How much for a wifi box: How Much Do Internet and Wi-Fi Really Cost? What to Expect!

How Much Do Internet and Wi-Fi Really Cost? What to Expect!

How Much Do Internet and Wi-Fi Really Cost? What to Expect!
skip to main content

Search for:

June 08, 2023

9 min read

We may earn money when you click our links.

On average, Americans can expect to spend around $61 on internet each month—but that number varies a lot depending on your connection type and location.

Aside from connection type and location, other features like data caps and download speeds can throw your bill for a loop too. That means you need to consider all of the following items when you buy an internet plan:

  • Connection type (DSL, cable, fiber, satellite, fixed wireless, or cellular)
  • Your location
  • Data caps
  • Download speeds

Let’s take a look at how the pricing breaks down to see if you’re getting a good deal on your internet—and what to do if you’re not.

Your guide to this article:

  • How much does internet cost?
  • How much is DSL internet?
  • How much is cable internet?
  • How much is fiber internet?
  • How much is satellite internet?
  • How much is gigabit internet?
  • Hidden fees you should know
  • 4 things that affect your bill
  • Recap
  • Next steps
  • Frequently asked questions

How much does internet cost per month?

We compared prices across 22 different internet providers and found the average internet plan costs around $61 per month. If that seems high, it’s not just you. That average cost is up from $57 a month in December 2020.

If you don’t need the fastest service, you might be able to save some cash. We tallied up the average cost for internet plans with download speeds of 3–50 Mbps and found that slower plans will likely cost you about $55 a month.

Going for a DSL or cable internet plan instead of fiber (or instead of satellite) can also save you some cash. Prices for cable and DSL internet didn’t change much over the past year and ring in at an average of $51 a month.

Here’s what the average monthly cost looks like when you break it down by all internet connection types:

Average internet cost per month by connection type

Connection type

Average monthly cost in 2021

Average monthly cost in 2020

Average monthly cost in 2019

Download speed range

DSL $51 $50 $43 25–1,000 Mbps
Cable $51 $52 $58 3–500 Mbps
Fiber $64 $59 $56 30–2,000 Mbps
Satellite $86 $123 $91 12–100 Mbps
All connection types $61 $57 $72 3–2,000 Mbps

What is the average monthly cost of Wi-Fi?

Technically, there is no monthly Wi-Fi bill, since Wi-fi is just how you access your internet wirelessly. But some internet service providers charge an extra fee for Wi-Fi enabled modems and routers. Usually, the average Wi-Fi cost for this is $5–$15 a month. Generally, your cost won’t change if you decide to hop on the Wi-Fi network or not since you need a modem and router to use your internet anyway.

If you prefer to skip the equipment rental fee, you can grab a Wi-Fi enabled modem or router for fairly cheap. These cost anywhere from $50–$200, depending on the features you’re looking for.

So the average monthly Wi-Fi cost is your equipment rental fee or purchase price on top of your monthly subscription fee.

How much is high-speed internet?

We found that in October 2021, high-speed internet access costs an average of $56 per month.

That’s excluding any internet plans with speeds below 25 Mbps, since high-speed internet comes with 25 Mbps or more of download speed. And just to be clear, internet speeds of 25 Mbps are likely fine for one person, but if you have multiple people in your house all watching HD shows at the same time, you’ll need to double, triple, or even quadruple that speed.

That said, don’t pay extra for speed you don’t need. You don’t have to pay for one of those lightning-fast gigabit plans if all you really do is browse Facebook. But if you have nine kids and they all want to watch Hulu at the same time, gigabit internet might be worth the cost versus listening to complaints 24/7.

How much is DSL internet service?

The average monthly bill for DSL internet is $50.57. The minimum cost out of the 39 different DSL plans we analyzed was $27 a month, and the max cost was $75 a month.

As DSL infrastructures age, we won’t be surprised to see DSL internet costs increase as providers (hopefully) upgrade their networks.

Some of the biggest DSL providers in the US are AT&T, CenturyLink, Earthlink, Frontier, Windstream, and Verizon. Here’s how DSL internet prices range for each of those providers.

DSL internet prices and providers in the US

**For 1 year plus taxes, equip. charges & other fees. Verizon home phone service required.

View the Best DSL Internet Providers

How much is cable internet?

The average bill is $50.94 a month a month for anyone rocking cable internet.

That’s a tad-bit higher than the average bill for DSL internet, but cable’s speeds generally outpace DSL. So cable is likely the better value.

There are also dozens more cable internet providers to choose from compared to DSL providers.

Check out prices for the top cable providers in the United States.

Cable internet prices and providers in the US

Most cable internet plans cost $100 or less, but there are a few exceptions: Cox, Sparklight, and Spectrum all offer gig plans with steep monthly prices over $100.

View the Best Cable Internet Providers

How much is fiber internet?

Fiber internet costs average out to $63.78 a month. That’s more than you’ll pay, on average, for DSL or cable internet. But fiber might be worth it thanks to its ability to deliver faster download and upload speeds.

Here’s a look at some of the top US fiber internet providers’ price ranges.

Fiber internet prices and providers in the US

Some fiber internet plans might not be fully fiber

Many providers, like CenturyLink, Windstream, and Comcast Xfinity, use a fiber-hybrid type of connection that uses existing cable or DSL networks and enhances them with fiber-optics. These lines are still able to get you those fiber-optic download speeds, but might be lacking when it comes to upload speeds.

Despite the high prices for fiber internet, if you want download speeds for days that don’t kick the bucket during peak usage hours and fast upload speeds to match, fiber’s the way to go. It goes without saying that, if you have a choice, fiber internet is the créme de la créme for livestreamers, YouTubers, and WFH hustlers.

View the Best Fiber Internet Providers

How much is satellite internet?

Connecting to satellite internet costs Americans $86. 33 a month on average. That’s a pretty steep price, but when you’re out in the country and your city hasn’t even run water lines to your home, you may not have much of a choice.

Have a peek at prices for the top satellite internet providers in the United States.

Satellite internet prices and providers in the US

If satellite internet is the best choice for you, take a look at our comparison review of Viasat vs HughesNet.

View the Best Satellite Internet Providers

How much is gigabit internet?

If you’re feeling the need for one-gig speed, the average bill for gigabit internet is $73.39 a month. That’s about the same average monthly price as it was in December 2020.

Still, we’re seeing more affordable gig and near-gig speeds across the board, which is great news as working and learning from home becomes more of the norm.

Some of our favorite internet service providers that offer fast speeds at low prices include AT&T Fiber, CenturyLink, Astound Broadband, powered by RCN, and Xfinity.

Have a peek at prices for the top satellite internet providers in the United States.

Gigabit internet prices and providers in the US

But do you really need one full gig of eyeball-popping download speed? Chances are, no.

So before you go hog wild, get an idea of how many Mbps you really need. It’ll save you some money.

Does internet service have any hidden fees?

Just like most purchases, internet service comes with a few hidden fees. These are some of the common fees your ISP might tack on to your bill:

  • Installation fee
  • Equipment rental fee
  • Data overage fees
  • Early termination fee
  • Reconnection/reactivation fee
  • Late payment fee

Installation fees are a one-time thing and they usually cost around $50–$100. If you can get a self-install kit from your provider, that’s typically free or a lower cost than professional installation.

Some ISPs also offer free installation deals. Even if they don’t, you can ask them to waive the fee. No harm in trying, right?

An equipment rental fee is the price you pay to lease equipment (like a modem, a router, or both) from your internet service provider. You can get around this fee if you buy your own equipment, which may also save you money in the long run.

Data overage fees are what you might pay if you use more than your allotted data each month. Some internet plans have lower data caps but don’t make you pay fees for using too much data. For example, satellite internet providers often have soft data caps that range anywhere from 10 GB to 300 GB. If you use more data in a month, the ISP slows your download speeds—but you don’t have to pay any fees.

An early termination fee (ETF) only applies if you subscribe to an internet plan with a contract, or term of service. Usually, contracts last one to two years, and if you cancel your subscription before that time is up, you’ll need to pay an ETF.

ETFs range in cost from around $100 up to $500, depending on the provider and how much time is left on your contract. So be wary of canceling your service too early—or look into another provider that offers a contract buyout program, like Spectrum.

Reconnection or reactivation fees are charged when your internet service is suspended, either by you or by the ISP. These fees normally cost between $30–$50.

Late payment fees are fairly explanatory: If you’re late paying your bill, you’ll pay an additional fee on top of your normal bill. This usually amounts to $5–$10 per late payment, but be wary since that can add up quickly.

Having trouble paying your internet bill? You may be eligible for subsidies.

Don’t wait to rack up late payment fees, contact your internet provider ASAP if you’re struggling to pay your bill. Most ISPs have assistance or payment programs, and you may also be able to downgrade your service. Many providers also offer special internet plans for low-income families.

What other features affect your internet bill?

Aside from fees, there are a few other things that might make your internet bill jump up or dip down.

Download speed: In general, the faster your download speed is, the more you’ll pay per month. And if you have multiple devices or multiple people connected to the Wi-Fi, the more speed you’re going to need. Learn more about getting the right internet speed in our Mbps guide.

Internet Connection type: We usually see higher internet prices for fiber internet and satellite plans—but this is due to the high maintenance costs of building, launching, and keeping those satellites in Earth’s orbit.

That’s not to say you can’t find a great deal on satellite internet. When it comes for the best price for the fastest internet speeds, we recommend Viasat. But if you can make do with 25 Mbps speeds and not a lot of data, check out HughesNet‘s 15 GB and 30 GB plans.

Promotional deals: Promotions, like limited-time offers, can drop your final bill like a hot potato. These typically offer a low starting price for your internet service that lasts for a short while—usually one year.

On the other hand, once your promotional period is up, you can expect your final bill to shoot up like a pack of Mentos in a Coke bottle.

After the promotional price, you’ll start paying what most ISPs call a “standard” price. How much the standard price differs from the promo price depends on the provider and the deal you got, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $10–$20 more per month.

Price hikes: Sometimes your provider will raise the price of your internet above the original agreed-upon price. This is especially true in an inflated economy, so fully read your service agreement to know beforehand if your provider allows this.

Dwelling: If you live in a house that you own, your internet provider and therefore price are up to your discretion. If you live in a rental, you may have to get the internet provider your landlord dictates. But there’s good news with this—sometimes apartments have a uniform Wi-Fi provider with a bulk discount, and sometimes your Wi-Fi may even be included in your rent.

Where you live: Most ISPs that are available nationwide break their pricing down by region. For example, Xfinity offers different prices and plans for the northeastern, central, and western US. Astound Broadband, powered by RCN offers internet in a small part of the Northeast, but its prices change depending on whether you’re in DC, Lehigh Valley, Boston, or another city. And don’t even get us started on rural internet.

Even if you can’t get service from a provider that breaks down prices by location, you’ll likely see different prices if you ever tried to compare with, say, a friend who lives on the other coast. ISPs have even been known to charge different prices on different sides of the same street, so be sure to do a thorough comparison of what’s available in your area.

Look at internet service provider costs in your area.

if (!empty($kbid_action[‘kbid’])): ?>
endif; ?>

If you still aren’t sure where to start in choosing a provider, here’s a starting point: the pricing for the top internet providers in the United States.

Top 5 internet service providers

Recap: How much should you pay for internet?

If your internet bill is at or near $61 a month, you’re right on par with most of the country. If you’re paying more, don’t worry. We can help you lower that bill.

And hey, depending on how you use the internet, paying more than the national average might be A-okay. For example, let’s say your family does a lot of video streaming and gaming. That means you’re likely paying more for faster internet speeds than the elderly couple next door who just sends emails and checks their granddaughter’s photos on Facebook.

Paying less? We’re jealous. Mind sharing your tips in the comments below?


How’d we get these averages? We’re glad you asked.

We took a look at plans and prices for 22 different well-known ISPs available across the US: AT&T, Buckeye Broadband, CenturyLink, Cox, EarthLink, Frontier, Google Fiber, Astound Broadband, powered by Grande Communications, HughesNet, XTREAM powered by Mediacom, MetroNet, Optimum, Astound Broadband, powered by RCN, Sparklight, Spectrum, Verizon Fios Home Internet, Viasat, Windstream, WOW! Internet, Comcast Xfinity, and Ziply Fiber.

To get the overall average for broadband internet costs and each internet connection type, we added up the promotional internet prices for all plans and divided by the number of plans. If a provider also offered no-contract plans, we did not include that pricing data in our calculations.

Still have questions about the cost of internet and Wi-Fi in the US? We can help.

The short answer is no. Wi-Fi is just the radio signal that lets you connect to the internet without hooking up a wire—it’s not an internet connection in and of itself.

Since you’re unable to simply purchase and connect to Wi-Fi alone without an internet connection, an average Wi-Fi and internet package is $61 a month. But if you’re looking to save some internet dollars, check out our roundup of the cheapest internet and wi-fi providers.

Yes! Well, sometimes.

If you want a traditional TV service (or *gasp* a landline phone), then bundling with your internet service could save you some money. But don’t sign on for cable TV just to get the lower internet price. In the long term, bundling can cost you more than a single internet plan if you don’t actually want or need the services you’re bundling with.

Yes, but you might have to shop around. A lot of ISPs require you to sign a 1–2-year contract and charge early termination fees if you cancel early. But there are a few providers with no-contract options. (CenturyLink, Xfinity, and Spectrum are three of them.)

Written by

Catherine McNally

Catherine has a degree in journalism and an MBA, and has spent the last 10+ years writing everything from Okinawa travel guides to stories on Medium. She’s been online since AOL CDs were a thing and is an unapologetic PC gamer. She believes the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, and writes reviews and guides to help everyone stay connected. You can also find her on Twitter: @CMReviewsIt.

Read More

Related Articles


Spectrum Internet Review 2023

Charter Spectrum has no-contract service and no modem fee, but what’s the catch? Read our…


Spectrum Mobile Review 2023

Existing Spectrum customers can get a cheap and powerful cell phone plan. Here’s everything you…

About Us

Contact Us



Our Methodology


Phone Plans

TV Service

Internet Service

Home Security


Feature Comparisons

Best Home Security Systems

Best Internet Service Providers

Best TV Service Providers

Best Cell Phone Plans

Feature Reviews

Viasat Review

Spectrum Internet Review 2021

Xfinity Internet Review


Vivint Smart Home Security Review

​Don’t miss an update

Stay updated on the latest products and services anytime, anywhere.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Site Map |

Back To Top

The Best Budget Wi-Fi Routers for 2023

The daily commute to the office might be a distant memory, but more time at home means your personal Wi-Fi is now your work Wi-Fi, too. That presents problems for some, since carrying essential work-related traffic with bulletproof reliability can be a difficult chore for that aging router that’s been collecting dust under your TV. If your router is wheezing while shouldering your work-at-home data load in addition to its normal gaming and entertainment fare, it’s time to start looking for something more modern. And if today’s economy is stretching the limits of your budget as much as your bandwidth, you’re likely looking for something inexpensive. Enter this bevy of network bargains.

Higher-end wireless routers employ the latest Wi-Fi technologies to deliver blazing data rates and advanced features, but they often cost upward of $300. You’re looking for a speed boost, but you might not need the latest and priciest to get it. If you live in a small home or apartment and have only a handful of devices connecting to your network, you can save a bundle with a budget-class router and still enjoy solid throughput performance and even some of today’s more advanced features. Our top budget picks are below, followed by advice on what to look for (and what to expect) from an under-$150 Wi-Fi router.

Deeper Dive: Our Top Tested Picks

TP-Link Archer AX50 (AX3000) Dual Band Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 Router

Best Budget Wi-Fi Router for Most Buyers

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

The TP-Link Archer AX50 is a dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router that offers a solid mix of features and performance at a reasonable price. It turned in relatively high scores on our throughput tests, and showed excellent range on our signal strength tests. The router comes with four LAN ports, and supports link aggregation for high-speed connectivity.

Who It’s For

The AX50 is well-suited to budget-conscious users looking to upgrade a network with Wi-Fi 6 technology. It’s very easy to install and comes with a free lifetime subscription to TP-Link’s parental control software, which lets you create user profiles to filter out adult content and block undesirable websites.


  • Easy to install
  • Solid throughput and signal strength performance
  • Strong parental controls
  • Anti-malware protection
  • Link aggregation


  • Doesn’t support WPA3
  • Middling file-transfer performance


Learn More

TP-Link Archer AX50 (AX3000) Dual Band Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 Router Review

Reyee RG-E5 Wi-Fi 6 Router

Best Budget Wi-Fi Router Emphasizing Performance

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

The Reyee RG-E5 delivered some of the highest throughput scores we’ve seen from a midrange sub-$200 router. In fact, its showing on our 5GHz performance tests rivals that of routers that cost twice as much. You don’t get many extra features with this router, but it had no trouble blanketing our test home with strong Wi-Fi signals. It’s also mesh-ready, with optional add-on nodes.

Who It’s For

The RG-E5 is a good bet if you’re looking to bring Wi-Fi 6 connectivity to your home network for under $150. It’s easy to install and a top performer in its class. It also offers basic parental controls that allow you to block websites, schedule access times, and turn off internet access with the touch of a button. It doesn’t support 160MHz channels or WPA3 encryption, but that’s not uncommon for routers in this price range, and its fast throughput makes up for it.


  • Reasonably priced
  • Easy to install
  • Excellent throughput performance
  • Strong signal performance


  • No USB ports
  • Lacks multi-gig WAN/LAN
  • Does not support WPA3
  • Lacks 160MHz channel bandwidth


Learn More

Reyee RG-E5 Wi-Fi 6 Router Review

Asus RT-AC66U B1 Dual-Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Router

Best Budget Wi-Fi Router for Built-In Malware Protection

4. 0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

The Asus RT-AC66U is a reasonably priced dual-band Wi-Fi 5 router whose performance, robust features, and affordability earn it an Editors’ Choice award. It may not offer the latest and greatest Wi-Fi technology, but it performed quite well on our throughput tests and was a snap to install. We especially like the included Trend Micro malware protection, which can block malicious sites for all devices on your network.

Who It’s For

If you’re not ready to embrace Wi-Fi 6 technology, there are still plenty of perfectly good Wi-Fi 5 routers out there, and the Asus RT-AC66U is one of them. For $109.99, you get solid dual-band performance, strong parental control and anti-malware software, four LAN ports, and a pair of USB ports. Its file transfer performance could be better, but the RT-AC66U is still a great bargain.


  • Affordable.
  • Speedy throughput performance.
  • Easy to install.
  • Four LAN ports.
  • Robust parental controls and malware protection.


  • Middling file transfer performance.
  • Non-removable antennas.


Learn More

Asus RT-AC66U B1 Dual-Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Router Review

TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (V2)

Best Budget Wi-Fi Router for Network Tweaking

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

The TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 churned out some of the fastest throughput scores we’ve seen from a sub-$100 Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) router. Its web-based management console could be more user-friendly, but it offers lots of settings for people who like to customize their networks. Plus, the router itself is easy to install. Throw in a nice assortment of I/O ports, and you’ve got an excellent budget router.

Who It’s For

The Archer C7 AC1750 is a smart choice for budget-conscious users who don’t necessarily require Wi-Fi 6 technology but demand fast throughput performance and extensive network customization options. Its four LAN ports and two USB ports are more than you’ll find on similarly priced routers, and it comes with parental controls that allow you to create network access schedules and limit access to specific websites.


  • Affordable price.
  • Very fast throughput performance.
  • Easy to install.
  • Lots of management settings.


  • Clunky user interface.
  • Middling file-transfer speeds.
  • Only USB 2.0 ports.


Learn More

TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (V2) Review

Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi System

Best Overall Budget Wi-Fi Mesh System

3.5 Good

Why We Picked It

The Vilo Mesh certainly isn’t the fastest mesh system out there, but it’s easy to install and brings Wi-Fi to every corner of your home for significantly less money than any other three-piece mesh network. The Vilo Mesh comes with three identical nodes that provide coverage for homes of up to 4,500 square feet. There are trade-offs for the low price, of course: It doesn’t use Wi-Fi 6 technology, and it doesn’t deliver stellar throughput performance.

Who It’s For

Think you can’t cover your entire large home with serviceable Wi-Fi for less than $100? The Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi System is here to prove you wrong. That said, if you’re willing to stretch your budget, or prioritize performance over the quantity of mesh nodes and coverage area, you’ll want to check out our guide to the best Wi-Fi mesh systems overall.


  • Very affordable
  • Easy to install and manage
  • Basic parental controls


  • Uses older technology
  • Lacks malware protection and QoS settings
  • Middling throughput performance
  • No USB ports


Learn More

Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi System Review

TP-Link Archer AX10 (AX1500) Wi-Fi 6 Router

Best Extreme-Budget Wi-Fi 6 Router

3.5 Good

Why We Picked It

The Archer AX10 isn’t the fastest router out there, and it doesn’t offer much in the way of features, but at $79. 99 it’s one of the most affordable Wi-Fi 6 routers we’ve tested. It delivered fast 5GHz performance in testing and installed in minutes.

Who It’s For

The Archer AX10 is great for anyone looking to jump on the Wi-Fi 6 bandwagon without spending a bundle. For under $80, the dual-band AX10 gets you strong 5GHz performance and a handful of useful utilities. They include parental control software that lets you create user profiles, block access to websites, and set time limits with school night and bedtime scheduling. It also offers basic settings that let you give bandwidth priority to specific devices.


  • Affordable
  • Good 5GHz throughput and signal range in testing


  • Doesn’t support 160MHz channel width
  • No anti-malware tools
  • Lacks USB and multi-gig LAN ports
  • So-so 2.4GHz performance in testing


Learn More

TP-Link Archer AX10 (AX1500) Wi-Fi 6 Router Review

Rock Space AX1800 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router (RSD0619)

A Solid Alternative to the TP-Link Archer AX10

3. 5 Good

Why We Picked It

The $79.99 Rock Space AX1800 router provides an inexpensive way to update your home network with Wi-Fi 6 technology. It’s not a stellar performer, and it doesn’t offer many features, but it did manage good scores on our 2.4GHz throughput tests. It also offers basic parental controls with blacklists that prevent access to undesirable websites. It’s a solid alternative if the TP-Link Archer AX10 (AX1500) is unavailable.

Who It’s For

If you’re ready to test the Wi-Fi 6 waters but funds are limited, the $79.99 Rock Space AX1800 is worth a look. You don’t get features like multi-gig WAN/LAN and USB ports with this router, nor does it support 160MHz channel bandwidth, but it’s easy to install and manage. If you require a more powerful Wi-Fi 6 router with USB connectivity and lifetime parental control and network security software, the TP-Link Archer AX50 is a better, albeit more expensive, choice.


  • Easy to install and manage
  • Affordable
  • Solid 2. 4GHz throughput performance


  • Short on features
  • Middling 5GHz throughput performance
  • Does not support 160MHz channels


Learn More

Rock Space AX1800 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router (RSD0619) Review

TP-Link AC1200 Wireless MU-MIMO Gigabit Router (Archer A6)

Best Budget Wi-Fi Router for Small Homes

3.5 Good

Why We Picked It

The $49.99 TP-Link Archer A6 earns high marks for its very affordable price and impressive 5GHz throughput performance. Its 2.4GHz performance was less impressive, but the A6 is one of the least expensive Wi-Fi 5 routers out there to offer multiple LAN ports and support for MU-MIMO simultaneous data streaming.

Who It’s For

For just under $50, the TP-Link Archer A6 is an affordable choice for users looking to bring MU-MIMO streaming to an aging 802.11ac network in an apartment or small home. You can use the A6 as the sole router for a small home network, but you can also add it to any TP-Link OneMesh router to create a mesh network for a larger home. If you’re looking for faster performance and built-in parental controls and anti-malware tools, the Asus RT-AC66U B1 Dual-Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Router is a better choice.


  • Affordably priced.
  • Easy to install.
  • Supports MU-MIMO streaming.
  • Solid 5GHz performance.


  • Middling 2.4GHz performance.
  • No USB ports.
  • Non-removable antennas.


Learn More

TP-Link AC1200 Wireless MU-MIMO Gigabit Router (Archer A6) Review

D-Link EXO Mesh AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X1560)

Best Budget Wi-Fi Router With Optional Mesh Nodes

3.0 Average

Why We Picked It

The D-Link DIR-X1560 delivered solid 5GHz throughput performance in our tests, but its 2.4GHz performance was not quite up to par. Still, for under $100 you get a dual-band router with Wi-Fi 6 technology, four LAN ports, and mesh capabilities that let you use it as a base station or a satellite node in a whole-home Wi-Fi system.

Who It’s For

If you’re looking to build an inexpensive Wi-Fi 6 network or want to turn your existing network into a mesh system, the D-Link DIR-X1560 will get the job done. It’s a snap to install and manage using either the web-based console or the mobile app, and it offers basic parental controls with website blocking and network access scheduling. Just don’t expect the speedy performance, USB connectivity, and malware protection that you’ll get with our Editors’ Choice pick for budget routers, the TP-Link Archer AX50.


  • Affordable
  • Good 5GHz performance
  • Easy to install
  • Mesh capable
  • Voice control


  • Lackluster 2.4GHz performance
  • No USB or multi-gig LAN ports
  • No anti-malware protection
  • Meager parental controls. Lacks 160MHz support


Learn More

D-Link EXO Mesh AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X1560) Review

Buying Guide: The Best Budget Wi-Fi Routers for 2023

These days, you’ll find that most budget routers use Wi-Fi 5 (802. 11ac) technology, although there are still a few Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) routers hanging around, so it’s worth checking. The latter are single-band routers that operate on the 2.4GHz spectrum and offer very limited throughput speeds. That’s not necessarily the kiss of death, but they probably won’t pair well with today’s PCs, mobile devices, and smart home devices, most of which are looking for at least a Wi-Fi 5 connection. They’re also ill-equipped for multimedia tasks such as video streaming and online gaming.

Wi-Fi 5 routers, on the other hand, are dual-band devices that let you connect using both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. They have several other improvements, too, especially MU-MIMO technology, which transmits data simultaneously (rather than sequentially) to compatible client devices. Another cool feature to look for is beamforming, which sends wireless signals directly to clients rather than over a broad spectrum. If you see automatic band-steering on your router’s spec sheet, that means the router can select the most efficient radio band based on the current network traffic, band availability, and signal strength.

If you’re wondering which band you’re most likely to use, then know that the 2.4GHz radio band is best suited for long-range transmissions but is subject to interference from other household devices such as microwave ovens and cordless phones. The 5GHz band provides significantly more bandwidth than the 2.4GHz band and is ideal for video streaming, online gaming, and large file downloads, but it has limited range, which is why these systems often need to be bolstered with a wireless range extender, especially in larger homes.

(Credit: Netgear)

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is the latest in wireless technology, and it offers much-improved throughput speeds: up to 4.8 gigabits per second (Gbps), which makes it sought after by those looking for business-class networking, as well as those seeking a fast gaming router. If you’re looking to future-proof your home network, you can still do that without spending a fortune, as a few Wi-Fi 6 routers are available for under $150. It also uses other new technologies, including Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) and Target Wake Time (TWT) to relieve network congestion and reduce client power consumption.

Additionally, Wi-Fi 6 takes advantage of previously unused radio frequencies to provide faster 2.4GHz performance, offers WPA3 security to protect against weak passwords, and uses 256-bit encryption to help keep your network safer from hackers. Finally, it provides upstream and downstream MU-MIMO streaming (802.11ac only supports downlink MU-MIMO), and it’s backward-compatible with previous Wi-Fi protocols.

(Credit: TP-Link)

And if you see a router being advertised as compliant with Wi-Fi 6E, know that’s just the very latest in the Wi-Fi 6 saga. With 6E, the software capabilities of the protocol are the same as in Wi-Fi 6, meaning you’ll get all the new goodness around features like OFDMA and TWT. But you’ll also get access to the newly released 6GHz band, so routers that support 6E will have access to quite a bit more wireless bandwidth, which should provide much more room for those bandwidth-hogging work applications and also solve things like difficult connections due to bandwidth congestion. You likely won’t see 6E routers in the budget-router market for some time, however.

Budget Routers: What You’ll Get for the Money

The current crop of AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 routers, mesh or standalone, can typically handle data rates of up to 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1,200Mbps on the 5GHz band. It’s important to note that these speed ratings are theoretical and refer to maximum achievable speeds. Actual throughput will likely be significantly lower, but never fear, we thoroughly test all our contenders so you can see all the key real-world numbers, including throughput and signal strength. (For a primer on what the “AC” and “AX” numbers mean, see our guide.)

An interesting trend in the higher-end router spectrum is that prices are starting to drop. No, you won’t find very many Wi-Fi mesh systems in our budget roundup just yet, but we are seeing those products become less pricey. Mesh will be more of a factor in the under-$150 market as time goes on. And you can now find a smattering of the above-mentioned AX1500 routers for less than $100, even.

Should You Compromise on Key Features?

So far, it might sound like you can find pretty much anything you want in an under-$100 router. Unfortunately, that’s likely not the case. To hit those lower prices, a lot of routers ditch many of the features that you’ll find on more expensive models.

On the hardware end, you won’t find any sub-$100 routers that are equipped with more than four LAN ports, nor will you find features like speedy multi-gig (2.5Gbps) LAN ports. The ability to perform link aggregation won’t be there; nor will USB ports. The latter are useful for connecting directly to peripherals like external hard drives (a quick way to build your own network attached storage or NAS device) or printers. Budget routers also typically use non-removable external antennas, which means they can’t be replaced with more powerful high-gain antennas to help boost performance and extend the router’s signal range.

Budget routers are managed using a web console or a mobile app, much like their more expensive siblings, but they’ll likely lack some of the advanced settings. That will likely include support for bandwidth allocation or Quality of Service (QoS), dedicated online gaming presets, VPN connectivity, and sometimes support for DD-WRT. The last is a Linux-based firmware upgrade that replaces the manufacturer’s firmware and provides enhanced settings that allow you to customize the router for maximum performance.

(Credit: nito/Shutterstock)

Additionally, budget-class routers rarely offer the robust parental controls with age-related presets that filter out things like social media, gambling, shopping, and violent or adult content; these controls are more common on midrange and high-end routers. You can, however, still use basic access-scheduling and URL-filtering features to help you control when your kids go online and which sites they can visit. Or you can purchase a third-party parental control program that suits your family’s needs.

Indeed, third-party software is a good way to kick up the capabilities of your budget router, because unlike many mesh systems and midrange to high-end routers, budget routers usually ship with only basic software. You likely won’t find one that’s bundled with name-brand security software to protect your network and client devices from phishing, viruses, adware, and other malware, or with real parental control solutions. To find a likely pairing candidate for your router choice, check out our Malware Protection and Removal roundup to see what works best for you.

So, What Is the Best Budget Router to Buy?

Our top lab-tested low-cost router models are outlined according to use case up top, and according to their specs below. And whichever router you wind up choosing, remember that once you’ve found it, there’s tweaking to be done! Be sure to read our tips for setting up your router and boosting your Wi-Fi signal.

Unable to connect to the Internet – SberBox

No networks available for connection

If no networks are displayed in the list of available Wi-Fi networks when SberBox is connected:

  1. Disconnect the device from electricity and wait 5 minutes. Then try connecting it to Wi-Fi again.
  2. Turn on the Wi-Fi hotspot on your phone or tablet with mobile internet access. The mobile device will create a Wi-Fi network, try connecting SberBox to it.
  3. Reset to factory settings.
  4. If all else fails, file a warranty claim.

No home network available for connection

  1. Scroll down the list of networks: if your home network signal is weak or unstable, it will be placed towards the bottom of the list.

  2. Look for a home network with a different frequency band: 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz. Try to connect to it.

  3. Turn on the Wi-Fi hotspot on your phone or tablet with mobile internet access. The mobile device will create a Wi-Fi network, try connecting SberBox to it.

    If you succeeded in connecting, then SberBox is working, but there are problems with the network – you need to check the router settings. To do this, find a sticker on the router with the address of the administrative interface, login and password. Enter the address from the sticker in the address bar of your browser and log in with your username and password. Then find the settings:

    • Type (level) of protection . Make sure you are using the WPA or WPA2 algorithm. WEP and WPA3 algorithms are not supported.

    • Authentication protocol . Do not use the EAP protocol. You can use any other.

    • If you are connecting SberBox to a 5 GHz network, select one of the following frequencies in the 5 GHz radio frequency setting: 5180, 5200, 5220, 5240, 5260, 5280, 5300, 5320, 56 60, 5680, 5700, 5745 , 5765, 5785, 5805, 5825 MHz. Do not use a channel width greater than 40 MHz.

      Channeled frequency list

      9005 9

      9005 4

      Frequency, MHz Channel
      5180 36
      5200 40
      5220 44
      5240 48
      5260 52 9 0062
      5280 56
      5300 60 0059

      5660 132
      5680 136
      5700 140
      5745 149
      5765 153
      5785 157
      5805 161 9006 2
      5825 165

    • Enable SSID broadcast. The setting may be called differently: Broadcast wireless network , Hide SSID or something similar. She is responsible for hiding the network. Make sure the setting is disabled.

    • Network name . Make sure that the name contains only latin letters and numbers. Special characters, hieroglyphs, and letters from other alphabets, including Cyrillic, may result in the network not being displayed on SberBox.

    If your router does not have these settings, contact your ISP support service – they will tell you how to set up the router or help you replace it with a more modern model.

When connecting to Wi-Fi, SberBox freezes or a connection error occurs device from electricity and wait 5 minutes. Then try connecting SberBox to Wi-Fi again.

Can’t connect for some other reason

  1. Make sure you don’t owe your ISP any service charges. Check the balance in your personal account, if it is negative, replenish your personal account. Wait until the money is credited and the Internet access service becomes active.

  2. Check if the Internet is working: connect your computer or phone to the same Wi-Fi network that you connect SberBox to and try to open the website. At the same time, make sure that other Internet sources are turned off on the computer or phone, such as mobile Internet or a wired connection to the router. If you can’t connect your computer or phone to Wi-Fi, contact your ISP’s support team.

  3. Check the Wi-Fi signal strength. To do this, connect your laptop or phone to Wi-Fi, bring the device close to SberBox and see how many divisions are displayed on the network connection icon. If the divisions are less than half, ensure a more stable connection: remove the radio signal barriers or place the SberBox and the router closer to each other.

  4. If your router works in dual Wi-Fi bands, try connecting SberBox to a network with a different frequency: 5 GHz if you have previously connected to a 2. 4 GHz network, and vice versa.

  5. Make sure that the correct Wi-Fi network is selected and that the password you enter is correct:

    • On SberBox, return to the list of available Wi-Fi networks and make sure you select your home network. Be careful: sometimes neighbor networks can be named similarly, especially if they are served by the same ISP.
    • Check your Wi-Fi password. Usually, when connecting to the Internet, an employee of the provider enters the password into the contract for the provision of communication services, and the password can also be printed on the box from the router or on a sticker on the router case. If you changed your password, contact the person who helped you with the password change – he will tell you what to enter.
    • Check the correctness of the entered password using another device, such as a telephone. To do this, open the list of saved Wi-Fi networks in the phone settings and delete the home network. Then try to connect your phone to your home network again using the same password that you enter on SberBox.
    • When entering a password on SberBox, pay attention to the language, case, and special characters: the password can contain lowercase and uppercase letters, as well as outwardly similar letters and symbols. In order not to make a mistake, in the password entry field, turn on the display mode of the entered characters: click the icon.

Noticed an error?

Select text and press Ctrl + Enter to report it

6 models from 2328 ₽, Nvidia, Apple TV, Xiaomi and other smart set-top boxes

Daniil Bazdyrev

watching TV shows in comfort

Author profile

The TV box makes it easy to access movies and TV shows in good quality.

According to a study by M-Video-Eldorado, in 2022, 75% of TV sales in Russia were smart TV models. With such TVs, you can not only watch TV programs, but also access the Internet from the built-in browser, turn on streaming services and YouTube on the big screen. If the old TV still shows well, it can be made smart with the help of a special set-top box.

External “brains” are also relevant for modern TVs. Many smart models either support only a limited set of applications or are very slow. A good set-top box solves this problem much cheaper than switching to a top-end TV with a powerful processor.

Now dozens of models are sold in Russian and Chinese stores, and their cost varies from 2,000 to 25,000 R. I studied the current set-top boxes in different price segments and took the most interesting ones for the test. As a result, we got a rating of the best set-top boxes in six categories.

Selection criteria

When compiling the selection, I relied on the range of marketplaces, my experience in testing set-top boxes, as well as owner reviews and reviews of specialized publications.

I selected several popular models that the editors of Tinkoff Magazine purchased for testing. Based on the following criteria.

Shape. Smart boxes are available in two versions:

  1. Stick. The miniature device is slightly larger than a flash drive, but instead of a USB connector, it is inserted into the HDMI on the TV. There is usually no room for additional ports on sticks. The stick will need additional power – it can be connected to the TV’s USB port or to a charging adapter for smartphones.
  2. TV box. A small box that is connected to the TV with a cable. The boxes have more connectors for connecting devices. In addition, the spacious case allows you to install a more powerful processor that would overheat inside a small stick.

Operating system. Most gadgets run on Android. This OS is of two types – both on smartphones and specialized Android TV. Here are all the possible options:

  1. Android TV. The interface is adapted for TVs – the menu is designed in the form of large visual cards, and recommendations from installed online cinemas are displayed on the main screen. Only specially designed apps are available in the Google Play Store. But other services can be installed separately by downloading the APK file.
  2. Android. Set-top boxes with regular Android turn the TV into a large tablet. You can install any applications from the official store on it, but on cheap TV boxes they will slow down due to too weak chips.
  3. Apple tvOS. The only modern non-Android set-top box is made by Apple. This is a smooth and thoughtful operating system with tight integration of services and devices of the manufacturer. For example, you can easily turn your iPhone into a remote control or instantly stream files from your MacBook via AirPlay. The only downside is that you probably won’t be able to use Apple TV for something that Apple didn’t think of.
  4. Proprietary OS. Set-top boxes from Yandex, Sberbank and some other companies run on a modified version of Android TV. Their capabilities are severely limited compared to “ordinary” set-top boxes. For example, they do not have access to Google Play, and the set of online movie theaters is strictly limited by the interests and agreements of the manufacturer. They also have their own advantages – for example, the Salyut assistant in the SberBox, who can order food at home and book tables in a cafe.

DRM keys. Content in legal online cinemas is protected by special licenses – it can only be played on devices that have passed paid certification. Small manufacturers rarely spend money on a full set of DRM keys and only add a basic layer of protection. Because of this, many streaming services will not show content in 4K, and some, like Netflix, will not work at all.


Who needs “Station Mini” and TV-box with Alice: review

If the set-top box has a certificate, the box will most likely have logos of popular streaming sites, and the corresponding buttons on the remote control for quick launch.

Resolution and HDR. Most set-top boxes are capable of playing 4K Ultra HD video, but very low-end models only support Full HD 1080 p.

HDR High Dynamic Range allows you to play appropriate content on a compatible TV. There are several HDR standards, but the most advanced of them is Dolby Vision. Many Chinese players do not support it, since you have to pay royalties to add this standard. Therefore, in budget models, HDR 10 is more common – less perfect, but compatible with most modern TVs.

Processor and RAM. A weak processor will not be able to run high quality video, and the interface and most applications will slow down.

Try to base on model year: budget 2021 set-top boxes may be faster than more expensive models from two or three years ago. RAM affects the speed of work and the ability to quickly switch between applications – you need at least 2-3 GB for normal operation.

Accumulator. Applications are installed on the built-in memory – the more, the better. Regular programs don’t weigh that much, but it’s better to have at least 5-10 GB in reserve for downloading movies offline. Remember that the operating system occupies 3-4 GB of the declared volume.

Internet connection. Most set-top boxes connect to the network via Wi-Fi, but many also have an RJ-45 port for a LAN cable. The most common Wi-Fi 5 standard does not always cope with the smooth loading of heavy 4K content. Therefore, it is better to connect the set-top box by wire so as not to suffer from downloads and jumps in picture quality.

Ports and connectors. More often than not, you won’t need anything other than HDMI, but USB ports and memory card slots open up additional options:

  1. HDMI. The most common audio and video input on modern TVs. There are several types, but the best one today is HDMI 2.0, which transmits a 4K signal at 60 frames per second.
  2. Tulip RCA. Used in old TVs. If you buy a prefix for the country, it may come in handy. Through the “tulip” you can transmit video with a resolution not higher than 1080p and sound in normal stereo.
  3. USB. Allows you to connect flash drives and hard drives with movies. You can also connect mice and keyboards via USB to make browsing easier. It is desirable to have at least one USB 3.0 or 3.1 port – according to the old USB 2.0, large files can be read with freezes.
  4. SD or microSD slot. Compact memory cards do not stick out of the case and do not spoil the view. The volume of modern microSD reaches several terabytes. But most inexpensive TV boxes don’t accept cards larger than 256 GB.
  5. SPDIF optical audio output. Used to output sound to a home theater receiver or soundbar.

The rating includes 10 devices that meet at least several criteria. And then most of the models for the article were purchased by the editors of Tinkoff Magazine. The shortlist is as follows:

  1. Mecool KM2 Plus.
  2. Mecool KM6 Deluxe.
  3. Xiaomi Mi TV Box S.
  4. Selenga R1.
  5. Tanix TX3 Mini.
  6. Ugoos X4 Pro.
  7. Nvidia Shield TV Pro.
  8. Realme TV Stick 4K.
  9. Xiaomi Mi TV Stick 4K.
  10. 4K Apple TV 2022 032
  11. The best of the best
  12. Best for Apple Ecosystem
  13. Best Choice
  14. Best for Enthusiasts
  15. Best Compact
  16. Best budget
  17. Best of the best Best for Apple Ecosystem
    Nvidia Shield TV Pro Apple TV 4K 2022
    Top-of-the-line Android TV with 4K auto-scaling A prefix for users of Apple technology that complements the brand’s ecosystem
    On Yandex Market – from 22 450 R On Yandex Market – from 13 720 R
    Best Choice Best for Enthusiasts
    Mecool KM6 Deluxe Ugoos X4 Pro
    TV box with balanced filling. Can play heavy 4K videos in HDR, supports all major formats and 9 codecs0062

    A device for those who like to change and customize everything. Works on regular Android, has root access and advanced AFR
    On Yandex Market – from 8698 R;
    on “Ozone” – 7386 R
    On “Aliexpress” – from 8350 R;
    on Yandex Market – from 6900 R

    will be enough for watching FHD video

    Best Compact Best Budget
    Realme Stick 4K Tanix TX3 Mini
    Small TV stick with powerful insides – can play 4K video from Dolby Vision A simple TV box with budget stuffing. It does not work too fast, but
    On Yandex Market – from 3942 R On Yandex Market – from 2328 R

    The best of the best

    Nvidia Shield TV Pro

    The top Android TV set-top box that can automatically scale video resolution up to 4K

    Yandex Market — from 22 450 Р

    Best for Apple Ecosystem

    Apple TV 4K 2022

    Set-top box for users of Apple technology that complements the brand ecosystem

    On Yandex Market — from 13,720 R

    Optimal choice

    Mecool KM6 Deluxe

    TV set-top box with balanced filling. Able to play heavy 4K videos in HDR, supports all major formats and codecs

    On Yandex Market – from 8698 R;
    on Ozone – 7386 Р

    Best for enthusiasts

    Ugoos X4 Pro

    A device for those who like to change everything and customize. Works on regular Android, has root access and advanced AFR

    On Aliexpress – from 8350 R;
    on Yandex Market – from 6900 R

    The best compact

    Realme Stick 4K

    A small TV stick with powerful stuffing – can play 4K video from Dolby Vision

    Yandex Market – from 3942 Р

    The best budget

    Tanix TX3 Mini

    Simple TV – box with budget stuffing. It does not work too fast, but its capabilities will be enough to view FHD video

    On Yandex Market – from 2328 R

    But we do not distort or embellish the reviews. The choice of specific things does not depend on whether we receive a commission.

    Product reviews in Tinkoff Magazine are independent. We make a verdict based on reviews of things and devices that we carefully studied, or how these things performed during editorial tests.

    For reviews, we either request products from the manufacturer for testing, or we buy them ourselves, or we study reviews in other publications and user opinions. Our reviews are subjective, but honest and expert: opinions are written by authors who have more than one review behind them. The editorial team of Tinkoff Magazine double-checks the texts, proofreads them and conducts fact-checking.

    All prices are at the time of publication of the material, but we update them periodically to keep the reviews up to date.

    The best of the best – Nvidia Shield TV Pro

    Nvidia Shield TV Pro was released in 2019, but it is still the most powerful and functional set-top box on the market. Android TV allows you to install many applications, including bypassing the built-in official store. An Nvidia Tegra X1+ processor is installed inside – its lightweight modification is used in the Nintendo Switch game console.

    Almost all TV boxes can play 4K video, run the browser and other applications from Google Play. But the difference in the speed and responsiveness of the interface is huge. Shield TV Pro works like a modern high-end smartphone: it instantly launches applications, switches between them and opens sites in the browser. The rest of the Android consoles on the list are more like an inexpensive tablet that slows down even in simple tasks.

    Like most Android TVs, the Shield supports Chromecast. This technology allows you to “transfer” videos and photos from Android devices and from the Google Chrome browser to your TV. If you watch a series on Netflix or a video on YouTube, the set-top box will launch the corresponding application, and videos from some other compatible sites will start without additional steps.

    Video playback is fine. There are HDR 10 and Dolby Vision, audio in Dolby Atmos and all codecs, including HEVC. Files from a computer are loaded over a local network even over Wi-Fi, but there is also a gigabit LAN. The internal drive is 16 GB, but there are two USB 3. 0 at once. The set-top box plays 30 GB movies from an external hard drive without hesitation.


    The best TVs under 20,000 R

    The unusual triangular-shaped remote control turned out to be convenient. Button illumination automatically turns on when you take it in your hand. In the settings of the set-top box, the remote control can be programmed to control all other devices: TV, soundbar, AV receiver, and others. You can also connect gamepads, mice and keyboards to the set-top box via Bluetooth or USB.

    The main feature of the Nvidia Shield TV Pro is resolution improvement with the help of AI. If you start a movie or video in 720 or 1080p, the set-top box will automatically increase the resolution to 4K. The function works in all applications.

    Video upscaling is found in almost all smart TVs, but Nvidia’s technology works much more accurately and cleaner. With poor upscaling, trailing objects may appear on moving objects, and noise and artifacts may appear on monochromatic textures. With very small files, magic does not work, but films weighing 2-3 GB are converted perfectly.

    Another proprietary feature is the preinstalled GeForce Now service. If you have a computer with a GeForce GTX 650 or later graphics card in another room, the set-top box can stream games from it to your TV. If there is no computer, you can run games from the cloud service – there is a free plan and a premium for 1499 R per month, games must be purchased separately.

    How much it costs:

    • on Yandex Market – from 22 450 rubles

    The best for the Apple ecosystem – Apple TV 4K 2022

    Apple TV 4K is not as versatile as the Shield TV Pro, but it is not inferior to it in terms of image quality or performance. Inside, the A15 Bionic processor is like in the iPhone 14.

    Branded tvOS is thoughtful, beautiful and perfectly integrated with Apple phones, tablets and laptops. Everything that you turn on on your iPhone, iPad or Macbook can continue to be watched on TV from the same place and vice versa. Through Apple TV, you can broadcast the screen of other devices from the manufacturer to your TV. The prefix shows photos and videos from iCloud, plays music from your iTunes and Apple Music. The smartphone can be used as a control panel: navigate through the menu, enter passwords and search queries, and confirm payments for purchases and subscriptions.

    The set-top box has its own version of the App Store with applications adapted for use on the TV. There is a subscription service Apple Arcade with almost a hundred compatible games – you can connect gamepads from Xbox and PlayStation via Bluetooth.

    Apple TV acts as a HomeKit smart home hub. It is quite convenient to control light bulbs, sockets, various sensors and other smart devices from the TV.

    Compared to Android boxes, Apple’s set-top box has fewer features. For example, there is no USB connector for connecting flash drives and hard drives, voice search does not work in Russian. Applications not from the AppStore cannot be downloaded. But most users do not need this: movies from the MacBook are sent directly, and there is Plex support for files from the network storage. There are even loopholes for launching unofficial online cinemas.


    How many Russians watch TV

    The set-top box supports 4K video at 60 Hz and HDR Dolby Vision. There is no smart upscaling here. Streaming from Apple TV+, Kinopoisk, YouTube and other applications is in 4K with HDR.

    Of the connectors, there are only HDMI 2.1 and LAN in the older version with 128 GB of memory. In the younger model with 64 GB, there is only Wi-Fi, without the possibility of connecting wired Internet.

    I also really like the remote control. It is aluminum, lightweight and powered by a built-in battery. The buttons are conveniently located and well separated, there is even a touch pad for comfortable scrolling through the menu.

    How much it costs:

    • on Yandex Market – from 13,720 rubles.

    The best choice is Mecool KM6 Deluxe

    ii, but popular among enthusiasts. Mecool KM6 Deluxe runs on a fresh Amlogic S905X4 chip – it’s not as powerful as Apple and Nvidia, but it’s fast enough.

    The set-top box supports the AV1 codec. This is a new generation technology that allows you to broadcast high-definition video with less traffic. Large services like Netflix and YouTube have already announced plans to switch to AV1 in the near future. By the way, more expensive, but old Apple TV 4K and Nvidia Shield TV Pro do not support this codec.

    Mecool KM6 Deluxe runs on a licensed version of Android TV, which is rare among set-top boxes from China. There is an app store and voice search in Russian. Chromecast is available to cast files or the screen of an Android smartphone to a TV.

    Mecool KM6 Deluxe supports the HDMI CEC function: with one button on the remote control, you can turn on / off both the set-top box and the TV at once, and control the overall volume. There is also a synchronization of the screen refresh rate with the frame rate of the video, so that the image is smoother.

    Most streaming services like Apple TV+ and Kinopoisk work properly and show 4K content without any restrictions. But due to problems with certification, the Netflix application and HDR content in Dolby Vision will not work on the set-top box. Open HDR standards work fine, so streaming automatically switches to the less advanced HDR 10 format. play without problems. If your router supports Wi-Fi 6 and is not very far away, you can even do without wired internet. There are enough connectors: two USB, gigabit LAN, HDMI 2.1, an SD card slot and an optical audio output.

    How much:

    • on Yandex Market – from 8698 R;
    • at Ozone – 7386 R.

    Alternative. The Mecool KM2 Plus model runs on the same processor, but has 2 GB of RAM instead of 4 GB, slower Wi-Fi 5 and a 100 Mbps LAN connection. The set-top box works a little slower than the older version, but otherwise there are no big differences – it is convenient to watch movies and TV shows in any format and from any source.

    How much:

    • on Yandex Market – from 5616 R.

    The best for enthusiasts – Ugoos X4 Pro

    Ugoos X4 Pro runs on full Android 11. The set-top box supports the Google Play store with the entire library applications, root access to the deepest elements of the operating system is immediately unlocked on it. There is even system monitoring of CPU load, temperature and other useful information.

    The interface looks unusual: the TV turns into a huge Android tablet. There are even virtual buttons at the bottom of the screen, but they are disabled in the settings. It does not look very elegant: it is inconvenient to operate the remote control, there are no colorful cards with content, as on Android TV. However, enthusiasts will be able to install another launcher and customize everything to their taste.

    Ugoos X4 Pro is powered by Amlogic S905X4 and is similar to Mecool KM6 Deluxe in many ways. Applications start quickly, but not instantly, I did not notice significant slowdowns. All modern codecs are supported, including AV1, this is a good start for the future. There are versions with 2 and 4 GB of RAM on sale, it is advisable to take the older one, because it works faster.

    Due to primitive DRM protection, Ugoos X4 Pro is not friendly with legal streaming services. Megogo, IVI, Kinopoisk and others are limited to 1080p resolution. Netflix doesn’t work at all. There is also no support for HDR Dolby Vision, but there is HDR 10 and various surround sound standards, including DTS.


    Best 55 inch TVs

    All videos from hard drives, torrents and network storages play correctly, in 4K and with HDR. Thanks to the gigabit LAN, the Internet speed is enough to play huge 4K files. But Wi-Fi is not the fastest here, so it’s better to use a wired connection to watch heavy videos.

    Two USB ports and a microSD card slot are provided for connecting drives, a keyboard and a mouse.

    How much:

    • on Aliexpress – from 8350 R;
    • on Yandex Market — from Rs. The device is very compact and does not spoil the view with extra wires. This is a good option for a kitchen or for a country TV, on which you want to turn on movies and videos from the Internet in the background.

      No additional connectors. You won’t be able to connect an Ethernet cable for maximum Internet speed, and you will have to use a microUSB to USB adapter for flash drives and hard drives. There is only Wi-Fi 5 to connect to the network.

      Stick works on modern Android TV 11 with Google Assistant voice search and Google Play store. Amlogic S905Y4 processor with 2GB RAM is slightly weaker than Mecool KM6. The prefix does not “fly”, but I did not notice annoying slowdowns and freezes.

      Realme TV Stick 4K has no certificate issues. 4K support is available in all streaming, including Netflix, HDR Dolby Vision and AV1 codec.

      So what? 01/11/22

      Smart TV and giant gaming monitor: new Sony and Samsung from CES 2022

      Realme TV Stick 4K is great for users who mainly plan to watch videos from streaming services. Launching files of 20-30 GB over a local network rests on the possibility of a Wi-Fi connection – there may not be enough speed and stability.

      How much:

      • on Yandex Market – from 3942 R.

      Best budget – Tanix TX3 Mini

      Tanix TX3 Mini budget processor Amlogic S905W with 2 GB of RAM and a small screen showing the time.

      With a limited budget, you can hardly find something better. There will be enough power to launch “Kinopoisk” or “YouTube”. But it’s better not to count on more, and be prepared for slowdowns and jerks with every action, you won’t be able to quickly scroll through the menu and switch between online cinemas.