You don’t have to deal with cheap, low-quality routers that your ISP provides for your internet service. They are frequently unreliable and can even have an adverse effect on your connection speed.
Instead, why not buy one of the leading dual-band routers? But which is the best Wi-Fi router? Keep reading to find out.
Dual-Band Router vs. Single-Band Router
The main difference between a single-band and dual-band router is the Wi-Fi frequencies they support. A single-band model can only connect to a 2.4GHz network; dual-band devices can connect to 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks.
A 5GHz network is usually a better option in small homes or in locations where there is lots of interference from nearby networks. 5GHz waves cannot travel as far, but the signal is stronger, and it can provide faster speeds.
5GHz is also a better option for people who need to connect lots of devices to their network. It has 23 non-overlapping channels compared to only three non-overlapping channels on a 2.4GHz network.
Here’s our list of the best dual-band Wi-Fi routers available today.
The TP-Link Archer C7 Wireless Dual-Band Gigabit Router AC1750 is ideal for anyone who lives an area with congested bandwidth.
The device has six powerful antennas which help to get a strong 5GHz signal into every corner of your home. It will also help the waves penetrate thicker walls—something that 5GHz connections can struggle with.
TP-Link offers a V5 model and V4 model. The V4 model has two USB ports but doesn’t work with the company’s app. The V5 model only has one USB port but does support the app. Both models provide up to 450Mbps on a 2.4GHz network and 1300Mbps on a 5GHz network. They also both support simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz connections.
The ASUS RT-AC68U Wireless-AC1900 Dual-Band Gigabit Router is one of the best Wi-Fi routers you can buy.
Although it offers the same 5GHz speeds as the TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750, its 2.4GHz speed can go up to 600Mbps thanks to the internal Broadcom TurboQAM technology. A word of warning: not all devices support TurboQAM. If yours doesn’t, you’ll be limited to 450Mbps on 2.4GHz connections.
If your home network is particularly busy, the ASUS RT-AC68U is worth investigating. Its dual-core processor helps to eliminate the performance drop-off seen in other routers. It means even data-intensive tasks such as video streaming and VOIP calls will function with no lag.
And if your home is congested with signals from neighbors’ devices (for example, if you live in a block of flats), you will benefit from the router’s AiRadar feature. It uses beamforming technology to amplify the signal in areas that need it.
The router has two USB 3.0 ports and extensive parental control options available through the accompanying app.
NETGEAR is one of the most well-known manufacturers of networking equipment. It should come as no surprise, therefore, to learn that the NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1750 Smart Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router is one you should consider.
Like the other two routers we’ve looked at, speeds of up to 450Mbps and 1300Mbps are offered by the 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels respectively. The Nighthawk AC1750 has a dual-core 1GHz processor, beamforming technology on both frequencies, and five ethernet ports (one WAN and four LAN). There is a single USB 3.0 port and three antennas.
A few other features help the router to stand out. There’s support for Circle Smart Parental Controls which let you manage both content and the amount of time kids spend on the web. And there’s a way to easily set which of your connected device get bandwidth priority. You can even control the Nighthawk AC1750 with your voice thanks to its Google Assistant integration.
The three routers we’ve discussed so far are all in a similar price range. If you want to opt for a device that’s a bit more high-end, the NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S Smart Wi-Fi Router could be the router for you. Sure, it’s three times the price of the cheaper model. But lots of awesome technology is packed in, some of which will be especially useful for people suffering from channel congestion.
The router is tri-band instead of dual-band. That means you get one 2.4GHz channel and two 5GHz channels. It includes a 64-bit dual-core 1.8GHz processor and has three amplifiers and six external antennas to make sure the signal in your home is as strong as possible.
There’s also beamforming, MU-MIMO, and Dynamic Quality of Service (QoS), all of which help you overcome congested airwaves more effectively. The router has four LAN ports. Unlike the cheaper R6700 model, the NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S works with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Most consumer-grade dual-band wireless routers only have four LAN ports. The ASUS RT-AX88U is the exception. It has eight rear LAN ports for ethernet connections. As such, you can hook up all your desktop computers, printers, TVs, streaming boxes, and gaming consoles without continually needing to plug/unplug different connections.
Furthermore, both this ASUS model and the previously discussed ASUS RT-AC68U work with ASUS’s AiMesh technology. It lets you mix-and-match ASUS routers to create a mesh network around your entire home. The network can either have a single SSID or multiple SSIDs.
So, picture the scene; you could place the more costly ASUS RT-AX88U at the heart of your entertainment center and use the eight wired connections. Then, pair the router with cheaper RT-AC68U units in dead zones and areas that struggle with congestion.
The Best Wi-Fi Routers for You
The five routers we have discussed are among the best dual-band routers you can buy. But we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s available.
Before making your decision on which dual-band Wi-Fi router is best for you, check out our analysis of how dual-band routers can help you solve your Wi-Fi issues.