Because it all comes down to bandwidth
To ensure that your lightning fast broadband is providing you the best gaming experience when it matters, setting up the perfect home network is a must. No matter how amazing and expensive your computer is, to provide the smoothest online gaming experience will require a little help from a solid gaming router.
When it comes to the best gaming routers, you’ll be looking for one with multiple LAN ports of both ethernet and WiFi capabilities at a standard of at least WiFi 802.11ax (WiFi 6).
This will provide greater more efficient data transfer over your wireless network. The whole purpose of choosing a gaming router over your normal router is for prioritized traffic to your gaming computer and consoles.
Your standard router may provide a decent connection but what happens to that connection when other devices are in use? If latency begins to increase and performance decrease, it may be time to consider an upgrade. During online gaming sessions, the best gaming router will reduce lag regardless of other devices in your home attempting to get their fill of available bandwidth.
5 Best Gaming Routers for 2020
We’ve compiled a short list of the top five best gaming routers you’ll want to get your hands on in the new year. In no particular order…
The Asus RT-AX88U features an impressive eight Gigabit Ethernet ports on top of the next generation Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) technology. It comes standard with the AsusWRT interface allowing granular control of every setting you can imagine, as well as lifetime subscriptions to Trend Micro antivirus and WTFast GPN (a VPN for gaming), which are top-tier standouts among its competitors.
To top it all off, you’ll find class-leading Adaptive QoS, which means that the router allows the user to prioritize apps on their home network. This ensures both inbound and outbound bandwidth for wired and wireless applications and tasks are prioritized, based on your presets.
It comes with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, with the former being adequate for most situations. However, it is with the 5GHz where the RT-AX88U really shines. In a house full of online digital clutter, the RT-AX88U provides one of the highest frames per second seen to date and a barely noticeable drop off when videos are being streamed simultaneously.
The cost is rather steep at around $300 but you’re likely to find all next-generation “super routers” come with a larger price tag. However, with the benchmarks provided, the justification for the purchase is already bundled into the package.
The TP-Link Archer C5400X Tri Band Gaming Router is an excellent all-around router with a user-friendly app and interface for easy set up and configuration. It comes packed with enough advanced features and powerful hardware to appeal to enthusiasts, gamers, and both casual and enterprise users.
TP-Link Archer C5400X’s key feature of note is its extended WiFi coverage capable of fast and reliable internet in the biggest of homes. This allows you to do away with multiple units needed to set up a mesh system and a reliance on a WiFi repeater to extend the coverage area.
This gaming router comes with a dual-core 1.4GHz processor and three co-processors, one handling a 2.4GHz band and two for 5GHz. This keeps multiple avenues of WiFi traffic open which is great for a home or business catering to a larger number of connecting wireless devices.
Like the other routers on this list, the expenses fall into the higher triple digits at around $240. However, for the more busy and demanding home network or place of business, one which sees the digital airwaves filled with streaming and gaming traffic from multiple devices, the noticeable difference from your basic router will make it well worth the investment.
Asus makes its second appearance on this list of best gaming routers with the 2017 PC Mag’s Readers’ Choice of 2017 award winner, the Asus RT-AC86U. Yes, even after three years this beauty still holds up to the competition.
You might say that it’s a better purchase than the RT-AX88U if you’re worried about buying more than you need. It still comes with the dual band wireless capabilities of 2.4GHz and 5GHz, packed into a 1.8GHz dual-core processor that offers terrific performance and features at half the price.
It contains the same app and web control interface, the AsusWRT, as well as subscriptions for both WTFast and Trend Micro antivirus. The real difference is when multiple devices come into play.
If your entire home is setup to be on the network, everything from your gaming computer to the digital refrigerator, then the RT-AX88U reigns supreme. For nothing more than a few additional phones, tablets, or another gaming computer, at only $160 the RT-AC86U is very powerful.
A strong follow up to the XR500, the XR700 packs an even faster gaming and streaming experience than its predecessor. The interesting design includes one WAN and six LAN ports, which is a step up from the XR500’s four, providing plenty of wired connections, link aggregation support, and a 10GB LAN SFP+ port that provides a lightning quick ethernet connection.
With all the excitement of the power packed into the ethernet side of things, there had to be some give and take. Unfortunately, this has come at the expense of the WiFi. The XR700 does not boast the WiFi 6 capabilities that are expected of a “super router”, instead opting for a combination of last generation 802.11ac/Wi-Fi 5 wireless, and 802.11ad technology. Not ideal for the avid WiFi using home but still an excellent choice for average WiFi coverage on multiple devices and superb ethernet connectivity.
One of its more gaming-centric features is the Duma OS which enables Geo-Filter capabilities, allowing for automatic connection to the nearest server while gaming online. The XR700 also has quite granular control of the bandwidth, and can prioritize throughput by each individual device, for both the upload and download separately, and can assign a specific percentage for each device to balance the load—thereby preventing any single device from becoming a bandwidth hog.
Even with its shortcomings in the WiFi department, the ridiculous ethernet connection the XR700 provides is well worth the $430 cost. Overall, the Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 is a well-rounded choice for throughput, and one of the best gaming routers touting a seriously strong gaming performance.
For the serious power gamer, no gaming router will come close to that of the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000. This router was specifically designed to be the class leading, ‘best of the best’ gaming router on the market, and the specs speak for themselves.
The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 builds on the GT-AC5300, sporting a 2.5Base-T port for higher ethernet bandwidth and the addition of WiFi 6 technology. The design does come with a slight drawback from its predecessor in the form of only four ports instead of the eight previously offered in the series.
It’s an Asus router, the third on this list, so you can expect the same integrated lifetime support of WTFast and Trend Micro antivirus. Similar to the TP-Link Archer C5400, the GT-AX1000 sports a tri-band wireless processor with 802.11ax, providing more than 10GB of wireless bandwidth.
It also provides dynamic QoS which will auto-adjust the configured traffic rules to prioritize gaming traffic, a game server analyzer to detect the ping times of game servers and provide you connection with minimal latency, and aura RGB for those who prefer a more colorful surrounding.
Don’t let the $355 price tag scare you away. For the power gamer looking for the cream of the crop in terms of performance, the ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is arguably the best gaming router for the money. Though, if you’re in the market for a more affordable entry into the ROG line of networking hardware, the ROG Rapture GT-AC2900 router is an excellent alternative that provides amazing quality at a lesser hit to your wallet.