The Best Routers for Gaming in 2020

best routers for gaming
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Are you in dire need of a great router to support your high-speed gaming habit? You’ve come to the right place, as we discovered many solutions — especially in our reviews — that are dedicated and well-suited for various gaming applications. For your consideration, we list six of the best routers for gaming you can buy right now.

Our current favorite is Netgear’s Nighthawk XR500, a powerful router built specifically for gamers. But it’s not alone on our list. We offer five other candidates for the dorm, highly-populated areas, and more.

If you’re more concerned about overall Wi-Fi speeds than gaming, check out our guide to the best wireless routers.

At a glance

Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500

The best

Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500

Netgear designed the XR500 for optimal gaming on a wireless network. This AC2600-class router supports speeds of up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1,733Mbps on the 5GHz band. To reach those maximum speeds, you’ll need a device that supports four streams (4×4).

The XR500 includes a 1.7 GHz processor and four Gigabit Ethernet ports. It prioritizes gaming connections, optimizes connections for low-ping gaming on more twitchy shooters, and helps you connect with a gaming VPN for additional security or regional options. And that’s just the beginning!

The XR500 allows for more direction customization and connection monitoring. You can choose even more options like geo-filtering to pick your favorite servers (where the VPN comes in handy again), and app options to monitor your ping and network status in real-time, device by device. This is great if you like manual optimization, though not all gamers may get the most out of these in-depth features.

The XR700 is a newer and better model, but at almost twice the price, it’s only really worth it for those with deep pockets.

TP-Link Archer C5400X

The best MU-MIMO gaming router

TP-Link Archer C5400X

The powerful tri-band router is easily one of the best MU-MIMO routers we’ve seen. MU-MIMO allows routers to communicate with devices simultaneously (multiple users) rather than sequentially as seen with older MIMO-based routers. This greatly improves apparent speed and connection dependability, ideal for mobile gamers — especially if there’s more than one in the house.

TP-Link’s Archer C5400X is an AC5400-class router promising speeds up to 1,000Mbps on the 2.4GHz band (4×4) and up to 2,187Mbps on the 5GHz band (4×4). What’s notable here is that it offers a second 5GHz connection, thus you can dedicate it to gaming while the other two 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands serve the network’s non-gaming devices.

This router features a quad-core processor clocked at 1.8GHz, three co-processors, 1GB of system memory and 128MB of storage. It includes eight Gigabit Ethernet ports – two of which you can configure for link aggregation – along with a Gigabit WAN port and two USB-A ports (5Gbps).

TP-Link’s router includes built-in OpenVPN support along with VPN acceleration that promises a 5x increase in VPN-based speed. You’ll also find HomeCare, a family-focused platform in the backend providing parental controls, QoS, and built-in antivirus. This router supports Amazon Alexa’s voice commands too.

Asus RT-AX88U Dual-band Router

The best gaming router for busy places

Asus RT-AX88U Dual-band Router

The dual-band RT-AX88U offers cutting-edge speeds of up to 1,000Mbps on the 2.4GHz band (4×4) and up to 4,333Mbps on the 5GHz band (4×4). It’s powered by a quad-core processor clocked at 1.8GHz backed by 1GB of system memory and 256GB of storage. It includes eight Gigabit LAN ports, one Gigabit WAN port, and two USB-A ports (5Gbps).

This WiFi 6 router is compatible with Aimesh, which allows you to pair it with other compatible Asus routers for whole-home coverage. You also get a lifetime of AiProtection via Trend Micro that blocks any noted threats from your network. Adaptive QoS prioritizes game data for the smoothest gameplay possible. Wtfast determines the shortest path between you and the game server for a lower ping.

All the latest features mean this router costs more than many on our list. But it’s also an excellent long-term router for busy places and gaming parties. You’ll also be at ease knowing this router is ready for new technologies for years to come.

Zyxel Armor Z2

The top affordable router

Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600

Zyxel’s Armor X2 is an AC2600-class router offering speeds of up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band (4×4) and up to 1,733Mbps on the 5GHz band (4×4). Under the hood, it’s powered by a dual-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz along with 512MB of system memory and 4GB of storage. It includes one Gigabit WAN port, four Gigabit LAN ports, a USB-A port at 5Gbps and an older USB-A port at 480Mbps.

Zyxel’s router targets “power users” requiring speed and reliability for smooth gaming and 4K content streaming. It uses MU-MIMO and beamforming technology to concentrate your Wi-Fi signals. It’s also based on Qualcomm’s StreamBoost technology, which is a step up from the typical QoS by analyzing all applications accessing the network and assigning their bandwidth accordingly.

While this router isn’t quite as feature-packed as other solutions on our list, there’s plenty for the price. It offers Denial of Service protection, remote management through Zyxel’s cloud, easy photo backups using a connected USB device, an easy-to-remember backend address, and more. Plus — and this may be particularly important if you’re on a budget — it’s not as expensive as many other high-end routers.

TP-Link Archer C9

The best dorm model

TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900

This AC1900-class model offers a different sort of solution. TP-Link suggests that you use the 5GHz band for clear, lag-free online gaming while reserving the 2.4GHz band for your other wireless connections. It reaches up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band (3×3) and up to 1,300Mbps on the 5Ghz band (3×3).

Despite its size, this router offers four Gigabit LAN ports, one Gigabit WAN port, one USB-A port at 5Gbps and another USB-A port at a slower 480Mbps. It supports storage and media sharing while providing integrated FTP and media servers. Beamforming technology and parental controls round out this elegant little router.

Overall, TP-Link’s Archer C9 is ideal for setting up wireless networks in dorms and small apartments. TP-Link also sells larger, sturdier versions of this model if your lifestyle is somewhat more permanent.

Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700

The best high-end gaming router

Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700

The Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 is Netgear’s top-of-the-line AD7200-class router. It supports up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band (4×4), up to 1,733Mbps on the 5GHz band (4×4), and up to 4,600Mbps on the 60GHz band (4×4).

Powering this router is a quad-core processor running at 1.7GHz. It’s backed by 1GB of system memory and 512MB of storage. You’ll also find six Gigabit LAN (Ethernet) ports – two of which you can configure for link aggregation — along with a Gigabit WAN port. There’s an optical SFP+ connector too, supporting 10Gbps, which is compatible with Netgear’s Nighthawk Pro Gaming SX10 Multi-Gig Ethernet Switch. Rounding out the connectivity are two USB-A ports supporting 5Gbps data transfers.

Netduma’s DumaOS is your backend interface. You’ll see tools like Geo-Filter that serves as a server browser tool so you’re connecting to servers within a set range. Hybrid VPN allows you to route specific traffic — like browsers and email — through a secure VPN server. Device Manager lets you block or enable specific device traffic while QoS provides means to prioritize traffic.

If you don’t need AD7200 connectivity right now or simply don’t like the XR700’s hefty cost, the next step down is our current “best” pick, the excellent Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500.

Editors’ Recommendations

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