The Wifi router included in the Starlink kit works fine for most people and use cases. But if you want better performance, more features, or expanded coverage, an aftermarket router is a good upgrade to make.
With the current Starlink second generation hardware, the Wifi router and dish power supply are built into the same device. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bypass the Starlink router and use your own.
In this guide, I will show you how to use an aftermarket router with Starlink. I will also go over why you would even want to bother. Finally, I’ll recommend a few of the best Wifi routers for Starlink users.
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Advantages of aftermarket Wifi routers
You’ve already paid hundreds of dollars to get Starlink, why would you want to spend more money when the hardware kit already includes a wireless router? For most people, it’s not necessary to upgrade. But for gamers, people that work from home, or other power users, upgrading to a better router can unlock great features and higher performance. Here are some advantages that aftermarket routers can give you:
- Higher performance – Today’s best Wifi routers come with Wifi 6 technology, gigabit ethernet ports, and other features that the standard Starlink router doesn’t have. These features can enable faster speeds, greater range, and more reliability.
- Better mesh speeds – Starlink sells their own mesh system to expand Wifi coverage, but it is only dual-band, compared to the latest tri-band technology. An aftermarket router can provide faster mesh speeds and seamless coverage.
- More security features – Most aftermarket routers come with a comprehensive administration portal that allows you to set up advanced security features, port forwarding, VPN’s, etc.
- Advanced networking – With an aftermarket router you have access to more advanced networking features, compared to the minimal customization available on the Starlink router.
How to use an aftermarket router with Starlink
One thing that confuses people about using another router with Starlink is the fact that the Wifi router and dish power supply are contained in the same unit. How are you supposed to upgrade to an aftermarket router and keep the Starlink router to power the dish?
Step 1 – Purchase the Starlink Ethernet Adapter
If you’re looking at your Starlink router, trying to plug in a device, you may be wondering, where is the Starlink router Ethernet port!? Before you can use an aftermarket router with Starlink, you will need a way to plug it in.
The Starlink router doesn’t have an Ethernet port. To get one, you will need to purchase the Starlink Ethernet Adapter from the Starlink shop.
Step 2 – Plug in the aftermarket router
Use an Ethernet cable (included with most routers) to plug the WAN/Internet port of the aftermarket router into the Starlink Ethernet Adapter. This connection allows the aftermarket Wifi router to access to the internet.
Go through the setup process according to the manufacturer instructions for your router model. Once finished, be sure you have internet connectivity through your aftermarket router (via Wifi and/or the router LAN ports) before continuing on to the next step.
Step 3 – Turn on bypass mode in the Starlink app
When you turn on bypass mode in the Starlink app, you turn off the Wifi and routing functions of the Starlink router, allowing the aftermarket router to take over everything.
To turn on bypass mode, open the Starlink app. Tap on Settings. With Router highlighted, scroll down and tap Bypass Mode. Slide the toggle to the right. Tap OK to confirm the change to bypass mode. You will have to perform a factory reset on the Starlink router to turn off bypass mode.
That’s it! You’ll still have access to the Starlink statistics and settings through the app or web interface. The stats are generated from the dish itself, so you don’t need to be using the Starlink router to do things like stow, pre-heat, etc.
For more detail, check out our guide on how to enable bypass mode.
Note: This article may contain affiliate links for the products mentioned
Recommended Wifi routers for Starlink
If you’re convinced that upgrading the Wifi router is worth it, I have compiled a list of the best routers for Starlink users below. For simplicity, I’ve ranked the routers in the order of best, great, and good.
Generally, the higher cost models bring the best performance and features, so pick the features you need in a router to avoid spending too much. Any of the options below are better than the included Starlink router in terms of performance and features.
Best: ASUS ROG Rapture WiFi 6 Gaming Router
The best router for Starlink is the ASUS ROG Rapture WiFi 6 Gaming Router. If you need the highest Wifi speeds for gaming, large file transfers, etc., this is the router for you. The ROG Rapture has all the latest Wifi technologies you would expect. Wifi 6, 802.11ax, 802.11ac support, and tri-band radios.
Use ASUS AiMesh to create a seamless mesh network. Mix and match compatible ASUS routers to expand Wifi coverage throughout your home if necessary. You might not even need to, with this single Wifi router featuring massive antennas and 15 channels on the 5ghz band.
You can also configure a VPN to run right on this router, which can protect your entire home network. That isn’t a feature that is very common in routers, so if you want to run a VPN on Starlink, this is the one for you.
What I like about the ASUS ROG Rapture for Starlink users:
- Highest performance available for Wifi users (thanks to Wifi 6, tri-band radio)
- AiMesh to create seamless mesh networks
- Advanced security and networking features from the ASUS management software
- ASUS ROG is a gamer/power user focused product line
What I don’t like:
- Most expensive option on the list
- “Gamer” look won’t fit into many spaces
Great: NETGEAR Nighthawk 6-Stream AX5400 WiFi 6 Router
If you want better performance compared to the Starlink router, but don’t need the top-of-the-line features, my recommendation would be the NETGEAR Nighthawk 6-Stream AX5400 Wifi 6 Router. Unlike with the default Starlink router, with the Nighthawk you get Wifi 6 technology, enabling faster speeds are more reliability. You also get a gigabit Ethernet port, and Wifi antenna’s that can cover up to 2,500 sq. ft.
My favorite features on the Nighthawk are the NETGEAR Armor security software and the advanced parental controls. Compared with the Starlink router, you can configure your Wifi network to be secure, and also safe for kids who may be using it.
What I like about the NETGEAR Nighthawk for Starlink users:
- Wifi 6 technology for speeds up to 4.5 times faster than Wifi 5
- NETGEAR Armor security software
- NETGEAR Smart Parental Controls software
- Affordable, high performance router
What I don’t like:
- Dual-band radio, not tri-band
- 25 device limit
Good: TP-Link Archer AX10 WiFi 6 Router
The TP-Link Archer AX10 WiFi 6 Router is the most affordable aftermarket router on our recommendation list, but it doesn’t mean it’s not a great upgrade compared to the Starlink router. For under $100, this is hard to beat. You get the benefit of Wifi 6 technology, for speeds nearly 5x higher than the Starlink router’s Wifi 5 technology. You also get the customization that an aftermarket router provides through the TP-Link management software.
The unique Tether app allows you to manage your Wifi router from your phone, or you can use the traditional web interface. The AX10 supports the newest 802.11ax standard, and is backwards compatible for older devices as well.
What I like about the TP-Link AX10 for Starlink users:
- Faster Wifi speeds vs the Starlink router thanks to Wifi 6 support
- Tether app to manage your Wifi network and router
- Advanced security and networking features
- Budget friendly
What I don’t like:
- Won’t cover as much area as the higher-end options
- Dual-band radio instead of tri-band
An aftermarket Wifi router is a great upgrade to make for Starlink customers. The default router that comes in the Starlink hardware kit is average, but doesn’t support the fastest Wifi technology. It also doesn’t provide much in the way of customization or configuration.
It’s easy to use an aftermarket router with Starlink by purchasing the Starlink Ethernet Adapter, and then turning on bypass mode. Any of the product recommendations above would be a great choice. Are you using any of these routers, or do you recommend something different? Let us know in the comments!