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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 the latest cadillac entry in its lineup, 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 includes 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 GT-AX11000 offers by itself, you probably won't need it.
"If you do a lot of gaming, or if you just have a lot of data-hungry devices connected to your wireless network on a daily basis, then the ROG Rapture AX11000 won’t disappoint." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester
Wi-Fi 6 support
Ethernet ports are a little too close
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, letting you get gigabit speeds to every one of your devices that can handle them.
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 take that critical kill shot 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, plus the ability to use 802.3ad link aggregation to tie two of them together for a single 2Gbps link.
"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 jack 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 XR500 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 XR500 gives gamers a whopping 2.6Gbps of wireless speeds that can be allocated and divided on a per device basis, 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 some of the fastest Wi-Fi perofrmance available, 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. If you're looking for something more in a Chevy price range, Netgear's Nighthawk X6 is a capable and versatile router that's worth a look.
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.
Jeremy Laukkonen is an experienced tech journalist with a background in automotive repair that has taught him the importance of breaking down complex technical subjects in understandable ways. He specializes in VPNs, antivirus, and home electronics, and manages his own automotive blog on the side.
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.
If you're a serious gamer, or you have one in your household, you'll know that gamers are a special breed when it comes to making demands on your home network. It's not enough just to have a fast router, or a long-range router, or one that provides good mesh network coverage throughout your home; you also need to make sure that it can offer the kind of lag-free performance that your favourite first-person shooters demand. After all, there's nothing worse than having your network slow down just as you're about to make that critical kill shot in Call of Duty.
A solid gaming router not only delivers when it comes to low latency, but it also needs to be able to recognize gaming traffic so that it can make sure it gets priority, since you don't want to be slowed down just because somebody else in your home is downloading 4K movies. In fact, some of the better gaming routers can not only make sure your gaming traffic goes through first, but even direct it to the fastest servers automatically, while also providing an intelligent firewall to protect the rest of your network and even keep your gaming traffic from getting slowed down by a VPN, while also packing in the kind of processing power that's necessary to manage it all.
Keep in mind though that just because you're looking for a router that's focused on gaming doesn't mean that you need to cut corners in other areas, or even that you should. Since gaming routers usually offer really fast performance, this makes them great choices for a lot of other things too, such as streaming 4K movies, offering advanced quality-of-service features to prioritize other traffic such as voice and video calls, and more.
A good network connection can make all of the difference between success and failure in many fast-paced online games, so there's no doubt that it should be a key part of your tool belt if you're a serious gamer. While you might get by with a high-peformance general purpose router, it's hard to beat the performance and advanced optimization features that a proper gaming router can offer.
Make no mistake, though, just because you happen to play games doesn't mean you need a gaming router — it's not going to help you get higher scores at Candy Crush, for instance — but at the same time just about anybody can benefit from the higher performance and advanced features that gaming routers offer, so while one of these doesn't need to be your first choice if you're not a gamer, you shouldn't rule out buying one simply because it has the word "gaming" in the description.
Quality of Service, or QoS is just a fancy term for a feature that allows a router to identity different types of network traffic so that it can decide what should get priority.
For example, real-time internet activities such as gaming, video calling, and streaming are generally more time-sensitive than simply downloading large files, sending emails, or surfing the web. If an email you're sending takes a few seconds longer to go through because you've added a large attachment, you probably won't even notice, but you'll definitely feel the pain if the movie you're watching starts stuttering because your TV can't maintain a fast enough connection to the Netflix servers. The same is also true with gaming, where traffic needs to get through fast enough to ensure that when you pull the trigger, everybody else in the game immediately knows about it—especially the player on the receiving end.
To be clear, QoS isn't as critical if you have an ultra-fast internet connection, since it's hard for most families to saturate a Gigabit fibre service, but most gaming routers include the feature anyway, so you'll always be able to benefit from it. Best of all, you usually don't have to do much of anything to set it up, since the whole point of a gaming router is for it to identify gaming traffic and make sure it gets priority, ensuring you make those critical headshots even when other family members are watching Netflix.
Among the most important features unique to gaming routers is guaranteeing lag-free connections by ensuring that it doesn't take any more time than absolutely necessary to process network traffic and move it on to its destination. This is sometimes described as offering low latency or low "ping times."
In this context, you can think of your router as a really fast post office. Each piece of data that passes through it still has to be scanned and forwarded on to its destination, and just like in the real post office, there's going to be some delay involved while addresses and routes are checked. While these processing times are measured in fractions of a second rather than days, they're still present, and the faster a router can move your data, the better.
While some latency is unavoidable, gaming routers provide faster and more efficient CPUs that are able to handle traffic more quickly, and handle more traffic at once. This is especially important when it comes to features like QoS, since prioritizing traffic adds even more overhead. This is why not just any router can meet the demands of gamers simply because it supports QoS—it also has to be able to sort that traffic out fast to avoid creating lag.
Note that latency isn't quite the same as bandwidth. Although they're both part of how fast your router can handle traffic, to use our post office analogy, bandwidth would be the size and speed of the trucks that deliver the mail, while latency is the time it takes to actually process it and get it onto the trucks.
Almost all gaming routers offer advanced QoS features and low latency that will provide almost everything you need for solid gaming performance, but the really good ones go the extra mile by offering a variety of gaming-centric features to quite literally up your game.
One example of this is support for the WTFast Gamers Private Network (GPN), a specialized service that automatically routes your gaming connections to the fastest servers available, ensuring that your traffic travels along the fastest routes even after it leaves your home network, since even the fastest and lowest latency router can't help if you're dealing with a slower connection on the other end.
Some gaming routers also offer special features such as the Republic of Gamers (ROG) GameFirst or the Killer Prioritization Engine that can automatically communicate with specially-equipped gaming PCs to ensure that traffic from those devices always gets priority through the router.
Wi-Fi has gotten a bad rap among gamers, since issues with interference and network congestion often create additional latency and other performance problems, however modern gaming routers have come a long way in addressing these issues, thanks to features like MU-MIMO, beamforming antennas, multiple frequency bands, and advanced Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax support.
All of these come together to offer the kind of performance that gamers demand from their internet connections, and for the most part, if a well-known brand is promoting their Wi-Fi router as a gaming router, you can be sure that it's been designed to offer solid Wi-Fi performance as well, so for the most part we're well past the days of needing to jack in your gaming console or PC.
That said, every gaming router provides at least four Gigabit Ethernet ports, with some offering up to eight. A few of the newest high-end gaming routers even offer special 2.5Gbps gaming ports for the ultimate in wired performance, so in the event your Wi-Fi isn't cutting it, or you just don't want to take any chances, you always have the option of a hardwired connection.
How much range and coverage you'll need in a gaming router is going to largely depend on where your gaming PC or console is in relation to the router. While many gaming routers provide solid coverage, there's no need to make that a priority if your router is going to be in the same room as your gaming rig, although of course you'll still want to consider the other devices in your home too.
Keep in mind as well that even though a router offers good range and coverage, speeds decrease as you move farther away from the router. For example, many higher-end routers can easily cover a 5,000 square foot home, but you may only get the kind of gaming performance you need when you're relatively close to it. If your router needs to be some distance away from your gaming PC or console you may need to look to a Wi-Fi extender, Powerline adapter, or mesh solution in order to bridge the gap. Some brands like Asus also offer their own AiMesh technology, so you can extend your network by purchasing a second Asus router, which can also offer the benefit of keeping the non-gamers off your important Wi-Fi.
Unless you plan to hardwire in your gaming console or PC, you'll want a router that offers at least dual-band 802.11ac support as a bare minimum. This allows older and slower devices to connect on the lower-frequency 2.4GHz band, while your gaming and streaming devices can use the higher-frequency 5GHz band, which offers faster speeds and is less prone to interference from other household devices like microwave ovens, cordless phones, and Bluetooth speakers.
If you have multiple family members who want to game or stream movies at the same time, you'll benefit from a tri-band router, which offers a second 5GHz band to help separate traffic to avoid congestion. Many gaming routers also support "band steering" to automatically direct your gaming devices onto their own high-speed 5GHz band for maximum performance, since even the best QoS features won't help if your gaming traffic can't make it to the router in the first place.
Keep in mind, however, that since a device can only connect to a single band at once, you'll only benefit from the additional 5GHz band if you have multiple 802.11ac devices; you probably don't need a tri-band router if you live by yourself or have other family members that are extremely light internet users.
With its flagship GT-AX11000 as the latest entry in its GT series of gaming routers, Asus has become one of the leading names in the category, and even its more general-purpose RT series routers offer some pretty advanced gaming features. While you'll pay a slight premium for Asus' gaming routers, the investment is well worth it if you're a serious gamer, since Asus' packs in a lot of advanced features for gamers, including WTFast Gamers Private Network support, GameBoost QoS that's specifically designed to optimize gaming traffic, and even VPN Fusion to let you keep your VPN up and running without worrying about it slowing down your gaming. Plus, if you're using Asus notebooks or PCs, its Republic of Gamers (ROG) ecosystem will make everything work together seamlessly for maximum performance.
Although Netgear only makes a couple of gaming-centric routers like the XR500, its entire Nighthawk lineup of routers are some of the best in the industry, and can be trusted to provide outstanding performance for a wide variety of applications, making its routers a great choice if you're looking for something that's more suited to not only gaming but also things like streaming while being easy to configure and still providing good performance and coverage.
For gaming enthusiasts, the name Razer needs no introduction, as the company is well known for its lineup of PCs, laptops, keyboards, mice and other gaming hardware, so serious gamers will appreciate that the company offers its own routers as well. The Razer Sila is a high-end router that's focused strongly on gamers — although somewhat to the exclusion of anything else — while the Portal offers one of the few mesh solutions designed to prioritize gaming traffic.
By necessity, gaming routers offer some of the best networking performance you can get, so it's probably not surprising that they don't come cheap. If you're a serious gamer, the investment in a good gaming router will be well worth it, but keep in mind that a router can't help out much if your internet connection isn't up to snuff, so you may need to consider replacing your cable modem too, especially if you find that you're not getting good ping times. QoS can help a slow connection, but it can't do much about latency.
Also be sure that when buying a gaming router you don't forget about the other devices in your house. Even if your gaming rig is going to be in the same room, you'll want to ensure your router offers good coverage and performance for all of your other devices to get the bandwidth they need.