Best Wi-Fi 6 router 2022: Get the best wireless speeds from £38
Wi-Fi 6 is no longer the “next big thing”. Today, any new phone or laptop you buy will support the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology, capable of transferring files and downloading data more than twice as fast as an older 802.11ac connection. All you need is a compatible router.
However, there are a lot of models to choose from and the differences between them may seem technical and confusing. Don’t worry. Below you’ll find our buyer’s guide, telling you what to look for, along with our pick of five of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers, ranging from simple, low-cost models to high-end units packed with advanced features.
There’s something to suit every need and every budget, so read on to find the perfect Wi-Fi 6 router for your home or small office.
Best Wi-Fi 6 routers: At a glance
How to choose the best wireless router for you
A Wi-Fi 6 router can be very cheap and simple and it may be that a basic model is all you need. However, there are plenty of more advanced models offering higher speeds and more features. If you’re shopping for a new router, here are the questions you should be asking – and the issues that you don’t need to worry about:
Will a new router work with my ISP?
Third-party routers don’t usually include their own modems, so if you’re currently using an ISP-provided router, you may need to keep this connected to the wall socket to handle your internet connection. You can then use an Ethernet cable to connect it to the WAN socket of your new router.
If your old router offers a “modem mode”, this lets the new router take over all management of your home network. Another option is to switch the new router into Access Point mode (sometimes known as Bridge mode), which lets the old router continue to manage your LAN, while devices can connect to the new router via faster Wi-Fi 6.
It is possible to simply plug your new router directly into the old one without changing any settings. However, this means you’re effectively running two networks at once, which could cause problems when clients try to talk to one another, or if you need to configure port forwarding.
What speeds should I expect from Wi-Fi 6?
Routers are often advertised with speed ratings such as “AC2000” or “AX3000”. The prefix tells you whether the router uses Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) or Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), while the number is the total combined bandwidth of all the router’s radios.
These ratings provide a rough and ready comparison between different router models but they tell you very little about real-world performance. In practice, we’ve found that a typical Wi-Fi 6 router should be capable of delivering download speeds of around 480Mbits/sec (60MB/sec) at close range, while the very best models hit around 1Gbit/sec (125MB/sec). For comparison, the best Wi-Fi 5 routers we’ve tried have peaked at around 240Mbits/sec (30MB/sec).
That’s the sort of performance range you can expect but the only way to get a real handle on comparative speeds is to refer to real-world tests such as the ones in our reviews below.
Will a Wi-Fi 6 router still work with my old devices?
Fear not: a Wi-Fi 6 router will work perfectly well with phones and laptops that still use 802.11ac. Even older hardware using the ageing 802.11n or 802.11g standards will be fine. Needless to say, though, a new router won’t make these devices run any faster – to get the speed benefits, both ends of the connection need to be using Wi-Fi 6.
READ NEXT: Best wireless routers
Should I wait for Wi-Fi 6E?
Wi-Fi 6E is a new extension to Wi-Fi 6 that uses the previously unavailable 6GHz frequency range. This has less interference than the 5GHz band, so it helps achieve the fastest connection possible.
However, 6E requires both the router and the client to have 6GHz-capable hardware. At the time of writing there are just a handful of devices that support the standard and compatible routers are very expensive. With the latest Wi-Fi 6 routers already achieving excellent performance at very reasonable prices, we’d say for most people it’s not worth waiting.
Do I need a tri-band router?
With Wi-Fi 5, speeds can progressively drop off as more and more devices connect to a single radio. To reduce this effect, 802.11ac routers often use a tri-band design, with connections balanced across two separate 5GHz radios.
Wi-Fi 6 is designed to keep running smoothly when dozens or even hundreds of devices are connected. So as more and more devices shift to Wi-Fi 6, there’s less reason to pay the premium for a tri-band router. At this point, it’s only worth it if you’re planning to stick with a large number of Wi-Fi 5 devices for the foreseeable future.
Should I consider a mesh?
A mesh system can provide much greater range than a single router, normally using two or three satellite stations situated around your home. These can all be conveniently managed from a central dashboard or app, and you can easily add extra nodes if needed.
Meshes are generally a lot more expensive than individual routers, however. For a typical household a single router should work fine and, if you do need a boost, you can buy a reasonably priced extender.
What features should I look out for?
Aside from performance, there are plenty of factors that differentiate one router from another. Some have lots of LAN ports and support high-speed standards such as 2.5Gbits/sec Ethernet; others have minimal wired connectivity. A router might have one or more USB sockets, too, allowing you to conveniently share an external hard disk or printer over your network.
There’s often also some sort of network security feature, to block malicious downloads and spot malware before it has a chance to spread, although depending on which router you choose, you may have to pay an annual subscription for the full feature set. Likewise, parental controls may be an optional extra, allowing you to monitor and restrict internet access for children’s devices.
Another popular feature is VPN support, either allowing you to route all outbound traffic through a third-party VPN provider, or to run your own VPN so you can securely access your home network over the internet.
READ NEXT: Best VPN
The best wireless routers you can buy in 2022
1. Linksys MR7350: Best all-round Wi-Fi 6 router
Price: £80 | Buy now from Amazon
For £80, you might not be expecting much and, if we’re honest, the Linksys MR7350 isn’t exactly a thing of beauty. In our tests though it punched well above its weight, delivering download rates of over 60MB/sec at close range. Even when we took our test laptop right to the far end of the house we saw files whizz down the line at 30MB/sec – that’s nearly ten times the speed you need for 4K video streaming.
Wired networking is covered, too, with four Gigabit Ethernet sockets and a USB 3 port that can be used for handy network file sharing. Basic parental controls are built in, and Linksys’ Velop mesh technology lets you link the MR7350 up with other Linksys routers to extend your coverage.
To be sure, there are more upmarket routers, with features like VPN support, network security and multi-gig Ethernet. For most homes, however, the Linksys MR7350 will deliver all the performance you could ask for at an excellent price.
Read our full Linksys MR7350 review for more details
Key specs – Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6); Stated maximum speed: 574Mbits/sec (2.4GHz), 1.2Gbits/sec (5GHz); Ports: 4 x GbE, USB 3.0
2. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX6000: The fastest Wi-Fi 6 router you can buy
Price: £302 | Buy now from Amazon
The ROG Rapture GT-AX6000 is aimed primarily at gamers but its fantastic performance will appeal equally to busy households and small offices. Thanks to the latest Wi-Fi 6 chipset, this low-rise router gave us phenomenal same-room download speeds of more than 120MB/sec – fast enough to keep up with a gigabit fibre internet connection. There’s a 2.5-gigabit Ethernet port too, for ultra-high-speed wired connections.
The “Republic of Gamers” firmware has some interesting gaming-specific features: you can prioritise particular clients, so gaming traffic gets priority over other communications; and there are built-in settings to help you get connected in more than 70 popular online games.
Yet there’s plenty here for non-gamers too. Network security and parental control features are included in the price, and there’s extensive VPN support, allowing different clients to use different virtual locations.
Read our full Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX6000 review for more details
Key specs – Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6); Stated maximum speed: 1.1Gbits/sec (2.4GHz), 4.8Gbits/sec (5GHz); Ports: 4 x GbE, 2.5GbE, USB 3.2 Gen 1, USB 2
3. Honor Router 3: The best budget Wi-Fi 6 router – if you can find one
Price: £38 | Buy from AliExpress
When this simple little router arrived at the end of 2020, it upended our expectations of how much you’d have to pay for Wi-Fi 6. Sadly, it’s no longer on sale in the UK, but you can still get one via grey import – or you can go for the Huawei AX3, which is basically the same router (Honor is a sub-brand of Huawei) with an upgraded processor and a few extra features.
The design sticks to the basics. You’ll find four gigabit Ethernet connectors at the rear but no USB support, and there’s no QoS settings for specifying high-priority clients or traffic types. The router can’t identify and block unsavoury websites either, though it is possible to create access schedules for kids’ devices.
And performance is very respectable indeed. We got download speeds of 57MB/sec to a laptop in the same room as the router, and between 17MB/sec and 40MB/sec elsewhere in the house. For wider coverage you can buy additional units and combine them into a mesh, meaning this isn’t just a great standalone Wi-Fi solution, it’s a very extendable one.
Read our full Honor Router 3 review for more details
Key specs – Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6); Stated maximum speed: 574Mbits/sec (2.4GHz), 2.4Gbits/sec (5GHz); Ports: 4 x GbE
Also consider: Huawei AX3 – A great budget alternative | Buy now (£45)
4. Asus TUF Gaming AX5400: Best affordable gaming router with Wi-Fi 6
Price: £102 | Buy now from Amazon
Asus’ TUF AX5400 is a lot cheaper than the ROG Rapture GT-AX6000 and offers some of the same gaming features. There’s a priority Ethernet port to ensure your gaming PC doesn’t get bogged down by other people’s browsing, and easy pre-configured port forwarding for a big library of games.
It also has extensive QoS features, which you can use to further analyse and organise the traffic flow, and a good set of general-purpose networking features, including Asus’ AiProtection and Parental Controls services and both inbound and outbound VPN support.
As for Wi-Fi performance, the AX5400 doesn’t match the top download speeds of the GT-AX6000, but it’s still very strong – we got around 90MB/sec at close range and over 45MB/sec in most other areas of the house. That makes this a tempting choice for gamers on a budget, or anyone looking for a slightly faster alternative to the Linksys MR7350.
Read our full Asus TUF Gaming AX5400 review for more details
Key specs – Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6); Stated maximum speed: 574Mbits/sec (2.4GHz), 4.8Gbits/sec (5GHz); Ports: 4 x GbE, USB 3.0