Choosing a router can be a lot challenging. With the truckloads of expensive products currently on the market, striking a balance between performance and cost can be a lot confusing.
Are you on a budget but needs a high-functional wifi router for your internet needs?
No worries — we’ve simplified the daunting task for you.
Following intensive market research — primarily informed by a wide collection of reviews from first-hand users, — we made a list of the best router under 100.
What Is a Wireless Router?
Wireless Routers are tools that share internet access to your PC, smartphones, tablets, and other internet-enabled devices. They send wireless signals on specific frequency bands. The connecting devices then return radio waves to the router, establishing a wireless two-way internet communication.
Why Buy Wi-Fi Routers?
Today, practically all gadgets are internet-enabled; mobile phones, laptops, smart TVs, and even wristwatches. The need to extend connectivity to all devices, at the same time, raises the need for a high-performing wireless router in every office and home.
The first question to ask before shopping for a router is: what makes the best routers?
Should you opt for a single band or dual-band? 2.4GHZ or of 5GHZ frequency? What brand, speed, and, of course, cost?
This guide provides comprehensive answers to these and other important concerns to inform your decision of the best under-$100 Wi-fi routers to buy. Read on to discover everything to look out for in the best buy.
Checklist for Buying the Best Routers under $100
For starters, or individuals with low tech IQ, router configurations — as easy as it seems — can be tricky. Smart Connect, OoS, Mu-MIMO, Beam-forming, AC, bandwidth, and other niche-specific jargons can get novices confused.
Understanding the basics of routers and how they add up will help you make a well-informed decision, particularly on your first buy. Here are things to consider when shopping for a good Wi-Fi router under $100.
- Single or Dua-Band?
For best performance, opt for a dual-band router — or even a tri-band version. While dual bands beam signals with two frequencies, its tri-band counterpart beams with three.
So, whereas single-band Wi-Fi routers offer users just one frequency with limitations, the dual and tri-band versions offer two and three frequencies, respectively.
Hence, network congestion and annoying laggings are major concerns among single-band router users.
However, with dual bands, users get 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, offering more speed and flexibility. Besides its blazing browsing speed, users hardly ever encounter congestion problems as with multi-bands
- Gigabit or Fast Ethernet?
Most under $100 routers are Ethernet Gigabit abled. You should expect nothing below 1,300Mbps with a 5GHz network. Over time, however, the fiber technology has increased its Gigabit to up to 1,000Mbps – and even higher. That said, a Gigabit router will be a good pick when speed is a factor.
You also want to check out for the number of ports on your wireless router before you pay. Of course, ports are not must-have features on your home router. Some home gadgets demand both wired and wireless connections. Hence, it is recommended that your home wireless router has, at least, four RJ45 or Ethernet ports. Your router should feature not less than four Local Area Network (LAN) for PC and modem connections and, at least, one Wide Area Network (WAN).
On your router, ensure there are more of 3.0 USB ports, rather than the less performing old-fashioned 2.0. You sure want a device that allows you connect external hard drives, flash drives, printer, USB modems, and other similar gadgets with USB features.
- Router Placement
Your router is better placed on a central spot with easy accessibility — like a shelf. Your network gadget should be put away from any obstructing devices that tend to interfere with network communication. Regardless of the placement, your network coverage may go dead at some spots within your office or home. You have to adjust your router to cover the most important areas within your work or home space.
- Browsing Speed
Another concern-worthy item on your checklist is the speed of your connection. When reliability is mentioned, speed is a key factor. Ensure your router has speed as one of its high points. If your primary needs are basic connections and internet surfing, a 10/100 Mbps router will be a good buy.
That said, a Gigabit router may be most ideal, offering up to 10/100/1000 Mbps speed – or data transfer.
Activities like online games, video streaming and other multi-functions could be data consuming, hence the need for routers with an impressive data transmission speed. So, the higher the processing capacity, the greater the efficiency. So before you make a pick, find out the router’s processor –whether quad or dual-core. The higher the processor, the more efficient data transmission.
The 802.11 class is the standard connection speed for routers. But if you seek at as high as 1300HHz and above of 5GHz speed, then consider the 802.11ac. The 802.11ac provides the latest standards for fast connectivity, spatial streams, larger coverage, QAM designed throughput technology.
It is, however, noteworthy that the speed boost achievable is, to a large extent, dependent on the service providers, computer or smartphones configurations.
Aim for, at least, AC1200 router.
Wi-Fi routers that run with below AC1200 are considered dated. Such routers offer less secured connectivity, reliability and reduced speed when it comes to multiple connectivity.
Do you wish to know more about routers and how they add up? Let’s take a quick look at some top performing and affordable routers
Now you know the key components to watch out for in a router, let’s take a look at the best 7 routers under $100.
Best Wireless Router Under 100 USD
1 NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750
This Wi-Fi router enables you to connect more than 12 internet-enabled devices at the same time without compromising speed and stability. So, you can connect your smartphone, PC, iPad, and other device and still enjoy a lag-free experience. It offers 450+1300Mbps of blazing speed connectivity across different devices without lagging.
With its beam-forming technology, you are guaranteed a seamless network connection and speed. The dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies enable swift operations on multiple devices. With this fast speed, you can enjoy 4k streaming on Netflix, YouTube, and, as well, a remarkable gaming experience.
Its strong connectivity strength even across multiple devices and long-range distances are attributable to its 802.11ac access route, its dual-band gigabit, and dual-core processor.
With these features, a connection can happen in a couple of seconds and remain stable for long within across far-ranged distance.
The router comes with USB ports that allow you connect wired devices like printers. These features are enabled by both 3.0 and 2.0 USB, as well as five 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet ports, which comprises of 4 LAN and 1 WAN ports. Thankfully, utilizing all ports at the same time does not alter connectivity speed and stability.
The OoS downstream and VPN both spotted in this device makes the router even more intriguing.
Aesthetically, the Wi-Fi gadget is well designed with on-unit LED light settings that enables easy management and control of the device’s operations. The router comes with priority, lick-on, and guest network settings which help manage access limitations to network. With this feature, you can regulate who accesses your network and for how long they have access.
Its 1.9lbs weight and 11.22” x7.26” x 1.97” dimension eases movement and positioning. The device fits, perfectly, on any flat surface.
2 Medialink MLWR-AC1200 Wireless Gigabit Router
Get over ten times faster connectivity speed with the Medialink AC1200 wireless router. This Medisbridged wireless gigabit offers a non-lagging 4k streaming and gaming experience. Designed with Gigabit ports, the device offers you up to 1000Mbps top speed data. Combined with several other standard features, this gadget is, indeed, a must-have for users of multiple internet-enabled devices.
Impressively, the router spots the much desired beam-forming technology and two high-performance antennae which guarantee strong signal strength and high-speed connection.
Even more, its adjustable nature helps you direct signals to where they are most needed. So, you’re sure you can enjoy your connection with multiple devices wherever you are within a three-story building. Even with such far-range connection, you’d hardly ever notice a restriction or congestion on at least two frequencies — with 867 Mbps speed for 5GHz and 300 Mbps for 2.4GHz.
This model comes with some amazing features that guarantee your security while surfing the web. This is made possible by firewalls designed for wireless security. The security technology ensures the safety of everyone on your network and, as well, sustains the data transfer speed across users — whether regular or guests.
Its efficient control and management features help regulate guests’ access as well as their usage limit on the network. Besides regulating access and usage time, it comes with a control option that allows you determine the specific distance range the frequency covers.
Its LED light enables users to control the brightness or turn it off completely. The device spots four interchangeable 10/100/1000Mbps ports of 4 Gbps LAN, 1Gbps WAN, a single 2.0 USB, wireless performance, and improved wired connectivity.
Its on/off switch, reset, and VPN features help clear up and monitor network performance. The device weighs 0.93lbs with 8.9” x 7.07” x 3.02” dimension, offering users optimum reliability and fast internet connectivity anytime and anywhere.
3 NETGEAR (R6080) AC1000 Smart WiFi Router
Netgear Incorporated brings another highly efficient dual-band router — the Netgear R6080 Smart Wifi router.
Among many others, this wireless router boasts of two key features: high speed online gaming and video streaming. Its 802.11ac dual-band technology offers you efficient and reliable 300+700 Mbps that covers a large space.
These features help you enjoy an uninterrupted connection to multiple gadgets with full HDTV — even more, with lag-free surfing experience.
The Netgear R6080 is compatible with your N600, N300, N150 and other AC devices. This item comes with double adjustable antennas for stable and stronger signals. The router works perfectly with most Operating Systems — Mac, Windows, Linus, and UNIX, as well as browsers — Firefox 2.0, Google Chrome 11.0, Internet Explorer 5.0, etc.
Even more, the Nighthawk app brings a whole lot of simplicity to internet access regulation and network management. The front LED light with its pause and resume options promote ease of operation.
With its 1 LAN and 4 LANs ports, you can extend signals to a wide range of wired connections for printers and similar wired devices. Creating and securing a dedicated guest area is made possible with additional security technology.
With only 1.35 pounds and 7.05” x 8.62” x 4.29” dimension, the Netgear R6080 device will sit seamlessly on any flat surface.
4 NETGEAR (R6230) AC1200 Dual Band
This smart wireless router offers users great wireless internet services with impressive innovative technology. This Wi-Fi router is dual-band Gigabit that operates with 802.11ac at 300+900Mbps speed. To improve connectivity, the device comes with external antennas which makes it much easier to avoid interference or breakage in connectivity within a large home or office space.
The router provides fast and reliable wireless access supported by 880MHz processor for easy accessibility and uninterrupted communication across your home space. Netgear R6230 brings special relief to WIndows users –specifically windows 2000 and higher versions – with its cinema experience. This feature allows live streaming anytime. Besides windows, It works on PC, iPhones, and iPad. Ther accessibility features include one WAN port, 4 LAN ports, and a USB 2.0 port.
Netgear Ac1200’s comes with an easy to control settings for network security and to build parchment without interruption internet speed. And with its security options, you can customize a guest network with password access for other users.
Interestingly, with your Nighthawk mobile app, you can set up the router, monitor and control internet access, and usage.
With its Gigabit Ethernet feature, the Netgear Ac1200 enables a wired or direct connection. The device’s on/off switch helps shut down access when not required.
With 1.6 pounds and 8.11” x 10.24” x 4.13” dimension, the Netgear R6230 is rightly considered lightweight and compact. It can sit on small surfaces. With its portable size, you can move the device around the house, easily, for the right placement for accessibility and signal strength.
Factoring these impressive features and functionality, the Netgear Ac1200 is, indeed, a worthy investment.
5 TP-Link (Archer C9) AC1900
TpLinks reputation continues to blossom as the years roll. They are known for their mid-range, high-performing and low-cost deliveries. This global band has grown to become a household name when wireless router service is concerned. Its consistency over time earned it the J.D’s award for wireless router with the highest customer satisfaction.
TP-link incorporates the new 802.11ac standard with AC1900 ratings at an affordable rate. The device boasts of delivering 1.9Gbps of 1300Mbps and 600Mbps for 5GHz and 2.4GHz simultaneously – a great deal indeed.
Besides, it comes with a beam-forming technology which delivers high signal strength. This explains why the device is a favorite among movie and game lovers. The dual-core device runs on a 1GHz capacity processor. So, you can easily share and extend access to other users without any network congestion or reduced speed.
The routers use android and iOS apps for more flexibility and convenience. You can control the router setup with the TP-Link Tether App. The app offers you easy access and navigation around the router settings.
It comes with 1×2.0, and 1×3.0 USB port that allows you share files through printers and related wired media devices. Besides, its single WAN and 4 LAN ports offer great flexibility for both wired and wireless connections, whenever the needed arises
The 3lbs device with 13.2 x 3.9 x 9.5 dimension enables easy mobility and positioning. So, you can connect and surf the internet anywhere around your house.
Even though it comes with wall mount suspender holes, it also features a removable and adjustable antenna which makes it fit firmly on your furniture or related locations. If there ever comes a need to change its location, your device sits on any flat surface.
Your TP-Link Wi-Fi router will not only offer you fast and stable internet service delivery, its reliability, and great designs add value to the already great deal.
6 Motorola MR1700 Reviewed
Here’s a fantastic product from the renowned Lenovo company. This giant IT company has maintained its reputation again with this router. The Motorola MR1700 offers online users stability and efficiency. The dual-band device delivers internet data at top speed, breaking through communication barriers with its high speed capacity and six option antennas.
This Wi-Fi connector offer users a whole new experience with its ability o stream 4k live videos on youtube, Netflix etc. Its 2.4GHz and 5GHz speed promote sharing of files at long range while enjoying blazing internet speed across different gadgets.
So, your Motorola AC1700 guarantees you an amazing experience with your local wireless network for Ethernet devices, gaming console, HDTV, smart devices, etc.
The dual-core processor helps maintain high speed even when connected to different devices. Its automated organization and tracking features make it even easier to control and manage.
The router comes with parental control features which comes as good news to parents who wish to regulate their kid’s internet access and usage. You can also create a dedicated network for guests, controlled by at least two frequencies. Also, with the gadget, you can create guest access which can be overridden whenever.
With 1 WAN and 4 LAN ports, the device allows for wired connections, which gives even stronger signals. The 2.0 USB port allows other devices like printers connect to the router. Again, the device introduces firewalls, which help restrict and protect users from malware attacks and other malicious cyber activities.
When portability and lightweight are concerned, MR1700’s 0.91s and 5.38” x 8.38” x 1.38” is a worthy mention.
7 OptiCover [UPGRADED 2018] AC1200 Mbps
The opticover router brings a whole new technology to the world of wireless connectivity. The dual-band Wi-Fi router with 5GHz and 2.4GHz Gigabit frequencies, allow users ‘feed’ multiple internet-hungry devices without compromising speed. The upgraded router spots MAC/IP OoS, dual-band frequency and with the all-new 802.11ac which runs at 1200 Mbps speed for fast connection across a range of devices.
All these amazing features translate to one thing — improved gaming, online, 4k video streaming and even more, anywhere within a two-story building.
With the Opticover (Upgraded 208 AC1200) router, feel free to play and work from anywhere within your home, without any fear of sluggishness or congestion.
Its Gigabit Ethernet port allows users view full HDTV or connect Xbox, PlayStation, or PC at an amazing speed. The single WAN and 4 LAN spotted at the rear allows you create a dedicated network for your gaming consoles, Blu-ray players, smart TV, and related wired devices. Its 1.15 pounds weight and 1.4” x 9.8” x 1.9” dimension offers you the flexibility to position your router for wider reach and stability.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does Beamforming Feature Do?
The beamforming feature is one key feature that comes with most modern routers. A concern, however, is: why do some routers have this beamforming feature, and others don’t?
Its name explains volume. While a regular Wi-Fi router sends signals randomly – in no particular direction, beam routers emit signals differently. Beamforming technology helps your router scan for active devices around, and form beams that target the detected devices.
The beamforming feature does not only help send data to specific gadgets, it also promotes connection stability, even when the connecting devices are a distance away. This technology comes even more important when it needs to pass through several barriers – like walls – to send signals to a device. This promotes stable and uninterrupted communication.
So when your home or office space has so many barriers – like walls – that obstruct communication, you may want to consider adding some extra bucks for a router with the beamforming technology.
What features should I look out for in a good Wi-Fi router?
For best performance, a standard router should come with these basic features: Ethernet ports, wireless access point, and security encryptions.
What it the latest Wi-Fo standard?
In 2014, a new Wi-Fi standard was introduced – named 802.11ac. Currently, most modern internet devices run on this new technology. So you want to make this your standard when narrowing your options.
What Frequency Should I Buy?
Simple – nothing less than a dual-band. Why dual-bands? These frequencies reduce possible lagging and network congestion with the 802.11ac while on a 5GHz speed. Whereas, lower Wi-Fi standards run with the 2.4GHz network.
Considering speed, what is a standard router?
Routers’ speed vary across the bands. However, the standard speed should be, at least, 1300+ Mbps on a 5GHz network and 300+ on a 2.4GHz network.
Do I Need USB ports on a router?
While these ports are important, it depends on individual needs. If you have a USB printer, scanners and other USB-enabled network devices, then go for a Wi-Fi router with a good number of USB ports. For optimal file/data sharing speed, always prefer the 3.0 USB.
What Wi-Fi requirement do I need for gaming?
When internet connectivity for gaming is concerned, high speed and stability are keywords. Gaming connoisseurs will be better off with Wi-Fi routers designed with built-in speed accelerators that deliver optimized data packets and reduces buffering time.
How far can a router’s signal go?
2,500 Square feet, averagely. Larger homes or organizations that require more signal reach may invest in an extender or, better still, include additional access points.
Are ethernet cables compatible with routers?
If you would need to use an Ethernet cable on your router, do well to purchase a router with sufficient LAN ports.
Do Routers have their dedicated apps?
Most of the modern routers have their individual apps. The apps allow you to set up, manage, and control your wireless connections – even while away from home.
Do I have to set the antenna in any particular way?
Having one external antenna pointed vertically, and the other horizontally gives you a better signal strength. However, you may want to try out different positions with your external antenna to see what works best.
Why tri-band router?
Most people think the dual-band router does just enough – they see no use of tri-bands. However, tri-bands have one major advantage – they offer more reliable connectivity to a remarkably large network of devices across far-ranged area. These routers are usually too large for families. They are mostly used in large office spaces or dorms.
Why do i need optimal speed on my router?
Of course, everyone needs high-speed connectivity. But most private users will hardly need a Wi-fi router that delivers up to 3 Gbps. However, gamers and movie lovers may opt for routers with that much speed.
How do I increase my Wi-Fi signals
When you notice a drop in your signal strength. Here is a thing or two you could do:
- For routers with 5GHz frequency, ensure it is set to 5 GHz band.
- Toggle between router channels to see what works
- Check your router for the most recent firmware updates
- Position your router on a high spot – like high shove –if you don’t get good enough signal upstairs
- Check the device that do not receive proper signals and ensure they are not too far away from the router. You may adjust closer.
- If you have trouble connecting devices to your router from a wide range, consider a wireless range extender.
Other Things to Know About Wireless Routers
When placing your router, prefer a spot that has fewer barriers – like walls – and away from areas where other devices’ network may interfere.
Technology over brand
While some brands offer good quality, be specific about the technology in the particular router. So, it’s not enough to get a gadget because of the brand label — but for what it offers, in relation to your particular need.
Forget about the price tag
Many router users got carried by the ‘quality isn’t cheap’ myth and ended up with an expensive paperweight. Here, an expensive router doesn’t automatically translate to high performance. Fact is, there are pretty affordable router options that offer more than you could ever get with the ‘big names.’
Check out their features
Why get a router with so many USB ports if you have no use sharing files through wired connections like USB printers? These features would only inflate the cost, and, in the end, they go unused. So, ensure the features you pay for in a router are not just for show, but essential to your need.
With the dynamic nature of technology, the in-thing today could be archaic in a couple of years. So, when buying a router, go for the latest version – 802.11ac for now. This will help you enjoy additional functionality that comes with the latest upgrades.
Consider your operating system.
Ensure your preferred router syncs with your operating system(s). If you own a device that runs on Windows 10, it is irrational to opt for a Windows 8-compatible router.
When it comes to choosing the best Wi-Fi routers, cheap doesn’t necessarily translate to low quality.
Do you seek an affordable WiFi router to handle your network of data-thirsty devices? Our best wireless router under $100 recommendations are your best bet when you’re seek for a mix of performance and affordability.
While some expensive routers may offer more internet features, it all depends on individual needs. However, if you need a high performing option for just your home or a small-sized organization, any of the items on our list will do. Spending anything more could mean a waste of resources on features and speed that add no useful value to your experience.
For fun lovers – how does it feel to know you can enjoy a good speed for your online gaming and HD Netflix experience for only between $50 and $100?