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After years of speculation, Apple has officially announced the discontinuation of its once-popular AirPort Wi-Fi routers.
The news wasn’t exactly a surprise since the AirPort and AirPort Extreme haven’t been updated since 2012 and 2013 respectively. But especially for Apple users, both options provided a number of great features including easy setup in both iOS and macOS.
While Apple will still continue to support the products for some time, many potential buyers are looking elsewhere for a powerful Wi-Fi router. Here are five alternatives to Apple’s AirPort and AirPort Extreme.
1. AmpliFi HD
Wireless mesh network equipment has quickly become a top choice for anyone looking for a strong and consistent internet connection.
Instead of broadcasting a wireless signal from just a router, a mesh network helps bring the connection to a number of different locations in the home. And the results are usually well worth the price of admission. We recently reviewed the AmpliFi HD and were impressed by the design, ease of both setup and use, and all the different features.
Completely scalable, a starter system offers both the main router and two Mesh HD points. As a nice touch, the router features a capacitive touchscreen display providing real-time status of the network. The smaller Mesh HD points reside elsewhere in your home and simply plug into a wall outlet. The dual-band 802.11ac system can deliver up to a 5.25Gbps aggregate speed, and should be able to bring fast internet speeds everywhere, no matter how many devices you have.
You can purchase additional mesh points for bigger homes. AmpliFi even has an additional device that can create a plug-and-play VPN to improve online security.
If you’re content with just a Wi-Fi router for your home or apartment, the Synology RT2600AC is a nice choice. The 802.11ac dual-band router can handle a Time Machine backup from a Mac and even allow anyone to share a printer or hard drive across a network.
Thanks to two USB ports and an SD card reader, the router can easily become a multimedia hub. You can play media files using DLNA home devices. If you prefer, you can also stream files to smart TVs and stereo systems.
Traffic monitoring tools can help you prioritize bandwidth to certain devices like a gaming console or smart TV.
On the security side, the router receives regular updates and also offers a number of features like intrusion protection, denial-of-service protection, and firewall management to help protect from outside threats.
For a mesh network on a smaller budget, Linksys offers a dual-band version of its 802.11ac Velop system.
During setup, the Velop app will recommend the best placement for each node to help reduce latency, maximize throughput, improve range, and offer better signal strength.
Special intelligent mesh technology combines both hardware and software to provide better speed. This improves handling between the different nodes, while always trying to improve the connection.
Anyone with an Amazon Alexa device can also take advantage of a number of different skills with the voice assistant. With the Linksys Dual-Band Velop, you can accomplish tasks like turning on and off the guest network and reading login credentials out loud with just a voice command.
Buyers can select from a starter pack with one, two, or three nodes. You can purchase additional nodes later to expand a system. It’s also completely interoperable and interchangeable with nodes from the more expensive tri-band system.
Linksys backs the system with a three-year warranty.
Ahead of the curve, the Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 offers both 802.11ad technology along with the usual 802.11ac. With that combination, the router provides wireless speeds of up to 7.2Gbps with four external antennas.
Media fans will definitely enjoy this router. Just plug in a USB drive or NAS and use the built-in Plex server to watch your movies, TV shows, videos, and more from anywhere. Your purchase also includes a free six month subscription to Amazon Drive. The cloud storage option acts as a backup for important content from any USB device plugged into the router.
The router also sports six Gigabit Ethernet ports and even an SPF+ LAN port for fiber connectivity.
Eero was the first company to create a true mesh network system for the home in 2016. And its second-generation products continue to refine the popular formula.
A starter pack offers one Eero unit and two Eero beacons. The Eero Home Wi-Fi System offers trio-band technology and is up to twice as fast as the original. It also sports two Ethernet ports to connect a modem and another device like a switch or printer.
The Eero Beacon is half the size of the original model, but with the same mesh technology. Instead of needing to find a location for the Beacon, it can plug directly into a wall outlet. The node even has a built-in nightlight that adjusts the brightness depending on the time of day.
Eero software automatically updates every few weeks and provides improvements and fixes to the system. Instead of needing to wade through parental controls for different devices, the Eero app allows users to create family profiles. With that feature, you can adjust network connectivity depending on the time of day and other factors. It’s a perfect way to manage screen time.
An additional optional subscription is available to users. Eero Plus, which costs $9.99 per month, unlocks a number of other features. Some of those include a VPN app, ad blocking across an entire network, additional parental controls, and access to the popular password manager 1Password to store logins for up to five family members.
Get Surfing With the Best Routers
Even though Apple’s Wi-Fi products were reliable and well-regarded, any of these Apple AirPort alternatives should definitely handle your wireless networking needs now and in the future.
And if you’re interested in finding other routers, or even modems, take a look at our router guide for every budget.