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Updated: 20 Apr 2022

Best wi-fi routers 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice

Slow internet and poor coverage are common bugbears of the 21st century. We explain how upgrading your router can help
Jake Massey
How to buy

As the number of internet-connected devices we use in our everyday lives increases, we rely on being online with a fast and reliable connection. Routers hardly inspire the same excitement as a new smartphone or tablet, but as the brain of your home network, they're incredibly important.

Not everyone needs top-of-the-range speed and coverage that comes with the latest and greatest router, and there’s no need to pay for features or tools that you'll likely never use. But if you have several family members trying to stream Netflix, surf the internet or play games online at the same time, then upgrading or replacing your existing router can make a world of difference.

Using an older router? You'll want to make sure it's still getting important security patches to protect against threats. Read our guide on router security for more.

Top five best wi-fi routers

We've rounded up some of the wi-fi routers that impressed us most in our tests. 

  • 93%
    • best buy

    It's cheaper than many top-of-the-range routers, but you're still getting incredible speeds whether you have wi-fi 6 compatible devices or not. It copes well when lots of devices are connected, too.

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  • 92%
    • best buy

    This extraordinary looking router is a serious bit of kit that comes with just about every bit of kit you could hope for. Most what need all these bells and whistles, but at a basic level, few routers can match the speed and coverage of this one.

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  • 88%
    • best buy

    This brand isn't as well known as Asus or Netgear, but it clearly knows how to make a stunning router. Speed, coverage and easy set up: the router has it all.

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  • 88%
    • best buy

    Considering you get this router free when you sign up for a broadband contract it does a sterling job keeping you connected and getting wi-fi into the corners of you home. It easily beats several router that cost more than £100 making it all the more impressive.

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  • 85%
    • best buy

    The best router we've tested for under £100 still gives you wi-fi 6 and some stunning coverage to ensure you get good speeds even when you're some distance away from it. It's a fantastic option if you don't want to spend a fortune for features you won't use.

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Which type of router is right for you?

For many people, the router than comes with their broadband contract, such as a BT or Virgin Hub, will give them quick enough internet and good enough coverage that they never need to consider anything else. But if you're experiencing issues, or the performance just isn't up to scratch, then there are several options to help you get better wi-fi, including extenders and mesh systems.

We've laid out a few scenarios to help you narrow down what sort of router you need.

I don't get quick wi-fi right throughout the house

Coverage is a common complaint, and it's no good having a wi-fi connection when you're far away from your router if it's not strong enough to actually load a webpage or video. A Best Buy router will help.

A top-rated router will typically be better at pushing stronger right through your home.

Regardless of the router you buy, you're still at the mercy of your own contract. A new router isn't going to make your 20Mbps package feel like 100Mbps, but it will help you to get similar speeds throughout the house, whether you're close to the router or further away. You'll get other benefits, too, such as more control over which devices get more internet bandwidth, parental controls and more.

Solution: get a Best Buy wireless router.

Several rooms in my house don't have any wi-fi signal

Sometimes it's the size of the house that's the problem, or your router might struggle to get the signal through thick walls and floors. But whatever the reason, having wi-fi dead spots is a serious issue for many households.

In this instance, a new router will help to a degree, but the best way to get the internet into every corner of your home is to invest in a mesh system.

These work like a router, but instead of just having one, you have two, three or sometimes more dotted around your home. Each node acts an extra transmitter, creating a daisy chain of signals from the base router right through your home. 

Solution: try a Best Buy mesh system.

We test routers, extenders and mesh systems. See our top five router mesh systems to find one that fits your needs and learn more about how they work

I have one room where the internet drops out

Mesh systems are expensive, and might not be the best option if you only have a room or two where the internet is slow or drops out. In this case an extender is a suitable cheaper alternative to mesh, particularly if it's not a room where you need the swiftest connection.

An extender plugs into the wall and boosts the signal from your router. It does this in one of two ways, depending on the model you buy. Sometimes it will create an extra network, which appears in the list of available networks on your devices (often it mirrors the name of your normal network with 'EXT' at the end). These are perfectly fine and are usually the cheapest option, but you'll need to manually reconnect to your router's network when you're back in range of it.

Others work more like a mesh network, boosting the router network without creating an extra one. These are simpler because you're staying on the same network right through your home, rather than jumping from the EXT network back to router one, but they tend to cost more.

Solution: try a Best Buy wi-fi extender.

See the wi-fi extenders we recommend and find out more about how they work

My speeds plummet when lots of devices are using the internet at once

Load is the enemy of quick internet. It makes sense: the more devices you have connected to the router at the same time, the slower the speeds will become. But some routers are better at divvying up those speeds than others.

Pushing a router to its limits by connecting multiple devices to it at once is a significant and vital part of our test, and we've found the best routers cope excellently under pressure.

Some routers give you control over how the bandwidth is shared around by letting you set certain devices as high priority, such as the TV you use to stream 4K content, or the laptop you take all your work video calls on.

Solution: get a Best Buy wireless router.

Do I still need an ISP router?

Sometimes you will and sometimes you won't. It all depends which router you buy. 

All our router reviews highlight whether they have a built-in modem in the tech specs. If it does, then you won't need any other devices and you can connect your new router through the cable that comes through the wall in the same way you connected your internet service provider (ISP) router.

If it doesn't have a built-in modem then you'll need to connect your new router to your ISP router.

Some ISP routers have different connections, though, such as Virgin Hubs that connect via coaxial cable through the wall. Don't throw away your ISP router until you know for sure you new one has the right connections.

How much do I need to spend on a good router?

Most people get a router from their ISP when they enter a broadband contract, so the cost will be factored into your monthly payments. 

If you want to buy a third-party router, we've found Best Buys for less than £100, but many cost more. It might be worth spending a bit extra if you're a demanding user connecting several devices at once that require a lot of bandwidth, such as TVs streaming 4K, consoles for online gaming or PCs where you do a lot of downloading. You might also want advanced features, or need loads of ethernet ports (more than four), in which case more high-end routers are worth a look. They can cost £170-250.

Most people won't need to spend more on these top-of-the-line models, as they tend to work best with super-high internet speeds, which require an expensive connection from your ISP. If you do pay for high speeds then consider a more expensive router to take advantage of them.

How to upgrade your router free of charge

Most people get their router sent to them by their ISP. If you've been with the same provider for years, though, you could be left using a piece of equipment that's long been superseded. In May 2021, we discovered a range of older routers that could be insecure. If you're in this situation, it's worth phoning your ISP to see if you can get a free upgrade. 

If your contract with your provider has expired, switching to a new provider could not only save you money on your monthly bills, but will also get you the latest kit. Read our guide to the best and worst broadband providers to see how yours stacks up, and check the best broadband prices to see how much you could save.

However, ISPs don’t always provide the best-performing routers. For tech-savvy users, a third-party router could provide better coverage and speed, plus added features to make your wireless network more efficient.

ethernet cables going into the back of a router

Where to buy a wi-fi router

When buying a wi-fi router, make sure you choose a reputable seller. Check the retailer's returns policy and pay attention to customer feedback and reviews. For more details on shopping online safely and arranging refunds for faulty products, read our advice on shopping online

Amazon, Argos, Currys and Screwfix are some of the most searched-for wi-fi router retailers at the time of writing. We’ve included links to these retailers, handpicked because of their stock availability, best-value price or warranty options. 

  • Amazon stocks a wide range of wi-fi routers, with some models costing less than £10. If you're on Prime you can get free delivery on some orders, but make sure you check the listing carefully – some tech products might not be UK models. 
  • Argos offers a reasonable selection of wi-fi routers. You can get same day in-store collection at selected Sainsbury's stores, and if you collect Nectar points you'll get two for every £1 you spend. 
  • Screwfix offers free delivery for orders over £50, or click and collect in store within 48 hours. If you're not happy with your router you can get an exchange or refund within 30 days.