Best budget router: Top picks under $100

TP-Link Archer AX1500
TP-Link Archer AX1500 (Image credit: TP-Link)

To have quality internet in your home, something you can't go without is a good, reliable router. Routers act as the bridge between your devices and your internet, so having one you can put your faith in is paramount. Something a lot of folks don't realize, though, is that you can get a quality router for a surprisingly low cost. Budget routers under $100 are much less expensive than premium ones, but their performance is still great, meaning that you don't have to make many compromises to save money. Of these, what we consider the best budget router is the TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 AX1800, as it offers top-notch Wi-Fi 6 speed and stability while also providing reliable range — all for an affordable price.

Source: TP-Link (Image credit: Source: TP-Link)

Best in class

Best speed and stability
Best security
Four antennas for the best range
MU-MIMO compatibility
Most expensive option

The best affordable router out on the market right now is the TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 AX1800. This is because it's one of the few budget-friendly routers that uses Wi-Fi 6, which is the latest Wi-Fi standard in the industry that provides a slew of impressive benefits. Compared to last-generation Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 provides top-notch speed, network stability, network capacity, and the cutting-edge security standard of WPA3. In addition to access to Wi-Fi 6, the TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 AX1800 also has four far-reaching antennas as well, giving it enough range to provide internet to even large homes. It's compatible with multi-user multiple-input multiple-output (MU-MIMO), which is essentially a fancy way of saying that multiple users can send and receive signals from the router simultaneously with a lower chance of speed reduction.

Source: TP-Link (Image credit: Source: TP-Link)

The silver medalist

Great speed and stability
Reliable security
Three antennas provide good range
MU-MIMO compatibility
More affordable
Doesn't offer the same performance as Wi-Fi 6
Slightly lower range

The TP-Link AC1750 is the best runner-up option to the TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 AX1800. It doesn't use Wi-Fi 6 and therefore doesn't have any of the same advantages, but it offers some of the best speeds possible with a Wi-Fi 5 router, and while the stability and security of Wi-Fi 5 isn't as great as Wi-Fi 6, it's still good in its own right. The router also only has three antennas instead of four, but it will provide enough range to cover most of a large home and more than enough range for medium and small ones. Like the TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 AX1800, it works with MU-MIMO.

Best mid-range: NETGEAR R6230 AC1200

Source: NETGEAR (Image credit: Source: NETGEAR)

NETGEAR R6230 AC1200 Wi-Fi router

All-around greatness

Reliable speed and great stability
Reliable security
MU-MIMO compatibility
Even more affordable
Doesn't offer the same performance as pricier options
Slightly lower range

The NETGEAR R6230 AC1200 is a bit of a step down from the TP-Link AC1750 in terms of speed, and the dual antennas mean that the range is reduced a bit as well. However, it matches the TP-Link AC1750 in every other area of performance. If you don't care about having the best possible Wi-Fi 5 speed, this will be an excellent choice for you since it offers an opportunity to save some money while still getting quality performance overall.

Source: TP-Link (Image credit: Source: TP-Link)

Solid quality, rock bottom price

Reliable speed and solid stability
Reliable security
MU-MIMO compatibility
Most affordable
Doesn't offer the same performance as pricier options
Considerably lower range

If you're looking to get the bare minimum you need in a reliable router so that you can save as much money as you can, look no further than the TP-Link AC1200. It's very similar to the NETGEAR R6230 AC1200, and while the range is a bit worse due to the connection being less stable towards the edge of the router's coverage, everything else about it is just as good as our favorite mid-range option. It also works with MU-MIMO, although like the NETGEAR R6230 AC1200, there are only two antennas.

Bottom line

An excellent router is critical to having great internet, and if you don't have one, you need to invest in one as soon as you can. However, contrary to popular belief, you don't need to break the bank to get a router that will serve you well. Many fantastic routers are very affordable, and you can obtain them for an excellent price.

Of these routers, our favorite choice is the TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 AX1800 since it offers excellent Wi-Fi 6 speed, stability, and security, as well as a vast range, all for a price that most people can work with. With this router, you can get access to top-of-the-line internet without needing to worry about your budget.

If none of the routers in this roundup is a good fit for you, don't miss our list of the best Wi-Fi routers for other excellent options.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.