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As anyone who’s played a round of an intense multiplayer game on their PC or console can attest: speed is everything, and to be the best gamer online you need the best router for gaming in 2019. Even if you are not a gamer, the best router will improve your experience online.
But what makes a router good for gaming? Is it the number in the brand name, the coat of paint, or just how many antennas it has sticking off the side? There are a lot of different factors to consider that can separate a regular old router from a powerful gaming workhorse, and we’re going to break them all down here and now in our guide to the best gaming routers in 2019.
Price: $249.99 | Read Full Review: D-Link AC3200 Router Review | Features: AC3200 transmission, SmartConnect WiFi frequency management system
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The D-Link AC3200 has the power and performance gamers crave.
The D-Link AC3200 may have a loud, gaudy design with giant antennas that stick out on all sides, but man, can it perform. Even though it wasn’t always the fastest of the bunch in our direct download tests, when it came to pure gaming performance it was difficult to beat.
Our ping always stayed under 60ms no matter where we were in the house, even going as far as to boot up a round of League of Legends from the backyard to really see what it could do when we opened it up. Thanks to its six massive antennas and its AC3200 certification, the reliability of the signal we got over distance was second to none. No matter what we threw its way, the D-Link held up to scrutiny, which is why we’re naming it the number one best router for gaming and streaming in 2019. The best Xbox one games are demanding, so sub-par routers just don’t cut it for the serious gamer.
View on Amazon – $249.99
Price: $349.98 | Read Full Review: Netgear Nighthawk X8 Review | Features: Four high-gain antennas, AC5300 transmission
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Netgear X8 handles fiber optic performance – for a price.
Netgear’s Nighthawk line of routers has proven hugely successful for the company, and when you see the performance stats of the Nighthawk X8 it’s not hard to understand why. This is a big, bold router that takes no prisoners on the battlefield or off, and impresses with a solid performance over any range.
Whether you’re sitting next to it on the couch or connecting from two floors away, the Netgear Nighthawk X8 uses its four massive antennas to broadcast its strong signal outward in every direction. It may be a bit pricey for the average consumer at $349, but if you’re a gamer who takes their wireless connection seriously, then this is undoubtedly the wireless appliance for you.
View on Amazon – $349.98
Price: $222.67 | Features: SmartConnect connection management, ASUSWRT configuration panel
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The ASUS RT-3200 takes dashboard configuration to the next level.
ASUS may not have a ton of routers to choose from, but the few they do have can stand toe-to-toe with the best of them.
The ASUS RT-AC3200 is a mid-tier, highly reliable router with signal strength that’s reliable enough to make sure you never lose a frame during your next match of DOTA 2 online. It comes with a highly customizable set of configuration options that even allows you to create priority streams on an app-by-app basis, ensuring that your games get shoved to the front of the line when it comes time to dole out who gets the most bandwidth and when. If you like this router, you might be interested in the best routers for streaming.
Its 5GHz performance is also stellar, despite the frequency being known for dropping packets over longer distances. For all these reasons and more, it earns the number three spot on our list of the best-wired routers for gaming in 2019.
View on Amazon – $998.82
Price: $144.83 | Read Full Review: D-Link EXO 1900AC Review Features: Cheap price tag, gamer-centric stylings
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The D-Link EXO 1900AC is a router for gamers, by gamers.
The D-Link EXO 1900AC is the newest wireless router to enter this lineup, designed from the ground up for pure, unadulterated gaming performance.
Aesthetically it’s obvious the type of crowd that D-Link was targeting with this release, and thankfully its included power was more than enough to stand up to our tests in fast-paced shooters like Counter Strike as well as slow-paced strategy games like Hearthstone.
At around $145 retail, the EXO strikes a nice middle-ground between the top-of-the-line options like the Nighthawk X8 and lower-tier choices like TP-Link’s Archer C9. If you’re looking for all-out performance you might want to spend a bit more, but the value you get with the EXO for its cost also can’t be denied.
View on Amazon – $144.83
Price: $126 | Read Full Review: TP-Link Archer C9 Router Review | Features: 1.9Gbps of available bandwidth, beamforming technology for optimal signal strength
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Best budget option for gamers who want to stay under $150.
TP-Link’s Archer C9 router offers up pretty much everything you could want from a router in one easy-to-use package: simple setup, cheap price, and stellar performance.
The only reason the router doesn’t top out this list at number one is that we did notice some issues with the C9’s signal reliability over range and when transmitting between walls. That said, at just $119 the C9 also happens to be one of the cheapest routers you can buy today, gaming-centric or otherwise. If you don’t have a lot of obstacles between your gaming desktop or laptop and also don’t have a huge budget to play with, the C9 is the perfect choice for you.
View on Amazon – $126.79
More Antennas ≠ More Power: A big mistake that a lot of first-time gaming router buyers make is automatically assuming that more antennas equate to more power. While more antennas are always good, this shouldn’t be the only metric you use to measure whether or not a router is right for you. Both the C9 and the EXO only sport a measly four antennas (compared to most other models which have six), yet still scored the highest on our speed tests. Remember: it’s not about how it looks, it’s about how it performs.
Buying Features You Don’t Need: Unless you live in a mansion, all of the routers on this list will give you the range you need to have solid gaming performance from any corner of your home. Whether it’s on the 2.4GHz or 5GHz transmission spectrum, modern routers can reach at least 20ft away from the base station with multiple walls in the way without losing much signal (if any at all), so don’t fall for marketing speak that promises “Xtreme to the MAX gaming performance” for an increased price when a standard router for a reasonable cost will perform just the same in apartments or larger homes.
If you’ve been dropping matches to “lag” or think you could have made that last headshot if your wireless was just a little bit faster, then it might be time for you to look up the best gaming routers in 2019.
If you don’t have a ton of cash to spend but still want to frag to your heart’s content, both the TP-Link Archer C9 and Netgear EXO 1900AC offer performance at a cost that won’t punch your wallet in the mouth. If price isn’t an issue and you live in a bigger house, however, the Netgear Nighthawk X8 and D-Link AC3200 offer solid signal reliability at any range under any conditions.
Talk to a gaming purist and they’ll tell you that “wired is the only way to go”, but with so many advancements in the field of wireless technology in the past few years, it’s not hard to see what makes these picks some of the best routers for gaming you’re going to find on shelves today.