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What features make the best Netgear routers? Netgear is one of the leading network hardware brands for business and residential Wi-Fi, and their routers offer Wi-Fi 6 support, maximum throughput speeds, and plenty of bandwidth for multiple connected devices. Over the years, the company has garnered a reputation for providing affordable and reliable networking, storage, and security solutions, including several advanced models.
Online gaming, HD video streaming, and file sharing, especially, call for the best routers you can afford. Netgear Nighthawk series Wi-Fi routers, for example, have a powerful processor to help manage Wi-Fi network traffic and maintain excellent performance when using lots of devices at once. Also, if your home Wi-Fi is slower than your internet service provider advertises, upgrading to a Netgear router is a great way to go.
Keep reading to learn more about the best Netgear router models and how they compare to other brands, including those from internet providers like the best router for Optimum.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: It is easy to set up and run through the Nighthawk app and can attain a speed of up to 1.8 Gbps. It can handle more than 20 connected devices and has a built-in VPN client for security.
This NextGear R6700AXS wireless router is a reliable WiFi 6 router that has coverage that spans up to 1500 Sq ft and can sustain the connection for more than 20 devices. It has four Ethernet ports on its back and relies on a Quad-core 1.5 GHz processor for efficient functioning. The router’s support for WiFi 6 means it can offer blazing-fast data transfer speeds of up to 1.8Gbps. Since it also comes with a 1-year subscription to their Netgear Armor service, users will be able to enjoy cybersecurity protection for all their devices thanks to antivirus, antimalware, and data theft protection. Unfortunately, it does not have a USB port.
Thanks to the Nighthawk App, the router is very easy to set up. The app comes with features such as an Internet speed test and remote network management. The router also features a built-in VPN client for network protection and a guest access mode for creating a separate user profile that guests can use.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: It is ideal for general streaming and online gaming. It has four Ethernet ports and is easy to manage through the Circle app.
The Netgear R6900P is a compact WiFi router with a data transfer rate of up to 1300 Mbps, making it ideal for HD gaming and streaming. It can support up to 30 connected devices and has a dual-core 1GHz processor for efficient running. Users will be able to connect and access their media files through its USB port, and since it also has support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, it can be integrated into the smart home system and controlled by voice. However, some previous users did not like that it looses all its settings in a power outage.
Since it is also a Netgear router, users will be able to connect to and manage it through the Circle app, which allows for things like smart parental controls for parents that have kids in the household and secure remote access for easy monitoring. It’ll also allow them to set up a Guest WiFi access network for one-off connections. The router also relies on MU MIMO technology to ensure that all connected devices enjoy a standard and reliable connection.
Award: BEST FOR SMALL HOMES AND OFFICES
WHY WE LIKE IT: It is excellent for small homes and spaces. It has a good port selection and offers relatively fast data transfer speeds.
The Netgear R6330 dual-band wireless router is perfect for users who need to connect up to 20 devices and maintain coverage for spaces of up to 1200 Sq ft. This makes it ideal for small houses and offices. The device also delivers pretty swift connection speeds, as it can support a data transfer rate of up to 1600 Mbps. It also comes with MU-MIMO technology that allows it to lock in on a connected device and maintain a solid connection even when it is moved around. However, some users have complained that its setup process may be challenging to figure out.
The router is powered by an 880 Mhz processor and supports dual-band WiFi technology. It also has three antennas to boost range and connectivity and can be set up through the Nighthawk app. Through the app, users will be able to monitor all the connected devices, do Internet speed tests, and access parental controls that will allow them to pause device internet access, view site history usage, set online limits, and schedule device access.
Award: BEST FOR HIGH-SPEED CONNECTIVITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: Thanks to its rapid data transfer rate, it is great for power users or online gamers. It also has a decent range and can handle up to 25 different connections.
The Netgear Nighthawk 6-Stream WiFi 6 router boasts coverage of up to 2500 Sq ft and is also made to support rapid data transfer rates of up to 10.8 Gbps. These quick speeds allow for uninterrupted HD streaming and online gaming, and with up to 4 Ethernet ports on its rear, users will have the option to make wired connections should they need to. The router comes with a 1.8Ghz processor, allowing it to handle up to 25 devices without a sweat. However, some have complained that it is difficult to connect to another VPN provider.
Setting the router up is easy, thanks to the Nighthawk app. This app lets owners monitor and manage their WiFi network from anywhere and comes with features such as Internet pausing and speed tests. The router also comes with Cybersecurity protection through Netgear Armour. This is important, especially for users who want to keep their devices safe from malware, data theft, and viruses.
Award: BEST FOR POWER USERS
WHY WE LIKE IT: Great for lag free gaming and 4K content quality. It has a wide port selection and great range.
The Netgear R7350 is a compact and easy to set up router with a coverage of up to 2500 Sq ft, and since it has a data transfer rate of up to 2400 Mbps, it is excellent for 4K UHD streaming as well as competitive gaming. The router has four different Ethernet ports for flexible wired connectivity and a Guest WiFi access network that allows owners to create user profiles for one-off connections. It can easily support more than 25 devices and has five Ethernet ports and one USB port. Its only drawback is that it requires users to create a Netgear account.
Its USB 3.0 port is also ten times faster than the USB 2.0 port, and since it also comes with MU MIMO technology, it can lock down a WiFi signal to a connected device so that it stays connected even when users happen to move around.
Award: BEST FOR GENERAL USE
WHY WE LIKE IT: It is very easy to set up and can be managed through the Nighthawk app. It can sustain up to 20 connections and has good security features
The Netgear R6230 is a reliable router that supports data transfer speeds of up to 1200 Mbps and can support up to 20 connected devices. It has an 880Mhz processor for efficient handling and four Ethernet ports on its rear. It has two amplified antennas, which gives it a range of up to 1200 Sq ft. It is very easy to set up, but some previous users were unhappy about its lack of a QoS feature.
Managing this router is easy, provided users have downloaded the Nighthawk App. The app allows users to set up parental controls that limit device connectivity, monitor Internet activity, and even prevent access to specific websites. The router also comes with WPA/WPA2 wireless security, so users will enjoy double firewall protection and even be able to set up a guest network for one-time connections.
California-based Netgear is a multinational computer networking hardware company and one of the leading business and household networking products suppliers. Patrick Lo, a former HP engineer, founded Netgear in 1996 as a subsidiary of Bay Networks after he joined the company in 1995. It went public on the NASDAQ in 2003.
Today Netgear is known for commercial and residential networking products, including NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices and the Orbi Mesh Wi-Fi system, along with a range of other mesh routers, tri-band Wi-Fi devices, and the Netgear nighthawk series of high-performance routers. Netgear pioneered some of the earliest Wi-Fi 6 routers on the market.
With a large selection of network appliances and products at nearly every price point, Netgear is a prominent player in the Wi-Fi network hardware market, just like routers by Asus, with a good reputation for durability and quality control. Recent updates address some of the security and ease of setup issues common with various older Netgear Wi-Fi routers and modem devices.
Netgear offers simple budget models at an affordable price, similar to TP-Link routers, along with more expensive routers geared toward gamers and professionals who need the fastest router for their Wi-Fi network. In addition to the gamut of single router Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6E setups, Netgear also markets updated versions of its Orbi Mesh Network Wi-Fi system featuring faster throughput and more feature content.
(Pro 1) Large Wi-Fi 6E Router Selection: Compared to many brands, Netgear has been an early adopter of Wi-Fi 6 technology. Its current Netgear Nighthawk lineup features many Wi-Fi 6E models offering an additional GHz band for Wi-Fi 6 devices.
(Con 1) Ease of Setup: While they offer plenty of granular control over setup options, Netgear routers may not provide the most intuitive user experience or the easiest interface to navigate. However, you can find options like a dedicated gaming dashboard and menus for QoS settings on gaming routers and their more sophisticated quad-core-processor models.
(Pro 2) Flexible Firewall and VPN Options: With ample crossover between the home and business networking departments, Netgear offers routers with lots of custom features that work well on a busy network or when you want to manage traffic to specific client devices. They may come with extra Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired devices such as add-on firewall and traffic filtering systems, along with USB ports for additional wired connections as well.
(Con 2) Some Issues with Firmware: Previous versions of popular Netgear routers had issues with a compromised operating system and firmware installations. The company released various “patches” for the problems, and current Wi-Fi 6 models employ a different security and filtering system, with updates from Trend Micro.
(Pro 3) High-Speed Models: Netgear Nighthawk home routers and business point of access devices include a wide selection of models with Gigabit speeds. Even some of their less expensive routers support wireless speeds of up to 1000 Mbps, allowing faster downloads and smoother streaming, along with a more reliable internet connection for laptops and gaming devices.
(Con 3) Some Update Services Require Subscription: Like their extended warranties, Netgear’s firmware and security updates may require paid subscriptions.
(Pro 4) Mobile Device Wi-Fi and 5G LTE Wi-Fi Network Options: Netgear also stands out for an array of 4G/5G LTE mobile Wi-Fi solutions offering speedy throughput and the flexibility of attaining a high-speed internet connection in areas less accessible to typical broadband. Featuring active antennas and wired device ports, some of these models are capable of up to Gigabit download speeds with the right 5G signal, making them a great choice as a router for Google Fiber.
(Con 4) High-Performance Models and Mesh Kits Get Pricey: While Netgear offers some decent, affordable routers including Wi-Fi 6 models, their high-end tri-band routers for gaming traffic and mesh systems get relatively pricey.
If you’ve recently moved into a new home or office space, you might be looking to upgrade your Wi-fi network hardware as well. A larger building or an area divided among different levels may require a more advanced router or mesh setup to maintain wireless speeds and provide uninterrupted connectivity.
Alternatively, you might find that your current router for CenturyLink is limiting your productivity or gaming performance. If you have many devices connected or use IoT or smart home automation, an older Wi-Fi router may not provide enough bandwidth to manage network traffic among connected PCs, laptops, game consoles, and mobile devices. Current Netgear gaming routers offer more Gigabit Ethernet and multi-Gig Ethernet ports for the fastest possible wired connection.
You especially may want to upgrade or replace your existing router if you’ve switched to a different internet provider or added Gigabit internet service. Your wireless network will only benefit from the advertised Gigabit speeds if all the Wi-Fi hardware can process the improved speed.
New Netgear models support the latest wireless standards, including the Wi-Fi 6 protocol, allowing for an additional GHz band for connected devices. The latest Netgear Nighthawk home Wi-Fi 6 routers, and mesh systems also provide faster speeds and have updated network configuration settings.
Current-generation Netgear models support some of the latest network security features, with up-to-date Trend Micro anti-malware support and custom firewall settings. Many new models also offer multiple QoS (Quality of Service) settings to make the most of your ISP’s internet connection service. With the latest Netgear tri-band routers, households and businesses can benefit from having more granular control over network settings, guest network access, and traffic monitoring functions.
Routers, in general, last about five years, and the hardware may last longer with proper care. However, internet service updates and wireless protocol changes mean older models will become obsolete after five years.
Busy networks, power surges, firmware issues, and heat buildup are some of the main factors that produce wear and tear on network devices. To help keep your routers and mesh kits working well, install the devices in areas free from excess heat and humidity whenever possible.
Networking experts typically also recommend running annual performance tests to ensure the internal antennas and external antennas are functioning properly. They also recommend updating firmware and operating systems whenever possible to ensure your router pick still has the latest anti-malware and security functions.
You may want to consider a system with the newer Wi-Fi 6 networking standards and up-to-date, Gigabit connection speeds to allow your hardware to remain compatible longer with the evolving internet connection, client device, and network security standards.
Netgear routers in the US and Canada, including the popular Netgear Nighthawk X10 and the Netgear R6080, come with a 1-year manufacturer’s limited warranty and 90 days of free 24/7 tech support.
Netgear offers the option of a 2-year extended warranty on most of its home wireless products, along with up to 2 years of extended 24/7 tech support. Customers have 90 days after the time of purchase to opt into the extended warranty. In addition to basic tech support, customers may opt into Netgear Armor and Netgear ProSupport service upgrades.
Netgear includes a 90-day warranty with email, chat, and phone tech support for many of its refurbished products and business networking systems as well.
The limited warranty covers manufacturing defects with parts and labor, excluding accidental damage and 3rd party software. Similar to most electronics warranties, Netgear covers one-way shipping.