WiFi routers that will smarten up your entire home
Don’t settle for lag times just because your gaming system is in the basement.
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WiFi has become just as much of a household necessity as electricity, and it only ingrains itself further as more “smart” products and devices enter your domicile. Forget trying to work or do homework without WiFi; soon you won’t even be able to cook or adjust your lights without it.
With that comes the need to have a strong, reliable signals that can juggle multiple devices. New routers are offering what’s being called “mesh” systems (also known as Whole Home WiFi) that use satellite modules placed around the house to create a stronger web connection than a single wireless router and modem. Here are some systems from the biggest names in the router business.
Blends in: eero Mesh WiFi Router
Offering quick set up with any internet service provider, the eero is based around simplicity, an intuitive user interface, and adaptability. Covering up to 1,500 square feet, the system installs in minutes and has an app that lets you control settings, searches for updates, and doubles as your initial walk-thru tutorial, too. The router and extender are both small (3.86 inches by 2.36 inches) and can be stashed in your house without drawing attention to themselves. The eero system also adapts to your usage: For example, it will notice if the room with the gaming devices is experiencing heavier workloads and will reroute traffic to avoid buffering or dropouts.
For many devices: Netgear Nighthawk AX4
A four-stream router with WiFi 6, the Nighthawk looks like it means business—and it does. It gives you more capacity to balance multiple devices, with up to 36 bps available for HD streaming, gaming, phones, and tablets. The Netgear app allows you to easily check internet speed, gain remote access to your network, and even gives you the option to “pause” your internet.
Connection anywhere: TP-Link Archer 7 AC1750 Smart WiFi Router
This powerful system can cover up to 2,500 square feet with three high-gain antennas and strong amplifiers, allowing for crystal-clear signals throughout the house and even out into the yard. The Archer 7 is compatible with Alexa and boasts high-speed internet, which reduces buffering and is ideal for 4K streaming.
Basic pick: Linksys MR8300 Mesh Wi-Fi Router
With tri-band wifi speeds up to 2.2 Gbps—two 5 GHz bands and one 2.4 GHz—the Linksys system spans up to 2,000 square feet and is designed to completely (and easily) integrate all internet and smart home services. Offering coverage for up to 20 devices, the master node sends direct signals to the source rather than dispersing the signal. It’s also equipped with four ethernet ports, which allow you to easily connect shared storage devices, printers, and other smart gadgets to your network.
Sprawling coverage: Linksys Velop Mesh WiFi System
If you are looking to amp up your home wifi, consider this your entry point into the mesh system. Or, more accurately, entry points. The Velop system main set comes with three very light nodes that you can position around your house as relay points. One hooks to the modem, and the other can be placed strategically to ensure total coverage (up to a whopping 6,000 square feet). The nodes are non-invasive, and the Linksys app walks you through the process step by step, making installation ridiculously easy. You can also add more nodes if needed (but for most homes, three should be plenty).