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Wireless router

Best wireless routers to buy in 2013

Posted on 19 Jul 2013 at 09:12

What's the best wireless router around? Find out in our roundup

The wireless router is your gateway to the internet, and the hub of your home network, yet it's probably also the most ignored piece of kit in most people's homes.

If you're struggling for wireless speed, the likelihood is you'll be able to give it a significant boost by upgrading your router. We've rounded up a list of our favourites below.

Asus DSL-N55U

Asus DSL-N55U

In our recent wireless routers Labs, Asus' flagship router proved the best all-rounder. Designed for use with ADSL connections, it's a concurrent dual-band model offering maximum throughput of 300Mbits/sec in each band. It has two USB sockets for sharing storage and printers, and when it comes to managing and setting up the device, it's one of the friendliest user interfaces around.

All-round performance is this router's strongest suit, though. It scored highly in both our long- and short-range speed tests. With USB storage speeds fast enough to turn it into a basic NAS drive and a very reasonable price, it's an excellent all-rounder.

Read our full Asus DSL-N55U review

Netgear D6300

Netgear D6300

The Netgear D6300 is one of the most feature-packed consumer routers we've ever reviewed. On the wireless front, it sports the latest 802.11ac standard, rated at up to 1,300Mbits/sec in the 5GHz band, so it's right at the bleeding edge. It also caters for both ADSL and cable connections, so you don't have to buy a new router if you switch broadband providers from BT to Virgin.

There's Gigabit all-round for wired connections, and the web user interface gives access to an impressive array of tools, including Netgear's excellent parental controls, which make it child's play to set up category-based website filtering.

With superb all-round performance from both wireless and USB file transfers, it's the fastest all-round router we've seen. However, that performance comes at a high cost – especially as you'll need to purchase an adapter to make the most of its 802.11ac speeds.

Read our full Netgear D6300 review

Netgear DGND4400

Netgear DGND4000

Runner-up in our last wireless routers Labs test, the Netgear DGND4400 offers a similar feature set to its big brother, the D6300, but without the cutting edge 802.11ac technology.

It has both ADSL and cable connections for future-proofing, it offers three-stream wireless connectivity over 5GHz for a top theoretical throughput of 450Mbits/sec, and there are twin USB ports for storage or printer sharing.

We found all-round performance to be sound, with only long-range performance disappointing, and we also liked that Netgear makes it so easy to set up OpenDNS-based parental controls, via its Live Parental Controls system.

The price has gone up since our initial review to around £115 inc VAT, but that's still reasonable for such a top-spec router.

Read our full Netgear DGND4400 review

Edimax BR-6478AC

Edimax BR-6478AC

There can be no better way of getting on the 802.11ac bandwagon than the Edimax BR-6478AC. Since we first reviewed it, the price has dropped dramatically, to the point at which it's now only £111 inc VAT for both the router and the USB 3 adapter you need to make the most of its top 867Mbits/sec speed.

On our test laptop, which has a fast 3x3 spatial stream adapter, we didn't find the new tech made much of a difference, but for more common 2x2 adapters, it will be a bigger leap. We found that performance over 802.11n connections was strong, too, the router's large exterior antennae undoubtedly helping in this regard.

There's currently no cheaper way of migrating to 802.11ac, but that comes at the cost of a limited feature set, with no USB ports for sharing storage or printers anywhere to be seen, and only a WAN port for cable connections.

Read our full Edimax BR-6478AC review

D-Link DIR-845L

D-Link DIR-845L

If you can find a more unusually shaped router than the D-Link DIR-845L, then we'd like to see it. This cable router looks more like an elongated baked bean tin than a traditional router, with its ports all arranged in a vertical stack at the rear. The reason for the shape is the multi-directional antenna array, which sits snugly inside the plastic body at the top.

The D-Link DIR-845L uses beam-forming technology, which is supposed to focus the signal in the direction of connected devices, wherever they're situated. In our tests we didn't see evidence this made much difference, however, with middling wireless performance in the 2.4GHz band and poor long-range performance in the 5GHz band.

The D-Link DIR-845L's strength is its feature set, which is as broad as they come. It offers concurrent dual-band wireless, and is rated at up to 300Mbits/sec connections across both bands. There's Gigabit all round, a USB socket for sharing storage, and decent parental controls – all at a reasonable price.

Read our full D-Link DIR-845L review

Author: Jonathan Bray

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User comments

What about the free ones?

I would like to see these routers reviewed alongside and against the free ones typically given out by the major ISPs. It would be nice to know the difference 'upgrading' could make in practice, otherwise I'm struggling to make the case for spending £100+ on one.

By kingct on 19 Jul 2013

Cable Asus?

Can anybody recommend a non-ADSL equivalent of the Asus DSL-N55U? I like this product and was wondering if Asus did a non DSL version.

By artiss on 19 Jul 2013

RE: What about the free ones?

I would think that since you already have one of the free ones then you already know how it performs, or can run some measurements yourself. If you're happy with the performance then there's no need to look at anything else. I wasn't happy with the wireless performance of my Virgin SuperHub and decided to upgrade to a NetGear R6300 on the strength of the PC Pro review, thereby quadrupling my wireless throughput.

By russelkhan on 19 Jul 2013

performance?

if all one knows is the free one you get from your ISP, how would you know whether it is performing well or not? Unless you have experience of something performing really well, to compare it with, you have no idea.

By oracle on 9 Aug 2013

Netgear router wrong

You have the 6300 listed as having a dsl and cable connection. Amazon only list it having a wan port so you still need an external modem. If you need a built in modem you need the 6200.

By techman05 on 23 Aug 2013

Power Consumption

One thing missing from your review of routers is the power consumption of the router. It is something not all manufacturers publish, and it would be of real help to know how much energy a router is using. I suspect most of us leaves ours on 24/7, so a 10 watt difference in power consumption over the course of a year might be ~ £13. You can get an idea by the size if the power supply, but you don't tell us that either!

By mjuassoc on 25 Aug 2013

Power Consumption

One thing missing from your review of routers is the power consumption of the router. It is something not all manufacturers publish, and it would be of real help to know how much energy a router is using. I suspect most of us leaves ours on 24/7, so a 10 watt difference in power consumption over the course of a year might be ~ £13. You can get an idea by the size if the power supply, but you don't tell us that either!

By mjuassoc on 25 Aug 2013

Power Consumption

One thing missing from your review of routers is the power consumption of the router. It is something not all manufacturers publish, and it would be of real help to know how much energy a router is using. I suspect most of us leaves ours on 24/7, so a 10 watt difference in power consumption over the course of a year might be ~ £13. You can get an idea by the size if the power supply, but you don't tell us that either!

By mjuassoc on 25 Aug 2013

Power Consumption

One thing missing from your review of routers is the power consumption of the router. It is something not all manufacturers publish, and it would be of real help to know how much energy a router is using. I suspect most of us leaves ours on 24/7, so a 10 watt difference in power consumption over the course of a year might be ~ £13. You can get an idea by the size if the power supply, but you don't tell us that either!

By mjuassoc on 25 Aug 2013

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