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Best VPN routers 2021: top routers for Virtual Private Networks

the best VPN routers
(Image credit: Shutterstock)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Welcome to our pick of the best VPN routers money can buy. All the routers you'll find on these pages offer excellent performance - both wired and wireless - and also make it easy to connect to the internet via a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

VPN's are incredibly useful services that can help you maintain your privacy when online, and if you subscribe to a VPN service (or are thinking about doing so), then buying one of the best VPN routers on this page will help ensure you get the most out of your Virtual Private Network. 

The best VPN routers on this page have been picked not only because you can set them up with a VPN, but because they make the process as straightforward as possible. You don't need to be an advanced user to apply VPN settings to any of the routers in this list.

There are many reasons why you'd want your router to handle your VPN connection. While it is possible to use software VPNs on individual devices, buy setting up the VPN with your router, you're ensuring that all of your network data goes through the VPN when it is enabled.

This means every device on your network can take advantage of the security and privacy benefits of the VPN you sign up with.

So, read on for our list of the best VPN routers, and at the end we have some expert advice on how to sign up for the best router VPN for your needs.

Picking the right VPN for your needs

To complement your VPN router, here are our guides to picking the VPN for your requirements:

Linksys WRT 3200 ACM

1. Linksys WRT 3200 ACM router

The best overall VPN router

Specifications
Speed: 802.11ac: 3x 867 Mbps, 802.11n: 600 Mbps
Connectivity: 4x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x USB 3.0, 1 x ESATA/USB 2.0
Features: Tri-Stream 160, 1.8GHz dual core CPU, 512MB RAM, 256MB flash memory
Reasons to buy
+Open source firmware support+Excellent features
Reasons to avoid
-Coverage sometimes spotty-More suitable in an office than a home

The Linksys WRT 3200 ACM is our choice for the best VPN router. Its no-nonsense design hides a remarkably versatile and powerful router that is a great choice for VPN use. You can install DD-WRT firmware for VPN compatibility, and it comes with four antenna and three bands for fast and wide-ranging network speeds. It also has four gigabit Ethernet ports and USB 3.0, making it an excellent router in its own right, even without a VPN.

Read the full review: Linksys WRT 3200 ACM

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Synology RT2600ac.

Asus RT-AX58U

(Image credit: Asus)

2. Asus RT-AX58U

A fantastic budget VPN router

Specifications
Speed: up to 3000Mbps
Connectivity: RJ45 for BaseT for WAN, 4 x RJ45 for BaseT for LAN, USB 3.1 Gen 1
Features: Router app, MU-MIMO, Traffic Analyzer, Adaptive QoS, AiProtection Pro, Parental Control
Reasons to buy
+Strong Wi-Fi 6 performance+Simple set-up+Good parental controls
Reasons to avoid
-Dual-band only

Wi-Fi 6 is the new cutting-edge technology in networking. And while it offers faster speeds, better connections and larger area coverage, it comes at a price. With the Asus RT-AX58U, the company has been able to offer that Wi-Fi 6 performance at a much more reasonable price. And while it might not carry some of the extra features or ports that some of the more robust options have, it does offer some important ones such as VPN configuration, MU-MIMO and Parental Controls. So if you’re looking for a no-frills way to get speedy internet, the Asus RT-AX58U may be the way to go.

Read the full review: Asus RT-AX58U

Asus RT-AC86U

3. Asus RT-AC86U router

Performance as loud as the design

Specifications
Speed: : 802.11ac 1734 Mbps down
Connectivity: : 5 x Gigabit LAN, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0
Features: : MU-MIMO, Traffic Analyzer, Adaptive QoS WTFast Gamers Private Network
Reasons to buy
+Extensive firmware+Great speed and coverage
Reasons to avoid
-Complex firmware-Divisive looks

Anyone who’s familiar with Asus, and especially its more gamer-centric products knows exactly what they’re getting themselves into here – especially regarding design. However, if you're not a gamer, and just looking for the best VPN router, then don't discount the Asus RT-AC86U. It has some excellent VPN features that makes it a fast performer that won't see your internet speeds dropping too much when using a VPN. You can also install third party firmware if you want greater choice.

Read the full review: Asus RT-AC86U 

best VPN router

4. Asus RT-AC5300 router

A high-powered router that's great for VPN

Specifications
Speed: 802.11ac: 2,167Mbps, 802.11n: 600Mbps
Connectivity: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x WAN, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0
Features: MU-MIMO support, Link Aggregation, traffic analyzer, WPS, 512MB RAM, 8 external antenna
Reasons to buy
+Great Wi-Fi coverage+Powerful gaming features
Reasons to avoid
-Large-Single USB 3.0 port

The Asus RT-AC5300 is an excellent high-end gaming router that comes with a number of advanced features for making online and network gaming as lag and frustration free as possible. It also means it's a brilliant VPN router, and if you don't mind the expense, this is a great choice. The spider-like design won't be to everyone's tastes, but the eight antennae serve a purpose, as they can be used to direct your Wi-Fi signal throughout your home, giving this router an excellent range.

Read the full review: Asus RT-AC5300 Tri-band Gigabit Router

TP-Link Archer C5400 v2

(Image credit: TP-Link)

A powerful VPN router

Specifications
Speed: 802.11ac 5GHz down: up to 2,167 Mbps, 2.4GHz down: up to 1,000 Mbps
Connectivity: 4 x LAN, WAN, USB 3.0, USB 2.0
Features: MU-MIMO, Tri-band Wi-Fi, 8 external antennas, Alexa voice control
Reasons to buy
+Fast and powerful+Alexa and IFTTT support
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

Are you in the market for one of the best VPN routers of 2021 and don’t mind a quirky design? If a ‘90s-inspired sci-fi design sounds like it will fit right in your home, then the TP-Link Archer C5400 v2 might be the best wireless router for you. It’s not exactly the most modern-looking VPN router out there, but it’s unique in that it can bridge consumer and enterprise users by offering high-end functionality at a reasonable price point and with a relaxed setup. It’s peculiar looking, yes; however, if you’re scouring the market for a wireless router that can cover a mid-sized home, you can’t go wrong with this. You can set up a VPN from within the router's user interface, but it can be a little bit fiddly - there are more user-friendly VPN routers out there for beginners. However, if you know what you're doing, this is a brilliant VPN router for your home or office.

Read the full review: TP-Link Archer C5400 v2

Linksys WRT32X Gaming Router

6. Linksys WRT32X Gaming Router

A gaming router with the performance to back it up

Specifications
Speed: : AC3200
Connectivity: : 1 x Gigabit WAN, 4 x Gigabit LAN, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x eSATA/USB 2.0
Features: : Killer Prioritization Engine, Customized Firmware, 1.8GHZ Dual-Core CPU, MU-MIMO
Reasons to buy
+Great Wi-Fi speed+Easy to use firmware
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive

On the surface, the Linksys WRT32X might not look that different than Linksys’ heavy-hitter, the WRT3200. And, well, that’s not actually that far off. The WRT32X takes all of the successful components of that highly rated router, and puts them in a router with a custom firmware that’s extremely easy to navigate and a very subdued and attractive visual design, making it one of the best routers with VPN you can buy. You will be paying a premium for this repackaging, but if you’re looking for reliable ping performance that online gaming requires, the Linksys WRT32X takes one of the best VPN routers and tailors it to your needs.

Read the full review: Linksys WRT32X Gaming Router 

Asus RT-AX86U

(Image credit: Asus)

7. Asus RT-AX86U

An impressive all-around VPN router

Specifications
Speed: 802.11ax up to 5700 Mbps down
Connectivity: 4 x Gigabit LAN, Gigabit Wan, 2.5G Wan, 2x USB 3.2
Features: MU-MIMO, Traffic Analyzer, Adaptive QoS, Parental Control, NVIDIA Geforce Now Cloud Gaming Optimization
Reasons to buy
+Fast Wi-Fi 6 performance+Gaming-focused+Security features
Reasons to avoid
-Not cheap

Asus has always had an excellent line of gaming-centric devices, and the Asus RT-AX86U continues that tradition. While expensive compared to run-of-the-mill routers, it’s actually a competitively priced Wi-Fi 6 router. And, considering Wi-Fi 6 is the future in connectivity, this router is a win for Asus and an ace for gamers. It also has some great features for gamers such as a 2.5 Gigabit Wan, the ability to assign an ethernet port as a dedicated “gaming” port. As with other Asus routers, you can also easily configure a VPN from within its user interface. Finally, it comes with very useful parental controls if you need them.

Read the full review: Asus RT-AX86U

Netgear Nighthawk X4S VDSL/ADSL Modem Router D7800

8. Netgear Nighthawk X4S VDSL/ADSL Modem Router D7800

Built-in VDSL modem and 4x4 wireless speeds make this a great all-rounder

Specifications
Speed: 802.11ac: 1733Mbps, 802.11n: 800 Mbps
Connectivity: 5x Gigabit Ethernet, 2x USB 3.0, 1x eSATA
Features: VDSL 2 modem
Reasons to buy
+Great wireless performance+VDSL 2 modem
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks 1024-QAM-Requires special hardware for fastest speeds

If routers had a fashion contest, Netgear’s D7800 would be among the top contenders. Its solid black finish is complemented by a quartet of antennas. Plus it’s damn fast and bettered by its inclusion of a duo of USB ports paired with an eSATA connector. The real centerpiece, though, is the VDSL 2 modem built into the Nighthawk X4S D7800, negating the need to buy or lease one separately. The outfitted software isn’t too shoddy either; a simple Dynamic QOS system makes it a breeze to govern a multitude of devices on a single home network. Best of all, it's a great router to use with a VPN.

The top VPN to install on your router:

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

The best overall VPN

Specifications
Number of servers: 3,000+
Server locations: 160 in 94 countries
Maximum devices supported: 5
Money-back guarantee: 30 days
Reasons to buy
+Dedicated app for routers+Seriously fast connections+Great reliability means no drop outs+Excellent for streaming
Reasons to avoid
-A little more expensive than some

Performance-wise, this British Virgin Islands-based provider delivered unrivalled results in our performance tests. However, what makes ExpressVPN our top pick for installing on routers is the fact that it delivers a dedicated router application - which is more than most of the competition.

Aside from its ease of installation, though, ExpressVPN also provides fast, reliable connections that you can count on, meaning you won't suddenly find yourself having to reset your router. Keeping your VPN on all day has never been a more viable option.

On the security front, ‘best in class’ 256-bit encryption is in place, along with support for the proprietary Lightway, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP protocols, and a private, encrypted DNS. ExpressVPN doesn’t log any traffic data, DNS queries, or anything that could be used to identify the user.

A quick glance at the pricing scheme shows that the service costs more than most VPNs, and you don’t get to try it out through a free trial. However, there is a 30-day 100% money-back guarantee available, so you can try before you buy. Going the yearly route is the most affordable option of the three price plans on offer. The packages available are:

Matt Hanson

Senior Computing editor

Matt (Twitter) is TechRadar's Senior Computing editor. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. If you're encountering a problem or need some advice with your PC or Mac, drop him a line on Twitter.