For gamers, there are plenty of moving parts when it comes to a home network set-up. You need a formidable gaming PC or a console to start with, and powerful internet speeds if you hope to compete with others when you take on the world at Fortnite or PUBG. But there’s one component that some players don’t often consider when building the perfect arrangement: getting the best gaming router.
Routers are the foundation of a strong home network, and as such shouldn’t be overlooked when putting together a gaming or streaming setup. For hardcore gamers, a reliable wireless network can make or break online performance. There are features that a gaming-optimized router can deliver that go beyond that of typical consumer-grade models that would be better suited to Grandma’s house or your home office.
With that in mind, here are some of the best gaming routers you can purchase at the moment, each offering an excellent alternative when you simply can’t rely on a wired connection for online streaming, fragging, or even routine internet browsing. Choosing one of these models is practically guaranteed to augment your gaming experience in ways you may not have previously considered – and best of all, there’s an option for even the smallest budgets out there. If you need more, here is our guide to the best gaming PC options, and our feature on how to build a high-end gaming PC.
We’re currently in the process of getting the brand new TP-Link AC5400X for review, but if you want to take a punt on it… you can now get £100 off the price at Ebuyer.
1. ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300
Extravagant but extraordinary – the best gaming router you can buy
Speed: AC5300 | Processor: Quad-core 1.8Ghz | Features: Network ping tracking, WTFast utilization, suite of gaming-focused enhancements
For those seeking the Cadillac of gaming routers who have no qualms about dropping some serious cash (and making serious space), the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 is a pricey, yet powerful option that looks absolutely ridiculous. With 8 antennas, a quad-core processor, USB 3.0 ports, and 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired connectivity, it’s the luxury choice for the discerning gamer. This router will offer some unbelievable lag-free speeds, with an extensive selection of gamer-centric features, such as network ping tracking, a meaty interface, and excellent hardware that offers a veritable treasure trove of customization options. At nearly $400, it’s a splurge, but it’s also a massive beast of a router that delivers on all its promises.
2. Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500
Speed: AC2600 | Processor: Dual-core 1.7GHz | Features: Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS), Netduma OS software, excellent optimization
Lightning fast speeds
Netduma OS provides great customization
Fewer LAN ports for wired connections
Let’s face it: Most users won’t be in need of the Rolls-Royce of gaming routers. But many will be in the market for the next best thing. That is, by far, the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 router. It’s sleek, with an understated appearance that requires much less space than the aforementioned ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300, but it still packs most of the punch. One of its most alluring features is its Netduma OS software, which allows for a long list of settings to optimize that comes perfectly tuned out of the box, with options to allow you to connect to the quickest and closest servers, and Dynamic Frequency Selection to help you cut down on any noise or potential interruptions. This pick is excellent in its own right, and certainly capable of keeping you afloat in any game.
3. Asus RT-AC88U Wireless-AC3100 Dual Band
Lightning-fast wireless in a deluxe package
Speed: 2167Mbps/1000Mbps | Processor: Dual-core 1.4GHz | Features: NitroQAM, MU-MIMO, Gamers Private Network access
Extremely fast WiFi speeds
Fantastic web interface
Requires NitroQAM adapter if faster speeds desired
Sometimes, you need the best speeds money can buy. If that’s what you’re most concerned with, then Asus’s premiere RT-AC88U router can absolutely deliver. With four antennas and a dual-core 1.4GHz processor, it can hang with the big boys in terms of performance, but where it truly shines is its lightning-fast wireless speeds, the highest out of any of the other routers on this list. If you choose, you can purchase a NitroQAM adapter to push it even further to its limits. Otherwise, this router with four antennas, a wide selection of management features, and advanced settings that allow you to painlessly install just about any form of custom firmware imaginable is an absolutely fantastic choice. It’s hardly the best option for anyone on a budget, but its utilitarian design and nature should rein in buyers looking for less flash and more performance.
4. Linksys WRT32X
‘Killer’ performance at a great price
Speed: AC3200 | Processor: Dual-core 1.8GHz | Features: Killer Prioritization Engine, MU-MIMO, detachable antennas
Great 5GHz speed
Somewhat simplistic interface
Linksys is a familiar name in the router ecosystem, but don’t let its pedestrian reputation fool you – this is a formidable contender in the realm of gaming routers. This particular model’s Killer Prioritization Engine (for use with PCs with Killer networking cards) is a winner for sure, as it helps prioritize your own network traffic to and from the internet. Beyond that, this dual-band router is a small package with four gigabit LAN ports and four detachable antennas. The menu interface leaves a little to be desired, but that’s hardly an issue when it’s rocking a powerful 1.8Ghz processor, beam forming, and MU-MIMO. It’s also one of the more affordable routers on this list, which makes it perfect for the hardcore gamer on a budget.
5. D-Link DIR-879 EXO
Speed: AC1900 | Processor: Dual-core 1GHz | Features: Glossy orange exterior, four antennas, budget price
Fewer bells and whistles
Still subscribed to the notion that gaming routers have to cost you an arm and a leg? You’ll change your mind quickly when it comes to D-Link’s budget DIR-879 EXO, which looks and feels like one of its premiere brethren. It certainly plays the part the best it can for its extremely low price tag, offering serviceable performance and fantastic 5GHz range. While there are no USB ports and you won’t get the most formidable speeds out of this particular model, you’ve got to hand it to D-Link: this router is more than capable of putting you on the map if you’re thinking of testing the online gaming and streaming waters. It’s a great way to dip your toes into the water without breaking the bank, and if you’re no power user, could even potentially work as a reliable router for months to come.
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