Imagine the following scenario: you are sitting on a bean bag with controller in hand. 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 clinch 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! All because you forgot to pick up one of the best routers for gaming.

Does this ever happen to you? Irritating, right? If you’re using an old router, this is likely 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.

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 below.

ImageRouterSpeedPortsRAMCPUCost
ASUS RT-ACRH13Up to 1300Mbps4 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 1 USB 3.0128MB717Mhz
TP-Link AC2600 Router [Archer A110] Up to 1700Mbps4 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 2 USB 3.0128MB1.4Hz
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
Linksys WRT32XUp to 3200Mbps4 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 1 USB/eSata, 1 USB 3.0512MB1.8GHz
ASUS RT-AC88UUp to 3200Mbps4 Ethernet, 1 WAN,
1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0
512MB1.0GHz
Netgear Nighthawk X6Up to 3200Mbps4 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0256MB1.0GHz w/ 3 Offload Processors
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

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

Here’s an in-depth look at the gaming routers from our Zoom Out comparison table section.

1. ASUS AC1300 Router [RT-ACRH13]

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

The AC1300 is the entry-level performance router offering from ASUS. Using the latest 2×2 MU-MIMO tech, this gives you up to 1267Mbps 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 it doesn’t offer 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.

High Ground View:

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

2. TP-Link AC2600 Router [Archer A110]

TP-Link AC2600 Smart WiFi Router - MU-MIMO, Gigabit, Beamforming, VPN Server, Works with Alexa&IFTTT(Archer A10)

The Archer C9 from TP-Link is one of the most popular, best-selling routers available. It received Amazon’s Choice for Essential WiFi 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 dual-core processor works hard to make sure simultaneous requests are handled without interruption. The Tether App by TP-Link is a functional WiFi 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.

High Ground View:

  • Top Speed: 1733Mbps
  • Tech: Dual-Band / Beamforming
  • CPU: 1.4GHz Dual-Core
  • RAM: 128 MB
  • WiFi Compatibility: 802.11 b/g/n/ac
  • Software: No (Use Browser)
  • Phone App: Tether by TP-Link

3. ASUS AC1900 [RT-AC68U]

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

This is the bigger brother of the 1300 listed above. It tops out at 1900Mbps 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 supercharges the 802.11 performance, which allows up to 600Mbps with compatible devices.

High Ground View:

  • 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

4. NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 [R7000]

netgear-nighthawk-r700

The NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 is one of the best gaming routers on the market, with cutting-edge technology like a 1 GHz dual-core processor and USB 3.0 for smooth device connectivity. Moreover, this budget device features DD-WRT firmware and WiFi speeds up to 1300Mbps.

It also boasts beamforming, high-power antennas, and excellent amplifiers that improve range and provide high-level performance. And that’s not to mention the high-quality upstream and downstream QoS that enhances your gaming performance and video streaming speeds! Overall, it’s a great device that’s easy on the wallet.

High Ground View:

  • 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

5. Linksys AC3200 [WRT32X]

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

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, the folks playing Netflix may get some choppiness, while your game of Call of Duty remains 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.

High Ground View:

  • 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

6. ASUS AC3100 [RT-AC88U]

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

The ASUS AC3100 Router boasts a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor that delivers wireless speeds up to 3167Mbps. With double gaming boost technology, it certainly gives you high performance. It also features Gamers Private Network, which performs route optimization for gaming data packets. This results in lower ping time and reduces the packet loss as well. It also supports almost every major operating system, including Windows, Mac, and Linux. So what more do you want? Go and buy this one for ultimate performance!

High Ground View:

  • 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

7. Netgear Nighthawk X6 [R8000]

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

This is an excellent choice for hardcore gamers, as it delivers blazing-fast speeds up to 3.2 Gbps. How does it achieve this? It’s all due to the 6 high-performance antennas which are used for amplifying the WiFi range, as well as 4 gigabit ethernet ports, and 1 USB 2.0/3.0.

The Netgear Nighthawk X6 also features 2 port aggregation, which provides you with sky-high wired speed. As for extras? You can look forward to technology like Smart Connect, which intelligently connects to the fastest available WiFi band on each device. It also boasts a dynamic QoS, which efficiently prioritizes data traffic. Overall, you’re getting one of the best tri-band routers for the money.

High Ground View:

  • 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

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

 

NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming WiFi Router

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.

High Ground View:

  • Top Speed: 2600Mbps
  • Tech: Dual-Band / MIMO / Geo-Filter / QoS
  • CPU: 1.7GHz Dual-Core
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • WiFi Compatibility: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Software: DumaOS
  • Phone App: Netgear Genie App

9. TP-Link Archer AC5400 [C5400X]

TP-Link Archer AC5400 Tri Band Gaming Router

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. In fact, this router won JD Power’s Best Router Award! Combine the power of beamforming 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.

High Ground View:

  • 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

10. ASUS ROG Rapture [GT-AC5300]

ROG-Rapture ASUS Gaming Router Tri-band WiFi

High Ground View:

  • Top Speed: 5334Mbps
  • Tech: Tri-Band / MU-MIMO / Beamforming / AiMesh / ROG Gaming Center
  • CPU: 1.8GHz Quad-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. Moreover, testing of this unit has indicated excellent FPS and low video packet loss. This gaming router has a robust Quad Core 1.8 GHz processor and multi-user MIMO that provides high optimized 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 complement 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 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.

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 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 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 an option. Sometimes due to the wiring of your house or apartment, hardwiring 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 setup. 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 HandyFortunately, 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, Youtube, and music downloads will all become faster. Investing in such top-notch router for gaming will surely pay dividends. 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 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 want to change 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 by enhancing streaming/browsing/downloading/uploading activities.

The best feature? Gaming routers give priority to the gaming data packets, thus preventing decreases in speed (even if other activities are simultaneously being accessed by other devices using the same WiFi). Naturally, these routers are the ideal solution for lag-free performance while playing online. Regular routers fail to provide top tier performance as they lack features such as port aggregation, dual-band/tri-band networking, and prioritizing gaming data packets.

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

Are you ready 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

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 or tri-band WiFi (for easy and smooth multiple device connections)
  • The latest standard of 802.11 ac (this indicates that it supports Gigabit speed)
  • Excellent data rate
  • High-frequency band (preferably 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 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, but the jury is still out on whether these mesh routers are better for gaming performance. That’s because these mesh networks don’t have built-in features to prioritize and optimize gaming traffic. So, for now, we are pointing gamers away from them until the technology is improved.

That is, unless you have a large home (or one with challenging deadspots such as a basement or third floor). In these instances, you may indeed want to consider one of these mesh routers.

Note that these mesh router systems are similar to the router and extender configurations many a gamer has used to get a good signal. However, those come in a kit, pre-packaged with 2-3 identical devices that “mesh” together.

Linksys Velop Mesh Router

An added bonus of mesh routers in large homes? Mesh systems are often bolstered by a fancy smartphone app, which is handy to control and manage everything.

Still — in general, we highly recommend sticking with the tried-and-true conventional gaming router if your 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.

Gaming Router Guide Part IV: Normal Routers vs. Gaming Routers FAQ

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 apps, and software with an 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 (this takes up valuable resources).

ASUS RT-AC5300 Wireless AC5300 Tri-Band Gigabit Router, AiProtection with Trend Micro for Complete Network Security

Q: 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 additional ethernet ports. That 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 significantly 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. 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 set up will determine which you connect to. Some routers, like the ASUS RT-AC5300, uses a technology called ASUS Smart Connect, which delivers consistent bandwidth by dynamically switching devices between 5 and 2.4 GHz bands based on speed, signal strength, and load.

Here’s an excellent video from TechQuickie explaining the benefits of tri-band:


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