You can have the fastest internet in the world (and you probably don't), but if it's being distributed around your home by a sub-standard router, it won't make a jot of difference. Spotty connections, drop-outs and disruption could all result — and they're all the sorts of things that happen at the worst possible times.
Replacements routers make a lot of sense, whether you're trying to safeguard a great connection, or shore up a terrible one, and they don't have to break the bank. We've rounded up some of the best routers on the market for you to choose from.
Best routers under £100/$100
Linksys EA6900 Smart Wi-Fi Wireless AC Router AC1900
This Linksys router looks pretty much exactly as you'd imagine when you picture a router. It's got the antenna you'd hope for and the power-boosting capabilities you'll want, although the lack of a modem does mean that you'll still need your existing router, neutered, in connection to the new box. That's a bit of a drag, especially if your plug situation means that they both end up somewhere in plain sight.
Still, though, the EA6900 is one of the most affordable routers on this list, and you get a great big slice of control to go with it. Whether you want to set up device-by-device access restrictions (ever useful for parents) or simply check out when your usage spikes, it'll help you with all of it, without costing a bomb.
This black monolith from D-Link is as powerful as it looks, with the option to use any of six different streams to beam your Wi-Fi, and is significantly cheaper in the UK than the US, for some reason. It has the performance to back it up, though.
As always with a router, the key is in its speeds, and the limits reached by this unit are really impressive, even as you move away from the router. Plus, you can often pick it up with nice discounts to sweeten the deal.
Best router under £150/$150
The AmpliFi HD manages the complicated task of balancing design aesthetics with practicality — it's got the sleek, white looks that Google's efforts showcase, but also has a highly useful little display on its body to let you know some key facts about your internet at a glance. If you want extenders you'll have to accept somewhat ugly antennae, but the router itself is seriously good-looking.
That screen can tell you the time, your speeds, the ports in use and more. Meanwhile, in the speed department, the router supports up to a massive 1,750Mbps, so you're not going to need to replace it anytime soon. Performance is the definition of fast and steady, and your home will certainly be able to get full coverage from the system.
Best Wi-Fi 6 router
Netgear Nighthawk AX8
This batwing-looking piece of kit is about as advanced a router as you're likely to want, packing massive speed potential along with an all-important bit of future-proofing. That's right, it's fully compatible with Wi-Fi 6, the next big Wi-Fi standard. That's by no means essential for most users, but given that we are likely to see devices swap to it over time, it's a nice feature to have.
We admit that the Nighthawk AX8's design is a bit of a risk depending on your taste, but overall we're taken with its mixture of a bold look with seriously powerful performance. If you want Wi-Fi 6, this is the one for you.
Best gaming router
This router from Asus is impressive on two counts, though - it also packs Wi-Fi 6 into the package, but is more explicitly aimed at gamers who can't afford even minute lags and hitches in their home's connections when they're in full swing.
To that end, it boasts massive speeds, and a really impressive eight Ethernet slots on its back, to let you wire up your various systems as well as using bleeding-edge Wi-Fi. That sort of adaptability makes it a great fit for the ultra-enthusiastic gamer in you.
Best Mesh Wi-Fi
Google Nest Wifi
Find us a pie Google hasn't got it's fingers in and we'd be surprised — Mesh Wi-Fi is no different. Along with most of its other efforts, Google's latest Nest Wifi is also predictably fantastic. It's pretty reasonably priced, although it'll still feel steep compared to the router that comes with your internet contract.
But there real difference is in the using. Nest Wifi has strong signal to make sure that you get whole-home coverage, and extenders available to widen that coverage if your home needs it. The router is unobtrusive and easy to set up, and each extender doubles up as a capable smart speaker with Google Assistant on board. It's a market-leading product as far as simplicity and benefits are concerned.