If you're looking for the best cheap dual band wireless router, you are in the right place! To help you find the perfect product, we've tested over 20 new cheap routers for sale. The goal was to find a perfect, money-saving alternative for the bestselling (but expensive) NETGEAR Nighthawk. The winner is called TP-LINK Archer C7, and it's a great choice. The C7 made it to the first place of our list of top cheap routers because it offers excellent, reliable Wi-Fi, high-end features, and a very affordable price. It's perfect even for very large homes and includes cutting-edge tech such as full 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac compatibility. Last but not least, TP-LINK includes a long warranty and lifetime phone support. In short, this router is cheap and great. Sounds good? Let's take a look at how the two contenders compare!
The Netgear Nighthawk is an excellent, bestselling Wi-Fi router. But with that well-known Netgear brand name also comes a big-brand price tag. We, therefore, recommend the Nighthawk to people who are looking for the fastest Wi-Fi (AC1900 with 1900Mbps) and to people who want beamforming tech and are willing to pay for it. Everybody else can get blazing fast, cheap Wi-Fi with the C7.
There are a lot of cheap wireless routers for sale, but few are great. The TP-LINK Archer C7 is one of those few. Its high-end features make it a very good cheap wireless router. In fact, it offers virtually the same specs as the expensive NETGEAR Nighthawk. We recommend the C7 to essentially anybody looking for a cheap but good wireless router. It offers all the Wi-Fi capabilities you need and will save you money.
Netgear's Nighthawk supports all current and past versions of the Wi-Fi standard. You can see this by looking for the spec that says 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. This means that the router offers both forward and backward compatibility and therefore is more future proof.
TP-LINK's Archer C7 supports the same, maximum Wi-Fi standards as Netgear's product. You get full 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac compatibility, meaning that the router can connect to any wireless device from the past and any that will be designed in the future.
The Nighthawk offers dual band connection. This allows the router to work faster by essentially adding a second lane for internet traffic, where usually things could get crowded at peak hours.
The TP-LINK Archer C7 also supports dual band Wi-Fi. This is the best choice at the moment, resulting in faster and more reliable Wi-Fi, especially in households with many devices.
The Nighthawk offers wireless internet speeds of up to 1,900Mbps. That's blazing fast and enough for any standard connection. To be technical, this router has the AC1200 Wi-Fi spec.
The Archer C7 offers very fast Wi-Fi internet speeds of up to 1,750Mbps (AC1750 wireless spec). It's slightly lower than Netgear but still very fast, especially for a cheap Wi-Fi router.
The Nighthawk features five 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet LAN ports.
The Archer C7 includes four 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet LAN ports.
Netgear's Nighthawk also includes two USB ports. These are useful for connecting devices like hard drives and printers so that you can access them from all other devices connected to your router.
The Archer C7 also includes two USB ports, just like the Netgear router. Connect printers, hard drives, and other devices to these USB slots and you can easily access them via Wi-Fi.
Netgear includes three external antennas. Connection quality and signal strength were excellent in our tests, and the coverage is sufficient for even very large homes.
TP-LINK takes antennas very seriously, including a whopping three external ones (like the Netgear competitor), plus an additional three internal antennas. This makes the C7's Wi-Fi excellent.
The Nighthawk includes WPS so that you can easily connect wireless devices via a single push of a button. This is great for connecting printers, tablets, laptops, and more without hassle.
The Archer C7 also includes the WPS feature. Wi-Fi Protected Setup allows you to push one button and then securely connect a variety of wireless devices. It's a very convenient feature.
Netgear offers a useful app for iOS and Android to monitor and control the router. The app works great and is easy to use.
The Archer C7 also has a great app, available for both Android and iOS. This is unusual for a cheap wireless router, but great.
Netgear Nighthawk comes with a standard warranty of one year. That's common, but we would have liked to see a longer one.
The TP-LINK Archer C7 might be a cheap internet router, but its warranty is premium. You get two years plus lifetime support.