Netgear’s D6220 and TP-Link’s Archer VR400 are among the best budget modem routers for Australia. Unlike cheaper models, D6220 and VR400 support all standard DSL connections and fibre technologies. They also operate as dual-band Wi-Fi routers with up to 1200 Mbps speeds. Because D6220 supports the beamforming+ technology on both bands and features Gigabit Ethernet ports, it offers the best value.
Netgear’s Nighthawk X4S D7800 and TP-Link’s Archer VR2800 cost about twice as much as the corresponding budget modem routers but they also offer some advanced useful features. They feature quad-stream and MU-MIMO technologies for simultaneous data streams as well as USB 3.0 ports for faster sharing across the home network. Because VR2800 is powered by an established Broadcom 1Ghz dual-core processor and is more affordable, it offers the best value for power users.
Below we compare in detail D6220 vs VR400 and D7800 vs VR2800.
Modem Router Basics
When looking for a budget router for your home Wi-Fi system, you will likely be choosing between Netgear and TP-Link. Founded in 1996, both TP-Link and Netgear have established themselves as reputable global brands for reliable networking devices. Netgear is headquartered in the US and manufactures its products in Vietnam and China. TP-Link’s headquarters and manufacturing facilities are based in mainland China.
Both Netgear and TP-Link have a great variety of networking devices. For the majority of households in Australia, a reasonably powerful all-in-one modem router is the best option. Two most popular modem routers are Netgear’s D6220 and TP-Link’s Archer VR400. For households with multiple data-intensive devices (such as UHD TVs and gaming consoles), D7800 or VR2800 would be a better fit. If all you need is a router, the best option would be either Netgear’s Orbi RBR20 or TP-Link’s Deco M9 mesh Wi-Fi systems.
Router vs Modem Router
A Wi-Fi router is a gateway that connects your local area network (wireless and wired) to the wide area network (the Internet) via an external modem. A modem router combines both a router and a built-in modem. Depending on the fibre technology at your address, you will need either a modem router or just a router:
Modem Router: fibre (FTTN and FTTB) and any xDSL
Router: fibre (FTTP, FTTC, HFC and Fixed Wireless)
This means that, while you do not need a modem router for such fibre connections as FTTP and FTTC, you can still use a modem router simply as a Wi-Fi router. For the FTTN and FTTB connections, however, you will require a VDSL2-enabled modem router, not just a router. It is generally a good idea to buy a modem router – rather than just a router – if you are renting and/or expect to move at some point.
2.4 GHz vs 5 GHz
The majority of new Wi-Fi devices (such as laptops and mobile phones) use a 5 GHz radio frequency/band. Some budget and legacy devices (such as smart TVs and PCs) support only a 2.4 GHz band. While the 2.4 GHz frequency has a wider reach, the 5 GHz one can transfer more data at a higher rate. It is therefore a good idea to buy a dual-band router.
Wi-Fi 5 vs Wi-Fi 6
The availability and speed of these radio frequencies vary across different IEEE 802.11 protocols or Wi-Fi versions. The recommended Wi-Fi version for 5 GHz as of 2020 is Wi-Fi 5 a.k.a. 802.11ac. The previous Wi-Fi version that supports 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz is Wi-Fi 4 a.k.a. 802.11n.
The latest Wi-Fi version is Wi-Fi 6 that corresponds to the IEEE 802.11ax standard. Adopted in 2019, Wi-Fi 6 supports both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. Wi-Fi 6 also differs from Wi-Fi 5 in that it features OFDMA and MU-MIMO in both down- and up-link directions.
Both Netgear and TP-Link offer Wi-Fi 6 routers. They cost, however, much more than Wi-Fi 5 routers. Some budget Wi-Fi 6 models use furthermore less reliable hardware. In addition, there are still not many consumer products that natively support the AX standard. The best modem routers for now are, therefore, Wi-Fi 5/AC ones that have a reliable chipset and powerful Wi-Fi features.
D6220 vs VR400 & D7800 vs VR2800
|Chipset||Broadcom BCM63168||Broadcom BCM63168||Intel VRX320||Broadcom BCM63138|
|CPU specs||400 MHz dual-core||400 MHz dual-core||1.4 GHz dual-core||1 GHz dual-core|
|RAM||128 MB||128 MB||512 MB||256 MB|
|LAN ports||4/1000 Mbps||3/100 Mbps||4/1000 Mbps||3/1000 Mbps|
|WAN ports||1/1000 Mbps||1/1000 Mbps||1/1000 Mbps||1/1000 Mbps|
|USB ports||1 USB 2.0||1 USB 2.0||2 USB 3.0 + 1 eSATA||2 USB 3.0|
|USB functions||storage, printer||storage, printer, 4G dongle||storage, printer||storage, printer, 4G dongle|
|Max. 5 GHz||867 Mbps||867 Mbps||1733 Mbps||2167 Mbps|
|Max 2.4 GHz||300 Mbps||300 Mbps||800 Mbps||600 Mbps|
|Beamforming+||5 GHz & 2.4 GHz||5 GHz||5 GHz & 2.4 GHz||5 GHz & 2.4 GHz|
|MU-MIMO / 4-Stream||no||no||yes||yes|
|Management||Web UI / genie App||Web UI / Tether App||Web UI / genie App||Web UI / Tether App|
|NAT / SPI / DoS||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Parental / Guest||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Warranty||2 years||3 years||2 years||3 years|
Best Modem Router for Australia
There are dozens of brands and hundreds of modem router models on the market in Australia. They differ considerably in price, specs and reputation. The best modem routers strike a good balance between meeting the key needs of a typical household and an affordable price.
It may be true that most users do not need modem routers with Gigabit ports and 1000+ Mbps wireless connections, partially because of the available infrastructure in Australia, with typical residential speeds limited to 100 Mbps. But it is also misleading to think that you can get good value from cheaper low-tech modem routers.
First, cheap modem routers (AC750 and lower) are usually equipped with a weak processor that makes streaming and data sharing a frustrating experience. Second, some budget modem routers make heavy compromises in what technology they support: for example, some may not be compatible with VDSL2. Third, their wireless features are usually also quite basic, including a weak signal, minimum coverage and lack of the beamforming technology. And finally, a cheap modem router is not future-proof and will likely need to be exchanged within a short period of time for a better model once your needs grow.
All things considered, therefore, the best modem router on a budget is Netgear’s D6220. It has enough power and smart technology to meet the needs of the majority of medium and large households.
The best modem router for power users is TP-Link’s Archer VR2800. Capable of running at up to 2800 Mbps, this modem router features quad-stream and multi-user technologies. Surprisingly affordable, it is a future-proof device powered by a strong Broadcom processor.