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How we test wireless routers

By Jon Barrow

Discover how we assess wireless routers in our test lab. Only the cream of the crop earn our prestigious Best Buy award.

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

What makes a Best Buy wireless router?

Which? tests wireless routers so that you know which one will give you the best wi-fi signal in your home.

We put all the big-brand wireless routers through their paces so that we can help you choose one that's quick to transfer data, easy to use and offers decent signal strength.

Each router is subjected to the same set of gruelling tests so that we can compare them blow-for-blow. This means that we can answer your important, no-nonsense questions with confidence and give you a verdict you can trust. We’ll answer key questions about:

  • How quickly does the router transfer data?
  • Is it easy to set up?
  • Does it create a secure connection?
  • And most importantly, should I buy it?

Head straight to our wireless router reviews - or read on to find out more about how we test to answer each of these questions.

How quickly does the router transfer data?

We test how quickly data is transferred between the computer and a laptop in various locations in a house. To do this we copy 500MB of data files and 5GB of large video files and time how long it takes to transfer.

We start by running this test in the same room as the router, then move to a room next door - this shows whether the router is capable of sending a decent signal across your house.

Is it easy to set up?

Wireless routers can be tricky to set up, so we assess how easy it is to get each router out of the box and up and running.

We note what instructions come with the router and then assess how easy it is to set up for a beginner and whether it has more technical settings for advanced users.

We also rate how easy it is to set up a local network and apply parental controls.  

Does it create a secure connection?

It's crucial to make sure that your wireless network is secure to prevent strangers from hopping on to your wireless network. In order to secure your network, you'll need to create a password for it.

The best wireless routers we've tested will ensure that your network is secured as part of the initial set-up process. We penalise routers that allow you to set up your wireless network but don't help you to secure it as a default. We award extra marks for routers that make it easy to set up security features.

Should I buy it?

We give each router a total test score, so you can easily compare which are the best and worst.

In each review we summarise what we thought of the router so that you can quickly get the information you need to decide which router is best for you.

The score for each router is made up of a combination of the elements in the test. We don't take price into consideration - most routers supplied by your provider will be included for free as part of the broadband package.

The score is broken down as follows:

  • Performance - 60%
  • Ease of use - 15%
  • Security - 15%
  • Connectivity - 10%

A router needs to score 80% in our tests to earn our Best Buy recommendation.

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