You probably don’t need the uber-powerful Wi-Fi 6 routers that are coming onto the market at a rapid pace, so you figure that you’ll save a few bucks and settle on a Wi-Fi 5 router.
That could be a smart choice, especially if you don’t have 10 devices using the router and you’re engaged in mundane tasks like checking emails and surfing the web.
There are indeed some great Wi-Fi 5 router options out there, but there can be some that flat-out stink. Here are five to stay away from.
The Amped Wireless RTA15 offers pretty good range but the Wi-Fi signal quality is indeed lacking. Once onto the network, it is sometimes hard to remain connected. Overall, the performance falls far short but it does have a decent web interface and the ease of use is above average. And at $130, you can probably do better elsewhere.
Next up is the Linksys EA6900. Some complaints regarding this device is that the router's 5Ghz frequency quit after an hour or so of use. This could have been due to overheating. So if you’re kicked out of that speedier band, it’s like having a single-band 2.4Ghz router. Not good. But at $60, you may want to kick the tires on it. Definitely not a huge investment, but you will get what you pay for.
Third is the Netgear R6100, which overall is a decent router but it doesn’t come with support for Gigabit Ethernet. This means that you won’t be able to enjoy fast-wired network with it and taking advantage of AC Wi-Fi speeds might be out of the question. The range of this router isn’t much to talk about, either. You can nab this at Walmart for a reasonable price tag of $85, but probably not the smartest choice.
The Linksys EA6500 is known to be the first in the Linksys EA series that supports 802.11ac. This particular router has been a disappointment in terms overall performance, and this is true even after a major firmware upgrade. The speeds are pretty average and the range is OK for smaller homes. It’s a bit pricier at $160, and from the aforementioned performance level, it’s best to not even think about it.
Finally, the D-Link DIR-865L is the first 802.11ac router from D-Link. However, that hoopla quickly descended to mediocrity. This router offers incredibly slow performance on the 2.4Ghz band. Its much-vaunted cloud features do not take your breath away and are quite limited. This product has recently been discontinued but you can still find new or used ones on eBay for about $40.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two cats.