The Best Wireless Gaming Router
Gamers know that games like First person shooters don’t make us violent. Lag on the other hand, does.
There is nothing more frustrating than being moments away from the best shot, or the perfect strategic move or unlocking that achievement that you have been chasing for days, and then suddenly you are crippled by lag (or latency if you want to be technical) or your router drops the network and goes on strike.
What causes lag
If we get back to basics, Latency (the time interval between the stimulation and response) is influenced by the speed of your computer communicates with the server due to the internet.
So when you click to move your units, or click to fire your rifle and nothing happens for half a minute, blame the communication between your computer, the router and the server. There can also be issues with server latency but you can’t really do anything about it.
With internet latency, your router does make a real difference. In your home network the router is one of the most essential components. But gamers need routers to perform under more pressure than they would with normal home use. It will usually be under quite an intense load to deliver the game data.
A router needs to be able to handle your current performance needs, but you might upgrade your setup or need it for streaming videos and so on. If you have spend half your salary on your gaming setup you don’t want to sacrifice quality gaming due to an under performing router.
Some of you will know all of this, but it is good to know where your issues could be, if you focus on reaching the next level, not the exact specs of your router.
Why do you need a gaming router?
If you become more serious about your gaming, you will come across many gamers who swear that you should only game over a wired connection. That is really an ideal setup but many of us will not have the luxury to game plugged in all the time, or will need some flexibility in your home with the way you use your network.
In that case a good gaming router will be a something to add to your list of gaming equipment. A good router will be just as important as the graphics card, cpu and motherboard in your PC when you choose your gaming setup.
How to choose a router
When you decide to shop for a new router there are a few things to keep in mind. You need to think about what you need from it, what you are willing to pay and what type of network load it will need to handle.
What to look for in a router
First, take into consideration that gaming routers will offer many settings and features, but look for Quality of Service (QoS). This means that your gaming connection will get priority over other types of content.
This is much like a traffic cop you gives you priority if there is a lot of other traffic on the road. This will help if there are other people using bandwidth for streaming videos and so on.
You can also consider aesthetics, the way the router is designed and will look compared to the rest of your setup. There are really some nice designs available, from standard to stealth bomber.
Then you need to consider some of the technicalities. Take a look at what Wi-Fi standard the router will use. Check that the router is a newer type that uses 802.11n standard of Wi-Fi. IF you see MIMO in the description it means multiple in, multiple out. This means the data stream is divided between multiple antennas.
The next thing to consider is Wi-Fi speed. There will be many options, so think about your needs before you choose. You can also think about range, if you have a large house and you want several rooms to have connectivity that will have a major impact.
Dual Band is another element to think about, where you can connect devices either to a 2.5 Ghz or 5 Ghz band simultaneously (usually newer devices will connect to 5 GhZ).
Check the number and type of Ethernet ports the router has. If you need to connect quite a few things with wired connections and need good speeds, a router that offer multiple gigabit Ethernet ports will work for you. Take a look at 5 routers we reviewed to get an idea of what is on offer.
What are Gaming Routers?
There are many things that are designed and marketed at a specific nice market. And in the case of gamers, electronic manufacturers have not missed a beat.
There are gaming keyboards, mice, soundcards, headsets, you name it. Of course, there are also gaming routers. Many of these products really do make a real difference to your gaming experience but is the same true of routers? What are gaming routers exactly and are they worth your money?
In this piece we will cover this question, so you can ponder the more important things, like which achievement to chase next.
What is a router?
First, to know what a gaming router is you should also know what a router is and what it does. A gaming router does the same job as a regular router, but with a few differences aimed specifically at gamers.
A router extends an internet connection, usually through a Wi-Fi signal to a range of devices in your home network. It also allows gamers to share a connection so you can play with multiple users.
The internet is a packet switched network and your router determines how a packet is forwarded to a destination and it also connects networks. Basically a router is a dispatcher.
So now what is the difference? Why are some routers better suited to gaming and classified all on their own as a different set? It all has to do with the way these routers operate so you will have a smooth, lag free and stable gaming connection.
Gaming routers often have additional Gigabit Ethernet ports. This means that you will have a very fast connection (up to 1000Mbps) if you connect your gaming device directly to the router in this way. Obviously with additional ports, you can connect additional devices when you have a shared gaming session.
Quality of Service
Another thing that makes gaming routers different is Quality of Service (QoS) or some other form of traffic shaping. When your regular router receives packets from the internet, and files are syncing and downloading while you game, it simply tries to deliver the packets to the correct destination.
It does not prioritize anything. With a gaming router, the QoS function will ensure that your gaming traffic is the VIP and you won’t have to suffer through a game with slow speeds and lag because your roommate has started streaming the newest episode of this favorite series.
Dual Band Wi-Fi is another function that is available on regular routers but should be standard on all gaming routers. Dual band will be very valuable if you have many different devices that access the internet through Wi-Fi.
With a dual band router there will be a 2.5 GHz band and a 5 GHz band. If you reserve the 5 GHz band for gaming devices, you can have older devices or devices that will only browse and so on the 2.5GhZ band.
This function will not matter much if you are a single user without too many devices working online simultaneously.
Some gaming routers are designed to look like they belong to a gamer. They can have different colors and styles and can often have really awesome stylized cases. This doesn’t really do anything for performance, but perhaps you can judge a router by its cover.
If you are tired of a standard black or white plastic cover, and you have decided you want the features of a gaming router, you might consider a sleek red or silver edged router when you shop around.
A gaming router does exactly what a regular router does, and for most entry level gamers it will be fine to use a standard router. The features we mentioned above, also aren’t really exclusive to gaming routers and you will find regular routers that offer things like Dual Band and so on.
Gaming routers do have some nifty tricks like Quality of Service and additional gigabit Ethernet ports. As with most things you spend your hard earned cash on, do a little research before you buy.
There are regular routers that will suit your gaming needs just fine, depending on your setup, the type of games you play and the number of users on your network.
What is the Difference Between A Gaming Router and A Regular Router?
So you might be a noob when it comes to gaming, or you have unlocked every achievement but have done so through a regular router, and now you want to upgrade to a router that fits your gaming setup and skills.
But what exactly is the difference between a gaming router and a regular router? Is it worth the money to buy a specific gamer router? Where does gaming mode fit in? Well this piece should give you the info you need to draw the line clearly between the two.
Quality of Service
The first and most noticeable difference a gaming router will have over a regular router is Quality of Service or QoS.
This means that these routers will make the gaming packets the priority over any other traffic on your network, say the connection to the internet for browsing, or if you have other devices connected that are streaming videos and so on.
You want your game to be the priority on your router, not some background file syncing, or whatever your roommate has decided to download this time.
A Gaming router will often be designed with extra Ethernet ports. This means that you can connect more wired devices to the router for a larger wired gaming session.
If you game with a wired connection you will have a more stable connection and you will be less likely to have problems with lag or latency. Lag can be incredibly annoying, especially in fast paced games, so avoiding it is an excellent idea and a good router will also help with this.
Some normal routers will also have additional Ethernet ports and as long as they have Gigabit Ethernet is will work just as well as a gaming router for cable gaming.
There can be a noticeable difference with Wi-Fi connection stability and reliability in gaming routers. But if you use a single cable connections and don’t really need to connect many different devices, a standard router should do just fine.
But if you like to game over a wireless connection, the extra stability and more reliable Wi-Fi signal is as important as your gaming platform.
Another Wi-Fi aspect is Dual Band. This means you can transmit on two different channels at the same time, usually 2.5Ghz and 5Ghz. A router with a dual-band functionality will provide a larger network capacity.
Aesthetics and design
Some gaming routers will have a different look to a standard router and companies spend time and money to design their routers to look like they belong with a gaming setup.
There are quite a few of these examples, where the router has several antennas (which will boost range) and has slanted edges and black and red edging and lines. Most of the designers probably draw inspiration from Darth Vader’s mask or a futuristic architecture magazine.
So if looks are as important to you as speed there could be a gaming router that will fit your gaming setup design. Is it a gimmick? Probably, but it can still look pretty cool.
Some regular routers offer a gaming mode. These routers aren’t specifically designed with gamers in mind, but the router does have configuration choice for games.
It does not really influence speed but allows for more incoming connections and prioritizes your gaming device for outgoing traffic. But as a real valuable feature for gamers it does not justify you paying extra.
So do you need a specific gaming router? The answer really depends on your gaming needs, but most standard routers will handle the normal use a home network requires quite well.
If it is 802.11 a/c Wi-Fi with a good solid range and gigabit Ethernet you should be fine. Some regular routers will function just as well as a gaming router, and will often have many of the same features.
If you do have some extra cash, and you want to make sure your gaming quality is really fast, smooth and lag free, a gaming router becomes an option. Then the QoS will be very important and maybe you can get a cool looking one while you are at it.
The Fastest Router for Gaming
When you start to have issues with speed when you play games or stream videos, there are one or two things to consider. One them of course is your Internet Service Provider.
Do a speed test and check that the speed you are getting is what the ISP promises by bypassing your router. It will be no use getting a new router if the problem lies not with you, but with your ISP.
The other thing then of course, is your router. Your router is a key element in your network and will help keep your internet connection stable and fast.
Work hard play hard
When you game, you require your router to work quite hard. If you game while many other devices are also connected and different users are accessing the network, the router will work even harder.
When you do a speed test, test your internet through your router, but also bypass it to see if there is any difference. Check that your router uses the newest fastest Wi-Fi standard. This is 802.11 ac and that you have the latest firmware.
What makes for a fast router?
Many gamers prefer using a wired connection, simply because the Ethernet connection gives a stable connection that delivers speeds very close to the ceiling speed (1000Mbps usually).
With a wireless connection on the other hand, relies on a variety of factors. So if you game wirelessly you need to have a good Wi-Fi connection. This relies on the distance you are from the router, if you are right on the edge you will have a slower speed.
Obstacles can have an influence, if you connect from a different room, the wall or ceiling can cause interference. Other devices can also cause interference, say your neighbor’s router uses the same frequency, and the same frequencies can cause a slowdown in signal strength.
So when you consider a new router, also keep in mind that the ceiling speed of router and the real speed may differ. Keep in mind that your speed might be slower than anticipated due to interference or the compatibility of your devices.
The fastest router
One of the fastest routers available (if you have the cash) is the Netgear Nighthawk X8. It has 802.11n ac capability and a speed of up to 2200Mbps on 5Ghz, with 6 Ethernet ports and 4 antennas.
It has a data transfer rate of 5300Mb per second. It has tri-band functionality. Most routers aimed at gamers now have dual band functions, but this router gives you yet another band. This will really boost your speed if you have a large amount of devices connecting at the same time.
But you don’t need to break the bank to get good speeds for gaming. If you get a good router with a gigabit Ethernet port, and a good Wi-Fi speed ceiling and dual-band capability you should be able to get good enough speeds for home use and gaming without too many issues.
A good mid-range choice is the Asus AC1900 wireless router. It has dual band and a 1Ghz dual-core processor. It has 3 antennas for good range and a 1900Mbps transfer rate. It has 802.11 a/c compatibility and has an intuitive interface and has an easy set up.
It also has 5 gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. This is perfect for gaming, you have the option for a range of wired connections but also a good stable Wi-Fi connection.
Some more tips and tricks
Just to recap, there are a few tricks you can use to boost your speed. So when you buy a new router, or have issues with your existing router, consider a wired connection and testing fi there is a difference.
Take a look at your router positioning and consider an aftermarket antenna to boost your Wi-Fi signal. Check your speed from your ISP and reboot your router. Newer routers usually don’t have issues, but a quick reboot every now and then can often solve a problem.
Also keep your router updated, check your manufacturer’s website for the latest firmware. Your routers’ internal software might not have picked up the newest firmware.
How to Configure Your Router for Gaming
If you are looking for that little something extra so you can have the edge the next time you are online. Or perhaps, you need to show your friends who really has the best skills, then the setup of your router might just be that edge you need. You might have the best gaming platform but your network and router are letting you down.
In this piece we will give you some tips so you can set up your router and network specifically for gaming. So, you can avoid those ultimate gaming frustrations of lag and dropouts, with just a few tweaks to your system.
First Things First
Your gaming network functions will rely on your general network stability. What is the key to a good network you ask? Well as any gamer knows, bandwidth is really important.
It is what determines how much data can be sent via your cables or radio frequencies of your Wi-Fi. A router is the dispatcher and manages all these data packets, so it is a key part of your network.
Have you tried turning it off and on again?
This might seem a bit silly, but it is actually a good place to start before you make any new configurations. So first, reboot your cable modem and router. Next check that you have the latest firmware for your router so everything is optimized and any bugs are resolved.
Go to the source
Go to your router manufactures’ website and check if you have the latest firmware. The software that your router has built-in will not always be the most reliable way of checking this.
I have a need for speed
After you have checked the firmware and rebooted your router, connect your pc directly to the modem. Use an Ethernet cable and do a quick speed test to get an idea what speeds your internet service provider (ISP) is giving you.
This will help you ensure that if there are issues with speed what the source is, and you don’t spend time trying to fix something your ISP should be dealing with.
So what is the difference with gaming?
Usually online gaming does not use that much data. The largest use of bandwidth is actually downloading the game, new patches or maps before you enter the game itself.
Gaming itself does not use all that much data, and uses much less than streaming HD videos. So a faster internet connection does not make that much of a difference. What does matter is dedicated bandwidth.
Less is more
When you game online, unlike with streaming videos, the data for gaming comes is mall packets in the download, but also upload directions. So when you stream videos you download larger packets of data. The important thing is that these small packets of data are essential to smooth gameplay and avoiding dreaded lag.
The right router with the right hardware will make all of this go smoother anyway and for the best most stable connection wired is better.
If you already have a good router (with Quality of Service) and you are happy with your connection, speed and so on, we can move on to some finer configurations.
Quality of Service settings
Now you can go into the settings of your router. Any gaming router worth its processor should have QoS. But there are two ways this can function, either by prioritizing a device or by prioritizing an application. Go into your router settings and check what has priority.
Each router will be different so check the manual or the manufacturer website on how to do this for your router. Using the manual settings for Quality of Service can change the results and you will have to do some tests to see how well this works for you.
Traffic at the device
You have another option, and that is to shape what happens to the traffic at the devices’ level. Killer NAC hardware can help with this.
Some gaming motherboards by certain manufactures’ will already have this with software that will prioritize traffic within a hierarchy. This is QoS for your laptop or PC and can work with your router for a good connection.
So take a look at your router and pc and do a few tests, hopefully these tips will help to keep your gaming experience a good one.
A Dual Band Router for Gaming
If you are in the market for a new router, you may have seen dual band as part of the specs of many regular and gaming routers. Routers keep improving constantly so keeping up with all the features can be a challenge.
So what is dual band, and why would you pay more for a router that offer dual band capability? Why should you get a single band router if a dual band router sounds like it is the better option?
In this piece we will cover the benefits of a dual band router for gaming, what it does exactly, and if it is worth your money. We will let you know if you really need it and in what situations dual band is the right choice.
What is dual band?
Dual band is a standard feature on most of the newest gaming routers available. It has also become a feature of most regular routers, so you won’t necessarily have to buy a gaming router to get this functionality. Dual band has the option of a 2.5GhZ connection while at the same time you can offer 5GhZ.
This means that your new shiny gaming laptop can happily connect to its preferred band at 5GhZ but the old pc you have for general browsing or when you quickly need to print something over the network printer will still be able to connect on its preferred band of 2.5Ghz.
This means you can game without issues and someone can connect on a different band with an older device without slowing you down.
Why do you need dual band?
Dual band is linked to how you use your network. Your hardware has some role, but the most important thing is what exactly your needs from are in terms of your network. Just because you put in many hours of hard gaming does not necessarily mean you need a dual band router.
On the one hand, dual band is very useful if you have many devices that need to connect to the network at the same time, especially new and old devices.
If, on the other hand, you have one gaming device and you don’t have roommates or kids sharing the network and downloading and streaming while you game, dual band won’t make much of a difference to you.
You can get a fast single band router that is compatible with a band of 5Ghz and a range that is suited to your needs.
How to set up dual band
Ok, so you have decided that you need dual band. Your roommate’s video streaming keeps interfering with your gaming and if you can use a separate band it will solve the slow speeds. But now you need to be sure that this actually works.
There is no use in getting a new router and not seeing a change in your gaming experience. Luckily, setting up dual band is not a problem and it does not require that you know the intimacies of network dynamics.
In a new dual band Wi-Fi router, the signals will be transmitted at the same time. Each of these signals will be identifiable by a unique service set identifier or SSID.
Usually the standard SSID will clearly indicate which band is which with either a 5 or 2.5 in the identifying title. This means that you will know which band is the 5 GHz signal. You can then connect your gaming devices to the 5 GHz band and your older devices to the 2.5 Ghz band.
We have covered what a dual band router is, and that your network needs are the key thing to keep in mind when you buy a router. You won’t always need a dual band router.
If you don’t have the newest devices and you don’t share your network with many users, dual band won’t make much difference to you. But if you want to see a change in your gaming experience, and you have a couple of other users that need access to the network, dual band is the best choice you can make.
The Best Wireless Gaming Router
You may have read that many gamers prefer wired gaming. It offers stability and speed, but a wireless connection can be just as good.
A wireless connection can offer convenience and if you have many people that need to connect to the same network, you don’t have to sit in the same room as the router and annoy each other.
A wireless connection can also give you the quality you need for good gameplay. You just need to do your homework. Luckily you have come to the right place.
If you need a new wireless router it can be a little daunting with so many options available. There are many factors to consider, least of all your budget.
So in this piece we will cover some of the things you need to look for when you buy a new wireless router. So you don’t need to pay for features you won’t really use, and you get the features you want.
There are a few basic things to look for when you choose a new wireless router.
Check what the Wi-Fi compatibility of your router is. The latest is 802.11 ac and the next generation will be 802.11 ad. If your router is backward compatible is will also be able to handle the older Wi-Fi standard of 802.11 a/b/g/n.
If this all seems like some crazy code, just check that your router is 802.11 ac and also backwards compatible and you will be fine.
When you choose a wireless router, you need to think about the size of your home, the area you want covered by your network and how strong you need the signal to be.
If you have a small apartment the range will not have to be massive, but you might get issues from interfering networks. Your neighbor’s router might be interfering with yours, so check that you get a router that can handle that.
If you have a larger house, with a basement office for example, range and signal will be very important. Here you will need to check that the router has a multiple antennas for example.
Single band, dual band or tri-band can sound a bit like a very unimaginative musical group tried to come up with a name, but is actually important for you to know.
The way you use your network and the type of devices you connect will determine wehter you need to consider a dual or even tri-band router.
If you game with a single device and don’t really share your network with anyone it wont make much of a difference to you. If you share a house with a multitude of people with new and old devices, consider a dual or tri-band router.
The best wireless routers
We made a pick of our top 4 best wireless routers for you to choose from. These are just a few of the contenders, from the high and low ends of the price range so you can get an idea of what you might expect from a high end router and what you get on more of a budget.
D-Link AC5300 Ultra Wi-Fi Router
This is an expensive tri-band router, but you get quite a mouthful for your cash. Not only does it look like it can take off at any moment it has the specs the back up its looks. It is fast and has 6 antennas to transmit its signal.
Linksys EA7500 Max Stream MU-MIMO Gigabit Router
The Linksys router is a good mid range choice. It is suited to gaming and delivers a good speed. It has 3 antennas and dual band functionality.
Trendnet AC2600 stream boost MU-MIMO Wi-Fi router
Another option is this Trendnet router, if you don’t want to break the bank but still want some additional functionality. It is especially suited to single users. So this is the one for you don’t have to share your network with many different users.
D-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi router
Just because you count your cents does not mean you have to game with an artifact that can barely transmit a Wi-Fi signal. This little D-Link dual band router has good functionality for its price, with 4 wired LAN ports, and will give you the boost you need to keep gaming on a budget.
Gaming Routers for Under 100 Dollars
If you are looking for a new gaming router, but you aren’t made of money there are a few products that can work for you.
More expensive doesn’t always mean that something is necessarily better, or suited to your needs. And something that is under 100 dollars can still provide you with a good connection and stable high quality streaming and downloading.
When you look for a gaming router and you have capped yourself at a hundred bucks, we can help with a few suggestions.
As a gamer you will know that there may be several solutions to solving something in game, and you will need to go through the process either by playing or by doing some research to find the best option.
So, with a router you will need to think about the speed you need, the number of gamers who will be using the router (is it just you, or will your roommates need to connect as well?) and the range of the router.
Will you be sitting right next to it, or will it need to reach you on a different floor or in a room on the other side of your house?
The need for speed
A good router should work well with your internet speed (you pay your ISP for that already). Especially when you are playing first person shooters online (CoD or counterstrike anyone?) you will really need to take the speed into account. If you are more of a strategist it will not be as important, but will still make for better gameplay.
To the far reaches of the galaxy
Range is another factor that can have an impact depending on your needs. Some of you will only need the router to work in one or two rooms of your apartment where you have your gaming setup. But some of you might need larger coverage and there range will be something you need to keep in mind.
You will also want to have router that you can rely on not to drop the connection during the game. So you will need to take a look at the type of load it can handle, especially if you are more than one serious gamer in your home.
Some choices for under $100
We have 5 routers for under $100 you can take a look at to help with your decision making. We have listed them from the closest to the 100 dollar cut off to some of the cheaper options.
Securify Almond Touchscreen WiFi Wireless Router
At the top of the price range, this security router is also unique with its touch screen interface. You can set this guy up without a pc or MAC or the need of a web browser.
It is 802.11bgn wireless compatible and easy to set up. You can also easily use it as a range extender as well. It is good value for money all around.
TP-link AC1900 Wireless Wi-Fi Router
This Tp-Link router is in the 802.11 a/c wireless class. It has 4 gigabit Ethernet ports for wired gaming, but has a really good long range as well. It is the best choice if you need to cover a wider area and enjoy wireless gaming.
The TP-link AC1200 Wi-Fi Dual Band Fast Ethernet Router (Archer C50)
This router has a good set of features, is a dual band type and is 802.11 a/c compatible. It can handle the interference from other networks, so if you live close to your neighbors and have many signals around you, this router will be fine. It can have some issues with speed but for the price performs very well.
NetGear N750 Dual Band 4 Port Gigabit router (WNDR4300)
If you choose this Netgear router you will still have some cash left over for a few accessories. It has 4 LAN Ethernet ports and a guest network feature. It is a 802.11 a/b/g/n type. Here you might want to consider a newer 802.11 a/c type router for online multiplayer games. It has a good speed and a solid range.
D-Link DIR-813 AC750 Wi-Fi Router
This router is one of the cheaper options available from a well known and trusted company. It comes with dual band and has four Ethernet ports for wired gaming. It is 802.11 a/c and backwards compatible. Here the problem is that will need to weigh up price to quality.
We hope this helps you to make a good choice for both your financial and gaming needs.