With so many of us cooped up in 2020, home Internet usage increased significantly. In Q4 of that year, we used an average of 483 gigabytes of data per month, according to OpenVault, a significant jump from the 344-gigabyte average in 2019. Last year we passed the half-terabyte threshold(Opens in a new window), with an average of 536 gigabytes per month in Q4 2021.
All that streaming isn’t happening on just one PC in each home. OpenVault’s data shows US broadband households have 25 connected devices on average, including computers, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, streaming devices, gaming consoles, and more.
To effectively share your broadband connection with so many devices, you need a reliable router. If you live in an apartment or small home, a standalone unit might suffice. But if you have a large residence, a mesh network with multiple nodes throughout your home can substantially improve coverage and eliminate dead spots.
In this month’s PCMag Readers’ Choice Awards survey, we asked you to rate your satisfaction with your home router, whether it’s the one you got from your broadband provider or a unit you purchased. (Spoiler alert: Most respondents do not prefer the ISP’s hardware.)
Survey respondents also rated their network-attached storage (aka NAS) devices as well. NAS let you store, backup, and access your videos, music, photos, and any other files, plus share them with others inside and outside your home network. They provide a viable alternative for those who don’t want to pay a monthly fee for cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. They can also be a complement to these services.
Are you looking to upgrade your router or add network storage to your home? Read on to see which brands PCMag readers recommend.
Readers’ Choice Router Brands for 2022
When you’re choosing a router to share your home broadband Internet connection, you must make a couple of important decisions: First, will a standalone router provide me adequate coverage, or do I need a mesh network with nodes throughout my house? Second, do I go out and purchase a router, or just use the one that my broadband provider offers to rent to me?
Let’s tackle the second question first: Go buy a router. Four router brands provided by broadband providers received enough responses to be included in our survey: Arris, Verizon, Xfinity, and Spectrum. None received likelihood-to-recommend ratings over 6.6 on a scale from 0 (extremely unlikely) to 10 (extremely likely), and they likewise had abysmal Net Promoter Scores. By contrast, all the router brands you can purchase had ratings over 8.0.
Now that you know you should purchase your router, should it be standalone or mesh? Mesh networks have been a godsend for those of us who battled dead spots throughout our homes for years. But they’re invariably more expensive because you must purchase multiple pieces of equipment: a router plus one or more satellite nodes. The more nodes, the more coverage you have. If you live in a small enough space, a standalone router may be sufficient.
Among PCMag readers who go the standalone router route, their choice is Asus, which again wins our Readers’ Choice Award, as it has done every year since 2012. Asus was the only standalone router brand to earn a 9.0 for overall satisfaction (on a scale from 0 for extremely dissatisfied to 10 for extremely satisfied). This is the same rating the company earned in 2021. Asus also had the highest ratings for satisfaction with reliability (9.3), ease of setup (8.9), and likelihood to recommend (8.8). That last rating is down slightly from last year’s 9.0, which is something to keep an eye on.
In 2021, Asus also had the highest rating for satisfaction with ease of use, but this year they’re edged out for ease by TP-Link. Both are very good scores. TP-Link also earned the top rating for satisfaction with value (8.6) and was right behind Asus in being recommended, with a rating of 8.7. Perhaps more notable, TP-Link received the highest marks in every ratings category when we only looked at routers less than a year old. Asus was right behind, but clearly, it can’t rest on its laurels.
For mesh networks, the PCMag Readers’ Choice Award winner is Eero. Eero, which is owned by Amazon, also won our award last year. The brand earned an overall satisfaction rating of 9.2, the same as in 2021, and once again, it’s the only brand with an overall satisfaction rating of 9.0 or higher. Eero also had the top marks for satisfaction with ease of use (9.5), reliability (9.4), and likelihood to recommend (9.0). Last year it also had the best rating for satisfaction with ease of setup, but this year Google edged it out with a 9.3 to Eero’s still-excellent 9.2. TP-Link has the highest rating for satisfaction with value (8.7), whereas Eero only rated 7.9.
Netgear was the most popular mesh network router brand in our survey based on response, but it had the lowest rating on every measure. But aside from satisfaction with value (7.3), everything rated 8.3 or higher, which isn’t bad.
Some of our respondents use devices that combine the broadband modem and router into a single box. Netgear’s devices had the highest overall satisfaction (8.5) among these hybrid units, but all its competition came from ISP-provided products.
Recommended by Our Editors
Editors’ Note: In an earlier version of this story, we mistakenly omitted TP-Link from the list of mesh router companies, it has since been added.
Readers’ Choice Network Attached Storage Brands for 2022
To quote baseball great Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” Guess what. Just as Yogi’s great Yankees teams seemed to win the World Series every year in the middle of the last century, Synology captures our Readers’ Choice Award for network-attached storage every year. Actually, Yogi’s best streak was only five in a row. The great Boston Celtics of a similar era only won eight in a row. Synology, whose streak began in 2012, has now won 11 awards in a row!
Our Readers’ Choice standalone network router above, Asus, is also on an 11-year streak. The difference is that Asus continually has competitors nipping at its heels. No brand is currently posing a serious threat to Synology in the NAS category. QNAP and Western Digital also received enough responses to be included, but Synology received the highest satisfaction ratings on all 14 attributes on which our survey respondents rated their products.
Synology’s overall satisfaction rating of 9.1 is excellent. That’s down from last year’s stellar 9.4, but it’s still a full point ahead of QNAP (8.1), with Western Digital pulling up the rear at 7.8. Synology received its highest satisfaction ratings for reliability (9.4), file storage (9.4), media storage (9.3), and likelihood to recommend (9.1).
On satisfaction with value, the company’s rating of 8.3 is only slightly ahead of WD (8.1). Synology’s lowest satisfaction rating was for file sharing (8.1); Western Digital was close behind, at 7.9 on this measure.
The PCMag Readers’ Choice survey for routers and network-attached storage devices was in the field from April 4, 2022 to April 24, 2022. For more information on how our surveys are conducted, read our survey methodology.
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