Routers, what can be said about them? Well, if you’re here, you’re probably looking for a good one; a router that can help you dominate your adversaries and win more games. So luckily for you, you’ve come to the right place!
A router might not be as flashy or cool as a gaming headset or gaming chair, but they’re still vital tools in your arsenal. In fact, choosing the wrong type of router for your needs could lead to lag, frustration, and many a head-banging sessions between your forehead and computer desk. We’re sure you don’t want that.
So for your convenience, and to the respect of your sanity, we’ve scoured the internet for the best routers for gamers. These gaming routers were handpicked for their great performance and competitive prices. So, even if you’re on a shoestring budget, or have cash to burn, we’re sure you’ll find something here that will optimize your performance on the digital playing field.
But first: what are the characteristics of the best gaming router?
And how do you even start the process of buying one when there are so many models and configurations to choose from?
Let’s answer the above questions and more with the below buyer’s guide for choosing the best gaming router.
How to choose the best gaming router
So, let’s get started. First of all, there are a few important differences that we should cover first between routers and modems.
Routers and modems are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are not the same things. To add to the confusion, sometimes you can also find ‘modem router combos’ that combine the two devices together.
- A modem allows you to play your favorite games online. It’s what connects you to your ISP and establishes your connection to the internet.
- On the other hand, a router by itself does not let you ‘talk’ to your ISP. A router simply splits your existing connection between the other computers in your home, either by wireless or Ethernet connections.
These days, wireless combo routers are becoming more popular, so this is less of a problem. But we feel it’s good to know both for your own knowledge, as well as to avoid some embarrassing pitfalls and disappointments!
So in short, if you don’t have a modem and buy a router, you’ll find that there’s no way of physically connecting your device to your telephone, fibre, or cable connection to interface with your ISP. But if you do have a modem, plugging it into your new router will let you share a high speed connection to other users in your home.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s get into the fun stuff of what can make a good router one of a gamer’s most beloved devices.
Quality of Service (QoS)
Here’s something to keep in mind when shopping for your next gaming router: it absolutely needs to feature Quality of Service monitoring (or QoS for short).
We’ve all experienced it before: one roommate is torrenting the latest season of The Walking Dead and your connection comes to a pithy standstill. So what happened? Well, before you start thinking of some creative adjectives to describe your housemate, it’s not really his or her fault. In simple terms, your modem divides how much speed each computer gets depending how much data you’re using. A 30GB torrent will demand more resources, so the modem will provision more resources so you can get the fastest possible speed. Unfortunately, this leaves the rest of the gaming household with some very lazy connections.
But when you are using a modem with QoS enabled, it will prioritize certain applications (such as web browsing and games) over torrenting, video watching, and downloading large files. The result is that your ping or latency will be lower, which means faster and smoother gameplay, even when others are downloading to their heart’s content.
Every good gaming router has QoS enabled by default, so unless you’re buying a second hand model, you shouldn’t run into this issue too often.
Gigabit Ethernet Ports
So besides making sure your new toy is QoS-friendly, you also need to make sure that there are enough Ethernet ports on your router. Because frustration doesn’t begin to describe how it feels to try to play a game over wireless. Your connection will be awful, your team will hate you, and your KDA will be laughable by even the freshest of new players.
Even if you sit less than a metre away from your router using wireless, there will still be a delay between your router and PC, and even a few milliseconds can contribute to a higher ping.
So make sure each gamer can be plugged in via an Ethernet connection if you want the best possible speeds.
Wireless networking has gone through many changes since its introduction to the market, with each frequency allowing for greater and greater speeds.
802.11ac is the new wireless standard, which promises greater speeds and more stable connections. Most modern-day routers will support this configuration by default, but you’ll also need 802.11ac-compatiable hardware to make the most of it.
A new feature of modern-day routers is dual-band networking. This means the router will be able to transmit on two different channels at once, thus providing more wireless network capacity.
Although this is not a feature that is strictly limited to gaming, it can be a handy feature, especially for large households with many people using the router at once.
Having multiple connections to the router can slow everyone’s speeds down, so having a dual-band Wi-Fi router could be the answer to your problems.
Top 5 Gaming Routers
NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (R7000)
Hey, so now that we’ve uncovered the dos and don’ts of choosing a gaming router, it’s finally time to dig into our list of the top 5 gaming routers.
Coming in as our number 1 spot is the Nighthawk AC1900. This router looks extremely cool and futuristic (albeit a bit spikey), but this spaceship-inspired router delivers some of the highest speeds and performance of any device that we’ve seen so far. With the AC1900, you’ll easily be able to crush your competition and win more games, and in the process you get to show off some interesting décor to your friends and family.
One thing that makes this device our favourite among the routers we reviewed is its ability for you to control your home network using voice commands. This brings up all sorts of mischievous ideas, but it doesn’t respond well to expletives or bad words. What it does do however, is allow you to easily toggle between the various wireless options without fiddling with the router’s firmware. Getting under the hood of your router can be a major pain in the posterior, so this is a welcome addition.
The brain behind the AC1900 is a 1GHz Dual Core Processor that supports 600+1300Mbps speed. You’ll have more than enough horsepower to share your favourite files around with your friends and family, and without experiencing unwanted bottlenecks and lag that other routers suffer from.
A cool thing is that the AC1900 is also easy to set up, with no annoying menus or manuals to figure out. In fact, you can do this using your mobile device via Netgear’s Up App, which is fantastic!
There are plenty more features of the AC1900 that can be seen on the router’s product page on Amazon.
- Excellent speed and reliability
- The in-built Kwilt app lets you share all your photos from social media with its attached USB storage
- High-powered amplifiers and antennas are included to extend your Wi-Fi coverage
- OpenVPN App to access your router remotely
- Easy installation
- Looks cool
- Prioritized bandwidth for gaming, as well as for streaming music and videos
- Not the cheapest option
- A bit on the larger size
The Nighthawk AC1900 from Netgear is simply one of the best options to buy for gaming enthusiasts everywhere. By investing a bit of your pocket money into this device, you can be assured that you are squeezing as much performance as possible from your connection, which will hopefully result in lower pings and a higher KDA overall.
The reviews that can be read about the AC1900 are astronomical, so it’s definitely a device that’s worth checking out if you are in the market for a premium gaming router at a fair price.
D-Link AC3200 Ultra Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router
If you thought the AC1900 by Netgear was cool, then you’ll be amazed by the AC3200. You bring this bad boy out when you simply won’t settle for anything but very best in terms of Wi-Fi connectivity and aesthetic design.
Again, this router from Netgear looks like a spaceship, and it performs like one as well. The super high speed connectivity will put a stop to the intra-house arguments over who is hogging the connection once and for all. All of your flatmates will be able to enjoy 4K/HD video and online gaming simultaneously with its 3×3 data streams and 6 high-performance antennas.
Under the hood, you’ll find a 1Ghz Dual Core Processor to support its blazingly fast speeds. This powerful processor is needed for all the extra goodies it comes with, such as the Smart Connect feature that allocates the best possible band for maximal Wi-Fi performance.
Like any good router, the AC3200 also comes with QoS traffic optimization and advanced security features that support WPA/WPA2 encryption for safer home networks.
Taking a page from its predecessor, getting started with the AC3200 is a breeze with its easy installation and network management software. Forget about remembering passwords, subnets, and ip addresses only to change a few simple settings; the AC3200 can be accessed remotely via its mobile app that can be downloaded free of charge.
So, in summary, there’s a huge amount of positives to the AC3200. The only thing that really lets it down is its price point, as it reflects a significant investment on your behalf. But sometimes, paying a little off the top of your budget is well worth the advantages you’ll reap later on from owning one of the best gaming routers on the market.
- One of the most powerful gaming routers around
- The AC Smart Beam feature can keep an eye on the connected devices throughout your home; no more losing your cell phone!
- Dual core processor
- Advanced security features
- One click installation
- Intuitive user interface
- Tri-band speeds
- Enormous bandwidth potential
- Voted best gaming router of the year in 2015 via PC Magazine
- We’re not gonna lie, this thing is expensive!
- Only comes in one color
Yes, this router is expensive. It’s also not a toy. But when you use it for its intended purpose of high speed wireless and Ethernet capacities for every gamer and PC user in your home, it stands head and shoulders above the competition.
The AC3200 is also one of the only routers that has tri-band speeds and up to six antennas for improved speed, stability, and reach of your wireless connections.
Although the AC3200 may not be one’s first choice for a single gamer, it is the best solution if you have five or more gamers all scrapping for that delicious internet bandwidth. This device will put an end to intra-house arguments over your connection once and for all.
We’d hate to sound like your mother, but this could be seen as a more sensible option than the last two routers we have reviewed.
Simple, affordable, robust. These are the words that describe the RT-N66U from Asus. What we liked the most about this router is that although it features a classic design, it still has more than enough performance under the hood to be recommended to anyone who wants to tear it up online.
It also features a range of handy features such as concurrent dual-band transmissions and a wealth of Ethernet ports for the fastest, most reliable internet performance possible.
In addition to being a reliable router for your entire household, it also comes with a wireless data storage option that allows access to router-connected USB storage devices. You can share your favorite pics and screencaps of your victories directly from your router if your other hardware supports this.
You also get expanded wireless coverage with its three detachable high-powered antennas, meaning every nook and cranny of your household is pleasantly accounted for, leaving no blind spots.
Although the set up may not be as fancy or intuitive as some of the other routers in this guide, installation is still quick and easy. The menus are simple to configure, and your network will be detected automatically from the time that you plug your router in your phone line or cable connection.
In short, this router is a realistic solution for most households. It has a classic and visually appealing design, without the outlandish features seen in some of the most ostentatious routers that we have covered in this guide. It’s a definitely a good buy.
- Very affordable
- Simple installation
- Compact size
- Three antennas for extra reach and faster speed
- Well-known brand
- Data storage facilities
- One of the most basic options
- Nothing fancy or different about this one
The RT-N66U is a basic model that will suit most gaming households. It still comes with QoS and other traffic-shaping capabilities to handle a gamer’s demands, and it is still fast enough to get you online and dominating out of the box.
This is a great router for the budget gamer or someone who would like to spread around their budget to other devices for more impactful gameplay, such as buying an expensive graphics card, chair, or CPU.
It’s still well worth to consider the N66U if you’re on the fence, as the reviews so far look very promising.
NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S – AC2600
The Nighthawk AC2600 is the upgraded model rom the AC 1900 that we covered earlier in this guide. A huge selling point to this one is its 4×4 channel connections, which means you get four downstream pipes and four upload pipes.
The amount of data pipes, or channels that your router affects how fast your connection will be, especially when downloading or uploading large files.
Having enough channels is particularly pronounced when torrenting, as a single computer on a network can easily clog up the connection for the rest of the computers if it is using an excessive amount of resources.
When you have a device such as the AC2600, each channel can be dedicated or switched around so that the whole ecosystem of data is supported. No one will be left in the dark thanks to its wide range of channels, and you can be assured that your performance and ping will be the best it has ever been
Other features of the AC2600 include:
- Compatible with Amazon Echo/Alexa – Control your home network using voice commands.
- AC2600 WiFi-800+1733 Mbps speeds; Ranked #1 in AC2600 performance by Small Net Builder
- Four-stream (4×4) WiFi Architecture for smoother 4K video streaming and lag-free gaming and 160MHz radio for double the bandwidth for mobile devices
- Multi-user MIMO technology for more throughput; Top spot in MU-MIMO router performance comparison by Small Net Builder
- Powerful 1.7GHz dual core processor and dynamic QoS for smooth jitter-free gaming
- Network storage-ready with superfast twin USB 3.0 and eSATA; Use ReadyCLOUD to access the storage anytime from anywhere
- Secure access to home services using OpenVPN — with iOS and Android app support
As you can see, this is the heavy duty option for gamers who want premium performance at an affordable price.
There aren’t too many downsides that come with this router, as it is generally known as one of the best devices that money can buy.
Below you can see some of the pros and cons of this router.
- One of the best routers that money can buy
- Huge amount of features
- Four-stream WiFi Architecture
- Very cool design
- Dual Core Processor
- Not everyone can use all the features
- A bit expensive
If you are in the market for a heavy duty router to take care of all your gaming needs, then this model is definitely something to look out for.
Although the device is quite expensive for what it is, the router provides a huge amount of performance in a package that is affordable for most people’s budgets, especially if your goal is glory in the online arena.
We highly recommend that you at least consider this router due to its numerous positive reviews.
ASUS RT-AC5300 Wireless AC5300
We’ve saved the best for last with the RT-AC5300 from ASUS. This device is simply the ultimate in gaming gear when it comes to purchasing a router, as it supplies the highest frequency signals of any that can be found on the market.
Its sleek, aggressive styling will leave others in awe as soon as you take it out of the box, and its huge amount of antennas means that it’s far more than just eye candy. You’ll be able to get a strong signal anywhere in your house with this beast.
Like any good gaming router, the AC5300 is a tri-band model with dual 5Ghz and a single GHz frequencies using the latest 802.11ac technology. This router is so insanely powerful that it provides coverage for up to 5,000 sq ft!
This makes it perfect to be used a commercial solution, such in a warehouse or office building, or for when you have your friends over to play games or share files in a LAN setting.
A great thing about this router is that it comes packed with features such as:
- Built-in access to WTFast gamers private network for low-stable ping times for gaming.
- AiProtection by Trend Micro provides incredible protection from viruses and for saving sensitive data.
- ASUS’ Smart Connect delivers consistent bandwidth by switching the devices in your home between the 2.4 and 5GHz frequencies based on speed and signal strength
- IT was ranked as being the highest customer satisfaction with wireless routers in the US by J.D Power!
- One of the most powerful routers that money can buy
- Extreme range, signal quality, and speed
- Comes loaded with extra goodies from ASUS to ensure a low ping throughout the day
- Ranks number #1 as the best router to buy on many gaming networks
- Bulky and large
- Not everyone could use all of the features
So there we have it. Thanks very much for reading our guide on choosing the best router for gaming. We hope that you found this article interesting and informative.
As always, the device that you ultimately choose to clench more games will come down to your budget and own expectations of success. For this reason, we have not included any of he prices in this guide.
If you’d like to see the updated shipping and pricing details for any of the models here, simply click the router’s link. There you will be taken its listing on Amazon where you can see the latest deals and promotions that are available or your country.