Best Wi-Fi routers and access points 2020: Get the strongest signal and top performance

Poor Wi-Fi coverage or slow speeds? Here are the best routers and access points to give your network a boost

wireless router

If you're experiencing poor internet speeds, don't rush to blame your ISP. More often than not, the issue is dodgy Wi-Fi performance - and the culprit is your own hardware.

For homes and smaller offices, that normally means your router. If you're using a cheap, basic model (or one provided for free by your ISP) it's likely to be lacking in signal strength compared to more professional offerings, and might well be short on features too. Upgrading to a faster, smarter model can make a world of difference.

For larger premises, the answer is to invest in one or more wireless access points (AP), which connect to your router or internet gateway and spread the Wi-Fi signal over a wider area in a secure and centrally manageable way.

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Here's our roundup of the best Wi-Fi routers and access points from the biggest names in the business, including TP-Link, Netgear, F-Secure and others. Read on and we'll help you pick the right one to ensure that everyone gets the coverage they need to be happy and productive.

DrayTek Vigor 2620Ln

If you've ever experienced the disruption of your office internet connection going down, you'll appreciate the Vigor 2620Ln. As well as an integrated ADSL2+/VDSL2 modem, it includes a 3G/4G modem with dual SIM slots, so it can seamlessly switch to wireless data if the main line goes down. One of the two Ethernet ports can also be configured as a secondary WAN connection, for additional backup.

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The downside is that it only natively supports the old and slow 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, and is limited to the 2.4GHz band - but you can always connect faster access points if you wish. It’s well-equipped for security too, with a built-in 300Mbits/sec SPI firewall and support for multiple VPN connections.

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WAN connection

ADSL2+, VDSL2, 3G, 4G, Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11n

Stated speed

300Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

2x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x LAN WAN, 2x SIM card

Price when reviewed: £197 (exc VAT)

Read our full DrayTek Vigor 2620Ln review for more information.

EnGenius EWS357AP

The rise of 802.11ax, or Wi-Fi 6, brings the potential for much faster speeds - but there's not much business-grade hardware that supports it yet, and what does exist is mostly very expensive. The EnGenius EWS357AP bucks the trend, offering a Wi-Fi 6-compatible AP for a very reasonable price.

There are a few niggles to be aware of - it comes with a default administrative password an open SSID, which from a security standpoint is a big no-no, and you won’t get the absolute best speeds that the new Wi-Fi standard is capable of as it doesn't support 160MHz-wide channels. Nonetheless, it’s a futureproof AP that can hit higher speeds than most of the current-generation competition for a very reasonable price.

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WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ax

Stated speed

1,200Mbits/sec (5GHz), 567Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

1x Gigabit Ethernet

Price when reviewed: £260 (exc VAT)

Read our full EnGenius EWS357AP review for more information.

Google Wi-Fi

In a traditional single-router setup, one Wi-Fi transmitter is responsible for covering the entire property. Google Wi-Fi uses mesh technology to spread the transmission across multiple nodes, creating an interconnected blanket of coverage that smothers any dead zones.

The advantages are clear: it's simple to manage, and unlike traditional range extenders, where the signal is stretched out, you get the same performance from every node. The Google Wi-Fi system also features a few advanced tools such as client-switching and band-switching, ensuring that the connection remains smooth and uninterrupted.

WAN connectionGigabit Ethernet
Wi-Fi standard802.11ac
Stated speed867Mbits/sec (5GHz), 400Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)
Ports2 x Gigabit Ethernet

Price when reviewed: £190 exc VAT (twin pack)

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Read our full Google Wi-Fi review for more information.

Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream

The EA9500 is an imposing slab, festooned with no fewer than eight antennae. It's not quite the biggest router we've seen, but it certainly fits into the plus-sized category.

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Be assured, though, this big router offers big performance, with robust features and great performance: we measured solid download speeds of 14MB/sec. It isn't quite the fastest router we've tested, and you'll need to put up with some slightly clunky management software, but if you're looking for fast, pervasive Wi-Fi, the EA9500 delivers.

WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac

Stated speed

2,167Mbits/sec (5GHz), 1,000Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

8x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x LAN WAN, 2x USB 3

Price when reviewed: £189 (exc VAT)

Read our full Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream review

Linksys LAPAC2600C

The LAPAC2600C is a low-cost AP boasting incredibly easy deployment. That makes it an excellent choice for SMBs seeking to extend their 802.11ac Wave 2 coverage.

In our tests, we found performance and range were both more than satisfactory, thanks to 4x4 MU-MIMO support. Clustering is simple to set up and easy to manage too, making the LAPAC2600C is one of the better options for scalability as well.

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WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac

Stated speed

1,733Mbits/sec (5GHz), 800Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

1x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x LAN WAN

Price when reviewed: £307 (exc VAT)

Read our full Linksys LAPAC2600C review for more information.

Netgear Insight Managed WAC540

The WAC540 is a highly capable AP, offering a strong mix of security, performance and management tools. Both client isolation and MAC address-based access control lists are supported, while Netgear's Insight portal is a very useful resource for monitoring traffic and connected clients.

Up-close performance is great - we averaged 30MB/sec on the 2.4GHz band - and while speeds naturally drop off over range, we were impressed by how far the WAC540 managed to push the signal, even through floors and brick walls.

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WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac

Stated speed

1,733Mbits/sec (5GHz), 400Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

1x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x LAN WAN

Price when reviewed: £155 (exc VAT)

Read our full Netgear Insight Managed WAC540 review for more information

Netgear WAC564

The WAC564 is a business-class network gateway that can operate as a standalone router or control a mesh of access points, using either additional WAC564 units or Netgear WAC540 APs. It thus makes a brilliant starting point for a growing network, and it delivers impressive performance in both configurations.

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While the WAC564 is itself very reasonably priced, note that meshing more than two devices together requires a paid account on Netgear's Insight Premium cloud service. That's easily affordable though, at £4.47 per device per year for mobile management or £8.95 for full desktop management.

WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac

Stated speed

1,733Mbits/sec (5GHz), 400Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

1x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x LAN WAN

Price when reviewed: £161 (exc VAT)

Read our full Netgear WAC564 review for more information

Netgear Nighthawk X10

This behemoth of a router certainly stands out from the crowd. For a start, we found it one of the fastest Wi-Fi performers around, and it also features a generous six Gigabit Ethernet ports, for convenient connection of wired clients. It can run a Plex Server natively too, serving up media files from any connected hard disk or USB flash drive, and there's additional support for the ultra-fast 802.11ad wireless standard - although there are very few devices out there that can make use of it.

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If there's a catch, it's the price. You can get a next-generation Wi-Fi 6 router for less money nowadays, and like most high-end routers, this one doesn't include a buit-in modem, so it won't completely replace an ISP router. If you're looking for a real premium router, however, the Nighthawk X10 should certainly be on your list.

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WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac + 802.11ad

Stated speed

1,733Mbits/sec (5GHz), 800Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

6x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x LAN WAN, 2x USB 3

Price when reviewed: £333 (exc VAT)

Read our full Netgear Nighthawk X10 review for more information.

Synology RT2600ac

Synology is a name more usually associated with storage appliances than routers, but its RT2600ac router is a tour de force. It's packed with great features, including extensive file-sharing and handling capabilities transplanted directly from the company's NAS platform.

It's also possible to expand the RT2600ac's capabilities by installing apps from the built-in Package Centre. Synology's Cloud Station and Download Station add-ons are a few clicks away, as is the DLNA streaming server, while business-friendly services include a VPN server, a plugin for RADIUS authentication, and Synology's own DNS server.There are more affordable routers available, but if the RT2600ac's features suit your needs, it's a superb little router.

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WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac

Stated speed

1,733Mbits/sec (5GHz), 800Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

4x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x LAN WAN, 2x USB 2, 1x USB 3

Price when reviewed: £180 (exc VAT)

Read our full Synology RT2600ac review for more information.

Ubiquiti Networks UniFi nanoHD

This dinky saucer is one of the most compact and concealable APs we've seen. Happily, that doesn’t stop the UniFi nanoHD from performing very well indeed, nor from reaching out with a long effective range.

The trade-off is that the hardware is very simple, notably featuring only a single Ethernet port, and management features are limited too: we’d recommend adding a UniFi Security Gateway (USG) for more in-depth options. That adds to the price, but it's balanced out by free cloud and on-site management.

WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac

Stated speed

1,733Mbits/sec (5GHz), 300Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

1x Gigabit Ethernet

Price when reviewed: £133 (exc VAT)

Read our full Ubiquiti Networks UniFi nanoHD review for more information.

Ubiquiti Networks UniFi Dream Machine

It may not be much to look at, but believe it or not, the UniFi Dream Machine is a complete professional networking solution. It has a built-in firewall and plenty of security features, plus Wave 2 802.11ac wireless, which can work with other UniFi APs to form a Wi-Fi mesh.

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While administrators may choose to use the powerful web portal, the Dream Machine can also be fully managed from a smartphone or tablet, using free apps for Android and iOS - so you can stay on top of your network even when you're out and about. It's perfect for businesses setting up a new network and looking for an all-in-one gateway and management solution.

WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac

Stated speed

1,733Mbits/sec (5GHz), 300Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

4x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x LAN WAN

Price when reviewed: £248 (exc VAT)

Read our full Ubiquiti Networks UniFi Dream Machine review for more information.

WatchGuard AP325

If you’re looking for an AP that can slot into an existing network management system, the WatchGuard AP325 might well fit the bill: it offers an excellent range of features, including PoE+, while remaining easy to set up and use.

Our favourite trick is WatchGuard's WIPS (wireless intrusion prevention system) radio, which uses two of the AP325’s six internal aerials to detect any unauthorised APs that might be connected to your network, and automatically silences any prying devices that are discovered. It's certainly not a budget buy, but the AP325 is a powerful, professional choice.

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WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac

Stated speed

867Mbits/sec (5GHz), 300Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

1x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x LAN WAN

Price when reviewed: £468 (exc VAT)

Read our full WatchGuard AP325 review for more information.

Zyxel NWA1302-AC

While most APs are designed to be wall-mounted, the NWA1302-AC conveniently plugs directly into a mains socket. It also supplements its dual 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands with a generous three Gigabit Ethernet ports - one of which is PoE+ enabled. This makes it ideal for offices where both wired and wireless connections in demand.

Performance is decent rather than exceptional, but you get loads of management options and security tools at a low price, making the NWA1302-AC is a great pick for small businesses.

WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac

Stated speed

1,300Mbits/sec (5GHz), 300Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

3x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x LAN WAN

Price when reviewed: £124 (exc VAT)

Read our full Zyxel NWA1302-AC review for more information.

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