Best cheap router

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"Wi-Fi” is not an abbreviation for wireless fidelity, but was actually devised as a marketing term for the methods and protocols of transmitting a wireless network.

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Which cheap router is best?

While obtaining a decently fast internet connection is largely dependent on the service providers in your local area and the plan you can afford, you don’t need to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a router to enjoy the benefits of the latest version of Wi-Fi. Best of all, you can purchase a cheap router from reliable, well-known manufacturers instead of a random company you’ve never heard of. With a reliable and surprisingly efficient router like the NETGEAR Wi-Fi Router (R6080) – AC1000 Dual Band in your possession, you can enjoy great Wi-Fi coverage in your home, apartment, or small business.

What to know before you buy a cheap router

Claims about the range and signal strength are subjective and variable

Just as the speeds advertised by internet service providers are the maximum and not the everyday standard, it is very much a case of buyer beware when it comes to claims made by router manufacturers. There are many variables that can have a negative impact on the range and strength of your Wi-Fi signal. 

Said variables include physical obstructions like metal and water, the thickness of walls and other building materials, other electronic devices operating nearby, and other Wi-Fi networks operating in close proximity. While you may be lucky enough to get the exact experience you were promised, you have to accept the technological limitations of what $50 or less can provide.

Make sure you aren’t sacrificing security in looking for a bargain

Buying a cheap router may provide a significant upgrade to your current internet configuration, but you will pay a much greater price if that router compromises your personal information. While there are endless articles about the importance of passwords and other such measures, the actual level of security encryption should prevent the average cybercriminal from casually stealing your identity. When buying a cheap router, make sure that your unit comes with at least WPA2 encryption or ideally WPA3.

What to look for in a quality cheap router

Compatible with a wide range of operating systems

Whether you’re running MacOS, Windows 10, Unix, or Linux, it’s highly probable that you’d like to be able to connect your computer to your new cheap router without wanting to pull out your hair in frustration. That being said, there are a number of affordable routers that will seamlessly integrate with your existing computer and provide you with access to wireless internet. However, you should always double-check before finalizing your purchase to avoid any unnecessary frustration or expense.

Parental controls, device management and multi-band options

Even if you’re not spending a lot of money on a router, you should be able to select a model that is ideal for your particular needs. Whether you want to control the bandwidth allotment of individual devices or manage the internet access of employees or children, you can find the router that’s right for you. Some routers even feature Multiple User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output technology, or MU-MIMO, which allows your Wi-Fi to manage multiple devices with greater efficiency and speed.

In addition, you could also consider whether you’d like to invest in a single-band or multi-band router, which could make a significant impact on your overall Wi-Fi coverage. Single-band routers pump out a single stream of bandwidth, while multi-band routers provide options like 2.4Ghz, which goes further with less bandwidth, and 5.0Ghz, which is faster but provides a shorter range.

Ease of use, installation process and smart home compatibility

If you are interested in purchasing a cheap router, you might not be interested in a router with an overly complicated setup or an unfriendly user interface, or one that is incompatible with digital assistants and other smart home technologies. Thankfully, the selected models have been chosen for their ease of use and installation as well as being able to fully support up to 15 devices operating at the same time. 

How much you can expect to spend on a cheap router

Depending on your desired features and technical specifications, a quality cheap router can cost anywhere from $20-$44, and sometimes more.

Best cheap router FAQ

Is a cheap router really that much better than an expensive router?

A. While there are mitigating factors as mentioned above, one generally accepted rule when it comes to routers is that you get what you pay for. That being said, if all you intend to do with your Wi-Fi is check your work email or browse the internet on your phone, you likely don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars.

Do I need to pay for internet access if I own a wireless router?

A. Unless your router comes with a modem built-in, you will likely need to acquire your modem and internet access from one of your local internet service providers.

What are the best cheap routers to buy?

Top cheap router

NETGEAR Wi-Fi Router (R6080) - AC1000 Dual Band

NETGEAR Wi-Fi Router (R6080) – AC1000 Dual Band

What you need to know: An impressive router with both speed and security features built-in.

What you’ll love: This unit comes with high-speed internet of both 300 and 700 Mbps on dual-band and promises an easy five-minute setup with its app. MU-MIMO technology (5GHz band only) allows multiple devices to simultaneously experience high-speed internet. It features guest Wi-Fi (which offers guests an internet connection without access to other devices in your network), parental control, and WPA/WPA2 encryption.

What you should consider: Users have reported issues with wireless device connections dropping as well as issues with streaming services.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top cheap router for the money

TP-Link N300 Wireless Extender, Wi-Fi Router (TL-WR841N)

TP-Link N300 Wireless Extender, Wi-Fi Router (TL-WR841N)

What you need to know: This affordable router is ideal for college dorms and small apartments.

What you’ll love: This unit offers two 5dBi antennas that significantly Increase the Wi-Fi network’s stability and strength, an Easy Setup Assistant for a quick and hassle-free installation experience, backward compatibility with 802.11b/g products, and IP-based bandwidth control features.

What you should consider: Users have reported issues with the unit bottlenecking their network, resulting in reduced speeds.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

TP-Link AC1200 (Archer A6) - 5GHz Dual Band Mu-MIMO Wireless Internet Router

TP-Link AC1200 (Archer A6) – 5GHz Dual Band Mu-MIMO Wireless Internet Router

What you need to know: This powerful router is great for both personal and business applications.

What you’ll love: This unit offers up to 1,200 Mbps high-speed internet as well as 4 GB LAN ports, MU-MIMO technology (5GHz band only), guest Wi-Fi, parental control and a TP-Link tether app to easily set up and manage your network.

What you should consider: Users have reported issues with the router creating a second, hidden network that interferes with the overall operation.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Daniel Martin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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