Everything revolves around WLAN nowadays. Laptops, smartphones, televisions, and tablets connect to the internet wirelessly to install updates, display messages, or check the weather. Whether it’s video streaming, email, or online gaming, a stable and fast WLAN connection is essential. In our winner article, we present what we believe to be the best WLAN devices in the WiFi-5 routers, WiFi-6 routers, repeaters, and WLAN mesh categories.
We consolidate all individual tests in the WLAN mesh, WiFi-6 router, or repeater categories. Additionally, we regularly update guides on topics such as WLAN in the garden, WLAN mesh, or repeater: which is better?
In individual tests of various WLAN devices, we subject the candidates to a rigorous testing process. We evaluate each product based on the following points:
- Technical data : How up-to-date is the hardware of the devices, are current standards supported and do connections or equipment match the price?
- Setup : How quickly can the devices be up and running? How is the configuration done, via browser and/or app? Where are there potential pitfalls?
- Performance measurement : The most important and detailed part of our test deals with the data throughput and the range of the WLAN signal.
WLAN Repeaters: Amplifying Existing WLAN
Most people own a WLAN router, most likely provided by their internet service provider. While these devices are decent, they usually fall into the mid-range category. With a WLAN extender, also known as a repeater, you can fill in gaps in the wireless network or increase the speed at the network’s edges. Not only are repeaters generally more affordable than new routers or even mesh systems, but they are also remarkably easy to install. They can be paired with the router either via WPS or by entering the WiFi network’s access data through an app or web interface.
The repeater’s placement should not be at the furthest limit of the WLAN reception; it should have about 50 to 75 percent signal strength compared to the router. This information is usually available on the WLAN extender’s configuration page or indicated by LEDs on the device. However, simple repeaters have a drawback: they require a portion of the available WLAN bandwidth to transmit their own data. In the worst case, this can result in losing up to half of the throughput. This issue particularly affects inexpensive single-band repeaters. Modern dual-band or even tri-band WLAN repeaters offer higher throughput, minimizing the impact on performance. You can find more information in the guide “Boosting WLAN: How WiFi Repeaters Work.”
In this category, we have two winners. For all owners of an AVM Fritzbox (overview), we recommend the AVM Fritz Repeater 6000 (test report). This is the newest and latest WLAN repeater from AVM. In addition to tri-band WLAN support, the WiFi extender also supports WiFi-6, offering incredibly high throughput of 1148 Mbit/s on 2.4 GHz and up to 4804 Mbit/s on 5 GHz. It can easily integrate into the Fritzbox mesh network, either via WiFi or cable, as it features a fast LAN port with 2.5 Gbit/s on the back. This enables the Fritz Repeater 6000 to act as an access point, connected to a fast network.
- fast WiFi-6
- good throughput, good range
- good software
- no wall mounting
For those without a Fritzbox who are looking for a similarly powerful WLAN extender, the Netgear EAX20 (test report) is worth considering. It is also packed with excellent technology, including WiFi-6. In our test scenario, it delivered speeds ranging from 900 Mbit/s to 112 Mbit/s on the 5 GHz band, and 374 Mbit/s to 99 Mbit/s on the slower 2.4 GHz band. These are all outstanding numbers, making even streaming possible in the farthest room.
- Solid WiFi 6 speed
- Four Gigabit LAN ports
- annoying registration requests
Aside from these two winners, there are numerous other devices available. Most of them perform well as long as you don’t have particularly high demands. However, be cautious when it comes to cheap range extenders. They are usually incredibly slow, as seen in our benchmarks of the 11-euro repeater from Fanice. Once you spend more than 20 euros on a repeater, we would recommend the AVM Fritz Repeater 310. It is affordable, has solid software support, and is often available for around 27 euros during price promotions.
Routers with WiFi-5
The majority of routers work with WiFi-5 or 802.11 a/b/g/n. This still current WLAN standard is used in most routers, smartphones, and almost all other mobile devices with WLAN capability. Theoretically, data can be transmitted at speeds of up to 1733 Mbit/s, but in reality, the results are usually lower. Consequently, there is an immense selection of routers available in almost every price range.
Our winner is the AVM Fritzbox 7590 (test report). This router combines good WLAN performance with excellent software and comprehensive customer service from the manufacturer. Even older devices still receive updates. The Fritzbox also offers features such as an integrated telephone system for DECT and VOIP telephones and can serve as a central hub for a smart home. Additionally, it has its own VDSL modem.
- fast WiFi
- many connections
- ready for supervectoring
For those who don’t need a modem, there are plenty of alternatives to the Fritzbox. One example is the excellent Synology MR2200ac (test report), which comes with numerous professional features. Alternatively, there are many mesh systems that include their own routers, which will be discussed separately later on.
Routers with WiFi-6
WiFi-6 is the latest standard for WLAN connections. It is compatible with WiFi-5 and older WLAN standards, allowing existing devices to continue functioning (more about this in the article “WiFi 6: Routers, Advantages, Features”). In addition to significantly higher data speeds, WiFi-6 offers improved management of multiple devices in the WLAN. This becomes crucial as more devices join the network, such as TVs or smart home products like lamps, refrigerators, lawnmowers, or vacuum robots (see the corresponding topic page).
Our current winner is the Asus GT-AX11000 (test report). Asus has loaded the device with fast WLAN, high-performance LAN (one port supports 2.5 Gbit/s, while 1 Gbit/s ports are the norm for WiFi-5 devices), and many features. The router performs exceptionally well, particularly in the 5 GHz WLAN band with its very high throughput. However, it is expensive.
- fast LAN and WLAN
- large range of functions
The alternative option is the brand-new Fritzbox 7590 AX (test report). It offers all the advantages of a Fritzbox, but for inexplicable reasons, AVM decided to forgo the fast 2.5 Gbit/s LAN port. This is quite a puzzling cost-saving measure, especially since the Fritzbox comes with powerful WiFi-6 and good range.
An increasing number of routers and devices are adopting WiFi-6. If you are purchasing a new router, we believe that it is essential to consider this new wireless technology. In the long run, it will provide a WLAN that can handle significantly more concurrently connected devices.
The great advantage of mesh systems over repeaters is their superior data throughput. This is due to the systems’ ability to distribute communication more effectively. Depending on the mesh type, up to three wireless bands are available for communication.
The pinnacle of mesh systems are the tri-band systems, which reserve a complete band for communication between the various mesh access points. Dual-band systems only have two wireless bands, but they can transmit data more intelligently than repeaters. Communication between devices doesn’t necessarily have to be via WLAN. Systems like the Devolo Magic 2 WiFi next powerline adapters (test report) use the power lines to connect individual access points to the local network. For an overview of the individual devices in the test, refer to the WLAN mesh topic page and the WLAN mesh system comparison test: from AVM to Zyxel.
Our winner in the tri-band mesh category is the Asus RT-AX92U (test report). This is primarily due to its incredibly high throughput, thanks to WiFi-6. Additionally, it offers easy setup via an app or browser and extensive configuration options for professionals.
- very fast
- extensive software
- no integrated modem
For those looking for an alternative that includes a VDSL modem, consider the combination of the AVM Fritzbox 7590 AX (test report) and Fritz Repeater 6000 (test report). The advantage of a Fritzbox mesh is the wide selection of compatible mesh access points available in addition to the modem, telephone system, and other features. This allows for a seamless integration of suitable access points for both indoor and outdoor use.
Dual-band mesh systems are significantly cheaper than the tri-band variants, but this is reflected in data throughput, especially when access points are poorly positioned. Our winner for dual-band WLAN mesh is the combination of the AVM Fritzbox 7590 and Fritz Repeater 2400 (test report). Together, they provide overall good data throughput at a reasonable price. Furthermore, the Fritzbox includes a modem for VDSL.
- Dual mesh up to 1733 Mbit/s
- easy setup
- less sticking at 2.4GHz
- no USB socket
There are plenty of alternatives in this segment. We were particularly impressed by the Telekom Speed Home WiFi system (test report). It is appealing to those who not only have internet service through Telekom but also receive television services. In addition to traditional network providers, companies like Google and Amazon are also active in this segment. The Google Nest WiFi (test report) is a sleek mesh system that stands out for its ease of configuration. The Amazon Eero (test report) also performs well and offers a comparatively decent data throughput. However, both systems lack modem functionality, requiring an additional device to access the internet.
The majority of German users likely have either a Fritzbox or a router from Telekom at home. These devices typically provide decent WLAN performance and can be effectively supplemented with a suitable repeater or a connected WLAN mesh system.
If you can do without the router’s modem functions, we recommend investing in WiFi-6 based WLAN devices. This new WLAN standard not only provides greater coverage but also significantly higher data throughput.