Every gamer’s been there: You’re at the last fifth of your health bar, the other team is down to one unit, you have a perfect game-winning headshot in your sights... Then the stutter — you’ve got lag — suddenly it’s you in the sights and the game’s over. One of the most frustrating situations in online gaming is a laggy connection. In a first-person shooter or survival game a split-second delay can get you killed. But when you invest in the one of the best gaming routers,  you can prevent this problem by increasing connection speeds to reduce lag and delays.

Gaming routers are ideal for pro gamers and live streamers who rely on high bandwidth for increased download and upload rates. The best gaming routers have dual-bands or even tri-bands, allowing multiple users on the network to enjoy impressive download and upload speeds. Put simply, routers are responsible for directing the flow of data through the quickest paths in order to improve the efficiency of your network. That said, you can still experience lag even with a top-end router. It should be noted that routers don’t greatly influence latency speed. If you have a slow data transfer speed from your internet service provider (ISP) to the game server a gaming router can’t fix that. However, if you already have a decent ISP, then a gaming router can only make your connection better. Take a look at these top products that were selected as the best gaming routers from over 30 potential picks.

- Best Overall: TP-Link Archer AX11000 Tri-Band WiFi 6 Router
- Best Budget: ASUS AC2900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC86U)
- Best for Live Streaming: TP-Link AC5400 Tri Band WiFi Gaming Router
- Best Modem Router Combo: Netgear Nighthawk Cable Modem WiFi Router Combo
- Best Mesh: NETGEAR Orbi Whole Home Tri-band Mesh WiFi 6 System

How We Picked The Best Gaming Routers

Methodology

Having over a decade of experience in selecting, setting up, and controlling gaming routers helped me to differentiate flashy, sub-par products from true top-performing routers. We researched more than 30 high-end products, including the TP-Link AC4000, Asus RT AX86U, and Asus ROG Rapture GT AC5300 gaming router, which didn’t quite measure up. The most important factors that we took into consideration included a device’s W-Fi connection quality, its number of ports, the type of ports, and its top throughput speed.

We prioritized gaming routers that used the current WiFi 6 network protocol standard, as the speed of WiFi 6 is significantly greater than that of WiFi 5. However, we made room for devices that could use multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output (MU-MIMO) technology to communicate with several devices simultaneously. We also looked for gaming routers that include two or more LAN ports, so that multiple devices could be hardwired directly to the router, allowing users to circumvent finicky WiFi signals. In the end, a device’s top throughput speed indicates its true potential. We singled out top throughput speed as the key factor to differentiate between high-quality products and flashy routers that look great but lack in performance.

We further explain how we test gaming equipment here.

Best Gaming Routers: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: TP-Link Archer AX11000 Tri-Band WiFi 6 Router

Outstanding Throughput. TP-Link

Why It Made the Cut: The power and potential of this tri-band router make it an ideal option for avid gamers that want to boost their gaming experience.

Specs: 
- WiFi: WiFi 6 / Tri-band
- Ports: Eight LAN ports and two USB ports
- Peak Throughput: 4804 Mbp

Pros:
- Tri-band design
- Excellent throughput
- Eight LAN ports
- Anti-malware tools

Cons:
- Bulky size

A step up from the TP-Link Archer AX6000 gaming router, the Archer AX11000 has an attractive design and it features a tri-band setup with one 2.4 GHz band and two 5 GHz bands. This best gaming router overall is capable of a peak throughput data transfer rate of 4,804 Mbps using one of the two 5 GHz bands, though it should be noted that this speed may be reduced based on the devices it is connected to and the ISP.

The TP-Link Archer AX11000 Router boasts a WiFi 6 internet protocol standard, ensuring that users get the top download and upload speeds possible for live streaming, data packet transfers, and game downloads. If users prefer the reliability of a wired connection, they can connect directly to the router through one of the eight LAN ports. The router also has two USB ports to connect peripheral devices like an external hard drive or printer. It even comes with built-in anti-malware and antivirus protection. That said, the bulky body of this device can take up a lot of space, so make sure to make room for this hulking router in a central location of the home. This pill is a little easier to swallow if you buy a renewed model, which is not only guaranteed for 90 days, but makes it a sustainable deal. Find out more about how we gauge sustainability.

Best Budget: ASUS AC2900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC86U)

Efficient and Inexpensive. ASUS

Why It Made the Cut: A gaming router that will both improve network bandwidth and protect your flanks against malware usually costs a premium, but this router does it all for less.

Specs: 
- WiFi: WiFi 5 / Dual-band
- Ports: Four LAN ports and two USB ports
- Peak Throughput: 2167 Mbps

Pros:
- Multiple device streaming capability
- Built-in network protection
- Six ports

Cons:
- Moderate file-transfer speeds
- Uses WiFi 5

The affordable ASUS AC2900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT AC86U) is the best budget gaming router for new gamers or experienced gamers who need a moderate boost in connectivity. It’s a dual-band router with one 2.4 GHz band and one 5 GHz band that’s capable of a 2,167 Mbps peak throughput speed. Despite the router’s dependence on the WiFi 5, it’s still capable of exceptional capabilities due to the integrated MU-MIMO technology that allows the router to simultaneously handle multiple incoming and outgoing data packets at the same time.

In addition to the speed and interconnectivity offered by this router, the Asus RT AC86U allows users to directly connect up to six devices using the four LAN ports and two USB ports. It has built-in network protection features to help keep the devices and data safe from malware and viruses. However, if a gamer needs the fastest file-transfer speeds available, then this mid-range router falls short.

Best for Live Streaming: TP-Link AC5400 Tri Band WiFi Gaming Router

Multi-Band Reliability. TP-Link

Why It Made the Cut: Get lost live streaming the latest hit game without worrying about inefficient data transfer speeds with MU-MIMO technology.

Specs:
- WiFi: WiFi 5 / Tri-band
- Ports: Eight Lan ports and two USB ports
- Peak Throughput: 2167 Mbps

Pros:
- MU-MIMO streaming capability
- Works with Amazon Alexa
- Eight LAN ports
- Tri-band design

Cons:
- Moderate file-transfer speeds
- Uses WiFi 5

Live streaming content requires a reliable network, a high level of bandwidth, and enough personality to keep the viewers watching. This TP-Link AC5400 Tri Band WiFi Gaming Router will rock the bandwidth and network reliability, while leaving the rest up to you. The TP-Link Archer C5400X gaming router uses a tri-band design for maximum flexibility and data transfer speeds, with one 2.4 GHz port and two 5 GHz ports.

Despite operating with the WiFi 5, this gaming router is quick and efficient due to the MU-MIMO technology that allows it to handle incoming and outgoing data packets from multiple sources simultaneously. In addition, the gaming router has eight LAN ports, making it easy to connect several devices without having to worry about unreliable wireless signals. Users can even connect the router to Amazon Alexa devices to gain access to voice commands. However, in spite of the features this device continues to be limited by its overall top speed of 2,167 Mbps.

Best Modem Router Combo: NETGEAR Nighthawk Cable Modem WiFi Router Combo

Combined Modem and Router. Netgear

Why It Made the Cut: Get rid of monthly rental fees when your ISP-provided modem and router are switched out for this outstanding modem and router combo.

Specs:
- WiFi: WiFi 5 / Dual-band
- Ports: Four Lan ports and two USB ports
- Peak Throughput: 1900 Mbps

Pros:
- All-in-one modem and router
- No monthly rental fees
- Works with Comcast, Spectrum, and Cox Communications

Cons:
- Moderate file-transfer speeds
- Uses WiFi 5

Gamers can use this all-in-one device to replace both their modem and router at the same time, eliminating potential bottlenecks that could be caused by a low-quality ISP modem. This best gaming modem and router combo also frees users from monthly modem rental fees paid to their ISPs, while giving users additional control over the router’s settings, which are easily accessible through the NETGEAR app.

The NETGEARNighthawk Cable Modem Router Combo is capable of a 1,900 Mbps peak throughput and can work with multiple service providers including Comcast, Spectrum, and Cox Communications. However, this Netgear Nighthawk modem and router combo is only equipped with WiFi 5, so the upload and download speeds are limited when compared to some of our higher end router picks. The dual-band modem and router features four LAN ports and two USB ports, allowing gamers to connect directly to the gaming router for a more reliable gaming experience.

Best Mesh: NETGEAR Orbi Whole Home Tri-band Mesh WiFi 6 System

Expandable Mesh Network. Netgear

Why It Made the Cut: Get over 5,000 square feet of network coverage with this expandable mesh gaming router and satellite extension bundle.

Specs:
- WiFi: WiFi 6 / Tri-band
- Ports: Four LAN ports on the router and satellite extension
- Peak Throughput: 2167 Mbps

Pros:
- Tri-band design
- Expandable 5,000-square-foot mesh network coverage
- Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- Easy app management

Cons:
- Ongoing subscription required for antivirus protection

Large homes with many different rooms and multiple floors often mean poor internet signal and intermittent interruptions or delays. These data transfer problems can be due to the walls, doors, floors, ceilings, and other physical barriers that can impact wireless signals and disrupt your game. To overcome this problem, Netgear Orbi the best mesh router connects to a satellite-extension device to create a mesh network that helps to boost signal and increase the range of your connection up to 5,000 square feet. The range of the network can be further increased by adding additional Netgear Orbi satellite extension devices.

The tri-band NETGEAR Orbi Mesh System features one 2.4 GHz band and two 5 GHz bands, ensuring quick data transfer through the optimal network routes. It can connect to both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control options. The router is protected with antivirus and anti-malware programs, though users need to sign up for a monthly subscription to keep these features active. For gamers that prefer a direct connection, the router and the satellite extension both have four LAN ports and the router can operate at a 2,167 Mbps peak throughput thanks to the high-speed data transfer rate of the Wi-Fi 6 internet protocol standard.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Gaming Router

Don’t decide on a new gaming router without taking some time to learn about the key product specifications and what they mean for your gaming network. Consider the WiFi speed, throughput rate, and the type and number of ports, as well as whether you prefer a wired or wireless connection.

WiFi Speed

The download and upload speed of your router is greatly influenced by the WiFi standard that it uses. This refers to the version of the WiFi network protocol that a given router uses. Currently, the newest gaming routers use WiFi 6, which is significantly faster than the old 802-11ac standard, now referred to as WiFi 5. However, there are still some gaming routers that use the older WiFi 5 standard. These products could be a good option if you are looking to save some money and don’t require the speed of the WiFi 6 standard.

Keep in mind that if you are currently paying for gigabit-speed internet service from your ISP, then you need a gaming router that is capable of taking full advantage of your broadband connection. A WiFi 5 router can still be an improvement over your ISP-provided router, especially if it’s equipped with multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output (MU-MIMO) technology that allows the router to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously.

Throughput and Latency

The biggest difference that gamers experience when they switch from a standard router to a gaming router is the substantial increase in bandwidth (or data transfer speeds), allowing for faster throughput of information and data. Gaming routers also help to lower latency to some degree, though latency speed is typically determined by the connection between the game server and your internet service provider (ISP). The quality of your ISP can be affected by where you live and what provider you choose from the competition (if there’s competition). However, by increasing the speed at which data is transferred, a gaming router quickly moves information between devices, instead of creating a bottleneck effect that increases latency and slows gameplay.

Ports and Access Control

A router is designed to control the flow of data transfer packets, optimizing the various pathways on the network in order to increase the speed and efficiency of your internet connection. While it can perform these tasks wirelessly, many gamers see the obvious benefit in having a direct connection to the router through a local area network (LAN) port. It’s a good idea to look for a gaming router with multiple LAN ports so that you can connect your computer, gaming consoles, and printers without having to worry about interference with the wireless signal. At least one or two USB ports that support USB 3.0 or USB 3.2 are ideal for sharing data stored on peripheral devices like portable hard drives, flash drives, or printers.

In addition to the convenience of a direct connection, gaming routers give users more control over the flow of information and can even include a guest-networking feature that allows you to give your guests limited wireless access to the network with a separate SSID and password. This helps to keep your information safe and your guests happy.

Wired vs. Wireless Connections

When it comes to gaming router connections there are two different types that you can choose from depending on your preference: Wired and wireless.

Wired connections are reliable and the best way to ensure that your internet doesn’t suddenly drop out in the middle of a match. Simply plug your PC or gaming console directly into the LAN port on the router NETGEAR Orbi Mesh System to get instant access to the full power of your gaming router. The obvious drawback to this setup is the fact that you need to run a wire to the router. While this may be a problem for portable devices, like a laptop, it isn’t actually a big deal for full-size PC setups because they tend to remain stationary.

Wireless connections are incredibly popular with the average person because they give you the ability to connect to your gaming router without needing a physical tether to the device. However, wireless connections are also prone to inconsistent transfer rates and intermittent signals that can be interrupted by external factors, like walls, doors, ceilings, and floors.

FAQs

Q: Do routers make a difference for gaming?

The purpose of a router is to help organize and control the data transfer packets between devices. A gaming router takes this to another level by providing increased bandwidth and additional paths for the data to follow. This improves the transfer speed between devices and reduces lag during gameplay. The difference between a standard router and a gaming router is similar to the difference between a single-lane road and a multi-lane highway. Gaming routers open up the flow of data and reduce delays.

Q: Can I use any gaming router with my provider?

Even a top of the line gaming router won’t help you if it doesn’t work with your ISP. Typically, an ISP modem is made for more average routers and devices, so it may not be able to keep up with the potential of a high-end gaming router. If this is the case, consider discussing alternative options with your ISP, like investing in your own high-end modem or upgrading your current ISP plan to include a better modem, so you can get the most out of your gaming router.

Q: What routers do pro gamers use?

While most gamers are content to use the router provided by their internet service provider (ISP), pro gamers often play and stream simultaneously which means that they need a fast, efficient router that can handle the demand. Some top gaming routers include the TP-Link Archer WiFi 6 Router, the NETGEAR Nighthawk Cable Modem WiFi Router Combo, and the TP-Link AC5400 Tri Band Gaming Router.

Q: How much money should I spend on gaming routers?

The amount of money that should be spent on a new gaming router really depends on your interest and experience in gaming. Pros that make a living on daily livestreams will want the best gaming router for their setup, but if you are an amateur gamer then it’s usually better to start with a more basic router. A gaming router can cost between $80 to $1,000, though most gaming routers don’t usually exceed $300. If you're looking to upgrade, find out how to recycle electronics.

Related: The Best 4K Gaming Monitors

Final Thoughts on the Best Gaming Routers

The outstanding speed and attractive design put the TP-Link Archer AX11000 Tri-Band WiFi 6 Router at the top of the list for gamers, but if you don’t need the extra support of a tri-band router, then the affordable dual-band ASUS AC2900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC86U) is a great choice for improving your gaming experience.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.

 


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