Wireless Router Rating Sources
CNET frequently tests wireless routers and reviewed models earn a rating on a 5-star scale. In addition to the best models overall, Ngo names the best choices among specific categories of 802.11ac routers as well as budget options. Testing is hands-on, but reviews aren't as in-depth as at some other sites. The very best routers earn Editors' Choice nods.
Reviews here are some of the most comprehensive we've found, and comparisons are frequent and relevant. Analysis is so technical, however, that a basic knowledge of wireless technology is insufficient for understanding much of the material. Instead of conventional ratings, SmallNetBuilder.com uses customizable but complicated benchmark comparison charts.
PCMag.com evaluates many of the major wireless routers on the market, and tests are competent and up-to-date. While each router gets a full review and rating, the best earn Editors' Choice awards. Reviews are reasonably in-depth and not too technical for the average consumer. Users can sort through models based on criteria such as router type, manufacturer and price range.
Lynn presents her top 10 choices for the best wireless routers available, and seven receive Editors' Choice designations. The roundup includes dual- and single-band models, many of which support 802.11ac. Most routers get a full review, plus a summary of their features.
Van Winkle pits five 802.11ac wireless routers against each other in a series of highly in-depth tests. Analysis here is very competent, but may be too technical for the average user. Among models from Buffalo, Linksys and Netgear, Van Winkle is hard-pressed to find a clear winner. The Asus RT-AC66U, on the other hand, "wins this contest by hardly breaking a sweat" and earns an Elite designation.
This U.K. tech site review a handful of wireless routers, although not all models listed here are available in the U.S. In this roundup, Odantzis lists his top nine wireless routers and gives each its own evaluation plus a star rating. Review quality is sporadic, however, with some routers being covered more thoroughly than others.
Hands-on testing of wireless routers and other network devices is in-depth, but discussion may be overkill for most users. Scores are awarded on a 10-point scale, with sub-ratings for performance, appearance, construction, functionality and value. The Asus RT-AC66U receives a score of 9.2 out of 10.
Maximum PC reviews a decent number of wireless routers, but most articles are at least a couple of years old. Evaluations are listed in a blog-style format and hands-on testing is conducted, with routers rated on a 10-point scale. Elsewhere on the site, the Asus RT-N66U Dark Knight earns a nod as the best Wi-Fi router for its features, user interface and speed.
This Australian tech magazine tests 12 dual-band wireless routers and the top choices earn editors' nods. Each model gets its own review plus a rating out of 6 stars. Benchmark testing is conducted, with an emphasis on speed and range. Among models available in the U.S., the Asus RT-N56U earns a "recommended" label.
PC World (Australia) frequently reviews wireless routers, including several popular U.S. models. Test results are presented in longer in-house write-ups, but the magazine sometimes prints short review synopses from the U.S. version of PC World. Few of the evaluations are comparative, but all routers get a star rating and editors tag their favorites as Best Bets.
Laptop Magazine tests more than 40 wireless routers, which are listed among other devices like mobile hotspots. Each router is rated, and those with the highest scores earn Editors' Choice awards. The magazine's best reviews -- which are usually of models that score highly -- are comparative and discuss setup, features and performance. Editors also test routers' battery life, something that not many sources address.
Macworld reviews a few wireless routers, both Apple models and those from other manufacturers that work with Apple and Windows computers. Results from quality benchmark tests are often compared to those of similar models, and each product gets a rating of 1 to 5 mice. Wireless router reviews are listed among other types of networking devices, so browsing through them can be time-consuming.
This retailer of tech products is especially popular with computer builders. Several routers accumulate hundreds of ratings from Newegg.com users, but the best-rated models are older wireless-G units that are easy to hack and customize. For example, the Linux-based Linksys WRT54GL gets 5 eggs out of 5 from more than 3,850 users and is a multiple winner in Newegg.com's monthly Customer Choice Awards.
Owners post reviews and ratings of their wireless routers at Amazon.com. As at Newegg.com, the older wireless-G models are popular. User posts are especially useful for gauging a router's reliability over time, which is hard to determine from expert reviews alone.
O'Brien explains in plain English how and why to choose a wireless-N router, and he recommends six models at various prices. Each gets its own informative write-up, but testing isn't mentioned.
Widder lists his top 10 wireless routers, ranging from budget options to the most robust. However, analysis is cursory and performance ratings don't seem to be based on benchmark testing. Still, the roundup provides a decent overview of each router, particularly its features and connectivity options.
This site's Readers' Choice Awards rank the companies that make routers, rather than specific models. Apple comes first in overall satisfaction, closely followed by Asus. Other companies such as Netgear and Cisco/Linksys generally post improved satisfaction over last year, but all trail Apple and Asus by a notable margin.
TopTenReviews.com is a decent place to get a basic idea of a wireless router's features and ease of use, but it's not a good source for much else. Performance isn't tested and comparative charts are based on manufacturer-provided data. The top three wireless routers in a 2013 roundup are very close in scores and one of them, the Cisco Valet, is discontinued.
Ten "premium" wireless-N routers are ranked in this companion review to the best routers roundup. The top three models all receive excellent scores for features, security, ease of use, help and support, and overall. However, these evaluations shouldn't be used for much more than getting a general idea of a wireless router's specifications and features. Each gets its own write-up explaining the scores, but isn't tested for performance.