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Make Your Wireless Network Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

9 min read
We've all been there, the pulse-pounding moment when we're about to make a genius play in our favorite online game when a half-second lag spike sees us fail miserably. Or perhaps it's when we queue up for a competitive match only to have a sudden dip in our internet connection drop us from the game…
Make Your Wireless Network Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

We’ve all been there, the pulse-pounding moment when we’re about to make a genius play in our favorite online game when a half-second lag spike sees us fail miserably. Or perhaps it’s when we queue up for a competitive match only to have a sudden dip in our internet connection drop us from the game three seconds after the match starts. Worse still when the whole time gaming is cursed by intermittent lag spikes that make the game a jerky mess. While some of these issues will be out of our hands (and likely in the hands of our internet service providers), some of these problems can stem from our routers. So, it’s imperative to make sure you’ve got a rock-solid router for gaming if you want to get competitive online.Relying on the old router you’ve had lying around for the better part of the last decade is like playing with fire. Unless you’re connecting your gaming PC and consoles over a wired connection, you might be working with an outdated Wi-Fi standard (like Wi-Fi 4, also known as 802.11n). Older routers may also lack advanced features to prioritize your gaming traffic, which can leave you susceptible to lag spikes when other devices are on the network. A good gaming router can help you get around these obstacles by not only providing plenty of ethernet ports for fast and stable speed but also by delivering fast Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) or even Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) connections. Some even offer three wireless bands, letting you dedicate an entire band to your gaming platforms if you want, so they won’t compete with every phone and smart home gadget trying to communicate with the router.We’ll help you find the right gaming router with our picks below, which offer solid connectivity and top-notch gaming features.TL;DR – These are the Best Router for Gaming:

1. Netgear Nighthawk X6S
Best Router for GamingOur PickNetgear Nighthawk X6S

The tri-band version of the fabled Nighthawk router (read our review) doesn’t really bring anything new to the table in terms of features as it’s a pretty standard Wave 2 80211.AC router, but it’s fast, reliable, and easy to use, and you can’t ask for much more in a router. We love its sleek design, flip-out antennas, and excellent performance.
As far as features go it offers DLNA support, port aggregation if you want to deploy it in a SOHO setup, and if you’ve got any MU-MIMO devices/adapters it supports that too. It’s designed for a big house with a lot of devices, however, so this is only for folks who can saturate a dual-band connection.
2. Asus RT-AX56U
Best Budget Router for Gaming
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a solid router. The Asus RT-AX56U isn’t just a compelling option at its price, it’s also one of the more affordable devices supporting the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, so you’ll be getting a device that’s prepared for the future of Wi-Fi.The Asus RT-AX56U has both a 2.4GHz and a 5GHz band, which can deliver speeds up to 574Mbps and 1,201Mbps, respectively. And, thanks to advances brought with Wi-Fi 6, the system can more effectively communicate with multiple devices at the same time. That means having a bunch of smart home devices on your network isn’t as likely to slow down your gaming connection as it might be on an older Wi-Fi 5 router. And, if you need to cover more area than a single router can muster, Asus’s AiMesh system will let you combine multiple routers (even different models) into one large wireless network.3. TP-Link AC5400 Tri-band Gaming Router
Best Tri-Band Router for GamingTP-Link AC5400 Tri-band Gaming Router

The TP-Link AC5400 isn’t just a winning router, it’s a winning router for gaming. It’s packed with performance hardware and includes special features just for gaming. The TP-Link AC5400 Tri-band Gaming Router users 802.11ac wireless, with one band dedicated to 2.4GHz and two bands for 5GHz. Those higher bands can deliver up to 2,167Mbps. It can even prioritize your gaming connection.Beyond its wireless connections, enhanced by eight antennas, this router is built for even more speed from its LAN ports. It features eight LAN ports for up to Gigabit speeds. But, with link aggregation, you can combine two LAN ports to double up on transfer speeds between the computer and router. Whether you’re gaming online or trying out cloud gaming, this router is ready for you.4. Netgear Nighthawk XR500 Pro
Best Dual-Band Router for GamingNetgear Nighthawk XR500 Pro Gaming Router

The Nighthawk XR 500 (read our review) is the company’s first router explicitly designed for gaming, and it has the best interface we’ve ever used on a router care of DumaOS. Its primary purpose is to reduce connections to faraway servers when using a matchmaking service in a game like Call of Duty, so you can tell the router to refuse connections that are further away than any user-specified distance.It will also show you ping times to various servers even if the games themselves won’t. Plus it’s one of the faster routers we’ve tested, looks really cool, and has all the features we expect from a top-shelf router such as MU-MIMO and Quality of Service. If you’re doing any online gaming via console, it’s easily the best router you can buy.5. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000
Best Wi-Fi 6 Router for GamingAsus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000

Wi-Fi 6-ready devices aren’t quite here yet, but it never hurts to be prepared. While the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 was built for the next-gen wireless protocol, it’s fully equipped to tackle anything and everything online gaming can throw at it today.It offers maximum data transfer speeds of 11Gbps over a tri-band frequency. For gaming specifically, users can dedicate one band to gaming to avoid interference from other connected devices in their home.6. Netgear Orbi RBK752
Best Wi-Fi Mesh System for Gaming
If you’re trying to ensure multiple devices all around your home are connected with fast internet for gaming, a mesh system may be your best bet. The Netgear Orbi RBK752 is a strong system that offers a main router and a high-speed node. The two units both feature tri-band Wi-Fi, letting them effectively create two dual-band networks in your house (though they operate as a single network), while relying on their extra 5GHz connection to ensure the link between the routers is also blazing fast.These devices support Wi-Fi 6 for the latest and greatest in connectivity on supported devices, and they have multiple Ethernet ports on both the router and node, letting you go for a wired connection on devices that can benefit from the more consistent connection, like gaming PCs and consoles. Between the router and node, you can create an expansive wireless network to ensure no device suffers from a slow, weak signal in your home.7. Linksys WRT AC3200
Best Open-Source Gaming Router

The Linksys WRT3200ACM (read our review) is a dual-band gaming router that really wants you to use an open-source firmware on it, hence the WRT in its name. Of course, you can run open-source firmware on a lot of gaming routers these days, so the WRT 3200ACM isn’t that unique, but it’s still a cool feature for power users.It was almost our top pick but lost out by a razor-thin margin to the Netgear gaming router because it wasn’t quite as fast in our tests, and also because to achieve its rated speed of AC3200 you’ll need special hardware. It’s still a very strong package though with fast 5G performance and superb software on both desktop and mobile.8. Asus AC3100
Fastest Dual-Band Gaming Router at 2.4GHz

This is Asus’ top-shelf dual-band gaming router (read our review), and thanks to a bit of fancy tech baked in named NitroQAM it can offer up to 25 percent more bandwidth than other AC1900 routers when using a compatible adapter. In our tests, its 5GHz band delivered decent throughput but it landed about mid-pack amongst the routers we tested.On the 2.4GHz band, however, it was the fastest of all the gaming routers by a wide margin. It also boasts the ability to prioritize devices as well as types of traffic and has extremely slick software for both desktop and mobile, making it an excellent and well-rounded gaming router for anyone.What to Look for in a Gaming RouterWhile you’re shopping for a gaming router, you should be on the look out for which version of Wi-Fi it supports. The main two you’ll want to look our for are Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) as they deliver the fastest wireless speeds currently available. During your search for a gaming router, you’ll undoubtedly come across units designed for Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) that look very attractive thanks to their low prices, but you should avoid this siren’s call. Wi-Fi 4 is an outdated standard that provides fairly slow speeds compared its two more modern renditions.You’ll also want to find a gaming router that is at least dual-band. Single-band routers only support the 2.4GHz band, which is fine enough for web browsing and downloading most files, but dual-band routers add a second 5.0GHz channel that provides much faster wireless speeds. You’ll also find Tri-Band routers—and we’ve featured a number of them above as well—that feature an additional 5GHz band you can completely dedicate to gaming.Getting the Most Out of Your Gaming RouterBe aware, just having a gaming router doesn’t mean you’re going to automatically get the best home network instantly. You still should follow a number of best practices for optimizing your home network. Don’t try tucking your router out of the way in a closet at the bottom of a shelf, as that’s the quickest way to ensure you won’t get the full performance out of it.Your router should be placed somewhere central in your living space, ideally high up, and it shouldn’t have many obstacles in the way (i.e., don’t put it behind your TV). Everything in the path from your router to your connected devices will impact the signal and thus the quality of your connection.You can also help out your wireless devices by using a wired Ethernet connection wherever possible. Limiting the number of devices connected to your Wi-Fi at a time can help ensure each device gets better performance.Securing your wireless router is also important not just for security but also for your performance. Sure you don’t want potentially malicious users accessing your home network, but you also don’t want your neighbors piggybacking onto your network, as they’ll eat into your bandwidth and potentially drag down your network performance. Use a strong password and consider disabling any guest networks. You might even consider not broadcasting your network ID, which makes it far less likely someone will access your network with the tradeoff that setting up new devices can be a little more time consuming.More Expert Tech Roundups
Josh Norem is IGN’s Executive Editor for Tech. When he’s not upgrading his PC he’s trying to get his foster kittens adoptedKevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspamMark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0MarkRead More

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