If you play a lot of the best PC games online, then making sure you have the best gaming router is essential.
These routers have been specially designed to prioritise network traffic from games, a feature known as Quality of Service (QoS), so your gameplay won't be affected if other people are streaming Netflix or browsing the web.
Many gamers think that a wired connection is best for online gaming and streaming via services such as Steam In-Home streaming, and we’d have to agree. The best gaming routers, then, should have an array of Gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting your gaming devices to the internet – or for playing local LAN games.
However, it’s not always possible to have a wired connection, so having the best router for the job, with the latest – and fastest – Wi-Fi technology (currently 802.11ac), is extremely important. Having external antennae which can be moved to direct the Wi-Fi signal to certain areas of the home is also useful.
With the particular needs of gamers in mind, then, here are the very best gaming routers you can buy.
1. Asus RT-AC86U
The value-packed saving grace for gaming routers
Speed: 802.11ac: 1,734Mbps; 802.11n: 450Mbps | Connectivity: 4 x Ethernet, 1 x WAN, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0 | Features: MU-MIMO, AiDisk, Adaptive QoS, WTFast Gamers Private Network
Unless you’re an unbelievably hardcore gamer, the Asus RT-AC86U is probably overkill. However, that’s not to say it doesn’t have its appeal – it features blazing fast speeds at a low price tag. On top of our benchmarks that prove it’s a beast, this thing has a bunch of nice features. Maybe you don’t need MU-MIMO, which allows for intense online gaming by more than one PC at a time, but it doesn’t hurt to include it. That said, it’s not cheap.
The Asus RT-AC68U is expensive for a router, but compared to the gaming PC or console you’re likely using it with, the price tag shouldn’t turn you off. Plus, with AiDisk at the helm, it’s optimized for DLNA and FTP streaming. This means, if you’re interested, you could watch movies and shows stored on your computer across a wide array of other devices found in your house at a lossless, uncompressed bit rate and resolution.
Read the full review: Asus RT-AC86U
2. Asus RT-AC5300
A high-end beast
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
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.
This includes an easy-to-use yet powerful interface, as well as comprehensive QoS settings. 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.
3. Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600
An extraterrestrial gaming router that covers all bases
Speed: 802.11ac: 2,167Mbps, 802.11n: 800Mbps | Connectivity: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x WAN, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0 | Features: MU-MIMO support, StreamBoost, dual-core 1.7GHz processor, 512GB RAM, Zyxel One Touch app-based setup
It may appear as though it would abduct a close friend or family member, but we assure you, the Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 isn’t as alien in function as it is in looks. Equipped with MU-MIMO support, which improves speeds when multiple devices are connected to the same network, the Armor Z2 AC2600 prides itself on its performance capabilities. Paired with StreamBoost, Zyxel has devised a router that can not only handle ample traffic, but it can actually prioritize bandwidth based on the needs of each device connected to it.
Read the full review: Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600
4. Asus RT-AC88U
4x4 and 1024-QAM deliver the best possible wireless performance
Speed: 802.11ac: 2167Mbps 802.11n: 1000 Mbps | Connectivity: 9x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x USB 2.0 1x USB 3.0 | Features: 1024-QAM, MU-MIMO, WTFast Gamers Private Network, Asus AiProtection, AsusWRT Software
The Asus RT-AC88U justifies its above-average pricing with unrivalled record-breaking next-generation 802.11ac wireless performance. With four antennas and NitroQAM technology, which pushes speeds further still, this router enables wireless performance that can break the 1GB/sec limit. There's a minor catch - you'll need to invest in a NitroQAM wireless adapter, such as the Asus PCE-AC88, to see those faster speeds. It's worth it, though, because this router is a champion cheaper than its Asus RT-AC5300 Tri-band gigabit rival.
5. Netgear Nighthawk X4S VDSL/ADSL Modem Router D7800
Built-in VDSL modem and 4x4 wireless speeds make this a great all-rounder
Speed: 802.11ac: 1733Mbps, 802.11n: 800 Mbps | Connectivity: 5x Gigabit Ethernet, 2x USB 3.0, 1x eSATA | Features: VDSL 2 modem
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.
6. D-link DIR-885L/R
A great all-rounder
Speed: 802.11ac | Connectivity: 4x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x USB 3.0 | Features: MU-MIMO, Advanced Wireless AC beamforming, SmartConnect
If you're looking for a dependable mid-range router that combines speed with a great Wi-Fi range and features aimed at games, then you'll definitely want to consider the D-link DIR-885L/R. It has a good selection of ports, and the user interface for setting up and configuring the router is nicely designed and easy to use. It also supports DD-WRT open-source firmware, which makes this a flexible and powerful gaming router.
- All systems go, these are the best free games you can play on PC