What is the best WiFi router modem

Router: tests & test winner

The router is the heart of your network. The most important thing is now a stable, long-range and fast WLAN signal. We'll show you each best wireless router from 1,350 tests. We evaluated the last one on. Our sources:

Advisory: WiFi router

Whether surfing or gaming - AC WLAN is now mandatory

Key facts at a glance:
  1. fast WLAN according to 802.11ac is now standard
  2. WPA2 ensures a relatively high level of security
  3. WiFi performance depends on where the router is located
  4. USB 3.0 ideal for media streaming

How do test magazines rate routers in their test reports?

Gaming routers like the Asus RT-AC88U offer extreme performance and usually an enormous range of functions - at a usually very high price. (Image source: amazon.de)

The central criterion of the test magazines is the practical performance of a router. We always find that this differs significantly from the theoretical maximum performance. In the course of this, testers set up a router in an apartment and measure the actual data throughput on various end devices in different rooms. In comparison tests, the PC Games Hardware sets up up to four different scenarios that include different installation locations and the associated obstacles. In addition to the now established AC WLAN standard, which allows faster data exchange over 2.4 and 5 GHz in parallel, other software features - MU-MIMO or beamforming - for optimizing the signal alignment ensure more power on the end device. The new standard WLAN-AX or, more often, WiFi 6, with its theoretical transmission rates, far exceeds the standard household Internet bandwidth.

The top routers in terms of transmission speed:

The greater the range of functions a router has, the better the marks it gets in terms of features. However, this inevitably means that you as a user also have to configure more. Depending on the structure and complexity of the user menu, this can be very difficult or quite easy. AVM is generally regarded as a manufacturer with a very easy-to-understand menu that offers many explanations and immediate help. Asus also scores with its very complex interface, as it provides a lot of information and is clearly structured. In addition, the connection equipment is decisive for the flexibility of the router. If a device has USB ports (ideally USB 3.0), external hard drives and printers can be connected in order to control them wirelessly via the home WLAN. Occasionally, testers also measure the speeds of these USB connections - a very important piece of information for wireless streaming of videos via the media server.

What does the new WiFi 6 transmission standard bring?

The official logo for the new WLAN standard Wi-Fi 6 (Image source: Wi-Fi.org)

While routers have always boasted with more cryptic names such as 802.11ax, there is now a rethink with the new generation of WLAN. Instead of the soup of letters and numbers, they are simply numbered consecutively. AC WLAN is now called WiFi 5 and the new standard is number 6. But what has changed apart from the name? With the frequency bands, everything stays the same for the time being. Wi-Fi 6 routers also use the 5 and 2.4 GHz frequency bands. The theoretical data transfer rate increases by around a third. But a new technology that is part of the Wi-Fi 6 package can still lead to enormous increases in practice: MIMO OFDM.
The technology with the extremely bulky name stands for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing and is a further development of the MIMO technology introduced with Wi-Fi 5. If there are many simultaneous accesses from the network, the signal is split even more cleverly. The router now packs data for several recipients in one package. This leads to significantly better performance.

For the first time, the focus of the new development is not on the speed of communication with individual devices, but on fair signal distribution to many participants. In view of the increasing spread of Wi-Fi-enabled smart home devices and the generally increasing number of WiFi devices in households, this is a sensible development.

So if you have a particularly packed network and many devices are sending and receiving data at the same time, it is worth purchasing a WiFi 6 router. The prices are currently still high, but in the next few years the new standard should quickly establish itself and also be available for inexpensive routers.

WiFi 6 can only really be exhausted if the respective receiving devices such as smartphones and co. Also support the standard. With old devices the advantage is gone.

Top 3 routers with a USB 3.0 port:

With its FRITZ! Box routers, such as the 7490 here, AVM relies on simple handling and many explanations in the user menu, so that even users without network knowledge can make all the necessary settings. (Image source: amazon.de)

Do I need a modem router or is a pure router without a modem sufficient?

Depending on the existing equipment and application, a modem router does not necessarily have to be used. If you are dissatisfied with the performance of your provider router, its routing function can also be switched off (bridge mode) and used as a pure modem. An additionally purchased router then takes over the wired or wireless connection to the end devices. This is also ideal if you want to equip your household with the fast AC WLAN, but already have an old router. Often, however, a modem router is the better choice, as it eliminates the need for additional cable connections and only one device consumes power.

The best modem routers:

Do I have to encrypt my WiFi network with the router?

Encryption of your own data traffic makes sense. After all, what use are the access barriers to me if a trained hacker can read the passwords etc. that the end devices send to the router in plain text? WPA2 encryption is already activated in many cases at the factory - if this is not the case, it must be done. Only WPA2 is considered to be relatively secure. Finally, you can also specify a name for your WiFi network (the SSID). The following applies here: Anyone who fears targeted attacks on the network should choose meaningless descriptions so that the network cannot be assigned to a person or company. Ultimately, there is always a certain residual risk, as 100 percent protection can never be given.

Do I need a special router to use a smart home system?

Smart Home is at the latest with the spread of Voice assistance systems like Alexa or Siri has become a popular topic. But without a network, the smart home will be nothing. Fortunately, almost every wireless router basically fulfills the requirements for setting up a smart home system. A router that can handle a large number of different devices and that distributes the load evenly is definitely an advantage. Most MU-MIMO routers should do a good job here. However, if the router is also to be the control center for smart home systems, you have to use a device with the right firmware - for example, the SmartHome Starter Package from Telekom includes a corresponding router.

Do routers with external antennas differ from routers with internal antennas?

In the meantime, current WLAN routers that support the 802.11ax standard are so powerful that you can not feel any noticeable differences on your device. In measurement laboratories, on the other hand, routers with external antennas are somewhat more powerful, as the antennas are simply larger than those installed internally. However, test reports come to the conclusion that external antennas can provide higher data throughput and better reception. The reason for this: In order to optimally position the router in the room, the model with internal antennas itself must be rotated so that it can transmit optimally into the room. External antennas, on the other hand, are screwed to the outside of the housing and can be rotated and tilted flexibly. So you can leave the device in place, but adjust and align the antennas as you wish.

Author: Julian Elison

How to secure your home network

Today almost every router is also a WLAN router: Nothing is more convenient than being able to do without the endless tangled cables of a conventional home network. The manufacturers make it very easy for you: Modern routers usually come prepared for most DSL providers and can be put into operation using simple plug & play. But if you use the WLAN function, you should change a few settings manually, otherwise your network is open like a barn door - an invitation for illegal "co-surfers".

Secures the router: the password

This is because manufacturers typically assign a standard password for access protection, which, however, is identical for all routers of one type. So that strangers don't just march into your own home network, you should first change the password. Numbers as well as letters and special characters should be used here. Memories can make the whole thing easier if you use the first letters of the words and use numbers and units as symbols. The password should have at least eight to ten digits; the more, the more secure it is. But don't worry: once you've registered your end devices such as PCs, tablets and smartphones with the password, you don't usually have to enter it again. So you are not constantly confronted with an annoying password query.

Excludes third-party hardware: The MAC address filter

After entering the password, you should set up another access barrier, which unfortunately is not activated by default: the MAC address filter. The MAC address is a sequence of letters and numbers that is unique for every device worldwide - it is like a postal address. If you specify in your router which devices are authorized for access at all, you will at least block out all the casual hackers who are looking for open WLAN networks. The whole thing is also done in a minute: Every modern router offers the possibility of simply entering MAC addresses in its configuration interface as well as a box for the check mark “do not allow unknown devices”. This means that foreign users cannot access the network even if they know the password.

Makes the data traffic illegible: The encryption

Finally, you should pay attention to the correct encryption. In many cases, WPA2 encryption is already activated at the factory, which is the only one that is still considered reasonably secure. If this is not the case, you should change the settings accordingly. Finally, you can also specify a name for your WiFi network (the SSID). The following applies: Anyone who fears targeted attacks on the network should choose meaningless descriptions so that the network cannot be assigned to a person or company. Of course, none of these measures together offer one hundred percent security: Every network can be hacked, it's just a question of the time it takes. But this is exactly the critical factor for all casual hackers and at least reliably scares off this group.

Author: Janko Weßlowsky