CNET editor Dong Ngo picks his top five true dual-band Wi-Fi routers that also offer excellent network storage features, either via their internal storage or when coupled with an external hard drive.
Generally, for network storage needs, I would recommend getting a dedicated NAS server, such as the
While much inferior to a NAS server in terms of features and especially performance, some routers actually have more to offer, in terms of storage, than one might expect and may just be what you need. In any case, getting a router of this type plus an external hard drive is a lot cheaper than a dedicated NAS server.
Following is a list of five top routers with built-in support for network storage that I've reviewed in recent years.
WD My Net N900 Central
The WD My Net N900 Central is a derivative of the
The My Net Central can do all that the Time Capsule can (it supports Time Machine natively) and a lot more, including streaming digital content not just to local devices but also over the Internet via a browser or mobile apps. In addition to the internal hard drive (available in 1TB and 2TB capacities), the router can host more storage via a USB port. Most importantly, the router's storage performance was very good in my testing. On top of that, the device is also an exciting N900 router. Read the full review of the WD My Net N900 Central.
The Linksys EA4500 N900 router represents a new breed of Wi-Fi routers belonging to Cisco's latest EA series, thanks to its advanced (and controversial)
Apart from sharing the data stored on a connected external hard drive with the rest of the network, with advanced sharing options -- where you can restrict access (Read-only, Read/Write and no access) to share folders based on user accounts -- the router can also stream digital content to network media players. In the future, Cisco Conect Cloud, which is available to mobile devices, will likely also make possible streaming content over the Internet.
Note that the EA4500 is not the only router from Cisco that offers excellent network storage performance. This type of performance has been available starting with the
The DIR-857 N900 router is the latest in D-Link's family of media routers. It's the only router on this list with a USB 3.0 port (the rest only have USB 2.0) and, when coupled with an external hard drive, it offers an extensive amount of storage-related features, including digital streaming. It's also an all-around great Wi-Fi router. Read the full review of the D-Link DIR-857 HD Media Router 3000.
Asus RT-N66U Dark Knight Double 450Mbps N Router
The Asus RT-N66U is my favorite N900 router. It makes a great upgrade to the already excellent RT-N56U N600 router and is still somewhat better than the newer
On top of that, the router boasts a robust Web interface, and offers features not found in others, such as up to six guest networks (three on each band) and a built-in VPN server for business customers. Read the full review of the Asus RT-N66U.
Looking for specs and pricing? Compare these routers head-to-head.