The Best Router for My Home – November 2014

Buying a Router?router image

I just bought a router. But it took me four tries to get it right. Let me explain (wait – see what features I wanted in a router before you get to the adventure).

The Best Router for Me

The best router for me would have the following characteristics:

  • excellent range
  • strong signal strength
  • ability to stream simultaneously to multiple devices
  • consistent signal (no drops)
  • wireless ac (fastest wifi speeds available; modern devices can utilize these speeds, e.g., iPhone 6)
  • easy to use

The best router for you might have other characteristics. I just want my wireless devices to work, and to be as fast as possible, anywhere in the house. And I don’t want to waste a lot of my time setting it all up.

Router #1 – Arris Model #TG862G-CT

Arris modem / router comboI signed up with Comcast and rented the Arris, an Xfinity-branded modem/router combination (model #TG862G-CT).

The Arris unit worked. Sorta. Except when I’d get a full house on Zynga poker and try to bet. Then . . . nothing. Frozen phone. Thanks Arris. Or sometimes, watching Netflix upstairs (our house is about 2,000 square feet), our Sony DVD player would drop connection with the router and our plasma television would sit there with a spinning circle–while we sat on the couch and stared at the little orb like idiots. I couldn’t go outdoors and expect any sort of reliable connection. Things continued in this frustrating manner for some time. I finally put my foot down. We couldn’t go on living like that. It just didn’t feel constitutional.

  • range: fail
  • strong signal strength: fail
  • streaming devices simultaneously: not bad
  • consistent signal: fail
  • wireless ac: no
  • easy to use: not really but Comcast support is pretty good

Router #2 – Asus AC66R

Asus RT-AC66R RouterI did a bit of research and settled on an ASUS router: the AC66R (which is the same as the AC66U, the only difference being that the AC66R is sold at Best Buy only). The AC66R had a host of features I wanted and the reviews revealed an almost cult-like following. I say that because I think the ASUS router sucked even more than my previously-owed Arris modem/router combination.

The ASUS router literally took me over two hours to get going. It just wouldn’t connect. I figured I must be the cause so I just lived with it. Once I finally got it going, it did seem like my devices were fast. I did speed tests on them around the house and they were getting a pretty consistent 15-20mbps download speeds all over. Great. But my poker game kept doing the same thing. Randomly my game would just pause, I’d lose the hand and then I’d be kicked out of the game. This happened over and over and over and over and over and over--sorry–I’m trying to help you feel the experience. I guess I was just stubborn. I wanted the router to be the beast it was supposed to be.

I gave the router almost two months. After countless dropped TV shows, lost poker hands, and lock-ups (resulting in my destruction) in World of Tanks, I called technical support. But they didn’t answer because they aren’t open in the evenings! So I waited until the next day and I called again.

This time they answered and I began sharing my problems. By this time, the router was no longer displaying the 5GHz band on any device. It just wasn’t there. It was losing connection in quick intermittent bursts that would interrupt any streaming. Not only that, when rebooted, it would stay offline for sometimes over two hours. No amount of fiddling with the over-abundance of highly technical settings helped. We’d just be Internet-less until it decided to connect to the Internet.

I’m giving this next problem its own paragraph because it’s so ridiculously weird. Upgrading the firmware on the device is for people with a fair amount of technical skill. You have to find the firmware update settings, then you have to click on the button to check for the latest version, which tells you that you have the latest version even when you do not, and then, after you figure that out, you have to find the firmware online, then you must download it to your computer, then extract the zip file, then upload the file inside the new folder that was created, then wait for the device to reboot, then you fiddle with wires and reboot everything like 50 times and then finally the router works again.

Lasty, my only AC-capable device, the iPhone 6 Plus, wouldn’t connect using AC speeds. It never exceeded a 15-20mbps download speed, the same speed utilized by all my wireless devices.

OK Asus. You have a quality, modern AC router with an antiquated and buggy firmware interface. Why? And you don’t have 24/7 technical support. Why? And your support technicians could honestly use a little training. The guy I talked to at Asus told me the problems I was describing on my router were known bugs. While polite, he gave me no useful information on fixing the bugs. And your router’s extra features (AC, dual-band) don’t work.

Bye bye, Asus AC66R.

  • range: great when working
  • strong signal strength: great when working
  • streaming devices simultaneously: great when working
  • consistent signal: consistent fail
  • wireless ac: yes, but didn’t work
  • easy to use: no (antiquated firmware interface, buggy, technically-minded administration panel, poor support)

Router #3 – Linksys EA6400 (AC1600)

Linksys EA6400 AC1600I tried this AC Router because it was $150 at Best Buy. I could actually save $20 from my previous purchase. Supposedly the Linksys would be easy to set up. And supposedly Linksys has great 24/7 customer service. As of now, I haven’t tried calling them so can’t verify.

I got home, plugged my new router in, and within about two minutes, I was connected to the Internet. The screen told me that the router was updating to the latest firmware. Setup really was that easy. The process felt highly polished. Heck, even my parents could do it. There was waiting around for hours. No unplugging and replugging and rebooting–none of that. Score one for Linksys!

Close to the router (within about 10-15 feet), my iPhone 6 Plus download speeds were over 50mbps. Score another one for Linksys. My iphone was able to utilize the wireless ac. So far so good. At distance (over 15 feet), the connection speeds began to drop.

Now it was time to check the connection at distance. I checked the 5GHz connection first. Upstairs it dropped to two bars (about 25 feet away through two walls), and even wavered around one bar once or twice, but I thought, what the heck. I’ll give this router a fair try.

Next I tried the 2.4GHz connection. I thought the range would be better, but it wasn’t–still two bars upstairs. So tried watching a show on Netflix. Within five minutes, the router dropped the connection. I had to re-enter the wireless settings on my iPhone 6 Plus and reconnect. Later in the show, the dreaded spinning orb returned for about 30 seconds. About 15 minutes later my wife yelled in, “I’m seeing spinning circle!”

By now, I was done giving chances.

Bye-bye, Linksys EA6400 (AC1900).

  • range: so-so
  • strong signal strength: strong signal within about 15 feet, mediocre beyond that
  • streaming devices simultaneously: great
  • consistent signal: intermittent fail on first night of use
  • wireless ac: yes, blazing fast (for my one ac-capable device)
  • easy to use: amazingly easy

Router #4 – Linksys EA6900 (AC1900)

Linksys EA6900 AC1900I thought long and hard about this next purchase. Both the Linksys EA6900 and the Asus RT-AC68U received glowing reviews. Both were (supposedly) more powerful and faster than the previous models I’d tried. The Asus seemed to best the Linksys in most speed and range tests, but only slightly. However, I chose the Linksys EA6900 based on ease of setup, the highly polished interface, 24/7 technical support and the fact that I found the EA6900 on sale for $180.

I took it home and set it up. I had Internet access within a couple minutes. Perfect. My iPhone 6 Plus was getting download speeds of 50mbps all over the house. I had full bars in every room (on the 2.4GHz network–two bars on the 5GHz network upstairs). So far so good.

I tried my poker game. It worked without any drops in connection. I tested that for about half-hour. Then I watched about four hours of my favorite Netflix series using my Chromecast. I’m happy to say that this router didn’t drop connection once. Not once did any of my games or shows pause or reload. So far, so good.

I’ve only had this router for two days so can’t speak on its longevity. But what I can say is that this router provides excellent coverage in all rooms in my house. Multiple devices can be in use simultaneously. It was a breeze to set up. It’s held a connection consistently. Both bands work (2.4GHz and 5GHz).

  • range: best so far
  • strong signal strength: yes, all through the house, especially on 2.4GHz network
  • streaming devices simultaneously: great
  • consistent signal: yes, no drops thus far
  • wireless ac: yes, blazing fast (for my one ac-capable device)
  • easy to use: amazingly easy

Needless to say, I think I’ve found my router for now. I’ll keep you posted.

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  1. Thank you for your helpful reviews! I currently use Comcast and my router is Motorola. It costs about $120, but it performs poorly. I install it in the basement. The signal is very weak. I’m thinking about buying a new router. I’m interested in the router #4 Lynksys you recommended above. Do you where can I buy it?

    1. gplus-profile-picture

      Thanks for the comment Peter. You can get the router described in the article at Best Buy or online at Amazon if you prefer. I bought mine at Best Buy. I like their return policy.

  2. gplus-profile-picture

    Hey George!

    The answer is “yes,” I’m still using my router and it’s still performing admirably. I have no complaints whatsoever. It rarely, if ever, drops my connection. I have full connection in all corners of my home (2 level, about 2,000SF). I can go outdoors and get connection anywhere on my property. By the back fence I drop to two bars, but it’s still a solid connection.

    I have found that the 5GHz band, while fast, definitely does not have nearly the range of the 2.4GHz band. Farther than about 20 feet from the router, I have two bars.

    I probably won’t update the entire review with a new one, so hopefully this comment helps. I still highly recommend the router.

    In fact, my sister’s router just went out and I bought her one of these. She lives in another state and I didn’t even have to help her set it up (and she’s not the most tech-savvy person in the world when it comes to networking). She went from having tons of troubles to plugging this one in and having no trouble whatsoever. She lives in an apartment so it’s probably overkill but it’s been perfect for her.


  3. Hi Eric,

    Thank you for this excellent review! If you don’t mind can I ask how many wireless devices you’re using?


    1. gplus-profile-picture

      Two iPads and two iPhones. But often I have guests over and we’re using multiple devices (Mike has an iPad and plays WOT the entire time), both parents have iPhones, brother in law, nieces, nephews all have devices. We’ve had probably 6-7 devices connected at once and have never had a problem. NOT — ONE — PROBLEM. I rarely have to reset the router. This has been, bar none, by far, the best router I have ever owned. And believe me, I have no dog in this fight.


      1. Thanks Eric! We’re using an Asus RT-N66U for over 15+ devices in the house of which many are streaming video constantly. The Asus couldn’t keep up with them and loses connection on a daily basis. I’ll give Linksys a try. The worst case is to send it back to Amazon 🙂

        Thanks again!

        1. gplus-profile-picture

          I tried an Asus too . . . horrid. The worst of the bunch. I find that weird after all the great Asus reviews out there.


  4. Thanks Eric! We got 15+ devices with more than 10 phones stream online video 24/24. Our Asus RT-N66U has to be restarted at least once a day. I’ll give the Linksys a try. Free return on Amazon will back me up 🙂


  5. I just purchased a Linksys AC1600 and only get wifi if I’m within 10 feet to router. Why is this? I have reset it, googled it and have tried everything yet, still very weak. HELP!

    1. gplus-profile-picture

      Unexpected behavior to say the least. My router is, bar none, the best I have ever used. I have a quarter acre lot and I get access ANYWHERE on my property.


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