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The best gaming routers demand unparalleled speed, strong connectivity, and lag-free performance. While your run-of-the-mill router may be capable of Gigabit speeds, some of the best gaming routers on this list are capable of several times that, and more importantly offer low latency so you won't miss those critical kill shots. Gaming-specific routers focus on optimizing the gaming experience, but this also makes them great high-performance routers for just about anything else too, such as 4K streaming.
Many gamers still swear by wired connections for the best performance, and while all of these routers offer plenty of high-speed Gigabit Ethernet ports to jack in, modern Wi-Fi routers focused on gaming may surprise you with their wireless performance, thanks to advanced features like 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, beamforming antennas, MU-MIMO, sophisticated algorithms to keep your traffic on congestion-free channels, and gaming-centric QoS.
Some of these routers also offer some pretty amazing range, but if you need that extra boost to extend your network's coverage or get maximum performance in far-flung areas in your home, make sure to check out our guide to the best Wi-Fi network extenders too.
Advanced Wi-Fi 6 Support
Extremely Fast Performance
Cutting-edge game-centric QoS
Asus makes some pretty hardcore gaming routers, and its new ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is its latest cadillac entry, offering blazing-fast 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 performance that can reach speeds of up to 10Gbps, provided you have the necessary Wi-Fi 6 hardware on your clients to back it up. Even without that, however, the tri-band Wi-Fi is backward compatible with 802.11ac and older standards, and performance on the 5GHz band is impressive thanks to the eight-antenna array.
If the Wi-Fi speeds still aren't fast enough, not only are there four Gigabit Ethernet ports to hardwire in your gear, but it also offers a special 2.5.Gbps gaming port. It also offers a ton of network optimization features powered by its 1.8GHz quad-core CPU and designed specifically for gamers, including WTFast game acceleration, VPN Fusion to isolate your gaming traffic from your VPN, and Dynamic QoS that prioritizes gaming traffic, and Games Radar to automatically connect to the fastest servers for popular online games, and Asus lets you configure a separate SSID for each 5GHz band, and even configure advanced rules to prioritize and steer your higher-bandwidth traffic to the appropriate band.
You also get all of Asus' other great security and networking features, including a built-in VPN server and client, adaptive firewall, and more, plus AIMesh technology that lets you connect a mix of Asus routers to create a mesh network to expand coverage throughout your home (and keep the non-gamers off the important Wi-Fi)—although, with the range and coverage the RT-AX11000 offers by itself, you probably won't need it.
"Using a VPN can dramatically slow down your gaming performance, so most gamers are forced to switch off their VPN during serious gaming sessions. Technology like Asus' VPN Fusion lets you separate your gaming traffic from your VPN so you don't need to do this." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
Wi-Fi 6 support
Ethernet ports are a little too close
Reports of firmware problems
Not only is Netgear’s Nighthawk AX8 an outstanding gaming router, but it looks the part too, thanks to the hawk-like wings that encase its four high-powered antennas. This gets you up to 2,500 square feet of Wi-Fi coverage at speeds of up to 4.8Gbps on the 5GHz band and 1.2Gbps on the 2.4GHz side.
It’s also Wi-Fi 6 capable, meaning you’ll get the fastest and most reliable performance on the latest smartphones, and while most game consoles and PCs aren’t there yet, this router means you’ll be ready when they are. There’s also support for other leading-edge technologies too like MU-MIMO and 160MHz channels, meaning you can get gigabit speeds to all of your devices that can handle it.
With eight simultaneous streams and a 64-bit 1.8GHz quad-core CPU, more devices can use full-speed Wi-Fi at the same time, so you don’t need to worry about your family members or roommates slowing down your connection just as you’re about to make that critical kill in Call of Duty. If you’re still not confident in the Wi-Fi performance, though, or if your gaming console or PC isn’t up to the task, there are four Gigabit Ethernet ports that let you hardwire in.
"Wi-Fi 6 (aka 802.11ax) is a relatively new standard, so chances are that most of your devices don't support it yet, but most PCs and gaming consoles can easily be updated with a Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax adapter, and it's definitely worth it if you want maximum gaming performance, especially if you have a lot of devices on your network." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
Simple to set up
Only three LAN ports
Limited parental controls and malware protection
If you’re a serious gamer you’re almost certainly familiar with Razer, which makes a wide variety of gaming hardware from headsets and mice to some pretty awesome gaming laptops, but you might not know that it also offers a Wi-Fi router. Razer’s Sila is the result of the company’s partnership with Ignition Design Labs that combines the technology created for the Portal router with Razer’s own experience with gaming systems.
Under the hood, Sila is an AC3000 tri-band router that offers surprisingly great performance considering that it has no antennas protruding from it. You won’t get blazing fast speeds in every corner of the largest homes, but you can tell by its design that Razer expects you to put this one near your gaming rig anyway. The real magic here is Razer’s FasTrack QoS and SmartLanes and FastLanes technologies that automatically give your games maximum priority and use special algorithms to keep your traffic on congestion-free 5GHz Wi-Fi channels.
The result is a Wi-Fi router that’s razor-focused (no pun intended) on hardcore gamers. Not only does it offer amazing low latency and lag-free performance, but since any serious gamer would rather be playing Overwatch or Call of Duty than messing with their router settings, it’s also incredibly simple to get up and running for maximum gaming performance. While it’s a fantastic router for pure gamers, however, this narrow focus also makes it less suitable for more general use, since it lacks malware protection, has weak parental controls, and is designed to always give gaming traffic the highest priority, even if you’d rather be watching Netflix.
“Razer’s Sila is a gaming router through-and-through, with powerful performance for users who live, eat, breathe, and sleep gaming, but its focus may be too narrow for those looking for other features.” — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
Eight Gigabit Ethernet ports
Two USB 3.0 ports
Gamers Private Network
The Asus GT-AC5300 is a tri-band router that's built specifically for gamers. With maximum throughput of 5,334Mbps across the two 5GHz bands and single 2.4GHz band, our testing showed there's enough performance here to keep your gaming going fast, especially with MU-MIMO and beamforming to ensure that your PCs and gaming consoles get maximum signal directed straight at them, with enough power to cover a 5,000 square foot home. Asus also offers some of the most comprehensive Wi-Fi configuration options out there, so you can set up a separate SSID for each of your 5GHz bands to keep your gaming console traffic away from the rest of your family, or even configure advanced rules to prioritize and steer your higher-bandwidth traffic to the appropriate band automatically.
There are also a whopping eight Gigabit Ethernet ports around back, so there's plenty of room to hardwire in if the Wi-Fi isn't cutting it, and it's especially great for LAN parties. What really makes the GT-AC5300 stand out from the pack, however, is its support for gaming optimization features through the ROG Game Dashboard that lets you find the fastest and lowest latency servers via the WTFast Gamers Private Network (GPN), VPN Fusion to bypass your normal VPN connections so you can keep your surfing private without slowing down your games, and Game IPS from Trend Micro that protects your gaming network from hackers and malware. The complicated interface may be a bit overwhelming for some users, but it's worth it to be able to tweak the performance to fit your exact needs.
"The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 is a tri-band router that’s packed with features gamers and power users will love." — Yoona Wagener, Product Tester
Fast Wi-Fi performance
Smart Connect feature
As you’ve no doubt noticed while reading the rest of this list, the Netgear Nighthawk series of routers offers a ton of bandwidth options for the wireless gamer. The X6 gives you plenty of speed with a three-band system, and even features Smart Connect tech which ensures each device is connected to the appropriate band for maximum speeds.
At a max speed of 3.2Gbps, our testing revealed that this router offers one of the fastest combined Wi-Fi speeds in uninterrupted tests. There are six high-performance antennas on the outside, ensuring plenty of signal coverage for your home. There's also a 1GHz internal processor to help prevent lag during gaming, and beamforming technology which bolsters the processor and works in tandem with the physical antennas. There are four LAN ports for wired browsing and a USB-C port for additional connectivity. You can visit the Netgear website to access the open-source software of the device to help customize it for your use. Overall, it’s a full-featured router perfect for those seeking multiple bands.
"We could consistently operate six to seven devices at once without any speed drops or major performance issues across all three bands."— Yoona Wagener, Product Tester
Highly configurable options for gamers
Good 2.4 GHz performance
Easy to install
Lacklustre long-range performance
Pricey for what it offers
When it comes to a solid overall gaming router, the Netgear Nighthawk Pro AC2600 delivers. The investment is an excellent value, thanks to its allocated bandwidth that prioritizes gaming, a personalized dashboard for connection management, VPN options, a dual-core 1.7GHz processor capable of 4K streaming, and so much more.
The Nighthawk XR500 gives gamers a whopping 2.6Gbps of wireless speeds that can be allocated and divided per device, so you can minimize any lag spike. The included geo-filter means the router scouts for local connections that are set by you, so you can personalize the best type of connectivity without worrying about stalls. One of the best parts is that you can see it all: a customizable dashboard shows you how much bandwidth each connected device is taking up, where you’re connected, and gives you the ability to manage security connections via VPN and WPA/WPA2 clients.
Killer Prioritization Engine
Low latency design
Requires a gaming PC with specific hardware to take full advantage of its features
Lacks customization options like parental controls
Linksys’ WRT32X is a gaming-centric version of its popular WRT3200ACM router, featuring the same great performance and powerful open source capabilities of its sibling with a collection of cool features specifically aimed at gamers with Killer PC hardware, thanks to its inclusion of the Killer Prioritization Engine.
This means that if you have a hardcore gaming PC from a brand like Alienware, MSI, or Razer, you’ll be able to take advantage of faster lag-free gaming thanks to the Killer network cards included in these PCs, which interact with the WRT32X to automatically prioritize your gaming traffic, promising to reduce your peak ping times by up to 77 percent. You can also monitor and control this right from the Killer Control Center on your gaming PC.
Even if you don’t have a Killer PC, however, this is a really solid router in its own right, and thanks to support for OpenWrt and DD-WRT firmware packages, the open source firmware is fully customizable, allowing you to plug in alternative packages for your specific gaming needs. The hardware is no slouch either, with a 1.8GHz CPU, tri-band AC3200 Wi-Fi, beamforming antennas, MU-MIMO support, along with Tri-Stream 160 Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) that helps it stay on the least congested channels in your neighbourhood.
Six Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports
Integrated Plex Media Server
10 Gbps SFP+ Port for Fibre and NAS connections
Client devices need 802.11ad for maximum speeds
With combined speeds up to 7.2Gbps, the Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 is a beast that offers one of the fastest routers on the market, making it a top choice for gaming, assuming you have the hardware in your PC or console to back it up. The Nighthawk X10 uses both 802.11ac and 60GHz 802.11ad for fast Wi-Fi connectivity that also delivers incredibly smooth 4K streaming and quick downloads.
Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 is built with a 1.7GHz quad-core processor that allocates fast bandwidth speeds via wireless connections or through one of its six Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports for wired connections. Its MU-MIMO allows for stable links with multiple streaming scenarios, and its 160MHz channels offer plenty of Wi-Fi speed overhead in a less congested range. Assuming your ISP provides the speed, the Nighthawk X10 is also capable of giving you a 10-gigabit fiber connection directly, although the 10Gbps SFP+ port is more typically used for connecting a high-speed NAS device. It comes with an integrated Plex media server so you can organize all your media through the router and stream your content to your set-top box, PC, smartphone, or tablet.
"While "WiGig" 802.11ad routers offer super-fast Wi-Fi speeds, they operate on the 60GHz frequency and therefore have a limited range of about 30 feet. You also need 802.11ad network adapters for your PC or gaming console to take advantage of the higher performance." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
Inexpensive mesh solution
Optimized for gaming
Poor signal handoff
Although many high-end gaming routers now offer support for their own mesh networks, this usually requires buying more of the same router, which can quickly get expensive compared to pure mesh systems. Among these latter options, Portal is a surprisingly ideal router for gamers who want full-home mesh network coverage but don’t want to sacrifice the kind of low latency required for serious gameplay.
Much of this magic comes from a partnership that Portal’s maker, Ignition Design Labs, forged with well-known hardware gaming company Razer in order to optimize the Portal specifically for ultimate gaming performance, creating patented FastLanes and SmartLanes technologies that keep your devices on fast and reliable Wi-Fi channels to avoid interference and congestion, plus advanced QoS that ensures your gaming traffic gets prioritized.
With nine internal antennas that include beamforming and MU-MIMO technology, portal can provide solid AC2400 speeds across its 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and the two units can blanket a home of up to 6,000 square feet. There are also four Gigabit Ethernet ports on both the base and satellite units, so you can also hardwire in your PC or console if you find the Wi-Fi performance still isn’t up to your needs.
More traditional design
Dual-Band Wi-Fi Only
Without the imposing look of some of the other gaming-centric router lines like the Netgear Nighthawk, you might overlook this offering from TP-Link. But with plenty of speed and a ton of interesting smart features, that would be a mistake. The AC1750 gives you two bands of reliable Wi-Fi, combining for a max transfer speed of 1750Mbps (450Mbps for 2.4GHz and 1.3Gbps for the 5GHz), making it perfect for high-demand media streaming. Three large external antennas give you reliable signal and a wide range, and four LAN inputs and a USB-C port offer additional connectivity. The router also features convenient control options as you can operate the device with the intuitive TP-Link Tether app. That said, arguably the coolest feature offered by this router is its compatibility with smart home devices via Amazon's Alexa. Round that all out with an inclusive two-year warranty and a few consumer reliability awards, and you’ve got a router you can rest easy purchasing.
With the newest Wi-Fi 6 technology, ample power to spare, and every security and networking feature that gamers could possibly need, the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is the Cadillac of gaming routers.
Jesse Hollington is a freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing about technology and three decades of experience in information technology and networking. He's installed, tested, and configured just about every type and brand of router, firewall, wireless access point, and network extender in places ranging from single-family dwellings to office buildings. university campuses, and even coast-to-coast wide-area network (WAN) deployments.
Yoona Wagener has a background in content and technical writing. She has written for BigTime Software, Idealist Careers, and other small tech companies. Yoona enjoys helping people simplify processes. She has experience providing technical support and help documentation to end users, building websites for small business owners, and offering career advice to social-impact job seekers.
Quality of Service - Not all network traffic is created equal, and QoS is how a router decides what type of data to prioritize. The best gaming routers are designed specifically to prioritize games without a lot of messing around in the settings. This ensures that when you pull the trigger on that headshot, sending that information to the game server takes precedence over any other traffic on your network, like other family members watching Netflix.
Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi - Despite advances made in Wi-Fi over the years, there’s no argument here: Gaming over a wired connection is better than gaming over Wi-Fi. If at all possible, get a router with enough high-speed Ethernet ports to hook up your gaming PC and all of your consoles. If that isn’t possible, then 802.11ac is the minimum Wi-Fi standard of choice for gamers, ideally with a tri-band router, but a Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax router is even better if you can afford it.
Dual- and tri-band - Dual-band is the absolute bare minimum for any serious gaming router, and having two bands is usually good enough. If your gaming PC and consoles support 5GHz Wi-Fi, step up to a tri-band router to add a second 5GHz band, and ideally get one that lets you set it up on its own SSID. This lets you dedicate a whole band just to to gaming, so you don’t experience any lag at all whenever someone tries to stream 4K video on your network, since QoS can only take you so far—it doesn't help if your traffic can't make it to the router in the first place.