First becoming commercially available in the 1990s, wireless routers were a breakthrough in home networking. Standard routers convert cable or other non-wireless internet inputs into a local area network (LAN) inside a home or office. Using a standard router to create a wireless local area network gives authorized users the freedom to enjoy internet connections anywhere in the transmitting range of the router. But why are the best routers for gaming important?
Unfortunately for gamers, many low-cost standard routers fail to deliver. They don’t provide the always-on, high-speed connectivity necessary to enjoy today’s most popular games. They barely provide adequate, let alone the best wireless connections. Fluctuations in bandwidth demand by other devices on the network are one reason for this. That and the limits of different transmitting frequencies can cause lag, interruptions, and other connection issues. These can seriously degrade the fun in competitive gameplay. Especially online gaming. Thankfully, advanced game routers are designed to provide outstanding security, improved coverage, and tailored allocation of bandwidth. This ensures that gamers can enjoy smooth, interruption-free play while still providing wireless and wired LAN coverage in their home or office.
Reviews of the Best Gaming Routers for 2020
We have carefully assessing all of the top gaming routers for sale on the market today. The results make up this list of some of the best available gaming routers.
NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S – AC2600 4×4 MU-MIMO Smart WiFi Dual Band Gigabit Gaming Router (R7800-100NAS)
The NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S is an outstanding dual-band gaming router. Featuring Quad Stream (4×4) Wave2 WiFi technology for improved range. With up to 160 MHz per channel and a powerful 1.6 GHz processor, gamers can enjoy lag-free gaming without compromising access to other users. The NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S comes with the Netgear genie software for customization. Two USB 3.0 ports allow for charging mobile device or connecting peripherals. Multi-User MIMO technology allows for smooth bandwidth allocation between devices.
- Compatible with Amazon voice assistant services
- 4×4 WiFi Architecture for smoother streaming
- Multi-user MIMO technology for enhanced throughput
- 1.7 GHz dual core processor
- Comes with 2 USB 3.0 ports
- Built-in OpenVPN with iOS and Android app support
- Dual-band 800 and 1733 Mbps wireless data delivery
- Great for online gaming
If money is not an issue, you may wish to go for a step up from this one. That comes in the form of the NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 WiFi Router with 4 Ethernet Ports and Wireless speeds up to 2.6 Gbps. This beast is Optimized for Low ping.
The TP-Link AC1200 gives gamers dual-band (5 GHz and 2.4 GHz) coverage for faster and more extensive connectivity anywhere in the house. This router comes with four Gigabit ethernet ports ideal for exciting LAN parties. Also, the included Tether app allows for precise customization of the router’s setting. The TP-Link AC1200 includes access to the manufacturer’s website for easy firmware updates. Another features is the router is designed to be used with the VPN server of your choice for enhanced security. The TP-Link AC1200 also comes with two USB 2.0 ports for connecting items or charging mobiles.
- Dual-band 1200 Mbps Wi-Fi
- 3 external antennas for better coverage
- 4 built-in Gigabit LAN ports
- Included Tether app for customization
- Simple, elegant design
- 2 USB ports for connecting peripherals and mobile devices
- 1 Gigabit WAN input
Looking like a futuristic spider on your desktop, the ASUS RT-AC5300 offers dynamic switching to provide optimal connectivity via three different frequencies (two 5GHz and one 2.4 GHz). With built-in access to the WTFast GPN and proprietary AiProtection, gamers using the ASUS RT-AC5300 can enjoy highly secure private networking ideal for multiplayer fun. The latest generation 802.11 ac wireless standard and quad technology delivers high-speed, uninterrupted coverage up to 5,000 square feet in size. The ASUS RT-AC5300 has its own built-in game accelerator powered by a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor to handle even the heaviest data loads. The ASUS RT-AC5300 also comes with the ASUS Router App to customize your router to provide an optimal gaming experience.
- Tri-band coverage
- Built-in access to WTFast Gamers Private Network
- Smart Connect dynamic bandwidth switcher
- 802.11 ac 4×4 technology provides up to 5,000 square feet of coverage
- Futuristic red and black design
- Mu-MIMO technology for enhanced bandwidth control
- Includes AiProtection for improved data security
From one of the best-known names in routers, the Linksys AC2400 uses proprietary Beamforming technology and dual frequencies to deliver faster wireless networking speeds. The Linksys AC2400 has four adjustable external antennas that combine with quad band transmission technology to ensure comprehensive coverage. Including four Gigaport ethernet connections and one eSATA port, the Linksys AC2400 is ideal for hosting exciting LAN parties.
- Dual band technology
- Quad streaming ideal for high-bandwidth gaming needs
- 4 adjustable external antennas
- 1 USB 3.0 port for connecting peripherals and mobile devices
- 1.4 GHz dual-core processor for faster data throughput
- Elegant, compact design
- 4 Gigaport ethernet ports
Looking much like a futuristic red spider, the D-Link AC3200 delivers blazing fast wireless internet using three different frequencies and AC SmartBeam technology that tracks connected devices and adjusts connectivity issues on the fly. The D-Link AC3200 comes with built-in intelligent QoS for seamless bandwidth optimization while the six high-performance external antennas ensure seamless coverage. The D-Link AC3200 comes with 1 USB 2.0 port and 1 USB 3.0 port for connecting peripherals or charging mobile devices as well as 4 Gigabit ethernet ports ideal for home LAN parties.
- Stylishly futuristic red design
- 6 high-performance external antennas
- 1 GHz dual core processor for faster data throughput
- Dynamic QoS bandwidth allocation
- Includes WPA/WPA2 encryption
- Proprietary AC SmartBeam manages bandwidth for connected devices
- Transmits across 2 5GHz and 1 2.4 GHz frequencies
The ASUS Dual-band Wireless-AC1900 delivers plenty of punch in an elegant black design. One of the fastest gaming routers on the market, the ASUS Dual-band Wireless-AC1900 uses a powerful 1 GHz dual-core CPU to pump out data at a lightning fast 1,900 Mbps. The ASUS Dual-band Wireless-AC1900 comes with 4 Gigabit ethernet, 1 USB 2.0, and 1 USB 3.0 ports for enhanced connectivity. The latest-generation 802.11 AC Wi-Fi standard and TurboQAM technology ensure lag-free, high-speed wireless connectivity.
- Dual band coverage (2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz) delivering up to 1,900 Mbps data throughput
- 5 Gigabit ethernet ports ideal for wired LAN parties
- 2 USB ports
- Build-in ASUS AiCloud services
- Broadcom TurboQAM technology can deliver up to 600 Mbps of wireless-N data
- Elegant black design
- 802.11 AC 3×3 Wi-Fi technology
A favorite amongst many professional gamers, the NETGEAR Nighthawk S8000 is an outstanding gaming router for home LAN parties thanks to its eight Gigaport ethernet ports. The built-in QoS bandwidth management ensures that data is sent where it is needed most while the plug-and-play design makes set-up a snap. The NETGEAR Nighthawk S8000 can be highly customized via a browser-based interface and two one-touch presets make it simple to get an optimal experience. The NETGEAR Nighthawk S8000 has a futuristic zinc-alloy design with a no-slip base, making this gaming router an aesthetically pleasing addition to any desktop. Port prioritization ensures that exciting gameplay is never compromised by other devices on the network.
- 8 Gigaport ethernet ports
- Futuristic design with no-slip base and zinc-alloy housing
- QoS bandwidth allocation
- IGMP snooping support ideal for multicasting
- Highly configurable using web interface
- Simple one-click setup
- 2 programmable one-touch presets
An icon on many gamer’s desktops, the NETGEAR N600 comes with the powerful Netgear network manager to allow for easy monitoring of traffic as well as customizing device access and bandwidth allocation. The dual band 2.4 GHz signal allows for reliable and fast wireless connectivity. The NETGEAR N600 can be set up to provide multiple simultaneous networks, ideal for gamers who want a dedicated network that takes priority over other connected devices. A simple button push conserves energy while the Energy Star compliant power supply reduces the environmental footprint of the NETGEAR N600. Optional parental controls and usage meters prohibit unauthorized access to unsafe content and data overages.
- Dual band coverage delivers 300 Mbps throughput
- Futuristic black and glowing blue LED design
- Included Netgear network manager makes intallation simple
- Includes multiple SSID support for multiple simultaneous networks
- QoS dynamic switching ensures gaming prioritization
- Energy Star compliant
- 4 Gigabit ethernet ports and 1 USB port
An excellent choice for gaming enthusiasts, the Cisco-Linksys WRT330N uses Wireless-N (802.11 n) Wi-Fi technology to eliminate dead spots and deliver robust coverage throughout your home or office. Built-in MIMO technology reduces lag while QoS ensures optimal bandwidth allocation ideal for dedicated gameplay experiences. The Cisco-Linksys WRT330N comes with four Gigabit ethernet ports for home LAN gaming excitement and 128-bit encryption ensures your data is kept private. The Cisco-Linksys WRT330N delivers up to 300 Mbps of wireless coverage and the futuristic shiny black design makes a great additional to any gamer’s desktop.
- 4 Gigaport ethernet ports
- Futuristic shiny black design
- MIMO technology for enhanced range
- QoS customizable bandwidth allocation
- 802.11n Wi-Fi technology
- Optional 128-bit encryption for enhanced security
- Range enhanced Wireless Access Port
Looking something like an alien device with its unique, angled design, the ASRock Gaming Router has everything a gamer needs to enjoy high-speed, uninterrupted connection to the internet. The ASRock Gaming Router has eight external antennas that deliver quad 802.11 ac Wi-Fi signals at both the 2.4 GHz (800 Mbps data throughput) and 5 GHz (1,733 Mbps data throughoutput) range for lightning-fast response. The ASRock Gaming Router comes with the ASRock router app for precise customization while Beamforming technology tracks devices in real time to optimize bandwidth on the fly.
- Super cool angled black design
- Quad 802.11 ac WiFi technology
- 8 external antennas
- Dual band coverage with MU-MIMO for extended range
- Includes ASRock router app for enhanced customization
- Beamforming technology ensures bandwidth allocation optimization
- Special gaming boost ensures active game sessions get priority
Gaming Routers vs. Standard Routers
These days, most homes already depend on a router for their wireless networking names. A standard router may be the most affordable option. However, it is restricted to providing uncapped bandwidth to every user on the network. This potentially causes drop-offs and other critical issues with games if there are high bandwidth demands from non-gaming devices.
A quality, high-end game router will provide all of the standard services of a plain vanilla router while offering up a bevy of extra features to ensure an unmatched gaming experience. Most game routers allow for bandwidth allocation to be customized. This gives games priority over competing uses like streaming video and downloading large files. If you are buying a new router for gaming, this is important.
Gaming routers often have more ethernet ports to allow for multiple computers to enjoy a cabled connection. This is great for multiplayer home gaming parties. Some gaming routers also have USB ports ideal for peripherals like printers, scanners and flash drives. This allows those items to connect without harming the wireless bandwidth being delivered to the gaming computer(s).
Many gaming routers include built-in VPN software to reduce the load on gaming PCs and allow for the creation of high security local virtual private networks (VPNs). These are sometimes referred to as Gamers Private Networks (GPNs).
As an added benefit for gamers making split-second decisions while playing, many game routers offer two or even three-band frequency coverage along with dynamic switching. As a rule of thumb, the higher the frequency, the faster the response between the router and the computer. But the shorter the distance a signal can be transmitted. So today’s advanced game routers use algorithms to switch between frequencies based on load, signal strength, and speed. This ensures a smooth, interruption-free gameplay experience.
A Buyer’s Guide for Gaming Routers
The cheapest and most secure way to ensure a high-speed, stable connection to the internet is by wire to a router, and disabling all other devices. This removes all competing local network traffic. But for gamers who are unable to use a hardwired connection (due to distance or location) to a router or who want to share network access with other devices, a quality game router is the best solution.
Before choosing a game router, it’s important to assess how you mainly plan on using it:
Many gaming routers list wireless connections via bands or frequencies such as 5GHz band (gigahertz) or 2.4GHz. This number refers to the frequency of the wireless transmission. The higher the frequency, the faster the data signal can transmit, but higher frequency travel less distance. This is important to know, as distance can impact the speed of your connection. If you are using the 5GHz band, but your computer is quite far from your router, this may impact wi-fi speed. Whereas 2.4GHz band might offer lesser top wireless speeds, it may well offer a better speed for you at the distance between your device and the router. Granted you may well use a WiFi extender but these come with their own host of problems, and have notoriously bad user interface tech.
A gaming router advertised as being a dual-band router, tri-band router, or multiple bands refers to the fact that it transmits wireless signals across multiple frequencies. This is in order to provide more comprehensive coverage. Many game routers have dynamic switching abilities to auto switch to the best frequency based on load, transmission speed, and signal strength.
Having extra ethernet ports (LAN ports) is a must for any gamer wanting to host LAN parties. Other features to look for include USB ports which can be used to connect add-ons like flash drives, external drives, or printers without impacting wireless coverage to your gaming devices. In addition, many mobile devices can be charged via the USB port.
Software and Security
Depending on which gaming router you choose, you may have access to mobile apps, built-in firmware, or PC software programs. These allow you to customize bandwidth allocations and other features on the router. Other gaming routers have built-in security software as well as VPN apps that allow for the creation of secure virtual private networks.
In order to enjoy the very best gaming experience possible, owning your own dedicated router is essential. The best gaming router ensures that your bandwidth stays focused on giving lag-free access to multiplayer servers to prevent frustrating delays and other connection issues. Today’s advanced gaming routers allow users to customize their settings so that they get great security, stable coverage, and precise bandwidth tailoring. Whether you plan on enjoying multiplayer gaming against online foes or hosting your own LAN party at home, owning the best gaming router will take it to the next level.