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Best Wireless Router For The Money  
Everything You Need to Know to Get a Great Wireless Router at a Great Price
Top Five for the Money (Based on our Frugal5 Formula)
How do we pick these products? We spend many hours doing unbiased research to only give you the highest rated products at the best price. We first come up with a list of features, which you can see below, that we feel the majority of people will need. We then look for the highest quality products with these features and only show you the top five with the best value. Our mission is to provide you with the best five options based only on the facts. Don't see the product you were thinking about getting? Click here to calculate it's frugal score.
Rank12345
Product
NETGEAR WNR2000 N300 RefurbishedCisco Linksys E900 RefurbishedCisco Linksys E1200 RefurbishedNETGEAR RangeMax WNR1000NETGEAR WPN824N
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Product Rating
 
 
 
 
 
Great
 
 
 
 
 
Great
 
 
 
 
 
Great
 
 
 
 
 
Good
 
 
 
 
 
Good
Average Price
 
 
 
 
 
Cheap ($25)
 
 
 
 
 
Cheap ($20)
 
 
 
 
 
Cheap ($25)
 
 
 
 
 
Cheap ($25)
 
 
 
 
 
Cheap ($29)
Frugal5 Score
Details
9.1
9.0
8.9
8.6
8.3
Features Needed
At Least 100Mbps
- 300 Mbps
- 300 Mbps
- 300 Mbps
- 150 Mbps
- 150 Mbps
At Least 4 Ethernet Ports
Quality, Known Brand Name
WPA2 Encryption
Features Not Needed
Guest Wireless Access
- All Netgear products have guest Wi-Fi
- Secure Connection
- All Netgear products have guest Wi-Fi
- All Netgear products have guest Wi-Fi
Multiple Antennae
Vertical Stand
What You Need To Know In 5 Minutes

Routers are one of the trickiest things the average consumer will ever have to buy. This is largely because most of the routers you'll find on store shelves are rated for internet connections reasonably beyond what you've got at home. Despite this, salesmen often try to sell you on a pricier router than you really need.

How does that happen?

Well, routers involve a lot of industry buzzwords that don't really make much sense in plain English. Few consumers know what the difference between 802.11a, b, g, n, ac, or ad is. It's the same story with megabits and why it's important to know how many you have. Long story short, routers are very much a mysterious product for the customer.

 Well, worry no longer. This buyer's guide hopes to clear up the foggy world of routers.

The kind of router you need most depends largely on one thing: how fast is your internet connection?  This can usually be obtained from your ISP (the company you're paying to access the internet). See, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ad is really just different versions of the same standard in wireless internet technology. 802.11 can be thought of as a technical term for "Wi-Fi".

What you need to know is something called "bandwidth". Bandwidth refers to the maximum rate that you can push information onto and pull off of the internet. This is what upload and download are. Upload is your computer broadcasting information onto the internet, and download is your computer pulling information from the internet. Upload is typically distributed to consumers at a much slower speed than download. For example, an average high-speed internet plan might give you 10 Mbps download, and 3 Mbps upload as your maximum speed for both. Mbps stands for "megabits per second". To get an idea of what that really means, it takes roughly 32 Mbps to download a 3-minute song in one second.

The average person has an internet connection less than 100 Mbps, so it's very unlikely you'll need a router that supports more than that speed, or 802.11n. 802.11 versions improve continuously, but support for 802.11n is where the average user wants to be right now. It supports internet speeds of up to 150 Mpbs, double what previous versions offered.

Security is an issue with a router regardless of which model you buy. There are a few encryption standards, the most common being WEP, WPA, and WPA2. None of these are perfect and guarantee your router won't ever get hacked - there are programs out there that can break into all of them - but by far the most secure of the three is WPA2.  Luckily, WPA2 is the standard used on most, if not all routers shipped after 2006. WPA2, like the others, is not a hackproof system, but it takes a lot longer to break into, by a factor of 10-20 times that of WPA, and hundreds of times that of WEP. It doesn't hurt to double-check that your router is WPA2, if only for peace of mind.

 From here, look for at least 4 Ethernet ports on the back of the router, and you should be good to go.

Routers ship with a huge variety of unnecessary features. Guest accounts are generally a very bad idea, providing a convenient log-on for your guests at the cost of poor security. Be wary of routers costing more than $50. Home users rarely need things like configurable ports and so on.

Multiple antennae on a router might fool you into thinking it offers a more stable connection or better signal, but this is rarely actually the case. You won't often have to look at your router, and so its aesthetics don't matter.

Routers that can either stand up or lie flat offer flexibility in terms of how you store them. Generally standing routers offer better cooling, and since heat can be an issue with some models, this might be worth looking into. Don't let that make or break the sale of a router, however.

Routers typically should be replaced once every 18 months, but a good router can last years if maintained well.

Generally, in the world of routers, Cisco is far and away the best name brand available. They don't sell the cheapest models, but their routers last longer and are more bug-free than most competitors. Cisco owns Linksys, the name brand for their home routers.

A good alternative to Linksys is Netgear, which offers similar quality. In general, stick to those two brands and you'll be good to go. Cheap competitors often cut as many corners as they can get away with.

Routers are certainly tricky things to buy. In general, stick with 802.11n wireless (for at least 100Mbps), at least 4 Ethernet ports, and Linksys or Netgear and you'll have a fine product that should serve you well.

Features You Need
At Least 100Mbps, At Least 4 Ethernet Ports, Quality, Known Brand Name, WPA2 Encryption
Features You Don't Need
Guest Wireless Access, Multiple Antennae, Vertical Stand
What You Should Pay
Between $20.00 - $29.00
Top Of The Line Price
Over $200.00