You are in the middle of an intense game, and then suddenly, in an unfortunate event, your internet connection decides to crash.
Don’t you hate it when this happens? A close and intense game ruined by an unstable internet connection? While you can curse all you want to your ISP, in some cases, your router is apparently the one to blame.
More often than not, sub-par routers mess up your internet – and worse, terminate it. When this happens to you a lot, it may be time for you to throw away your old router and get yourself a new one.
If you are on the lookout for a good replacement, then you are in the right place. In this article, we will highlight the best routers for gaming. We will provide you an overview of the best routers to let you enjoy a hassle-free, lag-free gaming experience.
We will also provide you with a guide to help you choose the right router that fits your gaming needs.
The first entry on our list is the NETGEAR Nighthawk XR500. This is one of the routers from Netgear wide array of products that offer top of the line specs at a reasonable price.
The Nighthawk XR500 supports speeds up to AC2600 (N800/AC1733), which is surprisingly fast for a router at this price range. It features a dual-core 1.7 GHz processor which allows a speedier operation thereby letting you experience lag-free gaming.
The Nighthawk is compact in size measuring 12.7 inches in height and 9.6 inches in width. It also weighs only 1.77 lb, making it one of the lightest gaming routers you can find in the market.
What sets the Nighthawk XR500 apart from all the other gaming routers is its Netduma OS and Geo filtering feature. The Geo filtering feature allows you to connect to a closer host server through setting a certain radius in your location. With this, you don’t have to waste time looking for a viable server.
The Netduma OS offers a boost in terms of speed for this router. At speeds of 2.4 GHz, it impressed us with a fast connection. However, the Nighthawk XR500 does not support connection with speeds ranging up to 5 GHz.
Other features integrated into the XR500 are Dynamic Frequency Selection, Bandwidth allocation as well as a robust QoS which allows better prioritization of certain devices or computers for a better management of network traffic. Another gripe we have with the Nighthawk Xr5000 is the lack of more Ethernet ports. Sadly, it is only equipped with 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports while the competition at this price range offers eight ports.
If you are looking for a gorgeous looking router that offers a lag-free gaming experience then you should take a look at the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300.
The newer GT-AC5300 takes its design cues from its predecessors which has won the hearts of many gamers around the world. Under the hood, it is equipped with a beefed-up processor. The AC5300 had an already fast dual core, but this time, Asus takes it up a notch with the GT5300 equipping it with a quad-core processor. It also has double the amount of RAM from its predecessor to 1 GB.
There is also more Ethernet ports this time. What was once only 4 ethernet ports, now has eight coupled with two USB ports which support USB 3.0.
Moreover, the GT AC5300 flaunts a user-friendly interface which comes with the essential gaming settings such as ping tracing and ping deviation over a certain duration. This unit also comes with WTFast feature which allows a faster connection with host servers.
The unit supports speeds up to 5 GHz which is more than enough for your gaming needs. It comes with other essential features such as MU-MIMO, Beamforming, and a reliable QoS.
However, if you want to get your hands on the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300, you might have to shell out a couple more bucks because it comes with a heftier price tag.
The next entry on our list is one of the best mid-range routers you can find in the market now. It offers decent specifications at a reasonable price, offering you the best value for your hard earned cash.
The Linksys WRT32X is somewhat a reiteration of the older yet still capable Linksys WRT3200M. It dons almost the same set of specifications but with a revamped, much-improved software which includes a KPE (Killer Prioritization Engine).
One of the greatest strengths of the Linksys WRT32X is its ability to handle prioritization over several devices and computers. However, to get its full prioritization process, the devices must also integrate the Killer NIC software into their motherboards or engines. In the best scenarios, the router will allow you to stream four 4k videos at the same time yet still do intense gaming at 26 FPS. You can’t achieve this in most other routers.
The router’s performance at 2.4 GHz is passable when compared to its contemporaries at its price segment. However, when used at 5 GHz, the router impressively performs compared to similar products at the midrange segment, even besting some high-end units.
Things you might like:
Capable dual-core processor
Supports gaming at 5 GHz
Killer Prioritization Engine
Things you might not like:
Reaches full potential only with Killer NIC supported devices
Asus makes another appearance on our list. This time, it is the Asus RT-AC68U which rocks a humble price yet does not skimp out on gaming prowess.
The product is equipped with AC1900 speeds (N600/AC1300) which is usually a standard with routers at this price segment. Unlike the Nighthawk, the RT-AC68U dons a more straightforward approach when it comes to its design. Flaunting a matte back plastic build and in a vertical design, there really is not much to see in the product when it comes to the design department.
The router is equipped with a 3×3 antenna design and under its hood is a dual-core 1 GHz processor. It comes with a rather small but still capable 256 MB of RAM. With a simple firmware flash, you can boost the unit’s performance using firmware from sources such as Merlin and OpenWrt.
Most routers in the budget segment struggle to perform well at the 2.4 GHz, but the Asus RT-AC68U does very well. However, as expected it falls short on the 5 GHz performance which is expected from a router at this price point.
We know that the Asus RT-AC68U performs averagely compared to the others in this list. However, you can’t get this much value from a gaming router at this price range, so it deserves to be featured in this article.
The last but definitely not the last entry on our list is yet another bang for the buck router. This time we will talk about the affordable, yet capable D-Link DIR-879.
Priced relatively inexpensively, the D Link DIR 879 is one of the best cheap routers every gamer can buy. Despite its humble price, it flaunts a gorgeous orange design equipped with 4 antennas. D Link is clever enough to equip this affordable router with a design that comes close to higher end ones.
While its performance does not match the ones from the higher end models, it ticks all the necessary boxes to offer a lag-free gaming experience.
Its performance at 2.4 GHz is still commendable considering its price range, however as you might expect, performance at 5 GHz is rather lackluster.
One of the major caveats of this product is the lack of any USB ports which is rather common in routers at its price point.
So there you have it, those are the products that made it into our list of the best router for gaming. We made sure to include the best of the best from the pricier price segment to the budget segment. We hope that after reading the article, you have finally found the router that caters to all your gaming needs.
Buying Guide: Best Router for Gaming
As a gamer, it goes without saying that you definitely know the value of speed. In fact, most serious gamers equip themselves with the fastest processors, large SSDs, high-end graphics card and so on. However, most overlook the importance of a reliable router for gaming.
If you happen to have a router that is unreliable or unstable, you should consider buying a new one. In this section, we will give you some tips to consider when buying a router – especially for gaming. With this, you will be able to land with the router that caters to all your gaming needs and even more.
QoS (Quality of Service)
The biggest difference between the usual router and one that is intended for gaming is how it manages the QoS, or in simpler terms, how it prioritizes bandwidth. Most modern routers some type of QoS. One of the most common types is the generic WiFi Multimedia (WMM) which prioritizes network packets or devices that run voice and video programs.
However, gaming routers, on the other hand, goes the extra mile by providing QoS for certain gaming systems and programs giving you the option to decide which device receives the most bandwidth. This will be very useful especially in households that have multiple users on a single router.
As a result, the device that receives the most bandwidth enjoys a more smooth, lag-free operation.
Some gaming routers are also equipped with a modified management console that provides a user-friendly interface that makes it easier to assign bandwidth priority. This feature usually comes with a dashboard that lets you see everything about your network, showing real-time CPU and usage of bandwidth.
Other gaming routers are also equipped with a geofilter feature that alleviates the amount of lag by limiting your distance from the host servers. This allows faster playing speeds and prevents other players outside your range from joining your games.
Moreover, firmware from sources such as OpenWRT and Tomato help your router unleash the best out of your connection. This software help enhance connection speeds and help you monitor your bandwidth usage.
Dual Band or Tri-Band
When buying a router, we usually hear phrases such as dual-band or tri-band. This feature allows you to gain access to more radio bands offering a more hassle-free gaming experience. Most radio bands range from 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz.
If you are in a household with several users of the router, then it is best that you equip yourself with a router that supports a tri-band connection. In this case, you can allow the 5 GHz band solely to your gaming rig and leave the other 5GHz for heavy tasks such as video streaming and torrent downloads. The remaining 2.4 GHz band will be used for casual tasks such as web surfing and watching short videos.
Router Enhancements: MU-MIMO, Beamforming, and Wider Channels
If you are unfamiliar with the three mentioned features, then that might be because only a few routers make use of these features.
Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output or simply put, MU-MIMO, is a feature that allows several devices to simultaneously stream data as compared to the usual, sequential data streaming. This will come in handy especially when there are several devices connecting at the same time.
However, to make this possible, your device must support running MU-MIMO, sadly, there are still only a few devices or gaming rigs that are able to make use of the MU-MIMO technology. On the bright side, more and more manufacturers are integrating MU MIMO to newly released devices.
Another key feature to take into consideration is beamforming. Beamforming is a fairly new piece of technology. It allows the router to increase signal strength, efficiency, and range. It does this by transmitting signals in a more specific area rather than broadcasting it in various directions of the house.
Same with MU-MIMO, since its basically a new piece of technology, there are only a few devices that have integrated the use of Beamforming.
As of the moment, beamforming has been integrated with devices that support an 802.11ac connection. With that being said, not all devices supporting 802.11ac connection can reap the benefits of beamforming technology.
Recently released gaming routers are equipped with a wider channel bandwidth which can support up to 160Hz. This is by a mile, more efficient compared to older routers that can only support bands up to 40 Hz or 80Hz.
Connectivity and Security
Most gaming routers usually have the same set of hardware with traditional ones. However, from the appearance alone, you can distinguish gaming routers from traditional routers. This is because gaming routers usually come with a different exterior chassis design. Moreover, they come with more intricate design and build.
Another difference is the amount and type of connectivity ports. To cater to your gaming needs, then you should equip yourself with a router that has at least four gigabit LAN ports. Four ports are enough to let you connect with nearby devices such as gaming consoles, laptops, and printers.
Aside from this, look for a router with at least one USB port, preferably one that can support USB 3.0. This allows connectivity to portable hard drives or flash drives. Getting a router with more USB ports could, of course, be more beneficial.
There are also some routers that are equipped with parental controls. This comes in handy when you have children. This feature allows you to block the access to certain sites which you deem are harmful to your children. This feature also allows you to limit gaming or basically access to the internet to a certain degree.
Guest Networking feature is also a noteworthy addition to routers. This is very useful when you have frequent visitors to your home. This takes them to a page that allows them to access the internet but only to a limited degree. Moreover, you can assign a radio band to your guests so that you can have a separate band solely for your gaming.
All routers, whether for gaming or casual use offer a certain type of security. One of the most common is Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA or WPA2), which allows access to the network through a password. WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) is also very common among routers. It allows users to gain access to your network with a push of a button.
More advanced security measures include WPS-Enterprise and Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) authentication. These new features offer a more robust and reliable security to your connection.