We’ve all been there, the pulse-pounding moment when we’re about to make a genius play in our favorite online game when a half-second lag spike sees us fail miserably. Or perhaps it’s when we queue up for a competitive match only to have a sudden dip in our internet connection drop us from the game three seconds after the match starts. Worse still when the whole time gaming is cursed by intermittent lag spikes that make the game a jerky mess. While some of these issues will be out of our hands (and likely in the hands of our internet service providers), some of these problems can stem from our routers. So, it’s imperative to make sure you’ve got a rock-solid router for gaming if you want to get competitive online.
Relying on the old router you’ve had lying around for the better part of the last decade is like playing with fire. Unless you’re connecting your gaming PC and consoles over a wired connection, you might be working with an outdated Wi-Fi standard (like Wi-Fi 4, also known as 802.11n). Older routers may also lack advanced features to prioritize your gaming traffic, which can leave you susceptible to lag spikes when other devices are on the network. A good gaming router can help you get around these obstacles by not only providing plenty of ethernet ports for fast and stable speed but also by delivering fast Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) or even Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) connections. Some even offer three wireless bands, letting you dedicate an entire band to your gaming platforms if you want, so they won’t compete with every phone and smart home gadget trying to communicate with the router.
We’ll help you find the right gaming router with our picks below, which offer solid connectivity and top-notch gaming features. If you’re browsing in the UK, click here to find out where you can go to find the best router for gaming. For some great discounts on routers, you can also head over to check out the certified refurbished routers on eBay.
TL;DR – These are the Best Router for Gaming:
1. Netgear Nighthawk X6S
Best Router for Gaming
When you’re gaming, you need speed and you can certainly benefit from having nothing else standing in your way. You can get that with the Netgear Nighthawk X6S (read our review). This gaming router gives you the typical things you should expect with a 2.4GHz and 5GHz connection and some external antennas for a strong signal. It beefs up your connectivity options with an additional 5GHz band though. This means that if you want to game on Wi-Fi instead of an Ethernet connection, you can dedicate a whole 5GHz band just for your gaming while still providing a 5GHz connection to the rest of your household.
Now, this router isn’t offering all the latest features like Wi-Fi 6E or 2.5Gbps WAN, but it also comes at a more affordable price than the routers that do. And, unless you’ve got some serious networking needs in your home or an almost unheard of connection from your ISP, you might not need those features to get a great gaming experience from your router right now.
2. Asus RT-AX56U
Best Budget Router for Gaming
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a solid router. The Asus RT-AX56U isn’t just a compelling option at its price, it’s also one of the more affordable devices supporting the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, so you’ll be getting a device that’s prepared for the future of Wi-Fi.
The Asus RT-AX56U has both a 2.4GHz and a 5GHz band, which can deliver speeds up to 574Mbps and 1,201Mbps, respectively. And, thanks to advances brought with Wi-Fi 6, the system can more effectively communicate with multiple devices at the same time. That means having a bunch of smart home devices on your network isn’t as likely to slow down your gaming connection as it might be on an older Wi-Fi 5 router. And, if you need to cover more area than a single router can muster, Asus’s AiMesh system will let you combine multiple routers (even different models) into one large wireless network.
3. Linksys Hydra Pro
Best Tri-Band Router for Gaming
Wi-Fi has taken some serious leaps in the past couple of years, with Wi-Fi 6 stepping things up big time, and then Wi-Fi 6E adding some icing to the cake. The Linksys Hydra Pro is a tri-band router that takes advantage of this new capability. If you’re only running older client devices with Wi-Fi 5 and earlier, it may not be for you, since it’ll basically be a dual-band router with 2×2 connections on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. But, if you’ve got the latest devices or networking cards with Wi-Fi 6E, the Linksys Hydra Pro can dial things up big time.
This router offers up a third band at 6GHz with 4×4 streams for a potential throughput up to 4,804Mbps. You’re going to need some seriously fast internet speeds or local networking demands to take advantage of that bandwidth, and the Linksys Hydra Pro is ready with a 5GbE WAN port on the back. Just be prepared for a high price – the latest technology doesn’t come cheap.
4. Nighthawk Pro Gaming Router (XR1000)
Best Dual-Band Router for Gaming
What can a dual-band router do? Well, if it’s running Wi-Fi 6 and powerful hardware inside, quite a lot. The Nighthawk Pro Gaming Router XR1000 from Netgear is solid evidence of this. This router gives its two bands plenty of room to run with 2×2 MU-MIMO on the 2.4GHz band for 574Mbps speeds. The 5GHz channel is where you’re going to want to turn for the ultimate throughput though, as it’s capable of 4×4 MU-MIMO and can clock in at 4,804Mbps.
That’s a good start for the hardware, but Netgear takes this router even further into the depths of gaming with special firmware. The Nighthawk Pro Gaming Router can help you ensure your gaming systems are getting the best connection possible with QoS that’ll let you give more priority to your games than other web uses, like live streams, VoIP, or web browsing.
5. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000
Best Wi-Fi 6 Router for Gaming
Wi-Fi 6-ready devices aren’t quite here yet, but it never hurts to be prepared. While the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 was built for the next-gen wireless protocol, it’s fully equipped to tackle anything and everything online gaming can throw at it today.
It offers maximum data transfer speeds of 11Gbps over a tri-band frequency. For gaming specifically, users can dedicate one band to gaming to avoid interference from other connected devices in their home.
6. Netgear Orbi RBK752
Best Wi-Fi Mesh System for Gaming
If you’re trying to ensure multiple devices all around your home are connected with fast internet for gaming, a mesh system may be your best bet. The Netgear Orbi RBK752 is a strong system that offers a main router and a high-speed node. The two units both feature tri-band Wi-Fi, letting them effectively create two dual-band networks in your house (though they operate as a single network), while relying on their extra 5GHz connection to ensure the link between the routers is also blazing fast.
These devices support Wi-Fi 6 for the latest and greatest in connectivity on supported devices, and they have multiple Ethernet ports on both the router and node, letting you go for a wired connection on devices that can benefit from the more consistent connection, like gaming PCs and consoles. Between the router and node, you can create an expansive wireless network to ensure no device suffers from a slow, weak signal in your home.
7. TP-Link Archer AX11000
Fastest Gaming Router
When it comes to gaming, you can’t afford sudden slow-downs. The TP-Link Archer AX11000 is designed for incredible speeds that should help you dodge that issue. This router features eight large antennas to help ensure you’re getting a strong signal anywhere in your home, and it can use beamforming to direct its signal toward your devices.
The Wi-Fi it delivers is no slouch either. It features a 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands, and all three support Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. That allows for some serious throughput regardless of which band you’re connected to. With 4×4 MU-MIMO and OFDMA, the router can keep speeds up even when multiple devices are running on the network. The router even has some perks for wired connections, as it features a 2.5-Gigabit WAN port and offers link aggregation for two LAN ports.
8. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000
Best Wi-Fi 6E Router for Gaming
If you want a serious router for gaming, you can’t get much more serious than the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000. Just look close – it has “AXE” in the name! Fun aside, this isn’t just a Wi-Fi 6 router. Rather, it’s a Wi-Fi 6E router, which brings access to even more potential thanks to the 6GHz spectrum it adds on top of 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Tri-band connectivity offers up an easy way to split up your network so you can ensure your gaming devices have the fastest connection in the house. That 6GHz connection is also not so common yet, so you won’t run into the same kind of interference from all of your neighbors’ routers that you will on 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks.
This router has eight antennas to deliver a powerful signal, and its use of beamforming can go even further in ensuring a strong connection between your wireless devices and the router. You also get some blistering speeds from wired connections, as the router supports 2.5Gb WAN or LAN as well as link aggregation, so you’re not stuck with the 1Gbps Ethernet speeds many other routers will limit you to.
What to Look for in a Gaming Router
While you’re shopping for a gaming router, you should be on the lookout for which version of Wi-Fi it supports. The main two you’ll want to look out for are Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) as they deliver the fastest wireless speeds currently available. During your search for a gaming router, you’ll undoubtedly come across units designed for Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) that look very attractive thanks to their low prices, but you should avoid this siren’s call. Wi-Fi 4 is an outdated standard that provides fairly slow speeds compared its two more modern renditions.
You’ll also want to find a gaming router that is at least dual-band. Single-band routers only support the 2.4GHz band, which is fine enough for web browsing and downloading most files, but dual-band routers add a second 5wGHz channel that provides much faster wireless speeds. You’ll also find Tri-Band routers—and we’ve featured a number of them above as well—that feature an additional 5GHz band you can completely dedicate to gaming.
Where to Get the Best Gaming Router in the UK
Getting the Most Out of Your Gaming Router
Be aware, just having a gaming router doesn’t mean you’re going to automatically get the best home network instantly. You still should follow a number of best practices for optimizing your home network. Don’t try tucking your router out of the way in a closet at the bottom of a shelf, as that’s the quickest way to ensure you won’t get the full performance out of it.
Your router should be placed somewhere central in your living space, ideally high up, and it shouldn’t have many obstacles in the way (i.e., don’t put it behind your TV). Everything in the path from your router to your connected devices will impact the signal and thus the quality of your connection.
You can also help out your wireless devices by using a wired Ethernet connection wherever possible. Limiting the number of devices connected to your Wi-Fi at a time can help ensure each device gets better performance.
Securing your wireless router is also important not just for security but also for your performance. Sure you don’t want potentially malicious users accessing your home network, but you also don’t want your neighbors piggybacking onto your network, as they’ll eat into your bandwidth and potentially drag down your network performance. Use a strong password and consider disabling any guest networks. You might even consider not broadcasting your network ID, which makes it far less likely someone will access your network with the tradeoff that setting up new devices can be a little more time-consuming.
Josh Norem is IGN’s Executive Editor for Tech. When he’s not upgrading his PC he’s trying to get his foster kittens adopted
Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam
Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark
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