What's the Best Gaming Router for My Home?

If you live in a gaming household, or one in which many people are using a lot of bandwidth, a gaming router may be a very sound investment. If you aren't sure, take the time to review your current connectivity and equipment before making a decision about a new router. If you do realize that a gaming router makes sense, do some research and set a budget before making a purchase.

Do you have gamers in your home? A lot of households do, and while gaming can be a lot of fun, it can also take up a lot of bandwidth. As a result, some gamers find themselves frustrated when their Internet connections can't keep up with their gameplay. For these individuals, a gaming router might be the best way to improve performance and connectivity.

What is a gaming router?

As the name suggests, a gaming router is a router that has been optimized for game streaming. These routers are turbo-charged to provide excellent graphics and to handle large amounts of data at once. Gamers can program the routers with stream URLs or network information to ensure that priority is given to traffic to and from those sites and networks.

Gaming routers can also be a plus in households that have several members who all use the same Internet service. The router can help ensure that everyone in the house enjoys consistent service without buffering or other issues that can occur when there is a high level of bandwidth usage.

Do you need a gaming router?

Gaming routers are more expensive than standard routers, so it's important to consider whether getting a gaming router is the right idea for you or your household. Many experts believe that unless you are playing streaming games that require very fast actions/reactions, the purchase of a gaming router is overkill.

If you are finding that your game play isn't what it should be and suspect that the problem is connectivity, do some basic checks before investing in a gaming router. Do a speed test and check your cables and wiring. Do some basic clean-up, maintenance on your computer or device to ensure that it is operating at peak efficiency.

Another thing to consider is the age of your current modem and/or router: Older equipment will often be slower and you may just need to replace your system rather than upgrading to a gaming router. If you are renting your equipment through your Internet service provider, you should call your provider and ask for a replacement.

Finally, you may also consider contacting customer service: A tech support specialist may be able to conduct remote testing at no charge to determine if there is anything wrong with your connection or setup. Another option is to request a technician visit, though there may be a charge for this service.

Another thing to consider is that routers are often placed in areas of your home that are "out of the way," such as in a basement, in an obscure corner, or hidden behind shelving or furniture. Sadly, this interferes with Wi-Fi coverage, so you may want to reposition your router.

It's also true that some households with several members who use multiple connected devices may decide that a gaming router is a good investment. . .even if household members aren't streaming a lot of games.

Popular gaming routers

In the United States, the most popular gaming routers are manufactured by Asus, TP-Link, and Netgear. There are, however, other manufacturers as well, including D-Link and Ubiquiti. Within each of these brands is a range of routers with different features and that sell at different price points. Things to consider when making your selection include:

Price: Major electronics and consumer goods retailers, such as Best Buy, Walmart, and Amazon, sell gaming routers. Check for deals and sales. Also, manufacturers routinely update their gaming routers, so it may be possible to get a good deal on a previous generation router that still offers fast speeds and performance. Pay attention to gaming media so that you'll know when a new generation of routers is about to be released to the general market. When this happens, prices on the previous generation will drop significantly.

Compatibility: Some newer routers are incompatible with older equipment and operating systems, so you'll want to check out your options before committing to a purchase.

Channels: Some routers are capable of streaming multiple bands at once, which can significantly reduce interference.

TP-Link Archer AX50 (AX3000) Dual Band Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 Router

This dual-band gaming router is popular for several reasons, not the least of which is its relatively low cost. Dual-band isn't quite as flexible as triple-band connectivity that more expensive routers offer, but for many gamers, this level of performance works quite well. It is also Wi-Fi 6 compatible, improving speed and performance. J.D. Power has awarded TP-Link with recognition for its high level of consumer satisfaction.

TP-Link Archer AX11000 Next-Gen Tri-Band Gaming Router

If you like the TP-Link brand but need a higher level of performance, the AX11000 might be a good option. This is a tri-band router, offering two 5GHz and one 2.4 GHz stream. This router can be tethered to your Internet connection via Bluetooth and is extremely easy to set up. In fact, it may be possible to have this router operational within minutes of opening the package. Being able to tether via Bluetooth can allow for optimum placement of this router. A lifetime subscription to virus protection and security software is also included.

Asus RT-AX86U

The Asus RT-AX86U gets high marks for its all-around performance: If your household members use multiple devices all at once, this "gaming router" may be your best option even if nobody is a gamer. That's because it maximizes the performance of your network and ensures that everyone can get connected and stay connected. Mesh coverage is the new standard for Wi-Fi, and the RT-AX86U offers this standard. In addition, this router is optimized for mobile game play.

Netgear Nighthawk Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6E Router (RAXE500)

This high-end, tri-band router uses Wi-Fi 6E technology that ensures extremely fast speeds up to 10.8Gbps. Moreover, this device can support up to 60 devices over 3,500 square feet, making this an excellent option for group gaming events or multiple units in a building using the same connection. Netgear also includes a year of its network security service with the purchase of this router.

D-Link Wi-Fi Router, AC1750

If you are looking for a full-featured gaming router at a budget price, the D-Link AC1750 may be just what you need. This works well on both Apple Mac OS and Microsoft Windows systems and offers both encryption security features and parental controls. The price on this router is comparable to many standard routers, which could make this an excellent option if you aren't yet sure if a gaming router is worth the investment.

Amplifi HD Gamer's Edition

If household aesthetics matter to you just as much as Wi-Fi coverage, the Amplifi HD Gamer's Edition router may suit you just fine. It's easy to expand coverage through plug-in devices and, unlike some routers, this one has an extremely compact design, which takes up less space. It is also attractive, which means that you might not mind placing it in a more visible area, as it really looks no different than any other piece of audiovisual equipment.

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