Looking for a new router to take advantage of 1gb internet and the options are making my head swim - please help!

SunrisePro

Regular Contributor
I'm currently using the router from Spectrum, which has been reliable throughout our 2000 sq ft house. Our current internet plan is 400mbps and the fastest I've recorded the wifi at is 263mbps. But we're a family of 6 with sometimes 6 people streaming at the same time so I figured it was fine.

We're moving to a 1900 sq ft house and upgrading to 1gb internet at the end of the month. My wife & I got new Macs last year and I want to take advantage of the fact that they support Wifi 6. Now I also have one child (out of the 4) working on being a pro gamer, but she hardwires her computer via ethernet, which will continue in the new house. The other 3 kids are more casual games (atm), but all of them play and stream at various times.

I basically want good coverage throughout the 2 story house, plus coverage on the deck in the back and the attached garage. I think that maybe one of the new-fangled mesh systems would be cool but that feels like a leap of faith; I definitely like the idea of better coverage throughout the house.

I'm pretty geeky so I'm not too impressed by routers that espouse 'automatic this' and 'automatic that.' Prior to using the Spectrum router, I used a Netgear R7000 running on Advanced Tomato until it died.

I'm also looking ahead to adding some smart home devices (using Apple Homekit) in the future. My understanding is that all I really need to be safe are proper firewall rules, so a 'smart home specific' router isn't necessary.

My budget is $250 or less - preferably closer to $200, but I'm willing to consider up to $250 for something reliable and more future-proof.

I've done some research already, and below are the top contenders. I'd really appreciate feedback from anyone who has experience with these routers - as well as suggestions for better options.

  • Asus RT-AX86U. Seems like a good gaming focused router, so I'm hoping I get customize the QOS rules a lot. It's higher than my budget at $279, but I've seen it as low as $215 so I'm keeping an eye on its price. I am concerned about coverage 40-50ft from it.
  • TP-Link Deco W7200. TP-Link is new to me but they seem to offer quite a few routers. This Walmart special version (which I understand is identical to a Costo-specific version) seems to check off all the boxes, and I really dig the ethernet backhaul action. It only has 1 gigabit ethernet port in each device, but that's all we need atm.
  • Google Nest Wifi. It seems very highly regarded, but I'm a bit skeeved out at having hardware controlled by Google (they really don't need to have even more data about us, and I refuse to use voice anything). But it seems too good to ignore.
  • Eero Pro 6. Seems highly regarded like the Google Nest Wifi. I'm skeeved out at having hardware controlled by Amazon, but it seems too good to ignore.

I've researched about another 20 more routers but these seem to be the best. I'm really hoping some feedback here will help me choose wisely - thank you.
 

Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
Just keep what you have and add a couple of APs to the mix for speed and coverage. I'm easily covering 1300sq ft with an NWA210AX and can hit 1.3gbps internally on the LAN. I would disable the Wi-Fi on the current router and use the APs exclusively.
 

SunrisePro

Regular Contributor
Just keep what you have and add a couple of APs to the mix for speed and coverage. I'm easily covering 1300sq ft with an NWA210AX and can hit 1.3gbps internally on the LAN. I would disable the Wi-Fi on the current router and use the APs exclusively.
You're suggesting that I just not use the Spectrum router? (they charge me $5/mo for it)

Or can I get rid of it completely and just use the APs you suggested?

tbh I've never considered APs, I always thought they were addons to routers (I might be completely wrong). Does it just behave like a router? When two are used are they one SSID or two SSIDs?
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
I've done some research already

From your list - Asus RT-AX86U. It's popular and Asuswrt-Merlin supported. You may not need QoS on Gigabit line.
 

SunrisePro

Regular Contributor
From your list - Asus RT-AX86U. It's popular and Asuswrt-Merlin supported. You may not need QoS on Gigabit line.
I suspect the QoS won't be needed for the kid using ethernet either, and the custom firmware is a nice bonus. I just need to keep an eye on the price, and hope it'll cover all areas of the house well.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
hope it'll cover all areas of the house well

It may, if the router is placed around the middle and the house is built from relatively Wi-Fi transparent materials. If it has brick walls, metal foil insulation or reinforced concrete floors - you need to look for different solutions.
 

Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
You're suggesting that I just not use the Spectrum router? (they charge me $5/mo for it)

Or can I get rid of it completely and just use the APs you suggested?

tbh I've never considered APs, I always thought they were addons to routers (I might be completely wrong). Does it just behave like a router? When two are used are they one SSID or two SSIDs?
Keep the $5 router but disable the WIFI on it and use the AP's instead for WIFI OR if you want to save $5/mo pick up a MB8600 CM and then hook up your ASUS to that and then the AP's to the ASUS.

AP's is WIFI only... they don't route and thus are cheaper / more specialized than the black boxes people tend to buy. Configure them with the same SSID and you can roam between them w/o having to switch anything on the PC / phone / tablet.

The NWA210AX has been as low as $160/ea but, they give better coverage / speed than most other setups where people reuse routers as AP's or range extenders or whatever the current fad of the month happens to be. Of course the AP's need to be wired back to the router but, you retain the speed vs the wifi backhaul you might use in another setup.
 

SunrisePro

Regular Contributor
Keep the $5 router but disable the WIFI on it and use the AP's instead for WIFI OR if you want to save $5/mo pick up a MB8600 CM and then hook up your ASUS to that and then the AP's to the ASUS.
I don't have an ASUS anything atm (except maybe an ASUS mobo in an old pc I built).

An MB8600 CM seems to be around $150 and the NWA210AX is around $230, so this is way beyond what I've budgeted.
 

SunrisePro

Regular Contributor
It may, if the router is placed around the middle and the house is built from relatively Wi-Fi transparent materials. If it has brick walls, metal foil insulation or reinforced concrete floors - you need to look for different solutions.
The problem here is that we haven't been in the new house yet (it's a rental in another state) so I have no idea where the cable comes in nor what the house is made of.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
(it's a rental in another state)

This changes things. For a rental place I would consider only options I can easily remove and take with me. No cables and no access points. Eero Pro may not have much configuration options, but it’s an excellent wireless system. Single router may not work well.
 

SunrisePro

Regular Contributor
This changes things. For a rental place I would consider only options I can easily remove and take with me. No cables and no access points. Eero Pro may not have much configuration options, but it’s an excellent wireless system. Single router may not work well.
Sorry, I should have clarified that from the get-go. As long as I can do at least one wired connection for my gamer kid, the Eero will work. Our hope is to buy a house after this rental, in which case I install ethernet over time. I'm curious too whether Powerline would be viable.
 

Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
@SunrisePro

I can see why not investing in a rental then. Temp solutions would be better. You could save the $5 though with a CM/GW combined into a single unit.


https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CMPJCQR/?tag=snbforums-20 -$245
https://www.amazon.com/ARRIS-SURFboard-Certified-Spectrum-SBG7600AC2-dp-B07H4VJHB9/ - $165

When you buy a place then get more serious about how you setup things for the long term for the performance you want.
 

degrub

Very Senior Member
The other thing to look into for extending wired ethernet is MOCA 2.0 or 2.5 . Many older houses will have RG6 coax in the walls or at least RG59 from cable tv. RG59 may cut the bandwidth to 100Mbit/s instead of 500+ depending on cable length, quality, and splitters. If you are lucky, they might have had cable internet or satellite tv, in which case it will be RG6. You likely would have to replace splitters with moca 2 rated versions and any amps would be bypassed or replaced as well.
Moca adds a couple msec of lag which can be important for gamers, so you will have to see.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Our hope is to buy a house after this rental

Your priority must be saving money, not spending on Internet speed and router features. You can go easily with 100Mbps ISP and cheap Deco M4 3-pack for $100 on sale. It offers good enough speed and coverage. Even if you need to throw away the Deco after you move to your own place, no big deal.
 

SunrisePro

Regular Contributor
Your priority must be saving money, not spending on Internet speed and router features. You can go easily with 100Mbps ISP and cheap Deco M4 3-pack for $100 on sale. It offers good enough speed and coverage. Even if you need to throw away the Deco after you move to your own place, no big deal.
It is, but not when it comes to internet. I'm a web dev and work from home, constant Zooming these days (thus it's a business expense). 1 kid is working on being a pro gamer and streams. The other 3 kids watch videos & game online. The price of Spectrum's 1gb at our new house is the same as what I'm paying for 400mb down right now.
 

Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
@SunrisePro

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Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Does that Orbi model replace Spectrum's modem too?

Only Spectrum can give you the correct answer. It may or may not be compatible or allowed on their network. My ISP has a list of approved hardware, for example.
 

SunrisePro

Regular Contributor
Damn - the Orbi CBK40 is not supported, only the Orbi CBR750 which is over $400. So I'll probably keep the Spectrum modem and just get a new router, which puts me back where I started. So the best option suggested so far is the Eero Pro.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Don't buy a cable modem/router for temp use. When you move you may get fiber. It's hard to suggest equipment when we know nothing about the place. When you move there, see what it is and what do you need. There will be local computer stores or Staples/BestBuy, I guess.
 

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