The Best Wireless Routers for 2021
If you are like me and not plugged into the latest breakthroughs in the tech scene, shopping for a router can be a daunting task. For a box that often provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), it may never cross your mind to go shopping for your own router– however, you can save money on your internet bill each month with your own, while enjoying consistently faster internet.
Sounds great! The problem? Diving into the world of routers can leave you more confused than you started, with the sheer amount of jargon and numbers you will have to parse through before you find that perfect router. Luckily, we at Rank-it.ca are here to help you simplify the search for a new router, with this list of the best wireless routers available in Canada. Whether looking to save some money at home or to upgrade your office’s productivity, we have a router that will match your needs perfectly.
Our top picks
How to choose a router
When you are trying to decide what is the best Wi-Fi router available for you, there are a few important things you should consider. While everybody wants fast internet, you should be thinking about what are your current uses for your Wi-Fi, how many devices you have connected at any given time and the space you are adding a wireless signal to.
- Speed: If you do a lot of video gaming or HD movie streaming, more powerful routers will optimize each experience at a cost, while you can spring for something less expensive if your main uses are checking your email or browsing the web.
- The number of connections: Some routers may provide fast internet for a few devices and become overwhelmed at a threshold, so if you have a connected family, looking at tri band or mesh router systems may be a good idea.
- Space: you should consider factors like the square footage of the area you want to go wireless in and the layout of your building. Multi-room and multi-floor buildings may have multiple dead zones, so a mesh system may make the most sense in certain settings.
- Cost: If you were perfectly happy with the router provided by your ISP and you want to save some cash, then it makes more sense springing for a budget option than a top of the line router.
Why trust us
With so many different wireless routers on the market today, finding the right router for you might take hours. Luckily for you, our team spent over 15 hours choosing the best routers for different purposes, based on top user ratings and trusted Wi-Fi router reviews from sites, including Digital Trends. The review process for this article was data-backed and fact-checked but also include personal opinions.
Best Wi-Fi router for home
Google Nest WiFi
The Google Nest Wi-Fi system is a router and smart speaker in one convenient bundle, with the option to run your Nest Wi-Fi in a mesh system or as a standalone unit. Mesh router systems comprise of a router that connects to your modem, and then one or more Wi-fi Point extensions, expanding your Wi-Fi’s reach with less dead zones.
As a router, the Nest Wi-Fi is a solid device independently, but users note that it tends to work better in a mesh configuration, unless you have a very small home. The Nest WiFi is a dual-band router, meaning it creates and maintains two wireless signals: a 5Ghz signal that is stronger and better suited for streaming video and online gaming, and a 2.4Ghz signal that is perfect for browsing the web or sending emails. Combined, the Google Nest Wi-Fi offers a maximum throughput of 2200 Megabits per second (Mbps), but your Wi-Fi will vary on a lot of different variables, including your ISP, modem and layout of your house.
Users praise this Google router for the ease of set up, quality of internet and smart home integration. Many home routers will be set up and forgotten about until the Wi-Fi goes down, but the Google Nest Wi-Fi has a full range of Google Home commands and Google assistant skills. Its speaker provides rich sound quality, but some users have noted that the speaker is on the quiet side.
Altogether, the Google Nest WiFi is a great all-in-one package for Wi-Fi and smart home setups at a solid price point. We recommend considering buying the Google Nest Wifi 2 Pack for far reaching WiFi unless you live in a small house or apartment, otherwise, the router itself should do amply.
- All-in-one package combines router with a smart speaker.
- Easy set-up.
- Other routers prove faster with more configurations.
- Limited range unless in a mesh set up.
Best office router
Netgear Orbi Pro
The Netgear Orbi Pro is also our choice for Best Router for Long Range.
Recently, the productivity of your workplace might be dependant on consistently fast internet. If you are looking for a mesh system with high speeds, wide range and that can handle many devices at once, the Netgear Orbi Pro is one of the top-rated mesh routers to suit your needs.
While mesh Wi-Fi routers are the best option for ensuring consistent Wi-Fi with no dead spots across your home or office, an issue that some mesh routers have is that the communication between the router and the satellite points eat into the available bandwidth and slow down the wireless signal.
But under the hood, the Netgear Orbi Pro maintains impressive 8×8 MIMO capability, with over half of the available channels dedicated for communication between the Router and the different satellite points, leaving dual 5Ghz and 2.4 GHz channels all offering blazingly fast Wi-fi.
While many systems designed for professional applications may assume an IT background for set up, the Orbi Pro is easy to set up in your home or workplace. Netgear offers both Android and iOS apps to guide you through the process, no matter your tech background. However, some thought is required in the placement of the Router and the satellite extension, and it is recommended for maximum efficiency to centralize the router and have the satellite extend from that point.
While we recommend the Orbi Pro for office use, it can be a solid home option too for a premium price. Users across the board are extremely happy with Orbi Pro for its’ ease of set up and quality of Wi-Fi.
- Ease of set up.
- Fast internet throughout the home and office.
- Flexible mounting possible for walls and ceilings.
- Not compatible with original Orbi hardware.
- Higher price point.
Best budget router
TP Link Archer C7 AC1750
If your motivation for looking for a new router is to save money, there are great routers out there for any budget. For those on a lower budget, you need not look any further than the Archer C7 AC1750.
This Dual-band router comes with all of the essentials you need in a router in 2021: two bands with a total available bandwidth of 1.75 Gbps, four Gigabit LAN ports and an additional Gigabit WAN port for wired setups, and a USB 2.0 port for connecting to printers and hard drives – all for significantly less than $100.
With TP-Link’s Tether app, you will be able to set up your AC1750 quickly and be able to manage your network at home or remotely.
Altogether, the C7 is a trusted base router that will be affordable for everyone and can help save you money each month on your internet bill if you currently rent a router from your ISP.
- Canadian Users have noted issues with the Firmware, as US firmware is not compatible with Canadian ISP/modems.
Best router for multiple devices
Linksys EA8300 Max Stream
The Linksys EA8300 Max Stream is also our Best Router for streaming.
The Linksys EA8300 Max Stream is a smaller, sleeker router that packs a surprising amount of speed and can power several devices simultaneously.
The Tri-band design is perfect for households that always have multiple devices connected at any given time. The EA8300 Max Stream has many features to ensures it distributes data how you want: The Airtime Fairness feature divides the Wi-fi pie evenly to all devices, whereas the Media Prioritization allows you to prioritize your HD stream or gaming session so you get the Wi-Fi speeds you need. Finally, the Wi-Fi Traffic Optimizer feature divides the Wi-Fi use among its three bands automatically for maximum efficiency.
With a WAN port and four LAN ports, in addition to a USB 3.0 port, this router has all the basic hardware you expect from a quality router. Additionally, the Max Stream carries parental controls for people with little ones, or guest access with temporary passwords for those who have guests over but do not want to sacrifice their security.
Despite the combined strengths of the EA8300 three bands, we do not recommend this device for users with bigger homes, or in an office setting, as it has a smaller range than other Routers. Linksys does not have matching mesh extensions for the EA8300, however, if you are sold on the EA8300 otherwise, you should be able to use generic extenders to improve range and eliminate dead zones.
The Linksys EA8300 is ultimately a powerful, affordable router that is great for streaming on multiple devices – you can watch Netflix while your parents are binging Crave and your sibling is bumping tunes on Spotify without anyone noticing the internet slow down.
- Multiple settings for optimizing data use among several devices.
- Inexpensive for its power.
- Smaller size.
- Some users have noticed a smaller range than comparable routers.
Best gaming router
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000
The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is also our choice for Best High-End Router
If you are looking to maximize your gaming experience and your old router just is not cutting it, the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is a monster of a router that you can depend on for a long time. For starters, this router is one of the few on this list that is fully Wi-Fi 6 compatible. As this format is shaping up to be the Wi-Fi of the 20s, this makes the GT-AX11000 a worthy investment for its steeper price.
The GT-AC11000 is a Tri-Band router with a 2.4GHz channel that rivals that of some other router’s 5Ghz channel in terms of Gbps speed test. With a rated maximum of 10.8 Gbps, that makes this Asus router the fastest on our list, but as www.Tomsguide.com notes, the GT AX11000 will only reach that full potential once other Wi-Fi 6 devices become available. Despite being so ahead of the curve, the AX11000 is fully compatible with previous Wi-Fi standards.
The GT-AX11000 is the ultimate choice for gamers due to the low-latency design that ensures your gaming experience runs as smoothly as possible. If LAN parties are not out of the question, the AX11000 has four downstream gigabit Ethernet ports for fast wired gameplay. If that does not convince you for your gaming needs, Asus has a Gamer’s Private Network and several settings for game acceleration.
Users reported that The AX11000 seems to grant stronger signals the further away your device is from the router, however, they noted that the AX11000 struggles with walls and other barriers found in your home. The AX11000 can utilize mesh router technology through the Asus AiMesh system if you find the need, but the base model of the AX11000 is so powerful you might not need to.
Ultimately, if you need a powerful router to get the best gaming performance you can, the AX11000 is our natural pick.
- Extremely fast internet.
- Wi-Fi 6 compatible.
- Low latency perfect for gaming.
Best secure Wi-Fi router
TP-Link Archer C5400
With incredible speeds, high throughput and a myriad of bonus features, the TP-Link Archer C5400X is an amazing router designed with gaming in mind but can easily be utilized for any usage. However, what impresses us at Rank-it.ca is this TP-Link router’s range of built-in security features that will keep your household safe from cyber threats.
As a powerful tri-band router, the C5400X allows for 1Gbps in its 2.4Ghz band and 2.167Gbps for each of its 5Ghz channels – putting it near the top of the line in terms of speed, with great range and ability to broadcast through walls. Great for gaming, streaming or browsing of all kinds, the Archer C5400X impressed many users with its speed.
In addition to excellent speed, range and specs that make it a terrific gaming and home router, the C5400X has great added security features that stand out to us. Included is a Malicious Content Filter, so users stay away from potentially harmful sites, an Intrusion Prevention System to combat network attack and an Infected Device Quarantine so a compromised device will not wreak havoc on the network and other systems. Additionally, it has a built-in VPN server to connect anonymously to cover your online tracks. All these security settings are easily accessible either online or through the Tether App available for iOS or Android devices.
In today’s digital age, cyber threats pose one of the greatest security risks to you and your home. If you want to surf the web with peace of mind, investing in a router with great security like the C5400X is a great option to ensure your networks are secure.
- Strong tri-band router with some of the best speeds and throughput on the market.
- Excellent security settings.
- May be awkward looking for some.
- Can get very hot.
Best portable Wi-Fi router
TP-Link AC750 Wireless Wi-Fi Travel Router
If you find yourself utilizing multiple connected devices away from home or the office on a regular basis, the TP-Link AC750 Wireless Travel Router packs a lot of utility in a travel-sized shell.
The AC750 is a dual-band router with a single Fast Ethernet port and a USB 2.0 port, excellent for turning wired connections into wireless internet wherever you are. Users tend to be happy with the range of functions and simplicity of use.
The AC750 is powered by a Micro USB port, which most people have already in their toolkit, but some users wish it had an internal battery like other portable routers.
- Dual-band Wi-Fi.
- Small, travel-sized shell.
- There have been few firmware updates since its release.
Best router for less than $100
Belkin AC1600 Dual-band AC Gigabit Router
If your main goal with buying a router is saving some money on your internet bill each month, the Belkin AC1600 is the best Gigabit router on a budget that will pay for itself with your savings in no time.
This dual-band Gigabit router offers solidly fast speeds in each band, so you do not need to sacrifice performance for the price. With Intellistream QoS that lets you prioritize video gaming and streaming; you can ensure your AC1600 will work at its best when you need it. Built-in parental controls powered by Norton lets your little ones access the internet without hovering over their shoulder the whole time.
The Belkin AC1600 can be set up with ease from your smartphone or tablet, and have you browsing in minutes. However, some users report that while set up is a breeze, the configuration of the settings is difficult and non-intuitive.
The Belkin AC1600 is retailed for just under $100, however, during the end of the year sale season, this model can be found at bargain-bin prices. For decent Wi-Fi speeds and features you wouldn’t expect for such an inexpensive option, the Belkin is a strong argument for making the switch from your ISP provided router.
- Set up out of the box with ease.
- Added QoS and Parental Control settings.
- Some users note the configuration of the settings is difficult.
- Price and set up come at the cost of faster speeds.
Best dual-band router
Netgear Nighthawk R7000P
If you are looking for a quality dual-band router without the extra bells and whistles most tri-band routers today offer, the Netgear Nighthawk R7000P is that jack-of-all-trades router you can rely on. With fast access, a wide range and addable security options, the Netgear Nighthawk is an affordable choice that does it all.
The Nighthawk offers 2300 Mbps (split into 600 and 1625 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz channels respectively) over 2000 sq feet without the need for additional points – or you can set it to “Access Point Mode” for use as a dedicated Access point and get fast internet speeds in rooms that had dead spots previously. Additionally, the Nighthawk is equipped with a range of additional features including Amazon Alexa Voice control compatibility and Dynamic QoS to ensure fast internet speeds for your games or streams. The Nighthawk comes with 30-day free trials of Circle App parental controls and Netgear Armor Advanced Cyber-Threat protection (powered by BitDefender) so you can test out these extra measures to see if you need them down the line.
Ultimately, the Nighthawk R7000P is an inexpensive dual-band router with solid speed, range and options that you can trust.
- Fast, wide-ranging coverage for an inexpensive price tag.
- Might be advertised to come with Netgear Armor Cybersecurity, but after the first month becomes available by subscription.
Best budget Wi-Fi 6 router
D-Link AX1500 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Route
You might be aware that Wi-Fi 6, or 8702.11ax, is the next Wi-Fi format. While we are a few years from Wi-fi 6 being standard, there is no worse feeling than investing in technology only for you need to upgrade that same tech shortly after. By no means are non-Wi Fi 6 Routers going to be obsolete any time soon, but if you are looking to the future on a budget, the AX1500 from D-Link is the cheapest available router we found that is Wi-Fi 6 compatible.
The AX1500 has all the standard features and specs we have come to expect from our routers: 1500 Mbps Dual-band network (split between 300 Mbps and 1200 Mbps respectively), OFDMA and MU-MIMO configurations, and compatibility with D Link’s own Wi-fi mesh technology prove valuable in-home and office setups.
Some users have noted a lack of instructions, meaning set up and configuration can be difficult if you are newer to setting up a router. However, if this is not your first router rodeo, you should have no issues with set up.
While Wi-Fi 6 is still a budding technology, D-Link already is rolling out affordable Wi-fi 6 options that do their jobs solidly.
- Wi-Fi 6 and backwards compatible.
- Lack of instructions.
- Difficult customization.
How we picked the best routers
For this buying guide, we looked at a range of aspects someone would look for in a router – from internet speed, range, size, hardware and software specs, and features. We found that while everybody agrees that fast internet is the best, everybody will have different things they are looking for in a router regarding their use of the internet and home/office layout. We ensured a range of powers and prices throughout the list, so there should be a router that will match what you want.
Frequent wireless router questions
How does a wireless router work?
A router creates a private Wi-Fi network by connecting to a modem, which itself will connect to an internet source, whether that be cable, fibre optic, satellite or even old school dial connection. The router will broadcast the information needed through radio waves that our devices can connect to for wireless internet access in your home or office.
Router vs Modem: What’s the difference?
A modem decodes a signal from an Internet Service Provider and connects directly to the internet but does not create a Wi-Fi network. That is where the router comes in. A router needs a modem to create and manage a WI-FI network before you can surf the web.
What is the difference between a router and Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi is a wireless network that connects devices in the current age. A router is a piece of equipment that creates and manages a Wi-Fi network for your home or office.
How to set up a wireless router?
While this may range with different ISPs and routers, most of the time you will need to turn your Internet gateway off, connect your Router’s WAN port into your internet gateway’s LAN port through an Ethernet cable, then turn on the Gateway, plug in the Router and turn it on. From there, your router will have its own instructions or even web apps that will guide you through the process. Many tech sites will have a guide on setting up a router if you run into issues along the way.
Where can I buy a Wi-Fi router in Canada?
Most stores that carry electronics will have routers, including Walmart, Best Buy or the Source. Amazon Canada also carries a wide range of Routers for any purpose; however, you do need access to the internet to buy a router on Amazon for access to the internet.
What is the cheapest Wi-Fi router you can find in Canada? (regardless of the quality)
While your internet service provider may rent a router, the monthly rental fees will add up over time. For the cheapest router, we recommend the TP-Link Archer AC1200.
What does Wi-Fi stand for?
While people (and until just now, myself included) understand Wi-Fi to be short for Wireless Fidelity, the truth is that Wi-Fi does not stand for anything. Wi-Fi is a trademarked term for the wireless communication standard 802.11 (frequency) that can send messages using this radio frequency between devices.
What are the main types of routers?
While there are many types of routers out there, today you will mostly see dual- and tri-band routers, which refer to the number of signals they produce, and Mesh routers, which are systems including routers and extra points to extend and strengthen the signal.
Who are the main Wi-Fi router brands?
TP-Link, Netgear, Asus, D-Link, Cisco and Belkin are some long-established Wi-Fi router brands, with other companies like Google and Amazon are stepping into the mix recently.
How do I know who is connected to my Wi-Fi router?
You can find out if somebody is connected to your router by looking at their Wi-Fi settings. However, if you are trying to see if anybody is connected to your way to do this. First, take your router’s IP address (you can find this on the back of your router, usually with the rest of the router’s information). Entering your IP address into a browser tab will bring you to the router’s login page. You should be able to find the router’s login credentials on the back of the router with the IP address. Once logged in, navigate the menu until you find the list of connected devices (depending on what kind of router you have, this will be listed in different places). The router will list all the connected devices in a table with the hostname and MAC address for each device. From there, you can remotely disconnect any device you do not recognize that is connected to the Wi-Fi.
In which room should I place my Wi-Fi router?
Devices can connect wirelessly through radio waves, and if you are finding you have a weak signal or dead spots, it may not be because of your router as much as it has to do with your router’s location. It is recommended that a router be placed in a higher, central location, as the radio waves will emanate outwards from the router in all directions. While many modern, high powered routers can blast radio waves through walls, some routers may struggle to broadcast the radio waves if your router is set up in the corner of a room or is blocked by other obstacles. Ultimately, what room your router goes in depends on where you need the strongest Wi-Fi signals.
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