The wireless router is something we tend to take for granted, at least so long as our Wi-Fi networks are humming along smoothly. And that’s okay. The best routers don’t require regular tinkering.
But when Wi-Fi starts to bog down, its time to look at the causes. In many cases, it’s a wireless router that hasn’t been replaced in years. It still works, but doesn’t support newer standards, lacks power and is no longer the best router for the job.
The landscape has changed in the world of wireless gear over the past five years. Cisco Systems (CSCO) sold its Linksys home router business to Belkin and Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Asus has become a force in the market. Apple (AAPL) continues to impress the plug-and-play crowd with its Airport line of wireless gear, which is now a mainstream offering that attracts Windows PC users as well as Mac fans.
There have been considerable technical advances as well, most notably the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard (also known as Gigabit Wi-Fi), which blasts data at triple the speed of the previous champ 802.11n — if your gear supports it.
If your Wi-Fi is chugging under a load of iPads, smartphones, game consoles, smart thermostats and PCs or you bought a new device like the Samsung (SSNLF) Galaxy S5 that could take advantage of Gigabit Wi-Fi speeds, then it’s time for a network upgrade.
Here is our list of five of the best routers available today.