Cheap Wi-Fi 6 Router
The next generation of Wi-Fi, known as Wi-Fi 6, is making its way to a lot of new phones and wireless devices. This new tech brings the fastest speeds, more consistent coverage, and support for more devices. Wi-Fi 6 has finally made its way to the cheaper routers that most people are interested in without losing the best features that come with it. One of the best cheap Wi-Fi 6 routers is the TP-Link Archer AX21, thanks to its solid dual-band speeds and good software offering with app-based setup and OneMesh support.
Best Overall: TP-Link Archer AX21
Many people don’t have gigabit internet connections in their homes, and even if they do, they don’t need all that speed on their wireless devices. The TP-LInk Archer AX21 is a great choice for most people looking to get a wireless router that offers great speed for mobile devices that support Wi-Fi 6 without paying for features they can’t fully utilize. With an AX1800 connection, this router offers 574Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1201Mbps at 5GHz. Four Ethernet ports allow you to connect your wired devices as well.
It can be tempting to go for a faster router, but it’s worth keeping in mind that with Wi-Fi 6, this router can do more with less when it comes to spectrum and speed. A Wi-Fi 5 Android phone, for example, will connect at 867Mbps at best, while a similar WI-Fi 6 device will connect at 1201Mbps.
TP-Link’s software has come a long way in the past few years, and this router features basic parental controls and QoS options and support for OneMesh. OneMesh allows you to use another compatible TP-Link router as part of a mesh system so you can expand your coverage down the line without getting rid of your old router. For most people, this router has a great balance of features with plenty of speed for home use.
- Fast AX1800 speeds
- Fast 2.4GHz band
- Easy app setup
- OneMesh expansion capable
- Limited parental controls
Best Value: TP-Link Archer AX10
If you are looking to add Wi-Fi 6 capability to your network for as little as possible, you’re not going to beat the TP-Link Archer AX10. This router comes in at AX1500 speeds with 300Mbps available at 2.4GHz and 1201Mbps at 5GHz. One thing to keep in mind is that a 2.4GHz signal will travel further, so devices on the very edge of your connection might not be able to access the full speed of your router. Still, this won’t be an issue for a smaller home, and with a 5GHz connection, you should have more than enough speed.
Before getting too caught up in the raw speed capabilities, it’s good to remember that most people don’t have internet connections even close to fast enough to utilize the full speed of this router. You also only need around 25Mbps to stream 4K video over the internet.
You also get all of the other great features that come with Wi-Fi 6, including more reliable coverage and the ability to connect to a lot more devices than Wi-Fi 5. Around the back of the Archer AX10, you get four Ethernet ports so you can keep your wired devices connected with no additional equipment. If you’re looking to add Wi-Fi 6 but don’t need a ton of speed, this is one of your best bets.
- Four Ethernet ports
- Fast 5GHz Wi-Fi
- No WPA3 support
- No USB ports
Best Mesh Expansion: Linksys MAX-STREAM MR7350
Linksys is leaning more into Wi-Fi 6 with a well-balanced and inexpensive router. In a subtle housing that should age gracefully, the MR7350 offers speeds consistent with other AX1800 offerings, that is to say, plenty for most users. Linksys reports potential 1201Mbps on the 5GHz channel and 574Mbps at 2.4GHz. There are also four Ethernet ports on the back for wired devices and a USB 3.0 port.
With coverage up to 1,700 sq ft, this router alone is a good option for many homes and apartments. If you find you need more coverage or have a home that’s tricky to cover thoroughly, you can expand your coverage with another Velop capable mesh router from Linksys. This also includes the entire Velop mesh line giving you quite a few options for speed and coverage.
Having a mesh-capable router can be a huge bonus since our Wi-Fi needs are growing all the time, and as local traffic and congestion increase, having the ability to patch in more coverage will be worth it.
- AX1800 speeds
- Velop mesh compatible
- USB 3.0 port
- Four Ethernet ports
- WPA3 support
Best for Gaming: Asus RT-AX86
If you’re a serious competitive gamer, you should be using a wired connection if at all possible, and the Asus RT-AX86 has great support with a fast 2.5Gbps Ethernet port. If you need to use wireless, this router still makes the most of it with a fast 2.4GHz connection up to 861Mbps and up to 4804Mbps at 5GHz. This extra speed at 2.4GHz can keep your connection fast even as your move further from your router. This router also has four more gigabit Ethernet ports for lower-priority wired devices.
Asus has a great software package with gaming-specific features. A mobile gaming optimizer helps you gain an edge in Android gaming. An Nvidia GeForce NOW recommendation means this router will keep the pings low no matter if you game locally or with streaming. Classic prioritization is available for PCs or consoles connected to the game port. With no further setup needed.
Finally, Asus also includes AiMesh support for easy future coverage expansion. AiProtection Pro is also included for free, which includes parental controls and antivirus protection for all of your connected devices.
- AX5700 speeds
- Gaming QoS software included
- AiMesh support for easy coverage expansion
- AiProtection Pro included for free
- 2.5G Ethernet for WAN or LAN
Best Mesh: Eero 6
The older Eero was one of our favorite mesh routers thanks to its impressively intuitive software and solid performance. Eero 6 takes it one step further with faster AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 speeds while not growing much larger than the older Eero. The speeds break down to 574Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1201Mbps at 5GHz. Eero recommends this router for gigabit connection on its own or up to 500Mbps connections as a mesh.
Eero’s software is great with everything being controlled from an app. While you don’t have as much control as other routers, most of what you need to do is included from setup to device management. You can also set features like IPv6, WPA 3, and even port forwarding from the app. Eero 6 doesn’t have as much coverage as other routers at this price, but its compact size and easy mesh expansion make up for it. Speaking of mesh, Eero 6 is compatible with all other Eeros, including Wi-Fi 5 models, so if you need to expand your coverage, you have plenty of options.
- Fast AX1800 speeds
- Easy coverage expansion
- Compact size
- Works with all other Eeros
- Only two Ethernet ports per unit
Best for Security: Asus RT-AX55
The Asus RT-AX55 offers a similar performance level to the top pick, with a few extra software features thrown in to sweeten the deal. This router has an AX1800 connection with 574Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1201Mbps at 5GHz. This router has a sensible design with four Ethernet ports on the back for your wired devices. One thing missing is a USB port, which most people won’t use anyways.
What helps this router stand out is its software. AiProtection software is included for free with antivirus provided by TrendMicro. While most Asus routers have this feature, it’s nice to see it reach even its cheapest Wi-Fi 6 options. Ai Protection also includes parental controls. AiMesh is still here allowing you to expand your coverage with additional Asus routers easily. This router also has a nice look to it with textured black housing and with red accents.
- AX1800 speeds
- Four Ethernet ports
- Asus AiProtection support
- AiMesh support included
- More expensive than others at this speed
If you have a fast Wi-Fi 5 router, there’s really not much reason to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 unless you are in an area with a lot of wireless traffic. If your router is starting to feel slow or you haven’t made the jump to a fast Wi-Fi 5 router yet, upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 should help your speeds quite a bit and could even help if your connection drops out. The price has even come down enough that most of the best wireless routers you can get are Wi-Fi 6.
If you have a high-speed gigabit internet connection, you might want to invest in a faster router, but AX1800 will be more than fast enough for most people. The TP-Link Archer AX21 is a great value for most people with solid speeds and even comes with the ability to expand your coverage with TP-Link’s OneMesh software that can link up with other compatible TP-Link routers. The AX21 is also easy to set up with TP-Link’s smartphone app.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Samuel Contreras When Samuel is not writing about networking and carriers, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It’s the Pentium 3.
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