We know what you’re thinking, “Best router for gaming? Any serious gamer is on a hard-wired connection!” We hear you, but not everyone lives in a house and most apartments look down on you even putting a nail in the wall. Plus most homes still need Wi-Fi to connect all their smaller devices.Thankfully, with the arrival of 802.11acnow known as Wi-Fi 5you can actually game over a wireless connection. Wi-Fi is also a great option if you’re dealing with cable routing issues or barriers that prevents you from going wired. Plus, the next wireless protocol (802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6) is going to be as fast as 9.6Gbps, meanwhile, the current Wi-Fi standard maxes out at 3.5Gbps.All this wireless speed is great news for people who might have wanted to game online in the past but gave up due to a flaky connection. We’ve tested and picked out all the top models currently available. We also took a look at their gaming features (if they have any, as not all of them do), and arrived at a conclusion both objectively and subjectively. Based on our testing and expertise, there were several excellent options, but only one had a clear claim to the title of the best gaming router. Read on to find out which gaming routers made our best-of list. Also stay up to speed with the best Black Friday deals from Amazon and Walmart.
TL;DR These are the Best Router for Gaming:
1. Netgear Nighthawk X6S
Best Router for Gaming
The tri-band version of the fabled Nighthawk router (read our review) doesn’t really bring anything new to the table in terms of features as it’s a pretty standard Wave 2 80211.AC router, but it’s fast, reliable, and easy to use, and you can’t ask for much more in a router. We love its sleek design, flip-out antennas, and excellent performance.
As far as features go it offers DLNA support, port aggregation if you want to deploy it in a SOHO setup, and if you’ve got any MU-MIMO devices/adapters it supports that too. It’s designed for a big house with a lot of devices, however, so this is only for folks who can saturate a dual-band connection.
2. D-Link Exo AC2600
Best Budget Router for Gaming
Getting into gaming with a massive gaming TV or powerful gaming PC is expensive and it’s too easy to go over budget with an expensive router. Luckily, the is expensive D-Link Exo AC2600 offers plenty of speed for a relatively reasonable price. It’s only a dual-band router, so you’ll only get 2.5GHz and 5GHz, but you’ll see speeds of 1.73Gbps on the latter channel.Despite this being a more budget gaming router, the D-Link Exo AC2600 still offers plenty of features including intelligent QoS, advanced beam forming, and MU-MIMO support. Not too shabby for just $130.
3. TP-Link AC4000 Smart Wi-Fi Router
Best Tri-Band Router for Gaming
The TP-Link AC4000 Smart Wi-Fi Router isn’t specifically designed for gaming, but it has plenty of specs and features that make it the fastest tri-band gaming router. According to TP Link, users can achieve wireless speeds up to 4.0Gbps if you have a fast enough connection going.What’s more, the TP-Link AC4000 also packs plenty of smarts with a 1.8GHz quad-core CPU and 1024-QAM to manage all the high-speed data flowing through your internet setup. You’ll find plenty of other little helpful features on this router including a built-in range booster, MU-MIMO support, it’ll even work with Alexa.
4. Netgear Nighthawk XR500 Pro
Best Dual-Band Router for Gaming
The Nighthawk XR 500 (read our review) is the company’s first router explicitly designed for gaming, and it has the best interface we’ve ever used on a router care of DumaOS. Its primary purpose is to reduce connections to faraway servers when using a matchmaking service in a game like Call of Duty, so you can tell the router to refuse connections that are further away than any user-specified distance.It will also show you ping times to various servers even if the games themselves won’t. Plus it’s one of the faster routers we’ve tested, looks really cool, and has all the features we expect from a top-shelf router such as MU-MIMO and Quality of Service. If you’re doing any online gaming via console, it’s easily the best router you can buy.
5. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000
Best Wi-Fi 6 Router for Gaming
Wi-Fi 6-ready devices aren’t quite here yet, but it never hurts to be prepared. While the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 was built for the next-gen wireless protocol, it’s fully equipped to tackle anything and everything online gaming can throw at it today.It offers maximum data transfer speeds of 11Gbps over a tri-band frequency. For gaming specifically, users can dedicate one band to gaming to avoid interference from other connected devices in their home.
6. Portal Mesh Wi-Fi Router
Best Wi-Fi Mesh System for Gaming
If your gaming pad is particularly massive, no amount of beamforming or range-extending is going to give you complete Wi-Fi coverage at home. This is where Wi-Fi mesh systems like the Portal Mesh Wi-Fi Router come in. With just two Portal units, users can effectively create a network that spans 6,000 square-feet.On top of creating a rock-solid wireless network, the Portal offers great 1.73Gbps speeds over the 5GHz band. One other bonus is you can use the smartphone app to do all the setup and monitor your speeds in real-time on a second screen.
7. Linksys WRT AC3200
Best Open-Source Gaming Router
The Linksys WRT3200ACM (read our review) is a dual-band gaming router that really wants you to use an open-source firmware on it, hence the WRT in its name. Of course, you can run open-source firmware on a lot of gaming routers these days, so the WRT 3200ACM isn’t that unique, but it’s still a cool feature for power users.It was almost our top pick but lost out by a razor-thin margin to the Netgear gaming router because it wasn’t quite as fast in our tests, and also because to achieve its rated speed of AC3200 you’ll need special hardware. It’s still a very strong package though with fast 5G performance and superb software on both desktop and mobile.
8. Asus AC3100
Fastest Dual-Band Gaming Router at 2.4GHz
This is Asus’ top-shelf dual-band gaming router (read our review), and thanks to a bit of fancy tech baked in named NitroQAM it can offer up to 25 percent more bandwidth than other AC1900 routers when using a compatible adapter. In our tests, its 5GHz band delivered decent throughput but it landed about mid-pack amongst the routers we tested.On the 2.4GHz band, however, it was the fastest of all the gaming routers by a wide margin. It also boasts the ability to prioritize devices as well as types of traffic and has extremely slick software for both desktop and mobile, making it an excellent and well-rounded gaming router for anyone.
What to Look for in a Gaming Router
While you’re shopping for a gaming router, you should be on the look out for which version of Wi-Fi it supports. The main two you’ll want to look our for are Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) as they deliver the fastest wireless speeds currently available. During your search for a gaming router, you’ll undoubtedly come across units designed for Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) that look very attractive thanks to their low prices, but you should avoid this siren’s call. Wi-Fi 4 is an outdated standard that provides fairly slow speeds compared its two more modern renditions.You’ll also want to find a gaming router that is at least dual-band. Single-band routers only support the 2.4GHz band, which is fine enough for web browsing and downloading most files, but dual-band routers add a second 5.0GHz channel that provides much faster wireless speeds. You’ll also find Tri-Band routersand we’ve featured a number of them above as wellthat feature an additional 5GHz band you can completely dedicate to gaming.
With Black Friday nearly upon us, retailers like Walmart, Amazon, and Best Buy will have great opportunities to save on a new router. Keep an eye out for sales for any of the great gaming routers found on this list. While it’s not the XR500 Pro, we do know the Nighthawk AX-4 Black Friday deal does into effect at Walmart on November 27.Josh Norem is IGN’s Executive Editor for Tech. When he’s not upgrading his PC he’s trying to get his foster kittens adoptedKevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam