7 Best Routers for Centurylink in 2022

This is our review of the best routers for Centurylink in 2022

CenturyLink

From slower 20 Mbps DSL to blazing-fast gigabit fiber, CenturyLink has a plan for almost every need.

But in order to take advantage of your total bandwidth, you will want to pair it with the appropriate router. 

We have personally tested several routers to find the best option for different needs.

While everyone’s situation is different, we suggest the TP-Link Archer AX50 as the best all-around option.

TP-Link Archer AX50
Source: Tp-link.com

TP-Link Archer AX50 AX3000

Best Overall

  • Type: Wi-Fi Router
  • Tested Max Speed: 690.52 Mbps
  • Recommended for: CenturyLink DSL & Fiber 200 plans
  • Wireless Standard: Wi-Fi 6 
  • Warranty: 2 years

But let’s dive in and look at how other routers might perform better in different situations.

Here are the best routers for Centurylink. With both traditional routers and mesh Wi-Fi to choose from. 

  1. TP-Link Archer AX50 (Editors’ Choice – Wi-Fi 6 Router)
  2. TP-Link Archer A7  (Budget-Friendly – Wi-Fi 5 Router)
  3. TP-Link Archer AX10 (Best Value – DSL – Wi-Fi 6 Router)
  4. ASUS RT-AX3000 (Best Value – Fiber – Wi-Fi 6 Router)
  5. ASUS RT-AX88U (Best Performance – Wi-Fi 6 Router)
  6. TP-Link Deco S4 (Best Budget-Friendly Mesh System – Mesh Wi-Fi)
  7. Netgear Orbi RBK852 (Premium Mesh System – Mesh Wi-Fi)

Here are overviews of the best routers for Centurylink internet.

TP-Link Archer AX50
  • Type: Wi-Fi Router
  • Tested Max Speed: 690.52 Mbps
  • Recommended for: CenturyLink DSL and Fiber 200 plans
  • Wireless Standard: Wi-Fi 6
  • Warranty: 2 years

It’s difficult to choose a single best router option for CenturyLink’s wide array of plans. On the lower end of the spectrum, you have their 20 Mbps plan. In contrast, the top plan is over 45 times faster at 940 Mbps. That’s quite a difference!

But if we had to choose one, it would be the TP-Link Archer AX50. 

With a top speed of 690.52 Mbps, the AX50 will easily handle 8 out of the 9 CenturyLink plans. The exception is the 1000 Mbps fiber plan which, when paired with the AX50, will result in some wasted bandwidth.

We achieved this speed at 5 feet on Wi-Fi 6 on the 5 GHz band. 

A little farther out, at 25 feet, we could still measure 371.87 Mbps. That is still more than the same 8 out of 9 CenturyLink plans. Hence our recommendation.

Going even farther away, you will start noticing exponentially decreasing speeds. But we found the total range of the AX50 to be very good, sometimes even better than much more expensive options.

It has excellent parental controls via TP-Link’s HomeCare™. Allowing you to filter or block unwanted websites or applications. You can also set up time schedules for different devices.

HomeCare™ will also help you configure Quality of Service (QoS). With this feature, you can tell your router what your most important activities or applications are.

It will prioritize their traffic above everything else—ensuring a good experience when it matters the most.

Add to those guest-network capabilities, security notifications, and beamforming for increased signal strength. It’s a solid all-around package for a great price.

Read the complete review of the AX50.




TP-Link Archer A7 AC1750
  • Type: Wi-Fi Router
  • Tested Max Speed: 438.39 Mbps
  • Recommended for: CenturyLink DSL and Fiber 200 plans
  • Wireless Standard: Wi-Fi 5
  • Warranty: 2 years

If you are on a tighter budget and your home is not too large, the TP-Link Archer A7 is the way to go.

At 5 feet from the router, the Archer A7 came in at 438.39 Mbps. More than enough for all DSL plans and even the 200 Mbps fiber option.

Distance is not the Archer A7’s friend, however. At 25 feet, it only measured 123.51 Mbps. A big hit in speed for a not-so-big distance difference. This is why we mostly recommend it for smaller homes.

As a budget option, it doesn’t have the latest and greatest features. But you will find it has more than enough to cover basic needs.

It offers parental controls, though they are somewhat basic. They will allow you to filter and block specific websites, as well as set time schedules and limits. No application filtering is available, unfortunately.

It’s compatible with TP-Link’s OneMesh™, allowing you to pair it up with other TP-Link devices and create a seamless mesh Wi-Fi network.

But you will probably be better off purchasing a dedicated mesh system in this case.

Thankfully, Quality of Service (QoS) is also present, but not without limitations. You will be able to limit bandwidth to specific devices, but you can’t throttle specific applications or services.

Even with its limitations, it’s hard to go wrong with the Archer A7. At the right distance, the speeds are great. Plenty to handle streaming, gaming, and downloads for a small family.

 Pair that with the incredibly low price, and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Read the complete review of the Archer A7.




TP-Link AX10
  • Type: Wi-Fi Router
  • Tested Max Speed: 651.97 Mbps
  • Recommended for: CenturyLink DSL and Fiber 200 plans
  • Wireless Standard: Wi-Fi 6
  • Warranty: 2 years

If you are on a DSL plan but not necessarily on a tight budget, the Archer AX10 can take your wireless experience to the next level.

The TP-Link Archer AX10 was able to output 651.97 Mbps at 5 feet distance on the 5 GHz band. We lost around half the speed at 25 feet, where the AX10 measured 351.81 Mbps.

Even at the longer distance, the AX10 will be able to handle anything but CenturyLink’s Gigabit plan.

Up until this point, the AX10 seems pretty similar to our top choice, the AX50. But this is where similarities end. 

Parental controls are only available to block websites, not applications or devices. Conversely, Quality of Service (QoS) is limited to devices only. You won’t be able to throttle specific apps or services.

It does support TP-Link’s OneMesh™, which helps you connect other compatible TP-Link devices to create a seamless Wi-Fi signal that covers a larger area. 

But don’t get discouraged. If your main focus is performance and you don’t care too much about the limited features, the AX10 will get you there for a fantastic price.

Read the full review of the AX10.




#4 Best Value (Fiber) – ASUS RT-AX3000

ASUS RT-AX3000
  • Type: Wi-Fi Router
  • Tested Max Speed: 889.41 Mbps
  • Recommended for: CenturyLink Fiber plans
  • Wireless Standard: Wi-Fi 6
  • Warranty: 2 years

We have seen some amazing options so far. But most of them are geared towards the DSL plans.

If you are in an area that offers CenturyLink’s Fiber, you will likely get that plan instead. If that is your case, make sure your router can handle such speeds. 

If you care about performance and want a good deal, look no further. The ASUS RT-AX3000 has you covered. It was able to output 889.41 Mbps in the 5 GHz band at 5 feet during our tests. Taking into account its great price, we think it offers excellent value.

At 25 feet, the RT-AX3000 measured 534.55 Mbps. For context, that is close to the max speed of some of our previous options while standing right next to them. The RT-AX3000’s performance is no joke.

Paired with CenturyLink Fiber, this router will easily manage 4K streaming, gaming, file downloads, and more. Even for a family of 3 or 4.

As far as features go, it comes well prepared. Its parental control is fully customizable, allowing you to filter by website, application, or device. 

It offers adaptive QoS, allowing you to prioritize those essential activities to make sure they never run out of bandwidth. However, you are unlikely to need it with a Gigabit connection.

With this router, you can also set up traffic control, which lets you limit bandwidth to other devices and monitor your network’s traffic and usage.

For the price, the ASUS RT-AX3000 is rarely the wrong option. And you can be sure it won’t let you down.

Read the complete review of the RT-AX3000.




#5 Best Performance – ASUS RT-AX88U

ASUS RT-AX88U
  • Type: Wi-Fi Router
  • Tested Max Speed: 927.17 Mbps
  • Recommended for: CenturyLink Fiber Gigabit plan
  • Wireless Standard: Wi-Fi 6
  • Warranty: 2 years

You might have noticed that our option above won’t go all the way up to 1000 Mbps. Meaning that if you have CenturyLink’s Gigabit plan, there will be a slight loss of bandwidth.

If you are serious about squeezing everything you can out of your plan and are willing to spend accordingly, the RT-AX88U is your friend.

Coming in at an incredible 927.17 Mbps at 5 feet using the 5 GHz band, this router is not playing around. 

No matter what you throw at it, 8K streaming, gaming, torrents, downloads, video calls, or anything else for that matter, the RT-AX88U will handle it with ease.

And while we are incredibly excited about its performance, there is something we need to point out. 

At 25 feet, the RT-AX88U measured 571.36 Mbps. This means that at a distance, you won’t benefit as much, and might as well consider the RT-AX3000.

Having said that, there are other factors besides speed that justify the RT-AX88U’s price.

First, as expected, it offers full-featured parental controls and adaptive QoS.

On top of that, the ASUS RT-AX88U supports MU-MIMO and the even more advanced OFDMA.

These technologies allow your router to communicate with several devices simultaneously without any waiting. Pair it with a gigabit plan, and you’ve got yourself an incredible experience.

The RT-AX88U also supports beamforming, allowing it to “point” its signals directly at the location of your devices. 

All-in-all, the ASUS RT-AX88U is a high-end router, backed up by its wide array of features, at a mid-range price point. Good deal in our eyes.

Read the complete review of the RT-AX88U.




TP-Link Deco S4 Overview
  • Type: Mesh Wi-Fi
  • Tested Max Speed: 317.27 Mbps
  • Recommended for: CenturyLink DSL plans
  • Wireless Standard: WiFi 5
  • Warranty: 2 years

We’ve clearly seen that, no matter how good a router might be, distance is one of its worst enemies.

We can solve this by using mesh Wi-Fi systems. In short, they are a group of routers and satellites working together to look like a single Wi-Fi signal. The result is much broader coverage without sacrificing user experience.

You might think that all seems too much for a simple CenturyLink DSL plan, but that isn’t the case.

With the TP-Link Deco S4, you can create a complete mesh Wi-Fi setup for the cost of a single router. Yes, that’s both for the router and satellites!

The price is not without sacrifice, though. The Deco S4 measured 317.27 Mbps at 5 feet on the 5 GHz band. As you can see, that is significantly lower than any of our other router options.

But if we look at the numbers, that is still plenty enough for any of the CenturyLink DSL plans, and then some. 

At longer distances, signal degradation is significant. However, the whole point of a mesh system is that you will always be close(ish) to a satellite.

Features are present but limited, as expected by its price point.

Parental controls are basic, limited to URL filtering and time controls. Quality of Service is also limited, being able to control traffic at the device level only. It doesn’t support any specific app or adaptive QoS. 

If you have a large home with a CenturyLink DSL plan, and the price is an important consideration, the Deco S4 has you covered. Literally.

Read the complete review of the S4.




#7 Best Premium Mesh System – Orbi RBK852

Netgear Orbi RBK852
  • Type: Mesh Wi-Fi
  • Tested Max Speed: 317.27 Mbps
  • Recommended for: CenturyLink DSL plans
  • Wireless Standard: WiFi 5
  • Warranty: 2 years

But what if you have a large home and a CenturyLink Gigabit plan? The Deco S4 will undoubtedly fall short, wasting a lot of precious bandwidth.

In this case, you’ll need to pair up your fiber plan with a robust mesh system. Unfortunately, as you might expect, these come with a heftier price tag.

The Orbi RBK852 is a premium mesh system focused on performance. We were able to get 851.86 Mbps at 5 feet in the 5 GHz band—a significant difference from our option above.

This mesh system will handle almost anything you can throw at it. 4K streaming, gaming, large downloads, or any network-intensive activity are not problems for the RBK852. 

It offers beamforming and MU-MIMO, allowing you to get a better signal and greater performance on your devices. But that’s about it.

When we said that the RBK852 is performance-focused, we meant it. It lacks basic features like parental controls and QoS, which are simply not present at all.

In short, if your home is big and your internet is fast, your options are a bit limited. But if performance is what’s important to you, the experience you get from the RBK852 is next level.

Read the complete review of the Orbi RBK852.




CenturyLink’s plan offering is a bit all over the place. 

They offer two options: DSL & Fiber. These are two very different technologies that can greatly influence what router you should get.

Let’s take a look at the differences you might see between DSL and Fiber.

Speed

CenturyLink’s DSL plans go from 20 Mbps to 100 Mbps. They offer a single price for all of them, $50 monthly.

This structure might seem silly, as everyone would obviously choose the fastest plan. The thing is, different areas will have different speeds available.

So while you would understandably prefer to pay $50 for 100 Mbps, your specific area might only be able to get 40 or 60 Mbps. 

In short, regardless of what is available in your area, all DSL plans will come at $50 monthly.

Fiber plans are available in about 50% of CenturyLink’s coverage areas. They have two options: 200 Mbps and 940 Mbps. [1]

The 200 Mbps fiber plan might do fine with any of the DSL or budget router options. But make sure you have a powerful enough router if you sign up for 940 Mbps. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting precious bandwidth.

Wireless Standard

Since CenturyLink offers vastly different plans, what wireless standard you need will depend on which one you have.

Wi-fi 5 is the slightly older standard while Wi-Fi 6 is the newer and faster standard. [2]

For any DSL plans, or even the Fiber 200 Mbps plan, you can get away with a Wi-Fi 5 router. These will be cheaper and allow you to get up to 600 Mbps of download speeds. Plenty for everything but the fastest plan.

If you have CenturyLink’s Gigabit (940 Mbps) offering, though, you will need a Wi-Fi 6 router. Otherwise, you will have around 400 Mbps of wasted bandwidth. That’s a lot! 

So, make sure you get a Wi-Fi 6 compatible router for CenturyLink’s fastest plan, even if it costs a little bit more.

For more info, check out our article on Wi-Fi 5 vs. Wi-Fi 6.

Bands

Most modern routers, including all the options in this article, are at least dual-band. 

This means they can operate in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

The 2.4 GHz band excels at traveling long distances, reaching way beyond its 5 GHz counterpart. However, it’s limited to about 150 Mbps and prone to interference from neighbors.

This might be enough for the DSL plans, especially if you have a larger house and can use the extra range. 

But for any of the two Century Link fiber plans, you will always want to use the 5 GHz band in order to take advantage of your bandwidth. 

The 5 GHz band can’t travel as far, but it’s less likely to face interference. 

Not to mention, it can take advantage of even the fastest CenturyLink plans.

For more info, check out our article on dual-band vs. tri-band routers.

Mesh Wi-Fi

A mesh network is a group of wireless access points (WAPs) working together to look like a single Wi-Fi signal. [3]

While a single router is good enough for most homes, larger areas might not be covered entirely. With mesh Wi-Fi, you would strategically place each WAP in different areas for complete coverage

You might think that a mesh network is an overkill for CenturyLink DSL plans. But mesh Wi-Fi is more about making sure that your home is completely covered than about increasing speeds.

For example, in a four-story house, you might place one WAP on each floor or every two floors. Otherwise, a single router’s signal might not be able to reach two or three floors up.

The result is a seamless Wi-Fi network, where you don’t need to worry about which WAP you are connecting to. The mesh system will automatically switch between WAPs as you move around. 

Be careful about confusing mesh technology with Wi-Fi extenders. While extenders serve the same purpose, you will need to manually switch between them as you move around.

For more info, check out our article on Mesh Vs. Traditional routers.

Features

Most people are happy with their router as long as it works and outputs the desired speeds. 

Yet modern routers offer a plethora of features that usually go unused. They are focused on improving your experience in general and not only on speed. So no matter if you have CenturyLink DLS or its blazing-fast Gigabit fiber, they sure come in handy.

Let’s look at some of them.

And again, always remember that features are geared towards improving your experience in general, rather than just increasing speeds.

The most common are parental controls, which allow you to control what and when your children can browse. You will find that parental controls vary by brand and price point.

At the most basic level, they allow you to set schedules or block specific websites. More advanced routers will let you block specific devices and even applications.

Another important feature is Quality of Service, also known as QoS. 

With QoS, you will be able to tell your router what type of Internet traffic is the most important to you. In exchange, your router will make sure these prioritized activities always have enough bandwidth. 

For example, if you set up gaming as the top QoS priority, your router will always offer bandwidth to games first. Only then, if there is any bandwidth left, will it distribute the rest between other activities.

It’s also usual for routers, even budget ones at this point, to offer beamforming and MU-MIMO. These technologies are usually enabled by default, as long as your client device supports them.

The main point of beamforming is to “point” your wireless signal toward your devices for improved signal strength. [4]

MU-MIMO’s goal is for your router to communicate with several devices simultaneously. How many devices is usually dictated by the number of antennas in your router.

Other Considerations

As we mentioned above, bringing your own router to CenturyLink might look different depending on whether you use their DSL or fiber plans.

With DSL plans, you can rent CenturyLink’s “gateways” for $15 a month. A gateway is a device that serves both as a modem and a router. [5, 6]

It might be attractive mainly because you will have fewer devices overall. But gateways (a.k.a. modem-router combos), usually underperform compared to stand-alone routers.

Adding to that, $15 a month might come out to a lot of money. If you rent a gateway for three years, that’s almost $600.

If you plan on having internet for more than three years, you’ll be better off just purchasing the modem, which gets us to our next option.

The second option is to buy the gateway from CenturyLink for about $150-$200. While a higher upfront cost, we can clearly see it’s the best option in the long run.

The third option is to bring your own modem (or gateway). This one does not look too appetizing with CenturyLink, since their approved modem list is very short. [7]

Keep in mind that bringing your own modem will make you ineligible to use CenturyLink’s 24/7 customer service.

No matter what option you choose, you are always free to disable the gateway’s router feature and connect your own, more powerful, wireless router directly to the modem.

As for CenturyLink fiber plans, they will include both free installation and free gateway rental.

That’s good! However, this will mean that if you bring your own router, you will have an ONT, a gateway, and a router. That’s a lot of devices!

Thankfully, with CenturyLink fiber plans, we can skip the gateway altogether. It just takes a little more configuration.

In case you are interested in this option, the video below explains the process very clearly. (If you are an advanced user, skip to 12:43 for the goods)

Skip to 12:43 for how to set up your router

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions regarding Centurylink.

Do I Need a Modem for CenturyLink?

Yes, you do!

You will need a modem for DSL plans and an ONT for fiber. 

You are free to use your own router with them. However, you might need to do some adjustments to your network if you plan on connecting CenturyLink’s ONT with your own router. 

We explore this in detail in the article above.

Which One Is Better, Centurylink DSL or Fiber?

We would certainly recommend going with fiber if it’s available in your area.

Fiber is not only way faster, but it’s also symmetrical. Meaning you will get the same speed for both downloads and uploads. 

CenturyLink’s DSL plans cap at 100 Mbps. Plus, they will only offer around 10% of the download speed for your uploads.

Wrap Up

With plan offerings as varied as CenturyLink’s, it’s always a good idea to start with your plan and then look at what router will work best with it.

Doing the opposite could mean you will be wasting too much bandwidth, which you are paying for every month. Or, you could end up paying significantly more than needed for a router you don’t really need.

If you want a safe option, the TP-Link Archer AX50 is sure to leave you satisfied. But if you are so inclined to get a bit more technical, you can take your experience to the next level.

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