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. Some of these issues are out of our hands—and internet service providers— but many connectivity problems can stem from our routers. So, it’s imperative you’ve got a rock-solid router for gaming if you want to get competitive online.
Don’t rely on your old router, as you might be working with an outdated Wi-Fi standard (like Wi-Fi 4 aka 802.11n). Older routers 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 should provide plenty of Ethernet ports for fast and stable speed and support fast Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) or even Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) connections. These routers offer dual-band and sometimes three wireless bands, letting you dedicate an entire band to gaming, so your console or gaming PC won’t compete with every smartphone and smart home device 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 – and click here to find them in the UK.
TL;DR – These are the Best Router for Gaming:
1. Netgear Nighthawk X6S
Best Gaming Router
When you’re gaming, you need speed and a strong signal to ensure you don’t lose a connection when in the heated moments of a game. You get that with the Netgear Nighthawk X6S. This gaming router gives you the typical things you expect with a 2.4GHz and 5GHz connection, along with some external antennas offering a strong signal throughout your home. It even beefs up your connectivity options with an additional 5GHz band, meaning if you want to game on Wi-Fi instead of an Ethernet connection, you can dedicate a whole 5GHz band just for your gaming. The other 5GHz connection can be used for the rest of your activities. And as far as speed goes, you get 1,625Mbps on the two 5GHz bands and 750Mbps on the 2.4GHz.
Now, this router isn’t offering all the latest features like Wi-Fi 6E or 2.5Gbps WAN, but it also comes at a more affordable price than those that do. It still offers MU-MIMO, so you’ll be good for simultaneously streaming data on a bunch of devices, while QoS lets you prioritize devices on the network. There are plenty of other settings available, like parental controls, data theft protection, and guest networks, which can all be set up using the Netgear app. You even get ample connectivity options like four ethernets, a WAN, and USB ports to wire up devices.
2. Asus TUF-AX5400
Best Budget Gaming Router
For under $200, you can snag a new router that’s ready to zoom along in games as much as you are. The Asus TUF-AX5400 is geared for gaming with dual-band Wi-Fi 6, which offers a stable connection and low-latency communication between your gaming system and the router. You get a speedy 2.4GHz band and an even faster 5GHz band. We’re talking 5400Mbps speeds on an efficient 4x network. You can even connect a PC or gaming device to the dedicated gaming port, ensuring it gets the lion’s share of the connection, and a link aggregation feature allows you 2Gbps wired speeds.
The Asus TUF-AX5400 looks the part of a gaming router with its bulky design, a tiny blip of RBG lighting, and six antennae for a better signal. If you’re worried about a limited connection in certain areas of your home, you can even build out a mesh network with this router for seamless extended coverage thanks to ASUS AiMesh support. And through the router’s app, you can prioritize whatever you’re doing by switching modes between streaming, gaming, web browsing, etc. The sheer number of ways to manage your network’s traffic is pretty astounding, and it even comes with some security features for a little more peace of mind.
3. Linksys Hydra Pro 6E
Best Tri-Band Gaming Router
Wi-Fi has taken some serious leaps in the past couple of years, with Wi-Fi 6 stepping things up and then Wi-Fi 6E adding some icing to the cake. The Linksys Hydra Pro 6E is a tri-band router that takes advantage of this new capability. If you’re only running older client devices with Wi-Fi 5 and earlier, it may not be for you since it’ll basically be a dual-band router with 2×2 connections on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. But, if you’ve got the latest devices or networking cards with Wi-Fi 6E, the Linksys Hydra Pro can dial things up big time.
The Linksys Hydra Pro offers a third band at 6GHz with 4×4 streams for a potential throughput of up to 4,804Mbps, though you’ll need some seriously fast internet speeds to take advantage of that bandwidth. This router is also ready for a wired connection with a 5Gb WAN port on the back to plug in your gaming consoles or PC, though you don’t get link aggregation. It’s even possible to add it to your mesh network. Beyond that, you get all the latest features to enhance your connected experience, like MU-MIMO, QoS, beamforming, WPA3, and parental controls. Just be prepared to pay a premium, as the latest technology doesn’t come cheap.
4. Nighthawk Pro Gaming Router (XR1000)
Best Dual-Band Gaming Router
What can a dual-band router do? Well, if it’s running Wi-Fi 6 and powerful hardware inside, quite a lot. The Nighthawk Pro Gaming Router XR1000 from Netgear is solid evidence of this. This router gives its two bands plenty of room to run with 2×2 MU-MIMO on the 2.4GHz band for 574Mbps speeds. But the 5GHz channel is where you’ll want to turn for the ultimate throughput and low latency, as it’s capable of 4×4 MU-MIMO and can clock in at 4,804Mbps. If you’re looking for a wired connection, you get one WAN port and four ethernet ports, though you don’t get link aggregation or any Multi-Gig connections.
That’s a good start for the hardware, but Netgear takes this router even further into the depths of gaming with special firmware. The Nighthawk Pro Gaming Router can help you ensure your gaming systems are getting the best connection possible with QoS that’ll let you give more priority to your games than other web uses, like live streams, VoIP, or web browsing. The dedicated gaming dashboard even lets you see the quality of your connection to a games server and geofence certain areas to eliminate servers that are out of range or underperforming. There are also some enhanced security features like malware protection to ensure everything stays at peak performance.
5. TP-Link Archer AX10000
Best Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router
If your household is full of connected devices where maintaining top speeds is essential, a Wi-Fi 6 router is a must. The TP-Link Archer AX10000 is one of the best, especially if you’re focused on online gaming. This tri-band router offers a pair of 5GHz networks and one 2.4GHz network offering speeds up to 10526 Mbps. That means there should be plenty of unimpeded speed and connectivity to go around. You can even dedicate a band just to gaming, and there’s a Game Accelerator that will detect and optimize your gaming streams. Some other gaming features of note are Game Statistics, which lets you know latency, game duration, and other info about your network, along with the Game Protector to ensure your system and network are secure during online gaming.
The TP-Link Archer AX10000’s power is almost as impressive as its speed, thanks to the 1.8 GHz Quad-Core CPU and 1GB RAM. That means the router can handle a huge throughput and eliminate almost all lag so you can stay immersed in your games. Plus, with the use of OFDMA and MU-MIMO, even if more devices join the network, there shouldn’t be any noticeable difference in speeds. Finally, this router offers tons of connectivity for devices that may benefit from a wired connection with a 2.5Gbps WAN and eight Gigabit LAN ports that support link aggregation.
6. Netgear Orbi RBK752
Best Wi-Fi Mesh System for Gaming
Sometimes you have multiple gaming devices spread all around your home that need to be connected to fast internet, and that’s where Netgear’s Orbi RBK752 steps in. This Wi-Fi 6 mesh system offers the main router and a high-speed node to ensure every nook and cranny of your home is up to speed. There’s coverage up to 5,000 square feet, but you can always add additional nodes to create an expansive wireless network, so no device suffers from a slow, weak signal in your home. You can even connect up to 40 devices simultaneously with no drop-offs, thanks to MU-MIMO, beamforming, and other Wi-Fi tech.
The two units in this Orbi system both feature tri-band Wi-Fi, letting them effectively create two dual-band networks in your house—though they operate as a single network. That extra 5GHz connection helps keep the link between the routers blazing fast. There are also 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 speed, like gaming PCs and consoles. These units also offer the latest security technology, including malware protection, ensuring everything on your network stays safe.
7. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000
Fastest Gaming Router
The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is built for the next-gen wireless protocol and the insane speeds that come with it. This router offers ready to support a busy network with maximum data transfer speeds of 11Gbps over a tri-band frequency. You get a 2.4Ghz band and two 5GHz that share those gigabits, while users can dedicate one of those bands specifically to gaming to avoid interference from other connected devices in their home. If you’d rather wire up your PC or console, there’s a WAN port and five networking ports, including a Multi-Gig option to ensure a stable, speedy connection.
With a chunky frame, RGB lighting, and eight antennae, the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 looks like a gaming beast. Inside, the 1.8GHz 64-bit quad-core CPU and 1GB RAM prove it’s up to task as far as online gaming is concerned. It’s also rocking a ton of additional features, so you get the most out of this router. There’s Micro security to defend your network against attacks. Some gaming extras include Game Radar to ping your game’s server to find the one with the quickest connection, while Game Acceleration boosts gaming traffic.
8. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000
Best Wi-Fi 6E Gaming Router
If you want a serious router for gaming, you can’t get much more serious than the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000. It isn’t just a Wi-Fi 6 router, but rather a Wi-Fi 6E router, which brings access to even more potential, thanks to the 6GHz spectrum it adds on top of 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Tri-band connectivity offers up an easy way to split up your network so you can ensure your gaming devices have the fastest connection in the house. That 6GHz offers incredible throughput, and that connection is not as common yet, eliminating the same kind of interference from all your neighbors’ routers that you will see on 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks.
This router has eight antennas to deliver a powerful signal, and with beamforming, it can go even further, ensuring a strong connection between your wireless devices and the router. You also get some blistering speeds from wired connections, as the router supports 2.5Gb WAN or LAN and link aggregation, so you’re not stuck with the 1Gbps Ethernet speeds many other routers will limit you to. Beyond that, you get features like Game Accelerator, which prioritizes gaming devices in the dedicated gaming port, and security software built in to ensure everything stays safe while you’re online.
What to Look for in a Gaming Router
While you’re shopping for a gaming router, you should be on the lookout for which version of Wi-Fi it supports. The main two you’ll want to look out for are Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)—with Wi-Fi 6E expanding Wi-Fi 6 to include a 6GHz band—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 to 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 5GHz 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 or 6GHz band you can completely dedicate to gaming.
Where to Get the Best Gaming Router in the UK
Getting the Most Out of Your Gaming Router
Be 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.
Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam
Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark