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5 Best Routers for Optimum in 2021

by Alice Davis

Certain routers perform well with certain ISPs. If you've subscribed to Optimum's cable internet, you know that they rent routers to their users as well. But it's not the same as owning one, and you'll want to buy one of the best routers for Optimum.

Instead of paying about $10 every month for a basic router, you can get a much better one for better value. The options available on the market today pack some heavy features smarty aimed at users of all bases. We've reviewed our top five picks of 2021 on this list.

Benefits of Optimum Compatible Router

Before we look into individual reviews, let's look at the benefits of having a router compatible with Optimum. From zero monthly rental fees to these routers' intrinsic features, there are several advantages of buying instead of renting. Here's what you get.

5 Best Routers for Optimum in 2021
5 Best Routers for Optimum in 2021

No Rental Fees

Optimum rents out routers to their users to implement a vertically integrated business model. The problem is that you pay almost $10 each month for an unimpressive router that you don't even own. It adds up to over $100 a year in rental fees.

With your annual rental budget and slightly more, you can choose a router with much better features. A router usually lasts years without any hardware malfunctions. Your investment is safe.

Faster Wi-Fi Speed and Better Features

Another benefit is that you can buy a really fast router with an average budget. There is no need to go all the way to the high end because Optimum's download speeds max out at 400 Mbps. But their rentals don't make good enough speeds that others can.

Beamforming, MU-MIMO, and Smart QoS are great features in routers. These features boost signal speeds and allow multiple users to stay connected to the network.

Extended Coverage

Some houses are big, and some are not. In medium-sized to bigger houses, the rental router might not have full coverage. Depending on your house, you can buy compatible ones with coverage in every corner of every room.

The coverage you get is not necessarily proportional to the price. You can easily find a router with great coverage within a mid-ranged and higher budget.

5 Best Routers for Optimum

You want the best wireless router to make the most of your Optimum internet connection. It can be a chore to look through a seemingly unlimited range of options. To make the process easier, here are the best among them, ranked and reviewed.

1. ASUS RT-AC68U Wi-Fi Router

ASUS RT-AC68U Wi-Fi Router
ASUS RT-AC68U Wi-Fi Router

From the first look, it may seem this router sits horizontally; it does. You can also prop it on its side to save space. The placement will affect the signal direction, but that's why you get three powerful antennas you can adjust.

Wherever you place the device, angle the antennas toward the rooms with higher usage for good signal reach. Coverage won't be a problem anyway; don't worry. This thing has a range of 3000 square feet, good enough for most homes.

It also supports a mesh system for those willing to set up points across the house. While the router covers most apartments on its own, the points will make sure there are no dead spots even in bigger houses.

If you're worrying about streaming, don't. With dual-band signals at 2.4GHz and 5GHz, you can stream at 4K without any significant lag. You can create two separate SSIDs for the two bands for ease of access. And the speeds are great.

This thing can reach speeds of up to 1900 Mbps on the faster band. You won't need it since it far exceeds Optimum's top speed. However, you will always get the best speed your ISP can provide without the hardware limitation.

Security is another important issue. There are WPA/WPA2 encryption protocols that keep your network safe from intruders. You can enable guest access for users who aren't part of the home network and use parental control for your kids as well.

The network can handle 30 wireless devices simultaneously. There are five Ethernet ports for those users looking for a wired connection for reliable and fast signals. Additionally, there's a USB 3.0 and another USB 2.0 port, great for file sharing and printers.

Pros

  • 3000 square feet coverage
  • 1900 Mbps top speed
  • Mesh compatible
  • USB 3.0 and 2.0
  • Supports 30 devices

Cons

  • Buggy firmware
  • Feature-poor parental controls

2. NETGEAR Nighthawk R8000 Smart Wi-Fi Router

NETGEAR Nighthawk R8000 Smart Wi-Fi Router
NETGEAR Nighthawk R8000 Smart Wi-Fi Router

On the first look, this futuristic device might remind you of a UFO. Well, it's as smart and powerful as a spaceship. The router is the perfect addition to an Optimum connection for a family living in a smart home. Users demanding high performance will love it too.

It has six high-gain antennas that look like tiny solar panels. They're all individually adjustable for signal distribution in all directions. Ideally, you'll get coverage of up to 3500 square feet; it works well even in big houses.

MU-MIMO technology lets you stream Ultra-HD videos without lag or signal-drops. You can connect up to 50 devices on the network, all working simultaneously. Smart home accessories can make great use of the multi-device capability. It's also really fast.

You can get up to 3200 Mbps speeds on this thing. It's honestly overkilling because Optimum doesn't support that kind of bandwidth. However, your router can handle your peak ISP speed. It also comes in handy since so many devices connect to the same network.

It's a tri-band router, which means it runs different devices on different bands according to priority. Smart QoS locks high-priority devices onto higher bands, and Beamforming+ technology tracks devices using heavy bandwidth to maintain the signal.

Gamers and heavy users often prefer wired connections for steady speed. There are four 1 Gbps Ethernet ports on this product. Additionally, you can use the USB 2.0 for a printer and the USB 3.0 for file sharing on your home network.

WPA2 protocols, VPN, firewall, guest access, and more add to the security features. You can remotely access the router with the app, and the cybersecurity software comes with a 1-month free trial.

Pros

  • Coverage of 3500 square feet
  • Up to 3200 Mbps
  • Beamforming+ and Smart QoS
  • Remote access
  • Tri-band signals

Cons

  • Structurally weak antennas
  • Paid Netgear Armor subscription (optional)

3. NETGEAR Nighthawk R6700 Smart Wi-Fi Router

NETGEAR Nighthawk R6700 Smart Wi-Fi Router
NETGEAR Nighthawk R6700 Smart Wi-Fi Router

Let's look at a router for your Optimum connection if you're on a budget. The R6700 comes with excellent features and executes them well. It also has an agreeable price tag without compromising quality. From good coverage to dual bands, you get it all.

This modem has a coverage area of 1500 square feet. It's good enough for most homes. Alongside, it can reach speeds of up to 1750 Mbps that makes the most of your Optimum subscription. It performs decently when you're streaming.

Since this is a dual-band router, you get two separate bands for different kinds of traffic. You can bump up to the 5GHz band from the 2.4GHz when you need faster bandwidth. The network allows up to 25 devices on it simultaneously.

With so many users on the network, security is another concern. Fortunately, there are WPA2 protocols, DOS, firewall, and VPN for extended protection. To keep temporary users separate from the home network, you can also use the guest access.

You have remote access through the app to configure the router. And Netgear Armor protects your network from online threats for a monthly payment, which some people may prefer to get. Besides, the OpenVPN app is always there pre-installed.

There are three high-gain antennas, and they're directionally adjustable. Point them toward the area with high traffic for better speed. Additionally, this router uses Beamforming, Smart QoS, and other technologies to ensure faster and steadier signal.

If you want a wired connection for better reliability, you also get four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a USB 3.0. The USB works extremely fast and is ideal for sharing files across the network.

Pros

  • 1500 square feet range
  • 1750 Mbps top speed
  • Remote accessibility
  • Beamforming+
  • 1x USB 3.0 port

Cons

  • Security software needs a paid subscription
  • Third-party firmware not supported

4. Eero Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System

Eero Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System
Eero Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System

A mesh system is quite different than your standard router. It uses several devices that connect and forms a network, resulting in a much larger coverage area. The Eero creates a smart mesh in your house, paired with your Optimum internet.

This second-gen system has a minimalist design; all three of the router points are small white boxes. It goes well with most kinds of décor. Each point has two auto-detecting Ethernet ports, totaling six ports that connect with modems and other devices.

Since you can place each module at convenient distances, you get an extendable coverage of up to 5000 square feet. Even if you have a huge home, the range shouldn't be a problem. As for speed, it can easily reach an actual 350 Mbps.

Admittedly, this router won't be able to handle Optimum's peak speeds, assuming you're on the fastest internet plan. However, it more than makes up for it with other features. It supports dual-band technology, so your device will bump up to 5GHz when you're using high bandwidth.

The system also ensures top-class security. It only allows WPA2 compatible devices on the network and issues a one-time password. There are other features like threat scan, content warning, and ad blocker to maximize online protection. You can also use the Eero Secure+ software, but that requires a paid subscription.

Parental controls are great in this family-friendly set-up. The admins can pause the internet, restrict access, and set schedules for children on the network.

Last but not least, set-up is quite easy. The app will guide you through all the steps in the process, and it takes about twenty minutes. Its firmware also updates every month, ensuring the bleeding-edge of software features.

Pros

  • Sleek design
  • 5000 square feet coverage
  • Regular software updates
  • Easy set-up
  • Great parental control

Cons

  • Paid optional security subscription
  • Not the fastest

5. MOTOROLA MG7540 Modem Plus Wi-Fi Router Combo

MOTOROLA MG7540 Modem Plus Wi-Fi Router Combo
MOTOROLA MG7540 Modem Plus Wi-Fi Router Combo

Having a modem as well as a router takes up space. Some people appreciate a two-in-one, so Motorola launched exactly that. This combo has a dual-band router and a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem in one vertically designed body, and it works great.

The design of this Optimum-compatible device is consistent with others of the brand. It stands vertically on a base and features no visible antennas. Ventilation is a breeze with its design, so it doesn't overheat easily.

This dual-band system has a 2.4GHz and a 5GHz band. You can create separate SSIDs for each and use the higher band for heavy-bandwidth work. It can reach up to 1600 Mbps speeds; it's not the fastest, but it gets the job done.

The combo only works with a cable internet connection, so it's great for your Optimum subscription. Its integrated modem will save you hundreds in rental fees each year. It supports many streaming services as well, including Chromecast, AppleTV, Roku, and others.

This combo is good at working around interference. It uses Wi-Fi DFS frequencies and focuses on avoiding clashing signals. AnyBeam Beamforming helps boost the router's signal and keep it consistently stable on connected devices.

If you want to connect your gaming console or computer to the device, you can use one of its four Gigabit Ethernet ports. However, there is no available USB or telephone connection port. You'll want to look at other options for those features.

Now, despite the fewer additional features, you'll find great value for money in this router and modem combo for Optimum. It's far better than the rental options and does the basics well.

Pros

  • 4x 10/100/1000 1G LAN ports
  • Dual-band frequencies
  • AnyBeam Beamforming
  • Vertical design
  • DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem

Cons

  • No wireless 5G
  • Doesn't have USB ports

What to Look for Before Buying?

Buying a router to use with your Optimum connection is a great choice. The rental ones aren't the best, and it's better to invest in your own. In the purchase decision, you'll want to weigh several significant factors. Here are the important things to consider.

Internet Speed Package

Not all packages have the same top speed; faster packages will cost more. It's important that your router can manage the highest speed your Optimum package can deliver. If you get a 400 Mbps connection, but your router only supports 375 Mbps, it's probably a poor purchase.

There are many routers available that can reach much higher speeds. It's always a great idea to get one capable of handling faster bandwidth, thus leaving a bit of headroom. You might upgrade your package later, or speeds can get better.

Apartment Size

Router signals get weaker the further you move away from it. If you're living in a small house, a relatively smaller coverage should work just fine. However, if you live in a medium-sized or big house, it won't be enough.

You'll find many routers with great coverage at a reasonable price. Some are so good that there are zero dead-spots in your house. You might want to consider a mesh system in huge houses, as they have an extendable range.

Number of Connected Devices

Some routers allow only a few devices, while others allow much more. The more users there are on the same network, the slower the speed gets. You can consider a dual-band router since they manage devices better on separate bands.

Other technologies that help in this regard are MU-MIMO, Beamforming, and Smart QoS. These locate devices with higher traffic, maintain steadier signals, and boost signal strength. Separate SSIDs for separate bands also help allocate device traffic.

Security Features

One of the most important concerns is cybersecurity. If not protected properly, intruders may infiltrate your network and access your information. Even your ISP can do this. The first step is to install a VPN and set up a firewall.

Try to make sure your router supports WPA encryption protocols and above. Many products come with proprietary security software pre-installed. Even if you don't like a monthly subscription fee, it can be a good expense. If you have kids, look for one with smart parental controls.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use my router with Optimum?


Yes, you can. However, not all routers may be compatible. We recommend that you use any of the routers we've reviewed above for seamless compatibility. As for a modem, use a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem instead of a DOCSIS 3.1.

How do I connect to my Optimum router?


Go to https://www.optimum.net/router and follow the instructions on-screen to enter your Wi-Fi name and password/PIN. Follow the same instructions on your router's configuration page. Your connection should be working.

Is Optimum router free?


Optimum rents routers to their users for a monthly fee. These are not free. You have to return these units after you've discontinued your subscription. We recommend you buy a third-party router with better features.

Why is Optimum internet slow?


Optimum is a well-reviewed and trusted ISP that provides decent service. There can be several reasons for slow internet, including weak router signal, interference, and bad coverage.

How can I boost my Optimum Wi-Fi signal?


You can use a range extender, also known as a signal repeater. This device boosts the signal from your router and increases coverage. You can use up to two repeaters at once. However, it's better to buy a router with extended coverage.

Final Words

With thousands of great options on the market, it can be tiring to choose one from the best routers for Optimum. We've handpicked and reviewed the five best options you can get in 2021. All you need to do is choose your favorite. Stay connected.

About Alice Davis

Alice lives in the City of Long Beach with her husband, an exceptionally small chihuahua, and 15-pound Maine Coon. Alice got a bachelor of science in biological science from UC Berkeley. Now, she likes writing about a lot of things; including but not limited to technology reviews, science stuff, and anything food-related.

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