Your gaming experience is only ever going to be as good as your Wi Fi is. It’s an unfortunate fact, but those are the rules. This is especially true for online games.
Take it from an old competitive Esports player, the quality of your internet and the speed of your wifi is absolutely critical if you want to stand a chance in any sort of player vs. player (PvP) game. Your in-game performance and your processor / graphics card are only going to carry you so far.
Why You Need a Gaming Router
It doesn’t matter how good at warzone you are; if someone has 100mbps over your 20, you’re going to lose that gunfight. Therefore, if you want to truly be on the top of your game, you’re going to need to make sure you’re getting the best performance from your network Wi Fi signal.
It’s not just competitive play that having good internet is important for, though. You need decent speeds to actually download games in the first place.
The entire industry is starting to make a switch towards digital licenses instead of discs. Just look at the PS5. You’re able to purchase a version of the console with no disc drive at all.
Most big games these days are upwards of 100GB large. Thus, unless you want to spend a week downloaded one game, you’re going to want half-decent Wi Fi.
Luckily for you, I’ve done the hard work of shopping around so that you don’t have to. I’ve been around the block with internet connection and gaming a fair few times now, so you can trust me when I say I know what I’m talking about.
Without further ado, here are what I argue are the best gaming routers for network performance and speeds.
Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500
Nighthawk is the name of the game when it comes to network performance with wireless Wi Fi models. Netgear has been producing these routers for years, and each one is designed especially for gaming in terms of both speed and features, and the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 sits at the top of that mountain.
This router looks like a UFO, and it performs like one, too. This particular Nighthwawk is great if you’ve got multiple connected devices taking up the speeds on the network. If you’ve got streamers and Netflix fans in the house, then this router is going to offset the damage to the performance that those broadband intensive services do.
Netgear boasts a ludicrous 2.2gbps base speed on the XR500, which is more than you’re ever going to realistically need. That’s not all you’re getting, though. This Nighthawk also comes with a plethora of unique gaming features like being able to filter your connection based on location.
The router itself has two USB port slots, one WAN, and four gigabit ethernet slots. The only downsides to this WI Fi are the fact that there’s no modem with the package, which isn’t too big of a deal, but the price tag can be.
The XR500 is one of the best gaming routers on the market. It comes with blazing fast next-gen speeds for multiple devices and a ton of gaming centric features. For all that performance, though, you’re going to need to spend a healthy amount of cash.
If you don’t feel comfortable with a price tag this high, we have some more budget friendly options for you down below.
Pros and Cons
- 2.2gbps speeds that outperform almost every other network on the market.
- Gaming specific features that allow you to optimize your connectivity performance, such as a geo filter.
- The Netgear name comes with a certain level of prestige, and the company is well established and has a great quality of service.
- The price tag might be a bit too much for some casual gamers to handle.
- The package doesn’t come with a modem.
- Got an upgrade in the form of the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700
Asus is the close second place winner to Netgear in terms of online gaming wireless speeds. The wireless performance of each brand differs from model to model, so which is actually better depends on what router you’re looking at.
In terms of the RT-AC86U, you’re going to have less speed than a Nighthawk, but you are going to get a ludicrous amount of home network features. Far more so than any other dual band at this price point.
That’s not to say that the speed is anything to scoff at. The RT-AC86U is still a phenomenal router that is among the best for lag free experience.
The interface for controlling things like parental controls on the system is incredibly intuitive and powerful, which makes actually setting the router up far more fluid than most other devices.
The antenna design of the device also makes it so that you can send the wifi signal all throughout your home. It’s got some of the best range that I’ve ever seen on a gaming router, even when compared to those that cost far more than it.
The router itself comes with four ports; just be aware that these aren’t gigabit ethernet. It also comes with one WAN, one USB 2.0 port, and one USB 3.0 port.
If you haven’t got the kind of budget that puts a Nighthawk within reach, then a cheap Asus like this one is going to be one of the fastest high end gaming routers available to you.
Pros and Cons
- Great price compared to a lot of other gaming routers.
- A well put together interface that makes navigating the settings easy.
- Plenty of gaming related features, including geo gaming traffic control.
- Only one USB 3.0 port.
- Has lower speeds than some other gaming router models.
TP-Link Archer C5400x
TP-Link finishes off the holy trinity of gaming quality of service internet Wi Fi manufacturers.
TP-Link actually tends to fall behind the other two brands a lot of the time when looking at the likes of tri band router models, Wi Fi 6 router units, dual band options, and the other stuff you’re going to be looking for.
However, every so often, the brand comes out with a killer router that easily becomes one of the best on the market at the time. That’s the case with the TP-Link Archer C5400x.
Before you jump headfirst into the purchase page, though, steel yourself for the price. It’s a fair bit more than the Nighthawk that we’ve already talked about, but the TP-Link Archer easily outperforms that router in almost every tangible category.
Not only does the TP-Link Archer C5400 have speeds that can easily compete with the bigger names, but the router is actually smart home compatible with Alexa. That’s more than what can be said for pretty much every other gaming router that’s popular right now.
The setup and application of the router are remarkably simple. It’s like a hybrid between a gaming router and a standard one. It has the features that you would expect of something high end without any of the technical hassles that normally comes with that.
It comes with four gigabit LAN ports, one WAN port, one USB 2.0 port, and one USB 3.0 port.
Pros and Cons
- It’s one of the best tri band router models on the market today.
- It has Alexa integration that makes controlling it easy.
- It has incredible speeds compared to even some of the best gaming routers.
- It’s easy to set up your network link aggregation.
- It has plenty of features, including parental controls.
- An overall very high performing tri band unit.
- It only has one USB 3.0 port.
- It’s a pretty expensive model that is outperformed by units at that same price point.
Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600
Rather than only including the major players on this list, we’ve decided to give this last entry spot to a manufacturer that is not as well known in the gigabit ethernet gaming space.
Zyxel is rarely in the same conversation as the likes of dual core, 5ghz band, Wi Fi 5 Nighthawk, and Asus routers. However, the Armor Z2 AC2600 is well worth a mention.
It clocks in with a speed of 2,167mbps, which is a higher speed than even the TP-Link Archer could boast of.
It also happens to give you that speed for a fraction of the cost associated with some of the bigger brands.
The router itself is equipped with some of the latest mu mimo functionality, which boosts the speed of the gaming router when several devices are connected to it.
Even the best modern gaming routers tend to lack on the mu mimo front, so seeing mu mimo integration done so well here is a testament to the quality of this gaming router.
It also happens to come with exceptional traffic analysis software, which is in theme with the router’s ability to prioritize bandwidth based on the need of each connection.
The box itself has a few ports on it, including four gigabit ethernet ports, one WAN, one USB 2.0, and one USB 3.0.
Pros and Cons
- Despite being a smaller brand, it shares the best performance for a gaming wireless router at this price with a lot of the greats.
- It has great Wi Fi speeds.
- It clocks in at a great price.
- The mu mimo functionality is great.
- There’s not much to not love about this router truth be told.
The last router on the list is a bit different from the others we’ve talked about but worthy of a spot all the same.
It has plenty of functionality outside of being strictly for gaming, which is why it gets an honorary mention here.
It’s got a cheap price but delivers well for all-round performance rather than focusing solely on the gaming aspect of your internet.
It’s got good speeds, plenty of ports, and a good looking design that is distinctly unique compared to a lot of other routers.
Pros and Cons
- Good speeds.
- Unique design.
- Strictly for gaming.
Now, which router do I think is the definitive best? The Nighthawk.
There’s a reason that Netgear is rated so highly, and Nighthawk routers have become something of a meme in certain circles because of how well the device performs.
The speeds and functionality of the routers are just unmatched. There’s no line of devices that can outperform the Nighthawks in terms of raw broadband speed.
If you’re looking for the best that the market has to offer, that’s going to be the router you want to chase.