This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.

Like running water, central heating, a roof over your head, and a next-gen gaming console — you just couldn’t live without good WiFi. It really is one of life’s essentials. And as modern life gets smarter and increasingly connected, having a quality WiFi router (or wireless router) in the home is more important than ever.

WiFi routers are easy to install and can instantly improve the WiFi coverage throughout your home with lightning-fast connection speeds. Sounds good, right?

But how do you go about picking the best router for you? Which WiFi router you choose will depend on a number of factors, including the size of your coverage area, the number of connected devices, and the types of devices connecting to the router. But we’re well-connected when it comes to this sort of thing. Here’s a quick guide.

What is a WiFi router?

Quite simply, it’s a little contraption that sits in the corner of a room and beams out data from your broadband line to your devices, allowing each device to connect to the internet. And though wireless routers are, well, wireless — that’s kind of the point — they usually have Ethernet ports too, which allow you to physically connect PCs, TVs, and other devices directly to the internet.

How does a WiFi router work?

The WiFi router converts broadband data into radio bands, which are then picked up by your devices. These radio bands are like different lanes, which keep data separate to stop it getting clogged up. Different devices need different bandwidths — some devices need more than others — so the higher number of bands, the more efficient the router is. You can choose from single, dual, or tri-band routers.

Single vs. dual-band — which is best?

A single-band router has just one 2.4 GHz frequency band. These are usually cheaper, connect easily to devices, and are good for penetrating obstacles such as doors and walls. But they have lower speeds than multi-band routers and don’t have all the up-to-date features. Single-band is probably best if your internet needs are minimal. Dual-band routers are pricier but also promise better speeds and performance. Dual-band routers are now pretty much the standard so modern devices will be well served.

What is the best WiFi router for large households?

If there are lots of people in your home — like a big family with lots of devices per person — a tri-band router will be the best choice. Tri-band routers have one 2.4 GHz channel and two 5 GHz channels. These routers are equipped to handle multiple Gigabit speeds — up to 2166 Mbps on each 5 GHz band. For a literally large household — a big house with lots of rooms – a mesh system is best.

What is a mesh WiFi system?

A mesh WiFi system is essentially a series of connected router units — known as satellites or nodes — that each broadcast a WiFi signal, which eliminates any internet dead zones within the house. Mesh systems are good for homes with lots of rooms and lots of devices, helping maintain internet the speeds wherever you are. Mesh systems are expandable, allowing you to add extra nodes and increase your coverage area.

How do you choose a router for gaming?

If you have lots of devices and a router that’s not up to the task, you’ll experience lag issues when you’re playing your console. You need a router that can handle multiple devices. Look for a gaming router that offers prioritisation for your gaming systems and applications. If you live in a home with multiple gamers, you might also want to get a router that allows you to control how much bandwidth everyone in your household gets. Some also have a modified management console to adjust bandwidth priorities easily depending on your needs. And make sure your gaming router is at least dual-bad so you can use the 5GHz channel for faster speeds. A tri-band router is even better because then you could reserve one 5GHz channel just for gaming.

What is the best WiFi router?

We have done a lot of the hard work to make your selection process as easy as possible. Whether you’re looking for a single band WiFi router or a full-fledged tri-band model to handle an entire family home’s worth of streaming and gaming, we’ve got you covered for good coverage.

These are six of the best WiFi routers for 2024.

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