In today’s fast paced world with new technology being developed on a daily basis, there are a number of factors that impact a consumer’s purchase decision. These factors vary from segment to segment, and market to market.
Each company tries to best fulfill these needs. Factors include such as performance, physical design, key features, specs, ease and lastly, budget. Some people like to spend smart, trying to get the most features in the least amount of money. Some users go all out and buy the next best thing regardless of the price tag.
But for average users with a budget, it is essential to review each option and alternative carefully before making a decision. Routers are purchased much or less the same way. For example, if you have a big or small house, few or many clients, etc.
This is why we have compiled a list of the best budget wireless routers of 2021, to ensure that you get what you pay for. The following routers have their own unique selling points, but they all fall in the same category of a budgeted purchase.
Best Budget/Cheap Wireless Router of 2021
1. NETGEAR AC1200 (R6120) – View on Amazon
The first router on the list is by Netgear, a company that has proven to satisfy their customers regardless of a diverse range of user specific needs.
Other than releasing high end routers or gaming routers, Netgear also released a simple router for users looking for something within a budget. The R6120 is a dual band router that offers a faster AC speed than most competitors.
Physically, the router is small and compact and can be easily placed just about anywhere in your home. It supports 802.11ac clients and also offers backward compatibility meaning it can connect with a/b/g/n clients as well. On the back of the router, there are four LAN ports, one USB port and a power button.
It comes with two preset Wi-Fi networks that is 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Both frequencies give a combined speed of up to 1200Mbps. The router is also fairly simple to setup; it starts up as soon as you connect it and can be accessed using the default username and password already given.
For customizing your settings, you can either login to the web browser interface or use the mobile application. The main menu of the browser has options such as internet status, attached devices, parental controls, guest network etc.
The USB feature allows you to connect devices and share or stream media across different users. These features are also available on the Netgear Genie app that comes for both iOS and Android.
Lastly, you can be assured that all your data is safe since the R6120 offers a completely different WiFi network for guests in order to make sure they don’t have access to your USB data and personal data. Along with this, it offers WPA and WPA2 security.
- Easy setup
- Good performance
- Doesn’t support Gigabit Ethernet
2. Asus RT-N66U Dual Band – View on Amazon
The next router on the list is by Asus, a long-standing leader in the world of routers. The company tries to utilize technology in order to enhance functions such as coverage, speed and overall performance. Although it only supports 802.11n, it has proven to be one of the fastest n router on the market.
When it comes to the design, it’s similar to its previous versions with regards to the black finish. It has three external detachable antennas that can be adjusted according to need. At the back of the router, there are four Gigabit Ethernet ports, two 2.0 USB ports and a power button. Being completely dual band, it offers 450Mbps on both 2.4GHz and 5 GHz bands.
The setup is as easy as it gets. For ease of access, the router comes with a CD that contains the software to help you set up the router via step by step process. Other users can also set it up through the web browser that logs into an interface allowing you to customize settings.
The interface has been designed to be simple and easy to maneuver through. It’s divided into three main parts; the setup, general settings and then advanced settings. The general tab lets you monitor devices connected to the network where you can also block any clients.
You can also change settings such as Guest network, parental control features, traffic manager and the USB ports. Parental control lets you restrict access to blacklisted websites on your choosing while the USB port setting lets you interact with the connected device either to share data or stream it.
You can connect printers, or external storage devices. The advanced settings tab lets you control and monitor the VPN feature which could be helpful for offices or work areas. It also has a firewall and QoS tab.
- Good coverage
- No 3.0 USB port.
3. NETGEAR AC1750 (R6300v2) – View on Amazon
Another Netgear product that has proven to be among the top choices for users looking for something that’s not only simple and easy to use but also falls below 100 making it the best option for budget sensitive consumers. As the name suggests, version two has upgraded hardware that beats its predecessor in a number of categories such as speed and performance.
Physically, the router is a bit bulky despite having internal antennas. However, on the back, it consists of four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, and 2.0 USB port. The other USB port is placed on the side of the router making it convenient and also leaving more room at the back for multiple wires.
The router also uses beamforming which basically boosts signals straight to devices rather than dispersing bandwidth all over the place. The 256MB RAM adds up to the long list of features the R6300 offers. When it comes to speed, it offers 1750Mbps; 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band and 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz band.
When it comes to setting it up, the Netgear Genie application lets you control just about everything. This software comes on all platforms that is desktop, web browser, iOS and Android. Some important features that need to be mentioned are OpenDNS based parental control, guest network and using the USB drives for network storage. Main headings that you will see on the Netgear genie are wireless settings, guest access, network map, traffic meter and media.
- Good performance
- Bulky design
4. Medialink (MLWR-AC1200) – View on Amazon
An uprising model router that surpasses most routers on the market when it comes to giving you that added protection and boosted performance. The router also uses beamforming in order to make sure that each device is well connected in a fairly large house. Focusing signals directly to devices helps prioritize bandwidth and reduce interference.
Two wireless antennas make sure that even big houses are covered efficiently. You can also increase signals by availing the router’s Vary Extender Mode. It consists of four Gigabit LAN ports and one 2.0 USB port.
The dual band router offers 860Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. The router lets you easily share and stream data while making sure all of it is secure and can’t be accessed by other guest users. Admins can control and monitor connected devices, along with regulating bandwidth and prioritizing certain devices.
It also comes with a firewall, parental control and web filtering. The parental control settings let you restrict certain sites and can remain blocked for specific periods of time as well. Guest networks let you set aside a separate network for external users and also provides protected connection to guests.
- Good range
- Good security
- No 3.0 USB port.
5. Linksys AC1750 (EA6700) – View on Amazon
The EA6700 is a remarkably stunning router that attracts users not only for its design, but ease of use and good performance as well. Linksys always makes sure that a router not only meets expectations in terms of speed and performance, but also design. The EA6700 has a matte grey finish that leaves no fingerprints or residue behind along with a metallic band across the middle that can also be used as a ventilation grill.
The back of the sleek router consists of 4 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, two USB ports that is 2.0 and 3.0 each, WAN port, power button and the power switch. This version of the router has placed ports comparatively better allowing for more space and better wire management. Another key feature that Linksys added to the router is beamforming which focuses signals directly to devices making sure that no signals are wasted. The router has been tested to be topnotch in HD streaming and can be used for gaming as well.
The company’s Smart WiFi is a Cloud platform that lets you access your router from any location by either logging into their main site or using their Android and iOS apps. You can also remotely add or remove devices, change privacy, parental control, and other guest network privileges. Smart WiFi tools include the aforementioned settings and features to test speed, connectivity, and manage security. It also supports IPv6, Dynamic DNS, port forwarding and etc.
- Good performance
- Simple setup
- Comparatively expensive.
6. Asus RT-N12 D1 – View on Amazon
The Asus has yet again surpassed user expectations and this specific model offers great speed and future proofed features that ensure an optimal experience. The router is perfect for small houses or offices that have multiple clients.
An example of the technology it uses is MIMO and two detachable 5dBi basically meaning they boost out powerful signals. This makes the router ideal for streaming in HD, video calls, and gaming. The boosted signals ensure that there’s no lag or bad connectivity.
The in-built signal amplifier aids strengthening the signals in order to reach every corner. The setup is also fairly easy and can be completed within three simple steps. You can launch the browser from any PC or phone. Then you will be asked to input the password and that’s all, you’re good to go.
The 4 SSIDs can be used to manage internet access and handle bandwidth allocation. You can share the internet connection with guests without having to share personal data. ASUS allows you to set three different guest networks, each with its own usage and limits.
This is a great feature for customers who have multiple guest clientele and need secure networks. Another great feature is the E-Z Switch, which is basically an efficient way of switching between router, access point and repeater modes. There have been no reports of sluggish switching or delays.
At the end, the RT-N12 is an overall good router with what may seem like average features but are actually very vital to ensuring your house has a secure Wi-Fi network. The range boost is exceptionally well for big houses and along with the security options, it can be used in offices as well to block off social media sites etc.
- 3 in 1 mode
- Good range
- No expansion slots.
The list for budgeted routers couldn’t be ended on a better note, showcasing how far models have come in order to achieve maximum features in the least amount of costs. Every router reviewed has its pros and cons, but the main underlying factor stills remains to be budget and what you want from the router.
Some have remarkable speeds, while others excel in security and performance. This list will help you avoid all those technical terms and details while at the same time being reassured that your money will be a worthwhile investment in a topnotch router.
|Router Name||Band Type||Date Transfer Rate||LAN Ports||Wireless Comm|
|NETGEAR AC1200 (R6120)||Dual||1200Mbps||4||802.11a/b/g/n/ac|
|Asus RT-N66U Dual Band||Dual||450Mbps||4||802.11n|
|NETGEAR AC1750 (R6300v2)||Dual||1750Mbps||4||802.11a/b/g/n/ac|
|Linksys AC1750 (EA6700)||Dual||1.3Gbps||4||802.11a/b/g/n|
|Asus RT-N12 D1||Dual||300Mbps||4||802.11b/g/n|