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Top 5 Routers Under $100

TP-Link AC1750
Best Choice

TP-Link AC1750

4.9

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NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750
Premium Pick

NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750

4.7

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Medialink AC1200
Best Value

Medialink AC1200

4.5

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Wireless gaming and streaming has become pretty big in the last few years and why wouldn’t it? I mean, who wants to be tethered to a router when they can have the freedom to move around and watch or play games wherever they please?

For the most part though, buying a router that has good enough wifi for that kind of function can cost an arm and a leg. At least, that was the case two to three years ago. Nowadays you can buy yourself a reasonably good router without emptying your wallet. Granted, they won’t be the most amazing things ever, but they will be more than enough for your needs (barring the need to connect and stream with 20 different devices!)

So, what are the best routers for under $100? 🤔📡

Best Choice: TP-Link AC1750

Pros & Cons

  • Great pricing
  • Easy installation
  • USB 2.0
  • No MU-MIMO

Specifications:

  • 1300 Mbps at 5 GHz
  • 450 Mbps at 2.4 GHz
  • 1 x USB 2.0 Port
  • 4 Lan x 10/100/1000M
  • Number of Antenna: 3

TP-Link AC1750 Review

Getting a value router isn’t always easy, but TP-Link has your back with the TP-Link AC1750 and while it isn’t perfect, it gets the job done for the price.

The first thing that needs to be said about this router is it’s impressive speed, with a theoretical maximum of 1750 Mbps. Of course, real life performance isn’t exactly that high, and you’re more likely to see around 90 Mbps on the 2.4 Ghz band, and around 525 Mbps on the 5 Ghz band.

Unfortunately, those are for close-range and when you start hitting the 30 feet, you’re more likely to see around 45 Mbps on the 2.4 Ghz band and an abysmal 100 Mbps on the 5 Ghz band.

So realistically, you’re looking at a performance of around 600 Mbps up close and getting slower and slower as you go further away, with the 30 foot mark not giving you much more than 150 Mbps or so. I should point out that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and if you’re internet doesn’t go over 100 Mbps, you aren’t really missing out on much.

Setting up the TP-Link AC1750 is reasonably hassle free and you can do it either through the web-app or a phone app. You can also manage the router through either which certainly makes life a lot easier.

In terms of features, you get quite a few of them from the slew of security stuff, such as WPA/WPA2 and NAT forwarding, to parental controls, although those aren’t as robust as some other routers. You also get advanced networking and router features such as bandwidth limits for different devices, Dynamic DNS and VLAN settings.

Of course, with so many deep settings, you will need some level of technical know-how and if you don’t, it may very well seem overwhelming.

Overall though, the TP-Link AC1750 is a great value router for less than $100. The mid to long-range performance isn’t great, but if you don’t have incredibly high speeds, to begin with, then it shouldn’t be too much of an issue for you. Finally, the depth of the settings is a double-edged sword, giving you a lot of control while at the same time being potentially overwhelming.

If you're interested in seeing more of the similar options, check out our guide on the best dual band routers.

Premium Pick: NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750

Pros & Cons

  • Great storage performance
  • Beam-forming provides amazing range
  • Speeds on 2.4 Ghz are dissapointing

Specifications:

  • 1300 Mbps at 5 GHz
  • 450 Mbps at 2.4 GHz
  • 4 Lan x 10/100/1000M
  • Number of Antenna: 3

NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750 Review

While the performance capabilities of the Netgear R6700 are similar to the TP-Link router, what makes the Netgear a premium choice is its beamforming technology which really helps it boost performance at mid to long ranges.

As you can see, the theoretical maximum is 1750 Mbps, but more realistically you’re going to be looking at 550 Mbps for 5 GHz at 10 feet. Bumping that distance to 25 feet, the performance is only slightly lower at around 450 Mbps, already beating out the TP-link on performance vs range.

It manages this by using beamforming technology that essentially creates a beam directed towards the device it’s connected to, so it doesn’t waste a bunch of bandwidth transmitting 360 degrees. Unfortunately, you can’t remove the Antenna, which is a bit of a pain, but at least it keeps the cost down.

Setup and managing are relatively simple using the Netgear genie app, which allows you to control everything without having to switch your PC on (Although it won’t work if you’re on a repeated signal).

While the features and setting might not be as complete as other routers, there’s still more than enough control for you to get what you want to be done, including restrictions for different devices. It also has really great VPN support, so if you want a VPN router, this is a great choice.

One thing that really makes this router stand out though, is how great it is for gaming, especially on consoles. The included dual-core processor really helps boost performance including upstream optimization for lag-free play. The fact that it can hit 400-500 Mbps alone is a pretty good sign that it can easily handle the majority of your gaming needs.

All in all, you get a really great router when you buy the Netgear R6700 and while it doesn’t beat out the TP-Link router on short-range performance, its still a pretty great router.

The beamforming tech, internal hardware, and general quality of build mean that you aren’t going to have any issues streaming or gaming at a range of 20-30 feet and maybe even 50 feet (although don’t quote me on the last one!). Also, feel free to check out other options for the best router for gaming.

Best Value: Medialink AC1200

Pros & Cons

  • Good performance for the price
  • Beamforming technology
  • Some connectivity problems from time to time

Specifications:

  • 867 Mbps at 5 GHz
  • 300 Mbps at 2.4 GHz
  • 1 x USB 2.0
  • 4 Lan x 10/100/1000M
  • Number of Antenna: 2

Medialink AC1200 Review

It’s not always about buying the most expensive product and if you’re looking for a budget option or have a lower-speed internet package, the Medialink AC1200 should be kind on your wallet.

As you can see, the total theoretical output sits around the 1200 Mbps mark, but in real-world use, you’re more likely to see 45 Mbps on 2.4 GHz and around 100 Mbps on 5 GHz. So together we’re talking about 150mbps in real-world speeds, which isn’t too bad for a router that costs less than 50 bucks.

Another great feature is that it acts as a repeater as well, so if you can certainly use this to extend your current wifi. Thankfully, this performance remains stable even at a distance which is mostly due to its beamforming tech. Combine that with its repeater capabilities, and you have a really handy router that can fit in a lot of different situations.

Now, granted, it would have been nice to have an extra antenna to increase throughput, but it’s not a deal-breaker (especially considering the price).

Setup is relatively simple and you don’t need to be tech-savvy like you would on the Netgear. Surprisingly, you actually get a ton of features for such a small and cheap router, such as port forwarding, VPNs and Dynamic DNS. It also has relatively good security with a reasonably good firewall (although it’s certainly far from perfect).

Finally, I do want to point out that it works with quite a variety of modems (something you might worry about on a cheaper router). It can also connect to up to 20 devices, although I don’t see many people utilizing that feature.

So, is the Medialink AC1200 the best router under $100? No, it isn’t. Does it offer great value for tight budgets and slower speeds? 100%. Honestly, I’m impressed with how much tech they managed to get into this router while keeping the price down.

Best Wireless: Linksys AC1200

Pros & Cons

  • Easy to install
  • Great 5Ghz speeds
  • Antennas not removable

Specifications:

  • 867 Mbps at 5 GHz
  • 300 Mbps at 2.4 GHz
  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 4 Lan x 10/100/1000M
  • Number of Antenna: 2

Linksys AC1200 Review

Of course, you might want something with a bit more performance than the Medialink and that looks at least a little bit prettier.

As always, even though the theoretical throughput is 1200 Mbps, real-world performance wifi doesn’t go that high. At close distance, you’re looking at roughly 70 Mbps for 2.4 GHz and an impressive 425 Mbps on 5 GHz for a total of roughly 520 Mbps or so.

Moving on to 30 feet, the 2.4 GHz performance drops significantly to 40 Mbps and the same goes for 5 GHz at 200 Mbps, just under half the performance.

Honestly, though, 240 - 250 Mbps at 30 feet really isn’t that bad for a router in this price bracket. Much like the Medialink, it manages that performance through beamforming and sending signals directly to devices (although it has much better performance). Unfortunately, though, there’s no MU-MIMO in here, which is a little bit disappointing.

Setup is relatively simple through the web app and the home screen even has a widget for the most often used settings, which is pretty cool. Of course, much like other routers, you have a whole host of features from parental control to speed tests.

You can also manage each connected device individually, and prioritize certain devices over others, a feature Linksys calls ‘Media Prioritization’. There are also relatively good security features such as an included firewall and VPN passthrough. You also get port forwarding, something I always enjoy having on a router.

While the Linksys 1200 won’t win any awards, it’s actually a really great router for those who need better performance than the Medialink. I am somewhat disappointed that you can’t remove the antennas and replace them with high-gain version, but that’s the nature of budget-oriented routers. Either way, it’s sleek, powerful and offers a great range for the price.

If you're interested in seeing more of similar options, check out our guide on the best wireless routers for gaming.

Best Long Range: ASUS Dual-Band 2x2 AC1300

Pros & Cons

  • Great coverage
  • Lots of controls and settings
  • Issues with IPv6

Specifications:

  • 867 Mbps at 5 GHz
  • 4300 Mbps at 2.4 GHz
  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 4 Lan x 10/100/1000M
  • Number of Antenna: 4

ASUS Dual-Band 2x2 AC1300 Review

Another snazzy-looking router, this entry from ASUS is pretty user-friendly and easy to set-up while being excellent for use with multiple devices.

The standout feature in this router would probably the great coverage at distant ranges. At 50 feet, you’ll probably see the better part of 100 - 150 Mbps on the 5 GHz, which is actually quite impressive, and a bit above the rest of the pack. Up close at 10-20 feet you’re looking at 250 Mbps, which is about on par with the Linksys AC 1200, so not too much improvement there.

Another great feature is its great performance and support of multiple connected devices. With the MU-MIMO and 2x2 antenna, you shouldn’t see any drop in performance or throughput even after adding 20 devices. Of course, I’m sure the quad-core processor helps quite a bit here, so I wouldn’t stock it up completely to the antenna and tech.

Moving on we have the controls and settings, which are all pretty standard for routers. You have your range of encryptions from 64-bit WEP to WPA - enterprise, so if you’re planning to transfer those corporate secrets across your home network, you should be fine. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t have any DD-WRT support, so that knocks it down a peg.

Setup is relatively easy and user-friendly, so you won’t have to faff about for hours trying to figure things out. You also can access and manage everything from the ASUS Router App on your phone, a feature which I’m starting to see more and more (and which I really appreciate).

That being said, I would suggest you do your initial setup from your desktop’s web app, rather than a smart device since it can be a bit finicky and a pain.

As you can see, the Asus AC1300 is a pretty nifty little router with some great long-range performance and great support for multiple devices. It has a variety of features and security options and the on-board processing ensures smooth throughput regardless of what you’re doing. The lack of DD-WRT is a little bit annoying, but it isn’t a deal-breaker.

Oh, and it really looks snazzy. Also, check out some other options on the best long-range routers.


Routers Under $100: Buying Guide

Choosing a router can be pretty simple if you know what to look for. Let’s check out some of the things you’ll want to look out for.

Before we do though, be aware that a modem and a router aren’t the same things and some routers don’t have a modem inside of them (or vice versa).

Speed

Obviously, this is going to be the main deciding factor when you purchase a router, but it’s important to remember that the theoretical throughput that’s on the box, doesn’t always match real life. Not only that, but there’s usually a significant difference between wired speed and wifi speed, with wifi sometimes being even as low as 10% of the number written on the box.

d link router

All that being said though, you should always keep in mind your actual internet package that’s provided by the ISP and the speeds you’re getting. There’s no need to get a router that can hit 500 Mbps on wifi if you don’t even have a 500 Mbps connection. Don’t waste money on routers you know you can’t utilize properly.

Connectivity and Ports

A big aspect of routers is their ability to act as a hub, so you should make sure that you have enough LAN ports to satisfy your needs. Pretty much all the routers on this list have 4, but if you need more you should expect to spend much more money. Similarly, if you need to connect a printer or a storage device, make sure the router you get has a USB port and that the USB port can handle what you need.

Antenna and Range

Antennas essentially serve to connect you either through different bandwidths or in support of technologies such as MIMO. Similarly, certain routers can boost the range by having an antenna(s) that help(s) with beamforming.

Now, just because a router has more antennas doesn’t mean it’s better or has more range since a lot that relies on the internal technology and hardware in the router. So, I would suggest you don’t focus too much on the number of antennae and instead focus on the things you want your router to do.

One thing I will mention though is that some routers have a removable antenna that you can replace with high-gain version. This helps in boosting the signal somewhat to reach a longer range, but you’ll want to be careful since these can violate federal laws. Make sure that high-gain antennas are legal where you live before using them.


Frequently Asked Questions

How long should a WiFi router last?

Like any other electronic, you should expect your router to last at least 3-5 years. That doesn’t mean you can’t use it for longer, it just means that’s the point where the chances of it failing begin to get higher and higher.

Can I use an extra router as a WiFi extender?

Only if the router supports that function. Not all routers have the ability to function as a repeater, so make sure that the one you want to buy does. Check out our article on the best WiFi extenders for more information on that.

Netgear Wifi ExtenderNetgear Wifi Extender

 

How can I increase the range of my router?

The easiest way to increase the range of your router is by purchasing a wifi repeater. Another option is to buy routers that work with mesh technology and MIMO so that you can place them at either end of your house and still have it function as one network. As mentioned above, you can also get a higher gain antenna for your routers.

You can also run on 5Ghz if you aren’t already.


Conclusion

As you can see, good routers don’t have to be very expensive, especially if your needs aren’t in the high-end. For the majority of people, buying a $100 or $200 router isn’t really going to help that much, and the benefits you’ll see at those price points begin to become incrementally smaller. Unfortunately, that’s the reality of diminishing returns.

Either way, I hope I’ve provided you with some insight and options for getting yourself up and running, so I wish you good luck and happy shopping!

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Albert Bassili
Written by Albert Bassili

Albert’s been a gamer for about as long as he can remember. Ever since then, Albert has been hooked on games, even going as far as doing his bloody best to work on the game industry, whether it’s writing articles, or writing game stories. In between gaming, he also really loves to check up on the latest tech news and see what awesome stuff humanity has come up with. Favorite Games: Dune II, MGS 1, FF X, Mass Effect 2

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