Behind electricity and running water, Wi-Fi is one of the most critical utilities in your home. But it's useless without a proper wireless router -- those silent workhorses that keep your phone, tablet, computer, TV, and every other connected device in your midst running smoothly.
Unfortunately, they can be fickle little brats sometimes, and occasionally need more than just a reset -- they need to be replaced. You don't need to shell out hundreds for a new one; you can find something perfectly suitable for under 50 bucks. Here are your best bets, available on Amazon right now.
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Price:$38 and up Amazon rating: 3.6 out of 5 stars This sleek cylinder is powerful enough for large living spaces, with a number of features you'd have trouble finding in any other router under $100. SmartBeam tech sends focused beams of bandwidth to individual devices simultaneously, so you eliminate any dead zones in your home and can move around freely without worrying about signal strength dropping out. Just a heads-up that you might have a hard time finding a brand-new model for under $50, but there are plenty of unopened and practically new options available via Amazon at the moment.
TP-Link TL-WR841N Wireless N300 Home Router
Price:$25 Amazon rating: 4 out of 5 stars Perfect for really small spaces (think one-bedroom or studio apartments), this low-profile option allows you to pre-determine how much bandwidth is allotted to each device. So no matter how many people connect, you can ensure your phone or laptop is always the fastest. If you have a slightly bigger space and don't mind spending a bit more, there's also a combo pack that includes an outlet-based range extender.
Netgear N300 Wi-Fi Router
Price:$29 Amazon rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars This simple white 300Mb/s Netgear model is one of the best budget options for medium-sized spaces. It doesn't come with too many bells and whistles, but as long as you're not simultaneously streaming HD movies from every device you own, it will serve you well.
RAVPower Wireless Router AC750
Price:$40 and up Amazon rating: 3.8 out of 5 stars RAVPower's router is the only one on this list to offer dual-band technology (a feature usually baked into pricier models), which means it can support significantly higher bandwidth throughput speeds (streaming-heavy households, take note). It's also decked out with a couple features you may find helpful, like a built-in USB port to share videos/music/photos or other files with anyone on the network, and the ability to blacklist websites you want to prevent anyone on the network from visiting.
D-Link Wireless N300
Price:$28 Amazon rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars Like most sub-$50 routers, this single-band option from D-Link is fairly frills-free, but it's earned a solid reputation for being stable and having an excellent range. Bottom line, it's a great fit for medium-sized homes that just need something simple to connect a few different devices.
Price:$27 and up Amazon rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars Ideal for a modest home/apartment or office space, this one is optimized to manage bandwidth to a number of devices that hop on or off throughout the day. It's also equipped with multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) technology, which enables it to send and receive data faster. That said, its advertised throughput speed of 300 Mbps means it's probably not the best option if your priority is HD streaming.
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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. He maybe once beat a glitchy router to death with a hammer. Maybe.