all-round wireless router that will handle anything you throw at it.
In terms of appearance, it is typical Asus; sleek and stylish with sharp angles. Again, like many of its fellow Asus products, this wireless router looks great in black, especially with the cool red accents on the antennas which give it a certain je ne sais quoi. It’s so nicely designed and executed, the router would not look out of place in a lineup with some top-of-the-range gaming PCs.
Getting into the nitty-gritty technical specifications a little more, the Asus RT-AC88U boasts 8 separate gigabit LAN ports – all of which are capable of delivering extremely high Internet speeds without suffering anything in the way of performance issues. As a dual-band router with solid speeds on both the 2.4ghz and 5ghz bands, it can also act as Network-attached storage (NAS).
Setup is also a snap, thanks to the highly intuitive and extremely well-designed web interface which walks you through all the initial configurations your router requires. For those less interested in handling all the manual setups, there is also the Quick Internet Setup wizard, which will get you up and running in no time at all.
Pros of Asus RT-AC88U
✓ Well thought-out web interface and easy setup
✓ Appearance is cool and sleek
✓ Speeds are good on both bands
Netgear Orbi Wifi 2019 Review
Competitor to Google wifi, with comparable range and speed.
This wireless router is another entry into the ‘wireless mesh system’ category, resembling the Google Wifi in both specification and the way it works. In the box, you will receive two separate devices; one, the router itself which plugs into your modem and into a mains electrical socket. The other device is called a ‘satellite’ or a ‘booster’, and plugs into the mains at another location in your home or office. The two devices sync up very easily (simply by switching them on at the same time) and between them can provide greater coverage than one single device could.
Regarding the technical specifications on the Netgear Orbi, it offers just over 90mbps of download speed, which is plenty enough to support online gaming, movie streaming and cloud backups for any average household or small office. The speed is similar on both the 2.4ghz and 5ghz bands, which is good as it means you won’t be limited to a vastly slower connection because of your choice which device to use. The router boasts 4 gigabit ethernet ports, 4GB or flash memory, and 512MB or RAM.
Simplicity is a key theme with this wireless router – its matte plastic, unobtrusive and minimalist design complementing the overall ease of use of the device. Setup and configuration is a piece of cake, thanks to the simple web interface, and the process of pairing the two devices is particularly user-friendly – just press the sync button and you’re good to go!
Pros of Netgear Orbi
✓ Easy setup, simple configuration
✓ Unobtrusive, minimalist design
✓ Good speed and coverage
Linksys WRT 3200 ACM Wifi 2019 Review
The router of choice for those of you who really know their stuff.
This is the wireless router to get if you are knowledgeable about networking and want to get right into the nitty-gritty of configuring all of your own settings and features. A far cry from the plug-and-play nature of other routers such as Google Wifi, the Linksys WRT 3200 ACM is certainly more complex, but to the right person with the right knowledge, far more rewarding.
The aesthetics marketers have taken a backseat here, allowing the router to be much more focussed on packing in as many features as possible, underpinned by some impressive top-end specifications. The processor is a powerful 1.8ghz dual core CPU, and the router also boasts 512MB of RAM and 256MB of flash memory, making it thoroughly well-equipped. It also has 4 gigabit ethernet ports, and can reach speeds of over 2500mbps (thanks to the tri-stream 867mbps connection) on 802.11ac, and a still respectable 600mbps on the 802.11n band. Pair it with signal boosters to achieve the best connection experience throughout your home or office.
However, the biggest selling point for the Linksys WRT 3200 ACM has to be its almost limitless customisation possibilities and useful features. You can use the comprehensive web interface to set up all manner of configurations such as parental controls, guest connections, prioritisation of media devices, and more. There is even support for OpenVPN. And there’s more – this wireless router supports open-source firmware from third-party producers.
This opens up possibilities where you can really push this wireless router to the limits of its potential.
- Speed: 802.11ac: 3x 867 Mbps, 802.11n: 600 Mbps
- 4 gigabit ethernet
- 1.8GHz dual core CPU, 512MB RAM, 256MB flash memory
- More focused on functionality and personalisation than appearance
- Open-source; Use whichever firmware you like
- Packed with features; openVPN, parental controls, guest connections, media device prioritisation
- Can be paired with signal boosters to extend range throughout your home or office
Pros of Linksys WRT 3200 ACM
✓ Unbeatable for functionality and personalisation potential
✓ Very well equipped, both in terms of features and specifications
✓ Open-source firmware
D-Link DIR 890L Wifi 2019 Review
Cast your net wide with this highly capable offering from a true industry mainstay.
From D-Link, a company very well-known for making some truly fantastic networking products, comes the DIR 890L. Its initial appearance is striking; looking like some form of hovership or alien spacecraft – the stylish and futuristic form complemented by the black casing and dark red accent. Six antennas complete the look, but that’s not all they’re for – the antennas are responsible for equipping this wireless router with one of the best ranges around.
As well as its impressive range and tri-band capabilities, which make it perfect for large homes and offices constantly running multiple devices, the D-Link DIR 890L wireless router also packs a punch when it comes to speed and functionality. It has 4 LAN ports, and can be equipped with an external hard drive in order to be used for NAS (network attached storage).
Pros of D-Link DIR 890L
✓ 6 antennas offer impressive range
✓ Tri band router, great for heavy users with multiple devices or commercial environments
✓ Stylish, futuristic appearance
Linksys WRT1900ACS Wifi 2019 Review
High quality mid-level router which lives up to its billing.
Networking solution veterans Linksys make their second appearance in our list, this time with the WRT1900ACS. The range and performance are both well worthy of the Linksys name, and it comes with a host of features and perks that, although you would expect it from such a big brand, still work hard to impress.
The Linksys WRT1900ACS wireless router is tri-stream, which puts it at a slight disadvantage against some of the quad-stream routers in this list. However, it will give you speeds of up to 1300mbps on the 802.11ac band, and 600mbp on the 802.11ac band. 5 gigabit ethernet ports and 2 USB ports (including 1 USB 3.0) are plenty for all but the most heavy users. Under the bonnet lurks a 1.6ghz processor and 512MB of RAM, which handle the extremely professional and slick software interface with ease.
Speaking of the software, as well as being very well-made and simple and fast, it also makes very light work of features which are crammed into this wireless router, which include a built in VPN and OpenWRT compatibility. The addition of LinkSys Smart Wi-Fi support puts the icing on the cake to make a highly polished all-round router.
Pros of Linksys WRT1900ACS
✓ Fantastic software interface
✓ Tri-stream; range and performance very respectable
✓ Built in VPN
Synology Router RT1900ac Wifi 2019 Review
The new boys have introduced a potential game-changer into the market with this one.
With all the other routers in this list coming from companies who are all well-established in the wireless router market, we thought we would finish off with a newcomer. Synology made their name in networking by providing NAS solutions, and have now applied that knowledge to create a wireless router with their own twist.
The features which truly make this router special are in fact inspired by Synology’s early NAS solutions. The Synology Router Manager software is made in a similar style to the software that made their NAS products so popular – essentially a Linux-based software resembling the appearance and functionality (and most importantly, familiarity) of Windows. By combining this software with the Android or iOS app, and attaching an external hard drive via the USB port, you can use this router for shared storage support and access the files on your mobile device.
The technical specifications of the Synology Router RT1900ac are very similar to other routers of the same price range; it gives speeds of 1300mbps on the 802.11ac band and 600mbps on the 802.11n band; it has 5 gigabit ethernet ports; and it has 2 USB ports.
Pros of Synology Router RT1900ac
✓ Synology Router Manager: Windows style Linux-based software, easy to use
✓ Shared storage support, with supporting Android and iOS apps
✓ Good speed and range, but similar to others in this list
So – which is the best router of 2019 so far?
Obviously, that depends on what you need/want how you’re going to use it! For pure functionality, customisability and all round techie goodness, we recommend the Linksys WRT 3200 ACM.
However if you just want to upgrade your current router to achieve better range and speeds with minimal hassle, then the Google Wifi is the way to go for you.