When it comes to online video gaming, I often think of the wise words of Ricky Bobby’s father, Reese: “If you’re not first, you’re last.” That is to say, having a reliable Internet connection is essential to make sure you don’t miss that final point because your speed dipped. Fortunately, there’s a solution that will make it, so you’re not the one on your squad to cause a loss.
Router companies have made dedicated gaming routers to provide the best connection. These routers typically provide a dual (or even tri!) band connection that allows you to sit your gaming connection on a dedicated channel. This means no other devices will interfere with your experience. Additionally, these routers will enable you to fully take advantage of the high speeds you have. All in all, gaming routers will make sure your connection is virtually flawless so that your victories can be as well. But with the arrival of next-gen gaming consoles, a Wi-Fi 6 router is definitely something you should be looking at.
Wi-Fi 6 and Gaming: A Match Made In Heaven
While you definitely don’t need all the speed and bandwidth that comes with higher-end Wi-Fi 6 gaming routers, these devices still have a handful of features that work hard to keep your ping times to a minimum, which is crucial for gaming without lag. And because devices such as the PS5, Xbox Series X and newer PCs support Wi-Fi 6, you’re going to want a router that can take advantage of this tech if you’re serious about your gaming.
At its core, the Wi-Fi 6 spec brings a few new tricks in the form of enhanced MU-MIMO and OFDMA support. In short, these technologies allow your router to communicate simultaneously with multiple devices in your home (instead of one at a time), which greatly reduces the likelihood of network congestion if there are multiple people using the internet in the same space.
Secondly, many of these routers are tri-band, and as such, dedicate an entire frequency band to gaming. This means that if someone on your network is streaming Netflix while using Instagram and downloading an app, your game session won’t be affected by that at all (provided they’re not using all the bandwidth provided by your ISP).
And finally, many of the best gaming routers have quality of service (QoS) settings, which gives you the ability to prioritize gaming devices on your network if there is congestion, and it can also analyze your network or the servers you’re trying to connect to in order to provide the most efficient connection.
You might not think of a router when investing in PC gaming accessories, but it might be the best gaming purchase you make in 2020. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best gaming routers out on the market so you can go and conquer your online matches accordingly — our picks, below.
1. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router
BEST GAMING ROUTER OVERALL
When it comes to all the key features that make up the best gaming routers, the Asus ROG Rapture AX11000 hits all the marks. This tri-band, Wi-Fi 6 router dedicates an entire 5 Gbps band to gaming, uses the WTFast services with popular games to ensure you’re connecting to the closest servers and has an easy to use QoS interface so that your network is always optimized for the lowest possible ping. But it’s not just Wi-Fi performance here: There’s also a 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port which basically guarantees that you’ll be downloading those massive game files at the max speeds that your favorite platform will allow.
2. Asus AX92U Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router
The Asus AX92U is technically designed to be part of a mesh system, but as a standalone gaming router, this little thing holds up when you look at the features. Like the more robust Rapture AX11000, this router can dedicate one of its three bands solely to gaming, has all the same QoS options and works with the WTFast VPN service for server optimization. But the best part is that it’s half the price of the Rapture AX11000, which means that this won’t cost as much as the gaming device itself. This also ensures you don’t miss a single shot when you’re playing Call of Duty: Warzone. Plus, the Asus app allows you to further customize your settings to how you want them. If you’re looking for the best performance at the best value, look no further.
3. Orbi RBK852 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Router
BEST MESH ROUTER FOR GAMING
If your home has wireless interference issues and running an Ethernet cable from your router to your console is out of the question, you’re going to need a good mesh router. With the Orbi RBK852 Wi-Fi 6 mesh system, you can extend your network quickly, easily and effectively thanks to Netgear’s easy-to-manage software. And while this isn’t a mesh gaming router per se (it lacks features such as QoS and a dedicated gaming band), it is one of the fastest around. Given Orbi’s track record with previous products, you’re likely to get better performance from this than other mesh routers with gamer-friendly features. Plus, if you place your satellite node near your gaming device, you can also connect to the network via Ethernet, which will help to further minimize ping times.
4. D-Link AC1700 Mesh Gaming Router
Like a majority of gaming routers, the D-Link AC17000 has two, simultaneous dual-band connections to ensure your gaming connection can take top priority. At the same time, your connected devices can sit on their band. Four antennas help to provide strong coverage throughout the entire house so you’ll be set no matter where your gaming system is setup. However, if that’s not enough, the router itself can have its range extended thanks to add-on D-Link extenders. Oh, and you can use Alexa or Google Assitant voice commands to control it easily. But the real value is the price, which makes this a fantastic gaming router to start with if you’re a little hesitant to make a hefty investment.
5. Netgear Nighthawk XR500 Pro Gaming Router
Shelling out over $200 for a router is a big ask, so there has to be a pretty compelling reason. And while the Netgear Nighthawk XR500 looks like an alien spaceship you might encounter in a video game, looks aren’t everything if it can’t keep up when it comes to performance. Fortunately, that’s not an issue as the XR500 is optimized for games like Fortnite, Call of Duty, Overwatch, and more thanks to its dual-band connection and insanely fast speeds. Control freaks will love the ability to monitor their performance and ping in real-time, making it a great choice for those with extra money to spend who want to ensure their premium setup doesn’t get cheapened by a faulty connection.
6. Razer Sila Mesh Gaming Router
The thing about this gaming router from Razer is that, at first glance, you might mistake it for an actual gaming console. The extremely stylish set-top-looking box does function as a mesh-style router, allowing you to incorporate additional nodes to boost your Wi-Fi signal accordingly. But the best feature is Razer’s “Fastrack” tech that allows the router to automatically prioritize applications and devices to make sure your gaming connection is functioning at the fastest speed possible.
7. Linksys WRT Gaming Router
OPTIMIZED FOR XBOX
Xbox gamers who want to make sure they’re using the best possible router for their matches of Halo or Gears of War will want to check out this Linksys WRT gaming router. The WRT can auto-detect when an Xbox gaming unit has been connected and will auto-prioritize the system over other wireless connections to provide the best experience. Additionally, Linksys boasts a 65% drop in peak ping to give you a faster and smoother game, which can make all the difference when it comes to getting that critical final point.
8. Armor Z2 AC2600 Wireless Gaming Router
With its striking design, four-antenna construction, and 1.7 GHz dual-core processor, the Armor Z2 AC2600 gaming router is everything you need to game effectively. The 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies allow for that great level of device control, while the built-in usage montoir will allow you to take a look at what connections are wearing on your network to better optimize connectivity.