What’s the best router in 2020?
Whether you want fast network speeds or enough coverage to provide constant signal across your four-bedroom house, it’s important you buy the best router possible to meet your needs.
The arrival of Wi-Fi 6 makes it a great time to invest too, offering increased speeds and improved efficiency when provisioning for multiple compatible devices. Not every device supports Wi-Fi 6 right now, but the majority of modern laptops and smartphones now benefit from the new technology, so it’s advisable to ensure your router is future-proofed.
Related: What is WiFi 6?
There are good reasons to wait if you’re not in a hurry though, as Wi-Fi 6 routers are still fairly expensive. A new batch of routers with the newest Wi-Fi 6E standard that can take advantage of the faster 6Ghz band are also on the horizon. However, compatible Wi-Fi 6E routers and devices likely won’t start arriving until 2021, so it’s understandable if you don’t want to wait that long.
If you’re planning on buying the best router in your budget, have a look below at our quick-fire summary:
For a more detailed look at each review, keep scrolling down or hit the links above.
1. Asus ZenWifi AX
Best overall Wi-Fi 6 router
- Excellent price
- Flexible configuration
- Quick performance
The Asus ZenWifi AX is our top recommended router, offering one of the best performances and feature sets without the price reaching silly heights. At £400 it’s still undoubtedly expensive, but undercuts the £700 Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 significantly, despite offering almost comparable performance.
You get a speedy performance here, and since the router comes bundled with a satellite, you can get good coverage for sizeable homes. And if you’ve a tiny flat, it’s also possible to buy the router separately.
There are a couple of great features here too, including network-level malware scanning, parental controls and Quality of Service (QoS) settings, which lets you prioritise specific types of traffic whether than be gaming, streaming or more work-focused tasks. Our only significant criticism is the cluttered smartphone app used for tweaking settings and setting up the mesh system, but it’s a very minor blemish.
2. Netgear Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System
The cheapest Wi-Fi 6 router we’ve reviewed
- Extremely cheap
- Easy to expand
- Stable coverage
- A little slow at range
- Few additional features
The biggest issue with Wi-Fi 6 routers right now is their price, often costing £400 upwards. The Netgear Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System is a very tempting option then, as it costs a far more reasonable £230.
It’s not the fastest router, and lacks features such as parental controls and the security found with pricier alternatives, but it still gives you access to the Wi-Fi 6 standard for boosted speeds and more reliable connections without having to pay over the odds. You can also cheaply add more satellites to the system at a later date, allowing you to slowly improve coverage and spread the cost rather than paying a huge fee upfront.
If you want the speediest performance possible or would prefer to have additional features for finer control, you’re best looking elsewhere. But if you want to benefit from the new Wi-Fi 6 standard while paying as little as possible, the Netgear Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System is your best bet.
3. Netgear Nighthawk AX8
Best Wi-Fi 6 router for small homes and flats
- Very fast
- Fastest Wi-Fi 6 speeds yet
- Neat interface and management app
- Quite expensive
- No bundled sattelites
- Lacks parental controls
Unlike the majority of routers on this list, the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 is not a mesh system. This means that you only get one router without satellites, proving less efficient at providing network coverage for large homes. Fortunately, the AX8 makes up for that with incredibly fast network speeds.
The Nighthawk AX8 boasts the best close and ranged network speeds of any Wi-Fi 6 router, beating even the Netgear Orbi WIFi 6 which is more than double the price. With such high speeds, the AX8 proves a good option for gamers and those streaming 4K video.
But since you don’t get any satellites bundled in, the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 is only really worth using in small homes and flats. For those with larger homes, you’re better off opting for a mesh system instead.
4. TP-Link Deco X60
The best router for large homes
- Three satellites
- Excellent parental controls
- Robust performance
- Few Ethernet ports on main satellite
- No dedicated backhaul
The TP-Link Deco X60 has the best coverage of all the Wi-Fi 6 routers we’ve tested, not because it excels at range, but because you get three satellites in the default bundle for a fair price. With the likes of the Asus ZenWifi AX and Netgear Orbi only shipping with two, they’re not quite as efficient at providing for large households.
That said, the TP-Link Deco X60 isn’t the speediest Wi-Fi 6 router available, with the lack of dedicated wireless connection seeing a negative impact on the ranged performance. Fortunately, the close-range performance was fantastic, outpacing even the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6.
If you want the best speeds possible throughout your house, then this router may not be the best choice. But if you’re more concerned with coverage, that extra satellite really helps to prevent blind spots, with the TP-Link Deco X60 proving great value for families with large homes.
5. Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852)
The best overall performance Wi-Fi 6 router
- Exceptionally fast
- Excellent app
- Tonnes of Ethernet ports
- Misses features available from older system
The Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 offers the best overall performance, thanks to scintillating up-close and range speeds. Only the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 boasts a better ranged performance, but since the Orbi packs in an additional satellite, it’s the superior option for larger homes.
There’s one big issue with the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 though: it’s very expensive. With an original retail price of £700, the Orbi is far more pricer than its rivals, even after recent price cuts. That price is even harder to stomach once you realise the Wi-Fi 6 Orbi is missing a number of features seen in the previous iteration, including parental controls and security services.
Considering the price, most people will be better off going for cheaper alternatives, but the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 is still a worthwhile purchase (albeit an expensive one) for those who want the best network speeds possible throughout their home.
6. Google Nest Wifi
The best feature set, but lacks Wi-Fi 6 support
- Consistent speeds
- Points are smart speakers
- Looks great
- Few Ethernet ports
- No Wi-Fi 6
First of all, it’s important to point out the Google Nest Wi-Fi lacks Wi-Fi 6 support, using the older Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) standard instead despite seeing a similar price point to other routers on this list. This means the Nest Wifi doesn’t offer the fastest speeds and is the least adept here at handling multiple devices simultaneously.
That said, the Wi-Fi 5 is still comfortably fast enough for most people, and most households probably don’t see enough Wi-Fi 6 compatible devices to make the jump to the new standard worthwhile. If you’re going to buy a router right now though, we still think it’s worth future-proofing for the inevitable influx of Wi-Fi 6 compliant gadgets.
The Google Nest WiFi remains a tempting option however, with each satellite doubling up as a smart speaker, while also packing lots of additional features such as parental controls, devices priorities, security and integrated speakers for radio and music playback. If you’re more excited by these features opposed to faster Wi-Fi 6 speeds, then the Nest WiFi is a superb option.