Our homes are replete with products that demand Wi-Fi connectivity.
With a good wireless router, you don’t need to be struggling to have a stable connection with any of your devices. And it does not have to cost an arm and a leg.
Our next topic takes us through the Best Cheap Wireless Routers under $50 and $100. We have researched all about these routers as they offer a reliable connection without any of the bells and whistles that could warrant a high price.
- Features to Consider in Cheap Wireless Router
- Best Cheap Wireless Routers Under $50
- Best Cheap Wireless Routers Under $100
- Guide to Buying the Best Cheap Wireless Router
- Final Words
Features to Consider in Cheap Wireless Router
Single vs. Dual-Band Frequency
A single frequency router is ideal for having two or three connected devices in a small home or apartment. But to achieve fast speeds and multiple device connectivity, you will want to consider a dual or tri-band router.
Dual band means that the router has a long range but slower 2.4Ghz frequency and a short range, but faster 5Ghz band. Most modern devices choose the speedier frequency which can make it crowded. As such, you will need to decide which devices connect on the 2.4GHz frequency and which connect via the 5GHz by naming the bands.
Understanding the wireless standard will help you know the type of router you want to own.
802.11a and 802.11b
These are the oldest standards in wireless technology. 802.11b conforms to speeds of up to 54mbps and can transmit on 5GHz bands. It was created at the same time as the 802.11a which transmits over 2.4Ghz.
This is an old standard in the consumer category as it supports virtually any equipment. It was built around 802.11a which operates on the 2.4Ghz frequency meaning it can also be very slow. It is the least expensive option of modern routers.
This standard has increased speeds, and it uses modern tech by combining features of previous standards. It has support across various network gear and devices. This standard uses multiple wireless signals and MIMO technology. It can transmit in speeds of up to 300Mbps and a more extended range.
This standard is at par with today’s network requirements. It is the fastest, offering the ideal signal range. Its best use is for high bandwidth applications as it is also a bit expensive.
You will always see the letters n, a, b, g, and ac, accompanied by a number on your router. The letter indicates the Wi-Fi standard while the number indicates the Mbps speeds. For example, N300, AC1200, etc. All these show you the theoretical speed it can reach which does not really apply in real life networks.
RAM and Processor
A dual-core processor is faster than a single-core processor while a quad-core is much more efficient than dual and single core processors.
A single core processor works perfectly for a small home or few devices. But when you want as many devices to operate on your router, you will need to consider a router with a dual or quad-core processor and high quantity of RAM to allow as many operations to be undertaken by your router without causing delays.
How far can the router transmit signals when put in a central location of your house or office? The more extended the coverage, the more reliable it is when you want to use Wi-Fi from a comfortable location without moving the router’s position. This feature is essential for big homes and areas where walls interfere with signals.
Multi User-Multi Input Multi Output technology (MU-MIMO) is the ability of your router to transmit wireless data to several users simultaneously. The router uses its antennas more efficiently instead of transmitting to one device before going on to the next. This process increases home throughput and decreases downtime in the process.
In this technology, the router can transmit the signal in a certain direction where Wi-Fi is needed. It eliminates wasted signals which in turn results in a faster and stronger wireless connection.
Best Cheap Wireless Routers Under $50
With speeds of up to 1200mbps, TP-Link Archer AC1200 strives to give modern wireless technologies for streaming and connecting your devices at first speeds. It has dual frequencies where you can expect to get speeds of up to 867mbps on the 5Ghz frequency and 300mbps on the 2.4GHz. Of course, these speeds will be influenced by your ISP and other factors, but you have a good idea of what you are getting with this router.
TP-Link Archer 1200 features three antennas with beamforming technology. It relays signals to where they are needed such that you receive fast speeds in demanding situations like online gaming and streaming movies. It also means that every member of your family can enjoy reliable Wi-Fi at all times.
When you want wired connectivity, this router gives you four Gigabit Ethernet ports. This way, you can have your laptop or TV tethered when you want a superior connection. It is also supplied with a USB port which allows you to share your favorite tunes, photos, and videos on a wireless network.
TP-Link Archer 1200 has a companion app that allows you to access your router from anywhere. You can make changes like a password for your guest network or control traffic and set parental controls from any location.
Setting it up is also painless seeing that you just need to have a browser on a supported platform like Windows 8/8.1/10, Windows 98SE, NT, 2000, or Mac OS.
At the heart of the router is a single-core processor that manages all your demands for uninterrupted viewing and downloading of files.
If you are having problems with the quality of Wi-Fi you are getting, it may be time to switch it up with a router that eliminates buffering and lost connection. Its dual frequencies give you strong signals coupled by beamforming technology which brings all the difference in Wi-Fi.
If you can’t seem to satisfy the internet needs of your home from streaming to gaming, downloading, sharing of files, etc. then you have to rethink the router you are using. TP-Link is without a doubt, a brand you have to watch when you want reliability, and the Archer C50 AC1200 is no exception.
Being a dual frequency router, you get data rates of up to 900Mbps on the 5GHz band and 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. It is a first pick for streaming in 4K and playing the latest FPS and MOBA games that chew over your data like crazy.
With this router, you don’t need to worry about coverage as it has three 5dBi antennas. The antennas are adjustable such that you can direct them to where you need the signals. Say you are on the second floor and you want to access Facebook without moving to the living room, this router is all you want to get you browsing with no worries.
TP-Link Archer C50 has a guest network that you can set up and allow other users to browse and stream without compromising the security of your home network. It is a good pick for the office if you don’t mind sharing it with a few friends.
The router has a companion app which apart from accessing the settings, you can set when devices are connected and create parental controls for kids. It gives you control over traffic so that everyone stays happy.
For those looking to connect up to 10 devices, you have no problem with the TP-Link Archer C50 AC1200. It achieves sophistication in the way it relays signals through 5dBi antennas and dual frequencies. It gives you control in your hands and you are protected from password cracking with its inbuilt firewall and Wi-Fi access protocols.
TP-Link is a well-known brand in the world of wireless routers. The N300 model is a single-band router that operates using 802.11bgn Wi-Fi standard. It is an excellent pick when you have one or two devices that you want to be connected over an extended range. You will find it ideal when you have a small office or live in a small apartment.
This router is backward compatible with the 802.11b/g standard. It is ideal for streaming movies, videos, and web browsing. It comes with four LAN ports and one WAN port that can connect to a modem. The router is reliable on the 2.4GHz band thanks to its two high-quality 5dBi antennas.
You will like that connecting to your device is as simple as using the WPS feature. You can control the network using an IP-based QoS. This means you can monitor the traffic and set up passwords and parental controls.
This router has a sturdy built. It is deemed to last in good condition for a long time. And since it is ipv6 ready, the router is ready for future internet protocols. It is elegant in that it can be wall-mounted using the holes on the underside of the frame or placed on a flat surface.
TP-Link N300 is a basic router that works for most Wi-Fi applications. You may not be able to build a smart home around this router, but you will be streaming movies and browsing using a stable and reliable internet connection. It sets up fast so you can start enjoying the perks of wireless connectivity.
ASUS Wireless N300 has been around for five years. It fits right in the budget category owing to its simplistic style and wireless standard. Operating on one frequency and the 802.11bgn standard, this router showcases stability and performance.
With 2T2R MIMO technology, it can relay signals simultaneously to all your devices. It gives every device from laptop to smartphone or gaming console an equal shot at fast speeds.
This router provides firmware updates so that you will not be running dated firmware that will not support modern wireless network needs. Being a single channel router, it gives speeds of up to 54Mbps download speeds in the most practical sense. It is more than enough for most home needs as it can handle streaming and playing of games without delays and buffering.
The setup process has also been accredited as one of the simplest. You can set up to four networks including that of a guest. Settings of each SSID such as the bandwidth and the passwords are all customizable.
This router has two other modes apart from the router. It can be an access point or be of use in repeater mode. It also allows you to use your browser and use the ASUSWRT graphical interface. It is a simple method that ensures you will not be struggling to find the correct settings on your router.
We also like that ASUS N300 can connect wired or wirelessly in the AP mode. It gives you decent coverage that you can have internet access around a 1200sqft home.
ASUS N300 is an excellent cheap wireless router. It can achieve high data transfers, and impeccable download and upload speeds that keep your home connected at all times. With the capability to set up different networks and use it in different modes, it goes to say about the versatility and reliability of this router.
The Linksys N300 E1200 ranks lower than the rest of the routers here because it is underpowered. But the ease of setting up makes it a good choice if you are looking for the easiest and most uncomplicated method of connecting wirelessly.
This router comes in a compact design that you can put anywhere in a small home. It provides a wired connection via four LAN ports and one WAN port. It is obvious that you can get reliable speeds from a wired connection. But this router also ensures you get stability through the WPS feature.
The router sets up using a CD that carries the Cisco Connect Software. It requires popping the disc into a computer and following a set of instructions to the end. This will lead you to an interface that states change the username and password. After you have configured your router, only your device can keep you from enjoying decent internet connectivity.
It is crucial that you notice that this router is not intended for heavy streaming and downloading. Even then, the router has an integrated on-chip amplifier coupled with an internal antenna that doubles and improves the range of this router.
When setting up the router, you are provided with an internet speed test in the form of a speedometer. As such, you get to see the download and upload speeds such that you can tailor them to your needs.
You can allow or block access to the internet using this router’s user interface. It provides parental controls that keep everyone in check. You can block up to 8 URLs which can work for kids but not so much for adults.
Linksys N300 E1200 has a done an excellent job in providing wireless networking on a budget. It is simple to install and use from the very start and performing firmware updates. You can browse and stream with data rates of up to 300Mbps allowing to perform most of the basic Wi-Fi tasks.
Best Cheap Wireless Routers Under $100
NETGEAR R6700 remains a top performing router years after it was introduced into the market. With recent firmware updates, this router provides seamless internet performance with data rates of up to 1300Mbps on the faster 5GHz band and 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. It is one of a kind when you have endless internet demands in a large home or office setting.
This router boasts a dual-core processor that operates at 1GHz. This speed makes it an ideal router for processing commands from smart devices including security cameras, doorbells, smartphones, gaming consoles, smart TVs, and every other gadget that relies on a stable Wi-Fi connection.
NETGEAR R6700 comes with three antennas that are all detachable. You will have to screw them in when installing the router. You will notice that it is quite bulky, so you better save some space for it.
Although it has a plastic housing, it feels robust and sturdy. And if you don’t have room for it on a shelf, you can always mount it using the holes at the back of the case.
We find the QoS feature a nice addition since you can allocate Wi-Fi according to the devices that need the signals most. For an avid gamer, you are in the win since you can direct priority to your gaming console or PC to game without delays while other users will not notice the difference if their devices are not W-Fi demanding.
This router now has USB 3.0 for fast transfer and sharing of your stored media using a wireless network. It allows speedy access to your stored media which speaks of how well the router pays attention to the small details.
For a router to achieve speeds of the NETGEAR R6700, it showcases a reliable model for heavy-duty wireless networking. Whether you are streaming or gaming, it gives you the capability to prioritize Wi-Fi and control the users on your network.
TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 is all about speed, functionality, and convenience. It gives you coverage and reliability thanks to the dual frequencies for a total 1.9Gbps bandwidth. It is top of the batch bearing up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band which many routers struggle to achieve.
You get a solid router in a white case that is elegant. It will sit using a stand at the back of the router which also shows you can hang it on a wall when you are short on space. If you are keen on detail, the white color will definitely match with any décor.
Thanks to its beamforming technology and adjustable and removable antennas, the router provides direct Wi-Fi connections to all your devices. This feature improves the data rates and the range such that you can see four bars when you are in the basement or sitting in the corner of your house.
The wired connectivity options are enabled using four Gigabit Ethernet ports, one USB 3.0 port, and a USB 2.0 port. It reflects on the possibilities of connecting more devices like a printer or your smart TV. And since it has a dual-core processor, your worries of delayed commands are put to rest.
Setting up and configuring your router is a simple case of plugging in and browsing for the tplinkwifi.net user interface. You just set the passwords for the networks to start using the router right away, or you can access the advanced settings that let you create a guest network and access parental controls.
TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 is a competitive product that excels in giving you more than you pay for. With dual frequencies that reach impeccable data rates and reliable wired connections. It is a must-have for connecting over 12 devices.
Linksys EA6350 wants you to take advantage of both wired and wireless connections. Operating on dual frequencies, your devices can connect using the less crowded 5GHz especially if you live in a neighborhood where everyone owns a router. It supports streaming, online gaming, downloads and uploads at impressive speeds.
When you have a handful of internet-craving devices, you can rest easy as this router also employs beamforming technology to direct the Wi-Fi signals effectively. The two antennas are not removable, so trading for a high-gain antenna is out of the question.
It gives you 867Mbps on the short and high-frequency 5GHz band while the 2.4GHz band manages the usual 300Mbps. Powered by a single-core 800MHz processor, this router is up to any tasks you throw at it. It supports fast data rates without an element of buffering when you have over six devices connected to the same network.
Linksys EA6350 has USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet ports. If you want to transfer files using a flash drive or you want to print using an Ethernet cable, the router provides a speedy way of accomplishing tasks.
Security is provided using WPA and WPA 2 protocols that are secure and less susceptible to hacking. This way, you won’t be paying for your neighbor’s internet without your knowledge. It also provides Internet Service Provider (ISP) protection, parental controls, and creating of a guest network.
Living in a crowded neighborhood does not mean contending with low internet speeds. With a high-speed frequency, you can connect compatible devices and be ahead of the park. You get lots of convenience with the Linksys router mostly because you can control Wi-Fi access on your network.
ASUS is a Taiwanese company best known for their gaming peripherals. Their routers also tick as they follow the latest technologies. This particular router has gained popularity for its capability to achieve high real-life data rates. Instead of setting up which devices will connect to the long and slow band or the fast and short-range band, this router will do it for you seamlessly.
This router uses MU-MIMO technology to offer a simultaneous connection of multiple devices at the same time. It is the easiest way to make every user happy because they will all receive similar internet speeds.
ASUS AC1300 is powered by a 717MHz quad-core processor making it the fastest ac router in its class. It has 128MB RAM which ensures every connected device receives Wi-Fi signals at the same rate. Using TurboQAM, this router can effectively reach theoretical speeds of up to 1267Mbps shared on two bands.
The four antennas not only give this router a touch of modernity, but they also utilize beamforming technology. The router can scan the wireless devices around, and it can direct the needed Wi-Fi signals without wasting any of the signals.
This router has been tested to deliver 20Mbps data rates on the 2.4GHz band at a distance of 100ft while it can give you as high as 134Mbps on the 5GHz band. When you are as close as 5ft, you can expect speeds of 95Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 365Mbps on the 5GHz. It goes to say it is great in theory as it is in the practical sense.
ASUS AC1300 is impressive in so many ways. From having a quad-core processor to being designed to last, this router is not just any entry-level router. It provides remarkable real-life speeds that we cannot understate.
TRENDnet is sure to fill up any home with data. It streams on two bands where you get speeds of up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1733Mbps on the 5GHz band. It is an indication that you will get throughputs as high as 500Mbps in a real-life situation.
With beamforming and MU-MIMO technologies, TRENDnet sets the pace for heavy-duty streaming and gaming. There are no wasted signals, and every gamer receives equal internet speeds.
Powered by a dual-core processor that runs 1.4GHz, it is one of the fastest routers that will keep your devices running at all times.
This router integrates Qualcomm’s StreamBoost Technology. This technology manages the bandwidth such that it is allocated according to your device’s usage. Gaming consoles will get more bandwidth as opposed to a smartphone user live streaming on Instagram and Facebook.
TRENDnet AC2600 offers the Trendnet management console for controlling your wireless settings. It takes a while to correctly make changes, but after you have the hang of it, it is absolutely effortless.
With this console, you gain access to the Network Status Panel which hosts the network, USB-status and Guest network. You will see the basic settings for turning the band on and off, change the SSID, select a wireless mode, etc. The advanced settings include the security and firewall tools.
TRENDnet sets the pace for what a budget-friendly router should be all about. It is designed for use at home to give you the convenience of high speeds without being nagged by how to control your router. It has the bells and whistles that adapt to modern technology so you can always be in touch with the wireless networking world.
Guide to Buying the Best Cheap Wireless Router
Having a reliable wireless internet connection comes down to your router. There are many wireless routers offers on the market, but not many of them are cheap and functional at the same time. This brings us to the question:
Which Factors are Important to Consider Before Buying a Wireless Router?
Ensuring that your router has the capability of having firmware updates is a must if you wish to have more features in the future. As companies continue to manufacture new routers, additional features can be inbuilt while others you can be added through a simpler update of the firmware.
You will want to have such features like Quality of Service (QoS), DDOS protection, a powerful firewall, and many others.
Such features like DD-WRT and OpenWrt enable customization possibilities. This shows that you can use the router with a couple of devices that will give you lots of personalization features.
Ideally, the more antennas you have, the wider the coverage you get from your router. Although this is affected by your environment, knowing the gain is also important. High dBi ratings allow the signals to penetrate obstacles like walls and closets and still maintain a stable connection with your device.
A minimum of 5dBi rating is acceptable but don’t keep yourself from getting a router with antennas rated to a 7dBi when you want further range and coverage. Also, it’s good to consider removable antennas as you can replace them with higher-gain antennas.
Wired Connectivity Options
Wi-Fi is great but so is having a wired connection. Having Ethernet and USB ports gives you more flexibility with a router. You can connect your TV, laptop, or printer directly to the router when you want superfast data transfer rates. Gigabit Ethernet ports provide faster rates at up to 1000Mbps than fast Ethernet ports that can manage only 100Mbps.
Installation and Configuration
Some routers can be a pain to set up and configure. We have picked models that we believe are easy to install. But if you are still having problems to set up a TP-Link Router, here’s a video with some simple instructions.
The user interface is also another consideration as it dictates whether the setup will be smooth or challenging. TP-Link, ASUS, and NETGEAR are known to have intuitive user interfaces, but you have to take your time around the TRENDnet router.
Every wireless connection needs a high-level of security. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA and WPA2) are the common protocols that you should look for in a router. There’s also the WPA3 which was launched in January 2020 for advanced Wi-Fi protection.
Never at any time go for a router that has WEP security as it is dated and will probably be hacked as soon as you set a new password.
Parental Controls and Guest Network Access
When you have visitors around, the last thing you want is a breach in your internet security or other technological snags surrounding your wireless network. That’s why it’s important that you have a guest access network available on your router.
You will be able to maintain your privacy and share files that will not be available on the guest network.
As a parent, you will also want to protect your kids from accessing sites with mature content and even the risk of meeting people who could potentially lure them into danger. With parental controls, their devices will be a form of entertainment and learning only.
Many routers in the budget range do not have a mobile app. But when you find one that does, you get to access the settings and tools of the router on an app which is better than a web browser. You can see the state of wireless networks, the internet, and the devices connected.
Don’t let upscale prices keep you from enjoying high-speed wireless network connections. With one of our Best Cheap Wireless Routers, you have every reason to stream, browse, play games, and connect all your devices.