Home > Gaming Routers
Last Updated: May 30, 2023
You can build the best gaming PC build on the planet, but if you play online and experience lag it's a waste. Few things in modern life is more frustrating than slow, unreliable internet, and especially so as a gamer. Losing that hard-fought winning streak in your game of choice due to a connection slowdown could be caused by various factors, but a bad router may very well be the culprit (especially if it's old). But when you do decide it's time to upgrade to the best gaming router you can afford, it's easy to get lost in the vast sea of oftentimes-confusing models and specs.
Routers are notoriously confusing beasts to buy, and choosing the right model for your needs and budget can be a frustrating lesson in patience if you don't know what to look for and what the specs mean. If you're not that tech savvy, as you browse the endless range of different (and oftentimes confusingly-similar) types of routers on the market it's not uncommon to have 100 million billion questions swirling in your head such as:
Then there's the sometimes straight-up complicated specs and features that wireless products are notorious for. For example, the speed of a router (AC1900 for example) is a bit misleading, as it represents the total combined speed of all the router's bands (and not the maximum speed you could actually get on a single band which is what actually matters).
But buying the best router for your needs doesn't have to be hard if you simply put in a little time upfront to understand the basics of what to look for in a good gaming router and what the important specs mean (and whether they apply to you; not all specs are as crucial as one another).
In this comprehensive yet simplified beginner-friendly guide we'll cover ALL of the above in plain English, along with everything else you'd ever need to know about these strange, alien devices, so you can hopefully more easily and confidently choose the right one for your budget and needs and get back to fragging friends and foes sooner rather than later with your new faster, stronger, more-stable connection.
As well as explaining the features that matter and what to look for in the best router for gaming minus the marketing hype, we list our carefully-selected picks of the current best gaming routers in 2023 in different price points that would make a safe-bet buy as a gamer this year.
See Also: The Best Modem Router Combos
If you're strapped for time and just want to know the best WiFi 6 gaming routers right now here we'll cover our top recommended models for 2023 first before diving into what the specs mean. These recommendations are simply my own humble opinion on what the best router for gaming is for different budgets/uses after extensively and objectively analyzing and comparing all the top gaming routers out there on the market (as well as studying professional and amateur reviews carefully) and narrowing it down to my top favorites that I can comfortably recommend to gamers and power users wanting a top quality, reliable router.
Your router is an important investment not just for gaming but for all other online experiences, and is a device that ideally will last you years and years. Therefore, don't just buy the first router you see and think through which model you need for your particular home needs, and don't just take my word for it and do your own research as to whether or not one of the top recommended gaming routers below is suited for your particular home/office and your needs.
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|Model:||ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AXE16000||TP-Link Archer GX90 AX6600||Netgear Nighthawk 6-Stream AX5400 RAX50||ASUS RT-AX55 AX1800|
||WiFi 6E (802.11ax)||WiFi 6 (802.11ax)||WiFi 6 (802.11ax)||WiFi 6 (802.11ax)|
||Up to 16000 Mbps||Up to 6579 Mbps||Up to 5400 Mbps||Up to 1800 Mbps|
||2 GHz Quad Core||1.5 GHz Quad Core||1.5 GHz Tri Core||1.5 GHz Quad Core|
||1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1
1 x USB 2.0
|1× USB 3.0
1× USB 2.0
|1 x USB 3.0||-|
|Honorable Mentions||TP-Link AXE16000||
ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000
ASUS RT-AX88U Pro AX6000
ASUS RT-AX86U Pro AX5700
TP-Link Archer AX6000
Netgear R6700AX AX1800
TP-Link Archer AX55 AX3000
Are gaming routers worth the extra money? Is a gaming router actually different than a normal router? Very fair questions, because it is true in the gaming world that certain products/accessories/gear are marketed as special "gaming" products and take advantage of those who don't know any better by slapping the term "gaming" in the model, over-exaggerating benefits that any standard model would probably cover anyway, perhaps adding nicer aesthetics, and charging a premium. Because, well...gaming! But with routers, there is such a thing as a gaming router, which can indeed be different than a standard, traditional router that's not designed for gaming.
The main difference between a gaming router and normal router? Features that prioritize gaming traffic. In other words: Quality of Service (QoS) tools/utilities, of which there are different types that vary from router to router, but the best gaming routers include QoS features designed specifically for online gaming.
What these QoS features do is give you more control over your wireless traffic, and they focus on sending your gaming data exactly where it needs to go and gives it priority over other types of traffic in your network. Other non-gaming routers can have QoS features too, but they're not specifically designed to prioritize gaming traffic, which the top gaming routers on the market do very well.
By prioritizng your gaming traffic you ensure the fastest performance and lowest latency during gameplay, and is most helpful when other devices are on your network at the same time as you're gaming. You don't want a family member or friend who's watching say a 4K video on YouTube to interrupt your gaming session now do you?
Besides QoS features that prioritize gaming traffic, gaming routers also usually boast other additional features that may not be found in a normal router such as:
Perhaps, but like most things in life; it depends. Serious gamers who want to fully maximize their online gaming connection and minimize ping/latency and dropouts, and who are willing to invest a bit more money to achieve that, may very well be able to justify buying one of the best routers for gaming on the market.
If your current setup is average at best, once you use a high-performance gaming router you'll never want to go back to a cheap router ever again. Kinda like going from 1080p to 1440p resolution, or from 60Hz to 144Hz refresh rate - taking a humble step back from those upgrades is a near-impossible feat for a mere mortal human. First world problems.
One of the first decisions to make when choosing the best router for gaming is whether to buy a dual-band or tri-band router, which are the two most common types (don't ever get anything less than a dual-band model in 2023). Most of the very best gaming routers are tri-band, and tri-band models are typically more expensive, but do you really need a tri-band router for gaming? No, but they can be real handy depending on your home usage. Let's discuss, but first let's look at the difference dual vs tri band routers.
A dual band router can project its WiFi signal using two different radio frequencies, either one at a time if you're just using one band, or both simultaneously if you're using multiple devices at the same time. It'll send the signal using either a 2.4GHz radio frequency or a 5GHz frequency.
The 2.4GHz band is the longer-range frequency, but at a speed cost, while the 5Ghz band allows for much faster speeds but only within shorter ranges. A tri band router also uses the 2.4GHz frequency for one of its bands, but it also uses an additional 5GHz band making for a total of 2 available 5GHz bands that you can use at the same time. Also note that some tri-band routers will use the rarer 60GHz frequency as its third band instead of a second 5GHz band.
If you don't use many devices in your home or office setup, either a dual or tri band router will do. But if you have a ton of devices being used at the same time, the extra band of a tri-band model could come in handy as it allows you to spread the wireless signal more evenly across the 3 bands, as well as being able to allocate an entire 5GHz band for gaming only.
For example, you could password-protect one of the 5GHz bands for gaming use only, and use the other 2 bands for all other internet usage. This means that if someone else on your network decides to stream some 4K video whilst you're in the middle of a firefight, your connection won't be affected. Good tri-band gaming routers are typically more expensive than dual-band models, but not always as there are some really high-end and high-quality dual-band models as not everyone needs so many bands.
What is latency? Also known as ping, the latency of an internet connection measures the time it takes a signal to transmit from your PC or console to the game server (or the other way around: from your game server to computer). The lower the latency the better, as higher ping can introduce some lag.
Upgrading to a good router may help to lower your latency/ping, but it depends on how much of an upgrade it is over your current setup, but when it comes to getting low latency there are other factors at play besides your router such as your ISP, location, the particular game server, etc. But in general, if you're using an old or lower-quality router and having latency/ping issues, buying a new gaming router definitely has the potential to improve latency (ie reduce it).
Mesh router systems have been around for a long time for commercial use, it's only recently that they've been popping up in the conversion for home networking. They're similar to using a standard router coupled with a WiFi range extender, but instead of using an extender you actually buy and setup 2-3 routers that you "mesh" together using software for a very far-reaching network that can effectively cover a large area (and avoid deadspots).
We suggest a normal gaming router for most people, but if you have a very large space to cover, or you have a unique layout where deadspots in your WiFi coverage may occur such as in a lower-level basement or on the third floor of a townhouse, a mesh router/system may be worth it.
The thing with mesh routers though is that they don't include the special gaming-priority features that a good standard gaming router has, however all-new mesh systems are starting to break that mould such as the Asus AiMesh AX6100 mesh router which includes adaptive QoS tools like some of the best WiFi 6 gaming routers out there.
Choosing one of the best wireless routers for gaming means you'll have plenty of LAN ports to connect multiple computers as the top models will always come with 4 ports or more, although even a decent cheap gaming router may have 4 or 5 ports these days. The very best WiFi 6 gaming routers will have 6 or even 8 LAN ports, but you may not need so many unless you have a fair few devices you want to connect via a cable or you're hosting small to medium LAN parties. If you ever need more ports though, you can always buy and hook up a network switch/hub.
On the hunt for the best router for gaming, MU-MIMO is a must-have feature if you use multiple devices simultaneously. Short for "Multi User, Multi Input, Multi Output", if a router has support for MU-MIMO that means it can communicate with multiple devices on the network at the same time without devices having to wait in line which is what devices without MU-MIMO have to do (called SU-MIMO devices, with the SU standing for Single User). It's not necessary for gaming, but crucial to look for in your router if you're a serious gamer.
Routers, especially the top gaming routers, come with their own built-in processor to help with processing and streamlining of the tasks/calculations it needs to perform. For example, the router's processor runs the OS (router's have an operating system), tracks and sends packets it receives from the internet to your devices, and more.
The best routers for gaming will have a decent dual-core or even quad-core CPU that could even make someone's desktop gaming CPU look slow in comparison. What CPU do you need for your router? Well, the more devices on your network the more you're going to benefit from a router with a fast CPU, but if you spend a decent amount on a good gaming router chances are it's going to have a decent CPU.
No, but it definitely helps, and you'll find that most if not all the best routers for gaming as of 2023 use beamforming as standard. What is beamforming in a router? In a nutshell, it's a special feature that routers use to detect where your particular devices are located around the home relative to the router, so that it can narrow/funnel the best signal towards that location.
The USB connections on your router are to conveniently share your printers, files and media to other devices on your network. Most good routers will have one or two USB ports, with the top models having USB 3 support for faster transfer speeds (but using a USB 2 port for this isn't the end of the world).
VPN software is quite important in this day and age and will improve the security and privacy of your PC when online. There are also benefits to using VPNs for gaming.
There's lots of VPNs out there but the ones I recommend most to gamers is ExpressVPN (special link that gets you 3 months off. they also offer a free trial here) and NordVPN which are both highly rated gaming VPNs because they're the fastest and most secure.
Indie game dev currently working on my first public release after years of hobby projects, a story-driven VR FPS built with Unreal Engine (to be announced soon here for anyone into VR FPS's). Also likes writing about tech, which also helps fund development of the game.
My favs of all time are OOT, Perfect Dark, MGS1, MGS2, GE007, DKC2, THPS3, HL1, and HL2, with the most recent addition to my list of immortals being the VR masterpiece Alyx. If you want help with a new build feel free to ask on the main PC builds guide. If you found the site extra helpful and wish to support the work I do here, sharing an article with a friend helps a lot and is much appreciated. - Julz