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.
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.
Best Router for Gaming in 2019
|Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now|
|D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router||Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300||Asus RT-AC3200 Tri-Band Router||D-Link EXO AC1900 Router||TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 Wireless Router|
|Rank||#1 - Editor's Choice||#2 - Best Signal Strength||#3 - Best for Long-Range Gaming||#4 - Best for Lag-Free Gaming||#5 - Best Budget Choice|
|Full Review||D-Link AC3200 Review||Netgear Nighthawk X8 Review||N/A||Read Full Review||TP-Link Archer C9 Review|
|WiFi Types||802.11b/g/a, 802.11n (2.4 GHz only), 802.11ac||802.11 b/g/n/ac||802.11n (2.4+5 GHz Dualband), |
802.11n (2.4+5 GHz Dualband)
|802.11 b/g/n/ac||802.11 b/g/n/ac|
|Ports||4 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0||6 Ethernet, 1 WAN, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0||4 Ethernet, 1 WAN,|
1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0
|4 Ethernet, 1 WAN||4 Ethernet, 1 WAN|
|WPS Setup & Security|
#1 Pick D-Link AC3200
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 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.
#2 Pick Netgear X8 Nighthawk AC5300
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Netgear X8 handles fiber optic performance – for a price.
Netgear’s Nighthawk line of routers have 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 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.
#3 Pick ASUS RT-3200
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.
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.
#4 Pick D-Link EXO 1900AC
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.
#5 Pick TP-Link Archer C9
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 because 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.
Key Factors and Features to a Good Gaming Router
- When shopping for a wireless router made strictly for the purpose of gaming, you’ll want to keep an eye out for features and antenna layouts that lend themselves to the greatest range possible.
- Wireless gaming often happens on a desktop or console, two machines that may live on opposite ends of the house (living room/office/bedroom).
- To compensate, you’ll want a router that can live next to the ISP jack (cable, DSL, or fiber), but also provide an even, strong signal to all the devices connecting to it no matter where they are in your home.
- “Isn’t this the same as range?”, you might be asking yourself right now.
- Not quite. When we talk about the “strength” of a signal, we’re really digging into how well it performs in different connection scenarios and home layouts.
- All of the routers on this list have tested out of their category when it comes to signal strength. This means that when it comes to online gaming, you’ll see the lowest amount of ping spikes.
- While Linksys’ Smart Wi-Fi system continues to reign as the gold standard in this category, other options like Netgear’s Genie and the TP-Link mobile app are quickly tightening up their software implementations to include all the options you’ll need to make sure you’re getting the best gaming performance possible at all hours of the day.
- Media prioritization is a big feature to keep an eye out for, as it will allow you to put your games ahead in the queue in front of other bandwidth-heavy activities like Netflix streaming, Spotify, or Pandora.
- Consoles are especially vulnerable to settings like whether or not your NAT is open or closed, resulting in longer wait times to be matched up in multiplayer teams in games like Halo and Call of Duty.
- If you’re buying a gaming router in 2019, no matter if it’s the cheapest or the most expensive, you should never settle for anything less than the “802.11ac” transmission standard.
- Avoid “wireless n” routers if you can. Even though they’re still somewhat new, it’s better to future-proof your next router purchase whenever possible.
- Without getting too technical, the numbers you see after the AC (i.e.- AC3200, AC1900, etc) denote how fast the router will max out at in ideal situations.
- More often than not you won’t be able to push past around AC1900, unless you had a fiber line recently installed in your neighborhood.
- That said, it’s always a good idea to future-proof yourself as much as possible, so if you can spring for a model above AC1900, go for it with gusto.
- When we’re talking about the cost of a gaming router, it’s hard to ignore the elephant in the room: they can be expensive.
- Even so, there are still a few budget options (the EXO and C9) which will get the job done if you’re not trying to spend an arm and a leg on wireless equipment and don’t have a ton of obstacles in the way between the router and where you plan on gaming the most often.
- More expensive doesn’t always mean better for gaming, so be sure to run through all the features you plan on using the most first, and making your final selection from there.
Mistakes to Avoid
More Antennas ≠ More Power: A big mistake that a lot of first time gaming router buyers make is automatically assuming that more antennas equates 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 are able to 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.
Which Gaming Router is Right For You
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.
Read More: Best Routers Overall 2019