Best Wi-Fi routers and access points 2021: 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 connection 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 can be 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.

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.

WatchGuard AP225W

WatchGuard AP225W ports

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that WatchGuard’s diminutive AP225W makes security its top priority. Sold as a dual-band Wave 2 AP, it actually has three radios inside – two providing regular wireless services, plus one dedicated to WatchGuard’s Wireless Intrusion Prevention System, or WIPS.

Some of the AP225W’s features may seem like overkill for small businesses, but for the price, it’s hard to quibble. WatchGuard’s cloud portal provides a wealth of high-end wireless management tools, and the WIPS service adds advanced security features that you’d expect to pay far more for.

WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac

Stated speed

867Mbits/sec (5GHz), 400Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

4 x Gigabit Ethernet (LAN/PoE+, 3 x LAN), 2 x passthrough ports

Price when reviewed: £290 exc VAT

Read our full WatchGuard AP225W review for more information.

DrayTek VigorAP 1000C

The DrayTek VigorAP 1000C router

We've praised DrayTek for its knack for producing high-quality kit that SMBs can afford, and the VigorAP 1000C continues this trend. It’s a tri-band design, offering connections on the 2.4GHz band alongside twin 5GHz radios. These can be used together in regular Wi-Fi configurations, while switching to mesh mode turns one into a dedicated high-speed backhaul link. 

This model is a great choice for small businesses seeking professional-grade wireless hardware. Performance and range are good, and the cherry on top is the mesh option, which is impressively powerful for the price and makes it easy to manage and expand your network.

WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac

Stated speed

867Mbits/sec (5GHz - each radio), 400Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

2 x Gigabit Ethernet (LAN, LAN,PoE+), 1 x USB 2

Price when reviewed: £167 exc VAT

Read our full DrayTek VigorAP 1000C 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.

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.

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.

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.

Honor Router 3

Honor Router 3

This is a cute little box that delivers decent wireless speeds, broad coverage and a modest speed boost for newer hardware. Moreover, what is important to underline is its extremely impressive price of £67. To put this in perspective, the next cheapest router we've seen on this list is still over £100. While this price is reflected in its features, it still could be a good option for those on a budget.

WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac

Stated speed

2,402bits/sec (5GHz), 574Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

4x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x WAN

Price when reviewed: £67 exc VAT

Read our full Honor Router 3 review for more information.

Aruba Instant On AP22

Aruba Instant On AP22

Aruba’s Instant On AP22 is a great introduction to the world of Wi-Fi 6, and it's easy to deploy and manage too. For its price point, it delivers good wireless performance that would have seemed unthinkable only a few months ago. It is being sold at a price that is sensible for small businesses and comes with a full complement of management and connection options.

WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac

Stated speed

1,200bits/sec (5GHz), 574Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

Gigabit PoE+

Price when reviewed: £144 exc VAT

Read our full Aruba Instant On AP22 review for more information.

Netgear Orbi RBK50

Netgear Orbi RBK50 against white background

If you're looking for sheer speed and versatility then the Orbi really stands out from the crowd. It has a user-friendly interface and extra security and parental controls give it a good overall appeal. In our view, it's one of the best of the bunch as long as you don't need a next-generation Wi-Fi 6. It has a blazing performance and four Ethernet ports per node although it may be a little too expensive for some users.

WAN connection

Gigabit Ethernet

Wi-Fi standard

802.11ac

Stated speed

866bits/sec (5GHz), 400Mbits/sec (2.4GHz)

Ports

4x Ethernet, 1x USB 2

Price when reviewed: £208 exc VAT

Read our full Netgear Orbi RBK50 review for more information.

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