Having one of the best gaming routers as part of your setup is almost as crucial as having a capable gaming PC. No matter if you’re a serious gamer or just like to play some games online, you will notice a difference with one of these. You need to have a strong, continuous signal if you hope to do anything gaming related online.
When playing an online game, you don’t want to deal with a slowdown or lag particularly at the most crucial moments because your network can’t keep up. A weak or intermittent signal is enough to make anyone quit, after all. Even if you play mostly single-player games, installing the newest titles require a lot of bandwidth because of their size and you don’t want to slow down your household’s internet connection while it’s downloading.
Thankfully, these gaming routers are the perfect solution. Whether you’re playing on a PC or one of the newest consoles, you need something that can cater to your online needs. And, one of these will more than fit the bill, whether you’re in the middle of a heated battle or trying to speed up the download process for one of the best PC games you just bought on Steam.
You need a gaming router as part of your setup if you play any games online. So, we gathered the best of them on this list where you’ll find everything from ones packed with gamer-centric features to ones with cutting edge tech like Wi-Fi 6. Take a look and take your pick.
There may be a few things you might not like about the TP-Link Archer GX90. It’s big, it’s bulky, and it’s expensive. However, those are easy to forgive when you realize that you’re getting a big bang for your buck. This is a high-speed, reliable Wi-Fi 6 router that boasts a handful of features for hard-core gamers. That includes a dedicated 5GHz ‘gaming band’ that lets you hog most of your household bandwidth when you need it. Have younger gamers at home? It also provides good parental controls like content filters to block unsuitable material, with pre-set profiles for children of different ages.
Read the full review: TP-Link Archer GX90
The Asus RT-AC5300 is one of the best gaming routers – it has a collection of advanced features, making online and network gaming as lag and frustration free as possible. This includes a straightforward yet powerful interface, as well as comprehensive QoS settings. The spider-like design is somewhat of an acquired taste, but the eight antennae serve a purpose since they can be used to direct the Wi-Fi signal throughout your home, providing this router with remarkable range.
Read the full review: Asus RT-AC86U
We know we’ve already mentioned the TP-Link Archer C5400 v2 earlier, but the company added an ‘X’ to the end of this model, signifying the extreme boost in performance. It’s considerably more expensive, but that price tag is justifiable as it may be one of the highest-end and best gaming routers available. With eight ethernet ports around the back, it’s perfect for hardwiring a fleet of gaming equipment. And, the MU-MIMO and Tri-band support means that wireless connections are also top of the line. You’ll top the leaderboards irrespective of where you are in the house.
Read the full review: TP-Link Archer C5400X
If you’re a hardcore gamer, it can be maddening when your roommates are watching Netflix or downloading their own games at the same time. You should take a look at something like the Netgear Nighthawk XR500. Not only will this elite gaming router deliver a ridiculously fast 2.2Gbps speed, but with MU-MIMO support – not to mention, unique gaming features like location-based connection filtering and QoS, you can do some gaming all night without hitting a paralyzing lag spike. Just be ready for the high sticker price and make sure you’re ok with such a gamer aesthetic.
Read the full review: Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500
The Asus RT-AC5300 is a fantastic high-end gaming router that is filled with a bunch of striking features. This includes an incredibly simple yet powerful interface, on top of comprehensive QoS settings. The spider-like design isn’t for everyone, but the eight antennae are there for a reason, to help direct your Wi-Fi signal reach throughout your home, giving this router excellent range.
Read the full review: Asus RT-AC5300 Tri-band Gigabit Router
This router might look like it’s going to abduct a close friend or family member, but we promise the Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 isn’t as alien in function as it is in aesthetics. Brimming with the latest MU-MIMO support, which boosts speed when multiple devices are connected to the same network, this gaming router prides itself on its performance capabilities. Since it can handle several devices, while prioritizing bandwidth depending on the needs of each connection, it’s one of the best gaming routers you can purchase today.
Read the full review: Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600
The Asus RT-AC88U is an expensive gaming router. However, it justifies its price with crazy 802.11 wireless performance. Armed with four antennae and NitroQAM tech, which pushes speeds even further, this gaming router enables wireless performance that can break the 1GB/sec limit. There’s a catch – you’ll need to grab a NitroQAM wireless adapter, like the Asus PCE AC88, to approach these mighty speeds; but with speeds like this, it’s not hard to see why this is one of the best gaming routers available.
It may look like it came straight from Battlestar Galactica – the old Battlestar Galactica – but, the D-Link DIR 885L/R is a dependable mid-range gaming router with great range and speed. If you’re looking for the best gaming router, you may want to give this one a try. It comes with a good range of ports, as well as a nicely designed UI. It also touts DD-WRT open-source firmware, making this router as versatile as it is powerful.
Should you buy a gaming router?
Why invest in a gaming router when you have a perfectly good one at home? You don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to need one. Whether online and co-op games are your thing or you download a lot of games on Steam, gaming can monopolize a chunk of your bandwidth, slowing your network down considerably.
A router made specifically for gaming, however, will not only deliver a stable, uninterrupted connection – most vital during the most intense moments of your game – but also allow you to prioritize traffic to your PC and consoles. It’ll vastly improve your gaming experience (and your download speed), minimizing lags and offering smoother graphics. It’ll also feature technologies like MU-MIMO and Quality of Service (or QoS) to take your network to the next level when playing with or against players from around the world.
Multi-device households will benefit as well, since gaming routers are better equipped to handle several devices and users using the network simultaneously.
How we test gaming routers
Gaming routers are just as important as gaming PCs and peripherals, especially for online gaming, so of course we take our job seriously when testing them. Before recommending one in this buying guide, we make sure that each one not only performs as promised, but is also a cut above the rest. After all, although there are a lot of options out there, only a few stand out.
We start with the design. We test its build, physical features, and look – although a whole lot of them are going to have that gamer aesthetic. We make sure that it has enough ports for that all-important wired connection, is effortless to set up, has support for such technologies as QoS, and has features like parental controls (in case you have young ones at home).
Naturally, we test its performance as well, seeing how it measures up against our file download test as well as the Ookla speed test – especially in comparison to its rivals. And, because you need to know how exactly it performs in real world scenarios, we take it for a spin by playing a few of the most demanding and popular online titles out there. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.
When all is said and gamed, we take all the information we’ve collected and compare it to the unit’s price tag. At the end of the day, what matters is that the gaming router delivers robust performance, an excellent feature set, and a solid build that is worthy of its price – even if that means paying a little more.