Best Wifi Router

router cover
Last Updated: May 15, 2017

Buying a router means wading through a confusing world of mystical numbers and features. After 4 months of research, testing and comparing routers across budgets, we pick the best routers in India and aim to de-mystify the jargons.

Smart connected devices are here to stay. In any house you will find smartphones, laptops, PC’s, tablets, televisions, game consoles, etc. all of which require a good and strong Wi-Fi and network connectivity. A Wi-Fi router is possibly the most important piece of equipment that will bring all of these devices together. A router is responsible for the speeds and connectivity within your network and therefore your perfect router will depend on these needs. Read our router buying guide to understand the technology, which models to buy and decide which one is right for you.

 

The Best Router for most people (Around Rs. 8000/-)

1. TP-Link Archer C7 (v2)

Perfect for:  Large houses, small offices,  places with many devices and users.

c7
The TP-Link Archer C7 (v2) is a AC 1750, 802.11ac, dual band, three stream router that is a brilliant all-rounder. It has an amazing range and delivers great performance. This dual-band router supports a theoretical speed of 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1,300 Mbps on 5GHz. The router comes 6 antennas – 3 internal 2.4 GHZ and 3 external 5 GHZ antennas for providing excellent range on both frequencies. It comes with 4 Full Gigabit Ethernet ports and 2 USB ports for connectivity and is packed with advanced features like guest network mode, USB file sharing, media streaming and parental controls. The C7 is faster and covers large areas better than many more expensive routers. It’s good for larger apartments, small offices and any other place where there are many wired users / devices, where internal bandwidth and wireless streaming and file sharing is a priority.

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A step down (Around Rs. 6000/-)

2. Archer C5  

Perfect for: Places with many devices, smaller spaces. Similar to C7 but with lesser range and bandwidth. 

c5

A step down from the C7, the TP-Link Archer C5 is a AC 1200, 802.11ac, dual band that has comparatively lesser bandwidth and range. This dual-band router supports up to a theoretical speed of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 867 Mbps on 5GHz. It has only 2 external antennae and the 2.4 GHz has good range but the 5 GHz drops significantly outside the same room. Apart from the lesser bandwidth and range the router is very similar to the C7. It comes with 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports and 2 USB ports for connectivity and is packed with advanced features like guest network mode, USB file sharing, media streaming and parental controls. It’s good for smaller apartments, small offices and any other place where there are many wired users/devices. If wireless bandwidth not the biggest priority, then the Archer C5 should be perfect for your needs.

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The Best Budget Router  (Around Rs. 3000/-)

3. Netgear r6220

Perfect for: Places with many devices, smaller spaces, lesser peripherals.

 

netgear r6220

Netgear’s R6220 combines good 802.11ac performance, useful parental controls and excellent software for an affordable price. This AC 1200, dual-band router, supports up to a theoretical speed of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 867 Mbps on 5GHz. It has 2 non-replaceable external antennas. The 2.4 GHz has good range but the 5 GHz drops significantly outside the same room.  It comes with 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports and while the other overall specifications are similar to the Archer C5, there is only one USB 2.0 port – which effectively means you can only connect either a printer or a hard disk at the same time. If that is not an issue, this is a great buy.

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4. Archer c50

Perfect for: Places with smaller spaces, less wired requirements, lesser connected devices and people.

archer c50

If you are looking for a step above a basic router, want dual-band for basic streaming purposes, the Archer c50 won’t disappoint. The Archer C50 is a AC 1200, 802.11ac, dual-band router, supports up to a theoretical speed of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 867 Mbps on 5GHz. It has 2 non-replaceable external antennas. The 2.4 GHz has good range but the 5 GHz drops significantly outside the same room. The Ethernet slots are not full gigabit which means wired Lan file-transfers, etc will be slow.

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The Best Basic Router (Under Rs. 1000/-)

5. TL-WR841N

Perfect for: Small houses needing basic Wi-Fi.

841n

For those looking for a router on a really small budget, the TP-LINK TL-WR841N provides just that. The router is a single band 802.11n router, supports up to a theoretical speed of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. There are no USB Ports and advanced features. For those looking for a basic router for Wi-Fi connectivity, this might be enough. It’s a single band router and has much smaller range than the higher-end routers mentioned above.  However, if you live in a small apartment and don’t depend on your router for heavy streaming media use or multiple devices, this might be enough.

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What are the benefits of a more expensive Router ?

You might ask why do we need powerful routers capable of 1750 mbps when your broadband connection itself is say 10 mbps? That’s true and having a high capacity router will not impact internet speeds in any way. A router with 17500/1200/300mbps would only affect transfer speeds between computers and devices on the same network. Expensive routers give you dual-WiFi bands, stronger signals with more reach, better connectivity options and more advanced software features. A better router will also handle multiple devices much better since they have better processors and more memory. If you have multiple people streaming wirelessly a better router will be able to handle it better. You also get Dual-band which helps if you are facing interference in the 2.4 Ghz band (more below). More expensive routers give you powerful antennas which helps the signal go farther – especially helpful if you have many walls and dead zones in your house. They also give you full gigabit ethernet which is great if you have multiple computers connected via LAN.

 

Do I need a new router?

In all probability, you will have a cheap and basic router provided to you by your Internet Service Provider. If you are happy with it and have no issues with it, then don’t upgrade. However you’ll most probably need a new router if:

1. Your Router is more than 3 years old – Router technology has come a long way since then and newer devices are compatible with newer standards like 802.11AC which allow for faster speeds.

2. You have areas in the house where there is no Wi-Fi signal – If you are finding dead spots in your house where you are not getting signal, a router with powerful antennas might help.

3. You wish to attach a printer or a common hard disk with media for all to access – More expensive routers have more connectivity options like USB ports which help you to wirelessly connect devices.

4. If you are finding that you are facing connection drops and frequent disconnections it might be because you have a old router with lesser processing capabilities or one which is overheating. It is also possible that your single band – 2.4 GHz has a lot of interference. This is also the radio band used by your neighbors routers, cordless phones, microwaves etc. and can get congested.

6. You have a small office with many users and shared PC’s and want to have security features such as a “Guest Mode”.

Apart from additional features such as parental controls, file sharing and printer sharing, you also benefit in other ways – moving big files between two computers in your home, streaming stability and buffering, multiple device connections all are handled better by newer and more powerful routers. If you are streaming HD video from your hard-disk or copying files, you will enjoy the additional bandwidth. Also if there are multiple users and they are simultaneously accessing media files or playing online games, having a powerful router will mean no shortage of internal wireless bandwidth.

 

How to decide which router is best for me?

When choosing a new router, you should consider the size of your coverage area, and the number of users, as well as the types of devices that will connect to the router. The type of router you need will depend on which Internet provider you are using. Typically if you are with MTNL or BSNL – getting internet via your phone line, you will need a need a router with ADSL ports. If you have ‘cable’ broadband, you need a ‘cable’ router, i.e. one without a built-in modem with a RJ45 WAN port. If you don’t mind having 2 routers, one great way is to connect a basic ADSL router to your main router and let your main router do the hard work of delivering Wi-fi. That way you don’t need to change the main router even if you change your service provider.

Once you know the type of router you need, it’s then a case of deciding how much to spend and the technology you want.

 

What are the different types of routers and which one should I look at? 

It seems like the Router market runs on the principle of “if you cant convince them, confuse them”. Buying the most expensive router with the biggest numbers need not be the best decision. There are a lot of confusing terminologies thrown around when it comes to a router. Here a basic guide to the specifications you should look out for.

1. Single, dual-band or tri-band routers?  Single band routers operate on one wireless frequency only (the 2.4GHz band). This is also the radio band used by your neighbors routers, cordless phones, microwaves etc. and can get congested. Dual-band routers transmit data over both the 2.4GHz band and the 5GHz band. With a dual-band router, you can browse the internet on the 2.4GHz band while streaming HD movies on the 5GHz band and neither band gets overloaded. That said a single band is enough if you are only going to surf the web and have no interference. Then there are tri-band routers. These have three radios—one that operates at 2.4GHz and two that operate at 5GHz. These models are a good for multi-device households that experience heavy network traffic due to lots of video streaming, downloading, file transfers, online gaming, etc.

2. Class of Routers (802.11 a,b,g,n,ac) – Wireless Ethernet networks use 802.11 protocols to send and receive data. Routers are classified according to the wireless standard on which they’re based – for example 802.11b or 802.11g. The first generation of wireless routers was ‘b’, followed by ‘g’ which were limited to data transfer rates of 11Mbps and 54Mbps. This was followed by then ‘n’ which allows for maximum data rates of up to 600Mbps and operates on both the 2.4 GHz and 5GHz bands. 802.11ac was finalised in 2013 and you will find it today in every major smartphone, laptop and desktop computer and smart television. The newest class of Wi-Fi routers use 802.11ac technology, which are faster, dual-band have a wider channel bandwidth. They support speeds up to 3200 mbps, support longer ranges, newer technologies like beamforming and multiple input/multiple output (multi-user MIMO) among other features.

Even if you may not use these, Wireless AC is already 3 years old technology and it will be the standard for the near future. There is no reason to not by a Wireless AC router.

To further complicate things there are sub-types of each class with numbers which show an indicative speed capacity of the router. The N series starts at N150 and goes up to N900 while the AC580 starts at 580 mbps and goes up to AC5300. Again this is the maximum theoretical capacity of the router and an N900 AC means 450 mbps in 2.5 GHz and 450 mbps in 5 GHz and the AC1750 is 450 mbps at 2.4 GHz and 1300 mbps at 5 GHz. These figures differ from model to model. Also remember that 1300 mbps at 5ghz is only an indicative theoretical figure and the actual speeds will be much lower than that depending on distance, interference, walls etc.

 

TLDR – Buy a dual band wireless AC router if you have many devices or want to stream HD content.  

 

So how did we go about our Router picks? 

We shortlisted the top routers which are dual band and support wireless AC. We then decided to look at the features like USB connections, parental control, guest mode,etc. We then cross checked it with expert reviews and user feedback. Some of the biggest problems highlighted by users were range issues and Wi-Fi blank spots in the house. We thus recommended routers with high gain antennas and good powerful signal.

 

The Best Router for most people (Around Rs. 8000/-)

1. TP-Link Archer C7 (v2)

Perfect for: Places with many devices or users – large houses, small businesses.

c7 big

 

TP-Link Archer C7 (v2) is a AC 1750, 802.11ac, dual band, three stream router that is a brilliant all-rounder. It has an amazing range and delivers great performance. This dual-band router supports up to a theoretical speed of 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1,300 Mbps on 5GHz. The C7 is faster and covers large areas better than many more expensive routers. It’s good for larger apartments, small offices and any other place where there are many users and devices.

The Archer C7 is fast and provides very good wireless coverage. It works well on both 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequencies and is powerful enough to support many users at once.

The front has the usual LED’s and the rear panel has two USB 2.0 ports, which support printers and external drives. On the back are four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a Gigabit WAN port. With four Ethernet ports, you can connect many peripherals like gaming systems or desktop computers and free Wi-Fi bandwidth. Connected USB drives can be designated as file, FTP, or media servers. The interface also allows you to enable a printer server with a USB printer connected to the router. Two USB ports also lets you use printers or hard drive wireless, for cable-free printing and media sharing. A built-in DLNA media server lets you stream media directly from USB-connected hard disk to your DLNA compatible devices. It would have been nice to have USB 3.0, but it isn’t really that big an issue.  There is also a wireless on/off switch which lets you switch off wireless and turns the router into a wired one when needed. This may come in handy if you only wish to connect it to a PC while keeping wireless off.

The C7 has a 720-MHz processor and 128MB of RAM which while not the fastest in the market doesn’t really seem to affect performance.  The Archer C7 is also IPv6 ready too, and offers a guest network to keep your files private. You can control the timings of these guest networks and you can also limit the total bandwidth that guests can use.

The device is bulky and comes with 3 sturdy, detachable antennas. Besides the external antennas, the C7 also has three internal antennas. This hardware configuration probably contributed to the good wireless range I found in testing this device.

You dont get QOS, MU-MIMO, iTunes server or VPN server features. However, you do get, USB file sharing, media streaming, parental controls, and guest networks.

What you get 

  • AC1750 speeds
  • 6 antennas – 3 2.4GHZ and 3 external 5GHZ 5dbi High Gain Antennae
  • 4 full gigabit ports for fast wired connectivity
  • 2 USB ports for media, printer sharing
What you don’t get

  • QOS
  • MIMO
  • iTunes Server
  • VPN server

 

A step down (Around Rs. 6000/-)

2. Archer c5

Perfect for: Places with many devices, smaller spaces. Similar to C7 but with lesser range and bandwidth. 

c5 big

A step down from the C7, the TP-Link Archer C5 is a AC 1200, 802.11ac, dual band that has slightly lesser bandwidth and range. This dual-band router supports up to a theoretical speed of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 867 Mbps on 5GHz. It has only 2 external antennae.

Apart from the lesser bandwidth and range the router is very similar to the C7. Like the C7, this router has Dual USB Ports – easily share a printer locally and files & media with networked devices or remotely via FTP server. It also has Guest Network Access provides secure Wi-Fi access for guests sharing your home or office network. It’s good for smaller apartments, small offices and any other place where there are many users and devices.

The Archer C5 is fast and provides very good wireless coverage. It works well on both 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequencies and is powerful enough to support many users at once. The front has the usual LED’s and the rear panel has two USB 2.0 ports, which support printers and external drives. On the back are four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a Gigabit WAN port. With four Ethernet ports, you can connect many peripherals like gaming systems or desktop computers and free Wi-Fi bandwidth. There is also a wireless on/off switch which lets you switch off wireless and turns the router into a wired one when needed. This may come in handy if you only wish to connect it to a PC while keeping wireless off.

The Archer C5 is also IPv6 ready too, and offers a guest network to keep your files private. You can control the timings of these guest networks and you can also limit the total bandwidth that guests can use. TP-LINK Tether provides the easiest way to access and manage your router with your iOS or Android devices.

Ultimately the choice between the two routers must be made on your speed requirements. If you have many concurrent users on the network and if you use the network for wireless file transfers, local media streaming etc, having more bandwidth will certainly be helpful. Else go for the Archer C5 and it should be perfect for your needs.

What you get 

  • AC1200 speeds
  • 2 external antennas – 3 2.4GHZ and 3 external 5GHZ 5dbi High Gain Antennae
  • 4 full gigabit ports for fast wired connectivity
  • 2 USB ports for media, printer sharing
What you don’t get

  • QOS
  • MIMO
  • iTunes Server
  • VPN server

The Best Budget Router (Around Rs. 3000/-)

Perfect for: Places with many devices, smaller spaces, lesser peripherals

1 Netgear r6220

netgear r6220 big

Netgear’s R6220 combines good 802.11ac performance, useful parental controls and excellent software for an affordable price. This AC 1200, dual-band router supports up to a theoretical speed of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 867 Mbps on 5GHz. It has only 2 non-replaceable external antennas. While overall specifications are similar to the Archer C5, there is only one USB 2.0 port – which effectively means you can only connect either a printer or a hard disk at the same time. If that is not an issue, this is a great buy.

On the back are four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a Gigabit WAN port. With four Ethernet ports, you can connect many peripherals like gaming systems or desktop computers and free Wi-Fi bandwidth.

The router has a 880-MHz processor with 128 MB RAM is fast enough to handle multiple connections without any hiccups. The Netgear, is fast and provides very good wireless coverage. It works well on both 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequencies and is powerful enough to support many users at once.

The parental control features are way better than the Tp-Link ones and you can manage web filtering & accessibility by profiles or devices. The software has settings for High, Moderate, Low and Minimal blocking and can also exclude sites based on words they contain. Like the Archer C5 and C7, there is also a wireless on/off switch which lets you switch off wireless and turns the router into a wired one when needed. This may come in handy if you only wish to connect it to a PC while keeping wireless off.

The router doesn’t lack in advanced features. There is QoS which is great for traffic prioritization and guest mode for advanced security. There is also MyGenie app, which lets users easily monitor, connect & control their home network from a PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone. With NETGEAR genie you can share & stream music or videos, diagnose & repair network issues, set up parental controls & more.

What you get 

  • AC1200 speeds
  • 2 external antennas – 3 2.4GHZ and 3 external 5GHZ 5dbi High Gain Antennae
  • 4 full gigabit ports for fast wired connectivity
  • 1 USB port for media, printer sharing
  • QOS
What you don’t get

  • MIMO
  • iTunes Server
  • VPN server

 

The Best Budget Router

4. Archer c50

Perfect for:  Places with smaller spaces, lesser peripherals and not many people

archer c50 big

 

If you are looking for a step above a basic router, want dual band for basic streaming purposes, do not need good wired Lan speeds, the Archer c50 won’t disappoint.

The Archer C50 is a AC 1200, 802.11ac, dual-band router, supports up to a theoretical speed of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 867 Mbps on 5GHz. It has 2 dual band external antennas and comes with only one USB 2.0 port – which effectively means you can only connect either a printer or a hard disk at the same time. Though there is support for support for a guest network mode, it loses out on advanced features like QOS, VPN pass through. It also misses out on full gigabit Ethernet ports which means wired connections will only support 100 mbps speed. It does get support of TP-LINK Tether provides an easy way to access and manage your router with your iOS or Android devices.

However, the router does come with advanced features like QOS, VPN pass through, Guest Zone Support and remote router management software. We found the performance dropping with range and this can possible be due to the lack of external antennas.

The design is the usual – the front is an array of blinking LED’s and shows you all connections. On the back are four non-Gigabit Ethernet ports and a Gigabit WAN port. With four Ethernet ports, you can connect many peripherals like gaming systems or desktop computers and free Wi-Fi bandwidth. However transfers will be limited to 100mbps.
The router works well on both 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequencies and is powerful enough to support many users at once. We found the 5GHZ signal to be usable only in one room buy 2.4 GHZ was adequate for a 2BHK house.

What you get 

  • AC1200 speeds
  • 2 external antennas
  • 4 ethernet ports
  • 1 USB port for media, printer sharing
What you don’t get

  • No Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • No QOS

 

The Best Basic Router (Under Rs. 1000/-)

5. TP-LINK TL-WR841N

841n big

For those looking for a router on a really small budget, the TP-LINK TL-WR841N provides just that. The router is a bare minimum, single band 802.11n router, supports up to a theoretical speed of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. There are no USB Ports and advanced features. For those looking for a basic router for home networking with Wi-Fi connectivity, this might be enough.

If you are in a small apartment and not looking to connect many devices or users at the same time, this router will suffice. It doesn’t have dual band support, so media streaming might be a issue especially if you have a crowded 2.4 GHz spectrum. The 2.4GHz band is the original Wi-Fi band and is generally congested due to the large number of existing Wi-Fi devices and the fact that certain home electronics and appliances, such as cordless phones, also use this band. Crowded air space results in interference and hence reduced Wi-Fi speed and issues such and disconnections.

It also doesn’t have any connectivity ports, so you cannot connect a printer or a hard drive. There is no Gigabit Ethernet home network which means any wired connected devices will have to connect to each other only at speeds up to 100mbps.

There are no advanced features like support for a guest network mode, or QOS, VPN etc. It is also a Wireless N router and does not support Wireless AC standard. It also has a much smaller range than the higher-end routers above and the signal won’t travel nearly as well through larger houses. However, if you live in studio or a one-bedroom apartment and don’t depend on your router for heavy streaming media use or multiple devices.

What you get 

  • N300 speeds
  • 2 external 2.4GHZ antennas.
  • 4 non-Ethernet ports for fast wired connectivity
What you don’t get

  • No USB port
  • No Gigabit Ethernet ports

 

Team BeforeIbuy is a team of writers and editors who are passionate about their work. We are a bunch of geeks, nerds and modern day detectives who love getting to the root of things. We also work with experienced writers, researchers and engineers who give us the technical guidance on products before we come up with our recommendations. Beforeibuy is a list of the best things to buy for those who do not wish to spend hours and days figuring out what to buy. Our mission is to make buying easy. We have one expert article with links to the best products for each category that you can readily refer before you buy anything. We are unbiased, ethical and open in our decision process. We are open to feedback from all of you since we do see it as community effort.

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