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We spent more than 100 hours running new tests on 18 routers, and we think the Netgear R7000P is the best one for most people because it’s easy to set up, has good range and speed, and its load-balancing band steering helps it handle busy networks with lots of devices.
Our runner-up, the Asus RT-AC3200, offers three wireless bands instead of the typical two and can perform better than the R7000P, but it’s considerably more difficult to configure.
Without even getting into the explosion of smart-home devices (everything from smart light bulbs to doorbells to washing machines now expects a decent Wi-Fi connection), most homes these days have two or more personal Wi-Fi devices (e.g., phone, laptop, tablet) per person, as well as smart TVs or streaming media boxes like Roku or Amazon Fire TV.Netgear’s aging R6700 is a great pick if you’re on a tight budget.You’ll have to manage its 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios separately, but you’ll still get solid performance and plenty of useful features. If you live in a small apartment or single-story home, or you just can’t spend the extra money, the Netgear R6700 will give you great throughput throughout your space for half the price of our main pick.Band steering—specifically load-balancing band steering—lets you use a single network name for all your Wi-Fi bands, and lets the router decide which devices go on 2.4 GHz and which on 5 GHz, based on where they are in your house and how much bandwidth they’re using.
Band steering is essential for mesh networks, which have multiple access points and multiple bands to deal with, but it’s important even in stand-alone routers, because if you aren’t using all the radios in your router, you aren’t getting all the performance you paid for.On most routers, you have to make two separate network names—such as “mynetwork2.4” and “mynetwork5”—and then decide which of your devices should join which network.