Need to better network speed, security, reliability or Wi-Fi coverage? Here are the best wireless and small business routers.
If you work in a small office, or if you often find yourself working from home, it goes without saying that a decent internet connection is paramount. But if your internet router is giving you grief, speeds aren’t quite on par with what your internet provider promised or you suffer from frequent wireless connectivity issues, then you might need to buy a new router.
With more and more business apps relying on a constant connection to the cloud, it’s essential that your network is fast and reliable. Or perhaps you need the security of virtual private network. Either way, here are the five of the better routers available.
DrayTek Vigor 2860Ln
Let’s start with a strictly business-class router – the Vigor 2860Ln, which part of DrayTek’s excellent range of routers for small and mid-sized organisations.
The Vigor 2860Ln offers six Gigabit Ethernet ports and plenty of connectivity options, including the ADSL2+/VDSL2 port, an extra Gigabit WAN port, USB port that supports a 4G adapter and a 4G SIM slot. The router can be connected using a combination of these interfaces for load balancing and failover to maximise internet performance and reliability.
It also features a boatload of security features, including keyword-based web filtering, an SPI firewall and SSL virtual private networks.
As a wireless router it’s pretty average, only supporting the 2.4GHz, 802.11n wireless standard – although it does have some useful wireless features for business, such as four virtual SSIDs with different levels of security.
At over $800, it’s not cheap. But if you want a business router with rock-steady VPN support and a swathe of security and redundancy features, the DrayTek Vigor 2860Ln should be on your short list.
- Price: $836
- Specs: Single-band 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi; 6 x Gigabit Ethernet, ADSL2+/VDSL2 interface, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet WAN and 1 x RJ11 ports; 4G SIM slot.
If your business needs virtual private networks on a budget, the Linksys LRT224 is well worth considering. With support for up to 50 client IPsec or site-to-site VPNs, in addition to OpenVPN, PPTP and other configurations, the LRT224 offers plenty of options at a very low price.
Note that this is not a wireless router. Also, we found that network performance over VPN wasn’t good, but Linksys makes up for this by providing thorough documentation and online help resources, ensuring that setup is as easy as possible. In addition, no other router offers this many VPN features at such a low cost.
- Price: $246
- Specs: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, 2 x Gigabit Ethernet WAN ports; no Wi-Fi.
Next: high-performance wireless routers
TP-Link Archer VR2800
If you’re looking for high-performance wireless router, the TP-Link Archer VR2800 offers you just that – at an affordable price. This router supports the latest high-performance Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac Wave 2, including MU-MIMO (in fact it’s 4 x 4 MIMO) – all of which means that, for compatible devices, it provides four simultaneous wireless streams and can deal with multiple users at once.
The Archer VR2800 offers fast AC2800 speeds as well, with specifications of 2,167Mbits/sec over the 5GHz band and 600Mbits/sec over 2.4GHz. It performs superbly as a result and it’s flexible, too, with both VDSL2 and ADSL2+ connections and a dedicated WAN Ethernet port for connection to external modems.
Add a raft of simple but powerful features, including a useable, effective mobile app – and you have a great router for home or small office networks at a reasonable price.
- Price: $399
- Specs: Tri-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, up to 2,167Mbit/s (5GHz) and 600Mbit/s (2.4GHz); 3 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet WAN, 1 x RJ11 and 2 x USB3 ports.
Netgear Orbi RBS50
The way small Wi-Fi networks work has remained unchanged for years, but in 2017 it’s changing, thanks to new ‘mesh’ networking products with multiple nodes that are designed to cloak your home or small office with Wi-Fi to eliminate dead spots.
The Netgear Orbi is one such system, offering two wireless routers: one to plug into your broadband and another ‘satellite’ positioned in the centre of your home to spread the network so there's a strong signal everywhere. It’s a tri-band system, offering 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, along with another high-speed 5GHz dedicated connection between the two routers.
It works well, too, successfully extending the coverage and offering pretty good performance. It’s easy to set up and use, and each router also has four Gigabyte Ethernet ports, although one of those is used for the broadband connection on main router.
The main downside is that, at $749, the original AC3000 system is pricey, although that does include the two routers. If your coverage needs aren’t quite so demanding, Netgear has released the new $599 Orbi RBS40, which is a AC2200 system.
- Price: $749
- Specs: Multi-node system with tri-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, with MU-MIMO support; up to 1,733Mbps for dedicated 5GHz band between routers, up to 867Mbps for 5GHz band, 400Mbps for the 2.4GHz band; 1 x USB 2.0 port and 4 x Gigabyte Ethernet ports both routers (with one used for WAN connection on main router).
The Linksys Velop is another ‘mesh’ networking product for homes and small offices. Like the Netgear Orbi, it’s a high-performance tri-band Wi-Fi system with support for MU-MIMO.
It’s AC2200 system with a slower dedicated band between the routers than the AC3000 Orbi, but the Velop still works well, offering good coverage and very respectable speeds.
If you want blanket wireless coverage without having to worry too much about setup, configuration or maintenance, the Velop is a good choice. It’s cheaper than the Orbi, priced from $649 for two nodes (or $799 for three). However, each Velop router only has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and one of those will have to be used for the broadband connection on the main router.
As such, the Velop is best considered primarily a wireless network device.
- Price: from $649
- Specs: Multi-node system with tri-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO support; up to 867Mbps for dedicated 5GHz band between routers, up to 867Mbps for 5GHz band, 400Mbps for 2.4GHz band up to 867Mbps (5GHz) and 400Mbps (2.4GHz); 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports (with one for WAN connection on main router).