The best routers for gaming

Unlike streaming or web-browsing, online gaming, whether on PC, mobile, or consoles, requires a bit more power and reliability from your router. You need better and consistent connection speeds, minimal data loss, and no lag at all if possible. Thankfully, you get all those features with the latest gaming routers. Our avid gamers curated this list to help you choose the best gaming router for you.

In our review of dozens of high-performance routers, we’ve come across several routers that are well-suited for various gaming situations. Our favorite pick is the Nighthawk XR500 from Netgear, a powerful router designed specifically for gamers — but it’s not alone. Take a look at the robust list to find the best router for your gaming needs.

Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500

The best gaming router 

Netgear’s XR500 gaming router provides optimal gaming on a wireless network with its fast speeds. This AC2600-class router can reach speeds up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1,733Mbps on the 5GHz band. To reach those maximum speeds, you’ll need a device that supports four streams (4×4). The XR500 includes a 1.7 GHz processor for reliable performance, while the four gigabit Ethernet ports allow you to set up a local area network. It prioritizes gaming connections, optimizes connections for low-ping gaming, and helps you connect with a gaming VPN for additional security or regional options.

The XR500 even allows for more direct customization and connection monitoring. You can choose more options like geo-filtering to pick your favorite servers (where the VPN comes in handy again) and app options to monitor your ping and network status in real-time, device by device. If you like manual options and configuration, this gaming router is the one for you.

Why we love it:

  • In-depth features to maximize your connection speeds
  • Fast speeds and excellent performance
  • Network monitoring lets you see bandwidth distribution

Something to consider:

The options and settings may be too flashy if you want a router to give out good connectivity and nothing else.

Best Overall
NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 Wi-Fi Router with 4 Ethernet Ports and Wireless Speeds Up to 2.6 Gbps, AC2600, Optimize...
NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 Wi-Fi Router with 4 Ethernet Ports and Wireless Speeds Up to 2.6 Gbps, AC2600, Optimized for Low Ping
Great for fast-paced gaming
This dual-band router provides you with lots of configuration options to suit your needs.

TP-Link Archer C5400X

The best MU-MIMO gaming router

The powerful tri-band router is easily one of the best MU-MIMO routers we’ve seen. MU-MIMO allows routers to communicate with devices simultaneously (multiple users) rather than sequentially, as seen with older MIMO-based routers. This feature improves speed and connection dependability, making it ideal for mobile gamers — especially if there’s more than one in the house.

TP-Link’s Archer C5400X is an AC5400-class router promising speeds up to 1,000Mbps on the 2.4GHz band (4×4) and up to 2,187Mbps on the 5GHz band (4×4). What’s notable here is that it offers a second 5GHz connection, which you can dedicate for online gaming, while the other two 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands serve the network’s non-gaming devices.

This router features a quad-core processor clocked at 1.8GHz, three co-processors, 1GB of system memory, and 128MB of storage. It includes eight Gigabit Ethernet ports – two of which you can configure for link aggregation – along with a Gigabit WAN port and two USB-A ports (5Gbps).

TP-Link’s router includes built-in OpenVPN support along with VPN acceleration that promises a 5x increase in VPN-based speed. You’ll also find HomeCare, a family-focused platform in the backend providing parental controls, QoS, and a built-in antivirus. This router supports Amazon Alexa’s voice commands too.

Why we love it:

  • Quad-core processor and speeds up to 1000Mbps
  • The second 5GHz connection can be dedicated just to gaming
  • Multiple security options

Something to consider:

This gaming router is large and in charge. If you don’t have enough space, you might want to go with a more compact option for your gaming needs.

Best MU-MIMO Router
TP-Link AC5400 Tri Band WiFi Gaming Router(Archer C5400X) – MU-MIMO Wireless Router, 1.8GHz Quad-Core 64-bit CPU, Game Fir...
TP-Link AC5400 Tri Band WiFi Gaming Router(Archer C5400X) – MU-MIMO Wireless Router, 1.8GHz Quad-Core 64-bit CPU, Game First Priority, Link Aggregation, 16GB Storage, Airtime Fairness
by TP-Link
Works with Alexa
This gaming router features a 1.8GHz quad-core processor, three co-processors, and 1GB memory.

Speedefy AC2100 Smart Wi-Fi Router

The best value router

With the Speedefy AC2100 Smart Wi-Fi Router, you won’t have to break the bank to eliminate Wi-Fi dead spots. This router provides a fluid experience while web browsing, streaming, and gaming with speeds up to 1,733 Mbps on the 5GHz band and 300 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. It also features parental control to help you manage your kids’ access to the internet.

Comprehensive WPA2 protocols are active all the time to fend off any possible threat before they get inside, to keep your network safe. The router also allows you to provide a separate signal for your guests so that your personal household’s devices won’t be compromised. And, unlike other gaming routers, this router takes no time at all to set up. If you have five minutes free, you can get this gaming router up and running. 

Why we love it:

  • Convenient setup
  • Built-in parental controls
  • Wide signal coverage

Something to consider:

The router is a bit bare when it comes to more specialized features. You may want to go with another router in this list if you’re looking for more robust control over your gaming network.

Best Value
Speedefy AC2100 Smart WiFi Router - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Router for Home & Gaming, 4x4 MU-MIMO, 7x6dBi External ...
Speedefy AC2100 Smart WiFi Router – Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Router for Home & Gaming, 4×4 MU-MIMO, 7x6dBi External Antennas for Strong Signal, Parental Control, Support IPv6 (Model K7)
by Speedefy
Affordable and reduces buffering
With easy installation, security, and fast speeds, it’s hard to go wrong with this gaming router.

ASUS RT-AX86U AX5700 Gaming Router

The best for speed

If you have a blazing fast internet connection, you should have a router that can utilize those speeds, like ASUS’ RTAX86U gaming router. The router uses the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology to deliver consistent, long-range, and fast connectivity. You can play your favorite games with combined speeds up to 5700Mbps on all bands, and with a press of a button, you’ll be able to reduce lag and latency to ensure a seamless mobile gaming experience. If you play on a desktop computer, you can even use the dedicated gaming port that prioritizes bandwidth allocation for any device connected to it.

The prioritization extends beyond wired devices as well. With the router’s adaptive quality of service feature, you get comprehensive control over how the network allocates its performance for different tasks. This feature means that this router proves practical even outside gaming, enabling you to get a reliable connection when you’re watching your favorite series or uploading large files. Plus, with the robust commercial-grade security system, you can rest easy knowing your activities are safe from prying eyes.

Why we love it:

  • The smartphone app makes management easy
  • Dedicated gaming port
  • Sleek, Gundam-base design

Something to consider:

The high-performance comes at a high price. If you’re the only gamer in the house, or you don’t have at least a 2Gbps internet connection, you can opt for a lower-speed gaming router.

Fastest speed
ASUS AX5700 WiFi 6 Gaming Router (RT-AX86U Zaku II Edition) – Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, NVIDIA GeForce N...
ASUS AX5700 WiFi 6 Gaming Router (RT-AX86U Zaku II Edition) – Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, NVIDIA GeForce Now, 2.5G Port, Gaming & Streaming, AiMesh, Lifetime Internet Security
Optimized for fast internet speeds
The Adaptive QoS feature and dedicated gaming port in this router let you game without interruption.

ASUS AC2900 Wi-Fi Gaming Router

The best network security

When you set up a Wi-Fi network, anyone with enough skill can tap into your network to do whatever they want; that’s why having a router with some security measures is a must. You can get that security and more with the ASUS AC2900 gaming router. Trend Micro, a pedigreed cybersecurity company, powers the 24/7 protection embedded into this router. The ASUS AiProtection protects all devices connected to the router, even if they don’t have their native antivirus software. If the devices have their antivirus, the router’s security system helps augment it to provide even better protection.

Even with its robust security features, the gaming router still focuses on providing a seamless online experience. This dual-band router can reach a combined speed of 2900Mbps, with 750Mbps on the 2.4Ghz band and 2167Mbps on the 5.0Ghz band. With those speeds, streaming videos, playing online, and downloading files will never be an issue. The WTFast gaming accelerator even ensures you get a stable internet connection whenever you’re duking it out on your favorite maps.

Why we love it:

  • Four built-in gigabit LAN ports for wired connections
  • Adaptive QoS lets you prioritize bandwidth speeds
  • Handy smartphone application

Something to consider:

Setting up the router isn’t a walk in the park. You may need to dedicate some time to have it up and running.

Best Security
ASUS AC2900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC86U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, WTFast Game Accelerator, Streaming...
ASUS AC2900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC86U) – Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, WTFast Game Accelerator, Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS
Combines speed and security
Ensure that your network stays safe while you’re gaming online with this full-featured router.

Why you should get a gaming router

If you’ve ever experienced a lag spike, you already know the main reason to get a gaming router. Gaming routers aren’t just fancy peripherals that look like they came out of the set of Blade Runner. These routers maximize your internet so that you get a seamless connection to play your games unhindered by dreaded lag and latency.

Gaming routers optimize internet speeds by streamlining them through traffic prioritization. This feature lets the router funnel internet data towards gaming-related activities to ensure that bandwidth doesn’t get hogged by other applications. Other routers even provide “Quality of Service” features that are configurable through an app. These features give you control over what processes to prioritize. Whether it’s streaming your favorite movie or downloading that 60GB game, you can get it done in no time if your router has the QoS feature.

A gaming router is also more suitable for homes with multiple internet users. The more well-tuned designs of these gaming routers allow them to handle several users, even reaching up to 35 or more connected devices for some routers.

Most gaming routers even come with native security systems that can buff up your device’s antivirus software. With most gaming routers, you get some security like heightened connection protocols and a simple antivirus. Higher-end routers have separate signals for guests and parental controls to give you even more options.

If you’re an avid gamer, there’s no reason not to get a gaming router, as they still perform well outside the sphere of gaming.

What should I look for when buying a gaming router?

There are different factors to consider when getting a gaming router. First, you would need to find the router that matches your internet’s speed. You won’t want to shell out for a router only to find that your internet is way above or below the router’s speed capacity.

You also need to consider how many devices will connect to a router. For most routers, up to ten devices should be no problem. But, if you intend to let even more than ten devices connect to your router, it’s best to get a higher-end one.

RAM and processor speeds are also quite pertinent when it comes to routers. The higher the specs, the more data the router can handle. This performance means less data packet loss, which leads to a more reliable and stable connection.

Different routers also have different feature levels. Some only sport rudimentary features that will suffice if you aren’t picky about ping heat maps, traffic prioritization, or bottlenecking. Of course, if you want more control over your router, it will cost more, and only you can answer if the cost is worth it.

About the Author

Rusty Davis has been a tech lover for as long as he can remember. From the early days of gaming consoles to the introduction of the smartphone, portable computers, and more, he’s always wanted to get his hands on the latest and greatest. He has years upon years of experience reviewing and testing everything from phone cases to smartwatches, the latest phones and tablets to gaming computers, and even desks. If it’s a piece of tech or tech-adjacent, he’s interested in how it works and who it works best for. He’s now here sharing all of his knowledge with you to help you make the best decision for yourself.

Trust Statement

The Digital Trends team prides itself in offering expert product recommendations in ways that everyone can understand. Our team of experts is constantly using and reviewing the latest and greatest consumer tech, smart home gadgets, televisions, and so much more to offer insights to help guide your purchasing decision. We have vigorously tested thousands of different products across these categories, and we’ve distilled our lists to bring you the best of the best. If we feel a product does not live up to our expectations, it doesn’t make the list. We are humans though, and realize that not every recommended product will be perfect for everyone, so we do our best to call out important features that may impact your choices. Below our top picks we’ve included additional product information to ensure that you are making the right choice for your unique needs. The products in this guide have been carefully curated by our team of experts and enthusiasts who understand the value and quality needed for the best options.

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