The best gaming routers now deliver better than ever before. With Wi-Fi 6 here, the promise is for network speeds of up to 6 Gbps, able to keep up with the latest in faster internet speeds. While many ISP’s offer a router, their rental fees get expensive over the longer term, and for the best gaming experience, it is a more effective solution to upgrade, go on your own and get one of the best gaming routers (perhaps to go with one of the upcoming Prime Day laptop deals).
Before purchase, it is critically important to get up to speed on the differences between routers. In order to do that, check out the specs of the different models. A crucial spec is the type of Wi-Fi used in the model. The last generation was 802.11ac, which is being replaced by the 802.11ax standard. Confused yet? Well, it gets worse as the Wi-Fi Alliance tried to simplify this by designating 802.11ac as Wi-Fi 5, and also 802.11ax as Wi-Fi 6.
As Wi-Fi 6 is the latest wireless standard, you’ll need to purchase one of the best gaming routers (and a new one at that) to enjoy its benefits. Be aware that Wi-Fi 6 offers faster speeds, and also consumes less battery life as inherent advantages. Also, realize that it was designed for congested environments to be more efficient at transmitting data to multiple devices simultaneously. Also be aware that unless you have a fast high-speed internet connection, many users may not notice the difference between Wi-Fi 6 over Wi-Fi 5.
Most of us dream about driving to work or school in a top of the line Ferrari or Lamborghini, you know, a supercar. Too bad that most of us do our commuting in more of an econobox, but take some solace that you can run your network with the ‘Supercar of routers.’ The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 basically takes each and every spec- and pushes it over the top. This includes a 2.5GBase -T port for faster-wired speeds, and also 802.11ax via tri-bands on the wireless side, plus Dynamic Frequency Switching for additional 5 GHz frequencies.
The QoS in our testing performs at the top, with their Dynamic QoS that prioritizes gaming traffic as the standard for how every other router should perform. On top of that, this router can be expanded via Asus’ AiMesh that allows additional Asus routers to be reconfigured as mesh nodes. Gaming centric features include WTFast, latency killing Games Radar, and VPN Fusion to segregate gaming traffic. For the discerning gamer looking for the top router, and willing to pay the price, this Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 easily makes it to the top of the list.
For those seeking the Cadillac of gaming routers who have no qualms about dropping some serious cash (and making serious space), the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 is a pricey, yet powerful option that looks absolutely ridiculous. With 8 antennas, a quad-core processor, USB 3.0 ports, and 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired connectivity, it's the luxury choice for the discerning gamer. This router will offer some unbelievable lag-free speeds, with an extensive selection of gamer-centric features, such as network ping tracking, a meaty interface, and excellent hardware that offers a veritable treasure trove of customization options. At nearly $400, it's a splurge, but it's also a massive beast of a router that delivers on all its promises.
The TP Link Archer c5400X is a gaming version of the recent c5400, and it's a damn good gaming router. While it doesn't quite match the ASUS Rapture, because it doesn't have any in-built tech to actually enhance your gaming connection, the TP Link wins out on ease of use. You can control everything via a simple menu, and it's packed with features to help you tweak your set-up, including those all-important QoS options. In terms of wireless performance, the C5400X manages very impressive speeds over the 5GHz range - some of the best available today - but is merely above average when it comes to 2.4GHz. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but if you operate most of your devices further away from the router, you should consider one that performs better at 2.4GHz, especially considering the cost of this one. If you're serious about gaming, though, you should be fine (and delighted) with the 5GHz speeds you get. Overall, this is a great piece of kit, and only misses out on the top spot by a whisker.
Not every user needs the top router for their needs. We appreciate the Netgear Nighthawk XR300 that brings their excellent, top-end DumaOS down to the budget level of gaming routers. While the router itself with its horizontal design and understated black plastic exterior is hardly a standout from its peers, the interface is the real story. For those that want to optimize their home network, without going back to school to obtain certification in network management, then this is the answer. Through the attractive interface, tasks like connecting a game to the closest server for a local, low ping connection, granular control of network priority of devices, and QoS that gives ultimate priority to gaming traffic are easily configured. While this type of control previously required a top tier router, with the XR300, Netgear has democratized this to a router for everybody.
Let's face it: Most users won't be in need of the Rolls-Royce of gaming routers. But many will be in the market for the next best thing. That is, by far, the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 router. It's sleek, with an understated appearance that requires much less space than the aforementioned ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300, but it still packs most of the punch. One of its most alluring features is its Netduma OS software, which allows for a long list of settings to optimize that comes perfectly tuned out of the box, with options to allow you to connect to the quickest and closest servers, and Dynamic Frequency Selection to help you cut down on any noise or potential interruptions. This pick is excellent in its own right, and certainly capable of keeping you afloat in any game.
Sometimes, you need the best speeds money can buy. If that's what you're most concerned with, then Asus's premiere RT-AC88U router can absolutely deliver. With four antennas and a dual-core 1.4GHz processor, it can hang with the big boys in terms of performance, but where it truly shines is its lightning-fast wireless speeds, the highest out of any of the other routers on this list. If you choose, you can purchase a NitroQAM adapter to push it even further to its limits. Otherwise, this router with four antennas, a wide selection of management features, and advanced settings that allow you to painlessly install just about any form of custom firmware imaginable is an absolutely fantastic choice. It's hardly the best option for anyone on a budget, but its utilitarian design and nature should rein in buyers looking for less flash and more performance.
Linksys is a familiar name in the router ecosystem, but don't let its pedestrian reputation fool you – this is a formidable contender in the realm of gaming routers. This particular model's Killer Prioritization Engine (for use with PCs with Killer networking cards) is a winner for sure, as it helps prioritize your own network traffic to and from the internet. Beyond that, this dual-band router is a small package with four gigabit LAN ports and four detachable antennas. The menu interface leaves a little to be desired, but that's hardly an issue when it's rocking a powerful 1.8Ghz processor, beam forming, and MU-MIMO. It's also one of the more affordable routers on this list, which makes it perfect for the hardcore gamer on a budget.
Think that Wi-Fi 6 is only for the most expensive models? Well, think again as that barrier to entry to 802.11ax router has dropped considerably to a sub-$200 router with the Netgear Nighthawk AX4. From a performance standpoint, this router can keep up with the routers costing considerably more when it comes to throughput on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. It also delivers the goods when it comes to streaming media streams, and simultaneous gaming, showing the benefit of this latest wireless standard designed specifically for efficient data transfers in a congested wireless environment. The downside of this router is that the interface, while serviceable, is rather pedestrian, and not as pretty as Netgear’s more gaming oriented offerings. As long as you can get past this, the AX4 is an otherwise solid router that shows you can get great performance at a lower price point.
Still subscribed to the notion that gaming routers have to cost you an arm and a leg? You'll change your mind quickly when it comes to D-Link's budget DIR-879 EXO, which looks and feels like one of its premiere brethren. It certainly plays the part the best it can for its extremely low price tag, offering serviceable performance and fantastic 5GHz range. While there are no USB ports and you won't get the most formidable speeds out of this particular model, you've got to hand it to D-Link: this router is more than capable of putting you on the map if you're thinking of testing the online gaming and streaming waters. It's a great way to dip your toes into the water without breaking the bank, and if you're no power user, could even potentially work as a reliable router for months to come.
If the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 is the Rolls-Royce Ghost of gaming routers, the XR700 is the Phantom. Expensive as it might be, it's built for a sort of timeless luxury you can't put a price on. Seeing as it supports the blisteringly fast 4,600Mbps 802.11ad networking standard, buying the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 means future-proofing your home connectivity infrastructure for years to come, especially since only a handful of laptops are compatible. That said, don't let a lack of interoperability get in the way, as the XR700 is fully backward compatible with the present-day 802.11ac spec as well, delivering high speeds over 5GHz and even 2.4GHz bands at up to 1,733Mbps and 800Mbps, respectively. All that, combined with its fantastic QoS gaming prioritization technology and its equally robust DumaOS software, the Nighthawk XR700 is yet another win for Netgear.
If you're in the UK, another decent upgrade to your home internet setup could be achieved by sorting out your broadband. We've rounded up the best broadband deals in the UK this week.