Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Buying a Wi-Fi router doesn’t have to break the bank, especially if you don’t need one that supplies several hundred Mbps speeds. Budget routers are a great alternative that packs lots of features without a hit to the wallet.

UPDATE: 08/18/2023

We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have updated our best budget gaming router pick.

What to Look For in a Budget Wi-Fi Router in 2023

The name of the game when it comes to picking a budget wireless router is balancing cost against features. While there’s certainly a lot of overlap with non-budget routers, having a good understanding of what features are necessary and what features are “nice to haves” will ultimately dictate how much you will save.

For example, if you plan to connect many devices to your router, then MU-MIMO is a core feature you’ll want to have. Another is Quality of Service (QoS), which allows you to set bandwidth priorities for different devices and is incredibly useful in a busy household.

Alternatively, if you have a single gaming PC or 4k TV, then Wi-Fi 6 and beamforming technology can help reach speeds and stability that serve both those needs.

One thing we will suggest is to try and push your budget as much as you can. It will make a difference if you can get a slightly better router or speeds by spending an extra $10 or $15. Going from 600Mbps to 700Mbps might not seem like much, but that extra 100Mbps might give you a bit of a longer range to work with.

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TP Link AX3000 next to computer



✓ Good WiFi coverage

✗ Surprising lack of tri-band

✓ Simple but deep user-interface

✗ HomeShield Pro isn’t free

✓ OneMesh support

✓ Better stability & consistency compared to the previous model

If you’ve read our best Wi-Fi router article, you won’t be surprised to see the TP-Link Archer AX3000 (AX55) topping this list, as it is our budget pick there. An upgrade over the AX50, the Archer AX3000 offers OneMesh support and better stability over an already great budget router.

First, in terms of real-world speed, 5GHz can hit 500Mbps at around 40 feet, whereas 2.4GHz is likely to only get you around 100Mbps at the same distance. Interestingly, though, the AX55 swaps out the internal Intel chip for a Qualcomm one, which, while operating within a smaller frequency, manages to be much more stable as a result.

As for features, you’ll find everything in the previous iteration and then some. The most important new addition is the support for WPA3, which is excellent for security. You also get OneMesh support, which means that you can pair it with routers and Wi-Fi extenders that support TP-Link’s standard.

Other additions are denial-of-service (DoS) protection through Homeshield as well as DNS relay. Unfortunately, you do lose the external memory slot that the AX50 came with, but it’s definitely worth what you get in return.

As for general connectivity, you have the same four-gigabit ethernet ports in the back, four nice big antennas with beamforming, and a USB 3.0 port. The AX55 also has support for Wi-Fi 6, which lets it reach such high speeds, even at a range of 40 feet. Finally, it also has support for MU-MIMO, which means you can connect to several devices simultaneously without experiencing weird latency or lag.

archer ax55

TP-Link Archer AX55

Best Budget Router Overall

An upgraded version of the beloved AX50, the PT-Link AX55 offers a new Qualcomm chip to provide better stability and the addition of OneMesh and WPA3 support.

asus router on pink background



✓ Robust management & control software

✗ Interface and 2.4Ghz performance isn’t great

✓ Good speeds for the price

✗ Slight but rare stability issues

✓ Lots of connectivity

✓ Straightforward installation

When looking at budget options, we have to make choices as to what features we want to give up in exchange for getting a lower price. Well, the good thing is that the ASUS RT-AC66U B1 has a ton of great features packed in while still coming in at under $100.

Starting with the most important, performance is pretty good for such a budget router. While 2.4Ghz isn’t great, coming in at around 100Mbps at roughly 30 feet, 5GHz does a much better job, being able to reach a whopping 500Mbps at about 30 feet. What’s interesting is that the RT-AC66U B1 doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6, so it’s all running on Wi-Fi 5 with great performance, although you’ll likely have to stick to the 5GHz band to see it.

What’s probably helping with the speed is the supported beamforming, which boosts performance. Sadly, it is missing out on MI-MIMO technology, so you might get some performance and latency hits if you’re planning to connect several devices.

On the bright side, the RT-AC66U B1 has some pretty great administrative controls that are both easy-to-use and pretty granular. For example, the whole thing can be controlled through your phone or web client if you prefer, and it even has a built-in network protection suite from Trend Micro.

It also supports AiMesh in case you want to do a mesh upgrade to your system at some point down the line, although keep in mind it only works with other ASUS devices that support AiMesh.

Another interesting feature is something that ASUS calls Adaptive QoS, which is essentially their take on QoS that allows the speed to be assigned based on the priority of what you are doing, such as gaming or streaming a movie.

Since it’s adaptive, it doesn’t need your input beyond enabling it, although it’s certainly puzzling why they would include Adaptive QoS and not pair it with MI-MIMO. Nonetheless, Adaptive QoS does help overcome the lack of MI-MIMO, so it’s still a helpful feature to have, even if it can’t be utilized fully.



Best Budget Router Under $100

It’s not often that you find a good router for less than $100, but the ASUS RT-AC66U B1 manages to stuff in both excellent 5GHz performance and a great set of features and control suite.

An ASUS RT-AX1880S router on pink and lilac background



✓ Excellent performance at 2.4 and 5GHz

✗ No WPA3 security standard

✓ Support for MU-MIMO and OFDMA

✓ Can be converted into a mesh node

The levels of speed and performance you can get from a router that costs under $100 are quite incredible these days. If you had searched a “Wi-Fi 6 gaming router” just 12 months ago, the average price would be double or even triple the cost of the impressive ASUS RT-AX1800S.

It might not be the fastest Wi-Fi 6 router in terms of raw speed, but with 2.4 and 5GHz speeds of up to 574Mbps and 1201Mbps, it’s certainly no slouch. Of course, maximum speeds and achievable speeds are two different things. Luckily, the RT-AX1800S has a few tricks to help close the gap between the two.

Firstly, there’s MU-MIMO, which allows the router to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously, reducing bandwidth bottlenecks. It also supports OFDMA and 1024-QAM, Wi-Fi 6 technologies that intelligently allocate bandwidth based on the application. That makes the network more stable and less prone to fluctuation, which is essential for a good online gaming experience.

The router is relatively understated in design, although you still get four adjustable antennae to help direct signal where needed. On the back, you’ll find a gigabit WAN port and four gigabit LAN ports for any devices that require a wired connection. And with a quick firmware update, you can also easily link up two or more routers for wider network coverage using AiMesh.

The only real downside of the RT-AX1800S is that it doesn’t support the WPA3 security standard, a feature you often find on more expensive Wi-Fi 6 routers. That said, WPA2 is usually perfectly fine for domestic use, and this omission shouldn’t be a major cause for concern.



Best Budget Gaming Router

$68 $100 Save $32

If you want the advantages that Wi-Fi 6 brings but don’t want to spend hundreds on a new router, the ASUS RT-AX1800S is a brilliant choice. It offers solid dual-band speeds, network stabilizing and efficiency features like MU-MIMO and OFDMA, and even the option to transform into a mesh node. All for less the $100. 

TP-Link on green background



✓ Great price

✗ No USB ports

✓ Surprisingly good 5GHz performance

✓ Easy to set up

While it’s true that Wi-Fi 6 tends to come with a hefty price tag, it’s still possible to get a router that supports it for less than $100, which is where the TP-Link Archer AX1500 (AX10) comes in to save the day.

Of course, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that 2.4Ghz band performance isn’t great, likely netting you around 80Mbps at 30 feet. It shines the most in the 5GHz department, where it can easily hit around 750Mbps at 30 feet, most likely due to the use of Wi-Fi 6. Stability is also pretty good for an $80 router, so there are no complaints there. It even has WPA3 support, a feature it received in a firmware update.

As for setup, it’s relatively simple and follows the same system as all TP-Link Archer routers, so if you’ve used one of those before, you’ll be right at home here. There’s a lot of advanced controls, too, such as port forwarding, VPN support, and dynamic DNS. That being said, you can easily plug the router in and let it do its own thing if you don’t have the tech skills.

Other than that, the only real significant downsides are a lack of a USB port and support for 160Mhz frequency, both of which are not dealbreakers at all.

archer ax1500

TP-Link Archer AX1500 (AX10)

Best Budget Wi-Fi 6 Router

It’s hard to complain when you’re getting a Wi-Fi 6 router for only $80, and while it is missing a USB port, it still has excellent 5GHz performance and stability.



✓ Small and easy to place around the house

✗ No dedicated backchannel

✓ Great range

✗ Lack of USB ports

✓ Relatively cheap

✗ Performance is only OK for price

✓ Excellent administrative tools

Wi-Fi dead zones in the house can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you only need a few extra inches to connect in your bed or a specific sofa in the living room. While Wi-Fi range extenders are great, mesh systems like the TP-Link Deco X20 provide a seamless Wi-Fi experience in their own right.

Coming in at $177 for a set of two, the Deco X20 can cover 4,000 square feet of your home pretty handily. The 5GHz speeds of the base router unit will see you get up to 650Mbps, while the satellite throughput will give you up to 450Mbps at close range. These speeds could have been higher, but TP-Link sadly didn’t include a dedicated backchannel, and while it is a missed opportunity, speeds should be more than enough for the majority of users.

If the coverage of the two-pack doesn’t cover it, there is a three-pack on offer for $230, which should bump that up to 5800 Sq.Ft., an area that most homes will likely not have to worry about.

As for features, it’s pretty jam-packed, having QoS, MI-MIMO, WPA3, and even Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), which is just a fancy way of saying “multiple slow-speed connections.” The admin app is also great—TP-Link knows how to make easy-to-use software, and Homecare is no different.

If the price for the Deco X20 is too high, the TP-Link Deco Mesh Wi-Fi System (Deco M5) is a slightly cheaper mesh router option. You’re giving up Wi-Fi 6 and some performance, but if you don’t have several hundred Mbps speeds, this three-pack comes in at $140, which is even cheaper than the Deco X20 two-pack.

The 5GHz base station starts at 450Mbps at close range and starts decreasing to around 250Mbps at 30-feet, and as for the nodes, you’re looking at similar performance at 30-feet, although maybe closer to 225Mbps.

tp-link deco

TP-Link Deco X20

Best Budget Mesh Router

It’s not always easy to find an affordable Mesh router, but the Deco X20 does a good job of keeping the price down while jamming a bunch of great features, the least of which being Wi-Fi 6.


What does a Wi-Fi router do?

A Wi-Fi router takes the wired broadband Internet connection coming into your home, often via a modem, and turns it into a wireless signal. This signal can then be connected to remotely by any device with a Wi-Fi antenna, such as phones, tablets, and computers.

How do I reset a Wi-Fi router?

Wi-Fi routers almost always have a reset button on the back, usually next to the power button and LAN ports. Some reset buttons can easily be pressed with your finger, but others are set within a small hole and require a pin or paperclip to reach them.

How does my modem affect my router?

In most home networks, the modem is the primary connection point between the incoming broadband connection and your Wi-Fi router. A modem not rated for the same connection speeds as your router can cause a bottleneck and limit the bandwidth available to your devices.

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 is the latest version of the wireless internet protocol that was rolled out in 2019. Capable of transmitting data at a maximum of 9.6Gbps, it is a big improvement on Wi-Fi 5, which was capped at 3.5Gbps. Wi-Fi 6 is also more efficient than earlier versions and is better suited to simultaneously handling data to and from multiple devices.

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By John P.

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