Your gaming experience will always be limited by the quality of your Wi-Fi. It’s a sad fact, but those are the rules. This is particularly true of online games. This is why we have compiled a list of the best gaming router in this article.
Take it from an experienced competitive Esports player: the quality of your internet and the speed of your wifi are critical if you want to compete in any player vs. player (PvP) game. Your in-game performance and processor/graphics card will only get you so far.
Every PC gamer has experienced connectivity and modem issues that have ruined an otherwise exciting game. What if I told you that a good gaming router would prevent that from happening again? Or, at the very least, would it make 99.9% of the time online gaming fast, easy, and seamless?
On the most basic level, many routers, including those classified as budget routers, provide Quality of Service (QoS) settings that allow you to prioritize devices or applications that require a lot of bandwidth. However, not many of them provide the gamer-centric settings and optimizations that a dedicated gaming router does.
If network lag is interfering with your gaming experience, keep reading to find out which gaming routers we recommend. Following the list of top picks, we’ll go over how to choose the one that best suits your household, play style, and budget.
Why You Need a Gaming Router
It doesn’t matter how good you are at warzone; if someone has 100mbps more than you, you’ll lose that gunfight. As a result, if you truly want to be at the top of your game, you’ll need to ensure that your network Wi-Fi signal is performing optimally.
However, having good internet is important for more than just competitive play. In order to download games in the first place, you must have adequate internet speeds.
The entire industry is beginning to shift away from discs and toward digital licenses. Consider the PS5. A version of the console without a disc drive is available for purchase.
Most large games these days are over 100GB in size. As a result, unless you want to spend a week downloading one game, you’ll need decent Wi-Fi.
Fortunately for you, I’ve done the legwork of comparison shopping so you don’t have to. I’ve been around the block a few times with an internet connection and gaming, so you can trust me when I say I know what I’m talking about.
Without further ado, here are my picks for the best gaming routers in terms of network performance and speed.
Best Gaming Router 2023
NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 Wi-Fi Router
ASUS AX5400 WiFi 6 Router
TP-Link Archer C5400x
ASUS WiFi Router (RT-AC5300)
ASUS AC2900 WiFi Router
ASUS ROG Rapture WiFi 6 Gaming Router
Linksys WRT WiFi Router
If you share your internet connection with others, you’ve probably experienced slow connectivity when everyone is using it. This can disrupt your game, slow down streaming, or cause WiFi to disconnect completely.
Those issues are no longer an issue with a powerful wireless gaming router like the NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro XR500. It’s quick, efficient, and designed to handle gaming and streaming simultaneously.
When it comes to network performance with wireless Wi-Fi models, Nighthawk is the name of the game. Netgear has been manufacturing these routers for years, and each one is specifically designed for gaming in terms of both speed and features, with the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 sitting atop the mountain.
This router has the appearance and performance of a UFO. This Nighthawk is ideal if you have multiple connected devices that are hogging network bandwidth. If you have streamers and Netflix fans in the house, this router will compensate for the performance hit that those broadband-intensive services cause.
Netgear’s XR500 boasts a ridiculous 2.2gbps base speed, which is far more than you’ll ever need. But that’s not all you’re getting. This Nighthawk also includes a slew of unique gaming features, such as the ability to filter your connection based on location.
The router has two USB ports, one WAN port, and four-gigabit ethernet ports. The only drawback to this WI-Fi is that there is no modem included, which isn’t a big deal, but the price tag can be.
The XR500 is one of the best gaming routers available today. It has next-generation speeds for multiple devices and a slew of gaming-centric features. But, in order to achieve that level of performance, you’ll need to spend some money.
If you’re not comfortable with a price tag this high, we’ve got some more affordable options for you down below.
The Asus AX5400 is our undisputed winner of the best gaming router in 2022. It’s been on the market for a while now, but its reputation precedes it. At this price range, this dual-band Wi-Fi 6 model has both style and substance to justify its affordable price.
The ability to remove bottlenecks from your ISP so that everything runs smoothly has to be the best feature. This includes superior performance on the mobile platform as well.
When you plug in, the dedicated gaming port automatically prioritizes games and launcher software, ensuring that your gameplay is never interrupted. All you need to do is connect the Asus AX5400 to your gaming PC via an Ethernet cable, and you’re ready to go.
There’s no need for tinkering here. In terms of appearance, it will fit in nicely on your desk when compared to your average everyday model.
TP-Link completes the holy trinity of gaming internet Wi-Fi service providers.
When it comes to tri-band router models, Wi-Fi 6 router units, dual-band options, and the rest of the stuff you’ll be looking for, TP-Link often falls behind the other two brands.
However, every now and then, the company releases a killer router that quickly becomes one of the best on the market. This is true of the TP-Link Archer C5400x.
But, before you dive into the purchase page, brace yourself for the price. It costs a little more than the Nighthawk we’ve already discussed, but the TP-Link Archer easily outperforms it in almost every tangible category.
The TP-Link Archer C5400 router not only has speeds that can easily compete with the bigger names, but it is also Alexa smart home compatible. That is more than can be said for nearly every other popular gaming router right now.
The router’s setup and application are remarkably simple. It’s a cross between a gaming router and a standard router. It has all of the features you’d expect from a high-end product without any of the technical snags that come with it.
It has four gigabit LAN connections, one WAN connection, one USB 2.0 port, and one USB 3.0 port.
When it comes to purchasing a router, this device is simply the pinnacle of gaming gear, as it provides the highest frequency signals of any on the market. Its sleek, aggressive styling will impress others the moment you take it out of the box, and its massive number of antennas means it’s far more than just eye candy.
With this beast, you’ll be able to get a strong signal anywhere in your house.
The AC5300, like any good gaming router, is a tri-band model with dual 5GHz and single GHz frequencies that uses the latest 802.11ac technology. This router is so powerful that it can cover up to 5,000 square feet.
This makes it ideal for use as a commercial solution, such as in a warehouse or office building, or for entertaining friends in a LAN setting to play games or share files.
This router is great because it includes features like built-in access to WTFast gamer’s private network for low-stable ping times for gaming, AiProtection by Trend Micro provides incredible virus protection, and it saves sensitive data.
It also includes ASUS’ Smart Connect, which provides consistent bandwidth by switching your home’s devices between the 2.4 and 5GHz frequencies based on speed and signal strength.
The wireless performance of each brand varies by model, so which is actually better depends on which router you’re considering.
In terms of speed, the RT-AC86U is slower than the Nighthawk, but it comes with an absurd number of home network features. It outperforms every other dual-band at this price point.
That is not to say that the speed is insignificant. The RT-AC86U is still a fantastic router that ranks among the best in terms of lag-free performance.
The system’s interface for controlling things like parental controls is incredibly intuitive and powerful, making setting up the router far easier than with most other devices.
The device’s antenna design also allows you to send the wifi signal throughout your home. It has some of the best range I’ve ever seen on a gaming router, even when compared to far more expensive models.
The router itself has four ports; however, these are not gigabit ethernet. It also has one WAN port, one USB 2.0 port, and one USB 3.0 port.
If you don’t have the kind of budget that allows you to buy a Nighthawk, a cheap Asus like this one will be one of the fastest high-end gaming routers available to you.
For good reason, this is frequently regarded as the ultimate router for the serious gamer. Its specifications aren’t a joke, and neither is the hardware that comes with it.
It’s a little large, but its size reflects its strength. Asus created this modem with the intention of being a class leader, and it succeeds.
It has three bands: one at 2.4 GHz and two at 5 GHz. It has four LAN ports and eight antennas. Its software makes it incredibly fast, especially at 5 GHz. It has a class-leading QoS and an easy-to-use interface with numerous options. Its current software is also adaptable.
Finally, we have the Linksys WRT. Although the word is right there in the name, it should be noted that it works best with Xbox.
Everything about the interface and design has been designed with gamers in mind, and it shows. It may not be the most powerful router, but if you play Xbox, this router is fantastic.
It has Killer prioritization, which prioritizes gaming. It’s dual-banded, but unlike other models, it has somewhat impressive 2.4 GHz speeds. The interface is designed for gamers and is very user-friendly. It also has four Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Best Gaming Routers Buying Guide
Gaming Router vs. Regular Router
The most notable distinction between a gaming router and a typical consumer router is how it handles QoS or bandwidth prioritization. Almost all routers include some form of QoS. This can be as simple as generic Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) extensions that automatically prioritize network packets carrying data required by voice over IP (VoIP) and video conferencing applications.
Alternatively, QoS can be as granular as drag-and-drop prioritization, which allows you to assign a higher priority to specific network devices, ensuring they experience better performance than other devices.
Gaming routers take things a step further by prioritizing specific gaming systems and applications and allowing you to control how much bandwidth each client has access to. This is especially important if you have multiple online gamers in the same household all competing for the same feed from the same pipe.
Linksys gaming routers, for example, have firmware that automatically gives network priority to devices equipped with the Intel Killer Prioritization Engine (Opens in a new window). When the router detects a device with Killer networking hardware, it allocates the lion’s share of the bandwidth to that device to ensure smooth, lag-free online gaming.
Many gaming routers also employ a modified management console with a gamer-friendly user interface that allows for real-time bandwidth assignment. Netgear has recently begun equipping its gaming routers with DumaOS, Netduma’s interactive, gamer-friendly operating system. It has a slick-looking dashboard that shows real-time CPU and bandwidth usage, currently installed apps, guest networking status, Wi-Fi status, and internet status.
It also has a Geo-Filter feature that can help reduce lag by limiting the distance between you and the host servers. You can prevent players and servers from hosting your game by setting your home location on the map and specifying a distance range.
What to consider with the best gaming routers
Quality of Service (QoS)
When shopping for your next gaming router, keep the following in mind: it must include Quality of Service monitoring (or QoS for short).
We’ve all been there: one roommate is torrenting the latest season of The Walking Dead, and your internet connection comes to a screeching halt. So, what exactly happened? Before you start coming up with creative adjectives to describe your housemate, keep in mind that it’s not entirely his or her fault. Simply put, your modem divides the amount of speed each computer receives based on the amount of data you use.
A 30GB torrent will consume more resources, so the modem will allocate more resources to ensure the fastest possible speed. Unfortunately, the rest of the gaming household is left with some very sluggish connections.
However, if you use a modem with QoS enabled, it will prioritize certain applications (such as web browsing and games) over torrenting, video watching, and large file downloads. As a result, your ping or latency will be lower, resulting in faster and smoother gameplay even when others are downloading to their hearts’ content.
Every good gaming router has QoS enabled by default, so unless you’re purchasing a used model, you shouldn’t have to deal with this issue very often.
Gigabit Ethernet Ports
So, in addition to ensuring that your new toy is QoS-friendly, you should also ensure that your router has enough Ethernet ports. Because frustration does not begin to describe the sensation of attempting to play a game over wireless. Your connection will be terrible, your team will despise you, and your KDA will be laughable to even the most inexperienced new players.
Even if you are less than a meter from your router and use wireless, there will be a delay between your router and PC, and even a few milliseconds can contribute to a higher ping.
If you want the fastest possible speeds, make sure each gamer has an Ethernet connection.
This is absolutely necessary for a good gaming router. 802.11ac wireless is the most advanced Wi-Fi support available in a router today. Since its introduction to the market, wireless networking has undergone numerous changes, with each frequency allowing for greater and greater speeds. When compared to lower speeds, this top speed is unrivaled, and it is impervious to lag-free gaming.
The new wireless standard, 802.11ac, promises faster speeds and more stable connections. Most modern routers support this configuration by default, but you’ll also need 802.11ac-compatible hardware to take full advantage of it.
Make sure to perform an anatomy check on your computer to ensure that all of your hardware can support 802.11ac wireless. This is something that should be standard on most routers nowadays, but it never hurts to double-check.
Wireless 802.11ac is more than twice as fast as the previous standard speed, 802.11n. It provides at least 1300 Mbps of Internet speed at its most basic level, making it a beast for solid gaming connections. Again, older devices are backward compatible, but make sure they can support the new and improved speed boost.
Dual-band networking is a new feature of modern routers. This means that the router will be able to transmit on two different channels at the same time, increasing wireless network capacity.
Although this is not a gaming-specific feature, it can be useful in large households with multiple people using the router at the same time.
Multiple connections to the router can reduce everyone’s speeds, so a dual-band Wi-Fi router could be the solution to your problems. Dual-band capabilities are typically prominently advertised on the router’s label, so you know whether or not you are purchasing one with dual-band. Make sure you ask around to ensure you get this important feature, as you don’t want a router that doesn’t have it.
Now, which router do I believe is the absolute best? The Nighthawk’s name.
There’s a reason Netgear is so highly rated, and Nighthawk routers have become something of a meme in some circles due to how well they perform.
The routers’ speeds and functionality are simply unparalleled. In terms of raw broadband speed, no other device line can compete with the Nighthawks.
If you’re looking for the best that the market has to offer, this is the router to go after.