Remote work and home offices were an afterthought until the COVID-19 pandemic. They were then vaulted to the forefront of security concerns so quickly that security and IT teams were caught off guard.
Now, remote work is likely here to stay even after the pandemic is gone. That means that the temporary solutions put in place over the last 18 months will need to give way to more permanent solutions.
Application access and device and network security are concerns that will remain for remote work. Application security can be improved through zero trust principles. Employee devices can be secured with endpoint security.
But what about home networks? Security and networking vendors have been rolling out solutions for home networks, and some are pretty attractively priced. The arrival of Wi-Fi 6 couldn’t have been better timed because secure Wi-Fi 6 routers are popping up everywhere, and some are being offered from some of the top cybersecurity companies.
The Best Wi-Fi 6 Routers for Small Offices
Wi-Fi 6 offers better concurrency capacity and low network latency, with the ability to accommodate many devices and activities on the router stress-free. Congestion tends to be the biggest problem with wireless networks, and Wi-Fi 6 promises relief there in addition to greater performance.
Not surprisingly, the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) expects mass adoption of Wi-Fi 6/6E technology over the next year. Wi-Fi 6E builds on Wi-Fi 6 and has all of the functionality plus access to a new 6 GHz wireless band. By the end of 2022, the overwhelming majority of service providers, equipment manufacturers, and businesses throughout the world will have deployed Wi-Fi 6/6E, or plan to do so, according to the Wireless Broadband Alliance. Here, then, are our picks for the best Wi-Fi 6 routers for small offices, including specs, special features, and security protections.
Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500
Netgear’s Nighthawk RAXE500 is viewed by many as the best Wi-Fi 6E router. One of the reasons is its ability to quickly send and receive data in the 2, 4, 5, and 6 GHz bands. When in close proximity, with the combination of a 1.8 GHz quad processor and the new 6 GHz band, it has an edge that makes it the router with the fastest speed available on the market. Users who need more coverage at home can add the Nighthawk mesh extenders and still get an impressive amount of speed.
Remote workers who wish to simultaneously connect work-related systems and leisure appliances to the internet can now do so, with the ability to manage saturations with up to 200% greater available spectrum than dual band Wi-Fi routers. The RAXE500 also comes with five gigabit ports and two USB 3.0 ports for faster streaming, data backup, and painless access to stored files.
Even if you have to pay $99.99 annually after the first 30 days to get Netgear’s security, it offers a wide range of protection from cyber attacks and also includes a new security solution. For one, the Netgear Armor powered by Bitdefender—our top consumer antivirus pick and a top enterprise endpoint security tool too—scans all devices connected to it regularly, with the ability to predict, detect, and prevent any unusual attempt when you are surfing the internet. Other benefits of the Bitdefender technology include VPN; protection even when users are connected to public Wi-Fi; and the ability to track, lock, or wipe all data when stolen or lost.
Netgear’s Nighthawk RAXE500 comes at a starting price of $599. While it’s not the most affordable solution on the market, for home employees working with corporate data, it’s money well spent.
Netgear Orbi Whole Home Mesh Router (RBK853)
Remote workers in large buildings need look no further than Netgear’s whole home Orbi Mesh router (RBK853). This device has the ability to cover 7,500 square feet. With a power speed up to 6 Gbps—double that of 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz processors—about 100 devices in the home could connect simultaneously and still get an impressive internet experience. Those specs make it useful for small offices too.
The router offers a better CPU processor than other Netgear Orbi Mesh routers, with a powerful 2.2 GHz quad-core processor. It also comes with five ports that include one WAN port and four ethernet ports. As for its memory, it comes with a 512 MB NAND flash and 1 GB RAM.
With comprehensive antivirus and data theft protection for all connected devices, the security is almost as good as Netgear’s NightHawk RAXE500, but at no additional cost. At $999, though, it comes in on the high end of the market.
ASUS ROG Rapture GT AX11000
This router, which is the first 10 gigabit Wi-Fi 6 router, is the best gaming router for a reason. It was specifically made for gamers. Hence, it can also serve a strong purpose for remote workers who are power users. The router’s quality includes a quad-core CPU, eight antennas, 2.5G ports and DFS band. All these give the router all it needs to offer a powerful internet performance when in close range for a large number of devices connected simultaneously. Even when operating from a distance, its coverage of about 3,500 square feet lets it outperform many routers. This is something only a mesh designed router can do.
Its AI protection from Trend Micro—another favorite of ours—offers routine security assessments, malicious site blocking, two way IPS, and infected devices prevention. At $549, it appears pricey, but many users recommend this device because of its ability to cope with heavy usage.
TP-Link Archer AX6000
As much as the router is affordable compared to its counterparts, this dual-band router offers high-speed performance and 75% latency improvement to manage many devices connected in the house. Although it is not as fast as other expensive routers, it can still serve a strong purpose and maximize profit by saving costs for business users with home offices.
The TP-link mesh gives it the flexibility to create a seamless whole home coverage, with the ability to cover 4,000 square feet, at an affordable price of $272. It comes with an extremely powerful 1.8GHz 64-bit quad-core processor with two distinctive co-processors. It also comes with Trend Micro security that offers lifetime protection at no cost.
TP-Link Deco X20
At $219, the TP-Link Deco X20 stands as the most affordable mesh Wi-Fi router kit on this list.
Even at that, remote workers can enjoy an advanced mesh powered by Wi-Fi 6 that deliver an enhanced home coverage, speed, seamless roaming, and greatly reduced latency issues when connected to about 150 devices.
The router also comes with Trend Micro security for free, plus WPA3 and WPA2 PSK security protocols.
Palo Alto Okyo
The just-released Okyo Wi-Fi 6 security and router system is highly suitable for small business and home markets.
It’s priced at $349 a year and offers many benefits, such as malware, ransomware, phishing and remote attack protection, online activity monitoring, Wi-Fi 6 performance, support for 30 devices (or more for a modest fee), and the ability to discover devices on a network. The subscription pricing adds up over time, but since Palo Alto Networks has the best security on the enterprise market, it is well worth the investment in our judgement. You can sleep peacefully at night with Okyo powering your network.
Editor’s note: As of late 2022, the Okyo has been discontinued, but Fortinet, a Palo Alto rival with strong enterprise security, also offers a Wi-Fi 6 router worth considering.
Businesses that need something close to what the ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 offers but at a more affordable rate should check out the RT-AX86U. With Wi-Fi 6, enterprises in the hybrid job model can fully depend on the router for simultaneous transfer of heavy data files in large quantities with minimum latency. The dual-band gaming router operates at an ultra fast speed of up to 5,700 Mbps, so it’s an impressive solution for users demanding a fast wireless network.
Even for larger premises, it leaves no dead spots. Its ASUS AI mesh support creates a flexible and easy whole home network using AI mesh supported routers. The remote concern for many arises when routers have to accommodate other home appliances. However, it isn’t an issue, since the dedicated gaming port on RT-AX86 series automatically prioritizes any wireless network connected to it. In addition to this solution, the adaptive QOS in the router removes all network bottlenecks and keeps the network running smoothly.
In terms of security, the ASUS AI protection is powered by Trend Micro technology with lifetime free commercial grade security for all devices connected to it at home. Generally, it’s worth noting that the ASUS RT-AX86U is more renowned for its capabilities and affordability than other gaming routers. Many users have expressed satisfaction and very few regrets; hence, the RT-AX86U is worth its price of $318.
Eero Pro 6
Whether in the family room, bedroom, or the study, being able to work from any range without much difference in the performance of network connectivity is what many mesh routers offer. Eero Pro 6, however, is unique because it offers these services with an unbeatable convenience.
With the true mesh technology, Amazon, the producer of the Eero Pro 6, says true mesh scans the home and optimizes for its layout, connected devices, and overall network usage. And with a tri-band enough to manage over 70 connected devices, the result is faster speed and greater coverage. This makes it a reliable choice for home and even small offices.
Unlike many Wi-Fi 6 routers that go through system adjustments when the bands or signal slips, the Eero Pro 6 automatically corrects itself. This is mainly with the aid of the true mesh technology, which steps in to balance the signal, ensuring it stays strong and undisputed. The router technology also maintains smart network privacy by using the latest WiFi security to provide individualized encryption for keeping network and data safe.
Finally, it offers a number of specs that include: seven antennas, two ethernet ports, a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor and 1 GB RAM. A single unit goes for $229, the double pack goes for $339, and the three pack Eero Pro 6 is available at $599. Security costs extra, however.
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