Best Wireless Routers for Streaming

  • Best overall
    Bandwidth allocation control
    App has limited controls
    See on Amazon
  • Best mesh Wi-Fi
    Cheaper than similar mesh systems
    Google account required
    See on Amazon
  • Best for speed
    Excellent range and speed
    Expensive
    See on Amazon
  • Best budget pick
    Good range and solid speed
    Only USB 2.0 ports
    See on Amazon
  • Best for gaming
    Ping stabilization option
    Speeds lag behind other routers
    See on Amazon

You’ve got your internet set up and your computer turned on, and now you’re free to binge-watch all day long. Right?

Not quite. Before you stream the latest season of Westworld on HBO, you’ll want to shop around to figure out which is the best router for the money. Otherwise, you could be faced with choppy video—or worse, that horrible buffering icon.

Here are our recommendations for routers that will kick that buffering icon to the curb.

What is the best Wi-Fi router for streaming?
Amazon price*Wireless protocolGigabit portsLearn more
NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500$286.98802.11ac5View on Amazon
Google Wi-Fi$99.79802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatible2View on Amazon
NETGEAR Orbi$329.99 (2-pack)802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatible4View on Amazon
TP-Link Archer AC1750 Smart Wi-Fi Router$69.99802.11ac4View on Amazon
Linksys WRT32X Wi-Fi Gaming Router$179802.11a/b/g/n compatible5View on Amazon

*Price as of 10/1/2018.

Info Box icon
How much speed do you need to stream?
Find out which internet plan is best for streaming Netflix and YouTube—or even livestreaming on Twitch—in our Best ISPs for Streaming guide.

NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500—best overall

This top-of-the-line NETGEAR router gives you full control.

NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500
Amazon price*$286.98
Gigabit ports5 (4 LAN, 1 WAN)
Wireless protocol802.11ac
Bands2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
W-Fi coverageMedium-to-large home
Learn moreView on Amazon

*Price as of 10/1/2018.

Pros

  • Lots of customization
  • Bandwidth allocation control

Cons

  • App has limited controls

NETGEAR teamed up with NetDumas to bring every customization option under the sun to your desktop—but don’t worry, it’s still beginner-friendly. Gamers will love the geofiltering option, which allows you to target only servers and players from your local area. These extensive customizations plus top speeds and coverage make the NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro our favorite router.

Google Wi-Fi—best mesh Wi-Fi

Google Wi-Fi’s points provide seamless coverage throughout your house.

Google Wi-Fi
Amazon price*$99.79 (1 Wi-Fi pt.)
Gigabit ports2 per Wi-Fi pt. (1 WAN, 1 LAN)
Wireless protocolCompatible with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bands2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
Wi-Fi coverageOne point covers 500–1,500 sq. ft.
Learn moreView on Amazon

*Price as of 10/1/2018.

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Cheaper than similar mesh systems

Cons

  • Google account required
  • Limited controls

If you don’t mind logging into your Google account to control your router settings through the app, the Google mesh Wi-Fi system is hard to beat. By placing multiple units around your house, you’ll be able to connect to Wi-Fi pretty much anywhere. Plus, the price is right.

Bullhorn icon
Which is better, Sling TV or Hulu?
Ready to put your new router to the test and stream your favorite TV shows? Find out which service you should get in our Best Live TV Streaming Services review.

NETGEAR Orbi—best for speed

This beastly router gets you speedy Wi-Fi over a few thousand square feet—or more.

NETGEAR Orbi
Amazon price*$329.99 (2-pack)
Gigabit ports4 (3 LAN, 1 WAN)
Wireless protocolCompatible with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bands2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
Wi-Fi coverageUp to 5,000 sq. ft.
Learn moreView on Amazon

*Price as of 10/1/2018.

Pros

  • Excellent range and speed

Cons

  • Expensive

If you’ve got a large home that needs a zippy Wi-Fi connection in all its nooks and crannies, the NETGEAR Orbi is well worth the price. Of course, this is one beast of a router—it measures in at 6 by 3 by 8 inches. So make sure there’s room on your shelf or desk for it.

Pin icon
Which streaming service has the most channels?
We’ll give it to you straight—find out which TV streaming service has the channels you’re looking for. *Jedi mind trick hand wave.* Check out our TV Streaming Channel Comparison here.

TP-Link Archer AC1750 Smart Wi-Fi Router—best budget pick

A budget router with performance to match the $200 competition.

TP-Link Archer AC1750 Smart Wi-Fi Router
Amazon price*$69.99
Gigabit ports4 LAN
Wireless protocol802.11ac
Bands2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
Wi-Fi coverageUp to 2,500 sq. ft.
Learn moreView on Amazon

*Price as of 10/1/2018.

Pros

  • Low price
  • Good range and speed

Cons

  • Only USB 2.0 ports

Going on vacation and don’t want to risk someone hijacking your Wi-Fi? Just flip a switch on the back of this TP-Link router to switch to a wired connection. Though it lacks Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) support, it packs a real punch in terms of speed and range. And that price is music to our ears.

Info Box icon
What is “MU-MIMO”?
That multi-user multiple input multiple output (MU-MIMO) technology is a must-have if you’ve got at least a few internet power users in your home. If your router uses MU-MIMO, it gives all your web-enabled devices bandwidth at the same time. So you can stream while you game while you download files.

Linksys WRT32X Wi-Fi Gaming Router—best for gaming

If you’ve got Killer-enabled hardware, this Linksys router is a gamer’s dream come true.

Linksys WRT32X Wi-Fi Gaming Router
Amazon price*$179
Gigabit ports5 (4 LAN, 1 WAN)
Wireless protocolCompatible with 802.11a/b/g/n
Bands2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
Wi-Fi coverageMedium-to-large home
Learn moreView on Amazon

*Price as of 10/1/2018.

Pros

  • Killer Networks Prioritization stabilizes ping
  • Easy install and configuration

Cons

  • Speeds lag behind other routers
  • Need Killer-enabled hardware to benefit from best features

The Linksys WRT32X router boasts Killer Networks Prioritization, meaning you can worry less about lag and more about landing those skill shots. (If your devices use Killer hardware, that is.) Don’t have Killer-enabled hardware? Then we recommend our top pick, the NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro.

Megaphone icon
Which ISP is best for gaming?
Find out the winners in our Best Internet for Gaming review. GG.

Recap—which router is best for streaming?

The NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro has our vote as the best router for streaming Netflix, Hulu, and more.

Here’s the TL;DR on which wireless router you should grab for the ultimate streaming experience.

  • NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500: With exceptional customization options and full control over your bandwidth allocation, this NETGEAR router pulls out all the stops and earns our top pick.
  • Google Wi-Fi: Get a Wi-Fi signal even in the most remote corners of your home with Google’s mesh Wi-Fi system. Coming in at less than the competition, it’s a value-packed way to hop on the internet anywhere.
  • NETGEAR Orbi: Though pricey, the NETGEAR Orbi delivers pro-level speed—even at long distances. While it is a bit bulkier than other models, the design is more modern than traditional routers.
  • TP-Link Archer AC1750 Smart Wi-Fi Router: If you’re looking for a budget option, you can’t go wrong with this TP-Link router. While it costs at least a hundred dollars less than most high-performing competitors, it still gets you bang for your buck with high speed and great range.
  • Linksys WRT32X Wi-Fi Gaming Router: If you game and use Killer-enabled devices, this Linksys router lets you stabilize your ping through the Killer Networks Prioritization option. If that’s not wild enough, the entire design revolves around getting you the lowest latency possible.

Haven’t decided on a TV streaming service yet? Check out our reviews:

Have a router recommendation? Share it with us in the comments below.

How to choose a router

Finding the right router is similar to finding the right internet plan: you’ll want to consider the number of people using the internet, plus how many devices you’ll have connected.

You’ll also want to consider how much of your home you want blanketed in that glorious Wi-Fi signal.

Price

Four out of five of our top router picks will run you a couple hundred bucks at least. But if it’s just you connecting to the web and watching YouTube videos, you’ll be fine spending less.

If you’re a gamer, if you’ve got multiple family members or roommates streaming at the same time, or if you’ve got multiple devices all connected simultaneously, paying extra may well be worth it.

A higher price tag usually means more features—not to mention better performance.

Features

We recommend looking out for these features when shopping for a new router.

  • At least four gigabit Ethernet ports
  • At least one USB port (preferably USB 3.0)
  • Parental controls to limit network access at certain times or days
  • Guest network to keep your network secure
  • Network priority settings to decide which users or devices get priority

FAQs

What’s a “dual-band” router?

You may notice that some routers are labeled as “dual-band.” This is a good thing, and it means it’s not limited to operating on just the 2.4 GHz frequency like routers of old.

The 2.4 GHz band can be pretty crowded, since your Bluetooth headphones, smartphone, and even microwave likely use that same band. But dual-band routers can also hop on the 5 GHz band, which tends to be less crowded.

Less competition for space on the 5 GHz band means you’ll have less signal interference and fewer disconnects. Let the streaming begin!

What are wireless protocols?

Ever wondered what those “802.11” numbers and letters mean? They refer to your router’s wireless protocol, which is how it sends and receives data.

Older protocols, like 802.11b and 802.11g, have limited data transfer rates—up to 11 Mbps for 802.11b and 54 Mbps for 802.11g.  They also operate only on the 2.4 GHz frequency.

By comparison, the newer protocols, 802.11n and 802.11ac, have faster data transfer rates, plus extra features that put some oomph in those data transfer rates.

802.11n

This is the most commonly used protocol, and it cranks out data transfer rates of up to 600 Mbps. This protocol operates on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and uses Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) tech to boost performance.

A router with 802.11n protocol should work perfectly if your family likes to surf the web on a few laptops, desktops, and smartphones.

802.11ac

The newest wireless protocol, 802.11ac also operates on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, but it brings a little more to the table.

It one-ups 802.11n routers with its Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology, which means it provides bandwidth to all your devices at the same time. (MIMO technology, on the other hand, provides bandwidth to one device at a time. So you may be waiting your turn to stream Marvel’s Agents of Shield on your laptop.)