How routers from two Wi-Fi leaders stack up

Everybody loves a fast, low-latency Wi-Fi connection, and these days there are tons of routers to choose from. So many, in fact, that it can be hard to keep all the different models and protocols straight. There are a few manufacturers generally considered head and shoulders above the rest. Netgear and Asus are two of the most prolific companies in the Wi-Fi market, both offering a host of routers, extenders and mesh Wi-Fi systems ideal for home or small business use.

Netgear wireless routers

More home consumers use Netgear routers than almost any other brand, and for good reason. They offer a wide variety of models ranging from affordable to ultra-premium and, for the most part, they’re reliable and easy to set up. If you like to be on the bleeding edge of technology, Netgear has you covered with high-end options that support some of the latest protocols.

Netgear wireless router pros

In light of the sheer volume of routers Netgear releases, you can be confident of two things. The first is that they almost certainly offer a dependable wireless router in your price range. The second is that you can have a great deal of faith in their product support, as they’re known to release firmware updates at the first sign of any issues with each specific build.

If you’re in the market for an affordable wireless router, Netgear offers some of the cheapest around without sacrificing critical features like dual-band connectivity. Some of their budget-friendly routers even include advanced features like Quality of Service prioritization, which ensures that demanding activities like streaming 4K video or playing online games get the bandwidth and low latency they need for a smooth experience.

At the top end of the Netgear lineup, there’s no shortage of high-end routers with impressive features. Those features include tri-band operation, Wi-Fi 6 compatibility and more bandwidth than a home internet connection could ever need. That kind of overhead makes Netgear’s premium offerings great for crowded networks in busy homes that utilize their wireless network for streaming from a home server or playing multiplayer games with a lot of players in the home at once.

Netgear wireless router cons

There aren’t a lot of bad things to say about Netgear’s Wi-Fi products in general, and especially about their wireless routers. That’s part of why they’re so popular. Actually, one of the only difficult parts of finding the right Netgear model for you is ensuring that you’re buying the latest and greatest version of your favorite router.

One of the only cons actually has to do with Netgear’s Wi-Fi mesh systems. While the Orbi family has traditionally been a great lineup of products, their most recent Orbi Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems leave a bit to be desired in terms of performance. The exception to that is the top-end Orbi Pro, but most home consumers will find it prohibitively expensive.

Best Netgear wireless routers

Netgear R6260

Netgear R6260

This isn’t a particularly flashy or advanced router, but it is capable of accommodating most home internet connections well and it’s about as affordable as any router on the market. While it’s limited to Wi-Fi 5, it’s a great choice for small households that don’t need the absolute latest features.

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Netgear R6700AX

Netgear R6700AX

This is essentially Netgear’s current entry-level Wi-Fi 6 router. If you want to be ready to take the next step, this one’s a relatively future-proof networking solution. Keep in mind that in order to take advantage of Wi-Fi 6’s improvements, most of your devices will need Wi-Fi 6 connectivity themselves.

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Netgear Nighthawk AX6

Netgear Nighthawk AX6

Powerful internal hardware, four external antennas and an extensive set of features make this one of the top mid-range Wi-Fi routers on the market. Support for six simultaneous streams — two over the 2.4GHz band and four over the 5GHz band — allow it to accommodate multiple gamers or 4K streaming services at the same time with ease.

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Netgear Nighthawk AX12

Netgear Nighthawk AX12

If you need top-of-the-line performance and are willing to make an investment, it’s hard to do better than the Nighthawk AX12. As the name implies, it can accommodate 12 streams at once and is therefore suitable for many of the busiest home networks out there.

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Asus wireless routers

Asus wireless router pros

Asus makes a lot more than just wireless networking devices and many of their routers are built specifically with performance in mind. As you might be able to tell from some of the aggressive, angular, flashy designs, Asus isn’t shy about marketing their high-speed and low-latency access points to dedicated gamers. That’s not in any way misleading, because they really do deliver, especially at the top end.

Like Netgear, Asus offers a wide range of both affordable and high-end wireless routers. Somewhat unlike Netgear, Asus makes a good deal of highly popular wireless extenders that can turn any of their AIMesh-compatible routers into de facto Wi-Fi mesh systems. So, if you decide later on that you need to extend your network coverage into a hard-to-reach basement or bedroom area, you shouldn’t have any issues expanding with another high-quality Asus-branded router.

Asus wireless router cons

Again like Netgear, there aren’t many drawbacks to selecting an Asus router. One of the few issues that sometimes arises is their management software and parental control features aren’t always as intuitive as those from other premium manufacturers. You’ll also notice that their most high-performing routers tend to be bulky and quite expensive.

Best Asus wireless routers

Asus RT-ACRH18

Asus RT-ACRH18

It’s not the absolute cheapest router out there, but it’s not far off — and still offers helpful features like beamforming and MU-MIMO connectivity that help increase range and manage multiple simultaneous users.

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Asus RT-AX55

Asus RT-AX55

For a lower-midrange price, the RT-AX55 delivers powerful Wi-Fi 6 performance that helps reduce latency, mitigate crowded network airwaves and minimize battery drain on small devices. While not terribly expensive, it’s still advanced enough to satisfy most users for years.

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Asus RT-AX82U

Asus RT-AX82U

This premium model is an excellent choice for gamers or home theater enthusiasts who stream high-fidelity video from a home server. Its performance is nearly on-par with models twice as expensive and it can accommodate a large number of connected devices without any of them seeing any noticeable slowdowns.

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Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000

If you insist on the absolute best performance, look no further than this top-end model from Asus’ Republic of Gamers lineup. It’s engineered to take advantage of all the newest standards, including the Wi-Fi 6E protocol that uses the recently-licensed 6GHz band.

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Should you get a Netgear or Asus wireless router?

It’s hard to take issue with either of these top manufacturers, and you’ll very likely be satisfied with either one, regardless of your budget. If you want a router that fits into normal-looking decor, Netgear has a lot of those. On the other hand, if you want something flashy that fits into your high-tech gaming setup and has lots of external antennas, Asus might be the way to go. Either way, you’ll certainly be able to find something that performs well enough for your needs.

 

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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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