The best gaming routers provide the fastest possible speeds and connectivity for even the most demanding gamers. Contemporary gamers, like everyone else in modern life, require a fast internet connection almost all of the time, but there’s more to it than just connectivity when it comes to playing video games. A steady and fast internet connection is required for online gaming, but it is also necessary to preserve that connection while other people and devices compete for bandwidth.
Gaming routers are capable of much more than just providing steady speeds. Keeping latency to a minimum allows you to stay in the game without being slowed down by a sluggish connection. The usage of bandwidth priority means that your game will not be interrupted if someone else in the house decides to watch Netflix at the same time. They provide a greater degree of customization than the majority of consumer routers. Furthermore, they include excellent security measures that ensure that dangerous hackers or undesirable viruses will never hinder you from enjoying your next gaming session.
Only a handful of the hundreds of routers we test and analyze each year are deemed to be dedicated gaming routers, according to our criteria. Below you’ll find a selection of the best gaming routers we’ve evaluated, as well as a few less-specialized devices that nevertheless provide the high throughput and short latency times that gamers demand.
Read More: Best Wifi Router
What are the best gaming routers?
With the Asus RT-AX86U, which is a wifi 6 powerhouse, gamers can achieve category-leading performance while also benefiting from an extensive set of capabilities that allow them to fine-tune their wifi network to their own needs.
The TP-Link Archer C5400X is the best wifi 5 gaming router available, and it was once the industry’s top performer. It is still a fantastic choice for anybody seeking a low-cost alternative that provides good gaming performance. It isn’t the finest you can buy, but it is much less expensive than wifi 6 devices, which you may not be able to take benefit of to their full potential just yet.
Continue reading for a complete list of our top recommendations for the best gaming routers.
1. Asus RT-AX88U
When it comes to the best gaming router, performance takes the win. The Asus RT-AX86U is a wifi 6 powerhouse that provides amazing speeds and killer gaming features, as well as awesome customization possibilities. With high-end performance and lifelong protection against intrusions and viruses, it’s also an excellent solution for safeguarding your entire home network, offering long term security without a membership charge, and carrying a two-year warranty.
But the main appeal of the Asus RT-AX86U is the performance, which approaches the magical 1Gbps threshold to deliver quick and simple connectivity for all of your devices. With the outstanding range and exceptional performance – even through walls and across floors – the RT-AX86U is equal parts general-use router and premium gaming router, and the collection of features and ports it offers are a bargain compared to some of the top-performing gaming gear. It even receives a nomination as the runner up for best wifi router for gaming in 2021. If you want the best wifi 6 gaming router, the Asus RT-AX86U is it.
2. TP-Link Archer C5400X
Formerly known as “the gaming router to beat,” the TP-Link Archer C5400X continues to be a great choice for gamers who do not want to pay more for wifi 6 technology. While it provides some of the finest 802.11ac performance you’ll find in any single home networking device, its tri-band performance is among the best in the industry. It delivers 1.167Gbps over its 2.4GHz band and 2.167Gbps over each of its two 5GHz channels. As for coverage, it offers more than 100 feet of excellent coverage, which is sufficient to provide a strong, clear wifi signal to the majority of households.
However, the collection of optimization and security features that will please any power user is the true selling point. The spider-like 8-antenna design and red-on-black color scheme are guaranteed to attract attention. With superb bandwidth-allocation settings that let you use the huge throughput anyway you choose, this wifi router for gaming puts outstanding performance in the hands of the user, whether they are gaming or doing something else on their computer.
3. Asus RT-AX86U
The Asus RT-AC86U router may not be the best performer in terms of short range, but it more than makes up for it with its excellent long range performance. The RT-AC86U is an 802.11ac router that offers a fantastic combination of performance, security software, and gaming upgrades. It is in a league of its own, offering an amazing combination of value and performance.
The dual-band gaming router includes lifelong internet protection from Trend Micro, a plethora of customization options, and some of the greatest performance you can find for less than $200 on the market. And, despite the fact that its performance is outperformed by other, more costly wifi 6 models, the RT-AC86U is capable of providing a safe and relatively fast online experience for every member of the household.
4. Netgear Nighthawk AX4
The use of wifi 6 gaming routers is becoming more widespread across product lines, and the Nighthawk AX4 is a great illustration of what this specification can do, even on a more modestly priced device. The Nighthawk AX4 does not feature the bright colorful stripes and LEDs found on high-end gear, instead opting for a more subtle look. This model features a horizontal design with two external antennae, four gigabit LAN connections, one USB connector, and an array of green indication LEDs down the left side of the case.
Though it may also be accessed through a web portal, the interface is handled by the Nighthawk app, which makes it less specific because it does not have the DumaOS, but rather the more recognized Netgear interface. There is also Quality of Service (QoS), which may be turned on or off with a simple toggle. There is still no granular control to properly balance gaming requirements with media streaming across several connected devices in order to improve the experience.
When it comes to throughput, the AX4 produced some impressive results in testing, with a near testing speed of 344 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz frequency and 345 Mbps on the 5 GHz frequency, respectively. Additionally, there was no slacker on the distant testing, with 222 megabits per second on the 2.4 GHz frequency and 309 megabits per second on the 5 GHz frequency, which demonstrated the wifi 6 standard value. The Netgear AX4 is an intriguing option for people looking for the increased throughput that wifi 6 provides at a more inexpensive price than most other options.
5. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000
The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is the first gaming router on the market to support wifi 6, making it a gamer’s dream, thanks to its fast performance over greater distances, low latency, and a host of other characteristics that gamers have come to anticipate. When you add it all up, most other wifi gaming routers are now considered second-rate.
The GT-AX11000 is enormous, with a big base, eight swiveling antennae, and a whopping 10.8Gbps maximum throughput. It also has a large footprint. Because of its tri-band architecture and four downstream Gigabit LAN connections, as well as a single 2.5G Base T Ethernet connection and two USB 3.0 connectors, this wireless router provides an abundance of connectivity. With lots of control built in, including gaming-specific improvements, and the ability to link it with other Asus routers to create a mesh network to cover a bigger home, this router gaming is an excellent choice. At $450, it is a significant investment, but it is one of the best wireless routers for gamers looking for a competitive advantage online.
6. Netgear Nighthawk XR1000
Because of its high performance and wifi 6 speeds, the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR1000 outperforms and outperforms the majority of competing gameplay routers in terms of both performance and gaming improvements. The Netgear’s high-throughput, low-latency design is jam-packed with customization choices and built-in security, which protects against hackers while still delivering excellent wifi 6 performance. It’s also ideal for somewhat bigger households, as its range of 105 feet allows it to easily cover the extra space that other routers are unable to cover. For those of you who find that your existing router isn’t up to par with your gaming capabilities, the XR1000 is one of the greatest gaming routers we’ve ever seen.
Through the use of a comprehensive dashboard of customization tools, you can optimize the router’s performance in a dizzying array of ways, from CPU usage monitoring to stats that identify which apps and devices are consuming the most data to connection tools that let you adjust connections based on ping rates and geographic location.
7. Asus RT-AC5300
An excellent high-end gaming router that is packed with an impressive array of useful functions, the Asus RT-AC5300 is a wonderful choice. Additionally, there is an amazingly simple yet powerful UI, in addition to full Quality of Service options. There are those who dislike the spider-like look, but the eight antennas are there for a reason: they assist guide your wifi signal around your home, giving this router a tremendous amount of range.
8. Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500
Having your roommates watching Netflix or downloading their own games at the same time as you may be aggravating if you’re a serious player. Try looking at something like the Netgear Nighthawk XR500 for a wireless router. The 2.2Gbps speed of this top gaming router, along with MU-MIMO compatibility – as well as unique gaming features like location-based connection filtering and QoS – will allow you to play games all night without experiencing any latency spikes that will make you feel like you’re being paralyzed. Just be prepared to pay a hefty premium and ensure that you’re OK with a very gamer-oriented appearance.
9. TP-Link Archer GX90
There are a few of aspects with the TP-Link Archer GX90 that you might not care for. It’s large, it’s heavy, and it’s too costly. The inconveniences are easily overlooked when you consider that you’re receiving a lot for your money in the first place. This is a high-speed, dependable wifi 6 router for gaming that has a number of features designed specifically for hard-core gamers. This features a special 5GHz ‘gaming band,’ which allows you to soak up the majority of your home’s bandwidth when you require it. Do you have any younger gamers in your household? Good parental controls, such as content filters to block inappropriate information, are also available, with accounts already created for children of various age groups.
10. Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852)
When you have a large house, a single router may not be enough to provide you with the wifi coverage you want. You’ll want to utilize a mesh router in these situations, which connects several nodes together to form a single seamless network that can cover even the largest of homes. However, they do not produce mesh routers that are especially designed for gaming. While it may not have all of the unique features found in specialized gaming routers, the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) is a fantastic mesh router that provides the highest throughput available in the mesh category at a reasonable price. The Orbi mesh router is our top recommendation for gamers because of its simple setup and fast wifi 6 speeds.
In addition to providing category-leading performance with a strong signal that punched through ceilings, floors, and walls with ease, the RBK852 provides tri-band coverage that can handle 5,000 square feet with only a two-pack consisting of a base unit and satellite extension, the RBK852. In addition to vastly enhanced performance and management of numerous devices, the Orbi is compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, allowing for seamless voice control across the house and throughout the world. Among mesh wifi 6 devices, the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) is the one to beat when it comes to performance.
12. TP-Link Archer AX6000
If you aren’t certain that you need specific gaming capabilities, but you still want the performance required for online gaming, we recommend the TP-Link Archer AX6000 router, which is our best budget-friendly wifi 6 router on the market today. The Archer AX6000 is the cheapest of the initial generation of wifi 6 devices, selling for around $100 less than other wifi 6 versions while providing robust throughput and excellent connection owing to a total of eight LAN ports on the device.
Although you won’t have access to the precise quality of service settings that a gaming router would provide, it will still provide good gaming-grade performance, which will easily outperform earlier 802.11ac versions. On top of that, the TP-Link Archer AX6000 has built-in security, which ensures that users are protected while still enjoying the high performance.
13. Asus RT-AC88U
The Asus RT-AC88U is a high-end gaming router with a high price tag. Its insane 802.11 wireless performance, on the other hand, more than makes up for its high price. This gaming router, which is equipped with four antennas and NitroQAM technology, which increases wireless performance, even more, may deliver wireless performance that exceeds the 1GB/sec limit. A caveat: you’ll need a NitroQAM wireless adapter, such as the Asus PCE AC88, in order to get these incredible speeds; nonetheless, with speeds like this, it’s easy to understand why this is one of the best gaming routers available.
What’s different about best wifi gaming router?
Whether you enjoy playing online games or are a dedicated gamer in general, having the best gaming router in your armory will be a welcome addition to your collection. In reality, each gamer, whether serious or casual, requires one at the heart of their network — because having a reliable, uninterruptible connection is just as important as having a high-end gaming PC of superior quality.
Although the last thing you want is to be interrupted or lag at critical times of your favorite online game, you don’t even have to wait till your network begins to encounter slowdowns during the most intense sections of your favorite online game. If you’ve ever attempted to download one of the most popular AAA titles, you’ve most certainly encountered network congestion, which made the process take an eternity owing to the overburdened bandwidth.
Gaming routers can in helpful in situations like these. These routers are designed particularly to meet the network requirements of gamers, prioritizing traffic to your PC and consoles when you need it the most, while still ensuring a reliable, continuous connection at all times. So it can help you save time even if you’re only downloading the greatest PC games from your Steam or Epic Games accounts.
If you plan to play any online games, you’ll need to include a gaming router in your setup. As a result, we’ve compiled a list of the finest of them, where you’ll find anything from models filled with gamer-centric features to models equipped with cutting-edge technology such as wifi 6.
But what distinguishes a gaming router from a normal wifi router is unclear. They both provide wireless internet access for your laptops, phones, and other gadgets, and they’re both based on the same wireless protocols, but what distinguishes gaming routers is that they add a little something more. The answer is a resounding yes.
Throughput and lag time are two important factors to consider.
The most significant distinction is that gaming routers are designed to provide both more bandwidth and – more importantly for games – reduced latency. In addition to allowing more data to flow into and out of your house, it also allows the data to move more quickly in both directions. Ping timings, which measure the amount of time it takes for a signal to travel from your gaming PC or console to the game servers, are reduced as a result of this. As a consequence, players will have a more responsive gaming experience in online games.
This improved performance is the result of improved hardware. It is essentially an advanced computer that handles all of the connections and information packets in your home network, sorting and moving them as necessary to link the various devices on your network. Additionally, like with any computer, better components will result in quicker performance. Gaming routers have more processing power and more built-in memory than the ordinary router, allowing them to deliver quicker performance while also managing more connections and maintaining latency to a bare minimum, as seen in the video below.
Management of available bandwidth:
The modern home is packed with networked gadgets, ranging from personal computers and gaming consoles to smart TVs and smartphones, as well as refrigerators and other household equipment. A packed house full of bandwidth-hungry devices results as a result of this arrangement. In order to ensure that your Netflix viewing is not hindered when your refrigerator has to download an update, all current routers have some kind of automated bandwidth prioritization. However, gaming routers go this a step further by including Quality of Service (QoS) capabilities.
In addition to more direct control over what bandwidth goes where, QoS features allow you to prioritize specific devices (such as your gaming rig), prioritize based on what activity or service is currently being used, and even to automatically re-adjust for factors such as the time of day, the number of devices, and other factors.
If the typical router is analogous to an automatic gearbox that can manage stop-and-go traffic without much hassle, then a gaming router is analogous to a manual transmission that places more control in the driver’s hands when they’re out on the track playing video games. Not everyone needs the increased control, but those who do vouch for its effectiveness.
A decent gaming router is also engineered to handle more and quicker connections, as well as a higher volume of connections. Adding more cable LAN connections (which provide faster speeds than wifi), greater support for Gigabit speeds and higher, and additional antennae to extend wifi range and handle more devices with ease are all benefits of this upgrade.
Add together all of these different features and sophisticated capabilities and it becomes clear why a dedicated gaming router is a wise investment for anybody looking to gain a competitive advantage in online gaming or just better support for a house full of technology.
How to choose the best gaming router for you
If you’re a PC gaming aficionado, you’re probably familiar with the concept of speed. Gaming rigs are only as good as their components, which include the most recent and fastest CPUs, enough RAM, the fastest solid state drive (SSD), and, of course, the greatest graphics cards available. In spite of the fact that this combination will undoubtedly result in a fast system, online gaming performance might still be adversely affected if the machine is linked to an overcrowded network with an Internet connection managed by an old-fashioned or overburdened wireless router. Furthermore, as a result of COVID-19, the majority of home networks are being taxed at a higher rate than they have ever been because so many people are working from home. If you place a high value on game performance, it is definitely worth your time to investigate the possibility of improving your network configuration.
Start with the things that are linked. There can be a plethora of phones, tablets, TVs, streaming video/music devices, and smart home gear connected to—and hammering—the ailing household router when you have a large family of gadgets. (It’s not an exaggeration to say that some families will have dozens of gadgets in use at any given time). Any online gamers in the home will have to compete for the router’s bandwidth not just with the rest of the household, but also with all of the smart gadgets in the house. As a result, performance might be erratic, and at times even substandard.
Firstly, many routers, including those we define as budget routers, include Quality of Service (QoS) options, which allow you to prioritize devices or programs that demand a large amount of bandwidth over others. However, only a small number of them include the game-specific options and optimizations that you would get on a specialized gaming router. If network slowness is interfering with your gaming experience, continue reading to learn how a gaming router may help you regain your competitive edge—as well as how to pick the gaming router that is right for your household, your playing style, and your budget.
While the characteristics listed above should give you a decent sense of what to look for in a gaming router, there are a few more considerations you should keep in mind when searching for a new device.
Speeds and performance standards:
The best wifi gaming routers are typically those that incorporate the most up-to-date and cutting-edge technology, with wifi standards serving as the most prominent example. Most of the latest versions are equipped with wifi 6, which is significantly quicker than the previous 802.11ac standard (retroactively named wifi 5).
It’s possible to save money by purchasing an earlier model with 802.11ac technology, but most people will want the greatest connections possible and should spend the extra money for wifi 6 technology.
As a bonus, you’ll want a router that can take full use of your broadband connection, and gigabit-speed internet service is the most reliable option available today. For those who do have gigabit service, however, they must also have a router that is capable of making use of the higher speeds offered by the connection. (Read more about Gigabit Internet in our post What Is Gigabit Internet?)
The features are what really matter after you’ve covered the fundamentals. Explore the specifics of a certain router’s Quality of Service tools in our product evaluations, consider the connectivity it provides – both in terms of wifi range and physical ports – and identify the combination of features that appears to best fit your desired degree of tinkering and control.
The final important factor to consider is the cost. The need to conserve money everywhere you can is reasonable when it comes to gaming, which is not a cheap pastime. However, if you cut too close to the bone, you may be stuck with mediocre performance or will be deprived of needed features.
On average, the best gaming routers will be more expensive than a normal gaming wifi router, with prices often ranging from $300 to $400. There are, however, methods to save money without sacrificing the functionality of your smartphone in the process. More affordable older devices that still match the essential specs should be able to suit your needs for speed and functionality while still being more affordable. Also, don’t forget about sales events, which can result in significant cost savings.
Should you buy a wifi router for gaming?
Why would you spend money on a gaming router when you already have a perfectly excellent one at home? You don’t have to be a die-hard gamer to benefit from one of them. Whether you prefer online and co-op games or you want to download a large number of games from Steam, gaming may consume a significant amount of your bandwidth, causing your network to slow down significantly.
A router designed particularly for gaming, on the other hand, will not only provide a solid, uninterrupted connection – which is critical during the most intense moments of your game – but will also allow you to prioritize traffic between your PC and gaming consoles. It will significantly enhance your gaming experience (as well as your download speed), by reducing lags and providing smoother visuals. It will also include technologies like MU-MIMO and Quality of Service (or QoS), which will allow you to take your network to the next level when playing with or against people from all over the world, among other things.
Additionally, multi-device families will reap the benefits, since gaming routers are better suited to manage a large number of devices and users simultaneously accessing the network.
Gaming router FAQ
Gaming routers have the ability to prioritize traffic to and from your gaming PC and consoles since they are designed to be greedy. Lag is reduced during online gaming sessions by using the best gaming router, even if other devices in your home are streaming or downloading content. In the event that you’ve been using the same router for several years, it may be time to consider an update if you want to get the most out of your internet.
Because wifi connections have the potential to be unstable, we recommend that you connect your gaming PC to your router through a direct cable wherever feasible to avoid interruptions. If everything else fails, a Powerline connection can be used. In recent years, wireless connections have been more reliable, and wifi 6 is now reliable enough to allow wireless VR streaming to be accomplished. You’ll throw up if there’s any delay introduced into the equation.
Wired connections are preferred for gaming, thus most of the best gaming routers include several LAN ports. However, they differ from ISP-provided gear in that they employ the most recent wireless standards, such as 802.11ax, often known as wifi 6. This means that a bigger number of devices will benefit from quicker and more efficient wireless data transmission. That final point is critical for delivering rock-solid wireless performance in an age of smart gadgets and appliances.
Before you spend a lot of money on a new router, you should make sure that it is compatible with your existing Internet service provider. Pass-through connectivity is not always available on ISP-provided cable modems, which makes it impossible to couple them with a high-performance router, as an example. As a result, it is critical to ensure that you are not squandering your money.