Save Money with Inexpensive and Reliable Router
The Wi-Fi speed of a cheap router.
To be honest, this is a wrong founded myth. While routers coming for less than $50 might not have any bells and whistles – such as MU-MIMO, fancy antennas, and beamforming, they are more robust and provide great Wi-Fi speeds for video streaming.
Not believing such routers exist – and that too for less than $50? You’re in for a surprise.
In today’s article, we are going to give you a list of the best routers coming under $50. Best for simple applications, these routers offer incredible range, come at an affordable price and provide cutting-edge speed.
What’s more, they are devoid of any technicalities, which you normally see in expensive routers. Consequently, you won’t need any training to have them up and running once they arrive at your doorstep. (see our Best Routers To Buy in 2017)
Still having doubts? I’ve got two words for you:Scroll down.
Table of Contents
- Best Cheap Routers 2017
- 1. HooToo AC1200 Wireless Router – Best Overall
- 2. Tenda AC1200 (AC9) Gigabit
- 3. TP-Link N300 – Best Budget
- 4. TP-Link AC1200 – Best Value for Money
- 5. Linksys N750 – Best Design
- 6. NETGEAR N600 – Best for Office Users
- 7. ASUS 3-In-1 Wireless Router – Most Versatile Device
- 8. D-link AC1200 – Brilliant Throughput
- 9. Belkin AC1200
- 10. Tenda AC1200 (AC6) – Best for Home Networking
- 11. NETGEAR N300 Wireless– Best Single Band Router
- 12. Linksys N300 (E1200) – Best Affordable
- 13. NETGEAR AC1200 (R6100-100PAS)
Best Cheap Routers 2017
It doesn’t matter which product we are searching for, we always look for a great deal. However, with latest devices, getting a good deal is problematic as these devices usually have sky-high prices. That said, if you are looking to buy a perfect, cheap and reliable router, your search ends here.
|HooToo AC1200||0.75 lb.||Two||802.11n, 801.11 AC||4||Check Price|
|Tenda AC1200 (AC9)||2 lbs.||Two||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac||4||Check Price|
|TP-Link N300||2 lbs.||Single||802.11bgn||4||Check Price|
|TP-Link AC1200||1.39 lbs.||Two||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac||Check Price|
|Linksys N750||1.43 lbs.||Two||802.11abg||4||Check Price|
|NETGEAR N600||1.42 lbs||Two||802.11 a/b/g/n||4||Check Price|
|ASUS 3-In-1||1.37 lbs||Single||802.11bgn||4||Check Price|
|D-link AC1200||0.65 lbs||Two||802.11a/b/g/n||Check Price|
|Belkin AC1200||1.66 lbs||Two||802.11 a/b/g/n||4||Check Price|
|Tenda AC1200 (AC6)||0.75 lbs||Two||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac||Check Price|
|NETGEAR N300||1.11 lbs||Single||802.11B, 802.11G, 802.11n||4||Check Price|
|Linksys N300||0.52 lbs||Single||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac||4||Check Price|
|NETGEAR AC1200||1.86 lbs||Two||802.11 a/b/g/n||4||Check Price|
Aren’t all Wi-Fi’s one and the same? As the abovementioned table suggests, no they aren’t. For, when it comes to speed, it is the 802.11ac Wi-Fi is the fastest.
Similarly, since they encounter less interference, dual-band routers mentioned in the router provide more speed than their single-band counterparts. Therefore, if speed is your only demand from your router, go for a combination of dual-band and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
1. HooToo AC1200 Wireless Router – Best Overall
Whether you listen to music, play games or stream videos on the internet, the HooToo AC1200 Wireless Router will make sure your Wi-Fi speed catches up with your online activities.
For the price at which this router is available, you’ll think anything more than a single band would be unthinkable. However, one glance at this router’s features, and you’d know your expectations were far too less.
For, in addition to offering dual band frequency – which allows you to extend your bandwidth limit, it has USB and Micro SD card ports to let you import settings. More importantly, in a bid to extend its Wi-Fi coverage, this router has four antennas for a stable and wider coverage area.
As for its Wi-Fi speed, HooToo has hit the ball out of the park by opting for 802.11ac Wi-Fi. As Wi-Fi nerds might tell, 802.11ac is miles ahead in Wi-Fi speed when compared with its predecessor 802.11n. Therefore, be it online gaming or watching videos on Netflix, you won’t have to yearn for more Wi-Fi speed.
Finally, if you have kids lurking around and don’t want the Internet to spoil them – to put it very bluntly, this budget router offers URL filtering. Use this feature, and you can make sure your children remain safe on the Internet.
Some users complained that neither 2Ghz nor the 5Ghz band worked well straight out of the box. As a result, they had to manually pick the channel for both bands. A trivial but nonetheless annoying shortcoming.
- Dual Band Connectivity
- Uses the faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- Has the Parental Control Option
- Easy to setup
- Requires manual adjustment of both bands on startup to get up and running
When such an inexpensive router offers dual-band connectivity, you suspect that something must be fishy. Luckily, however, that isn’t the case with the HooToo AC1200. It may have the occasional glitch but overall, this router’s performance is smooth as silk.
Coming from a company based in Shenzhen, China, the AC1200 Gigabit Wireless Router has a curiously low price tag and an unexpectedly rich feature list.
How do both these opposite poles combine? Let’s find out.
To put you at ease, the programmers at Tenda have done something all router users dream of: they have produced a router, which requires no installation procedure whatsoever.
Yes, it’s true. All you have to do to get this router up and running is to plug your modem into its Gigabit port, power it up, and connect any of your devices to the signals coming forth.
Another aspect of the AC 1200’s software which I personally loved was a complete control it provided me once I logged into its user interface.
For example, be it setting up a guest network, changing the wireless settings, creating a sleeping mode, or accessing bandwidth settings, parental controls and much more, you can do all of it just by logging into the homepage of “tendawifi.com”.
However, if you don’t want to access its user interface page, Tenda AC1200 has a Tenda Phone App. Eliminating the need for a computer, the app will allow you to control every router’s function from your smartphone.
Taking parental control settings to the next level, the Tenda AC1200 has what it calls a Smart Sleeping Mode. Instead of creating firewalls, which you hope your children won’t evade, why not just put the router to rest along with yourself.
You can do it just by few clicks of a button, after which the router will activate its power saving mode, disabling all the Wi-Fi, LED and USB devices connected to it.
Although it is one of the cheapest routers, you may find in the market, you’d still expect better than to have just a single USB port. More worrying is the range of this WI-FI, which is nowhere near great.
- Easy setup
- Brilliant Parental Control Options
- Has a Stable Connection
- Just one USB port
How do we ratw the AC9? Well, as long as you don’t want huge speed and stability, it is a fantastic router. If it was years ago since you last upgraded your router, this router should cause a glint in your eyes.
3. TP-Link N300 – Best Budget
Talk about the brands which sell the most routers per annum, and it is inevitable you’d see TP-Link’s name on the list. Dig some more, and you’d see that N300 is the MOST SELLING TP-link router on Amazon.
The lack of bandwidth control is why most people are usually enthusiastic about buying a cheap router. This router bucks the trend by offering an advanced version of bandwidth control.
In addition to allowing you to place a limit on the total bandwidth, it gives you the option to determine how much bandwidth each PC can use. It means that if you have multiple users on a limited data connection, this feature might be a godsend.
Just like most devices in this review, the N300 is a cinch to get up and running. All you have to do is to plug into an Internet source the router’s WAN port, then turn the device on and you’ll be good to go.
As for its Wi-Fi standard, the N300 supports only the 2.4Ghz band, a feature which testifies why it is so dirt cheap. For, unlike dual band connectivity, the 2.4Ghz band is used by everyone and is congested, meaning you’d get less Wi-Fi speed than usual.
On the bright side, I was impressed with its range as the router worked well for me even at a distance of 75feet. Though the speed slowed down to 34Mbps – compared to 83Mbps at about 15feet, the range was still impressive.
To put it bluntly, when you are getting a router for $20, you should be complaining. However, some people did, and they pointed out many shortcomings, which include: the lack of dual-band connectivity, no 802.11ac Wi-Fi, no USB port and no support for the local fast wired network.
- Inexpensive, dirt cheap
- Good range of 75feet for the price
- Allows limiting bandwidth per computer
- Slow Speed due to lack of dual-band connectivity and 802.11ac Wi-Fi
For those of you looking for a bare minimum home networking method, the TP Link N300 will suffice. However, if you want a device which you can compare with other models, leave it right here.
4. TP-Link AC1200 – Best Value for Money
For those of you thinking I have a personal vendetta against TP-link from the previous review, I’d take help from the TP-Link AC1200 to prove you wrong. This is a very good router for a very good price and has some very good features.
The best thing TP-link did with the AC1200 was to provide it with an 802.11ac Wi-Fi. While giving the Wi-Fi signals more speed, the 802.11ac also increases their range.
Which means there is no need for you to forego the comfort of your bedroom and sit close to the router for full signal strength. If that didn’t get you interested, the dual-band technology will.
With the 2.5Ghz band providing a maximum (theoretical) speed of 300Mbps and 5Ghz band going well over 800Mbps, you might have to upgrade your internet connection to take full advantage of the two bands.
If there’s a problem with this router, you don’t need to remember your IP address to get to its homepage. For, it comes alongside a TP-link Tether App with which you can adjust your device’s settings from your smartphone.
Also, the app is available on both Android and iOS, meaning there’s no chance you’ll miss on the bandwagon.
Proving that it is an upgrade on the N300, TP-link provided the AC1200 with USB ports. Still, the fact that the USB ports were only 2.0 makes for a slow storage performance.
- Comes with a smartphone app which allows you to manage the device’s settings
- Offer bandwidth controls even on guest networks
- Dual-band connectivity amps up the (theoretical) speed to 1200 Mbps
- 4Lan Ports
- Both the USB ports are 2.0
If you loved the price of the N300 – but hated its features, here is another router from TP-link with just about the same price tag but an advanced list of features.
5. Linksys N750 – Best Design
Are you a fan of video streaming? Have multiple users Internet users on your Wi-Fi at the same time? If your answer is in the affirmative, the Linksys N750 might just be right for you.
Although they don’t contribute much to speed, antennas do play an important role when it comes to signal stability. And you’d get plenty of stability with this router given the fact it has six internal antennas.
As a result of this configuration, the 2.4GHz band oozes out 300Mbps in an ideal RF environment. The 5Ghz band, meanwhile, goes as far as 450Mbps in the same working condition.
It means if your internet connection is fast, you won’t find this router lagging.Cisco routers are very easy to install, this much we can all agree on.
However, even with such a rich history, it again raised the bar with this device. The router has a CD included in the package, which auto-runs and does your work for you to get the router running.
All you need to do is a few clicks and you’d be ready to go.
If you are already impressed with its setup and performance of this router, it software will leave you drooling.
You can configure any guest account access, connect other devices to your network and set parental controls on the Cisco Connect Software.
For nerds, they can access the N750 advanced settings for performing more intricate tasks such as setting up port forwarding or enabling the router to update automatically or turning off the lights.
Yes, you can do all this and much more with the N750. Lastly, if you are worried about the speed, the device has a built-in speed test to allow you gauge your connection’s bandwidth.
- Very easy to install
- Feature-rich software
- Impressive Wi-Fi speed and range
- USB port for printers and external storage
- No 802.11ac Wi-Fi
If you want a Wi-Fi router which, despite being friendly to setup, still has a powerful hardware and a functional software, consider the Linksys N750.
6. NETGEAR N600 – Best for Office Users
The Netgear N600 dual-band wireless router is one of the latest (and greatest) products to have ever come out of the Netgear N600 warehouse.
For hardcore gamers who share a home with siblings/friends who love browsing Facebook, Wi-Fi speed will always be the bone of contention.
To solve this predicament, the N600 comes packed with features, the most important of which is its dual-band connectivity. In other words, you get both the 2.4GHz and 5Ghz frequencies with this device.
In this way, while it provides enough Wi-Fi speeds to those just browsing the Internet on one end, this router – via the 5Ghz band, will also look after hardcore online gamers.
For office holders, this router offers an incentive as it allows the formation of guest networks on both bands. Depending on which band you use the most, you can designate the other one for guests.
In this way, even when your guests will be enjoying free Wi-Fi on your premises, they won’t be impeding your Wi-Fi speed in the process.
Finally, this device offers yet another important feature, namely the Quality of Service (QOS).
If two persons are browsing the Internet at the same time, this feature will direct signals to that person who data usage is extensive.
Despite all its useful features, the N600 doesn’t provide/support Gigabit Ethernet.
- Has Quality of Service (QOS) feature
- Slim and tidy thanks to internal antennas
- Can form two guest networks
- No gigabit support
Unlike most other low-priced routers, the main reason why you should choose the N600 isn’t its price tag. Rather, it is the features of this device which make it special. It provides stable and speedy signals, allows the formation of guest networks and is slim and tidy. What more can you ask?
7. ASUS 3-In-1 Wireless Router – Most Versatile Device
Do you want a router, or an access point or a range extender? What if a single device offers you all these options? Yes, the ASUS 3-in-1 Wireless Router does just that. We compiled a list of best wi-fi extender and boosters of 2017.
The first and the most important feature of this wireless router is that it supports MIMO technology. In other, low-priced routers, connected devices take turns receiving Wireless signals from the router.
This configuration, as you might guess, results in slow Wi-Fi speed.
The MIMO technology – also known as MU-MIMO, has changed all that.
If a router has this technology, it means it could supply wireless signals to multiple devices at the same time, giving all of them the same speed. What’s more, due to the absence of any alternation, the user-handling capacity of your device will also increase.
To give you maximum control, the ASUS N12 allows you to set up for SSIDS for your wireless network. By dividing the Wi-Fi into four different channels, these SSIDs will help you in allocating the bandwidth according to usage.
Also, if you feel that one channel is consuming more data than necessary, you can limit its bandwidth using the same method. This feature is a must-have for those users who don’t have unlimited data connections.
The major reason why I didn’t recommend this router for office usage is its limited length. While it could provide a solid signal on one floor, its signal strength deteriorates with height.
- Has MU-MIMO technology
- Allows four SSIDs on the same network
- Great Wi-Fi speed
- Not recommended for multi-story houses/offices
Whether you are a hardcore gamer, stream HD videos aimlessly or just browse Internet in your free time, the ASUS 3-in-1 has got something to offer to you.
Offering a dual-band Wi-Fi, a plethora of management settings, and a relatively better throughput, the D-Link AC1200 shows that you don’t need to spend loads to get a decent router.
To change its settings, the AC1200 has provided you with two options. First, the traditional way of going to its manufacturer’s website and changing settings on your computer.
Second, it has an Android as well as an iOS app using which you can manage the router’s features on your tablet or phone. Since we are already talking about settings, it’s pertinent to note that this router offers loads of them.
These settings include: guest networking, parental controls, and Quality of Service (QOS). There is also the WPA/WP2 encryption option to make your home network secure.
In the advanced settings option, you can set up a website filter program to bar all websites, which you consider harmful, from accessing via your router. In addition, you can do firmware upgrades, check system logs and gauge network statistics using the traffic monitoring menu bar.
There is yet another feature in the router’s interface, which lets you prioritize devices. Using this feature, you can either designate a single device to be the highest priority. Conversely, you can designate two devices to be a high priority or eight devices to be a medium priority.
In this way, you can control where your device will divert the maximum signals. Thus, be it Wi-Fi speed or online security, you can manage them all using the AC1200’s intuitive interface.
Although it doesn’t affect the performance of the device, the fact that it doesn’t have any USB ports or removable antennas might leave a bad taste behind. Other than these two, this device has no significant shortcomings.
- Large number of useful settings in the router’s interface
- Manage your router with its app on your smartphone
- Breeze to install
- Dual-Band Wi-Fi
- No USB Ports or removable antennas
For a router that delivers a solid throughput, has quite a number of management settings and four wired LAN ports, the D-Link AC1200 is a cinch to install. And its performance isn’t bad either, making it a suitable networking option for your needs.
A router which looks more like a showpiece, the Belkin AC1200 doesn’t have loads of management settings to its name. Still, one glance at its budget price and you know it still offers A LOT for that money.
Although it may have other notable features, two aspects make the Belkin AC1200 stand out: user and media friendliness. Media-wise, in addition to offering dual-bands (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz), it has two USB Ports for attaching printers or hard drivers and a media server which lets you stream content to DLNA units.
Belkin also has an “intellistream” QOS technology which identifies media and gaming connections on its own. And to make sure there are no pauses or disruptions in either, it gives both priority bandwidth.
It means that whether you are Netflix subscriber or a hardcore gamer, Belkin AC1200 device will keep you happy. To check its user-friendliness, one only needs to scan the cables coming in the package.
Not only each of the cables is brilliantly labeled, but all of them come plugged-in to their respective ports. Similar is the case with the setup wizard which takes three steps to get the device up and running.
To block inappropriate content, the Norton Parental Control comes installed on the router. It will block all the malicious sites regardless of which connected device your children use. Consequently, there is no way anybody can circumvent its Parental Control.
Most routers you see nowadays come with built-in modems. The Belkin AC1200, sadly, doesn’t fall into that category. Also, some users have complained that in various modes, it doesn’t sustain its range.
- Brilliant Media Support
- Supports 802.11ac
- Easy to set up
- Doesn’t have a built-in modem
- Won’t sustain its range in some modes
The Belkin AC1200 came in 2012, at a time when the 802.11ac technology wasn’t still ratified. Consequently, it might not give you the same technologically advanced features which others routers boast. Still, you can’t complain about the price at which it is coming.
10. Tenda AC1200 (AC6) – Best for Home Networking
Though you might see it as the predecessor of Tenda AC9 we reviewed above, the Tenda AC6 is different. It is less expensive and contains more antennas, meaning more signal stability over long ranges.
One of the problems most user encounter with routers coming for less than $30 is signal stability. However, despite belonging to the same price spectrum, the AC6 – thanks to its Broadcom chip and four external antennas, won’t have any such glitches.
The Broadcom Chip has a 900MHz CPU which gives 3x the processing speed of any other router, while also ensuring compatibility with a wide range of devices and signal stability over long distances.
The antennas, meanwhile, do not contribute to speed as much as they do to signal stability. Hence, when combined, both these features of the AC9 won’t allow the signals to go missing.
In a daring step for a router priced so low, Tenda has adopted Beamforming technology in this model. Thanks to this technology, the signals will now search connected devices, instead of being scattered in the air.
If you are always on the travel, the AC6 allows you to adjust its settings from remote locations. These settings include setting a sleep timer, enabling parental controls and configuring your home VPN server.
To do all this and much more, all you need to do is to install Tenda’s App on your smartphone.
For a router, which can go as far as offering beamforming, I was surprised to see USB 2.0 ports on its back. Even the greenest of computer users might testify that the 2.0 ports slow everything they touch.
- Has a 30 second setup
- Signal Stability thanks to four antennas and a 900MHz Broadcom Chip
- Dual-band connectivity with 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- Has beamforming
- USB ports are only 2.0
The main reason why I recommended this device for home and NOT for office networking is its USB 2.0 ports. Other than this feature, this AC6 has got all the bells and whistles to be perfect for any environment.
11. NETGEAR N300 Wireless– Best Single Band Router
It doesn’t matter which router you may buy, none of them will offer as comprehensive a Parental Control Feature as the N300. That said, there are still some shortcomings – like the absence of dual-band Wi-Fi, which lets it down.
Starting from the much-touted feature of the N300 model, the parental control feature has won plaudits from all and sundry. Use it once, and you’ll know the reason why.
Once you have installed the Netgear Parental Control Software – which comes installed in the CD, you can set up an account with Open DNS and choose between five different levels of web filters.
These include none, medium, low, moderate, and high. From there, you can ditch the software for ever. No matter where you happen to be, just access website of Parental Controls Center and customize parental control feature.
What’s more, this feature allows you to define each content you might filter. For example, if you have selected the moderate level, it won’t block video sharing but you can add it on your own. In this way, you can control which content passes through the filters to reach your children.
Other than this feature, all the other features of the N300 are strictly basic. For instance, there is that feature which allows you to assign a fixed IP to your computer. Then there is the one, which allows Wi-Fi protected setup. Pretty basic features to be honest.
Some of the routers we have discussed thus far cost less than the Netgear N300. Still, they offered dual-band connectivity, Guest Wi-Fi feature, USB ports and Gigabit Ethernet. Sadly, these features are nowhere to be found in this device.
- Comprehensive Parental Control feature
- Good Range
- Very easy to use
- No dual band connectivity
- No Guest Wireless feature and USB Ports
If all you want is a no-frills Wireless-N router – with absolutely no bells and whistles, the Netgear N300 might come handy. Conversely, if you want this router to offer something extra, it simply won’t.
12. Linksys N300 (E1200) – Best Affordable
Find me a router which has as many contradictions in its features and performance as N300, and I’ll slowly clap for you. But before you do that, check out what those contradictions really are.
We are in 2017 and 802.11ac is still the norm. But for whatever reason, Linksys try to cajole us to go back to the outdated and slow 802.11n Wi-Fi.
If the persuasion from Linksys had stopped there, I wouldn’t have included this device in this review.Sadly, it didn’t. For, despite favoring the slowest of the currently available functional Wi-Fi networks, Linksys managed to go with MIMO technology.
As stated above, this technology is only for the very best of routers as it allows multiple connections at the same time without any speed lagging.
To further accentuate the contradictions, Linksys allows you to set up separate guest networks on this router. There is also the Parental Control feature which not only blocks websites permanently but also allows you to set restrict access to some of them during certain hours.
And if that wasn’t enough, the ease with which this router gets up and running is breathtaking. Just three easy steps once you have connected it to your modem and it would be raring to go.
However, before you point out that this router has more good features than bad, let me tell you that there is NO dual-band connectivity on offer here.
To summarize the not-so-good features of this device, it does not have the modern 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Nor can you find dual-band connectivity on this model.
- Has MIMO technology
- USB Ports
- Four Ethernet ports
- Allows the formation of guest network
- Only uses 802.11n Wi-Fi
For a router, which offers breathtaking speed but no dual-band connectivity – and allows parental controls and guest networks but no 802.11ac Wi-Fi, the Linksys E1200 is full of contradictions. Will it suit you? Only you can tell.
Containing no visible antennas, five LED lights and a brilliant black finish, the Netgear AC1200 would gain your attention by its looks even before you turn your attention to its features. But since we know that looks can be misleading, let’s judge this device from its features.
In a bid to offer unprecedented speed, Netgear did what this router what it does best: offering dual-band connectivity. With this feature, you can set channels manually or allow the router to select them automatically for you.
The result, however, in both cases will be low interference and fast Wi-Fi speed. If that wasn’t enough, the AC1200 has taken help from Advanced QoS to provide high-speed on your Wi-Fi.
By directing the signals to where they are needed the most, this technology optimizes your devices for smooth gaming and HD streaming experiences.
To let you safeguard your network, two important features are at play there, the first of which is the Netgear live Parental Control. Second, there is the guess network access, which forms a separate and secure access point for all the guests coming your way.
Another amazing feature that the AC1200 boasts is the Netgear Genie App. Apart from managing your device’s settings, this app allows you to stream digital content to your mobile device.
It also has a feature known as Network Map, which gives you the information of connected clients and where they are. And if you still want more, the Netgear Genie has another featured called Traffic Meter which allows you to cap your bandwidth consumption.
To be honest, I feared that I’d have nothing to write in this column until I figured out that the AC1200 has no Gigabit Ethernet ports.
- Has a User-friendly Netgear Genie App
- Supports Advanced QoS
- Allows Capping of bandwidth
- Guest networks and Live Parental Control
- No Gigabit Ethernet port
The Netgear R6100 would have made a great router had it not been for the lack of Gigabit ports. Still, if all you want a router for is to stream content carelessly, the R6100 might just be right for you.
Who says you can’t find the best routers under $50? As the abovementioned products testify, there are lots of great products out there for a competitive price. Whether you want breathtaking speed or enough adequate range for a large house, these routers will give you both.