Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Best Home WiFi Routers - Summer 2012

Five Best Home Wi-Fi Routers Buying a wi-fi router these days is no easy task. Long gone are the days where one model rose above the rest: now there are routers with different features, some that focus on range, others that focus on speed, and still others with advanced features like NAS support and traffic shaping options. This week we're going to take a look at five of the best home wi-fi routers, based on your nominations.
Earlier in the week, we asked you which wireless routers you thought were the bestfor customization, range, signal strength, and features. You responded with more nominees than we could feature here, but a few models really rose out of the pack and were your clear favorites. Here they are:
Five Best Home Wi-Fi Routers

Linksys WRT54G Series

The venerable Linksys WRT54G has long been one of the most hackable wireless routers on the market, and while they're a little trickier to come by these days, they're still widely available and if you can get your hands on one, you won't find another router that supports both the DD-WRT and Tomato alternate router firmwares better and more smoothly. Even though it's an 802.11g model and lacks 802.11n, and the range and speed of some of its more modern rivals, it's a rock solid router with a well earned fan base. It may be end-of-life from Linksys' perspective, but they do keep a well-updated support page dedicated to it. There's a reason this model has its own entry here.
Five Best Home Wi-Fi Routers

Apple Airport Extreme /Express

A number of you nominated the Apple Airport Extreme and Airport Express for their simple configuration, minimal design, and remarkably low price point for what you get. It's not terribly hackable, and you're not going to buy an Airport model and go home planning to install custom firmware, but you will be able to slip an Airport Express in your pocket or suitcase and be able to set up or extend a wireless network anywhere you go (or plug it into any set of speakers to make them Airplay compatible), and you will be able to set up an Airport Extreme in a matter of minutes and have a cozy dual band 802.11n blanket over your whole house. The Express sports a pair of 10/100 Ethernet ports on the back, and the Extreme boasts four gigabit Ethernet ports for other devices. Both offer USB ports for connected devices like printers or (in the case of the Extreme) NAS devices. If you want a truly fire-and-forget router, the Airport Extreme is a good choice.
Five Best Home Wi-Fi Routers

Netgear N Series (WNDR Models)

Netgear has come a long way, and its N-series (also known by their model numbers, WNDRXXXX) wireless routers are proof. PC Mag issued the N750/WNDR4000 an Editor's Choice award (and I'm a happy owner of one!) and the N900/WNDR4500 is one of the most powerful and speedy dual-band 802.11n home routers on the market today. Many of Netgear's N-series routers are compatible with DD-WRT, but even if you're not the type to flash your router's firmware, Netgear's own firmware offers quality-of-service controls, advanced access and parental controls, support for dynamic DNS, advanced wireless security options, and offer support for NAS devices and printers connected via USB. They range in price, and many of the better ones are definitely on the high-end, but in this case you get what you pay for.
Five Best Home Wi-Fi Routers

ASUS RT Series

You may not think of ASUS when you think of wireless routers, especially if you haven't purchased a router in several years, but the ASUS RT series, specifically theASUS RT-N56 and RT-N66 models, combine great features and sharp looks into a networking package that offers dual-band 802.11n, support for connected devices like printers and NAS devices via USB, and some of the strongest signal strength and range available. Plus, most of ASUS's models support builds of DD-WRT or Tomato, so if you want even more control over the router's features, it's readily available to you. The RT-N66 even has detachable antennae that you can swap out for higher-powered versions that you can either buy (like the Mohu Bounce ) or build yourself .
Five Best Home Wi-Fi Routers

Linksys E Series

When Linksys started to phase out the WRT54G series, they started to direct customers to the E Series—their easy-to-configure (and sharp-looking) replacement models. Every member of the E Series is an 802.11n router, and many of you praised them—specifically the E4200 —for their blend of features, simple setup, range and signal strength, and the fact that many of the E-series routers are compatible with DD-WRT, so you can flash the firmware and get even more features once the router is set up the way you like. Linksys' price point is attractive as well, and even if you opt not to flash the firmware, you can very affordably buy a router that takes moments to set up and needs little maintenance after the fact. It doesn't hurt that many of Cisco's routers specifically support household features like VoIP and traffic shaping for things like torrents, putting some relatively advanced features in the hands of people who may have been intimidated by them before.
Now that you've seen the top five, it's time to put them to an all out vote to decide the winner!

No honorable mentions this week, as the next one down the line had fewer than half the nominations of the least nominated member of the top five, but if you think your favorite model got shortchanged, let us know why in the comments below! Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week . Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it's not because we hate it—it's because it didn't get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it's a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at !
Photo by nrkbeta .

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