The router is a main component of any gaming setup. However, a quality gaming router should be more than just reliable. It needs to be able to handle heavy loads to ensure uninterrupted performance for Twitch streaming, 4K videos, and other demanding applications.
What’s more, the router should feature QoS (Quality of Service) settings that prioritize network traffic for gaming. But there are a lot of gaming routers on the market, so making a wise choice might not be as easy as it seems.
Take a look at the following top 10 list and the individual reviews that follow to find your personal best router for gaming.
Router for Gaming Comparison Chart
Best Router for Gaming Reviews
1. Netgear Nighthawk Pro Network Switch
The Nighthawk Pro is from Netgear, an established company that specializes in high-end networking gear. As its name suggests, the Nighthawk Pro is designed for demanding users. It provides excellent speed optimization and controls to ensure smooth gaming.
This network switch offers a level of control any die-hard gamer would covet. Nighthawk Pro has a Gaming Dashboard that provides information about network settings and performance in real time. The dashboard allows you to reconfigure the settings to achieve optimal ping and latency.
When it comes to overall switch configuration and setup, you should have the Nighthawk Pro up and running in no time. The system is easy to install and there are more than a few settings to choose from. The software provides a selection of modes for media streaming, LAN networking, port aggregation, and of course low-latency gaming.
But these settings might not be enough for some hardcore gamers. If the predefined modes don’t satisfy your gaming needs, you can always create a custom one to ensure seamless gaming without traffic bottleneck. Besides excellent configuration options, the Nighthawk Pro also offers premium gaming speeds.
The switch features a couple of 10-gigabit Ethernet ports that are 10 times faster than the standard. There are 8 more ports besides the two 10-gigabit ones. They provide the latest support for multi-gig devices so you can easily organize a gaming tournament in the comfort of your own home.
The Nighthawk Pro has a sleek futuristic design that complements its high-performance features. The aluminum body is equipped with customizable RGB LED indicators.
What's to like about the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Network Switch
This gaming switch has excellent configuration settings and a user-friendly dashboard. The 10-gigabit ports ensure lightning fast speeds that can support any demanding streaming or gaming. On top of that, the multi-gig support gives all of your devices the power they need for seamless performance.
What's not to like about the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Network Switch
There is very little not to like about the Nighthawk Pro since it is fast, reliable, and customizable. But there might be some problems with a port if you are transferring a lot of data over an extended period of time. On the other hand, this might not be that big of a deal because most gamers don’t need to transfer a lot of files on a regular basis.
2. Linksys Max Stream EA9500 Tri-Band Router
The Linksys Max Stream EA9500 is a wireless router that can address the needs of most gamers and business users. It is a tri-band router which makes it a great solution for gamers who need a dedicated Wi-Fi frequency to reduce lag. What’s more, it is fast and reliable.
This wireless router features the latest MU-MIMO Wi-Fi technology. As the acronym suggests, the router is designed for multiple users with multiple inputs and outputs. MU-MIMO ensures that you can connect all of the Wi-Fi-enabled devices in your home and have a smooth uninterrupted connection.
The MU-MIMO technology goes hand in hand with the three dedicated Wi-Fi bands. The combined AC5400 speed of these bands amounts to about 5.3 Gbps and it handles multiple devices at any given time without any buffering. Band 1 caters to older devices that feature wireless-G and N technology.
Band 2 runs at 5 GHz which is great for blazing file transfers and other business uses. The third band also runs at 5 GHz to provide seamless gaming regardless of the load on the other two bands. The Linksys Max Stream EA9500 incorporates the latest 802.11 IEEE Standard to ensure the best Wi-Fi connection, but the performance may vary depending on the actual network capacity.
Besides the excellent wireless capabilities, this router also comes with eight gigabit Ethernet ports. You will also be able to connect two shared devices via USB ports.
What's to like about the Linksys Max Stream EA9500 Tri-Band Router
This is a great all-around router that can handle heavy home use and small business needs. The three bands provide independent frequencies that cover all the requirements for different Wi-Fi -enabled devices. There are 8 antennas for optimal Wi-Fi range. In addition, any user can easily set up the router by following the simple instructions.
What's not to like about the Linksys Max Stream EA9500 Tri-Band Router
This might be the best router for gaming and other home or small business use. But the high quality and top performance come at a price. The Max Stream EA9500 is one of the priciest wireless routers might be its biggest downside.
3. Netgear Nighthawk X4S AC2600 Router
The Neatgear Nighthawk X4S is an AC2600 dual-band wireless router that delivers excellent gaming performance. It is packed with features that ensure seamless gaming experience at premium speeds. And this Nighthawk comes with an app that lets you set up and manage the router from your mobile device.
The Nighthawk X4S is an AC2600 router with a top speed of 2.3 Gbps. It also features a 1.7 GHz dual-core processor that provides the required power for reaching high network speeds. The processor is coupled with QoS technology to prioritize gaming network traffic. These characteristics won this router top ranking on Small Net Builder.
In addition to the high speed and processing power, this Nighthawk comes with a four-stream wireless architecture. The 4x4 architecture is designed to deliver 4K video streaming without lag and equally efficient gaming. There is also a 160 MHz radio to provide an enhanced bandwidth for all connected mobile devices.
This Netgear router features MU-MIMO technology that earned top ranking on Small Net Builder as well. The technology allows the wireless router to stream high-speed data to multiple devices at the same time. It also uses a signal-focusing technology which can significantly extend the wireless range.
The router has 4 LAN ports for wired network connections. When it comes to storage ports, there are two USB 3.0 ports and one eSATA port.
What's to like about the Netgear Nighthawk X4S AC2600 Router
Overall, this router is an affordable well-rounded solution for gaming purposes. Each characteristic is designed to optimize speed, performance, and reliability. The X4S AC2600 comes with a dedicated smartphone app to ease customization and controls. On top of that, this Nighthawk is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Echo.
What's not to like about the Netgear Nighthawk X4S AC2600 Router
Even though this router is an excellent value for the money, it has some shortcomings. The Genie software that you have to download allows you to configure only the 2.4 GHz band. If you want to configure the 5 GHz band, you need to use the web-based interface.
4. TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 Smart Router
The TP-Link Archer C9 is a compact and reliable wireless router. It sports home- and game-friendly Wi-Fi features to provide excellent dual-band speeds over a long range. What’s more, this router is one of the most affordable on the list which makes it an ideal solution for all gamers on a budget.
The Archer C1900 comes with cutting-edge beamforming technology that provides a direct connection to each of your Wi-Fi -enabled device. This means the router sends a signal directly to the device rather than disperse it in different directions. If you go for this TP-Link router you won’t have any problems streaming 4K videos.
It works on 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands that allow you to watch your favorite Netflix series in 4K while your roommate is gaming, for example. The AC1900 speed rating is up to 1900 Mbps combined for the two bands, which ensures smooth gaming and 4K streaming. Its 1 GHz dual-core processor is responsible for optimizing the connection speed and stability for all connected devices.
The TP-Link Archer C1900 is also very easy to set up. Similar to the better wireless routers, it comes with a dedicated app that runs on iOS and Android. The Tether app allows you to easily tweak all router settings and manage connections. In addition, the app features an intuitive user-friendly interface that is very easy to navigate.
If you want to connect an Ethernet cable to the router, there are 4 gigabit ports. Besides those, this TP-Link also features one each of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 port for peripherals or external storage.
What's to like about the TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 Smart Router
Even though this is one of the most affordable dual-band routers, it doesn’t lack any features that would limit its performance. The 5 GHz band is excellent for gaming and the 2.4 GHz can handle mobile and other devices with ease.
What's not to like about the TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 Smart Router
Considering the router’s price and features, it serves the intended purpose really well. However, the AC1900 speed might not be enough for some hardcore gamers.
5. Medialink MLWR-AC1200 Router
This Medialink router is another affordable option that can boost your gaming experience. You shouldn’t let the low price fool you as this router packs a decent punch when it comes to internet speeds and streaming. The MLWR-AC1200 also comes with advanced network security technology that protects your system from any unwanted guests.
One of the best things about this router is the easy setup. Even if you are not exactly tech-savvy you shouldn’t have any problems configuring this Medialink. The router comes with step-by-step instructions that allow you to have the device up and running in no time. What’s more, the MLWR-AC1200 is compatible with any service provider or modem.
However, easy setup and compatibility are only a part of the story. Most respectable gamers are more interested in the speed and connectivity that this router has to offer. You will find the Medialink’s gigabit ports to outperform many other routers in this price range. You are getting 1,000 Mbps to ensure seamless gaming, and there are more Wi-Fi -enhancing features.
In addition to the AC1200 speed, this router also features beamforming technology. The technology makes this router a great option for large homes by delivering Wi-Fi signal directly to your devices. Unlike higher-end routers, this Medialink features only two antennas. However, the built-in amps increase the antenna signal to enhance the range.
As you might expect at this price, this wireless router doesn’t have any USB ports. On the other hand, it comes with 4 gigabit ports.
What's to like about the Medialink MLWR-AC1200 Router
The Medialink MLWR-AC1200 is capable of surprising performance if you factor in the low price. You should be able to connect up to 20 Wi-Fi -enabled devices without experiencing any lag. On top of that, this wireless router can be used as an extender to increase your coverage.
What's not to like about the Medialink MLWR-AC1200 Router
It would be nice if this wireless router had at least one USB 3.0 port. The MLWR-AC1200 uses a Broadcom ARM Cortex-A7 CPU that delivers nice processing power. However, this CPU might not be enough for some gamers.
6. ASUS RT-ACRH13 AC1300 Router
The ASUS RT-ACRH13 is probably the best router for gaming in the affordable category. It comes with a lot of features that are characteristic of premium wireless routers. The RT-ACRH13 is fast, reliable, high-performing enough for most gamers.
This ASUS is a dual band router that is able to deliver combined speeds of up to 1,267 Mbps. The AC1300 speed rating translates to 400 Mbps and 867 Mbps at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz respectively. Gamers on a budget should love the speed, especially since they are getting it at a reasonable price.
Unlike most affordable models, the Asus RT-ACRH13 features MU-MIMO technology. This technology allows multiple users to use high-speed internet at optimal latency; this is a feature usually found in wireless routers in the premium category.
There are four 5dBi external antennas for even distribution of the wireless signal. The combination of the MU-MIMO technology and antennas delivers excellent Wi-Fi signal to multiple devices. To ensure you are getting the best from this ASUS, you should use it with 802.11ac-compatible devices.
The RT-ACRH13 has four gigabit ports to ensure stable connection via Ethernet cable. The router also features one USB 3.0 port to add an external storage or some other device to your network.
What's to like about the ASUS RT-ACRH13 AC1300 Router
The best thing about the ASUS RT-ACRH13 is that it is a well-rounded home and gaming wireless router. It provides premium speeds that belie its affordable price. What’s more, the ASUSWRT online interface makes the setup of this router a breeze.
What's not to like about the ASUS RT-ACRH13 AC1300 Router
As mentioned in the previous section, this router gives you excellent speeds but it lacks range. If you live in a big house you might want to consider getting a switch or an extender to amplify your Wi-Fi signal. You might also realize that your router doesn’t have all the features listed on the ASUSWRT interface; that’s because it’s for use with other Asus routers as well.
7. WAVLINK AC1200 Router
The first thing that might grab your attention about this wireless router is the flying saucer design, but there is so much more beyond the funky design. The WAVLINK AC1200 offers great speeds, plenty of gigabit ports, and patented technology for easy router access.
In terms of speed, it’s rated at AC1200. This means 867 Mbps on the 5 GHz band and 300 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band. The router will automatically assign a device to the most optimal channel to ensure a seamless internet connection.
The WAVLINK AC1200 has an excellent range to complement its high-speed dual band performance. There are four antennas that utilize Beamforming technology for smooth signal delivery. In addition, the router comes with a TURBO button designed to amplify Wi-Fi signal and optimize the router for a specific environment.
The thing that separates this router from others is the patented Touchlink Technology. It enables users to connect to the router just by touching it. However, the intuitive controls of this router don’t stop there. The WAVLINK comes with Smart APP to help you remotely manage the router on your smartphone.
This wireless router doesn’t lack Ethernet ports either. There are five of them and they deliver 10 times the speed than the industry standard.
What's to like about the WAVLINK AC1200 Router
It is hard to overlook the futuristic design of this router, but few gamers would choose a router based on its looks. Apart from the aesthetics, this router provides both wired and wireless speeds that no gamer would be ashamed of. On top of that, the 5dBi antennas can cover over larger areas.
What's not to like about the WAVLINK AC1200 Router
There are few things that don’t go in the favor of this wireless router. It would be nice to have more than one USB port but that’s probably wishful thinking at this price range. This WAVLINK already offers excellent value for the money.
8. Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 Router
The Zyxel Armor Z2 wireless router is truly designed for gamers. Every aspect of the router exudes gaming spirit, from the game-inspired body to its almost unparalleled performance, this is the router that every gamer would love. It is fast, reliable, and optimized for hours of high-end gaming.
A dual-core 1.7 GHz processor provides all the necessary power for this high-performance wireless router. Moreover, the Armor Z2 is equipped with 4 GB of eMM Flash Storage to support the powerful CPU. The processing power perfectly complements the AC2600 dual-band wireless technology to deliver amazing network performance.
You won’t have any problems streaming in 4K and gaming even at the most demanding requirements. As implied by the AC2600 rating, this router is capable of a combined speed of 2600 Mbps on both channels and it supports the latest 802.11ac wireless technology. You’ll be excited to know that the Zyxel Armor Z2 has more to offer than lightning-fast network speed.
It also features StreamBoost technology designed to optimize network performance for challenging streaming requirements. In addition, the Armor Z2 uses MU-MIMO technology so you won’t experience any lag in your game even if other devices are connected to the router.
The MU-MIMO works in perfect unison with the Beamforming technology to deliver the signal exactly where it’s needed. Each device connected to the network receives wireless streaming at a much greater speed compared to traditional technology.
On top of that, the Zyxel Armor Z2 has one unique feature that makes it stand out. The game-inspired design incorporates thermal vents that ensure optimal air flow through the router. It makes the components cooler, thus more reliable and potentially faster.
What's to like about the Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 Router
This router provides everything that a gamer needs: advanced streaming technology, great speeds, and a powerful processor. The thermal vents are also a nice addition that keeps the router performing at its optimum even if you leave it on 24 hours every day. It is also worth mentioning that the Zyxel is one of the most affordable high-performing routers.
What's not to like about the Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 Router
This router does an excellent job for its intended purpose. However, there is some room for firmware improvements to make sure it runs even more efficiently.
9. Securifi Almond
Securifi is one of the newest companies in the wireless networking business. Nevertheless, their routers have amassed a great fan base. Besides the routing function, the Securifi Almond also works as an access point, a range extender, and a wireless bridge. However, the overall design is inclined towards regular users rather than gamers, but casual gaming should run smoothly via this device.
One of the main highlights of this router is the touchscreen interface that lets you tweak the settings on the router. To set up the router, you just follow the Touchscreen Wizard and it should be up and running in just a few minutes.
When it comes to speed, Securifi Almond is not exactly the fastest one featured in this write-up. It is capable of up to 300 Mbps on a single band, but to compensate for the lack of speed the router features MIMO technology. Thus, you should be able to connect a few devices without experiencing too much lag. The router is also 802.11bgn compatible so all of your devices should get an unobstructed Wi-Fi signal.
As far as gaming goes, the Almond might provide decent performance for casual gaming. But if you are a hardcore gamer, it might be best to use this router as an extender/repeater for purposes other than gaming. What the Securifi Almond really excels in is network security.
The router comes with a unique SSID and password from the factory. The SSID has a nomap tag which cannot be recorded by Google’s Location Tracking Database. In addition, you can block unwanted devices from a smartphone app and have full control over what your children are doing online.
What's to like about the Securifi Almond
The best thing about this router is that it is very versatile. As previously mentioned, it can be used as a repeater, extender, or wireless bridge. It is also compatible with Amazon Alexa and features a unique touchscreen interface.
What's not to like about the Securifi Almond
The biggest downside of this router is that it is actually designed for home use rather than gaming. It operates on a single band at speeds that might not be sufficient for 4K streaming and demanding online games.
10. Motorola MR2600 AC2600 Router
The Motorola MR2600 delivers excellent network speeds at a range that can give high-end routers a run for their money. It is also designed to be an all-round wireless router ideally suited for gaming as well as high-definition streaming purposes.
The area where this router excels at is the signal range. Motorola MR2600 has the ability to give you an extended range without any loss of speed. The signal should have the same power even when you are surrounded by the noise from other Wi-Fi routers.
Per the AC2600 speed rating, this wireless router features a dual band with a combined speed of up to 2600 Mbps. The lower band operates at 2.4 GHz which is ideal for mobile devices and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices. On the other hand, the higher band of 5 GHz is perfect for gaming and high definition streaming.
In addition, this wireless router comes with four antennas that distribute the signal evenly over a large area. Coupling the antennas with the Wave 2 MU-MIMO technology provides a stable high-speed signal to all of the connected devices. It can be assumed that this powerful router supports the 802.11ac standard, and it does.
What's to like about the Motorola MR2600 AC2600 Router
The MR2600 comes from a respected manufacturer that has a great track record in providing reliable routers. This router is fast and features a premium coverage range that few other wireless routers can compare. In addition, this Motorola wireless router comes with Smart QoS so it gives you the option to enjoy unobstructed gaming even when it has to satisfy the demand of multiple connected devices.
What's not to like about the Motorola MR2600 AC2600 Router
Overall, this router performs really well but there might be some room for improvement in terms of features. The software that comes with the router is easy to follow but most hardcore gamers would like for the router settings to be more customizable.
Before you choose the best router for gaming that perfectly fits your setup, there are some features that you should know about. The following features will affect the overall router performance and to some extent the price. Here is what to look for in a router that can ensure hours of carefree gaming.
Dual-Band vs. Tri-Band Router
If you are an avid gamer, you need to get a router with at least two bands. The 2.4 GHz band is the golden standard and it offers a great range compared to the 5 GHz one. But the higher frequency is capable of carrying higher megabits of data.
Placing your gaming system near the router consequently gives you the best performance in the 5 GHz band. However, if you are lucky enough to live in a big house with a bunch of devices connected to the network, it is best to get a tri-band router. The third 5 GHz band gives you the option to dedicate it solely for gaming purposes.
Prioritize Your Gaming
One of the main things that separates a gaming router from a standard is the bandwidth prioritization. The prioritization is better known as Quality of Service (QoS) and most routers feature some kind of QoS. This basically means that some devices and applications will have better router access than others.
On the other hand, gaming routers usually provide you much more game-centric bandwidth priorities. You can set custom priorities for each of your gaming system and tweak the amount of bandwidth for individual applications. There are gaming routers that automatically assign priorities. However, it might be better to go for a router loaded with software that allows you to change the priorities on the go.
The 802.11ac Standard
To put things simply, 802.11ac is the latest standard for wireless networks. And it should go without saying that you ought to select a gaming router that features this technology. However, there is more to this standard than meets the eye.
When it comes to bands and speed, 802.11ac gaming routers come with slight variations. There is a simple way to decode these differences. The number that comes after the AC has been standardized to indicate the combined speed on both bands. The breakdown of each band is telltale as well.
For example, if you have an AC1900 dual-band router the speed should be around 600 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz frequency and 1300 Mbps on 5 GHz frequency. But in reality, the actual output and performance might vary due to other factors. Of course, it depends on your internet plan. If you’re on a 100 Mbps plan, you can’t hope for the router to give you more than that.
Invest In the Future
Most gamers know all too well that gaming technology and requirements are moving at a pace that is hard to follow. This is why it would be wise to invest in a gaming router that features some of the emerging network technologies. At the moment, the technologies in question are MU-MIMO, Wider Channels, and Beamforming.
MU-MIMO or Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output is currently the “in thing” for gaming routers. In a nutshell, this technology directs simultaneous streams to different clients at the same time. This way you can get the most out of your router especially if you have multiple gaming platforms.
Beamforming technology, on the other hand, is designed to help you get the best signal. It shapes the signal to optimize efficiency and range.
Controls, Ports, and Security
To get the best out of your gaming router, you should aim for one that has the greatest number of ports available. The golden standard is 4 gigabit LAN ports to easily connect all of your gaming consoles and peripherals. It would be nice to have at least one 3.0 USB port as well.
Network security is another important aspect. Most routers come with WPA or WPA2 security and each user/client needs a password to access the network. If you are aiming for the best protection, it would be wise to go for a router that supports RADIUS or WPS-Enterprise.
What are the important router features for gaming?
Gaming routers are usually loaded with different features, but the following are the ones you should look for. As previously mentioned, the 802.11ac standard is very important for optimal wireless performance.
On top of that, your router should be able to handle the highest possible bandwidth to ensure unobstructed gaming. It also pays to invest in a router with advanced features like MU-MIMO and Beamforming.
Is it worth purchasing router and modem separately?
The simple answer to this question is yes, it is. A lot of gamers get a separate router and modem to optimize the performance of each component. The separate network setup usually translates to less jitter and latency and an improved ping. Separate units also allow you to have more flexibility when it comes to customizing the network.
How do you set up a gaming router?
Nowadays, gaming routers are very easy to set up and some even offer smartphone apps to ease the process. Your router should come with instructions. If not, you can download them on the internet. Basically, all you need to do is follow the instructions closely to have the router up and running in no time.
How do you configure a gaming router?
To get the best out of your gaming router, you need to configure it for optimal performance. This is why it would be wise to get a router with a dedicated app that lets you access all the settings on the go. The app menu should allow you to change the bandwidth priorities, access requirements, and other router settings.
How much should I expect to spend?
The prices range from budget-friendly routers that cost less than $100 to network beasts that can cost a few hundred dollars. One way or another, your budget should depend on your needs. If you are a professional gamer, you probably could use a router that matches your expertise.
However, there are excellent gaming routers for less than $200 that can come very close to the performance of high-end routers.
The above are the top 10 gaming routers in the market. One of them stands out from the bunch as the best router for gaming of 2018. The Zyxel Armor Z2 is the router that can satisfy any gamer at a relatively affordable price. Besides extremely fast and reliable, it has all the technological innovations to ensure years of flawless gaming.