Wi-Fi routers are an integral part of any gaming setup. Although gamers would advocate for a wired connection, there is no denying the convenience of a wireless network. Installing the right router on your home network can allow you to enjoy lag-free gaming performance and an excellent signal at all times.
The best gaming router should have the latest wireless features and technology to ensure it meets the demands of today's bandwidth-intensive games.
However, the ever-increasing number of network devices and bandwidth requirements in modern homes can push Wi-Fi routers to their limit. When it comes to PC gaming, the router is frequently under heavy load as it tries to deliver a lag-free gaming performance.
After you've spent top dollar setting up gaming rig, you will need its performance to live up to its billing. But that can only be achieved if you install a router that can meet your specific performance needs as well as the current demands of 4K video and Twitch streaming.
The best routers will help you get the most out of your internet connection and have a great gaming experience. We understand that choosing the best router for gaming is a challenge for many gamers. Lucky for you, we went through some of the best routers in 2018 to help you pick one that is best suitable for your needs.
We have invested hours upon hours of time in testing gaming routers from different manufacturers to identify the best out there. We went from one brand to the next comparing network speeds as well as the complimentary features. Continue reading our article about the best gaming router to see our choices.
How to choose the Best Gaming Router
When purchasing a gaming router, you will need to go for a router that not only suits your gaming needs but also one that can withstand any other bandwidth-intensive applications in your home. There are a number of factors that you should consider when choosing a gaming router for your setup.
Wireless networking has gone through many changes since its introduction to the market, with each WIFI standard allowing for greater and greater speeds. The 802.11 standards were introduced back in 1997 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
The original standard only supported a maximum network bandwidth of 2 Mbps. It was followed by the 802.11 b, a, and g protocols respectively with the latter supporting up to 54 Mbps. Given today's high-intensity applications, these standards are no longer widely used.
Next came the 802.11n standard which supports a bandwidth of up to 300 Mbps. Currently, most Wi-Fi routers typically have dual-band technology and wireless N, which can deliver speeds of 600-900 Mbps.
However, the most powerful routers use the newest 802.11ac, delivers greater speeds and more stable connections. Most modern-day routers will support this configuration by default, but you'll also need 802.11ac-compatible hardware to make the most of it.
Besides Wi-Fi standards, you will also need to make sure you have enough Ethernet ports on your router. When the wireless speeds are unstable, having a high speed wired connection can save you the frustration of having to endure a lagging game. Basically, there are two types of Ethernet ports.
The Gigabit Ethernet which provides speeds upwards of 1000Mbps depending on your plan and Fast Ethernet which offers speeds of up to 100Mbps.
For better ping, the Gigabit Ethernet is preferred. Opt for a router supporting Fast Ethernet, and you may find yourself having to upgrade again. Routers vary in the number of ports and you will want to make sure each network device can be plugged in.
Dual Band Functionality
Dual-band routers are able to transmit on two different channels at once enhancing the network capacity. Single-band routers function on one wireless frequency (the 2.4GHz band) and while they may work well for internet surfing, they may not be suitable for high-bandwidth apps such as those for streaming video.
Dual-band routers, on the other hand, transmit data over the 2.4GHz band as well as the 5GHz band, making them much faster and less prone to interference from other devices.
Dual band functionality can prove quite helpful especially if you live in a large house with multiple devices connected at once. Today's routers have taken the use of two bands a step further with the introduction of the tri-band routers which utilize a 2.4 GHz and two 5 GHz connections. As usual, you'll pay more for a tri-band router but if you use your router solely for gaming, you will be better off with a single or dual-band router.
QoS and MU-MIMO
Other features that are worth considering include Quality of Service (QoS) and Multi-User, Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO). QoS enables you to prioritize gaming over other applications enabling you to enjoy a reliable connection. MU-MIMO, on the other hand, allows you to direct the full strength of your signal to specific devices rather than sharing it across all devices
It goes without saying that your next gaming router should have these two features especially the Quality of Service specification. It will enable you to prioritize your gaming over say, other user's video streaming and downloading. This will result in your ping or latency being lower allowing you to enjoy a faster and smoother gameplay despite other users being connected to the same network.
Best Gaming Router Comparison Table
Individual Reviews For The Best Gaming Router in 2018
1. Netgear Nighthawk X4S (R7800)
No matter how intensive your gaming is, you can never go wrong with the Nighthawk X4S.
The Smart Wi-Fi Router from NetGear comes with 160MHz, MU-MIMO, and Quad Stream technology enabling it to deliver high-speed Wi-Fi to multiple devices simultaneously.
The router offers speeds of up to 2.53 Gbps allowing you to enjoy lag-free gaming and uninterrupted Twitch streaming.
Additionally, thanks to Dynamic QoS, you can prioritize devices and applications allowing you to enjoy low-ping and best stream quality. With the X4S, you'll never have to worry about signal strength.
The router is designed with four high-performance external antennas for maximum range. And if you like your set up on a wired connection, the R7800 has that well catered for. The router features Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as two USB 3.0 and eSATA ports offering high-speed access to USB storage.
While basic WiFi routers use simple single-core processors, Nighthawk X4S utilizes a powerful 1.4GHz dual-core processor to separate processes and prioritize high-performance WiFi connections.
The 1.7GHz processor keeps performance at its maximum meaning no lag, no CPU hog and yeah, no excuses. X4S users also get to enjoy additional features such as ReadyCLOUD USB Access and DLNA support which allows you to find and play your media on DLNA TVs, game consoles, and media players.
The router also comes with advanced security features enabling you to maintain high security across your network. Whether it's preventing phishing, VPN support or just limiting access for kids & guests, NETGEAR has you covered.
Installation and management are simple & easy using the NETGEAR genie app. The router also comes with a WiFi and power on/off button for convenient power saving.
And did I mention the X4S is compatible with Amazon Alexa? This enables you to control your home network with voice commands. We think the NetGear Nighthawk X4S offers an amazing blend of speed and features at a reasonable price.
Netgear Nighthawk X4S Overall Rating
2. Asus RT-AC88U
The Asus RT-AC88U is an excellent router that offers fast speeds and great coverage.
It's not the cheapest, the router takes your gaming experience to the next level and is as well-rounded as it is top-of-the-line. What we liked most about the router was its signal strength.
The device comes with a four-transmit, four-receiver (4T4R) antenna design which significantly improves both Wi-Fi range and signal stability ensuring a strong and reliable connection.
The is further equipped with the Beamforming technology which focuses the Wi-Fi signal on the devices, making the connection even stronger.
The Asus RT-AC88U is full of ports and boasts 8 Gigabit LAN ports capable of running eight separate Ethernet-compatible devices simultaneously. The router supports port aggregation enabling you can convert two LAN ports into one high-speed connection port.
Even more, users can turn one of the LAN port into a WAN port. The NitroQAM™ technology on the RT-AC88U delivers a combined 3167 Mbps Wi-Fi with the 5GHz band at 2100 Mbps and the 2.4GHz at up to 1000Mbps.
Beyond coverage range, the Asus RT-AC88U excels with a wide range of innovative features and revolutionary hardware. It includes support for MU-MIMO which gives every compatible device its own full-speed WiFi connection allowing multiple devices to connect at the same time without slowing down the network.
Additionally, the router it is equipped with advanced security for vulnerability protection and malicious site blocking to preventing already-infected devices from transmitting personal data helping keep you safe.
The router also features built-in game acceleration and access to route-optimized servers to ensure consistently low ping times during gaming sessions. And with the ASUS Router App, it's much easier and more intuitive to manage your ASUS router. From the initial setup and network traffic monitoring to managing connected devices.
What's more? The RT-AC88U's feature-packed and easy to use web interface ensures that the router justifies the price you will be paying for it but knowing you will get the best gaming router.
Asus RT-AC88U Overall Rating
3. D-Link AC3200
The D-Link AC3200 (DIR-890L/R) WiFi router delivers premium performance for today's gaming demands and multiple device usages.
The device is designed with simultaneous Tri Band technology enabling it to deliver WiFi speeds of up to 3200 Mbps.
What impressed us the most was D-Links use of the Advanced AC Smart Beam technology which tracks your connected devices for enhanced Wi-Fi speed and range throughout your home.
Additionally, the router's Smart Connect Technology, allows the router to choose from the three WiFi bands and automatically connect your console to the best available band.
The AC3200 features Next Generation Gigabit WiFi technology enabling you to enjoy fast internet speeds and more online gaming. The router's QoS traffic optimization doesn't disappoint either.
The feature allows you to prioritize your internet traffic and you can set your Play station, Xbox or any other gaming console you are using the other connected devices enabling you to enjoy uninterrupted gaming.
The router boasts advanced security features including WPA/WPA2 encryption for a safe home network.
Installation is easy thanks to its intuitive user interface and you can easily manage the network from your mobile devices or desktop. If you are willing, the D-Link can be a great addition to your gaming rig.
D-Link AC3200 Overall Rating
4. TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900
The Archer C9 from TP-Link is the best budget gaming around.
The Amazon's Choice for Essential Wi-Fi Router comes with a plethora of amazing features and can outperform some of the more expensive routers in the market.
It's compatible with the major ISPs supports the 802.11ac standard – the next generation of Wi-Fi which is 3 times faster than wireless N speeds and delivers a combined wireless data transfer rate of up to 1.9Gbps.
The Archer C9 comes with simultaneous 2.4 GHz and 5GHz bands to provide an ultra-wireless experience. With 600Mbps over the 2.4GHz band and 1300Mbps over the 5GHz band, the Ac 1900 is a popular choice for gamers around the country. The Simultaneous Dual Band offers you the flexibility of two dedicated channels.
Simple tasks like sending e-mails or web browsing can be handled by the 2.4GHz band while your bandwidth intensive games are processed by the 5GHz band – all at the same time. Fans of wired connections aren't left behind either as the router comes with four Gigabit Ethernet ports plus an additional Gigabit WAN.
To get your hands on the C9. Now that's a great price especially when you consider the price of some of the routers in the list. TP-Link equipped the device with a powerful 1GHz dual-core processor which helps sustain even the most bandwidth-intensive games.
Additionally, Beamforming technology enables the router to locate your gaming console to create a stronger connection. And when you finally put down the gamepads, the USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports enable you to easily share printers, files, and media across your network.
Set up is easy and you can manage the WIFI via the TP-Link Tether app, available for both Android and iOS.
TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 Overall Rating
5. Linksys WRT AC3200
The Linksys AC3200 is another great option for gamers thanks to its high throughput and a great assortment of features.
The WIFI router is powered by Tri-Stream 160 technology, which doubles the bandwidth on all spatial streams. The WRT3200ACM provides two dedicated Wi-Fi bands with combined speeds of up to 3.2 Gbps.
The 2.4 GHz band offers speeds of up to 600 Mbps and the second high-speed 5 GHz band delivers speeds of up to 2.6 Gbps – speeds enough to power the high bandwidth games.
This best gaming router is designed with an enterprise grade 1.8 GHz dual-core processor which provides the computing power needed to handle even the heaviest network traffic and deliver the lowest latency.
Additionally, the featured MU-MIMO technology empowers the AC3200 to connect to multiple devices with compromising speed. This results in a fast, responsive gameplay that never lags.
The router's versatile range of ports can connect to eSATA and USB hard drives, network printers, flash drives, and more. And thanks to the open source firmware, advanced users can customize their router with OpenWrt and DD-WRT to suit their needs.
The Linksys WRT also comes with an upgraded Smart Wi-Fi app that allows you to manage and monitor your home Wi-Fi from a mobile device, anytime, anywhere.
This easy-to-use app places a powerful suite of Wi-Fi customization tools in the palm of your hand. You can use it to send guests Wi-Fi passwords, prioritize your devices, and set parental controls.
With such a powerful hardware and a feature-rich offering, there isn't much this router can't do. It can add a new edge to your gaming set up.
Linksys WRT AC3200 Overall Rating
Tired of frequent lags and a stuttering gameplay? Upgrading your router may be what you. For the budget conscious, TP-Link Archer C9 is an affordable option that you can get without having to spend a king's ransom. If money isn't an issue, then you can't go wrong with any of the other listed routers.
Whatever you pick you can be sure that it is one of the best gaming routers. We hope you liked our reviews and if you have any suggestions be sure to send us a message by referring to the contact page. – cNET
Sources and References:
- 10 things to consider when buying a router – cNET
- How to choose the best routerWhat is a PowerLine Adapter? -Windows Central