Think your gaming experience will improve if you have the best router in the market? A resounding yes! If you are a serious gamer, you know that a few milliseconds of lag in your internet connection can be devastating. It can cause you to slow down and lose valuable points or time. The best router for gaming isn’t always the most expensive one, it’s one that’s tailored to the needs of games. Gamers understand that besides price, lagging and a stable connection are high priority demands.
Lagging is a common concern for gamers. But even the best WiFi router for gaming will not perform well based on its features alone. but would also depend on its location, choice of channel, and internet provider. There are so many technical articles on how to prevent lagging with a WiFi connection across the web. It can get overwhelming for people who have little technical background.
Lagging and other issues can be minimized, or even eliminated, if traffic and bandwidth are managed well. If you go with one of the latest 802.11 AC routers, you greatly increase your chances of amazing gaming experience. The 802.11 router is highly recommended if there are more than one connections in a house. It’s the ideal router for those who have many gadgets accessing the connection at the same time.
Here is a list of 2017’s top rated and reviewed gaming routers to help you choose the best products for your home network and gaming.
Best Routers for Gaming | Top 6
|Our Rank||Gaming Router||Speed||Band||Price|
|1||NETGEAR Nighthawk R7000||600 + 1300 Mbps||2.4 GHz / 5 GHz||$$|
|2||NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 AC2350 (R7500)||600 + 1733 Mbps||2.4 GHz / 5 GHz||$$|
|3||NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S AC2600 (R7800-100NAS||800 + 1733 Mbps||2.4 GHz / 5 GHz||$$|
|4||Linksys AC1900 (WRT1900ACS)||600 + 1300 Mbps||2.4 GHz / 5 GHz||$$|
|5||TP-Link AC1200 (Archer C1200)||300 + 867 Mbps||2.4 GHz / 5 GHz||$|
|6||Asus RT-AC5300||1000 + 2167 + 2167 Mbps||2.4 GHz / 5 GHz||$$$$|
What to Look For
Gamers need a router that can handle heavy data loads so they can have a seamless gaming experience. Online gaming has many demands. You might be playing a game with high definition resolution (4K video), streaming, virtual reality accessories or high speed. The ideal router will provide a great overall performance.
Some of the key factors that make for the best gaming router include:
Bandwidth – This is the rate at which your data is downloaded or uploaded.
Latency – This is the measurement of the delay in data transmission. High latency results in a longer delay.
Quality of Service (QoS) – QoS mechanisms improve bandwidth by measuring the bitrate or data transfer per second. If bitrate improves, the resolution also improves. With better bandwidth, bitrate will get better with no buffering (slow loading). QoS will free bandwidth and reduce latency to improve data traffic.
Appearance – Aesthetics are important in the sense that it shouldn’t be an eye sore. Routers need to be exposed for you to maximize its performance. If you don’t like how your router looks like, you’d most likely want to hide it. Hiding your router may block signals and interfere with your connection.
Wi-Fi Standard – For gaming, the 802.11 AC standard is non-negotiable. This standard has “multiple in, multiple out” (MIMO), 5 GHz frequency, and the latest in router technologies like beamforming for better Wi-Fi reception.
Wi-Fi Speed – Router speeds range from 2.4 GHz to 5GHz; 150 Mbps to 2166 Mbps. With the 802.11 AC standard, you can get speeds of up to 1000 Mbps. However, even the best WiFi routers for gaming do not achieve this speed. There’s a number of things that interfere with the speed of a router. Radio interference, distance to the router, physical obstructions, and network protocol overhead to name a few.
Firmware – The router you choose should be safe from cyber-attacks, so you need to get one with the best firmware. Or one that gives you option to add one. Ideally, the company should inform its customers of available updates. But it’s even better even if a gaming router is compatible with open source firmware because it gives the gamer security and enhancement options.
Our Top Picks
1. Best Overall: NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 (R7000)
NETGEAR Nighthawk AC 1900 Quick Review
There are several AC 1900 routers in the market from a number of brands. The NETGEAR Nighthawk was launched to rival the Linksys and Asus AC 1900. While there are several Nighthawk routers, the AC 1900 is the most basic of the bunch. Other models have modems or external hard drives. And although those are great options to have, they aren’t always needed when your sole purpose for going online is to play games.
Upon testing the AC 1900, we found it to have one of the fastest peak throughput. Throughput refers to the rate of production or how fast the data is delivered. The router has a front-mounted USB port, which makes it convenient to plug in or plug out. And far as aesthetics, the wireless Nighthawk is one of the better-looking routers in the market. It’s slick with matte black finish that makes it look like it means business.
- 11AC/A/B/G/N at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi 600 +1300 Mbps speed
- Dual Core processor, 3 detachable antennas
- 5 x Gigabit Ethernet ports (one WAN and 4 LAN)
- One USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port
- Upstream and downstream dynamic QoS
- Security is WPS, WPA/WPA2
- VPN and FTP server
- Automatic backup and Open Source support
- Installation-wise, it’s hard to beat the included Genie app. Installation and operation is a breeze.
On top of all these features, it has Turbo QAM which is technology from NETGEAR that boosts speed to 1900 Mbps. It also has 128 MB native flash memory plus 256 MB RAM. If you want to improve your speed and range of your internet connection, the Nighthawk AC 1900 is a great choice to make.
2. Runner Up, Best Overall: NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 AC2350 (R7500)
NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 AC 2350 Quick Review
Another high-performance unit from NETGEAR is the Nighthawk X4 AC2350 router. It is a first generation 4×4 data streaming unit that falls under the AC2600 bandwidth. Its fastest Wi-Fi speed is 2553 Mbps! The AC2350 is also MU-MIMO ready which means this speed can be unlocked with the right firmware. This means firmware for a V2 compliant with the X4 AC2350 Quantenna radio.
When this router was first released, there wasn’t any firmware to activate MU-MIMO. Today, there are open source firmwares that you can use to boost the router’s performance.
If you have to choose between V1 and V2, it’s a better idea to get the V2 because you get the 4×4 2.4 GHz. You have a better chance of lag-free streaming with this 4×4 architecture and a responsive dynamic QoS.
- Wi-Fi average speed of 600 to 1733 Mbps, maximum is 2.33 Gbps
- 4 GHz dual core processor, higher throughput
- 4 detachable antennas
- 5 Gigabit Ethernet cables (1 WAN, 4 LAN) and power adapter
- Network storage-ready with two 3.0 USB and eSATA
- Free Ready Share Vault
- Open Source support
- MU-MIMO ready
- Dynamic QoS
- NETGEAR Genie app
One of the only complaints about this router was its price. But it has dropped significantly since it was released. A useful trick to maximizing the performance from this router (and others) is to put the heavy data loads on the 5 GHz channel. All of your other less important items like emails and social media should go on the 2.4 GHz band. This’ll allow you to get the highest speed possible and uninterrupted game play.
3. Best Value: NETGEAR Nighthawk AC2600
NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S AC2600 Quick Review
The Nighthawk X4S AC2600 is the updated version of the X4. It’s built specifically for gaming. This means it is faster with wider range, but pricier. It has a higher bandwidth stream compared to the 1900 AC model. Typically, home internet speed ranges from 20 to 50 Mbps. You can imagine how much better the performance is for gaming with the AC2600 with speeds up to 1733 Mbps.
This is one of our top routers for gaming especially if your house is 4,000 square feet or larger. It’s also a great choice if you like to move around a lot with your device while playing. The trick is to put the router in the middle of the house to evenly reach every corner. What’s amazing is this router works great even with walls, as long as the walls do not exceed two inches in thickness. The AC2600 will easily handle up to 12 devices at the same time. This makes it perfect for homes with people who have multiple gadgets, or families with 1-2 gadgets per person.
- 4×4 Wi-Fi is 800 + 1733 Mbps
- 7 GHz dual core processor, 5 GHz, 128 MB flash memory, 512 MB RAM
- 160 MHz radio
- 4 detachable antennas
- MU-MIMO ready
- Dynamic QoS
- Power switch, LED display
- Twin 3.0 USB, eSATA port
- 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports
- iOS and Android compatible, Open VPN, firewall
- NETGEAR Genie app
- Remote access
- ReadyShare Vault, ReadyCloud
Apart from its bulky appearance and confusing interface, we soon settled in with this router and enjoyed playing data-heavy games. It overtook its closest competitor, the Asus RT, in speed and efficiency both in short and long range testing. We also let the router work for two days straight and it did’t run once. Probably the only issue we did encounter with this router was lack of storage. However, you have storage options with ReadyShare Vault and ReadyCloud. Overall, another great choice if you’re a gamer.
4. Best for Home & Office: Linksys AC1900 (WRT1900ACS)
Linksys AC1900 Quick Review:
Ideally, all AC1900 routers should work seamlessly for gaming. In appearance and basic features, they are all relatively similar. This includes the Linksys AC1900 and the Nighthawk AC1900. However, when tested, the uplink speed of the wireless Linksys AC1900 remained steady and fast while the Nighthawk AC1900 dropped. On the other hand, for downlink and file transfer speeds, it was the Nighthawk that outperformed the Linksys. The WRT1900ACS did not do as well with extreme ranges.
For gaming, both routers won’t let you down. However, we liked the Linksys because of its consistent performance and reasonable price.
- Dual band 600+1300 Mbps
- 4 adjustable and detachable antennas
- Dual core processor 1.6 GHz, 512 MB RAM
- Ethernet cable, adapter, power cord
- 0 USB port, eSATA port/2.0 USB port
- Device-based QoS
- VPN support, parental controls, network mapping
- Open Source Ready
The Linksys AC1900 is four times faster than most routers in its range. The current benchmark is the wireless N technology, which is superior to G technology in speed, coverage, and range. Even if your equipment is equipped G technology, the N technology is backwards compatible. This’ll make it work with older technologies. But don’t expect your equipment with G technology to speed up just because you’re hooked to N technology. Your device will need to support the speed in order to notice it. Based on speed and range, the Linksys AC 1900 definitely belongs to the list of top game routers.
5. Best Budget: TP-Link AC1200 (Archer C1200)
TP-Link Archer AC1200 Quick Review
The wireless Archer C50, or TP-Link AC1200, is a super affordable router. It’s a great choice for gaming or using as a Wi-Fi extender. Don’t be fooled by its low price – this machine can easily handle a dozen devices all running at the same time. However, for gaming, we strongly suggest limiting the number of devices to under 8 to prevent lag.
If you have a tight budget, this is the best gaming router to get. The Archer C50 allows you to modify the firmware for updates and optimizations. We suggest downloading the open source firmware, OpenWRT or DD-WRT, to improve stability and performance. In addition, since it comes with a modem, you can save on modem monthly rental payments.
- Comes with the faster 3.0 DOCSIS modem
- Supports 802.11 AC and compatible with 802.11 A/G/N/B
- Two bands: 2.4 GHz (300 Mbps) and 5 GHz (867 Mbps)
- Dual band antennas
- Two 2.0 USB port
- Four Ethernet ports
- Two-year warranty
For the purposes of full disclosure: this is a relatively basic router. No frills, no complicated installation, and delicate housing. As long as you position it in a safe and stable place where it won’t fall or be kicked, this router will keep working – and work admirably well!
6. Best Splurge: Asus RT-AC5300
Asus RT-AC5300 Quick Review
We saved the best for last. While this is the most expensive in our list of top gaming routers, it also looks the most impressive! This tri-band router has the latest 4×4 802.11AC technology that can cover up to 5,000 square feet. Its maximum output is set at 5334 Mbps and comes with MU-MIMO.
For gamers, if you want a dream-come-true experience, this is the best routers you’ll ever invest your money on. It has built-in lifetime access to the WTF GPN or WTFast Gamers Private Network. This’ll optimize and enhance your gaming experience for years to come. This network also comes with analytics to help you reduce lagging and latency, lower ping, and prevent lost packets. Gaming experts and champions from around the world have endorsed this router, and it’s clear why.
- 4 GHz dual core processor, 512MB RAM, 128MB flash memory
- Tri-band with two 5 GHz and one 2.4 GHz
- 4×4 transmitter/receiver
- Compatible 802.11 AC/A/G/N/B
- 8 antennas
- AiProtection, the company’s beamforming tech
- Smart Connect for dynamic QoS
- Power brick blocks to prevent surges
- One 3.0 USB, one 2.0 USB, four Gigabit LAN ports, one WAN port
- Mu-MIMO compatible
- VPN, Parental controls, WPS, printer server
There is one catch to this super powerful router: unless your devices are also 4×4, you will not be able to enjoy maximum speed. If your devices, like if your network card, is 1×1 or 2×2 you won’t be putting this router to work. Thus, while this may be the ultimate gamer’s router, you need the right equipment to fully enjoy all its features. If not, it’s overkill and more practical to get a lower-priced router from among our other best gaming routers.
In summary, gaming routers are constantly evolving. The gaming industry is huge, with a net worth over US $99.6 billion. In addition, the 802.11 AD is being developed as well, which will add a third wireless frequency and increased bandwidth to up to 10 channels. It’s something to look forward to as it brings gamers closer to the concept of warp speed. For now, these are the best Wi-Fi routers for gaming that you can find in the market. If you’re looking for all-around wireless routers for your home or office, consider checking out our list of best wireless routers.