TP-Link Archer AX1500Source: TP-Link

Best
cheap Wi-Fi 6 routers
Android Central
2021

Wi-Fi 6 has become the current standard for WI-Fi devices and routers thanks to most new devices supporting the protocol. Wi-Fi 6 has made its way to the cheaper routers that most people are interested in buying without giving up the best features that come with it. One of the best cheap Wi-Fi 6 routers is the TP-Link Archer AX21, thanks to its solid dual-band speeds and good software offering with app-based setup and OneMesh support.

TP-Link Archer AX21 Wi-Fi 6 router review

Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central

Many people don’t have gigabit internet connections in their homes, and even if they do, they don’t need all that speed on their wireless devices. The TP-Link Archer AX21 is a great choice for most people looking to get a wireless router that offers high speeds for mobile devices that support Wi-Fi 6 without paying for features they can’t fully utilize. With an AX1800 connection, this router provides 574Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1201Mbps at 5GHz. Four Ethernet ports allow you to connect your wired devices as well.

It can be tempting to go for a faster router, but it’s worth keeping in mind that with Wi-Fi 6, this router can do more with less when it comes to spectrum and speed. A Wi-Fi 5 Android phone, for example, will connect at 867Mbps at best, while a similar WI-Fi 6 device will connect at 1201Mbps.

TP-Link’s software has come a long way in the past few years, and this router features basic parental controls and QoS options and support for OneMesh. OneMesh allows you to use a compatible TP-Link Wi-FI extender to expand your network coverage with the same Wi-Fi name. This router has the right balance of features with plenty of speed for home use for most people.

Pros:

  • Fast AX1800 speeds
  • Fast 2.4GHz band
  • Easy app setup
  • OneMesh expansion capable

Cons:

  • Limited parental controls

Best overall


TP-Link Archer AX21 Wi-Fi 6 Router

TP-Link Archer AX21

Perfect for most people

The TP-Link Archer AX21 makes sense for most people with enough speed for just about any online task with OneMesh for expansion.

TP-Link Archer AX1500

Source: TP-Link

If you want to add Wi-Fi 6 capability to your network for as little as possible, you’re not going to beat the TP-Link Archer AX10. This router comes in at AX1500 speeds with 300Mbps available at 2.4GHz and 1201Mbps at 5GHz. One thing to keep in mind is that a 2.4GHz signal will travel further, so devices on the very edge of your connection might not be able to access the full speed of your router. Still, this won’t be an issue for a smaller home, and with a 5GHz connection, you should have more than enough speed.

Before getting too caught up in the raw speed capabilities, it’s good to remember that most people don’t have internet connections even close to fast enough to utilize the full speed of this router. You also only need around 25Mbps to stream 4K video over the internet.

You also get all of the other modern features that come with Wi-Fi 6, including more reliable coverage and the ability to connect to a lot more devices than Wi-Fi 5. Around the back of the Archer AX10, you get four Ethernet ports so you can keep your wired devices connected with no additional equipment. If you’re looking to add Wi-Fi 6 but don’t need a ton of speed, this is one of your best bets.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Four Ethernet ports
  • Fast 5GHz Wi-Fi

Cons:

  • No WPA3 support
  • No USB ports

Best value


TP-Link Archer AX10

TP-Link Archer AX10

Affordable Wi-Fi 6 compatibility

The TP-Link Archer AX10 is the best value in Wi-Fi 6, with AX1500 speeds available for most people.

Best mesh expansion: Linksys MAX-STREAM MR7350

Linksys AX1800

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central

Linksys is leaning more into Wi-Fi 6 with a well-balanced and inexpensive router. In a subtle housing that should age gracefully, the MR7350 offers speeds consistent with other AX1800 offerings, that is to say, plenty for most users. Linksys reports potential 1201Mbps on the 5GHz channel and 574Mbps at 2.4GHz. There are also four Ethernet ports on the back for wired devices and a USB 3.0 port.

With coverage up to 1,700 sq ft, this router alone is a good option for many homes and apartments. However, if you find you need more coverage or have a home that’s tricky to cover thoroughly, you can expand your coverage with another Velop capable mesh router from Linksys. This also includes the entire Velop mesh line giving you quite a few options for speed and coverage.

Having a mesh-capable router can be a huge bonus since our Wi-Fi needs are growing all the time, and as local traffic and congestion increase, having the ability to patch in more coverage will be worth it.

Pros:

  • Fast AX1800 speeds
  • Velop mesh compatible
  • USB 3.0 port
  • Four Ethernet ports
  • WPA3 support

Cons:

  • Expensive compared to other AX1800 routers

Best mesh expansion


Linksys MR7350

Linksys MAX-STREAM MR7350 Wireless Dual-Band Mesh Router

Plenty for now with room to grow later

Linksys packs excellent features into a simple package with Velop expansion, solid speeds, and WPA3 security support.

Best for gaming: Asus RT-AX82U

Asus RT-AX82U

Source: Asus

The Asus RT-AX82U is a dual-band AX5400 router with enough power to keep any gamer happy. With six streams, this router can deliver full Wi-Fi 6 speeds to devices, including 160MHz support. On the back are four gigabit Ethernet LAN ports with one port singled out as a gaming port. There’s also a USB 3.1 port so you can quickly share a portable drive with your connected devices.

The actual gaming magic comes from the software. Asus has optimized the RT-AX82U for gaming without giving up any other software features. For example, managed with the Asus Router app, users can choose whether to enable Game Boost for console or PCs to prioritize that traffic. There’s also a Mobile Game Mode that can minimize lag when gaming on a great Android gaming phone.

AiMesh is supported, allowing you to improve your coverage by creating a mesh with additional Asus routers. AiProtection is also included for free to enhance network security from the router without needing to install extra software on connected devices. Finally, robust parental controls are included so you can set profiles and block content for specific family members.

The look of this router won’t be for everyone, with oversized air intakes on the front glowing with RGB lighting. Still, the angular black housing looks nice, and with full control of the RGB lighting, you’ll be able to find a color you like.

Pros:

  • Fast AX5400 speeds
  • Gaming QoS software included
  • AiMesh support for easy coverage expansion
  • AiProtection Pro included for free

Best for gaming


Asus RT-AX82U

Asus RT-AX82U – Wireless Internet Router

Faster performance for lag-free gaming

The Asus RT-AX82U has fast wireless performance with robust QoS software to make sure your gaming traffic stays lag-free.

Best mesh: Eero 6

Eero 6 on a PC

Source: Eero

Thanks to its impressively intuitive software and solid performance, the older Eero was one of our favorite mesh routers. Eero 6 takes it one step further with faster AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 speeds while not growing much larger than the older Eero. The speeds break down to 574Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1201Mbps at 5GHz. Eero recommends this router for gigabit connection on its own or up to 500Mbps connections as a mesh.

Eero’s software is quick and easy to get the hang of with everything being controlled from an app. While you don’t have as much control as other routers, everything you need to do is included, from setup to device management. You can also set features like IPv6, WPA 3, and even port forwarding from the app. Eero 6 doesn’t have as much coverage as other routers at this price, but its compact size and easy mesh expansion make up for it. Speaking of mesh, Eero 6 is compatible with all other Eeros, including Wi-Fi 5 models, so if you need to expand your coverage, you have plenty of options.

Pros:

  • Fast AX1800 speeds
  • Easy coverage expansion
  • Compact size
  • Works with all other Eeros

Cons:

  • Only two Ethernet ports per unit

Best mesh


Eero 6

Eero 6 Router

Build a mesh with Wi-Fi 6

Eero 6 gets just about everything right with enough speed for most people and the easiest software experience in home networking.

Best for security: Asus RT-AX55

Asus RT-AC55 Wi Fi 6 Router

Source: Asus

The Asus RT-AX55 offers a similar performance level to the top pick, with a few extra software features thrown in to sweeten the deal. This router has an AX1800 connection with 574Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1201Mbps at 5GHz. This router has a practical design with four Ethernet ports on the back for your wired devices. One thing missing is a USB port, which most people won’t use anyways.

What helps this router stand out is its software. AiProtection software is included for free with antivirus provided by TrendMicro. While most Asus routers have this feature, it’s nice to see it reach even its cheapest Wi-Fi 6 options. Ai Protection also includes parental controls. AiMesh is still here, allowing you to expand your coverage with additional Asus routers easily. This router also has a nice look to it with textured black housing and with red accents.

Pros:

  • Fast AX1800 speeds
  • Four Ethernet ports
  • Asus AiProtection support
  • AiMesh support included

Cons:

  • More expensive than others at this speed

Best for security


Asus RT-X55 Wi-Fi 6

Asus RT-AX55

AiProtection is included for free

Asus has a great software package with parental controls and security included for free to keep your family’s browsing safer.

Bottom line

If you have a fast Wi-Fi 5 router, there’s really not much reason to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 unless you are in an area with a lot of wireless traffic. If your router is starting to feel slow or you haven’t made the jump to a fast Wi-Fi 5 router yet, upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 should help your speeds quite a bit and could even help if your connection drops out. The price has even come down enough that most of the best wireless routers you can get are Wi-Fi 6.

If you have a high-speed gigabit internet connection, you might want to invest in a faster router, but AX1800 will be more than fast enough for most people. The TP-Link Archer AX21 is the best for most people with solid speeds and even comes with the ability to expand your coverage with TP-Link’s OneMesh software that can link up with compatible TP-Link extenders. The AX21 is also easy to set up with TP-Link’s smartphone app.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author:

Samuel Contreras When Samuel is not writing about networking and carriers, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It’s the Pentium 3.

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