ZenWiFi AX (XT8)
Routers hardly inspire the same excitement as a new smartphone or tablet. As the brain of your home network, though, they're incredibly important.
Similarly, devices that allow you to boost or extend your wi-fi may not get your heart racing. But both items are equally important in distributing a strong and reliable wireless connection around your home.
Granted, not everyone needs top-of-the-range performance that comes with the latest and greatest gear, 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 use Skype with relatives overseas all at the same time, upgrading or replacing your existing wireless products can make a world of difference.
The best routers help you get the most out of your internet connection. They're fast enough that you won't experience any slowdown even if your whole family is online at the same time. And they're powerful enough that they can transmit their signal throughout even the biggest houses.
Routers should also be easy to use. Most of us don't want to have to fiddle around with lots of cables when setting them up, or be forced to navigate through long menus offering dozens of different options. We just want to plug our router in and get online. The best models let you do exactly that.
Most people will 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 purchase a , we've uncovered Best Buys for under £100.
– a 'whole home' solution for boosting wi-fi, can be more expensive. If you're struggling with bad wi-fi, to see if they can find a solution. If not, a mesh network could be worth the investment, especially if you live in a big home. You can find Best Buys for under £200.
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 you connected your ISP (internet service provider) router.
If it doesn't have a built-in modem then you will need to connect your new router to your ISP router.
Most people get their router sent to them by their Internet Service Provider (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 . 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 should afford you the latest kit. Read our guide to the to see how yours stacks up, and check the to see how much you could save.
Alternatively, ISPs don’t always provide the best-performing routers around. For tech-savvy users, a third-party router could provide performance upgrades, plus added functionality to make your wireless network more efficient.
If you live in a large or multi-storey home, you may have wi-fi ‘black spots’. These are areas of your home that the wireless signal from your router isn’t able to reach.
To access the internet throughout all areas of your home, you'll need a device to increase or spread the wireless signal. Most products on the market have the same effect, but go about it in a different way. Ultimately, they pick up your existing wireless signal from your router, then redistribute it.
There are a couple of different options available to boost your wi-fi, but your choice depends on the environment where the network will be. The options could be a more powerful router, a wi-fi extender, a powerline adaptor or a wi-fi system. Every home is different, and each of these types of devices has advantages and disadvantages. With our expert advice, we’ll help you make the best decision.
When buying a wi-fi router or extender, make sure you're handing your money over to 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, see our .
Amazon, Currys PC World, Argos and Screwfix are some of the most searched-for wi-fi router and extender 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.