Networking

5 popular home office network wireless routers: How do they stack up?

Choosing a new wireless network router from dozens of features and configurations can be daunting if you don't have a plan of action. A side-by-side comparison is the best approach.

Whether you work from home on a regular basis, freelance as an independent contractor, compete in multiplayer online games, or live as a combination of all three, having a fast and reliable home network is vital to your success. To achieve that fast and reliable network you are going to need to deploy a feature-rich and technologically superior home office wireless network router.

As technological advances in wireless technology are standardized and reach the marketplace, new network routers are introduced by the dozens. Each new round of technology improvement launches new, faster, better features, which greatly complicates the decision-making process with the introduction of new jargon and marketing terminology. It is sometimes difficult to know what is a solid technical improvement and what is merely marketing hype.

SEE: Quick glossary: Home office network routers (Tech Pro Research)

The following list of home office wireless network routers systematically compares several common features and characteristics:

  • Cost
  • Wi-Fi standard
  • Number of bands
  • Speed rating
  • Configuration software quality

These characteristics, plus a number not mentioned in this article, form a solid informational basis for your ultimate choice of a home office wireless network router. For a deeper and more thorough analysis, check out Feature comparison: Home office network routers from TechRepublic's premium sister site, Tech Pro Research.

1. Asus RT-AC68U Dual-band Wireless-AC1900

Although it has been on the market for a few years now, the Asus RT-AC68U Dual-band Wireless-AC1900 is still one of the more technologically advanced routers on the market. It is a dual-band router and Asus claims up to 1.3Gbps speed on the 5GHz frequency band and up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band.

2. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300

Designed specifically for online gamers, the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 is a tri-band router that boasts two 5-gigahertz bands, each with a top speed of 2,167Mbps and a third 2.4GHz band that tops out at 1,000Mbps. This router also has many game-enhancing features, like MU-MIMO.

3. Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200

The Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 supports the new 802.11ad wireless protocol. However, that protocol has not been approved and standardized. In fact, it may be superseded by the 802.11ax protocol in 2019. Assuming you have the correct hardware connected to it, this router claims to support up to 4,600Mbps (or 4.6Gbps) in a single 802.11ad Wi-Fi connection, compared to the 1,733Mbps top speed of 802.11ac.

4. Synology RT2600ac

The Synology RT2600ac is a quad-stream router with top speeds of up to 1,733Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. Separating itself from the rest of the competition, this router also provides a slick and sophisticated set of firmware features and support software and apps.

5. TP-Link Archer C3150 V2

The TP-Link Archer C3150 V2 is a dual-band router, but it uses four dual-band antennas to achieve quad-stream performance of up to 2,167Mbps on the 5GHz band and 1,000Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. This router also includes several advanced features, like MU-MIMO, beamforming, and link aggregation for NAS device support at 2Gbs.

Side-by-side comparison

Starting with the number of devices that will be connected to your network and what those devices will require from that connection, there are dozens of configurations, features, and characteristics to consider when choosing a home office wireless network router. A systematic side-by-side comparison may be the most effective way to narrow the number of potential choices to a manageable level.

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Your thoughts

Are you in the market for a new wireless router? What features or characteristics are you looking for? Share your thoughts and opinions with your peers at TechRepublic in the discussion thread below.

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About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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