BEST GAMING ROUTER

When setting up your home network, first consideration should be given to finding the best gaming router you can. After all, it is at the center of everything. A good router contains both multiple LAN ports for wired connections, and the ability to send out a wireless signal. The current standard for Wi-Fi is 802.11ax, also known as Wi-Fi 6, which promises higher data throughput, and also a higher efficiency at transferring data.

There are many gaming routers on the market, and most will be able to connect a user’s multiple devices. Gaming routers often get adorned with fancy stripes, and colorful LEDs, with multiple antennas, but this is really just window dressing. The real advantage of the best gaming routers lie not in the external adornments, but rather in the Quality of Service (QoS), which is the ability to prioritize traffic to your gaming PC for a better gaming experience, and avoids the annoying lag that occurs when a game bogs down if the network gets saturated with streaming media traffic or downloads.

With the significant advances made with today’s routers, compared to their older counterparts, if your current router is starting to show its age, then these are some great choices for an upgrade.

Best gaming router 2019

Asus RT-AX88U

Asus RT-AX88U

(Image credit: Asus)

1. Asus RT-AX88U

The best gaming router of 2019

Speed: AX6000 | LAN Ports: 8 | Antennas: 4 | Processor: Quad-core 1.8GHz | Dimensions: 4.65 x 2.91 x 1.3 in | Weight: 6.76 lb (801 g)

802.11ax tech feels next-gen
Fantastic adaptive QoS
Great 5GHz speeds
Expensive for a router
Average 2.4GHz speeds

The Asus RT-AX88U is the best choice for a higher end router. It features next generation 802.11ax technology, and an impressive 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports, which even supports link aggregation. Backing this up is the usual excellent AsusWRT interface, which allows granular control of every imaginable setting. There is also class leading Adaptive QoS, along with Trend Micro antivirus and the WTFast GPN—all with subscriptions included for the lifetime of the router—which are standouts among competing routers.

While the 2.4 GHz speeds are adequate, the 5 GHz speeds are where the RT-AX88U shines. Furthermore, for gaming in a congested environment, this router outdistances the competition with the highest FPS seen to date, and a very low dropped frame rate when simultaneously streaming videos. Sure, next generation ‘Super router’ performance comes at a price of $346, but given these benchmarks, it can be easily justified.

Netgear Nighthawk XR700

Netgear Nighthawk XR700

2. Netgear Nighthawk XR700

The latest Nighthawk is a superb gaming router

Speed: AD7200 (Tri-band 4600(AD) + 1733(5GHz)+ 800(2.4GHz) Mbps wireless speed) | LAN Ports: 7 | Antennas: 4 | Processor: Quad-core 1.7GHz | Dimensions: 15.33 x 12.49 x 5.32 inch

10 Gigabit LAN SFP+ port
Port aggregation
Gaming traffic prioritization
Large size and price
Uses 802.11 ac (Wi-fi 5), not 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)

The Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 is a strong follow up to the XR500, which impressed us last year as it was the fastest router we had tested to date. Both are part of their ‘Nighthawk Pro Gaming’ networking line of products- but stay tuned as the XR700 is even faster than its predecessor.

The XR700 has plenty of the right ingredients, starting with the more fluid and organic shape, with red accents.  It then goes on to the inclusion of 1 WAN and 6 LAN ports (addressing a significant shortcoming of the XR500’s only 4 LAN ports) for enough wired connections, support for link aggregation, and even a 10 Gigabit LAN SFP+ port for ridiculous Ethernet bandwidth. Let’s just get it out of the way- with all the attention on the wireless market heading to 802.11ax/Wi-Fi 6, this XR700 uses a combination of last generation 802.11ac/Wi-Fi 5 wireless, and 802.11ad technology (that’s the 60 GHz frequency one), which unfortunately has not gone mainstream. It also supports Beamforming via 4 active antennas.

Another highlight of the XR700 is the gaming-centric Duma OS. This enables some unique features such as Geo-Filter to connect to the closest server when gaming. The XR700 also has quite granular control of the bandwidth, and can prioritize throughput by each individual device, for both the upload and download separately, and can assign a specific percentage for each device to balance the load, thereby preventing any single device from becoming a ‘Bandwidth hog.’

On our test suite, the XR700 is a strong all around performer, starting with the 2.4 GHz frequency with some of the fastest scores to date of 284.43 Mbps at close range, and 225.36 Mbps on our far test. This continued on our 5 GHz testing with strong scores of 325.31 Mbps and 331.76 Mbps at close and far ranges, respectively. The DumaOS’ exceptional QoS also came through when gaming with our network congestion test with 37.317 FPS, the second highest score to date, but also with an exceedingly low dropped framerate of 6.47% on the video streams.

The Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 is a great choice for its well rounded throughput (a significant upgrade from the XR500’s weakness), and seriously strong gaming performance. It is currently available for $490.

ASUS RT-AC68U

ASUS RT-AC68U

3. ASUS RT-AC68U

Custom firmware for power users on a budget

Speed: AC1900 | LAN Ports: 4 | Antennas: 3 | Processor: Dual-core 1GHz | Dimensions: 6.3 x 3.3 x 8.6 in (160 x 84 x 218 mm) | Weight: 1.4 lbs (635 g)

Wide firmware compatibility
FPS tests matched higher end routers  
Poor 5.0 GHz speeds

The Asus RT-AC68U features AC1900 speeds (N600/AC1300) that are fairly standard in this segment. It takes a fairly business approach to the router design, with matte black plastic in a vertical design, with three antennas that can be positioned. The router features a 3 x 3 antenna design and a dual core 1GHz processor inside, with 256 MB of RAM with 128 MB of flash memory. With wide support for custom firmware such as Merlin, Tomato, DD-WRT and OpenWrt, functionality on the RT-AC68U can be exponentially upgraded with a simple firmware flash. 

While several others have struggled on the 2.4 GHz frequency, the RT-AC68U hardly breaks a sweat. The only real problem for this otherwise capable router is that it got bested on the streaming video tests and falls short in 5 GHz performance. However, priced at $160 with support for just about every custom firmware the RT-AC68U is great for power users on a budget.

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