With an increasing number of devices being wi-fi connected, having a high-quality wireless router is becoming more and more essential. Choosing the right one for your needs, however, can be challenging, thanks primarily to the variety of technical specifications you might need to consider.
As a result, many ads and salespeople will aim to take advantage of your confusion to sell you an expensive model. Alongside this is the fact that there’s quite a large selection of routers to choose from, which can often seem overwhelming.
Combined, these can leave many people wondering which models to buy, with many also believing that they’ll have to spend a considerable amount of money on the device. This isn’t necessarily true, as there are a variety of wireless routers under $100 that can meet your expectations and needs.
When looking at various models, there will be a few features and areas that you’ll need to compare, although many people may not be aware of this. However, doing so will ensure that you’re better able to decide between different routers.
While much of this may be decided based on your specific needs, there are still a few factors that you should look at when choosing a router. Alongside this, there are a few routers that should be able to meet your needs without having to break the bank.
While a higher price may often mean higher-quality, this may not be the case when it comes to these devices.
How To Choose The Best Router For Under $100
While the majority of modern wireless routers will offer a significant amount of speed, this can vary considerably depending on the model. As such, it can often be vital to look at the specifications of the device that you’re considering, especially if you expect to use the internet consistently.
Much of this will be driven by how many devices you may have connected to the router. While you mightn’t need a large amount of speed if you only have one or two connected devices, it can make quite a difference if you have several of them.
In many cases, this could mean that you’ll pay somewhat of a higher cost, it can be worth the investment. This is especially true if you live in a household with several family members that will use the internet.
Much of this will be seen when the wi-fi is used by more than one person at a time, which could create a significant amount of lag and long loading time. To avoid this, it’s worth looking for routers that offer a considerable amount of speed.
While the term ‘dual-band’ may seem confusing for many people, it can make a large difference in how your router operates. Dual-band refers to the 2.4GHz and 5 GHz bands that the internet typically functions on, with both having their pros and cons.
There are quite a significant number of models that will offer one of these bands, although it’s recommended that you opt for one that has both. Doing so will ensure that you receive an optimal internet performance.
Routers that offer both of these bands will have two antennae, which can then be adjusted to ensure that it functions correctly. There are also a variety of models that will have three antennae fixed to the router.
In these cases, you should typically expect them to offer two 5GHz bands and one 2.4GHz band. These can often be a smarter choice for households that would see a lot of online traffic, should as video streaming, online gaming, and more.
While the range of your wi-fi router will depend on a variety of factors, such as the thickness of your walls and any interference, it’s still something that you should pay a significant amount of attention to.
Ideally, you should receive the same amount of signal strength throughout your home. Though this will depend on the size of your house, you should look for a router that can extend up to 2,000 square foot, unless you live in an apartment or small house.
While wi-fi range extenders are available, this will be an extra cost for you, which is something that many of us will want to avoid. As such, you should know the overall size of your home and aim to purchase a router that covers it.
When doing so, you should also look to purchase one that has a range that’s greater than your overall house. This will ensure that any interference will be compensated for, and you’ll still have an optimal wi-fi strength in every room.
Online security has become an increasingly significant issue over the past few years. While the majority of us will know to protect ourselves when navigating the internet, many will overlook this aspect when purchasing a router.
However, you should avoid overlooking this as much as possible. There are quite a few security features that you should look for when buying a router, with some of the more notable of these being WPA/WPA2 wireless encryption and a secure firewall.
While having these built-in to a router may mean it costs a specific amount more than devices without them, it can be well worth the enhanced security that it offers. This is especially true when you consider the amount of private information that may be sent and received over your internet, such as financial details and more.
Taking advantage of each of these security features will ensure that any potential hackers will have a tough time gaining access to your network.
Every household will have specific needs when it comes to their wi-fi router. While speed and security will naturally place near the top of the list, you shouldn’t forget about the number of supported connections.
This refers to the number of devices that you’ll be able to connect to the router and have running concurrently. Ideally, you’ll want to choose a model that can accept many more devices that you’ll be using, as this will have an impact on its overall performance.
As such, before you set about choosing a wi-fi router, you should look at the number of devices you’ll be using the internet on. This includes consoles, smartphones, tablets, and any other smart devices that you have around the house.
While many of these will be wireless, there may be a few that need to be connected to the router through a wire and USB port. You should know how many of these you have and purchase a device accordingly.
The majority will have four USB ports, but you should be able to find some with considerably more.
While there may be a variety of other factors that you might want to consider when choosing a wi-fi router, each of the above can be the most important. As such, they should be the first things that you look at when selecting a model.
By doing so, you’ll then be in the best position possible to decide what the best router for your household’s needs are.
The Best Routers Under $100
ASUS DUAL-BAND 2×2 AC1300
ASUS makes some great computers and other tech products are also affordable such as this WiFi router. Designed to give you access to the internet from anywhere in your home, it’s also suitable for business applications. With 2X2 MU-MIMO technology, it offers faster speeds of up to 1200 Mbps or higher. On the outside of the router are for antennas – one in each corner – that extend the WiFi range to ensure that everyone in the area can get a signal. It is compatible with the ASUS monitor app too, which you can download to a nearby device. That app lets you check on your internet speed and manage the network.
This is one of the best routers for high traffic areas because it can manage that traffic without slowing internet speeds. The Smart Connect feature is another good option. It lets the router switch between bands as needed without requiring that you do something special first. With the 3.0 USB port, you can send files out to the entire network and ensures that each connected device receives a copy. This port lets you plug other devices into the router too. Most users also like the number of custom options built into the router that let them change it to work with their networks.
- Can handle large traffic flows
- Includes many features and custom options
- Gives you the option of adding guests
- Provides good speed and coverage
- Affordable price
- Requires some setup time
- Needs better support from ASUS
The TP-Link AC1900 Smart Wifi Router offers a considerable number of benefits, with much of this focusing on its speed and performance. With its dual-band router, it provides a combined 1.9Gbs, with the majority of this being on the 5GHz band.
Alongside this is some beamforming technology which ensures that the router has quite a large range, regardless of the thickness of your walls. There are also a variety of security features implemented into the device, notably the Archer A9.
This provides parental control, a VPN server, and access control, which can be beneficial for may users. The Smart Connect technology that’s featured in the router also means that the dual-bands shouldn’t become congested, no matter how many people are using it.
- Large amount of security features.
- Beamforming technology for large range.
- Up to 1.9Gbs dual-band speed.
- 5GHz chip may not last as long as 2.4GHz.
The TP-Link AC1200 Smart WiFi Router boasts up to 1,220Mbs of dual-band speed, with much of this being on the 2.4GHz band. While this is a high speed, it could also be a drawback for many people who would prefer the 5GHz section.
Despite this, there are a variety of other benefits to take advantage of, such as a large coverage area driven by its Archer A6 technology. Alongside this is the four separate LAN ports, with each of these being gigabit-enabled.
As a result, the router should be able to handle a variety of wireless and physically-connected devices with ease. However, there is the drawback of the router potential restarting during the day, especially if there’s an excess of connected devices.
- 1,200Mbs of dual-band speed.
- Gigabit router coupled with four gigabit LAN ports.
- Large area coverage.
- Router may restart several times during the day.
Many of us will want to connect a variety of devices to our router, although this is only a possibility with a select few devices. The NETGEAR R6230 WiFi Router is one of these and allows for up to 20 devices to be reliably connected, both wirelessly and through several USB ports.
Alongside this are a few other features, with many of these focusing on security. For example, the router contains a strong firewall, a VPN server, WPA2 protocols, DoS, and more. As such, you shouldn’t need to worry about any outside usage of your network.
The NETGEAR R6230 also offers a coverage area of 1,200 square feet and 1,200Mbps of speed, with this being the case regardless of how many devices are connected.
- Connects to up to 20 devices.
- Variety of security features.
- Large coverage range.
- Difficult to configure.
Many of us might want to look for an energy-efficient wifi router that doesn’t compromise too much on performance. This is perhaps one of the larger areas where this NETGEAR N600 device shines, as it’s received quite an impressive energy rating.
There are several other features to take advantage of here, such as the fact that it’s quite quick and easy to install. Much of this is driven by its Push ‘N’ Connect technology, which allows you to connect devices instantly.
There are also a variety of customizable controls to capitalize on. Where this router falls short, however, is that it offers quite a small coverage area, which only makes it suitable for apartments or small homes.
- Easy installation.
- Customizable parental controls.
- Energy efficient.
- Small coverage radius.
Performance is naturally a vital aspect of any internet router, which this Linksys AC1900 wireless router has in spades, as it offers 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz range and 1,300Mbps on the 5GHz range. There are a few other features that have been implemented here that you can take advantage of.
Chief among these is a large coverage area, which is driven by its beamforming technology. This follows a connected device throughout your home to ensure that there’s no change in connectivity. Alongside this is that there are three antennae with the router to further maximize its range.
Lastly is that the Linksys AC1900 features several USB 2.0 ports and a USB 3.0 port to connect a variety of devices, such as storage units and more.
- Large coverage area.
- Fast performance.
- Variety of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports.
- One of the best wireless router in this price bracket
- Internet connection may drop.
Security is a large concern when it comes to any wifi router and which you should put a significant amount of thought into. The Motorola Smart AC1900 has an extensive number of features in this regard without compromising on the rest of its performance.
Some of the more notable aspects of this include a stealth mode, user-friendly firewall, IPv4 and IPv6 support, parental controls, and much more. Alongside this are a variety of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports to connect several devices.
The Motorola Smart AC1900 also offers quite a large security radius, which is primarily driven by its high-performance power amplifiers. One major drawback here, however, is that it doesn’t include a built-in modem.
- Variety of security features.
- Large coverage radius.
- Several USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports.
- Doesn’t have a built-in modem.
The NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wifi Router boasts a dual-core processor as well as quite a large coverage radius, which is primarily driven by its beam forming technology alongside three antennae. As a result, it should reliably cover the majority of homes.
This extended to up to 25 devices, which is more than the typical household should need. There are also quite a significant number of security features to take advantage of. One of the more prominent of these includes WPA2 protocols, which is coupled with NETGEAR Armor to provide virus and malware protection.
The Nighthawk Smart Wifi Router also includes guest access, an easy to use firewall, and a VPN, each of which further enhances the security that it offers. However, there is somewhat of a lack of USB 2.0 ports, which means that you mightn’t be able to connect many devices this way.
- High speed internet across a large radius.
- Great for home networks
- Advanced security features.
- Long range wifi range
- Connects up to 25 devices.
- Dual-core processor
- Few USB 2.0 ports.
When it comes to speed, the Medialink AC1200 Wireless Gigabit Router offers quite a significant amount, with a notable 1,000Mbps of connectivity. Alongside this is an extensive coverage radius, making this speed available almost anywhere in the house.
There are also a variety of security features to take advantage of, such as the Medialink’s variety of customizable parental controls and VPN support. If you’ve got several smartphones or computers that you need to connect but don’t want to compromise on performance, then you’ll be able to do so here, as it can handle up to 20 devices.
- Large amount of speed.
- Connects up to 20 devices.
- Large connection radius.
- Connection may drop.
Many of us may need to connect devices to a router through an ethernet cable, although some routers may not provide this, or at least not to an acceptable speed. However, this is where this NETGEAR WiFi Router shines, as it offers four ethernet ports and quite a fast performance with each.
That isn’t to say that it compromises on wireless performance, however, as this can also be quite a significant speed. Furthermore, there are a variety of security features to capitalize on, such as an easy to use firewall, WPA2 protocols, and much more.
- Several security features.
- Four ethernet ports.
- Fast wifi performance.
- Wired connectivity is less than wireless.
Though choosing the best router under $100 may seem complicated, it doesn’t have to be the case. Each of the above should be more than capable of meeting your needs. When you’re choosing between any of these, it’s worth factoring in each of the features mentioned above.
Doing so will ensure that you choose the right router for your specific needs. While this may take a certain amount of effort and time, it can be worth it once you have the router installed and running.