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Routers can be very expensive indeed, with some even costing several hundreds of dollars. Some of us, myself included, aren’t willing to invest that much into a router but still want one that delivers fast speeds, provides great coverage and features we will actually make use of.
In this buyer’s guide, we will take a look at a few of the key features you should be looking for when shopping for a router as well as my recommendations for the 7 best Wi-Fi routers for under $100.
In a hurry?
If you don’t have much time, my favorite router under $100 is the TP-Link Archer A7. It strikes an excellent balance between speed, coverage, parental controls, and other features that make it fantastic value for money.
The Comparison Table
|TP-Link Archer A7||1,750 Mbps||2,500 sq ft|
|Linksys EA7300||1,700 Mbps||1,500 sq ft|
|TP-Link Archer A9||1,900 Mbps||Not Stated|
|NETGEAR Nighthawk R6700||1,750 Mbps||1,500 sq ft|
|Google Wi-Fi||1,200 Mbps||1,500 sq ft|
|TP-Link Archer A6||1,200 Mbps||Not Stated|
|DiJi Tamifly||1,200 Mbps||Not Stated|
Best Wi-Fi Routers Under $100
1. TP-Link Archer A7
My favorite router for less than $100 is the TP-Link Archer A7.
This very affordable router provides good performance and coverage, several connectivity options and fantastic technical support; the Archer A7 has you covered if you aren’t fussed about the bells and whistles that come with other, more expensive, routers.
Performance-wise, you can expect to receive total speeds of up to 1,750 Mbps. This is certainly fast enough to be able to enjoy 4k video streaming without that annoying buffer we all dread.
In terms of coverage, the Archer A7 can cover around 2,500 sq ft thanks to the three adjustable antennas and strong amplifiers. This coverage may not be as good as some of the other routers here that can cover 3,000+ sq ft, but in terms of price to coverage ratio, it is fantastic.
TP-Link claims that the Archer A7 can handle over 50 devices connected to it. This is quite a claim for a router that is more on the budget side; I am a bit dubious about this, to be honest. Yes, you may well be able to connect 50 devices to the router, but how well they will actually perform is another story.
One feature I particularly like about the Archer A7 is that it is compatible with Alex and IFTTT (If This Then That). You can turn on the guest Wi-Fi through a voice command and then use IFTTT to trigger an action when devices connect or disconnect from your network.
Something you’ll want to show off to your visitors, I’m sure.
Even though it is a more budget-friendly router, TP-Link hasn’t forgotten about security. Advanced WPA2 encryption, parental controls, and guest Wi-Fi access help keep your family and your network safe and secure.
It was difficult to find anything to complain about with the Archer A7 if I’m honest. Some people have reported a decrease in speed after a few months, but these reports were scarce so it may have been a localized issue rather than a problem with the router itself.
If you are looking for a no-frills wireless router that provides great coverage and performance for the price, the TP-Link Archer A7 is a great choice to consider.
2. Linksys EA7300
The Linksys EA7300 is definitely a more budget-friendly router yet perfectly adequate if you aren’t looking for crazy fast speeds and have fewer devices to have connected at once.
This router is dual-band and can deliver speeds of up to 1,700 Mbps. Thanks to the MU-MIMO technology built-in, the EA7300 is able to provide Wi-Fi to multiple devices at the same time without compromising on performance.
Coverage isn’t fantastic, nor is the number of devices that can be connected at once. You can expect to receive a signal up to 1,500 sq ft for 10+ wireless devices according to Linksys.
This may be perfectly suitable for smaller homes with fewer devices, but if you have a large home with lots of tech, the EA7300 won’t be up to the task and you’ll need to consider one of the other routers on this list instead.
Linksys provides an easy-to-use app that includes a powerful suite of Wi-Fi customization tools. You can get real-time information about your Wi-Fi, send Wi-Fi passwords to your guests, prioritize certain devices and set parental controls.
Setting up the Wi-Fi network couldn’t be easier. Simply connect the EA7300, download the Smart Wi-Fi app on a compatible iOS or Android device, and follow the simple setups.
The parental controls on the Smart Wi-Fi app help ensure a safe Internet experience for your children even if you are away from home. You can restrict access to inappropriate content, control usage, and block specific devices from accessing the Internet at certain times.
Despite being more of a budget option, I feel this router is still quite expensive, especially when you consider there are others out there that can provide faster speeds and better coverage for only a little bit extra.
That being said, the Smart Wi-Fi is incredibly easy to use and offers some nice features, so if you are after a router without all the bells and whistles but still want access to some great parental controls, the Linksys EA7300 is an option to consider.
3. TP-Link Archer A9
The TP-Link Archer A9 is another budget option, but certainly one that shouldn’t be discounted.
As you would expect for the price, the Archer A9 is a dual-band router, but it can still deliver combined speeds of up to 1,900 Mbps.
It does support MU-MIMO. The three simultaneous data streams improve the efficiency of communication between the router and all of your devices.
This combination of dual-band Wi-Fi and MU-MIMO makes it perfect for handling the needs of a home network that has many devices connected at any given time.
The Archer A9 comes with beamforming which, when combined with three external antennas, allows you to concentrate the Wi-Fi signal directly to your devices.
Also included with the Archer A9 is the Smart Connect functionality. This automatically optimizes your device’s connection by switching it to the fastest available Wi-Fi band.
In addition to this, a feature called Airtime Fairness prevents older devices from slowing down your Wi-Fi and compromising the speeds that your newer devices can receive.
Not necessarily a complaint, but something you should be aware of is that the Tether app sends data back to the manufacturer. It is not exactly clear as to what data is sent and you don’t get an option to turn it off during setup. Thankfully, it can be turned off later in the settings menu.
For a no-thrills attached router, the Archer A9 still does an excellent job at catering for lots of devices and comes with features that you are more likely to actually make use of. For the price, it can be considered a great option.
4. NETGEAR Nighthawk R6700
It’s no surprise to find a member of the Nighthawk family on this list of best Wi-Fi routers for under $100; NETGEAR produces some truly fantastic products.
Some Nighthawk routers can be very expensive indeed, with some costing several hundreds of dollars, so it’s nice to see NETGEAR offering a cheaper router in the R6700.
This router delivers similar speeds compared with some of the other routers on this list. It is a dual-band router with speeds of up to 450 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz frequency and 1,300 Mbps on the 5 GHz frequency.
There are 3 external antennas that are capable of delivering a stable signal to up to 1,500 sq ft and up to 25 different devices. The R6700 will intelligently choose between both bands to minimize interference whilst maximizing speed for all of the different devices you choose to connect.
On the back of the router, you will find 4 high-speed Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as a USB 3.0 port for connecting an external storage device as just one example.
Other features include the ability to set up a segregated guest network for your visitors to use, secure remote access to your home network from anywhere in the world on any device, and smart parental controls to set limits for time spent online and restrict access to certain content.
I particularly like how the R6700 works with Alexa to provide some interesting functionality all through a simple voice command.
The Nighthawk app makes it very easy to set up the router with the entire processing taking less than 5 minutes. In addition to their own app, NETGEAR has partnered with Circle to provide some easy to manage, yet advanced, parental controls.
Some network security features include WPA2 encryption, DoS and a built-in firewall to keep you and your family safe online. NETGEAR also offers its own advanced protection system called Armor.
This multi-layered security software resides within the router itself to provide anti-virus, anti-malware, and data theft protection to all connected devices. Armor is free for 30 days but will then cost you $69.99 per year.
Some people have said that despite the hardware itself being very good, the firmware supporting the R6700 could be improved. It appears to come bloated and it’s not uncommon for lag to be experienced when configuring it.
Another complaint is that the NETGEAR customer support leaves much to be desired.
Despite not being able to provide as good coverage compared to some other routers, the R6700 can deliver faster speeds whilst providing lots of useful features, particularly the parental controls, all for less than $100.
5. Google Wi-Fi
Google has introduced its own Wi-Fi system to provide a seamless Wi-Fi connection throughout your home whilst eliminating dead zones and that dreaded buffering we are all familiar with.
For less than $100, you can get a single Google Wi-Fi node that can cover a small home or apartment of up to 1,500 sq ft. Invest a bit more into a couple more nodes and you’ll easily be able to extend this to up to 4,500 sq ft.
In terms of speed, you can expect to receive up to 1,200 Mbps.
The Network Assist technology that Google has implemented keeps your connection fast by always selecting the clearest wireless channel and fastest band for each of your devices. This takes the hassle out of trying to optimize the connection for each device; Google Wi-Fi does it for you automatically.
Google Wi-Fi is set up and configured through the companion app. Through this, it is easy to share your W-Fi password with guests, be able to see who is connected to your network, and prioritize devices amongst many other features.
In terms of parental controls, this mesh Wi-Fi system comes with some excellent ones such as the ability to pause the connection to the Internet on-demand or on a schedule, automatically block access to millions of adult websites, and manage multiple devices at once by setting up groups.
Something to keep in mind is that Google Wi-Fi is a router and not modem. Your primary Wi-Fi point will need to be connected to a modem with an Ethernet cable, which is provided, in order to access the Internet.
Many routers these days have modem functionality built-in, but this is not the case here.
Google Wi-Fi isn’t the fastest router out there, but where it does shine is with its fantastic coverage and ease of setup of management, especially when you introduce a few more nodes into the mix.
So who is this mesh Wi-Fi for? I would recommend it for those who receive Internet speeds slower than 250 Mbps (which most of us do), have a smaller home, and don’t want to have to deal with a complicated network setup. A larger home will require additional nodes if you don’t want dead spots.
If you want to configure your home network in greater depth, are lucky enough to receive ultrafast Internet speeds, have lots of wired devices, and don’t want your network to be connected to Google at all times, you may want to look at an alternative.
6. TP-Link Archer A6
Another budget-friendly router by TP-Link is the Archer A6.
This dual-band router offers total speeds of up to 1,200 Mbps with 300 Mbps coming from the 2.4 GHz band and 900 Mbps on the 5 GHz band. These sorts of speeds are ideal if, like me, you hate buffering when trying to stream video or wait to stream some high-quality 4k content.
On the back of the router, you will find a connector for the power supply, a physical on/off button, a WPS button, a WAN port and 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting your favorite devices. This could include your various smart hubs or a network switch to expand the number of available ports further.
The Archer A6 comes with built-in MU-MIMO technology on the 5 GHz band to provide high-speed Internet access to multiple devices simultaneously. This means you can enjoy uninterrupted Netflix on your TV whilst another member of the family is browsing the Internet on their devices.
Four external antennas and a single internal antenna combined with a powerful chipset work together to provide great Wi-Fi coverage across your entire home. TP-Link hasn’t given an official measure of how many square feet the signal will cover, though.
The router comes with parental controls to manage when and how devices can access the Internet, a guest network to provide visitors Wi-Fi access without allowing them access to your main home network, and WPA2 encryption to provide an active defense against security threats.
Everything is easy to set up and manage through the intuitive Tether app offered by TP-Link. The app is free and available on both iOS and Android devices. It allows you to see the status of all the devices connected to your network, check Internet connectivity and configure the parental controls and guest network settings.
The Archer A6 is a very solid router that consistently offers stable Gigabit speeds, but you may run into some issues when you lose your Internet connection. The TP-Link software requires you to set up an account with TP-Link for cloud-based remote management of the router.
This is fine until you lose access to the Internet.
When the Internet connection drops, the router will require you to log in, but you can’t as there is now access to the Internet. The problem develops further when you try using your smartphone disconnected from Wi-Fi and using cellular only to be told by the Tether app that you aren’t connected to the router.
The fundamental issue here is that the router log-in is cloud-based rather than being hosted locally on the router itself.
Something to bear in mind if you experience the misfortune of your Internet connection dropping on a regular basis.
Other than this issue, which TP-Link could probably sort through a firmware update, the Archer A6 delivers great speeds, wide coverage and the more useful features that you would be looking for in a router.
7. DiJi Tamifly
DiJi may be a company you have not heard of before, but if their Tamifly router is anything to go by, it should be a name to keep an eye out when shopping for other networking equipment.
The Tamifly is a dual-band router operating on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and delivering total speeds of up to 1,200 Mbps.
There are 4 adjustable external antennas to point in the direction where you require the best signal. That’s not to say the signal coverage is bad, though. In fact, it is very good and doesn’t face the problem of the signal dropping when encountering walls and other obstacles.
DiJi claims that the Tamifly delivers seamless coverage for up to 2,200 sq ft.
The stable signal is supported by the excellent Qualcomm core chipsets to provide a seamless Wi-Fi connection whilst eliminating dead zones and reducing the chance of experiencing that dreaded buffering we all hate.
DiJi certainly appears to be customer-focused as they provide 24/7 technical support alongside a one year warranty and free replacement service.
They have also made the Tamilfy incredibly easy to set up and configure from a hardware and software perspective. The intuitive user interface allows you to set up the router from your smartphone or through a desktop application.
You certainly get convenience with the Tamifly, making it ideal for those who may not have too much technical knowledge and want a router that is easy to set up and start using straight away.
There was very little to criticize with the DiJi Tamifly. It is simply a great budget-friendly router that still delivers solid speeds, excellent coverage, and an easy setup whilst remaining flexible in terms of configuration options.
It’s a pleasant surprise to see a router that is not manufactured by the bigger players in the game yet is certainly on par with them on both performance and features.
Router Buyer’s Guide
Choosing the right router for your needs can be a daunting task with the vast choice that is available. Before purchasing a new router, there are a few key things to keep in mind:
- Size of your home
- Your internet speeds
- How many devices you have
- Router type
- Wi-Fi standards
- Number of frequency bands
- Other features you are looking for
Size of Your Home
The physical size of your home, as well as the size of each room, are factors to consider when shopping for a new router.
If you have a smaller home, like an apartment, you will likely get away with a router that doesn’t have as great a reach.
In a large home, however, this is more important as you may find that some areas of the home do not receive a Wi-Fi signal, depending on the router you have and its coverage.
A mesh Wi-Fi solution may be just what you are looking for if you have a particularly large home.
Your Internet Speeds
Before being tempted to purchase a router that offers incredibly fast speeds of up to 6 Gbps, remember that you will be greatly limited by the Internet package you are signed up to with your ISP.
For example, you may be on a 150 Mbps plan where this is the absolute maximum speed you can expect to receive, regardless of which router you have.
Purchasing a router purely because it offers the best speeds compared to the others may well end up proving to be a waste of money.
It is definitely an important factor to consider, but one that must be thought-about alongside the rest of this buyer’s guide.
How Many Devices You Have
All Internet traffic gets routed through the router, so it needs to be up to the task should many devices wish to connect to it in order to access the Internet.
Having a router that can only handle a device or two connecting to it simply isn’t good enough these days.
With a large number of devices that are found in almost every home, the router can’t be the bottleneck and must be able to fulfill the needs of your home network.
You must be certain that the router you are looking to purchase is able to accommodate the number of devices you expect to be connected at the same time. My advice is to overestimate just so you have a bit of a buffer.
It’s also worth bearing in mind what each device will be doing when they are connected; streaming high-quality video online is going to take up more of the router’s resources compared to some very basic web browsing.
Without the relevant security measures in place, it can be easy for nearby troublemakers to leech on to your Internet connection, monitor what you are doing online, access files that are stored on your devices, infect your network with a virus, and generally cause you a nuisance.
You must ensure that any router you purchase supports at least WPA2; the second implementation of the Wi-Fi Protected Access protocol.
In addition, every device you plan on connecting to the router must also support WPA2 for this security measure to be effective.
Remember this: Your entire network is only as secure as the least secure device that is connected to it.
The previous generation of WPA is better than nothing, but definitely not ideal, and it isn’t a good idea to rely on WEP security as this can easily be cracked by tools that are free and easy access online.
Some routers will come with extra security functions, such as having an extra layer of encryption, the ability to monitor devices and block certain devices or people from the network entirely.
Getting a router with these features should be considered if you are particularly concerned about the security of your entire home network.
When it comes to choosing a router, you will typically come across two different types. These are the traditional single-unit routers and the newer form of technology being mesh routers.
The single-unit routers are still incredibly common and what I personally use in my own home network.
These get plugged into the modem to create a local area network and allow access to the internet to be shared with all of the devices that connect to the router.
A lot of people, including myself, will actually have the router and modem built into a single unit, in which case it is just a case of connecting it up to however you receive the internet connection in your home. In my case, this is DSL which makes use of the existing telephone line.
Technically, these single-unit devices also act as a switch and wireless point too given that they contain several built-in ethernet ports and emit a wireless signal.
Although these single-unit routers may be perfectly suitable for a lot of people, there will be some that find them not to be quite good enough in terms of wireless range, depending on the size of the home and if there are any obstructions in the way of particular materials that affect the wireless signal.
This is where mesh routers are becoming increasingly popular; they are made of up of several individual units that are placed throughout the home evenly to provide wider coverage.
The primary unit will connect to the modem, which then communicates wirelessly with the other nodes to form a mesh network and more effectively share the wireless signal throughout the entire home.
If you have a particularly large home, you may want to consider looking at a mesh-based router, but that being said, many people will still choose a single-unit router and then help to improve the coverage of a wireless signal through something like a wireless access point.
At the time of writing, we are almost a quarter of the way through 2021, which means we are all in the process of moving away from the Wi-Fi 5 standard to the newer, more powerful Wi-Fi 6 standard.
Wi-Fi 6 routers are being increasingly more available, with them not only being faster but also having better support for lots of devices being connected at the same time.
Devices that only support the Wi-Fi 5 standard will absolutely still work with Wi-Fi 6 routers, but you won’t be able to take full advantage of what Wi-Fi 6 has to offer.
You can also still purchase Wi-Fi 5 routers if you would prefer and are looking to save a bit of money, but I would suggest at least considering a Wi-Fi 6 router just to future-proof yourself more than anything.
This is especially true if you are looking to upgrade some of your other tech in the future which will undoubtedly be able to make use of Wi-Fi 6.
Number of Frequency Bands
Most wireless routers these days will be dual-band, but there are some out there that are tri-band. The number of frequency bands the router can operate on is definitely something you want to keep an eye out for when doing your comparison work.
Dual-band routers all came about because of the traditional 2.4 GHz frequency band becoming very crowded, so manufacturers decided to also offer the 5 GHz frequency band to help balance the load better.
Some routers will only allow one frequency band or the other to be used, but most will allow both bands to be used at the same time.
Tri-band routers broadcast three different wireless signals, which makes it appear like it is hosting three different wireless networks at the same time.
You may be expecting a tri-band router to be broadcasting a third frequency band, but this isn’t actually the case. It broadcasts a single 2.4 GHz signal and then two separate 5 GHz signals.
Tri-band routers work in a similar way to dual-band ones and broadcast the different signals to help reduce congestion and offer more speed that will be shared amongst all of the connected devices.
At first thought, you may be wondering why the appearance of the router even matters and why it features on this buyer’s guide, but consider this: there are many routers out there that all offer similar features and performance, so it could be the appearance of the router that makes you choose one over another.
In order to get the best wireless connection possible, you will want the router positioned somewhere central and prominent, so it will undoubtedly be seen.
You may be willing to part with a bit more cash for a router that looks aesthetically pleasing given that you will likely find yourself seeing it pretty often.
Other Features of a Router
In addition to the extra security features that come with some routers, there are routers available that come with a vast array of other useful features.
These include USB 3.0 ports for connecting an external hard drive which then becomes a NAS, quality of service for giving priority of network traffic to particular devices, and gigabit ports to get the best possible performance for certain devices.
What you are looking to get out of your router, other than its ability to get you connected to the Internet, will vary from person to person and network to network.
Carefully read the product description and feature list of each router you are considering before making a purchase to ensure that it will fit your needs and come with the features that will be most useful to you.
These are the best routers for under $100 I have found that deliver great speeds, suitable signal coverage and come with lots of useful features.
When choosing a router, remember to consider the physical size of your home, the download and upload speeds you receive from your Internet service provider, how many devices you plan on connecting to your Wi-Fi, whether adequate security protocols are in place, and any other features you may want, such as USB 3.0 ports or high-speed Ethernet ports.
If I were to recommend one of the routers featured on this list, it would have to be the TP-Link Archer A7.
It is a high-performing router that is fast and is able to cater well to larger homes with many devices connected at once. It comes with a host of useful features to optimize your Wi-Fi connection whilst keeping a strong focus on network security, too.