If you want to use the Internet at home via a DSL connection or cable, you need a modem. Many models “route” the connection to other devices and also provide WLAN, which is why the devices are commonly called WLAN routers. The Stiftung Warentest has tested current products. No surprise for us: The winner comes from Berlin and goes by the name “FritzBox”. GIGA presents the best models and gives an overview of the topic.
A WLAN router with a modem provides the connection “outside” for computers, tablets and other web-enabled devices: it dials into the Internet and provides cell phones, tablets, computers, televisions and other devices via a wired network, including LAN or Ethernet, as well as wireless internet access via WLAN. In addition to these network functions with protective mechanisms, many routers offer other options – from the telephone exchange to a smart home hub.
The best WiFi routers 2020: an overview of all test winners
|Price tip||Test winner Stiftung Warentest||Recommendation for cable internet|
|product||AVM FritzBox 7530||AVM FritzBox 7590||AVM FritzBox 6591 Cable|
|price||approx. 120 euros||approx. 200 euros||approx. 260 euros|
|offer||To Amazon||To Amazon||To Amazon|
The price tip: AVM FritzBox 7530
- very good value for money
- many and very good functions
Our price tip is this FritzBox 7530. It is completely sufficient for smaller households. Compared to the top model, the maximum transfer rates of the WLAN are lower at 866 Mbit / s and 400 Mbit / s, but that makes little noticeable difference in everyday life. You also get fewer connections. Otherwise, the router offers a similarly wide range of functions, including an integrated DECT base.
The test by Stiftung Warentest also proves that AVM has achieved a good compromise: The FritzBox 7530 as one of the cheapest products scores with lower power consumption and takes second place with an overall score of 1.6. For comparison: Competitive products from other manufacturers achieve a grade of 2.1 or worse.
Test winner at Stiftung Warentest: AVM FritzBox 7590
- Fast data transfer
- Many and very good functions
- Somewhat high power consumption
In the test by Stiftung Warentest (see issue 3/2020), the FritzBox 7590 from AVM took first place with an overall grade of 1.5. Whether data transmission, security functions, telephoning, handling or versatility – the DSL router scores “very good” everywhere. The only exception: electricity consumption. Here it is “only enough for grade 2.3. GIGA measured it: In operation, the router needs around 11 watts. There are only limited opportunities to save energy, for example by reducing the DECT or WLAN performance (only makes sense in small rooms). It is best to unplug the router if you are not at home for a few days.
The equipment of the top router from AVM is abundant, we can expect regular software updates with additional functions from the Berlin manufacturer. Thanks to WLAN AC + N and multi-user MIMO, speeds of up to 1,733 Mbit / s (5 GHz) and 800 Mbit / s (2.4 GHz) can be achieved via the wireless network. A DECT base for direct connection of landline telephones is integrated.
Cable router at Stiftung Warentest: AVM FritzBox 6591 Cable
- fast data transfer
- many and very good functions
- high power consumption
For cable internet connections, Stiftung Warentest 03/2020 only tested the AVM FritzBox 6591 Cable. The slightly higher power consumption than the DSL models causes devaluation, so the FritzBox 6591 Cable only received an overall rating of 2.0 despite top marks in the other areas.
Buying a router: what you should know
WLAN router: DSL, cable, fiber optics?
Regardless of whether Internet via cable, (V-) DSL, fiber optics, ISDN, satellite or LTE – you need a modem for access. Such a modem is already integrated in the devices mentioned above; the device is plugged into the corresponding connection of the telephone or the TV cable socket in the household by cable. But it is also possible to operate the modem and WLAN router separately. More on that in a moment.
It is important to know that WLAN routers are usually only designed for one of the connection types mentioned. In other words: They only accommodate one of the corresponding modems. There are also routers for fiber optic connections, but these are not yet available nationwide in Germany. More about technologies and distribution in our overview of Internet providers 2020.
Which functions should you pay attention to when buying a FritzBox?
Even after a look at the magazine of the Stiftung Warentest – or at the WLAN router above – some people may still wonder which model to choose. For several devices and people in the household, for a lavish data transfer within the network or streaming with a powerful tariff is a high one speed makes sense so that there is no loss of performance. Then the FritzBox 7590 is the first choice. Also on the connections one should pay attention. Only the top model provides ISDN support and offers two instead of one USB port. Here you can connect a printer and a hard drive, for example.
Both AVM routers offer a DECT base and integrated telephone system functions. The devices are also similar in terms of other features. Our tips for the FritzBox show what you can use the devices for:
Telekom, o2, Vodafone – which WLAN router makes sense for DSL tariffs?
At least the large providers of DSL tariffs provide customers with their own routers – often for a monthly fee. You don’t have to use this, since 2016 the end of the router compulsory and with it the right to free choice of end devices for Internet access. If you are satisfied with the product offered by the provider, you save further expenses for the hardware. However, these models are typically less powerful and feature rich than the routers mentioned above and / or cost more. For example, the Telekom Speedport Smart 3 scored only “satisfactory” in the Stiftung Warentest test.
WLAN routers such as the FritzBox and devices from other manufacturers can be used, regardless of which provider you have booked the Internet tariff with. The above mentioned DSL Fritz boxes also support supervectoring 35b (VDSL).
Modem and router as separate devices
Anyone who has received a modem without WLAN functionality from their Internet provider or is dissatisfied with their device does not necessarily have to replace all of the hardware with a WLAN router with a modem. Instead, you can also buy a modem-free router model of your own taste and connect it to the existing modem. A WLAN router without an integrated modem such as the inexpensive FritzBox 4040 is ideal for this. Disadvantage: The power consumption increases somewhat when two devices are operated at the same time.
Can you set up the router yourself?
Commissioning a good router yourself is not rocket science. The easiest way to do this is to use a Windows PC or Mac that is connected to the router via a network cable. In the browser you can then simply go to the setup page and make all the important settings. Important: You need the access data for your tariff, these can be found in the contract documents.
Do you need a WiFi repeater or mesh WiFi?
A WLAN repeater extends the wireless network of the wireless router, more on this in our purchase advice on the best wireless repeaters. You need it when the network cannot be reached wherever you need it and it is not possible to position the router more cheaply.
Tips for using repeaters:
- Some FritzBox models can also be used as repeaters. A disused router can still be used for WLAN expansion.
- Many new AVM repeater models can also be used in mesh mode. This creates a large WLAN instead of several individual small networks. If a mesh option is offered, we recommend using it. This gives you more stable connections without dropouts and a higher bandwidth.
If you want to cover a larger area, such as the house and garden or an apartment with more floors, you can use a whole mesh system, such as the TP-Link Deco P9. This allows you to set up smaller access stations for the WLAN at several points in the household and thus get a much better coverage without gaps.
Which accessories do you need for the FritzBox?
The essential accessories are included – such as the connection cables. To connect a computer to the router by cable, use a Network cable.
For telephony, you couple a DECT telephone with the FritzBox. The models from the same manufacturer are best matched to the functions, as our test of the FritzFon C6 showed.
Not absolutely necessary, but interesting for some: AVM offers Smart home devicesthat can be controlled via the FritzBox. There are also free apps for iOS and Android that help configure and operate the connected devices. And finally there is the Fritz! App Fon. With this, a smartphone or tablet can also be used as a landline device in the home network.