Instead of installing your VPN service on each device you use, using the best VPN router can protect everything that connects to your network. VPN services encrypt your data end-to-end and allow you to keep your IP address private. Things like smart home devices and gaming consoles often don’t support VPN services, but if they connect to your router and that router is running a VPN from your preferred VPN provider, those devices are automatically protected. 

However, some routers won’t allow the installation of a VPN service at all, while others require firmware upgrades before they’ll work with your chosen VPN provider. We found five of the best VPN routers that will allow you to install your favorite VPN service — including one that installs it for you.

Best Overall: Netgear R6400 DD-WRT FlashRouter
Best Budget: TP-Link AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Router
Best Mesh: ASUS ZenWiFi AX (XT8) Mesh Router
Best for Speed: ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Tri-band Gaming Router
Best for Small Businesses: TP-Link Omada ER7206 Multi WAN VPN Router

How We Picked the Best VPN Routers

Our experience with routers and VPNs have proven that finding a router that will play nice with your VPN service can be tough. Even some guides out there recommending VPN routers pick some that don’t natively work with external VPN providers. The number-one thing we made sure of is that these five routers have built-in VPN protocols that will work with most major VPN providers. You’ll still need to go through an installation process, but you won’t be stuck with a router that won’t communicate with your VPN. 

Next, we went for router performance. Reliability is always our top priority when recommending tech equipment, and each router on our list has proven their worth in that department. Speed is also important, so we eliminated anything offering less than 1300 Mbps max data rates on the 5 GHz band. 

Finally, since every user is different, we picked routers that best suited different needs — speed for gamers, value for those not looking to spend too much, security for small businesses, and attractive, whole-home coverage for anyone looking to try out a mesh router setup.

If you just need a great router, without VPN capabilities, check out our list of the best routers on the market

Best VPN Routers: Reviews and Recommendations 

Best Overall: Netgear R6400 DD-WRT FlashRouter 

Ready in a Flash. Netgear 

Why It Made The Cut: A truly plug-and-play option, you not only get the solid reliability of a Netgear router, FlashRouters handles all the technical work of setting up a VPN service on your router so you don’t have to. 

Specs:
WiFi Standard: WiFi 5
Max Speeds: 2.4 GHz: 450 Mbps, 5 GHz: 1300 Mbps
Ports: 1xUSB-A, 1xWAN, 4xLAN
VPN Protocol: OpenVPN
Price: $214.99

Pros:
— Out-of-the-box VPN capabilities, handled by pros
Good speeds at a decent price
The reliability of a Netgear router

Cons:
Not WiFi 6
More expensive than doing it yourself

Netgear makes great routers, and this includes their R6400 router, a WiFi 5 workhorse that reliably covers a home of up to 1,750 square feet. The speeds are fast enough for gaming and streaming, plus you’re getting one of Netgear’s best-rated routers. The only problem is that they don’t natively support external VPN services (they offer their own Bitdefender VPN as part of their $100-per-year Armor Security package, but you can’t pick your own service). 

If you want Netgear’s quality paired with the protection of a VPN of your choosing, you’ll need to do what’s called “flashing” your router, or installing firmware. That’s a move that can potentially void your warranty on the device, or even “brick” your router (as in, render your router as useful as a brick). To avoid all of that, head over to FlashRouters. They’re a tech company who take routers from major brands and update them to happily run VPN services. More importantly, they offer tech support and include a one-year warranty. 

While FlashRouters charges more than you’d pay for the router alone, the service and peace of mind you get from having pros tweak your router are worth it. If you’ve already signed up for a VPN service you like, you can give FlashRouters your service details at checkout and they’ll ship your router with your VPN ready to go. 

Best Budget: TP-Link Archer A7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Router 

Affordable and Fast. TP-Link

Why It Made The Cut: The Archer A7 consistently wins in the reliability department, making this a great pick for a VPN-capable router at a super low price. 

Specs:
WiFi Standard: WiFi 5
Max Speeds: 2.4 GHz: 450 Mbps, 5 GHz: 1300 Mbps
Ports: 1xUSB-A, 1xWAN, 4xLAN
VPN Protocol: OpenVPN, PPTP
Price: $79.99 (With current discount, $59.99)

Pros:
Great price
Decent speeds
— Reliable performance

Cons:
— Not WiFi 6

If you want a VPN-capable router in the sub-$100 range, we think you’ll get the most bang for your buck from TP-Link’s Archer A7 AC1750. Discounts regularly bring the cost down to just over $50. For that price, you get decent speeds capable of handling streaming and mid-range gaming, plus the coverage area can handle an average three-bedroom house. 

TP-Link is steadily making a name for themselves with networking equipment and smart home devices that get high marks for performance and compatibility at reasonable prices, and this router is no different. The unobtrusive design is a sleek black box with three antennas. Multiple antennas is something you’ll find on routers capable of delivering wider ranges — the multiple signal points form an array that helps WiFi signals cover larger areas in more directions. Built-in with both OpenVPN and PPTP VPN protocols, this budget pick will work with nearly all of the major VPN services. 

Best Mesh: ASUS ZenWiFi AX (XT8) Mesh Router

Mesh Your Routers Together. ASUS 

Why It Made The Cut: Sleek, fast, and powerful, ASUS’s tri-band, WiFi 6 mesh router combines performance with built-in security features and a variety of VPN protocol options for adding your own VPN service. 

Specs:
WiFi Standard: WiFi 6
Max Speeds: 2.4 GHz: 574 Mbps, 5 GHz-1: 1201 Mbps, 5 GHz-2: 4804 Mbps
Ports: USB-Ax1, 1xWAN, 3xLAN
VPN Protocol: L2PT, OVPN, PPTP, IPSec
Price: $250

Pros:
Super fast max speeds
Good price for the amount of coverage
Attractive design
Expandable with other ASUS routers

Cons:
Satellite (secondary router) setup is sometimes difficult

At last, companies are making routers that look as good as they perform. The battlebot-style mecha-spider routers are great for your gaming cave, but might not look as nice in your living room — which is where mesh routers often end up. The ZenWiFi mesh router from ASUS comes in sleek mini towers of black or white and, like all mesh routers, help cover big homes with a blanket of WiFi connectivity. 

Running on the future-proof, screaming fast WiFi 6 protocol, ZenWiFi routers can cover a massive 5,400 square feet with two units. And yes, like nearly all WiFi 6 routers, these are backwards compatible with devices running WiFi 5 and 4. The AiMesh technology lets you connect other compatible ASUS routers (like that mecha-spider) so you can grow your mesh network as needed. 

ZenWiFi routers also come with ASUS’s AiProtection, which includes parental controls and extra security features to keep your network safe, but the inclusion of multiple VPN protocols means you can layer in another level of security by installing your favorite VPN service. 

Best for Speed: ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Tri-band Gaming Router

Seriously Speedy. ASUS

Why It Made The Cut: You’ll be hard pressed to find a faster VPN router, plus there’s extra security built in and the option to game without going through your VPN. 

Specs:
WiFi Standard: WiFi 6
Max Speeds: 2.4 GHz: 1148 Mbps, 5 GHz-1: 4804 Mbps, 5 GHz-1: 4804Mbps
Ports: 2xUSB-A, 1xWAN, 4xLAN, 1xMultiGig Ethernet
VPN Protocol: L2PT, OVPN, PPTP, IPSec
Price: $449.99 (With current discount, $399.99)

Pros:
Blazing fast speeds for gaming and streaming
— Offers VPN fusion for optional gaming without going through your VPN
Mesh-compatible with other ASUS routers

Cons:
Expensive 

Those spider legs aren't just there to look tough, they form an antenna array that helps create a stronger signal to your devices. ASUS’s Republic of Gaming line is known for its ability to boost a gamer’s performance, and the Rapture GT-AX-11000 will deliver what every gamer demands from a router:  speed. Billed as the first 10-gig WiFi router, it runs WiFi 6, has a quad-core CPU, and offers some of the fastest data rates out there.

AiMesh compatibility means it can hook into your other ASUS routers for mesh coverage and it also features the bonus security features of ASUS’s AiProtection. As for VPN connectivity, the Rapture GT-AX11000 comes with a number of VPN protocols, but takes it one step further with the availability of VPN fusion. Similar to split tunneling, VPN fusion allows your router to cover most devices with your VPN service, but allows some devices to bypass the VPN and connect directly to the internet. It’s a useful feature for gamers since even a little lag can mean the difference between elimination and domination.  

At $450, it’s not cheap, but is a great option for those who need big data speeds for gaming, streaming, live streaming, and so on, while also providing the anonymity and encryption that VPN services offer.  

Best for Small Businesses: TP-Link Omada ER7206 Multi WAN VPN Router

Serious Connectivity. TP-Link

Why It Made The Cut: A great pick at a great price for small business owners who want the security of an external VPN service, plus built-in firewall and other defensive security measures.  

Specs:
WiFi Standard:
Max Speeds: Wired
Ports: 2xWAN, 1xLAN, 2x WAN/LAN
VPN Protocol: IPsec, OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP
Price: $150

Pros:
Offers native and external VPN capabilities
— Includes tough security measures
— Excellent price

Cons:
— Requires a wireless access point accessory for WiFi coverage

Businesses have to take data security seriously. Like the other routers on our list, TP-Link’s Omada ER7206 business router can be configured to run any VPN service (ExpressVPN, NordVPN, PIA, ProtonVPN, etc), but it also acts as a VPN for external users (such as remote or field employees), allowing them to access the businesses network securely without having to physically be in the office.    

Another boon for businesses is the multiple LAN/WAN ports. Using TP-LInk’s dashboard, you can switch the port to operate as a second WAN, letting you have more than one internet service provider. Not a bad idea considering many businesses would need to close for the day if their ISP went dark. 

This router is  hardwired, meaning in order to get WiFi connectivity, you’ll need to add a wireless access point, and TP-Link makes a number of them. Additional security features include advanced firewalls, IP filtering, DoS blocks, and more. While it’s great for small businesses, this will work well for home networks too, layering even more security over their VPN-enabled router. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a VPN Router

Some VPN providers limit the number of devices you can use with their service. A router counts as just one device, but you can hook up a nearly unlimited number of devices via WiFi or Ethernet cables. Install your VPN service on the router and all the data running through it is encrypted , your IP address is hidden, and you can access remote servers from across the world. Just remember a few things about VPNs and routers. 

Installation: If you’re buying from FlashRouters (our top pick), the work is done for you and you can use your VPN-enabled router out of the box. If not, you’ll need to install your VPN service on your router yourself. Luckily, nearly all VPN services that offer router coverage also offer tutorials on how to get set up. Here are the guides from ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Proton VPN just to name a few. 

VPN Service:A VPN router does not necessarily include VPN service. While some routers come with their own VPN service, it’s generally not the same as the subscription VPN services you may prefer. Before picking your router, you’ll need to sign up for a VPN service. Make sure your router works with the service you pick (most major services work with all of our selections). Once you get your router, you’ll install the VPN service on your router. 

Routers vs Modems: Buying a router won’t necessarily get you hooked up to the internet, you’ll generally need a modem too. Many internet service providers pump an internet connection into your home via coax cable, DSL lines, or a satellite connection, all of which will require a modem (fiber optic internet requires a modem-like ONT box). Your ISP will usually provide, lease, or recommend a modem that works. The modem then connects to your router, which in turn connects to your devices.

FAQs

Q: Is a VPN router worth it?

A VPN router is worth it if you have smart devices or gaming consoles that you want to protect with a VPN service, because those devices typically don’t support VPNs themselves. Routers are also a good idea if you have many devices you want to protect with your VPN service, as some VPN providers limit the number of devices per account to five or six. When you set your router up with your VPN service, it will cover all devices that connect to your router. 

Q: Can the police track a VPN?

The police can probably track whether or not you are using a VPN. Most people who are worried about the authorities aren’t concerned as to whether or not VPN use can be detected, they are more concerned with the visibility of their data. Most VPN services encrypt your data and hide your internet activity. And most paid VPN services promise to adhere to a “no-logs” policy, meaning they keep no records of your online activity. That means if the authorities were to subpoena the VPN service looking for information on users, the VPN service would have no records to hand over.  

Q: Can VPN mess up your WiFi?

VPNs can potentially slow down your WiFi interaction with the internet, since your requests and responses (traffic) have to pass through a remote server. This can add extra time to your sessions, but most VPN companies work hard to ensure the extra time is as negligible as possible.  

Final Thoughts on VPN Routers

Setting up a VPN on your router is not necessarily an easy task, especially for those who aren’t tech savvy. We recommend heading to FlashRouters and selecting from their name brand routers that they upgrade to work with VPNs. The company will even set up your preferred service on your router so you can use it straight out of the box, plus tech support is included with purchase. 

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.


Share This Article