Best Gaming Routers: Reviews of Our Top Picks in 2020
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Guess what: gone are the days when you absolutely had to use a cable to get a proper internet connection for gaming. Yes, having a cable plugged into your PC, chaining you to your “work” station does help to keep your ping low and your connection stable. But even though a cable is the best option for gaming, it’s no longer the only option.
Besides, not everyone has the option to use a wired connection. You may want multiple devices connected to the internet. You may share your home with flatmates or family, and hogging the cable all the time won’t go unnoticed, not without someone muttering in the background. Luckily, internet providers today offer wireless and fiber optic internet options that can give you that low ping and smooth gaming experience.
Even though we’re still waiting for the arrival of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), which will be as fast as 9.6 Gbps, Wi-Fi 5 (a.k.a. 802.11ac) has been securing fast and efficient internet data transfer in homes, offices, and dorms ever since 2014. Wi-Fi 5 goes at a maximum of 3.5Gbps, but it still provides awesome wireless speed for gaming – as long as you have a trusted internet provider and a great gaming router!
Without further ado, here are the best gaming routers for 2020!
Best Gaming Routers
Don’t have time to read our reviews in detail? Here’s a quick overview of our favorite gaming routers:
Features: game-enhancing features, high data transfer rate (5,334 Mbps), intelligent traffic prioritization, 8 ports, tri-band Wi-Fi, compatible with Alexa.
Runner-Up: Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300
Features: high data transfer rate (5,334 Mbps), 8 ports, tri-band Wi-Fi, VPN-friendly, gaming features like Game Boost and access to WTFast gaming servers.
Best On A Budget: D-Link DIR-867 (AC1750)
Features: dual-band, sufficient data transfer rate (1,750 Mbps), Parental Controls, MU-MIMO technology.
Best Value for the Money: Asus RT-AC86U (AC2900)
Features: QoS for intelligent prioritization, Parental Controls, VPN client-friendly, broad coverage (good for large homes), decent data transfer rate (2,900 Mbps).
Why Should I Buy a Gaming Router?
Now, what’s all this racket about best gaming routers, aren’t all WiFi routers the same? That would be a hard no.
When it comes to gaming, the last thing you want is your game going slow-mo mid teamfight, your HP plummeting like it’s nobody’s business – all because of lag. What the best gaming routers provide, so that God forbid this ever happens, is that you can set them to prioritize traffic to your PC and gaming consoles. Your sister’s binge watching some trashy reality TV show on Netflix while your mother’s downloading your brother’s entire wedding album from the cloud. Well, guess what?
If there’s any lag at all, they’re the ones that will be dealing with it, not you!
To help you find the best gaming router, we’ve compiled our list of favorites for 2020. Our top picks ensure a smooth, multiple antennae-backed connection, prioritized gaming features to minimize lag, and come with multiple LAN and Ethernet ports. We’ve also prepared a helpful buying guide at the end of our list of favorites, so that you can get a clearer idea of what to look out for when choosing the best option for you.
1. Top Pick:
The TP-Link Archer C5400X is our overall favorite gaming router thanks to its impeccable speed, safe connection, and above all – special gaming features. The Archer C5400X has been built with gaming in mind. It offers the current highest data transfer rate (5,334 Mbps), comes with multiple Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi bands, has a built-in security system, and of course, features intelligent traffic prioritization, so that you’ll never experience lag while gaming!
Plus, the Archer supports Alexa voice commands. It’s quite a suitable choice for large homes due to its broad coverage.
This model has one of the most sought-out features of a gaming router: intelligent traffic prioritization. You can adjust the features of the router to prioritize traffic depending on your needs. Other than gaming, you can prioritize laptops, streaming, mobile devices, and so on – but why would you? When you prioritize gaming, the Archer C5400X will optimize your experience by allocating the highest data transfer speed to your gaming device, thus giving you the desired advantage during PvP encounters, heated teamfights, and ranked fights.
The Archer C5400X is designed to offer fast and smooth performance. The 1.8 Ghz 64 bit Quad Core CPU makes light work of all of the processing tasks that you throw at it for uninterrupted gameplay. At the same time, its three co-processors balance the Wi-Fi demand and usage. The tri-band Wi-Fi connection will ensure a speedy internet connection to all of your devices and allow you to allocate bandwidth between all of the different services on your home network as needed.
For instance, you can dedicate one of the bands for your gaming traffic, and let the rest of your household use the other two. In Smart Connect mode, the router will decide which Wi-Fi band is best suited for the optimal performance of each wireless device.
Now, if your heart’s really set on a hard-wired connection, you can connect your PC, game console, or smart TV to one of Archer’s eight ethernet ports. For a really fast and dependable internet connection, you can also team two LAN ports using the Link Aggregation feature, and double your connection speed from 1 GBps to 2 GBps. You can even combine a WAN port with a LAN port and connect them to DOCSIS 3.1 modems to get the fastest internet speed.
Some additional cool features of the Archer gaming router are security and threat protection (a built-in antivirus), a built-in VPN server, and compatibility with Alexa.
One drawback of the Archer C5400X is that while its hardware is great, its firmware is lacking, and rarely gets updated.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this model is quite pricey, but we think it’s worth it. This is the router that I have in my home.
Our runner-up for best gaming router is the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300, as it offers one of the fastest internet speeds and lots of gaming-friendly features.
A lot of the technical specs of the Rapture are similar to the Archer – it uses virtually the same quad core CPU, runs on the same data transfer rate (5,334 Mbps), and has 8 Ethernet ports. The main difference stems from the fact that gaming prioritization on the Asus ROG Rapture isn’t wireless, but via prioritized LAN ports – so you’d have to be plugged in to get the lion’s share of internet data.
We loved this router’s game-enhancing features. To begin with, the ROG Rapture provides gaming prioritization through two LAN ports that give network priority and the fastest possible internet speed. You can hook up your PC and gaming console to these LAN ports, and they’ll get the most bandwidth.
Another alluring gaming feature of the ROG Rapture is Game Boost, an Asus type of QoS which makes game packets a top priority when multiple devices are connected to the router. Game Boost basically analyzes the network and prioritizes gaming traffic on gaming consoles.
The ROG Rapture also optimizes gaming by giving you access to the the GPN’s (Gamers Private Network) WTFast gaming servers. This will minimize your ping, provide a lag-free gaming experience, and provide you with a secure, private connection.
On the topic of security, this router is also equipped with Game IPS (Intrusion Prevention System), which will protect your network from viruses and malware. The Game IPS neutralizes external attacks before they can get your devices.
Lastly, the ROG Rapture is a great choice for users who run a VPN. A VPN can have a degrading effect on your in-game performance. Well, Rapture’s VPN Fusion feature takes care of all that – it allows you to run a VPN and maintain a proper internet connection, so your game will run smoothly.
This is by far the priciest gaming router on our list of favorites, so if you’re on a tight budget, this may not be the best choice for you.
Another drawback of the ROG Rapture is that Asus doesn’t really offer the best customer support.
3. Best On A Budget:
The D-Link DIR-867 is our favorite budget-friendly pick. For the money, it has plenty to offer: a strong signal, decent speed, and easy set-up… for the most part.
Thanks to its dual-band technology, you can connect different devices to different signals, so your gaming connection will be uninterruped by other devices hooked to the Wi-Fi. This router is also a great choice for simultaneous streaming on multiple smart devices in your home and for families with kids, as it offers Parental Control.
Although the D-Link DIR-867 has a lower transfer rate than our top 2 picks with only 1,750 Mbps per second (about a third of the top models), it comes with features that will provide you with a smooth and fast connection. It has a dual core processor that prevents lag during gaming, even when a number of other devices are connected to the Wi-Fi. Plus, the dual-band allows you to direct the traffic of different devices to different channels.
The D-Link also features intelligent QoS with traffic optimization and prioritization. This means that no matter how many devices are streaming, the speed of your game comes first!
In fact, this router is a good choice for multiple-person households. The featured MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output) technology will ensure that multiple devices get high-bandwidth internet signal simultaneously! So even if someone in your home is streaming HD or even 4K media, you’ll still be able to play without lag.
We especially recommend this router if you have kids, as it comes with a Parental Control feature. You’ll be able to blacklist and whitelist pages, so that the young people in your home will be protected from unwanted web content.
If you want a straightforward router that’s easy to set up, the D-Link won’t disappoint. It comes Wi-Fi ready, and offers a user-friendly, intuitive interface so you can easily set it up and manage the network even if you’re using a smartphone/tablet.
Last but not least, D-Link has been praised time and again for their excellent customer service. It’s comforting knowing that there will always be someone ready to answer your questions and help you work through any possible issues.
One of the drawbacks of the D-Link is that it comes with short cables, which may be frustrating at times, especially if you want to hook up your PC directly to the router. Be sure to add some longer cables to your cart if needed when checking out on Amazon.
Another downside is that every time you reboot the router, you’ll have to enable the two frequencies, or channels (2.4 and 5 GHz) all over again.
4. Best Value for the Money:
We’re back to Asus for our top value-for-money pick with the RT-AC86U. Considering its built-in security settings, solid and dependable performance, and enhanced gaming features, this dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) wireless router offers the best value you can get for the price. The model comes with four Gigabit LAN ports, a USB 2.0 port and a USB 3.0 port. We especially recommend the Asus RT-AC86U for large homes.
The Asus RT-AC86U offers reliable performance for gaming, as it features Adaptive QoS which allows you to prioritize gaming packets. You can adjust the settings to assign full bandwidth to your gaming console. Plus, the 4K UHD streaming and WTFast game Accelerators that this router comes with make it perfect for a smooth online gaming experience.
In terms of data transfer, the RT-AC86U stands somewhere between our top picks and our budget-friendly picks, with a 2,900 Mbps data transfer speed. This is quite sufficient for uninterrupted gameplay, and considering the price, one of the best speeds you can find on the market.
This router is also a great choice for multiple-person households. The featured MU-MIMO technology will give each connected device dedicated full-speed wireless internet, so that everyone in your home can stream simultaneously without slowing down the network. The multiple ports featured on the Asus RT-AC86U will allow you to hook up multiple devices – including smart TVs and game consoles – at the same time. Plus, this router has quite a broad coverage – which is why we recommend it for large homes – so you’ll be able to game without lag no matter how far from the router your room is.
The RT-AC86U is also a good choice for VPN users, as it comes with built-in firmware support for VPN client mode.
You’ll love the intuitive, user-friendly interface of the RT-AC86U, which gives you full control of the router’s settings. Once you completed the easy 3-step web-based installation of the ASUSWRT app, you’ll be able to set up the network, assign prioritizations, adjust the parental controls, manage the data usage, and get notifications about security and other network-related stuff.
Last but not least, this router comes with Trend Micro built-in security and protection from internet attacks, so your household can surf worry-free.
The design of this router only allows for vertical mounting, which may not be a desired option in every home.
The TP-Link Archer C5400X is our top pick for best gaming router as it offers excellent speed and data transfer, tri-band wireless, great security, and most important of all, game-enhancing features. We recommend this for serious gamers, large homes, and VPN users. Plus, if you’re using Alexa, this new device will fit right in. It’s priced at $279.99 on Amazon, though, so it’s not the ideal choice if you’re on a tight budget.
Our runner-up, the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 isn’t for those on a tight budget either. It’s even pricier than the TP-Link, as it costs $299.99 on Amazon. Still, it has a lot to offer – high speed, smooth performance, tri-band wireless, multiple ports… The Rapture is also teaming with awesome gaming features, like the Game Boost, access to GPN’s WTFast gaming servers, and great gaming security (Game IPS). Plus, it’s also excellent for the simultaneous use of VPN.
If you’re looking for something more affordable, the is a great budget-friendly option. It only costs $199.99 on Amazon, but still offers lots of attractive features. While the data transfer rate isn’t as high as that of our other recommendations, it still offers a dependable, smooth, and strong signal. It uses dual-band and provides high-quality simultaneous streaming on multiple devices. It also has smart prioritization for gamers. The Parental Control option makes it a great choice for families with kids.
Another affordable choice is our top value-for-money pick, the Asus RT-AC86U (AC2900). It features a higher data transfer rate (2,900 Mbpds) than the D-Link, has plenty of gaming features, comes with added security, four LAN ports, and Parental Controls. This router costs somewhere between the cheapest and priciest options, at $169.99 on Amazon. The RT-AC86U is a great choice for large homes, as it has a broad and impeccable wireless coverage.
Still not sure which gaming router is the best choice for you? Not to worry, just read on to our buying guide so you can learn the most important factors to keep in mind when choosing.
How To Buy the Best Gaming Router
There are many great gaming routers, but which one is the best choice for you depends on the compatibility between a router’s specs and your individual needs. So let’s take a look at what features would constitute the best gaming router for you.
Intelligent QoS: Traffic Prioritization
The main thing to look out for in a gaming router is whether it features intelligent QoS that allows you to adjust bandwidth prioritization. What you want from gaming is a smooth, lag-free, HD experience, and you can only get this with traffic prioritization, especially in a home with multiple users.
Gaming routers come with prioritization features for gaming systems, packets, and apps. Alternatively, they give you full control and management over what portion of the data transfer is allocated to which connected device. So in some cases, routers have the necessary firmware that automatically allocates more bandwidth to gaming software and hardware. In other cases you get to make the adjustments yourself through the router’s app. Or, you may choose a router which has prioritization-based LAN ports, so you can directly hook up your gaming PC or console for that strong, hard-wired connection you are still opting for.
In any scenario, the main thing you want to have in a gaming router is the ability to get the lion’s share of the internet traffic!
How Many In Your Party?
How many, and what kind? If you share your home with others, you probably want to choose a router that can handle all that traffic. Look out for a router with MU-MIMO technology and dedicated connections for all devices (for instance via beamforming), so that all the members of your home can have uninterrupted streaming privileges. Plus, if you share your dwellings with other gamers, you may want to opt for a tri-band router – but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Consider also how many devices you want to hard-wire to the router, and make sure your router of choice has the necessary ports to support your network.
In terms of what kind, we mean, well kids. If you have kids, you may want to choose a router that offers Parental Controls. This will give you the opportunity to blacklist and whitelist online content, and limit the chances of your kids being exposed to the bad stuff out there.
Should You Go For Dual-Band or Tri-Band?
When it comes to gaming routers, you definitely want to choose something with at least two radio bands. Dual-band routers come with a 2.4Ghz frequency and a 5Ghz radio frequency. The 2.4Ghz is usually the more used frequency of the two and therefore has the tendency to get more crowded. This is the band you’d use for smartphones, casual surfing, and work on your PC that doesn’t demand much bandwidth.
For the best gaming speeds, however, you need a 5GHz connection. The 5GHz is best used when your gaming PC or console is near the router or doesn’t need to go through too many walls/floors. All the routers we reviewed do have at least two bands, but what of the third?
Well, tri-band routers come with a second 5GHz frequency. When you have two 5GHz bands, you can dedicate one of them to your gaming PC or console, and dedicate the other one to media streaming, downloads, or large file transfers. This will decrease the chances of lag and ensure you have the fastest possible connection while gaming. So if you have multiple members in your household and multiple devices connected to your router, you should consider getting a tri-band model.
Depending on your needs, there are some additional features that you may want to look out for in a router.
For instance, as we already mentioned, if you have a child you may want to choose something with Parental Controls. If you have multiple users and devices hooked to your router, again, you should look for something that features MU-MIMO technology. This allows for simultaneous rather than sequential data streaming.
Further, if you have an Alexa smart speaker, you may want to opt for an Alexa-compatible router to be able to control it without needing to login to the web interface, for things like prioritizing different services, performing a speed test or enabling/disabling Guest WiFi networks. If you’re using a VPN, you should look for a router that either supports VPN clients or has a separate VPN server. Looking into individual specifications can really make a difference of how much use you can get out of your router. After all, reading this guide is all about optimizing your experience as a buyer.
Overall, however, the two main features that you want in a gaming router are game-enhancement and security. Game-enhancement doesn’t just come in the form of traffic prioritization. For instance, the Asus models give users access to the GPN’s WTFast gaming servers, which can further improve your gaming speed and minimize your ping number.
You should also consider buying a router that comes with its own, built-in security system. Especially if you’ve got multiple people in the house using your internet connection, you do a lot of work online, or regularly game (which, duh, that’s why you’re here), having an added layer of threat protection can really be a game-changer.
This is somewhat of a given, but you should definitely think over your budget when choosing the best gaming router for your home. All the routers we recommended offer at least a decent connection for gaming, so if you don’t have $200 lying around or allocated for a new router, just live to fight another day. You can get decent performance out of the more affordable routers, too! The more budget-friendly options that range between $100 and $170 will still be sufficient for lag-free gaming.
With that in mind, if you share a home with flatmates and you all pitch in for a new router, or if you do have enough saved up for one of those game-enhancing beasts, you can decide to splurge on an option that will give you the best possible conditions for gaming.
Q: Is Wi-Fi good enough for gaming?
A: Wi-Fi is generally good enough for gaming, but not the best. For the best online gaming performance, you would still need to connect your computer directly to the router with a cable. Using a wired Ethernet connection is the best possible choice for gaming. Still, if you don’t have the opportunity to use a hard-wired connection, dedicated 5GHz bands and traffic optimization via wireless remain a decent alternative.
Q: Why should I buy a gaming router?
A: The main reason to buy a gaming router is that it comes with traffic prioritization. Prioritizing traffic to your gaming PC or console will reduce lag, give you the most bandwidth, and ensure fast internet speed, regardless of how many devices in your home are using the internet to stream or download.
Q: Is 0 Ping possible?
A: The, uh, laws of physics make zero ping impossible. A zero ping would require your computer instantly communicating with the remote server, exceeding the speed of light. Even the fastest internet data transfer via fiber optic cables comes nowhere near the speed of light! Each packet of data takes longer than that to travel. Of course you want the lowest ping possible – but zero ping simply isn’t possible.
Q: How many Mbps do I need for gaming?
A: On average, you’d need about 15-20 Mbps for a smooth gaming experience. If you’re serious about gaming, however, you would want at least 25 Mbps to ensure speed, avoid lag, and not miss a single frame. It’s best to have upload speeds of at least 5 Mbps, and download speeds north of 50 Mbps. Keep in mind that a high Mbps doesn’t only depend on your router, however. You need a good, reliable internet provider and a well-maintained PC or gaming console.
A Few Words Before You Go…
In a nutshell, the main things you want in a gaming router are:
- Traffic prioritization;
- Dual or tri-band frequencies;
- Multiple ports for gaming consoles;
- Additional game-enhancing features;
- Built-in security and threat protection.
Additionally, the best way to secure a fast and lag-free connection for gaming is to hook up your PC or gaming console via cable directly to the router. If this isn’t an option, however, using 5GHz-band wireless can work almost as well with a good router and a solid internet provider.
Hopefully, you enjoyed reading our list of the best gaming routers on the market today. And hopefully, our guide was helpful for you to figure out what option is the best choice for you. In the end, it’s all about finding an option that has everything you need for uninterrupted, lag-free gaming. GG!
In case you need it, here’s a reminder of our top picks:
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Last updated on November 28, 2020. Pricing Information and Product Images obtained from Amazon Product Advertising API.
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