Consumers have an extensive selection of worthy advanced wireless routers for Windows computers. All the routers in this category have simultaneous dual-band capability, with most able to perform data transfers at a theoretical 450 Mbps on each band.
The Netgear WNDR3700 (*Est. $80) wins MaximumPC.com's Best of the Best award after toppling six other high-end wireless routers. It beats two others at SmallNetBuilder.com, whose tests excluded Apple routers, and it is a top pick at CNET and InformationWeek.com. It also nabs a silver medal in TopTenReviews.com's 2013 roundup of the best premium routers. Experts recommend it more highly than any other non-Apple model.
The majority of owners love the WNDR3700 wireless router, and several experts recommend it -- especially for PC-savvy users who love to tweak their equipment. Netgear allows users access to more settings than Apple does. Another Netgear advantage for PC users is that it reads more external hard-drive formats than Apple wireless routers. For example, while Apple units can read external hard drives formatted in the Windows FAT32 file system, the WNDR3700 can also read the more common Windows NTFS format. For Windows users, this means "you can just plug an existing hard drive with data already on it into the router and share that with the rest of the network," CNET's Dong Ngo says. "Very convenient."
The Netgear WNDR3700's closest rival in reviews is the Apple AirPort Extreme (*Est. $175), which allows users to share USB hard drives wirelessly, set parental controls and create guest networks. The Netgear router has several additional features, though, including a traffic meter that's helpful if you don't have unlimited Web access, and four GbE ports, one more than the Apple AirPort Extreme has.
The Cisco Linksys E4200 (*Est. $105) comes in close behind Netgear's WNDR3700 in expert reviews. It's named the top pick among premium routers by editors at TopTenReviews.com and makes CNET's top five list. Marketed as a router for "multi-use, multimedia" home networks, the E4200 has a sleek, compact, matte black design that wins praise from expert reviewers, even those who don't typically comment on aesthetics. Reviewers highly recommend the Linksys router for use with Mac computers as well as Windows PCs, and hundreds of users at Amazon.com and Newegg.com give the Linksys E4200 an overall rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars, in particular praising its easy setup process. In some tests conducted by expert reviewers, the E4200 outperformed the Netgear WNDR3700 and the Apple AirPort Extreme in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.
Another option in this category is the Netgear WNDR3800 (*Est. $110); its highly rated performance and features helped make it one of CNET's top five routers of 2011. The WNDR3800 has simultaneous dual-band capabilities in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, and in performance tests at CNET and SmallNetBuilder.com, the WNDR3800's throughput speed was comparable to that of the WNDR3700 and the Cisco Linksys E4200 router, though its range wasn't as far. What sets this unit apart is its features, particularly the novel ReadyShare Cloud that enables users with a web connection to share data from a USB drive plugged into the router.
Asus wireless routers are more widely reviewed in Europe than in the U.S., and the Asus RT-N56U (*Est. $100) is considered one of the friendliest to administer. Dong Ngo of CNET calls it "arguably one of the best true dual-band routers on the market," and reviewers recommend the Asus as an alternative to those from larger manufacturers such as Cisco and Netgear. It's one of the smallest premium routers available, and experts praise the RT-N56U router's speed, which in tests was faster than the Netgear WNDR3700 and the Linksys E4200 in the 5 GHz band, and comparable in the 2.4 GHz band.
The newer Asus RT-N66U (*Est. $160), sometimes referred to as the Dark Knight, is the successor to the RT-N56U, and reviewers are calling it "the superhero of Asus' lineup of routers." It's very easy to set up, and it receives rave reviews from experts and users for its excellent coverage, stability and fast data rates, especially on the 5GHz band. Reviewers recommend the Asus RT-N66U for bandwidth-heavy multiplayer games and 3D HD downloads.