Imagine the following scenario. You are sitting on a bean bag with controller in hand. You have that rush of adrenaline, you’re in a CoD team deathmatch and the kill count is all tied up. A few more kills for your team, you win, a few more deaths, you lose. You’re about to clench that free headshot on your delightfully unaware opponent. Then suddenly the internet speed bogs down and throws all your well conceived plans out the window! Irritating, right? Does this happens often with you? If you’re using an old router, this may very well be the heart of the problem. In this article, we check out some of the best routers for gaming available that will put an end to the connection issues. While nothing matches a wired connection in terms of performance and stability, some of the top performing routers are getting close.

Zoom Out: Comparison Table of the 10 Best Routers for Gaming

Here are the top routers for gaming [in price ascending] of this year. For a closer look at these popular options, head to our ‘Zoom In’ section.

ImageRouterSpeedPortsRAMCPUCost
ASUS RT-ACRH13Up to 1300Mbps4 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 1 USB 3.0128MB717Mhz
TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 Up to 1900Mbps4 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0128MB1.0GHz
Linksys WRT32XUp to 3200Mbps4 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 1 USB/eSata, 1 USB 3.0512MB1.8GHz
ASUS RT-AC68UUp to 1900Mbps4 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0256MB1.0GHz
Netgear Nighthawk R7000Up to 1300Mpbs4 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0256MB1.0GHz
Netgear Nighthawk X6Up to 3200Mbps4 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0256MB1.0GHz w/ 3 Offload Processors
ASUS RT-AC88UUp to 3200Mbps4 Ethernet, 1 WAN,
1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0
512MB1.0GHz
Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming RouterUp to 2600Mbps4 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 2 USB 3.0512MB1.7GHz
TP-Link Archer C5400XUp to 5334Mbps8 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 2 USB 3.0128MB1.8GHz
ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300Up to 5334Mbps8 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 2 USB 3.0512MB1.8GHz

Gaming Router Guide Part I: General Thoughts on Gaming Routers

There’s no doubt about it, sudden decreases in bandwidth and general connection inconsistency will take away your ability to compete in most competitive multiplayer games. Even if you’re not into competitive games, a struggling internet connection will quickly sour most online gaming experiences. While a router is not going to magically make your internet service faster — if you’re on that dial up may the Gods have mercy on you — it is an integral piece of the stable connection puzzle.

how-a-gaming-router-works

The first and most necessary piece of a good connection is paying for a high speed internet service, ideally a cable or fiber hookup. These two matched together will provide you with consistent, high speeds that are perfect for transferring large amounts of data. In this case the data happens to be all those graphical and CPU intensive tasks that video games require.

Another thing to remember is that nothing beats hardwiring your PC or console via an ethernet port. It is like the old wireless vs. wired mouse debate. Performance is just a little better with the wired options. Though wireless technology has much improved (in both mouses and routers) the ideal scenario is to have that physical connection between modem and computer and/or console.

Nevertheless, the ideal is not always the real. Sometimes due to the wiring of your house or apartment hardwiring just isn’t possible. And to further foil our plans, for some reason not all members of the household appreciate a 50 foot ethernet cable running down the hallway from the router/modem to the gaming set up. At any rate, the next best thing to hardwiring your ethernet connection is setting up a robust wireless network and these gaming routers are just the ticket.

ASUS Wireless Router Phone App

Router Phone Apps Come in Handy

Fortunately, router technology has evolved and there are now gaming type routers that are made specifically for handling the heavy gaming workloads. Furthermore, these routers double as not just a gaming utility, but will benefit everyone else who uses the internet. Netflix, downloading music, video and other large files will all become faster. Investing in such top notch router for gaming, is surely going to pay dividends if you plan on doing a lot of gaming and as an added benefit will make all internet related tasks better. Your house may even become the place to gather for marathon gaming sessions with your buddies.

These gaming routers are very different from regular routers. They use advanced technology and also have some pretty cool extra features that you won’t find in your standard $50 router. In our next section, we get into the nitty gritty technical details about what your extra dollars are really going towards when spending the extra dough on one of these fancy spaceships.

Likely, once you switch to a high performance gaming router you will never ever want to switch back over to a cheap router again. Outside of getting a fiber connection, this is one of the best ways to improve your internet connection’s performance. Gaming routers optimize gaming related traffic — prioritizing gaming data packets — while boosting performance for everyone on the network improving streaming/browsing/downloading/uploading activities.

This is one of the very best features in that it gives priority to the gaming data packets and thus helps in preventing decrease in speed even if other activities are simultaneously being accessed by other devices using the same WiFi. These routers are the ideal solution for lag free performance while playing online. Regular routers fail to provide top tier performance as they lack feature such as port aggregation, dual band/tri band networking, and identifying and giving priority to gaming data packets.

Gaming Router Guide Part II: What to Look for Before Purchasing a New Gaming Router

So are you ready now to replace your old regular router with a gaming router? Easy does it. Don’t forget to go through a quick checklist of some features to make sure you get your money’s worth.

AUS WRT Gaming Router User Interface

AUS WRT Gaming Router User Interface

Buying a technical device can be an overwhelming task for some and a breeze for others. But the bottom line is if you’re going to invest in one of these bad boys you may as well get the best one for your home or apartment. Just make sure that the router contains the following essential features and you’ll achieve the ideal network for gaming!

The features you should consider while buying a router are as follows:

  • High Bandwidth range
  • Dual Band WiFi or Tri Band (For easy and smooth multiple device connections)
  • Latest standard of 802.11 ac. (This indicates that it supports Gigabits speed)
  • Good Data rate
  • High Frequency band (Preferable 5 GHz)
  • QoS (Quality of service)
  • Good Software and Security Features

These are the basic features a good gaming router should have. But of course, this all also depends on your budget. If money is not an issue, you don’t need to make compromises. Just optimize your selection decision by looking and combining all the above features and staying within your budget.

Fortunately, electronics are one category where continuous innovation keeps pushing prices lower. You can get a rock solid router for $80-100 and if you are willing to spend $200+ you can all the cutting edge features.

Gaming Router Guide Part III: What About Those New Mesh Router Kits?

Mesh routers are the latest new thing in home networking. The jury is still out on these mesh routers for the most part in terms of gaming performance. These mesh networks do not have built in features to prioritize and optimize gaming traffic, so for now we are pointing gamers away from them until gaming technology is improved. In general, we highly recommend sticking with the tried and true conventional gaming router if you’re home is less than 2500 square feet. In any case, the ideal setup is one where you’ll have your router positioned by your console or PC you do the most gaming on, so you can hardwire that system via an Ethernet cable for reliable performance.

Linksys Velop Mesh Router

For extremely large homes or those with challenging deadspots such as a basement or a third floor of a townhome and the like, you may indeed want to consider one of these mesh routers. These true mesh router systems are similar to the router and extender configurations many a gamer has used to get a good signal, however they come in a kit, pre-packaged with 2-3 identical devices that “mesh” together. There are good products in both categories. Usually these mesh systems are also bolstered by a fancy smartphone app, which is handy to control and manage everything.

FAQ: Normal Routers vs. Gaming Routers

Q: What exactly am I paying for when shelling out all this extra cash for a gaming type router?

A: Extra ports, beefier processor, prioritized traffic, dual band / tri band networking, better security, smartphone router app, and software with easy configuration user interface. Essentially you are getting all the latest and greatest hardware with a brand new router. There are also nifty bonus features such as embedded VPN support so your computer doesn’t have to run VPN software in the background which takes up valuable resources.

ASUS RT-AC5300 Wireless AC5300 Tri-Band Gigabit Router, AiProtection with Trend Micro for Complete Network SecurityQ: What are all the extra ports on gaming routers used for?

A: One of the obvious things you will notice are extra ports. True enough, unless you have multiple systems or host lan parties from time-to-time you may not get much use out of all the extra ethernet ports. This being said, you also typically get one or more USB ports and a WAN port.

Q: What are the USB ports used for on a gaming router?

A: Plug your printer into the router. This enables you to easily set up a local printer server so that any device on your network can access that printer. Also, you can connect a USB flash drive or portable hard drive to the router. Then using any device, smartphone, tablet, etc. you can access the content on that hard drive via the network. Another neat trick is that it doubles as a way to charge your phone if you have the right cable.

Q: How will my network be optimized for gaming?

A: The best routers for gaming are well optimized to meet the needs of demanding games while keeping everyone else on the network happy. The path gaming packets take once they leave your network can greatly impact ping time and stability. Inefficient hops lead to lag and inconsistent performance and even packet loss. These routers have processors, sometimes even dual core processors, that optimize all this activity and efficiently balance tri band networks for example. Some routers such as the ASUS RT-AC5300 even have a built-in private network which they have dubbed the WTFast Gamers Private Network (GPN). This ensures that gaming activity is optimally routed, providing low and stable ping times for gaming.

Q: What is 5 Ghz? What is 2.4 GHz?

A: These are two distinct frequencies, or ‘bands’, that devices can connect to. The main difference is that 5 GHz is faster but doesn’t reach as far as 2.4 GHz. The location of where your router is setup will determine which you connect to. Some routers, like the ASUS RT-AC5300 uses a technology called ASUS Smart Connect, which will deliver consistent bandwidth by dynamically switching devices between 5 and 2.4 GHz bands based on speed, signal strength, and load.

5Ghz and 2.4Ghz Bands

Here’s an excellent video from TechQuickie explaining the benefits of Tri Band:

Zoom In: A Closer Look at the Top 10 Best Routers for Gaming

Here’s a detailed look at the gaming routers in our ‘Zoom Out’ comparison table section.

1. ASUS AC1300 Router [RT-ACRH13]

ASUS RT-ACRH13 Dual-Band 2x2 AC1300 Wifi 4-port Gigabit Router

  • Top Speed: 1267Mbps
  • Tech: Dual Band
  • CPU: 717Mhz
  • RAM: 128 MB
  • WiFi Compatibility: 802.11 b/g/n/ac
  • Software: ASUSWRT
  • Phone App: Yes

The AC1300 is the entry performance router offer from ASUS. Using the latest 2×2 MU-MIMO tech, this gives you up to 1267 Mbps of combined speed. One of the top features of this router is that it sports four external antennas. These aren’t just for looks, they enhance your coverage and stability. While not as wide coverage as a mesh wifi network, you’re going to get decent coverage up to about 2,000 square feet. Thanks to ASUSWRT software for your computer and ASUS Router App for your phone, naming, password protecting, and managing your network is a breeze.

2. TP-Link AC1900 Router [Archer C9]

TP-Link AC1900 Long Range Wireless Wi-Fi Router - Amazon's Choice for Essential Wi-Fi Router

  • Top Speed: 1900Mbps
  • Tech: Dual Band / Beamforming
  • CPU: 1GHz Dual Core
  • RAM: 128 MB
  • WiFi Compatibility: 802.11 b/g/n/ac
  • Software: No (Use Browser)
  • Phone App: Tether by TP-Link

The Archer C9 from TP-Link is one of the most popular, best selling routers available. It received Amazon’s Choice for Essential Wi-Fi Router. If you’re on the hunt for a router near the $100 price point, you can’t go wrong with this reliable router. Whether you have just one desktop plugged in or a dozen devices, the 1GHz dual core processor works hard to make sure simultaneous requests are handled without interruption. The Tether App by TP-Link is a functional Wi-Fi management app available for both iOS and Android. Its simple layout is intuitive and it doesn’t bog you down with too many settings or technical mumbo jumbo.

3. Linksys AC3200 [WRT32X]

Linksys AC3200 Dual-Band WiFi Gaming Router with Killer Prioritization Engine

  • Top Speed: 3200Mbps
  • Tech: Dual Band / MU MIMO
  • CPU: 1.8GHz Dual Core
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • WiFi Compatibility:  802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Software: WRT32X Dashboard
  • Phone App: No

A step up from the ASUS AC1300 and TP-Link AC1900, this ASUS gaming router features 5th generation WiFi with a very high speed up to 3.2 Gbps. Linksys brands the WRT32X as a gaming router due in part to the Killer Prioritization Engine technology built into this router. This clever technology helps the router prioritize gaming traffic. So in those instances where bandwidth is limited those who may be using Netflix for example in the house may get some choppiness, your game of Call of Duty will be as smooth as butter.

Four powerful antennas backed by DFS (Dynamic Frequency Selection) tech beam your signal throughout your home for top notch coverage and signal reliability. It also features Linksys’ custom WRT32X dashboard UI for easy setup, control, and monitoring. A perfect fairly priced router for gamers with great gaming features you normally don’t see at this price point.

4. ASUS AC1900 [RT-AC68U]

ASUS Dual-band Wireless-AC1900 Gigabit Router, Black ( RT-AC68U)

  • Top Speed: 1900Mbps
  • Tech: Dual Band / Beamforming
  • CPU: 1GHz Dual Core
  • RAM: 256 MB
  • WiFi Compatibility: 802.11 ac/b/g/n
  • Software: ASUSWRT, ASUS AiCloud
  • Phone App: ASUS Router App

This is the bigger brother of the 1300. It tops out at 1900 Mbps instead of the 1300 its little brother offers. The ASUS AiCloud service allows you to access and share your data wherever you are as well as create a private cloud server for family and friends. The big win here is the Broadcom TurboQAM technology that’s built in. It essentially super chargers the 802.11n performance which allows up to 600Mbps with compatible devices.

5. NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 [R7000]

netgear-nighthawk-r700

  • Top Speed: 1300Mpbs
  • Tech: Dual Band / Beamforming
  • CPU: 1.0GHz Dual Core
  • RAM: 256 MB
  • WiFi Compatibility: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Software: Netgear Genie
  • Phone App: Yes

This is one of the best gaming router with features such as 1 GHz dual core processor, USB 3.0 for smooth connection of devices. It is supported by an open source community. And it also features DD-WRT firmware. This is also a budget device which comes at $180 at street price with actual price of $200. It also claims to have the Wi-Fi speed of 1300 Mbps.

It features beam forming thus improving range and giving high level performance. This gaming router also have high power antennas and amplifiers that significantly increase the WiFi range. It has a both high quality upstream and downstream Quality of Service to provide you with great gaming performance and even great video streaming speed. So a great overall device that can easily slip into your budget as well!

6. Netgear Nighthawk X6 [R8000]

netgear-nighthawk-x6-ac3200-tri-band-gigabit-wi-fi-gaming-router

  • Top Speed: 3200Mbps
  • Tech: Tri Band / Smart Connect / Beamforming
  • CPU: 1.0GHz Dual Core w/ 3 Offload Processors
  • RAM: 256 MB
  • WiFi Compatibility: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Software: Netgear Genie
  • Phone App: Netgear Genie App / ReadySHARE Vault App

This is certainly a very good choice for hardcore gamers. It can give you fastest of speeds up to 3.2 Gbps. It has got 6 external high performance antennas which are used for amplifying the WiFi range. Also it has the standard 4 gigabit ethernet ports as 1 USB 2.0/3.0.

It has got 2 port aggregation meaning that it is sure to provide you with some very high wired speed. It has got smart connect which connects intelligently the fastest available WiFi band for each device. It also boasts of dynamic QoS and thus very efficient in prioritizing data traffic. It also features secured cloud storage system. Overall, you’re getting one of the best tri-band routers for the money.

7. ASUS AC3100 [RT-AC88U]

asus-dual-band-wireless-ac3100-gigabit-router

  • Top Speed: 3200Mbps
  • Tech: Dual Band / MU MIMO / Beamforming / WTFast Gamers Private Network
  • CPU: 1.4GHz Dual Core
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • WiFi Compatibility: 802.11 ac/n/g/a/b
  • Software: ASUSWRT
  • Phone App: ASUS Router App
  • Coverage: Up to 5000 square feet
  • Advanced Security: ASUS AiProtection

This router has got wireless speed up to 3167 Mbps and 1.4 GHz dual core processor. With double gaming boost technology, it certainly going to give you a high performance. It has also got Gamers Private Network which performs route optimization and gives most efficient route for gaming data packets. This results in lower ping time and reduces the packet loss as well. It also supports almost every operating system like Windows, Mac and Linux. So what more do you want? Go and buy this one for an ultimate performance!

8. Netgear Nighthawk Pro [XR500] *Editor’s Choice Award*

NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming WiFi Router

  • Editor’s Choice Award
  • Top Speed: 2600Mbps
  • Tech: Dual Band / MIMO / Geo-Filter / QoS
  • CPU: 1.7GHz Dual Core
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Software: DumaOS
  • Phone App: Netgear Genie App
  • Coverage: Up to 5000 square feet
  • Security: VPN / WPA /WPA2 / Gaming VPN

The XR500 Pro Gaming Router was released in January 2018. It features the innovative DumaOS software that makes managing your wireless network a piece of cake. If you have the savvy, you can get as granular as you like with the settings or you can step back and let the XR500 optimize things for you. The Nighthawk XR500 wins our Editor’s Choice Award for best gaming router.

We’ve got a full featured review of the Nighthawk XR500 complete with a walkthrough of the setup and overview of the DumaOS and gaming performance. Long story short? We think the XR500 is worth every dollar if you do a lot of online console gaming.

9. TP-Link Archer AC5400 [C5400X]

TP-Link Archer AC5400 Tri Band Gaming Router

  • Top Speed: 5334Mbps
  • Tech: Tri Band / Beamforming / MU-MIMO / Airtime Fairness
  • CPU: 1.8GHz Quad Core
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • WiFi Compatibility: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Software: SharePort Plus
  • Phone App: D-Link QRS Mobile
  • Security: TP-Link HomeCareTM

The TP-Link Archer C5400X is a great gaming router for larger homes as well as those of us looking for an easy to use router. This router won JD Power’s Best Router Award. We thought they only had awards for cars too! Combine the power of beam forming with TP-Link’s RangeBoost and you’ve got yourself a potent signal that travels the distance.

One glaring deficiency of this router is that it doesn’t feature special technology to help reduce latency like other gaming routers around this price. Nevertheless, it terms of antennae, coverage, speed, and ports it performs well. The fact that it shines in the user experience arena with the easy setup and managing of settings sets this router apart from the pack.

10. ASUS ROG Rapture [GT-AC5300]

ROG-Rapture ASUS Gaming Router Tri-band WiFi

  • Top Speed: 5334Mbps
  • Tech: Tri-Band / MU-MIMO / Beamforming / AiMesh / ROG Gaming Center
  • CPU: 1.8GHz Dual Core
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • WiFi Compatibility: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Software: ROG Gaming Center
  • Phone App: ASUS Router App

The ASUS ROG Rapture gives you top tier performance and cutting edge software and analytics (as you’d expect for the price!) with AC5300 tri band speed. Testing of this unit has indicated excellent FPS and low video packet loss. This gaming router has got a robust Quad Core 1.8 GHz processor. The Multi user MIMO provides optimized high speeds to multiple devices.

Incredible technologies like WTFast Gamers Private Network, VPN Fusion, Game IPS (Intrusion Prevention Systems), and AiMesh offer users the cutting edge in gaming router network customization. The ROG Rapture offers tri-band speeds of up to 5,334Mbps. At about $450 it’s nothing to sneeze at, but if you want the very best router regardless of price, this is it.

Honorable Mention: Netgear Pro Gaming Switch [SX10]

NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming 10 port Gigabit Switch 2

Building on the success of last year’s S8000 Gaming Switch, Netgear delivered the new SX10 to compliment its Pro Gaming lineup (see the XR500 in this list). This could be your LAN party’s new best friend. It has 8 LAN ports with two of them featuring 10 GB speeds. Gamers will appreciate the latency and bandwidth controls managed in the accompanying web based interface. And yes, Netgear did not forget to light this bad boy up with adjustable RGB LED’s on each port. One area of concern on this switch is that most routers do not have 10 Gb ports therefore the SX10 Pro Gaming Switch doesn’t fully ‘stack’ with them. Furthermore, this switch cannot be controlled with the DumaOS software we like so much that is a cornerstone of the XR500 router further up in this list. As Netgear charges further into the Pro Gaming space we expect a wholly integrated experience will be on its way in good time.

NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming 10 port Gigabit Switch


We hope your decision to buy a gaming router has become an easier one.

May your future be forever lagless.

Happy gaming!