It was once a rare sight to see a gamer connected to the internet over anything else than Ethernet. But ever since gaming laptops have become a viable alternative to desktop computers and mobile gaming has become a thing, gamers have started to demand reliable, low-latency, wireless internet access over Wi-Fi.
How to Select a Router for Gaming
While the line between regular and gaming routers is often blurry, with some manufacturers clearly wanting to capitalize on the growing gaming market, there are certain features and characteristics that make a router great for gaming.
Low latency is critical for smooth, lag-free online gameplay. You may have a strong Wi-Fi signal and fast internet access, but the second someone on your home network starts to download a large file or watch a high-definition online video, your latency will suffer—and so will your frag rate. This can be avoided by using a router with support for Quality of Service (QoS), an advanced feature that prioritizes internet traffic to minimize the impact of busy bandwidth.
Besides Quality of Service, you want your router to support modern Wi-Fi standards, cover every area where you need internet access, and not be vulnerable to malware attacks and hackers.
There are even some new mesh-based routers that simply create a low latency experience and are easy to setup so that you can jump into gaming right away. So without further ado, we’re taking a look at seven routers you can use for gaming.
What we love about the Google WiFi is how easy it is to set it up. Hook it up, download the Google WiFi app on your phone, and then it takes you step-by-step through the setup process. And even though it’s easy to setup, it has some great hardware as well: expandable mesh Wi-Fi, simultaneous dual-band abilities, and support for 2.4GHz and 5GHz network bands.
Speeds are really quick, and latency stays low, so the Google WiFi is the perfect option for gaming. What we really like about the Google WiFi is that, if you need more range, you can always add another “node” to your network.
The Eero Pro operates on a similar level as the Google WiFi, but we think this one has slightly better hardware. The Eero Pro is actually equipped with tri-band technology, making it two times as fast as the original Eero router. There are two gigabit Ethernet ports that easily connect your Eero Pro to your favorite devices for the fastest speeds.
You don’t have to worry about security either — the Eero Pro actually automatically updates overnight so you always have the latest security and features. It’s quick and easy to setup, just like the Google WiFi.
Netgear Nighthawk X8
The Netgear Nighthawk X8 looks like the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth attack aircraft and performs just as well. After all, for almost $300, one has every right to expect greatness. What makes this router so special is the ability to broadcast three different Wi-Fi networks simultaneously.
You can easily create a dedicated gaming network in the 5 GHz band alongside a general-use network in the 2.4 GHz. The total speed of all wireless networks can reach up to 5.3 Gbps, and the router also has six gigabit Ethernet ports should you ever need even more bandwidth.
All packets that go through the router are directed by a powerful 1.4GHz dual-core processor that can intelligently prioritize certain connections to prevent slowdowns and latency issues. The support for the Netgear Nighthawk X8 is provided on the My Open Router website, which is a community of Netgear users and developers that works on DD-WRT, free Linux-based router firmware.
The ASUS RT-AC3200 only lags when it comes to the total maximum speed the router can reach. Whereas the Nighthawk X8 can handle up to 5.3 Gbps, the Asus RT-AC3200 only goes up to 3.2 Gbps. Whether you’ll ever need the extra throughput is something you need to decide for yourself.
The main feature of the RT-AC3200 is its 3T3R antenna design, which uses three transmit and three receive antennas to dramatically increase the range and stability of the router. A technique called beamforming can focus wireless signal on connected devices, further improving the performance of the router and making it harder for unauthorized people to see your network.
Part of the operating system of the Asus RT-AC3200 router is a multi-stage protection system against online threats and hackers. You can control this protection system and all other features of the router from the intuitive web-based interface or the Asus Router app for mobile devices.
TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900
At $99, the Archer C9 gives you fantastic bang for your buck. Compared to the two most expensive routers on this list, it can simultaneously broadcast only two wireless networks, but that’s where the real difference ends, at least for most users.
The router is powered by a 1 GHz dual-core processor that can handle up to 1.9Gbps of dual band Wi-Fi speed, take care of local file sharing, and assign priority to your favorite online activities through QoS. The three antennas that come with the router are both adjustable and detachable. Even though we’ve found no reason to do so, you can remove them and replace them with larger antennas with higher gain.
If you always forget the admin IP address of your router, you’ll love the Tether app for Android and iOS. The app lets you effortlessly change all common settings of the Archer C9 right from your smartphone. Its modern user interface is a joy to use, especially compared to most web-based admin panels, and the app does a good job of teaching you how to you some of the more advanced features the router has.
Asus RT-ACRH13 AC1300
The Asus RT-ACRH13 is a stylish mid-range router with dual-band support and four external antennas for improved Wi-Fi range and multi-device performance. The router supports combined speeds of up to 1267 Mbps and comes with USB 3.0 ports for external storage devices and network printers as well as four gigabit Ethernet ports.
You can manage it from your smartphone using the Asus Router app, just like other routers from Asus. The RT-ACRH13 comes with a new graphical user interface called AsusWRT. Compared to the old interface, AsusWRT is a welcome change. With a few clicks and without reading any manuals, you can monitor internet usage, control parental settings, apply web and app filters, take advantage of time scheduling, or change security settings.
Netgear WNDR3400 N600
The Netgear WNDR3400 is a modest router with reliable performance at an affordable price. It can broadcast two wireless networks, each up to 300 Mbps, and cover most apartments and offices with strong wireless signal. The router can manage internet connections to prevent a single user from slowing everyone else down. It can also block unsafe web content, allow multiple people to share a single printer or a USB storage device, and more.
You can control the Netgear WNDR3400 using the Genie app, which is now also available as an Amazon Alexa skill. So, if you own Amazon Echo, you can control your home wireless network with simple voice commands.
As you can see, there are a lot of excellent routers that you can use for gaming. Most of these will work just fine, with the last five giving you a little more control over the internal settings. However, we really like the Google WiFi and the Eero, just because they’re easy to setup, and keep things moving pretty fast.
Do you have a favorite router for gaming?