Out of popular internet providers, Verizon Fios is the best (speed and most reliable), then cable internet such as Comcast or Time Warner or RCN (fast if you pay for 15mbps+ but some rare connectivity issues). Verizon DSL is too slow. Recommend at least 30 MBPS if you download or game heavily, especially if there are multiple devices being used simultaneously.
Best Cable Modems
Requirements: DOCSIS 3.0
RECOMMENDED: ARRIS / Motorola SurfBoard SB6183 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem $80 [Amazon] (16 channel downstream, 4 channel upstream) is the pick for the rolling out of 300 mbps in some locales – Compatible with Time Warner Cable and Comcast [TWC Compatibility List]. The budget pick would be ARRIS Motorola SB6141 $50 [Amazon] (8 channel downstream, 4 channel upstream), which is perfect for 105 mbps or less (megabytes per second). Note that Verizon Fios uses different modems.
Secondary: Zoom 5341J $70 (slightly lower speed and incompatible with some internet providers, but slightly cheaper and some people state it does not drop signal as much)
Don’t get (not compatible with Comcast or Time Warner): Cisco Model DPC3010 DOCSIS 3.0 $90, Motorola SBG6580 (Also both of these known to have problems)
Ideally, dual band should be faster due to the fact that most people use the 2.4ghz wifi channel, and if you set dual band to 5ghz channels, there will be less interference on the devices (whatever you have connected to the wifi). Some older devices, however, run slower on dual band. Another Source – Wirecutter
RECOMMENDED Premium: Asus RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router $127 [Amazon] Especially if you are a heavy internet user. This better handles more devices (otherwise internet wouldn’t work on other devices if one monopolized it). Its firmware is also very simple, easy to set up and manage the wifi! Note: Some people may think about saving $ with N56U $86, however, N66U has better speeds (when accessed by multiple devices) and better range. Also don’t get the AC66U, if you want to upgrade, then go for the “Absolute Best” option below.
Source: [PC World’s Asus RT-N66U router review: The best 802.11n router for the home or home office]
Other Decent Budget Routers: TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 $100 was Wirecutter’s Choice but Asus is most reliable
D-Link DIR-655 Extreme-N Gigabit Wireless Router $77 (not dual band)
Netgear WNDR3700 N600 Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Router $100
ASUS (RT-N16) Wireless-N 300 Maximum Performance $78
Absolute Best: Asus RT-AC68U ~$175 [Amazon] (updated version of AC66U, don’t get the older AC66U to save money as AC68U is better for VPN, USB3.0 instead of 2.0, dual core processor instead of single core). While 802.11ac compatibility isn’t widely available (adapters/cards/drivers) and the speed is technically faster but not noticeably faster for now, you could get this for its 50% longer range.
Substitute: Netgear AC1750 R6400 $150 [Amazon] (the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 R7000 isn’t worth the extra $50 at $200 [Amazon])
Apple AirPort Extreme (ME918LL/A) [Amazon] – mostly sold out (less features but higher ease of use for OSX users)
Don’t Get: Currently out is the newer Asus RT-AC87U Wireless-AC2400 $220 (but buggy, skip this generation) and the Asus AC3200 Tri-Band $243 (not aimed for residential consumers, aimed for lots of devices connected, bad because it divides the connected devices between antennas, and thus has a lower max speed than the AC68U and AC87U), Google Asus OnHub (nice design but bad performance and features), the wirecutter-recommended TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 may have issues with Comcast/Xfinity or with certain modems like the Surfboard
Note: These are router/modem hybrids (in one box). Separate routers and modems get better reviews than these hybrids and are recommended for heavy throughput demands such as HD video streaming, heavy gaming, or a heavily-used NAS box. However, these gateways can be cheaper, are slightly easier to setup, and are a better form factor.
Best cheap: Motorola SBG6580 $100 (older version) [Amazon]
RECOMMENDED Best performance: Motorola SBG6782AC (current newer version) $150 [Amazon] has higher range and faster (although still not as high range as separate modem/router). Also includes MoCa capability but buying and adding MoCa boxes is expensive for what it is.
Don’t Get: Zoom Telephonics AC1900
Best Wi-Fi Range Extender
Based on the AVForums review of the LinkSys RE6500 and Tomsguide and The Wirecutter Best Wi-Fi Extenders:
The Best Wi-Fi Range Extender: Netgear EX6200 $100 [Amazon]. You should be expecting the range to be extended ~125 feet
Cheap Wi-Fi Range Extender: NETGEAR N300 EX2700 $35 [Amazon]
Best Wifi / Wireless PCI-E Adapter Card for Desktop
If your desktop does not have a wireless card, this is way better than the USB wifi adapters / dongles.
Asus PCE AC68 $94 [Amazon]