Best Wi-Fi 6 Routers of 2022

 

The 802.11 normal we generally name Wi-Fi will get a giant improve each a number of years. With new options and sooner speeds, the latest, 802.11ax, arrived in 2019. Since it was the sixth main generational replace for Wi-Fi, the business dubbed it Wi-Fi 6 to make issues a bit much less advanced for the common shopper.

Now, three years later, Wi-Fi 6 has established itself because the de facto normal for next-gen devices. Just about each new telephone and laptop launch helps it, and we’re beginning to see help pop up amongst peripheral units, too. Did you decide up an Apple TV 4K or Amazon Fire TV 4K Max media streamer final Black Friday? Both of these help Wi-Fi 6. Have you managed to attain a brand new PlayStation 5 console but? That’s a Wi-Fi 6 gadget, too.

 

 


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Which router improve is best for you?

9:01

The rub is that you’re going to want a Wi-Fi 6 router operating your community to be able to unlock the complete potential of units like these at house. That was an costly proposition again when Wi-Fi 6 first arrived, however not anymore. Shop round, and you will find a quantity of choices accessible for lower than $100, in addition to mesh programs, gaming routers, vary extenders and extra. Some do the job higher than others — however that is the place we are available, with complete, hands-on checks to assist establish the most effective improve picks for the cash.

Expect common updates to this publish as we proceed to place Wi-Fi 6 to the take a look at in 2022. Whenever we discover a new router that deserves consideration, we’ll add it to the checklist. For now, listed here are the fashions I’d advocate for anybody making the acquisition in June 2022.

Ry Crist/CNET

When a router helps Wi-Fi 6, that signifies that it is succesful of utilizing new options like OFDMA and 1024-QAM to ship sooner speeds and decrease latency to busy networks with heaps of related units. That’s true even with the budget-priced worth picks — and amongst these, the one which performs the most effective is the TP-Link Archer AX21.

Currently priced at $80, which is $20 lower than regular, the Archer AX21 did an excellent job in my at-home velocity checks. At the tip of a number of days of checks throughout 5 spots in my home, the Archer AX21’s common obtain velocity on a 300Mbps fiber community was a near-perfect 299Mbps. That contains triple-digit obtain speeds within the very again of my home, a typical useless zone the place so much of the routers I take a look at battle to remain related in any respect. In 2022, I retested the AX21 after upgrading my house community to gigabit speeds — it is not highly effective sufficient to prime out a connection like that, but it surely nonetheless delivered quick, constant speeds, with my downloads averaging in at 441Mbps.

That stage of efficiency was robust sufficient for the Archer AX21 to beat out related fashions from Netgear, Asus and D-Link, and it even saved the tempo with fancier routers that price considerably extra. It’s additionally a cinch to arrange, due to TP-Link’s Tether app for Android and iOS, which additionally affords fast entry to primary community settings with out bombarding you with adverts like another router apps will.

All of that makes the Archer AX21 a particularly worthy decide for small- to medium-size properties, and one of the most effective worth picks you may discover that helps Wi-Fi 6.

Read our TP-Link Archer AX21 assessment.

Chris Monroe/CNET

2021 was an excellent yr for TP-Link, and it wasn’t simply because of the Archer AX21. There’s additionally the TP-Link Deco W7200, which cruised by my velocity checks to earn a spot as my top-rated mesh router of the yr. With a number of units working like a crew of routers to unfold a sooner, extra dependable sign throughout a bigger space than a single router can, it is a unbelievable decide for giant properties — and one that will not set you again very a lot at simply $229 for a two-pack.

What’s nice in regards to the Deco W7200, together with its full help for Wi-Fi 6, is that it is a tri-band mannequin with the standard 2.4 and 5GHz bands plus an extra 5GHz band that the system makes use of as a devoted wi-fi backhaul connection between the primary router and its satellites. That devoted backhaul is the important thing to unlocking the most effective mesh efficiency, as a result of it retains these system transmissions separate out of your common community visitors. Tri-band mesh routers like these will usually price you $400 or extra, however the Deco W7200 will get you there for a whole lot much less.

Sure sufficient, the efficiency was excellent once I examined the system out. In truth, of all of the mesh routers that I’ve examined at house, solely two averaged sooner obtain speeds — the primary prices greater than $200 greater than the Deco W7200, and the opposite prices greater than 3 times as a lot. That makes the Deco W7200 a flat-out unbeatable worth, and a greater, extra noticeable improve for many properties than splurging on a high-powered normal router.

The solely actual draw back? So far in 2022, it has been a bit of a problem to catch the Walmart unique in inventory. If you are struggling to search out it, try the TP-Link Deco X90, a barely higher-end mannequin that carried out even higher than the W7200 in my checks. It’s a bit costlier, however Amazon at present has it marked down to $400.

Read our TP-Link Deco W7200 assessment.

Ry Crist/CNET

Asus is one of the highest names within the gaming router class, boasting the most effective selection of quick, flashy routers that promise elite efficiency, low latency, and superior controls in your connection. The Asus RT-AX86U is definitely one of the extra understated routers in that blend — it does not embody color-changing lights or an oversize, ostentatious design — but it surely’s nonetheless one of the most effective gaming routers you should buy. Gaming apart, it is one of the most effective Wi-Fi 6 routers you should buy, interval.

Along with providing quick, constant speeds, the RT-AX86U did a greater job at managing latency than some other router I examined it in opposition to, and it comes with a full suite of instruments for optimizing your connection whereas gaming, together with an adaptive quality-of-service engine and an Open NAT database of game- and platform-specific port forwarding guidelines. There’s even a Mobile Game Mode designed to immediately prioritize visitors to your telephone.

In different phrases, the RT-AX86U checks all of the containers you’d need from a gaming router (besides the color-changing lights, I assume — although you will get it Zaku-styled should you’re keen to spend somewhat extra). Most importantly, it makes robust sufficient use of Wi-Fi 6 to make sure that even the non-gamers in your family will admire having it round.

At round $250 or much less, it is positively an improve decide, however an affordable one which’s nonetheless inexpensive than so much of gaming routers (and, as of scripting this at the beginning of June, it is marked right down to $200 on Amazon). And, should you’re fascinated by upgrading to a brand new multi-gig web plan from AT&T, Frontier, Xfinity, Verizon, Ziply Fiber or one other supplier providing plans like these, you will get an upgraded RT-AX86U geared up with a multi-gig Ethernet jack supporting incoming wired speeds of as much as 2.5Gbps for $250.

Read our Asus RT-AX86U assessment.

Remember how I discussed that the TP-Link Deco W7200 outperformed each different mesh router I’ve ever examined aside from one? Well, this is the one which beat it — the AX6000 model of the Netgear Orbi mesh system.

With that all-important tri-band design and full help for Wi-Fi 6, the AX6000 Orbi blew us away with glorious sign power and downright spectacular prime speeds once we first examined it out a yr or two in the past. Those speeds have held up ever since — whether or not we’re clocking prime speeds in our lab or testing real-world speeds at house, actually nothing else I’ve examined performs as properly. On prime of that, the AX6000 Orbi deserves credit score for being one of the primary mesh routers to supply a multigig WAN port and breaking the bottleneck that capped incoming wired speeds at only a single gig.

Performance like that normally comes at a premium, and positive sufficient, the AX6000 Orbi prices $700 for a two-pack. Like a Mercedes Benz for the mesh class, it is extra machine than most individuals want, however there’s nothing unsuitable with coveting one — or ready for the uncommon sale. If it have been my cash, I’d fairly go along with that Deco W7200 system and spend the $470 I’d save on one thing else, however should you simply need the most effective mesh router efficiency that we have seen in our checks, full cease, cash be damned, right here it’s.

Read our Netgear Orbi AX6000 assessment.

Ry Crist/CNET

Going with a mesh router makes a ton of sense should you dwell in a big, multi-story house with so much of area to cowl. In circumstances like that, it is price it to prioritize getting a system with greater than two units within the mesh — and Amazon’s Eero 6 Plus will get you there for $299, full with full help for Wi-Fi 6.

The Eero 6 Plus takes the Eero 6 that preceded it and beefs issues up with a sooner AX3000 construct and new help for full-width 160MHz channels, up from 80MHz. Those wider channels permit the system to maneuver information twice as effectively to appropriate units, they usually made an enormous distinction in my efficiency checks, the place the 6 Plus completed as a prime ten finisher among the many thirty or so mesh routers I’ve examined at house. None of the routers that beat its common obtain speeds can beat its worth, and that makes the Eero 6 Plus a superb decide.

Read our Eero 6 Plus assessment.

Ry Crist/CNET

It was a bit too expensive for me to advocate when it launched at $380 for a two-piece setup, however I’ve seen the Asus ZenWifi XD6 marked right down to $300 at a number of retailers in current weeks, which makes it a significantly better worth. The fancier ZenWifi XT8 system’s worth was not too long ago lowered from $450 to $400, so I think about we’ll be seeing that lower cost for the XD6 once more later within the yr, and it is properly price a glance should you can catch a sale like that.

For the cash, you are getting a dual-band Wi-Fi 6 mesh router that carried out extra like a fancier tri-band mannequin in our checks, and one which was totally succesful of optimizing our speeds all through the whole thing of the 5,400-square-foot CNET Smart Home. In truth, I’d go as far as to name it probably the most succesful dual-band mesh router I’ve ever examined.

If that worth jumps up above $300 once more, really feel free to skip it, however this can be a stable mesh router with one of the extra complete management apps accessible from a serious producer, making it a superb decide for intermediate and superior customers who need to fine-tune their house community expertise.

Read our Asus ZenWifi XD6 assessment.

Wi-Fi 6 router FAQs

If you’ve got received questions in regards to the ins and outs of Wi-Fi 6, be sure you try my full explainer on the usual and what makes it higher than the Wi-Fi of yore. You also can attain me by wanting me up on Twitter (@rycrist) or by clicking the little envelope icon on my CNET profile web page to ship a message straight to my inbox. In the meantime, I’ll publish solutions to any generally requested questions under.

What makes Wi-Fi 6 higher than earlier than?

Wi-Fi 6 contains help for brand new Wi-Fi options that assist units cross information forwards and backwards sooner and extra effectively. One of the important thing upgrades is 1024-QAM, which stands for quadrature amplitude modulation, or the trick your router makes use of to ship radio waves that different units can learn as a sequence of ones and zeroes — the binary code that makes up every part you see, learn and expertise on-line. 1024-QAM permits your router to ship out 10 digits of binary code with every transmission, in comparison with eight digits of binary from Wi-Fi 5 routers that use 256-QAM. That’s one of the important thing explanation why Wi-Fi 6 affords prime speeds which might be roughly 30% sooner than earlier than.

Other options of observe embody OFDMA, or orthogonal frequency division a number of entry, which improves community effectivity by permitting your router to ship information to a number of purchasers inside a single channel directly. Think of that like a pizza supply driver dropping off a number of pizzas to a number of clients in a single journey to save lots of gasoline. There’s additionally Target Wake Time, which lets the router schedule units that must periodically examine in in order that they do not trigger interference with each other. And, although it is not particularly tied to Wi-Fi 6, most next-gen routers will help WPA3, the latest normal for Wi-Fi safety.

Will older units nonetheless work with a Wi-Fi 6 router?

Yes — Wi-Fi 6 is totally backward appropriate, so earlier-gen Wi-Fi units will nonetheless be capable to connect with them and get on-line. They simply will not be capable to take benefit of the brand new Wi-Fi 6 options that velocity issues up for current-gen units.


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